A bunch of folks on Twitter this morning were lamenting the fact that playing a game on the “easy” setting is somehow considered not true gaming by people who care about that kind of thing. And they’re right — I’ve seen this attitude, and it’s silly.
Coincidentally I was going to write a post about this subject anyway because over the weekend one of the first things I did in Saints Row IV was turn the difficulty down to what they call “Casual”. And I’m not sorry! I had been playing the game previously in co-op, but now as a single player I wanted a relatively similar level of ease.
There are plenty of games that I play because they’re challenging. Binding of Isaac has no difficulty option, and it’s a great game. Cook Serve Delicious starts to get pretty crazy at higher levels, and it’s also super fun. Hotline Miami is designed for you to die over and over again until you learn where the dudes are in each level.
Playing these games also often stresses me out. And that’s okay, because that is what they’re designed to do — push you with challenges, encourage you to play hard, and make you feel extra awesome when you do a great job.
But when I play Saints Row, for example, I don’t want a challenge. I want to dress up like a hot dog and shoot aliens with a ridiculous gun. And if I’m playing Dragon Age I’m not in it for hardcore combat, I’m in it to explore the world and experience the story of my travelling companions.
If an MMO player focuses on levelling and crafting and 5-mans, they’re still an MMO player, right? If a gamer plays games on the easy setting, they’re still a gamer.
Also straight up, often the whole “easy mode players aren’t real gamers” argument is levelled at women as a sign that yet again they don’t count. It’s easy for us ladies to feel guilty if we move the difficulty slider down because, ugh, we’re living up to the stereotype.
But screw that noise! You wanna be a gamer? Do you play games? BAM, I dub thee gamer. Case closed.
I’m under the weather this weekend which means sooooo many games.
In Hearthstone I got knocked out of my guild’s tournament (although I’m still playing in the runner up bracket). I suspect I’ll end up solidly in the middle of the pack, which frankly is about where I belong. I felt like I was making great strides in the last few weeks and this week.. somehow I got worse? I dunno, I feel like I have two great aggro decks (Pally and Warlock) but I can’t seem to make a control deck that works. It’s frustrating. On the upside I do catch myself being more aware of what my opponent could play, so just playing in general is helping.
In WildStar I hit 50! Finally! I won’t dwell on this too much because I’d like to dedicate a post to it, but I’m excited to work on all the things I’ve been putting off while I still had to level. (Helloooooooo housing.)
I also played Saint’s Row IV long enough to remember what the buttons do and how awesome it is to superhero parkour around Virtual Steelport. Writing yesterday’s post also got me to boot Tropico 4 up again and then I played it until 3am as usual. I promised myself that I could buy Tropico 5 once I finish all of the Tropico 4 missions, and while I’m 75% of the way there it’s still quite a number of hours off…
I really need to start writing down neat things I read all week because by the time I get to Sunday I totally forget everything.
Simcha of the delightful new(ish) blog Simcha’s Many Lives has started doing Let’s Plays using captions and American Sign Language. Her first video is of indie game The Bridge.
Aggro Range writes about how to spot blog design issues with your Google analytics. I know sometimes it’s not cool to care about that kind of thing in amateur blog circles, but I find optimization really interesting!
Gamasutra on the most torrented games in America.
8bit Kitchen launched this week! There are a ton of posts there by a slew of amazing bloggers. Check it out! I contributed my small batch napa kimchi recipe and a beginner’s guide to preserving jams and pickles.
Tomorrow is slow cooker pulled pork day, so expect a BBQ sauce recipe on 8BK later in the week!
I’ve taken a Fringe break somewhere near the beginning of S4. I’ll get back to it soon. In the meantime I started watching Burn Notice on Netflix because it has Bruce Campbell in it, and it’s.. okay? I guess? Okay honestly it’s not very good but I like shows with glib spies so I’ll probably watch a few more episodes before I get totally bored.
I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion about this because it’s not the time or the place, but there has been a lot of bad news this week coming out of Ferguson, MO, including police brutality and the death of a young man, suppression of rights, and just years of systematic racism in action. The fellow below did a man-on-the-street interview for a livestream on Friday night and knocked it out of the damn park. I noticed that he’s gotten about 3,000 Twitter followers since this talk, so clearly I was far from the only one who was impressed.
The Rad Brad played the Silent Hills teaser. It’s pretty terrifying. (Also thank you, Brad, for not having a stupid facecam.)
I’m not sure how I missed this until now but the Retsupurae guys had a panel at the Rooster Teeth con, and they were really funny. If you like the medium of Let’s Plays, you’ll enjoy this.
- My ultimate steam time sinks
- A lore noob watches the Warlords of Draenor cinematic
- Cat Context 57: mmo malaise, Destiny, Twitch TV changes
- Talking to depression
- Podcasts I listen to, August 2014 edition
- Introducing the 8bit Kitchen blog
Although Blaugust is hard and I admit to not being that excited to come up with a post some days, I actually think I’ve done some pretty solid pieces of writing this week so maybe there’s something to it after all.
There is no specific comment highlight this week, but instead I want to thank everyone who commented here or on Twitter or through email on the post about depression. I was really scared to hit that “Publish” button, but I really appreciated hearing from people who have experienced the same thing, or who just wanted to throw in their support. It meant a lot. Thanks for reading my non-game posts when they happen.
Google’s “Auto-Awesome” photo processing was again legitimately awesome this week, turning a bunch of photos into this great gif of my sneaky cat Spike attempting to steal treats from my other cat Binkley:
Meanwhile on Twitter:
Sesquipedalian Dong is my new band name. We do hard rock covers of Childish Gambino.
— Jessica Cook (@Liores) August 15, 2014
One thing that I have learned from doing Blaugust is that I dislike writing on Saturday. That’s my fun day. My “I don’t have to run” day.
But Bangles jokes aside it’s 9:30pm and I’m well into this stash of cider, so forgive the easy out and allow me to tell you about the 10 games in my Steam Library with the most playtime. Not all of the hours are completely legit — I’ve been known to accidentally leave a game running overnight — but it seems roughly about right.
- Mass Effect: 66 hours
For whatever reason the Mass Effect games are pretty much the only series that makes me wanna be all completionist.
- Mass Effect 2: 64 hours
Case in point.
- Audiosurf: 63 hours
I haven’t played this recently, but a few years back listening to music and collecting little colored blocks was my favorite way to chill out at the end of the night.
- Dragon Age II: 41 hours
I liked this game, okay? I mean it definitely was way more linear than Dragon Age: Origins, but I played a sassy Kate Winslet lookalike and it made me happy.
- Tropico 4: 39 hours
“Maybe I’ll just play a bit of Tropico before bed… oh look, the sun is coming up.”
- Team Fortress 2: 39 hours
Another blast from the past! Back in the day I was actually a pretty good pyro, but I’m all out of touch with the maps now.
- SpaceChem: 36 hours
At least half of this these hours were spent just staring at my monitor trying to work out what to do next.
- Portal 2: 31 hours
My time is a combination of the main game and most of the multi-player levels. I’ve been tempted to play this through again lately, even if we’re all tired of lemon jokes.
- Saints Row: The Third
I played this almost entirely co-op. We didn’t get 100% completion, but darn close. (I can’t resist mini-games where you blow things up.)
- Final Fantasy VII: 23 hours
I made a pretty decent effort to play this I think, and I still want to pick it up again, but stories about the grind scared me off for a while.
When it comes to lore in my MMOs, I have but one thing to say:
This is a reflection of me as much as the lore itself. I just prioritize getting a quest done 10 seconds faster over keeping up with the story. It could be a fine story — as an experiment I read all of the quest text in Biodome 3 in WildStar’s Farside zone and it was actually quite good! — but I guess I’m just not motivated by it.
There is an exception to prove the rule, of course, and that is the series of quests with the walrus people in Wrath of the Lich King. Basically the player has to convince this band of happy peaceful walrus people to join the war against the Lich King, and I got really mad at Arthas for being such a frozen jerk that I had to march nice walruses into battle. Not cool, dude. Not cool.
Anyway, all this is to say that the Warlords of Draenor cinematic was released yesterday and as a lore noob I feel like most of it went over my head. Go ahead and watch it if you haven’t seen it yet:
So first, I’ve seen other people make this point but that warlock dude — Gul’Dan, right? He’s in Hearthstone! — who is offering up what I’m guessing is a fresh cup of Monkey’s Paw Stew is the worst salesman ever. You’re supposed to hold off on the evil grins and threats of dark fates until AFTER he has a sip, guy. Take my word for it, I work in copywriting. (Crazy Gul’Dan’s Used Car Emporium, where every deal will COST YOUR VERY SOUL!)
Later in the video this giant demon dude showed up, and I thought it was Magtheridon because they look the same and Burning Crusade was rad. “Click your damn cube, orc warrior guy!” I shouted at my monitor when they started to fight. It turned out to not be helpful advice as I later learned that this is in fact Mannoroth, who I’ve also killed but didn’t have any obvious weakness to cubes.
After the fight, another orc shows up. He takes off his hood with a Big Reveal Flourish and… no wait, who are you? Is that Garrosh? I’m guessing so but I honestly couldn’t tell without the big tusky shoulders, which I suspect robbed that scene of much of its significance.
I did like the final scene of the cinematic though, because it was easily recognizable even for me. Those orcs are building the Portal door thingy! “I’ve been there!” I exclaimed excitedly to my cat, who looked unimpressed. She’s such a Vanilla elitist.
Blizzard has a reputation for amazing cinematics, and from a technical perspective this one absolutely hit the mark. It’s beautiful, the music is great, the action is exciting. But as someone who might play WoD one day it didn’t really get me excited for the game. I would watch a Gul’Dan ‘n’ Grommash (I looked up his name!) 30 minute animated television show after that, honestly, but I wasn’t really eager to jump in and join the story.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just a noob.
Both Elly and Aro have recently been struck by MMO malaise, and they talk about why they got out of the habit of playing MMOs and whether they’ll ever get back into it.
In other news, Twitch alienated a lot of their users this week with the introduction of a Content ID-like feature meant to prevent streamers from using unauthorized music and audio. Is this feature a necessary evil, or over the top censoring?
Also: Destiny still may or may not be an MMO, but it sure is pretty! And mobile games!
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