Keep your gamification out of my reading, and Extra Life stuff!

I’m crazy about achievements in MMOs. When I was a serious business WoW player I never met an achievement I didn’t like, and now as a more casual RIFTer I still make an effort to keep an eye on the achievement panel.

The other day I upgraded my e-reader’s firmware and discovered that in the update it gained an achievement system. And surprisingly I hate it. Like, I am actively annoyed every time one pops up. I got an achievement the other day for completing 20% of a book and it’s like.. really? It seems so patronizing and gamey that I would totally roll back the update if I could simply for that reason.

I’m not sure what the lesson is here except apparently achievements aren’t good in everything. If something is its own reward, like reading a good book, then adding overly encouraging gamification systems seems cheesy and unnecessary.


It’s Extra Life Marathon weekend! From 8am Pacific time on Saturday morning until 8am Sunday morning I’ll be playing games and along with ThatAngryDwarf streaming everything to our Twitch TV channel. What am I going to be playing? ALL THE GAMES.

Okay, seriously, expect to see some RIFT, WoW, Mass Effect, Tropico 4, Bioshock, Amnesia, The Walking Dead, and a whole lot more. I’m also getting a guided tour of the Storm Legion beta on Saturday afternoon, and I will make puppy dog eyes and see if Trion will let me stream any of it.

My point is that you should come on by the Twitch channel chat this weekend and help me stay awake. :) We’re also going to be recording the next episode of Cat Context podcast immediately after the marathon, so look forward to weirdness.

Are you streaming your Extra Life gaming this weekend? Let me know about your channel! Want to donate? My donation page is here and all proceeds go to the BC Children’s Hospital.

A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

emberislehat A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

Right now is a good time to be a RIFT player. Beta tests for the expansion are in progress and we’ll be playing it for real in 26 days. Trion has been doing live streams every week to talk about the new content and releasing some awesome videos (did you see that Dimensions trailer?!). Today marks the arrival of Patch 1.11, or the “oh my god what happened to all my buttons” patch that introduces all the expansion changes to existing classes.

Two months ago I wrote a Storm Legion Bucket List, and now seems like a good time to review how I’m doing.

1. Finish levelling my professionsPartially Complete

I’ve got my one crafting skill, Artificing, up to the maximum level of 300 and started hoarding crafting tokens for the expansion. Foraging and mining are coming along at about level 225 each, while I still haven’t touched Fishing and Survival. We’ll see…

2. Run all the dungeons and chroniclesAlmost Complete

The chronicles are all complete, as are all but one dungeon on expert mode. Thanks to pugs and guild alliances I’ve also killed bosses in two different 20-man raids (RoS and HK for those in the know) and finished the 10-man Guilded Prophecy. I am honestly feeling pretty good about how much I’ve seen of Vanilla RIFT’s group and raid content, particularly considering how casual I am.

3. Faction rewards and cosmetic gearMeh

My patience for faction grinding wore out faster than I anticipated, although to be fair one can slowly eek out reputation simply by playing the game thanks to rifts and events and crafting quests. I did make a concerted effort to complete all four major events in Ember Isle for the utterly amazing achievement hat, pictured at the start of this post. (Hat screenshot from MMO2Go.) Ember Isle events are actually super fun all on their own, with multiple waves of tasks like closing 8 rifts or defending waypoints, and the hat is clearly awe-inspiring.

4. Finish the Saga questlinesPartially Complete

I completed the Water Saga chain, giving Mercredi a crocodile mount and some sweet titles. I’ve been kind of slacking on the Fire Saga and the Cult Saga, as I know the rewards aren’t that compelling at the moment. I’ve added completing the Ember Isle story quest chain to my list just because I’d like to catch up on all the old world lore before the expansion.

5. Make some platComplete

You may be asking yourself at this point, “okay, so what HAVE you been doing in RIFT, Liore?” and the answer would be squeezing every drop of content out of the Autumn Harvest Festival, which ended on October 11th. That included taking advantage of all the artifact farming to both bolster my own collection and to sell on the auction house. And sell they did — I went from about 300 platinum to 1300 just from artifact sales. I’m starting to liquidate my bank in anticipation of the expansion, so that should help too.

Huh. I was feeling a bit of pre-expansion malaise setting in before writing this list, but now I’m pretty invigorated again! It’s easy to start thinking that with an expansion a few short weeks away one’s actions no longer matter, but in fact there appears to still be plenty for me to do and accomplish before November 13th.

Let me end this Bucket List update as I did my last one: with a screenshot of an awesome new mount, this time the Spectral Najmok from the Autumn Harvest Festival.

holiaymount A Return to My Storm Legion Bucket List

Cat Context Podcast: Extra Life Mini-sode and Giveaway!

Want a beta key for Smite, Planetside 2, or the next RIFT Storm Legion beta weekend? OKAY. Just give us a comment or question that we can read on next week’s podcast! You can post your question below or email Make sure you include your email (which we will keep private, of course) and next week we’ll randomly pick one person to get the beta key of their choice.

Strange things are afoot at the Cat Context Podcast! We’re adding some permanent hosts — Arolaide from and Ellyndrial from are joining the team — and changing around how we record. (Bear with us while we learn how2sound.) Unfortunately Aro was unavailable this week, so Elly and I got together and created a mini-sode about the Extra Life Gaming Marathon.

Next week thousands of gamers will be playing for 24 hours to collect donations for their local Children’s Hospital, including myself and Elly. Extra Life is a great charity, so if you can please consider fundraising or donating! Of course we’ll be spending all 24 hours on our channel playing things like RIFT, The Walking Dead, and I Wanna Be The Guy, and there might even be some PAX swag giveaways.

Some links you might be interested in after listening:

* The Extra Life donation pages for Liore and Ellyndrial
* About Extra Life
* Our Twitch TV page, where we’ll be streaming the fun.


(Don’t forget to leave 5 stars!)

The 2010 Real ID Debacle: being right is awesome

As some of you may personally remember, back in the summer of 2010 Blizzard tried to switch their World of Warcraft forums over to a “Real ID” system, where accounts would get tied to real, actual names that we players would use as our sole identifier. There was a huge backlash that eventually derailed the plan, but as I recall a fair percentage of the media coverage didn’t see the problem with crossing the streams between players’ real life and their orc.

Take, as an example, this quotation from a pretty dumbass article in TechCrunch about the whole thing:

Do you really think [the internet] is going to get away with harassing people who post on the new forums, a common complaint I’ve seen? “Now people will annoy me in real life!” That sounds like a one-way ticket to a lawsuit, courtesy of Activision Blizzard. Just because your name is “out there” doesn’t mean people are allowed to threaten you. Surely you recognize this?

Let’s fast forward just over two years, shall we?

“In Colleen’s online fantasy world, she gets away with crude, vicious and violent comments like the ones below. Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world.”

Oh yeah, dumbass article writers, no one would ever get harassed in real life because their real name was associated with a WoW character. I bet the Blizzard Activision law team is just raring to go on this one, too.

Of course Ms. Lachowicz chose to not remain a completely anonymous player (not that that means she deserves this nonsense), but isn’t it fortunate that the rest of us weren’t forced to make the same choice? Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, and occasionally extremely satisfying.

NDAs are the bane of bloggers

I love getting in beta tests for games. Certainly a lot of the appeal is just playing a game for free before anyone else (although I do try to be diligent about bug reporting), but it also inflames my blogger senses. A good or bad beta has me itching to share my thoughts, post screenshot galleries, and make walkthrough videos.

Itching to do so, that is, before I read the NDA. Oh cruel non-disclosure agreement, why do you thwart me so? It makes me crazy sometimes that I have all this neat game information and I just have to sit on it.

I understand why beta tests come with NDAs of course, although I think companies can be a bit overprotective. You don’t want half-formed features getting out into public knowledge and causing undue anxiety with potential players, or bad reviews to hit before you’ve even finished the game, or maybe you just want to closely control the Public Relations process.

And some agreements are of course better than others. I still am not legally allowed to publish screenshots from the press beta weekend for Guild Wars 2 even though the game is out now and there really haven’t been any dramatic changes to the look of the game since beta. A few months ago I was in The Secret World closed beta under the NDA stipulation that I tell no one that there even was such a thing going on (now I’ve told you all! gasp!), and yet they occasionally sent me extra keys to pass on to friends. That lead to imagining some amusing conversations: “Here, take this key.” “Oh. What’s it for?” “… I can’t say and the beta may not even exist.”

And of course last weekend I had my first look at Storm Legion, RIFT’s upcoming beta, and with the release date just slightly over a month away it’s so sad that I am legally obligated to not tell you all how awesome it was. Well, okay.. I can tell you that it was awesome, but not WHY.

In fact I spent six hours yesterday going from absolutely no knowledge of video editing to turning my 22 minutes of meandering Storm Legion footage into 10 minutes of focused commentary on the new zones and questing mechanics. Six hours (I do so love a good make-work project) and I can’t show anyone yet! Arrgh, NDA!

Like I said, I understand why beta test NDAs exist, but it would be nice to have a little more wiggle room for smaller market bloggers, podcasters, and video makers particularly when a game is six weeks away or less. Help us help you, game industry. Also, send me more beta invites. *cough*

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