Friday, November 30, 2012

Raise Your Freak Flag

I was reading an article the other today espousing the dangers of having too much story or putting too many resources toward story. I read this article a little disappointed. I’ve always loved story and the idea that there can ever be too much story is such a foreign thought to me. As I contemplated the article I began to realize that it wasn’t the article that disappointed me, or the quality of the writing, the me-too feeling of bashing The Old Republic; what I had issue with was far more basic, the idea that story doesn’t matter.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What's The Matter Charlie Brown?

What’s wrong with gear progression? It’s a big topic these days, the so called ‘endgame treadmill’. Gamers are up in arms over the idea that Guild Wars 2 has a ‘vertical treadmill’. I chuckled when I saw the uproar, three months is just about time for the new paint to be off a MMO, but as I delved deeper into the meaning behind the brouhaha, I was puzzled. My question is who cares? I don’t know what RPG anyone else was playing over the last two decades but gear progression is the name of the game. Cool sets of armors, that sweet sword that can only be gotten by trading a really nice sword halfway through the game. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Dragon Age, Diablo, you name it they all had it. I understand gamers want progress or innovation with regards to the structures of MMO’s, or at least they say they do, but why with regards to gear progression? It’s a time tested method of proving that all that time and hard work is paying off.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's that day again, a day we all love. Eating turkey, hanging out with family and friends; its the best time of the year. As a gamer, especially one who lives in America, I am often thankful for the time and place where I've been born. This year has been an especially great year for gaming and for all the ups and downs it has been a great year for me as well. So I am thankful, I get to do what I love and it's the greatest feeling in the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cash Shop: The Old Republic

The Old Republic went F2P last week and brought with it cash shop. Here is what I've gleaned about what works and what you should avoid (Special Thanks to Darthhater and Dulfy for research purposes). First of all, there are tiers of packs to buy Cartel Coins; the cash shop currency in TOR, each one is bigger than the last. Buy the largest pack, the $39.99 pack; it’s the only one that makes sense. Look some things are cheap in the cash shop and some things are not, but getting the biggest bang for your buck is ideal when looking at any cash shop. Essentially the $5 pack comes out to 90 coins per dollar and the $39.99 pack is 137 coins per dollar. That’s a nearly 50% increase in spending power. What you use those coins on depends on your playing style and how much time you have.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love Me Tender

Video games have changed in recent years. It appears as video games have become bigger business, gamers are less inclined to love a company. Previously the breadth of a companies work would be the weights in the scale of greatness, now it’s their words against their deeds. We see this with the recent public denouncement of BioWare, Blizzard, and now ArenaNet. It’s an interesting phenomenon, more often than not these companies haven’t changed at all; they make top quality product for money and love of the industry. I sometimes wonder if it is gamers who have changed or at least their perceptions. Maybe it’s the explosion of the news now cycle and smaller attention spans, or maybe the widespread use of the internet to disseminate information and closer examination of detail. I can’t quite make heads or tails about where it comes from though. All of these companies are still making top shelf product, so how did they fall from grace?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Do as I say, Not as I do

‘Why don’t people just say what they mean’? A few weeks ago I was watching The Good Wife and I heard those words. The character, an accountant turned glorified debt collector, was talking to a woman who had tried to use him and his position to hurt the firm whose debt he was trying to collect; she reacted badly when he turned her ruse back on herself. It’s been ping-ponging in the back of my mind that phrase. Three things happened this week to bring it back to the forefront of my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Best of the Best III

The Most Visually Impressive Movies ever made, the awesome, the awe-inspiring (in no particular order):

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Way of Customer Service (For the scholarly gamer and developer alike)

The Customer is not always right. There I said it. Lately I’ve seen a shocking and disappointing trend in video games. Some very vocal and less then well-mannered section of fans seems to think that what they want or think matters. Now let me start by saying that video game companies are not allowed to work in a vacuum, there has to be some back and forth between themselves and their customers. However, and this is the big part, customers do not always tell the truth. This can arise from many reasons. Sometimes customers don’t know what they want, sometimes what they think they want has no bearing on what they actually enjoy and look forward to having, sometimes they just plain tell untruths, but mostly customers can be swayed by the mob mentality. For example, when World of Warcraft first launched a very vocal section of the MMO-sphere was aghast at the idea that most of the experience gained would be from quests, the idea that a person wouldn’t spend hours upon hours in ‘camping spots’ grinding out experience was anathema to them. Think that’s too long ago to be relevant? When World of Warcraft came out with its dungeon finder, a small but vocal minority of gamers were aghast that Blizzard was committing heresy by having a dungeon finder, tales of badly made PUG’s, with loot hungry fiends abounded. In the last year every MMO that has launched but especially The Old Republic, The Secret World, and Guild Wars 2 has been criticized roundly for not having a Dungeon Finder at launch. The Customer is not always right.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trust Falls

Author’s Note: This is third and final part of a three part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part III: Trust

What is the purpose of a video game company? Is it to make money, develop games, or is it something greater? I believe that video game companies are Trusts between those that make games and those that play games. Saying that video game companies are just a business or just a company that makes games ignores the very real bond between gamer and developer. I remember going to camp and having to do the ‘trust fall’. Anyone who has ever gone on a work retreat probably knows what I’m talking about. A small group of people go up a platform and fall backwards to each be caught by the group. Each person has their hands tied in front of them before attempting the fall. If there is trust, then everything works smoothly, but if one is hesitant or afraid there is the wild swinging of arms and elbows; it usually means more is injured then just pride.

To Stand Alone

I’ve been watching the final season of Fringe, I love it by the way, but I noticed especially early on that some reviewers had no idea how to take it. Fringe’s final season was cut into three Acts. Much like a story or play it’s as if the final thirteen episodes are being written out like a novel. Rather than have the monster of the week concept, each week’s episode is merely a continuation of the lasts’. It’s perhaps common on channels like HBO, Showtime, and the like, to have short season shows run this way but on the Big Four it’s pretty rare. I still remember watching Deadwood and being amazed how the show was run and then seeing shades of that show-running on The Good Wife. Network heads famously hate shows that don’t have the so called standalone episodes that frequent most shows, audiences can be notoriously fickle and the thinking is that if you don’t have standalone episodes, people who haven’t seen a show will be hesitant to come on board midway through a season. Because Fringe is in its final and shortened season they’re playing around with a different setup and for me at least, its working smashingly. It’s sometimes difficult to do things differently. The video games industry is going through upheaval after upheaval, from how companies get funding, to how they make games, to how we pay for games. Change is difficult enough when you’ve got everything riding on success, let alone when you’re not certain it will be viewed positively by your audience. So here’s a shout out to those who take chances, those who take the brave first steps, those who Stand Alone.