This week Liore and Elly got together with Vajra to talk about two new games: Beyond: Two Souls and The Wolf Among Us. Generally both games got positive reviews from us, but they also inspired Elly to ask the ultimate question: but what is a game, anyway? Turns out we don’t really have an answer, but for most of us it would include interactive fiction. Also Elly and Vajra argue about whether quick time events are indeed the worst thing ever invented in games.
We wrapped up this week’s discussion with a look at one of the Talk Back topics from the Newbie Blogger Initiative: Guilds! Huh, good god y’all, what are they good for? Absolutely nothing? (Sorry.) We wonder if guilds still have a place in MMOs in the world of social media and forums, and turn out to have almost completely opposite opinions on what a guild can bring to the table. Then Liore shouts for a bit about why both guild leaders and guild seekers should do some research.
Also, WoW Auction House shenanigans! Elly kicks virtual balls in FIFA! Liore hates pumpkin spice!
Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:
It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years
* The Newbie Blogger Initiative
* Our new YouTube channel
* Forbes on how Beyond: Two Souls reviews are mixed
* Extra-Life donation page for Elly and Liore
This post was written during Pandaria and might be slightly out of date. For info on making gold in Draenor you might like one of the many Kindle books on the subject like Make Gold in Draenor, World of Warcraft with Your Garrison (affiliate link).
I wrote a while back about WoW mods and how they haven’t changed a whole lot in the last two years. It turns out I was slightly wrong in my conclusion because man, Auction House mods seem light years ahead of where they were back in my day.
Right now if you want to do any kind of bulk buying and selling the mod of choice seems to be TradeSkillMaster. TSM was just starting to catch on a couple of years ago, and since then it has gone through a complete operational overhaul. While it’s incredibly powerful and flexible, it is also almost totally inscrutable at first.
Also, since I last seriously played WoW it seems that AH data feeds, both official and otherwise, have vastly improved. In the old days to update my price data I would have to log on, hit the “Full Scan” button, and then go get a cup of tea or something for the next 10 minutes.
Nowadays there’s a TSM desktop app that just sits in your system tray and downloads Blizzard data and Wowuction regional data every 30 minutes or something, so every time you log in you know your price histories are up to date. Snazzy!
Anyway, all this is just a really long intro to saying that I spent literally several hours this past weekend trying to get TSM set up for crafting and flipping. (I love flipping. Bottom-feeders of the WoW economy, unite!) I figured I would help other people save time, so I made a video guide on getting TSM set up for basic flipping in under 5 minutes:
It’s a lot easier to explain in video format, but here’s a brief overview:
- After installing TSM, log on to every character who has tradeskills and open the skill windows.
- Open TSM and look at the Operations tab. Click on “Auctioning”. Here you can set your auction settings, in particular the price. TSM has some pretty serious price calculations. Type “/tsm sources” in chat to see some of your options.
- Click on the “Shopping” label in the Operations tab. Use the same kind of price calculations to set requirements for auctions you’d like to buy.
- Click on the “Groups” tab. In the menu on the left, set the “Auction” and “Shopping” operations to the ones you just created. Close TSM.
- Open the Auction House. Use the “Shopping” and “Auctions” tab to do a Post Scan (posting your stuff) or a Buy Scan (um, buying your stuff).
- Rejoice that it did not take you 3 hours to figure that out.
It is a mere 13 days until the Extra Life gaming marathon for Children’s Miracle Network. I’m 30% of the way to my goal — can you help? Even $5 will make a difference for critically ill children and their families. I’m posting my donation video again here in case you haven’t seen it yet, or just head on over to the donation page.
The Newbie Blogger Initiative continues apace, and mad props must be dispensed to both Doone of T.R. Red Skies and Roger of Contains Moderate Peril for doing a great job of managing this whole month-long event.
Of course the NBI is all about the newbies, so here are a few of my own favorites of the bunch so far:
- JVT Workshop: you might recognize author Joseph Skyrim from his entirely sensible comments here and on other blogs over the last little while, and now he has joined in the fray!
- Megadirge: For the most part Seth at Megadirge plays games that I do not (TSW and FF14), which I actually quite like in a blog, and his enthusiasm for the games comes through in every post.
- Cogitationes Astalnaris: Astalnar plays a bunch of different games, MMOs and otherwise, and walks that fine balance between really smart commentary and an inviting tone.
There has been some discussion in the NBI forum about “what is a good blog post in your opinion”, and you might see a theme with my selections: not terribly long, conversational style, a variety of topics, and enthusiasm for the genre. Check these newbies out!
There are two single-player games that just came out that I feel compelled to strongly, strongly recommend.
First is The Wolf Among Us by Telltale Games. It helps that I already like point-and-click titles, but the real winner here is the damn zippy writing. The world of TWAU is cribbed from the Fable series, but the murder mystery story is totally original and the characters are given fresh sparkle by the game format.
The main character, Bigby, makes a great noir-style detective and my dialogue choices are acted out in a very stylish and often endearing way. The story itself is a little cliche so far, but it’s made up in the delivery.
Depending on how the other 4 chapters go, TWAU is almost instantly a serious contender for my Game of the Year. (I’m doing a pretty terrible Let’s Play of this on YouTube if you want to watch it. I’m practising spontaneous speaking, don’t judge!)
Also amazing and also a title that is more driven by story than gameplay is The Stanley Parable. I knew I needed to try this game after watching one of the early trailers:
There is a free demo of TSP on Steam that lasts about 20 minutes. I hesitate to say anything at all about the experience because you are definitely better off not knowing what to expect but I suppose suffice to say that it incorporates game mechanics into storytelling in ways that I’m not sure I’ve seen before. If you like games that are not particularly game-y but push the boundaries of interactive fiction, do not walk but run to your computer and try the demo.
This post seemed like the inevitable follow-up to yesterday’s about why I’m not playing RIFT!
I moved across town a few weeks ago, and as the movers were carrying a bookshelf into the new space the false back that I did a poor job of tacking on fell off. “Oh man, I’m sorry,” I said to the movers. “Excuse my crappy IKEA furniture.” One of the guys stopped and leaned against the bookshelf, and then replied kindly, “You know, everyone I move has IKEA furniture, and everyone always apologizes for it.”
I thought of this story yesterday as I was apologizing on Twitter for playing WoW again, which I think makes WoW the IKEA of MMOs.
So why do I feel guilty for being fully back into the Warcraft?
Certainly in part it’s that during much of the past few years I downright hated WoW. Its success paralysed the MMO genre, and other games that I would argue were better died on the vine in its shade. WoW has become a force for the homogenization of MMOs, and its producers seem to accept “fluff” content like costumes and housing only grudgingly, if at all.
I suppose it’s sort of similar to how ex-smokers often become radically opposed to smoking after they quit. While some friends have also slowly popped up in Azeroth again over the last couple of months, others remain steadfast ex-WoWers and give me withering virtual stares every time the game comes up. They’re disappointed in me, I think, for going back to the enemy.
Indeed, occasionally I’ve even been disappointed in myself over the past few weeks as I look up at the clock and realize that I have played WoW for the last 4 hours, something that for whatever reason I was hard-pressed to do in other MMOs. “Again, brain?” I ask myself. “We’re really going to spend our nights like this again?”
Even without the old 6-12 hours a week of raid leading, I find it stunningly easy to spend hours doing farm dailies and hunting down mounts. To be fair winter is coming, and I’m trying to save money, and cold dark cheap nights are the best time for games, but still.
Plus, honestly as much as I’m sensitive to the smell of failure on MMOs I’m equally sort of a game hipster and now I’ve gone back to the mainstream, maaaaaaaaan. (Why yes, I am difficult to please.) I mean WoW. It’s so 2008, am I right?
And yet.. here we are. Much like how yesterday I concluded that I simply got bored of RIFT, here I have to conclude that I’m simply having fun in WoW.
Because I really, truly am. And I suppose that’s nothing to be sorry about.
Wilhelm over at TAGN wrote today about how RIFT is definitely in the post-boom period from its switch to free-to-play. I was surprised to hear that Trion is cutting the number of servers by half, but it made me realize that although I once considered RIFT to be my one true MMO love I haven’t logged on in.. months? Huh. How did that happen?
(By the way, mad props to the PR team over at Trion for writing a real doozy of a post about the shard mergers. It’s not low populations and server closures, it’s advanced technology bringing players closer together! You asked for it, and now you get it! I have serious professional respect for that level of spin.)
So why am I not playing RIFT right now? I did for years leading up to the F2P announcement, and to be fair I played quite a bit afterwards, too. Then I just.. kind of wandered off.
Certainly as someone who dislikes F2P models on principle I found myself clashing with the new system while enjoying the game. I was really extremely super bummed when it turned out that the new outfits associated with Summerfest were all only available through the cash shop, and on top of that were quite expensive compared to everything else. (If a bikini costs more than a space pony mount, the pricing is wrong.)
Then in September patch 2.4 came out and promised new hairstyles. I logged on that night, excited to play Pretty Princess, only to discover that there were a couple of new hairstyles but most were only available though, yes, the cash shop. You could only buy the hairstyles as one big purchase, and they were also quite expensive. I know that a F2P game must make money from the cash shop to survive, but continually having to shell out for fun new casual fluff that I once could play the game to get became too much of a bummer for me.
I admit that I’m also not immune to that standard MMO player fear of failure. When your genre of choice relies on a critical mass of players to be playable, much less exist at all, it’s hard to resist jumping ship at the slightest sign of instability. RIFT (and Trion Worlds in general) has definitely been giving off signs of trouble for a while now, what with the closure of the San Diego office, their non-presence at PAX Prime this year, and the fact that one of the long time and much loved Community Managers, Elrar, was let go.
I still really like Trion, I’m just not sure I’d heavily invest time or money in their MMOs right now.
Of course neither the cash shop nor the feeling of producer instability truly affect gameplay. I could still be running around doing events and warfronts with almost no change from two years ago. But I’m not, and … I don’t really know why. I just got bored, I guess, which I suppose is as legitimate a reason to stop playing as anything other.