Monday Random Nerd Things

I am short on sleep and long on real life things to worry about this morning, so just a few scattered bits of news today!

* Last week Ellyndrial and Chris from Game by Night interviewed Paul Sage from The Elder Scrolls Online for Game On Podcast. I wrote about the interview for MMORPG.com, and you can find it all here!

* I played about 6 hours of Child of Light, Ubisoft’s new “JRPG-style” game, and it’s really good. The art design is beautiful, like really really beautiful, the music is great, and the gameplay is solid. My only complaints are that it’s a little too easy on “Normal” mode if you’re already familiar with JRPG logic, and the dialogue sometimes goes to silly lengths to rhyme. That being said, the game is absolutely worth its $15 asking price.

* Over the weekend I watched the movie Knights of Badassdom. On paper it looks amazing: Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, Summer Glau, Jimmi Simpson, and Danny Pudi in a movie about LARPers fighting demons? Um, yes please! In practice though… what a waste. Knights of Basassdom committed the greatest sin a movie can make — being just okay, I guess. It never settles on a tone, and just wastes a lot of great nerd humor. I suggest just watching the trailer and then imagining the rest of the movie.

* I haven’t done a Backlog Project update in a while because I haven’t been playing non-MMOs lately, okay? Don’t judge. Anyway, yesterday I finally completed Mass Effect 1! It took like two years because I insisted on trying to visit just about every planet and drive over its precious native wildlife with the Mako. Anyway, I knew this game would be amazing and have a great ending, and it did. I need to consider it some more, but I feel like 1 may end up being my favorite in the series.

Also in backlog news I fired up Surgeon Simulator and played it for 10 minutes. Then I marked it as “Not Interested” in my spreadsheet. Damn you Steam sale madness! I think next on the list will be The Testament of Sherlock Holmes.

* The Newbie Blogger Initiative is happening right now, and to contribute I made a short video with an overview on how to create a podcast.

Dear WoW: Be Back Later
May01

Dear WoW: Be Back Later

After an extensive break during Cataclysm, I rejoined the masses in Azeroth in September 2013. Patch 5.4 had just landed, and I had a whole expansion of content to explore. And it was good!

I have really enjoyed Mists of Pandaria, with special mention to the Legendary quest, the introduction of flex raids, and challenge modes. The Pandaria zones are pretty and have neat characters and fun quests. Monks are totally a hero class without being actually called a hero class, and they have awesome flip-kicks. All in all, I would personally call Mists a success.

That being said:

2014 05 01 10 03 57 World of Warcraft®  Warlords of Draenor™ Battle.net  Dear WoW: Be Back Later

While there are still a few nitpicky things, I have basically completed my Pandaria bucket list. I finished the Legendary quest and got to exalted with Tillers, Anglers, and that flying dragon faction. I levelled a monk to 65 and insta-levelled a paladin to 90, and I can play both decently. I finished all the heroic dungeons, killed all the new world bosses, got silver in the Proving Grounds, ran everything in LFR and a few things in Flex.

It’s pretty unlikely that Warlords of Draenor, which I did pre-order, will drop any time before American Thanksgiving and WoW is going to remain pretty static in the meantime.

And man, there is a busy slate of games between now and then. For the past two weeks I have literally gotten 5 hours of sleep each night because of the ArcheAge alpha, and it is a pretty strong candidate for becoming My One True MMO Love at its official launch in (I’m guessing) August or September.

Meanwhile, WildStar launches the first week of June and is luring a few ex-MMO-playing guildies back into online life. At this point as far as gameplay goes I’m more excited for AA, but MMOs are social experiences and I am delighted that we will be getting the band back together for another tour, as it were. I can’t help but go where my people go.

And as if that wasn’t enough there will be a Steam Summer Sale in the next six weeks and I have been very good about just adding new games to my wishlist and not buying them on the spot, which means I have basically given myself mental permission to go crazy and buy All The Games once they’re on sale. I deserve it! Well, except for Child of Light which just came out but is only $15 and sounds so good that I really need to buy it. Oh, and Transistor, which is out on May 20th.

Okay, okay, so buy some of the games now, and then the rest of the games once they’re on sale!

So long story short: Pandaria has been very fun and is in my mind a great comeback after the ishyness that was Cataclysm. I have enjoyed the last 8 months, and I’ll be back at some point after the launch of Warlords of Draenor. And until then.. bring on the new games!

Cat Context 50: Our Second Birthday! Ask Us Anything!
Apr30

Cat Context 50: Our Second Birthday! Ask Us Anything!

cat context vertical Cat Context 50: Our Second Birthday! Ask Us Anything!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday Cat Context! Because now you are two!

This week Liore, Arolaide, and Ellyndrial celebrate the podcast’s second anniversary with an Ask Us Anything episode!

Do any of us regret anything we’ve said on the show over the past years? Who is our favorite publisher? What hardware do we use for the show? Is podcasting harder than blogging? (Preview of that last question: Liore gets all tongue-tied trying to explain that spontaneous talk is not usually her strong suit. Then she drinks a lot of vodka.)

Also, Elly is playing TESO and loving it! Liore is playing ArcheAge and loving it! Aro is playing Bloodmasque and loving it, although in a slightly more ironic way than the other two!

Thank you so much for all your support, listeners. We have so much fun doing this show, and here’s to another great two years!

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.

* Beyond Boss Fights Podcast on iTunes.
* The Going Commando SWTOR blog.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Justice is Served? Player courts in ArcheAge and beyond
Apr28

Justice is Served? Player courts in ArcheAge and beyond

One of ArcheAge’s more unique features is a trial system. When a player commits an in-game crime, like killing someone of their own faction or stealing crops, bloody footprints appear. Any other player can come along and click on the bloody footprints, which reports the culprit to the authorities.

Once the player reaches a certain number of reports they are summoned to court, where a jury of five of their peers must vote on their innocence or guilt and determine how long the sentence should be.

Trial chat is broadcast across a wide area (continent? zone? I’m honestly not sure yet), and for the most part it’s pretty entertaining. Here’s a sample from last night:

archeagejustice Justice is Served? Player courts in ArcheAge and beyond

Jury of your peers indeed! Sadly despite his fine argument player Usocrazy was found guilty of uprooting an oak tree he did not own and was sentenced to 14 minutes in jail.

It got me thinking about the whole purpose of the trial system. I’ve often said that I wished PvP sandbox games had more tools for whitehats, and this seems.. sort of eligible? But also kind of just useless-but-fun flavor? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

First, everyone who goes to trial is guilty, whether the jury finds them guilty or not. The only reason they were reported is because they left bloodstains, and the only reason there are bloodstains is because a crime was committed!

Also, sentences quite simply cannot match the magnitude of the crime. Take Usocrazy’s purloined oak tree, for example. That tree probably took at least 24 hours to grow. Usocrazy got 14 minutes of jailtime, which while obnoxious I’m sure also means he still sort of got the better end of the deal: trial time + 14 minutes of jail for an oak tree vs. 24 hours and seedling costs.

And that’s reasonable, because a game really couldn’t get away with throwing a player in jail for a truly punitive amount of time, like 36 hours. Not even I would play that game, and I’m crazy.

So does the trial system in ArcheAge inhibit anti-social behavior (in the true definition of the term) at all? I’m just guessing, but probably yes.

Players know that doing a crime will leave a bloody footprint, and often even the possibility of being caught is enough to stop potential casual transgressors. And while judging by the chat channel trials are just goofy fun (as they should be), it’s probably a little intimidating for some people to have to stand in a virtual courtroom and stare down five strangers while they review a list of your crimes and pass sentence.

All in all, the trial system is kind of wacky but a nice addition to a sandbox game. Jail time is not really very efficient punishment, but I think a trial system does help curb mild offences like crop-stealing in particular. But most of all … it’s just good fun.

Friday Five: I Told You So Edition

Cat Context is turning 2 years old on Sunday, and we want your questions for the show! Leave them in the comments, email, tweet — whatever feels right.

Today’s Friday Five topic is a little tongue in cheek: I’m looking back at some old posts that turned out to be pretty accurate in hindsight. A few of them got major pushback from commenters at the time (hello, WoW Insider readers!) but who was right in the long run? Aw yeah, it was me.

(Note: I am also very frequently wrong, but is that a compelling topic for a list? I think not, so let’s just never speak of those moments again.)

1. Subscription Games are Not Dead Yet – July 31, 2012

SWTOR had just announced their intention to go free-to-play, and the feeling in the MMO pundit community was that this change put the final nail in the coffin of non-WoW subscription games. Today, however, with FFXIV, TESO, and WildStar, subscription titles seem to be coming back in vogue.

2. The ICC Buff Can Bite Me – March 2, 2010

In retrospect I was being a bit of a hardass about the buff specifically, but I think my general point was made over time — raiding in WotLK hurt casualcore guilds. The brilliant Ulduar was pushed out too soon by the horrible Circle of the Crusader, and ICC nerfs were rushed out only to have a full boring calendar year to finish the place.

3. Swimming Against the Tide of Popular Opinion – June 13, 2012

This post could be subtitled, “Stop telling me I have to love Guild Wars 2″. As you may recall, at the time any less than positive post about GW2 would usually be hit by comments saying that maybe the author just didn’t enjoy games any more, man.

While GW2 has proven to be very successful, some of the design decisions that we were told would shape the genre, like repeating low-level public quests at max level, simply just didn’t take hold in the long run.

4. My 2013 Resolution: no more EA games – January 21, 2013

There has been a ton of great discussion on blogs lately about the fallacy of “voting with your wallet”, and the value of sticking with a game/publisher. Sometimes though we all just reach a limit, and my limit with EA was reached at the end of 2012.

I have been EA-free ever since, and I do not regret a thing. My personal boycott kept me out of buying into the disasterious launch of Sim City 2013, and made me feel marginally better about not contributing to the horrible Dungeon Keeper mobile remake. No EA in 2014!

5. Not Feelin’ the WildStar Character Options – February 19, 2013

Over a year ago I wrote a post about how how I was disappointed with the first look at WildStar’s character models. This was well before any beta weekends, but the official videos and screenshots so far showed just a series of inverted triangle dudes and hourglass ladies with no unique silhouettes. (This was before the announcement about Chua, but still.)

A bunch of GameDudes stopped by to tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. The post was even linked on Something Awful AND 4chan (terrifying things to see in your referrals log) where a few folks said I was obviously blind or maybe just Gaming While Feminist.

Of course as we know now the Carbine team just worked their butts off to get some character model options out before launch, because people really didn’t like the boring shapes and lack of options. Mmm-hmm.

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Did you think I was going to write a post without mentioning ArcheAge? Pffft. I made a video last night of the character creator, and here it is:

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