Cat Context 77: More Draenor Flying News, Steam Summer Sale Madness
Jun18

Cat Context 77: More Draenor Flying News, Steam Summer Sale Madness

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This week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide talk about the latest updates in the Warlords of Draenor epic drama and share their picks for the Steam Summer Sale.

Blizzard can’t make up their mind. Likely sinking under a tsunami of angry tweets and forum posts, the publisher announced that flying is totally back, you guys! You just have to do a long “meta-achievement” that could take weeks. Elly and Aro feel this is a fair compromise, while Liore wonders about the excellent timing.

The Steam Summer Sale is on right now and the gang have mixed reviews. Aro bought more games than ever before in a summer sale. Elly is eyeing up a Steam stream box and .. more Borderlands? Meanwhile Liore has Steam malaise and has just.. played the Sale Game for badges? Ugh, she’s the worst.

Also, Aro is a Rock Band rock star! Elly devises virtual parenting! Liore must build a boat!

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Blizzard Convinces Players to Accept MMO Attunements
Jun12

Blizzard Convinces Players to Accept MMO Attunements

I haven’t written much here about WoW’s flying drama, although we did talk about it on the podcast. You probably already know all about it but here’s a very short summary:

A few weeks ago Watcher mentioned in an interview that flying would not be coming to Warlords of Draenor or any future content. WoW players flipped out. This week Blizzard announced in a blog post that flying will be coming back, but it’s locked behind an achievement that involves grinding reputations and doing quests. WoW players were pacified.

More details on all of this can be found over at Wilhelm’s post on the debacle. It’s also where I saw this comment from Murf:

murfcomment

I mean, what Blizzard has proposed is basically an attunement for flying, right? Looking at the requirements, they are fairly hefty. You need to get to Revered with multiple reputations, explore the world, gather a lot of treasure, complete almost all of the Draenor quests, and do a long series of Garrison dailies. Now I’m a fan of attunement chains in MMOs so this all sounds pretty okay to me, but I’m surprised that a community that has had such strong negative reactions to attunements in the past is so happy and accepting of this one.

On the podcast I said that Blizzard needed a better PR team, but after this week I feel like I could be totally wrong on that front.

1) Calling this an “achievement” rather than “attunement” is clever marketing.

2) Threatening to remove something completely and then coming back a week later to say that okay, you can have your toy but only if you do this otherwise totally unpalatable (by the usual player standards) process first is a very good way to get people to accept your terms.

I don’t actually believe that Blizzard announced that they were removing flying with the intention of softening up the community for an attunement chain, but it would have been diabolically clever if they had.

Anyway, the next time a group of MMO players gets all cranky about attunement chains I am going to look back on the relatively positive response to this announcement and make a smirky face.

Horror Movie Highlights from the Seattle Film Festival

For a few weeks in May and June, the Seattle International Film Festival highlights a selection of outstanding movies from around the world. As well as the usual dramas, comedies, and documentaries, SIFF is also known for their excellent horror / sci-fi program schedule including midnight movies every weekend. If you want to see some indie and foreign horror, this is the place to do it.

This year I was able to catch three films: Korean thriller Haemoo, Belgian camp horror Cub, and Kiwi comedy splatterfest Deathgasm.

Haemoo

Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) has joined that pantheon of directors whose work I will always check out, so when I heard that he wrote a movie I knew I had to see it. As an additional lure, Haemoo is directed by Shim Sung-bo who co-wrote Memories of Murder* with Joon-Ho.

Haemoo is not a horror movie as much as a grim thriller, although one with flashes of comic hilarity. Set during South Korea’s economic depression in the late 90s, the movie follows a beleaguered fishing boat crew that feels forced to turn to smuggling to make ends meet. Their plan goes relatively well until… something goes very wrong, and it pushes everyone to the edge of sanity.

Haemoo is very atmospheric, and the acting is terrific. However, it’s not a GREAT movie. It felt like a Hollywood blockbuster: well made, professional, but a little rote and a little too much focus on action over character development.

It was definitely enjoyable, though, and I would recommend it if you like reality-based thrillers.

* If you haven’t seen Memories of Murder you really should. It’s not a horror movie at all, or really even a crime thriller. It’s.. a really lyrical movie about finding the meaning of life.

Cub

Lately Belgium seems to be nexus of mean-spirited new wave horror, a role that France used to play a decade ago. One of the latest in that genre is Cub, a movie about a cub scout camping trip that really does not go very well for everyone involved.

I found Cub to be a little disappointing. To its credit it managed to be vicious without excessive gore or torture (I loathe torture movies), and the touches of humor were nicely done. However, the internal logic of the movie was really flawed. It wasn’t even fridge logic — even during the closing credits my viewing partner and I looked at each other and started to question what the heck just happened.

The movie suffers from a “twist” ending that is telegraphed from miles away, and a killer with Rube-Goldberg-style death machines that are needlessly complex.

I’d pass on Cub unless you are a serious horror fan, in which case it’s probably better than half the stuff on Netflix right now anyway.

Deathgasm
(note that this trailer is probably NSFW for reasons of gore)

Oh hell yes.

Deathgasm is a horror/comedy movie from New Zealand about a gang of small town metalheads who accidentally start a demon apocalypse. It’s incredibly bloody, very profane, and a remarkably great time. Demons are killed with chainsaws, axes, homemade weed-wackers, and… well, I won’t ruin the joke, but there’s a memorable scene involving a box of sex toys.

This movie is the spiritual successor to Peter Jackson’s delightfully gross horror comedy Dead Alive, which is pretty much the highest praise I can give it. If you like blood, metal, and laughing, I cannot recommend this movie enough.

Binging on Serialized Content in FFXIV
Jun08

Binging on Serialized Content in FFXIV

I’ve mentioned before that there is a huge amount of story content in FFXIV available once a player hits the level cap of 50. Like, a lot a lot.

Most MMOs unlock features based on a character’s level, whereas FFXIV locks things behind quests. Players start their main story quest right from the moment they first create their character, and it continues throughout the entirety of the game. Every major feature is unlocked by doing this questline, so it’s not terribly surprising that you have to finish all of the current main story quest before you can start on the new one in Heavensward.

Consequently, those of us who started the game late or are slackers (that’s me) have to hustle a bit if we want to be able to access Heavensward’s new features any time close to its launch. There are six patches of content to experience after hitting 50. One of these patches was pretty light on story content, but the rest have roughly 10 hours of quests a piece. I’ve finished the content for two of these patches so far.

For no topical reason, here is a spriggan carrying an egg

For no topical reason, here is a spriggan carrying an egg

For those who have been at level cap for a while, these patches were released almost precisely every three months. For those of us just catching up now, of course, we have over a year of serialized content to consume at a fairly brisk pace. When packed all together and done with a mild sense of urgency, the generally well-written story can easily become a long series of fetch quests and rousing speeches. I find I need to remind myself that there’s no rush, or else it all starts to feel overwhelming.

I figured my opinion would be universal, honestly, until I asked around a bit and it seems an equal number of last-minute slackers enjoy experiencing the content this way. My questing partner compared it to mainlining a television show on Netflix — you never have to wait for the next installment of the plot. Just play the next episode, or start the next quest in the chain, and you can consume the story as fast as you like.

I think it’s easy to get too focused on a new expansion and feel like you have to be “done” with everything when it launches, but assuming you’re not a cutting edge raider or crafter it’s healthy to keep in mind that there really is no rush. We will all get there in time, even if Minfilia has to stop and give a lengthy inspirational speech every step of the way.

Public Cash Shop Shaming: round two!

Hey! Go vote in the NBI 2015 Screenshot Safari! It’s a fun way to support newbie bloggers!

Every few years I visit Las Vegas and one of the things I like to do there is play video poker. I’m a nerd, which means when I play video poker I research where I can find the machines with the best payout odds, and I practice with a game trainer so I can execute near-perfect mathematical strategy. Sometimes I end up with more money than I started with and sometimes less, but I enjoy the game and free drinks and generally I have a great time playing.

Once, though, I went through a losing streak right out of the gate and started throwing good money after bad. I panicked and wildly overspent. I felt terrible in all respects — not just upset, but sweaty and sick to my stomach. I could get out of this hole, but I just needed one good hand. One hand. It never came.

I chose to spend that money and I accept responsibility for it, but being in the middle of a city that is designed to keep you playing certainly didn’t help things. The feeling I had that day is similar to the feeling I used to get when I looked at how much money I’ve spent on Hearthstone, although it’s a lot less than I lost in Vegas that day.

Anyway, on to the numbers. Behold my shame!

Cash Shop Reckoning #2

FFXIV Cash Shop: name change: $10.00

Neko Atsume: golden fish: $2.00
Neko Atsume: golden fish: $1.00

Puzzles & Dragons: magic stones: $9.99

Total Spent: $22.99

  • Neko Atsume is an adorable Japanese cat simulator, and while my $3 in golden fish were impulse purchases they are not ones I regret. I had to buy modern decor for my cat-filled house!
  • I created my previous FFXIV character name on a whim and it never really resonated with me. As well my Free Company has a ton of Twitter and blogger types but it’s hard to tell who everyone is, so I wanted a name that made my identity more obvious. My character is now “Aesa Lioresdottir”, and I am very pleased with the change.
  • As for that last expenditure.. allow me to quote from the previous public reckoning: “I hereby declare that [P&D] will not get another penny from me.” That resolution lasted just over two weeks. Ugh, Liore, you’re the worst.
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