Friday Four: Let’s Plays I’m Watching Right Now

I watch Let’s Plays on YouTube more than I watch actual television. Sometimes they have my full attention, and sometimes they’re just good for putting on the second monitor while rep grinding. A lot of the appeal of a LP is the game itself, of course, but a great commentator — whether that’s funny or informative or whatever — can make me watch even the worst of games.

Anyway, here are some of the LP series that I’m watching right now. Have a great weekend!

1) Men Drinking Coffee play MindJack
I’ve talked about these dudes before because they are flippin’ hilarious. This time they’re playing MindJack, a terrible co-op game from 2011. RIP Sweet Steve.

2) Supergreatfriend plays 999
I don’t think I personally have the patience to play a visual novel. When I sit down to play a game, I am in the mood for gameplay, not reading really long descriptions of things! Fortunately there are troopers like Supergreatfriend. Here he plays 999, a murder mystery. This is good stuff, but very much a “second screen” kind of LP.

3) Slowbeef and Lowtax play Phantasmagoria
There are two reasons to watch this LP. First, Slowbeef and Lowtax are well-known funny dudes who are funny together. Second, Arolaide talks about her childhood struggle with Phantasmagoria a lot on the podcast, and now I know of her pain!

4) Kinch plays Spelunky
Okay, this one is sort of cheating because the videos are from my own YouTube channel, but not by me! My friend Kinch streams his Spelunky Daily Challenges, and occasionally I pop them on YouTube (with permission). He does a really good job of balancing talk about the game with entertaining patter, and more importantly these videos have created an explosion of Spelunky players in our gamer circle.

Tough Race and Class Decisions for WildStar
May20

Tough Race and Class Decisions for WildStar

It’s less than two weeks until we get to play WildStar for realsies, and I still have no idea what class I’m going to play on my “main”.

I’ve already made my mind up — twice — about which race I’ll definitely be playing. For most of the game’s development I was all about the Mordesh, who had the benefit of looking pretty punk rock with all their space zombie face gadgets. Over time though I have become more and more enamored with the Aurin.

aurinhead Tough Race and Class Decisions for WildStar

I know! I’m as shocked as anyone! But thanks to the pre-launch boob reduction and the addition of body type options, Aurin have gone from being mandatory sexpot bunnygirls to being optionally not-necessarily-sexy goofballs. The silly hair, the gigantic eyes, over the top love of nature.. it’s a near certainty at this point that Liore will be an Aurin. Who knew?

As for class, I still have no idea. I know I want to be a class that can heal, because healing is my bag, baby, but beyond that all three of my options seem viable.

Spellslinger – Good burst heals, ranged role, heal by shooting teammates in the head. However, DPS is apparently pretty poor at the moment, burst heals rely on a resource mechanic, and weak for AoE heals.

Medic – Shields, big AoE heals (no targetting), strong DPS for questing, weapons look cool. However, requires being in medium/close range and lacking in single target heals.

Esper – High heal-per-second, ranged role, spells will shoot butterflies and turn you into a unicorn. However, low burst healing, only moderate survivability, and issues with mobility at low levels.

chua esper 500x312 Tough Race and Class Decisions for WildStar

A Chua Esper! I will be killing you in PvP!

Initially I thought I would be a Medic, because.. it’s called Medic, so surely it’s the best healing class! I also really like the Medic’s defibrilation paddles as weapons.

As it turns out though Medic is not the best healer by default, and I much prefer ranged over melee positioning. So then I looked at Spellslinger! It seems like a fun class, although I’m a little put off by all the word that its DPS is low because I’ll be spending the majority of the next few months questing for levels. Also, although it’s not a huge issue it turns out a lot of people in my guild are also going Spellslinger.

So then in the last week I’ve finally started looking seriously at Esper. The big complaint I’ve heard is that Esper suffers from a lack of mobility in a game that is all about movement. However, I’ve also read that Esper plays a lot like healers from other MMOs, WoW holy priest and RIFT’s sentinels in particular, which is me all over.

Long story short, it looks like I might be playing the one class that I didn’t touch for a single second in beta, and the one race I declared I would never, ever play. It’s a good thing the game is launching in 11 days before I change my mind… again.

Do Old Guilds Prevent Making New Friends?

Back when I started WoW, my first real MMO, I was on a mission to meet people and make friends. I didn’t know anyone in the game, so I hung around the official server forums and contributed to general chat in-game. I ran a lot of pugs, chatted with a lot of strangers, and always updated my friends list after with folks who seemed nice.

Once I started a guild I spent the first year or two doing the same thing, although then it was more in service of guild recruitment and alliances and less making personal friends. I still did, though, particularly with other casual guild leaders and officers. Eventually my guild grew to the point where we could always fill our own groups, and I spent less and less time trying to meet and befriend non-guildies.

That’s just kind of the nature of having a guild, and it worked great while we had 40-ish active members in one central game.

Nowadays though things are a lot different for us as they are for most of those old WoW guilds. We have maybe 20 active folks, spread over a number of games. Even when we’re in one game we have a difficult time doing group content on a regular basis because of course almost a decade later a lot of us have kids and spouses and more demanding jobs now. Plus generally our attention spans seem a lot shorter, and my guild is certainly guilty of being “3 monthers” for new MMOs.

And yet even when I happen to be more serious about a game than the rest of my guild generally is, I don’t return to my old ways of running pugs, making forum posts, and just being open to meeting new people. I remain as insular as I was in the old, peak activity days. Pugs?! Ugh. I prefer a guild group, thanks, even a non-existent one.

I think there are a lot of us, perhaps even the majority, who are in the same boat. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how their guild is “getting back together” for WildStar. And that is totally awesome, but I think at a certain point it also hinders players from enjoying the social aspect of MMOs. We have blocked off any opportunity and interest in meeting new people because we HAVE a guild already. Why do I need to put myself out there and meet people in Game X when I already have a guild?

There’s been a lot of discussion on other blogs lately about making in-game friends vs. bringing friends to a game and the different effects on player longevity. It ties in pretty well with my suspicion that we’re all joining these new MMOs with our old guild and simply refusing to get out there and make new in-game friends because of it.

I’m not saying that the answer to MMO longevity is to ditch our virtual families or anything, but that if you too have been travelling to different games with the same pack of folks, particularly if they are only mildly committed to the game, it might be time to stick your head out and meet some additional, non-guild friends.

WildStar Guild // Cat Context 51: Child of Light, TESO, Heroes of the Storm
May16

WildStar Guild // Cat Context 51: Child of Light, TESO, Heroes of the Storm

A few blog readers (hello!) have popped in over at my guild to see if they can join in the fun for WildStar, and of course the answer is yes! We have a bunch of people, myself included, who are psyched for launch.

If you, dear reader, are looking for guildies who are smart, funny, and nice, people who don’t use slurs of any kind, and a guild that is focused on taking your time levelling and only very vague plans for raiding in the future (like, maybe occasionally if we find a small guild alliance?) then you are totally welcome to join us on the Exile side of a PvE-RP server to be announced.

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The following podcast was ready earlier in the week, but I’m just putting it out now. Partially I’ve been super swamped at work, but also I’ve been struggling with a resurgence of my depression this week. I’m only mentioning it because I thought it was a good reminder that mental health is a journey and sometimes you gotta stop and rotate the tires.

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cat context vertical WildStar Guild // Cat Context 51: Child of Light, TESO, Heroes of the Storm

This week Liore, Arolaide, and Ellyndrial have been playing games! A lot of games!

Both Liore and Aro have been playing Child of Light and think it is, like, so pretty you guys. Speaking of pretty, Aro has also been playing the WildStar open beta and has come around on the Aurin. Elly, meanwhile, has been playing the Heroes of the Storm technical alpha, and is angry about cash shops. He’s also still in TESO and having a good time. Meanwhile Liore has gone back to 2011 and finally finished Bastion. It’s really good, but you probably already knew that.

Also, we argue a bit about cash shops and free-to-play! And talk about Mass Effect because it’s never a bad time to talk about Mass Effect.

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.

* Limb Repair Station, a free browser-based game.
* The famous fan breakdown of Tali’s sweat.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Early Access MMOs and Burning Out
May12

Early Access MMOs and Burning Out

There is a lot I dislike about paid early access / pay-for-alpha, much of which I’ve already written about here. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I think these schemes encourage burning out before a game even launches.

I’m worried about this particularly in relation to ArcheAge. I know a surprising number of people who bought the $150 alpha access pack. And on the one hand, I’m excited that so many people are into the game! On the other hand… if the dedicated players are in the game now, in May, will there be anywhere near this level of commitment once it launches for real in early Fall?

If I luck into getting a free alpha/beta key for a game, I will probably dabble with it but I won’t feel obligated to try and wring the most out of my playtime. However, if I paid $150 (or any amount really) to get access to a game I’d want to dive in with abandon immediately and get my money’s worth!

Historically, of course, the first few months of an MMO are the most exciting. The playerbase is at its happiest, there’s huge swaths of content yet to be experienced, and we all blissfully bumble around not knowing where we are or how things work. If you buy and play the alpha now, though.. will you still be playing the game five months from now? If you are still playing, won’t most of the mystery have worn off by then?

tumblr marpi1nZbi1r9n04yo1 400 Early Access MMOs and Burning Out

from http://noobwowplayer.tumblr.com/

It just strikes me as yet more splitting of the playerbase in a genre that requires concurrent numbers to survive. To experience that Zeitgeist, that rush of everyone being new.. you basically have to luck into an alpha key or drop $150 right now. By the time the game launches a number of the current crop of breathless fans will have moved on after playing for 6 or 7 months (which is not unreasonable).

I miss the days when barring a few lucky beta testers, we all got to start an MMO at the same time. It seems like games now charge for the ability to participate in those glorious first few months when we’re all noobs, and it’s a bummer.

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