Progress Report: Going Back to GW2 and Firefall

Come listen to a story about a blogger named jewel,
a poor little gamer always looking like a fool.
Then one day when grinding on some mobs
and up from neglect came a lot of boring jobs

cleaning that is, Study time, boring stuff.

And thus sums up the story of my week. Cleaning the house was a big part of the weekend. It’s kept generally clean, sweeping, mopping and all that junk but bits were getting really dirty like the stove. Bathroom and toilets were yucky and I cleaned up the Pantry and fridge… old food and all that plus a can that was so out of date it exploded, leaking gross peach juice everywhere.

Hubby is in the wars again. didn’t hurt himself this time but had his big toe operated on to remove an ingrown nail.. like curved back a round in grown. Man baby was back after that although it did look rather sore so I didn’t mind being the nurse maid once more.

The other thing we got up to was a nice family lunch day on Sunday. Well food was average, coffee club while a great neutral place to meet people isn’t known for quality. Afterwards with the stragglers though we went to a chocolate cafe nearby and I ate my first ever churro and it was so nummy with chocolate sauce and ice cream on the side.. needz more

I ended up watching a ton of Gurren Lagan over the week. I was after a new anime to churn through and I’d heard about ti before… plus I have a soft spot for mecha based anime. Overall it’s pretty cool but I can’t help but think they’ve focused far to much on the overdramatic. It’s just one endless surge of manly arrogance over and over as the core of the show… kind of like those Dragon ball z episodes where it’s just manly roaring at the screen. It over exaggerates but either too much through the course of an episode so it becomes idiotic but not enough to be laughable.

Well, looking for another suggestion for the week to come

Gaming was rather minimal but I did get a decent amount in, mainly in one game though because that mmo urge took over.

I did end up downloading Guild Wars 2 once more to get that Living story unlock and while I was there I took the time to check out some of the changes. My Max level Necro and Ele were of course still waiting within the mists, the place of random pvp matches in between WvW nights that my play near the end had become.
Gw2

It was rather lively due to the mergers with lots of conversation happening and more matches then I’ve seen in a along time. A change I thought should have happened for the mists in the beginning.

Jumping through the gate from there took me into Lion’s arch, the former gathering point for each server, the point of relaxation and gambling. The changes are far more drastic than I thought they were too as the whole zone has been transformed. It’s hard to believe though that they put so much time and effort into the redevelopment of an old space when people were slavering for a new zone at the time. It does spurn on the story and having change within the world is an amazing point but is that worth it, and would there have been better ways to achieve that aim.
Gw2 lions arch

Dry Top seems like an interesting new space and it’s good to see that they are finally adding to the game world once more. I always thought the world based and event experience was the better part of playing (when not murdering others in the mists) yet it was avoided throughout living story one apart from a few additions.

The one thing I feel though is that the zone is just far too dense to the point of feeling claustrophobic. That map is just filled to the brim with icons in every part and the map makes use of the different planes so your jumping up and down and in between. You never get a good view of the map space at any one time and I’m one that enjoys the wide open plains more than these tight corridors. pretty though

Gw2 dry top
Unfortunately I couldn’t play for long as my mouse right button is still kinda of broke so moving around was painful and in a space with valleys and walls all around, of tight corners and platforming well…that will have to wait.

Firefall was a big part of play and there is a fair bit to learn about all the new changes. The crafting and researching is quite different and even how you upgrade and equip four frames has changes a bit but I can’t help but thinking most of it was rather unneeded. The system before had many of the same elements and this is more a visual change rather than a functional one. The other system I guess was more complex but the early times were easy to understand and it had more depth.

Crafting looked more complex as well but that was mainly due to the quality types of resources. The system actually worked ok and this system is the same with needing multiple sub components to make things.. worse I think because sometimes you need sub components for the sub component of a sub component… it’s pointless.

There is a lot I need to say about the game and it’s more recent iteration but that will come in time I think. For now I’m enjoying it once more, especially the more social nature of it. In the week I’ve been playing I think I’ve added another 8 or so people to the friends list, a few I play with regularly now. It’s amazing how simple changes in the structure of levelling can make.

Levelling my dragonfly Frame Up to cap once more has been the biggest priority. It was pretty high before this update although not sure exactly where but I’ve been taking it back up again and am one level short now.I like the class and the healing aspects are a lot of fun and quite needed in a lot of the scenarios but I’m feeling the need to get a DPS class more up there now. I have quite a few of them already unlocked but I’ve been hearing good things about the recluse, so I unlocked that with some leftover pilot tokens I still had from beta and tried it out. Fun class and definitely a lot of aoe pressure.. should be fun

Oh.. and the actual release happens tomorrow too so hope to see you in game.

Link Dead Radio: Sexism, Stereotypes and lots of other stuff

The Links

  • A bit more discussion around Sexism in gaming this week. Polygon had an article where they interviewed a number of woman in gaming about there experiences and it was enlightening and awful. Can’t say I ever really want to become popular enough to get that sort of attention…ever. Phoenix down has a look at the article as well and adds to it with her own experiences.
  • Evil as Hobby has a post about the recent failure of the Yogcast game kickstarter. It’s an interesting study of the crowd funded method and issues of accountability
  • Occasional hero talks about the quality of life and convenience mechanics they’d want continued from GW2
  • It seems I link to Reports from the field a lot but.. they write good stuff. Oh, and if your reading this there’s something wrong with commenting. This week check out the Post about nostalgia and modern video games where he explores how the focus on gameplay that often comes from these pair down visions results in a better experience. How the modern industry is mostly fixated on graphics and the difference between these approaches is why those “nostalgic” games are so appealing.
  • Braxwolf Talks about When your too big to succeed and the growing pains that can happen and has recently plagued Contains Moderate Peril.
  • The Mystical Mesmer Discusses the use of stereotyping in language and how much information is often used through the style and accent within. There are a few examples there from recent and popular mmo’s and its an element I hadn’t thought much about but really does provide a lot of information about the characters.
  • Star-Fired Beef follows on from the Massively Article about virtual worlds and talks about styles of content and equating the virtual world to a players ability to have an impact on others and the world. There is also the question if those opposing such things are actually anti-virtual world.
  • Murf Vs has a follow on post from our conversation during Couch PODtatoe and the legitamacy of esports. In it he talks about the definition of the term and it’s origin as well as certain cultural standards that posit physical ability as the only worthwhile type.
  • Xp Chronicles has an amusing article inspired by a game group about what gaming character they’d go go for. Some funny answers there indeed. Me… probably lightning from Final Fantasy because god dammmmmmmn, just badass. Maybe carmen sandiago if I wanted a suga mama
  • Link Save Zelda has a multi discussion around the concept of pre-order bonuses. The elements they like and the parts they loath
  • levelcapped wonders how much power consumers actually have to elicit change and as expected, it seems not much

The Vids

Bioware and Building a better romance

Jenny leclue, adventure game that I’ve kickstarted

Terra Tech or from what I see, robot Wars the game

Sunset a game seeking kickstarter – I find games showing new cultures and points of view rather interesting

Check in, Check out – Smash Brothers meets broforce

That cryptic trailer from Bioware

halo Nightfall

Lords of the Fallen trailer and gameplay vid

Heaps of beta vids for the crew out now too

Couch PODtatoe 6: Successful Sexism

Welcome back yall to another exciting adventures for PODTATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

This week the oh so loveable DOONE joined us once more for an exploration of the DIGITAL.. DIGITAL…digital .. FRONTIER. A time where we explore the culture of gaming. For this weeks discussion we delved into the subject of Successful Sexism and yes, that does sound like an oxymoron at first but it will make a lot more sense once you listen a little.

In part it was an interesting discussion. We talked a bit about certain games that used stereotypes or certain characteristics of woman to drive gameplay in new interesting ways by not just making such things a part of the story but a part of the gameplay.

We also discussed the culture of stereotyping in general and how it seems to matter about the intention of the material being used, it can still be a terrible representation but the thought implies being placed in meaningful. Those that are used without thought are the really issue but even when thinking about those, and the more blatant examples of sexism and stereotyping it seems they can still be successful in how the elicit debate around the issues.

Well, continue on for more conversation and leave your thoughts or examples of Successful Sexism Below

Download / Podomatic Itunes Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode  6: Successful Sexism (runtime: 50:36)

Breaking the Ice: what are we playing? (starts at 1:53)
Doone’s Digital Frontier: Successful Sexism (starts at 16:00)
Idiots on the Internet: AREAL Fail(starts at 39:09)
Community Talk: Blaugust (starts at 46:08)

Idiots on the Internet article:

For todays idiot on the internet article we had the strange case of the Areal Kickstarter wherein in was subject to many claims of scamming, backed up by information that mostly turned out to be false. It seems like a campaign was organised to discredit the company but then the didn’t do a very good job of countering these claims and adding some legitimacy to their project. It seems like it’s ended in a strange situation where you really can’t tell which party is right.. or which is the idiot in this case.

Community Spotlight:

Belghast: Tales from the Aggronaut
the article: http://aggronaut.com/2014/07/21/fear-of-the-tonberry/

A call to action for bloggers to write everyday for the month of Aughust but also to try being a bit more personal in the information you write. there are a few guidelines though and check out the post for more information

The Guidelines

  1. Write a New Blog Post no less than 10 sentences in length.
  2. Include a link back to the Blaugust Initiative page
  3. Advertise the post on the Blaugust blog – you will be given permissions to do this
  4. If you Advertise the post via twitter, please include #Blaugust hashtag
  5. Over the course of the month, repeat this 31 times.
  6. Profit!

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Doone
Blog: XP Chronicles
Twitter: @trredskies

Ritual of the Rant

As most of my rants go, the last was just as confrontational and of course just as inadequate at really exploring the depth of my concerns and that of opinions. Going on longer tends to make those posts a wee too long and bordering on unreadable…well, more so than usual. The other part is that you tend to lose steam within that anger after a time and the post turns from amusing attacks to a Mundane Meanderings. In part it’s also an element of purging for me, all that negativity building up over time based on events and experiences just needs to be expelled so the more positive analytical me can return again. To go from looking back at the past to looking back at the future.

You might have seen how I generally stay pretty positive about the future of the genre and even particular mmo’s coming up regardless of information to the contrary. There is a lot out there that says  otherwise  but I keep positive. This in part is due to these little outbursts of mine. Holding all that in is rather poisonous and if I wasn’t letting it out I don’t think I’d be able to write any more.

Before starting the blog this didn’t matter too much. I was just another gamer but once writing you tend to be more analytical, to think about games and these experiences in a more focused and critical way and this often means being drowned in a lot of the negativity. Bullshit about diversity and representation and just the stale state of affairs in the industry, It affects you more than you think sometimes and while letting it out definitely annoys some it’s in my best interests. Sorry if it offended… part of the writing process.

I’m guessing most out there that have been doing it for some time now would deal with the same thing although probably in a different way. If you watch closely at some of those larger sites you can see this too. Changes in the style of writing or just the regularity of certain things. It’s just a matter of realising it then releasing it. I actually think burnout amongst bloggers is a real thing and mostly for this reason… It becomes a burden. Probably for devs too if you think about it.

Anyway thanks all for hanging around

Archeage and the Path to Predictability

I keep hearing people bitch about how much damage the cloning of wow has done to the industry. How every product us the same and flitting between each release like a plague of locusts. I’ve been a part of that and even I yearn for something more… How could you not? But then, I continuously see the call for games to change; games that are maybe trying to be something different or give a different experience. That have pieced together the resemblance of a soul yet we want to stomp all over that and cram it back into that overused mould. Archeage is trying something different a least by a little, the iteration it is now is more themepark orientated but there is still a little charm there. Charm that mostly comes from certain PvP elements which many have been attacking and so, that means for me it’s time to get my flame on.

CHAR

Bio Break recently had a pots about this and it made that black bile rise a little from the pit of my stomach. I see a list of quite valid complaints in that post, several note worthy ones and a few more personal and yet, the only argument I see from this side is “waaaah!, this game isn’t catering to me”. Well Boo fucking hoo. That is entitlement speaking and no, me saying that right now isn’t contradictory… it is accepting of a game for what it is and what it provides. Constantly asking for change on every single product is entitled, and quite damaging in my mind. If your after more of the same I seem to remember a large release called ESO you can indulge in, the single player “mmo”. Or how about Wildstar, what we were apparently making out as the the patron saint of mmo rebirth. Oh that’s right, most of you dropped it after a month and are now lavishing after a new mmo carcass.

Do you really understand what a PvE server would involve well, it would no longer be that Sandbox or sandpark many have been excited for. It would become just another themepark in a long line of themeparks with a farmville addition… and not a very good one at that. The questing is sub par, the dungeons are adequate, the end game is minimal and it’s the same grind you’ve been doing for years… Some of you decades. Those trade quests well, glorified escort quests now. Naval warfare, pretty much becomes meaningless, and the entire criminal system pretty much becomes pointless. A post from Geek spinkles, an avid player and care bear supports this same thing as it’s is the PvP elements that make the world more exciting and without those the whole experience would be pretty predictable.

Predictable… When you think about it that word is pretty much the death of an mmo. Once a game become predictable there really isn’t any content left, the game been completed and any play after that is just robotic. Predictable… going through prescribed motions rather than playing a game, hitting that lever for the next pellet. I don’t know about you but I want my gameplay to feel far more than predictable. I want to open up a game and not know exactly where that session is going to take me. We should be embracing this unpredictability but from this WoW approach to design we’ve been hypnotised into the safety of near every element being controlled. There is a certain appeal in repetition but when that’s the entirety of the experience then you no longer hold a person’s interest for long.

You want the same old bullshit over and over again with a different paint job paint job fine, gorge yourself on the billion other titles out there catering to your exact interests. A mass of follow the leader ftp garbage but leave the few titles trying to do a little something different alone. This is a billion dollar industry that has become nothing more than eating the fallen and regurgitating it back up, time and time again. There is a place for more, the interests of its players are more diverse than that and for fuck sake, just leave the ones wanting to be different alone. Not everything has to cater to your exact whims, not every title must have its soul erased so as to appease the fickle masses long enough for them to ravish it’s carcass and leave it buried within its shallow grave before moving to the next. Differentiation in the market is a good thing and if you are actively trying to remove that well… you are everything that’s wrong with the industry right now.

carebear

Now Syp says that we are scared, or threatened by the idea of a PvE server and that is true but only in part. It’s not for the fear of losing easy targets like him, a bountiful land of noobs to frolic through while killing with abandon. No, that is the least of my worries. It is first that the development needs to change in order to accommodate this new PvE server which it would. More content to be developed for these locusts, changes to systems that had PvP in mind when developed. There are a whole range of elements that would need immediate and ongoing development and this would take away from development in other areas. It would no longer be that PvP sandpark people were excited for, just another MMO with a watered down approach because they try to appeal to everyone and yet satisfying no one. The pve crowd will move on within a couple months and the PvP crowd will get even more resentful at the carebears ruining another potential MMO.

I think it’s funny also how it’s often said that the PvP payers need the pve ones, those carebears but really, I think it’s the other way around. If the combat and systems are interesting enough we are satisfied for a long time. The prevalence and popularity of death match style multiplayer games and the whole moba industry is a testament to that. It is actually the PvE players that need us; to add an element of unpredictability, to make the world and experience more dynamic and create something more akin to a world rather than a corridor filled with quests. If you actually want to improve the experience you should be asking for things like greater accountability for a players actions, not removing such interactions entirely.

evil kitty

Now for Archeage , I’m partial about it so far. It certainly has some faults but I’m willing to try and experience the game for what it is. It’s time to move out from that pillow fort we’ve been enshrined in for so long, make some friends and try something new. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you want but at least it will be a new experience and something more than the repetition of the familiar and predictable. And for god’s sake, lets move beyond expecting MMO’s to always fit within that tired design and celebrate the differences.

#Archeage #Sandbox #rant

Open World Adjustments in Firefall

It seems I was a little wrong in my Firefall post the other day. I was excited to get back in and some of it just isn’t apparent if your higher level and running around with a group. It just isn’t as open as it used to be any more and I’m slowly finding more restrictions on play as I go. Things that kind if stop you from going some where or changes to the way things operate. Some of these changes I do think are more of a negative but others I’m a lot more impartial about. I’m still positive about the experience but change.. tis a scary thing.

Areas and Ares

The first big issue I had was not being able to enter the new Devils Tusk zone to join the chosen warrant by myself. To go there involves interacting with the transport ship at the western edge of the new Sertao zone. I’m level 36 at the moment but that was not good enough as the recommended level is 37. I can enter if a group member initiates the transit but not do it myself.

The other restriction I noticed was with the Job Boards. These are in most of the outpost scattered around the world and let you accept a mission to accomplish… They are basically an improvised quest hub. These outposts and areas have level ranges and the quests accepted here take this into account the but unless you at or below you are unable to accept these. Once again if you’re with a higher level player they can accept these and everyone in the group gets it as well so there are ways around it.

*edit* arcporters in major POI’s also take you there at any level

Another noticeable change I’ve seen during release is that the Ares missions scattered around the zones, those dynamic events that are just happening all around have become far less frequent. Before this update there were literally dozens of missions on the map at all time, and that’s just the ares missions within caves and underground facilities. Then there were numerous other missions like the crashed thumpers, LGV’s, Chosen squads, Tornados and a couple more. It was a wonderful thing as it made the map feel more active and with plenty of activities to choose form.Now it’s just the rare missions doted around the maps with considerable distance in between.

Now I understand a little bit about the change, back in beta these became the go to mission for those wanting to farm. There were numerous non-stop groups doing nothing but running between ares missions for the constant crystite rewards. The positive it provided though was having content to lay with at any time and in most spaces for the solo player and groups, it was a space to meet others within and an easy activity when you wanted to play with others… now that’s just about gone. It has been replaced by the job boards I guess but that’s a little more restrictive and isn’t as dynamic.

Thumper Lovin

The other thing that seems to have changed is the way we gather resources. Thumping has always been the go to content form for firefall and it was actually something I kind of enjoyed but a lot has changed about it. With the change to crafting and resources under the guise of “simplification” (another story entirely) many resources, including minerals that you get from thumping are now in tiers: Iron>tungsten>Titanium>Uranium. The next tier of mineral is only available within spaces of the next area but now the thumpers have been changed to suit this system as well.

See, you need a certain tier thumper in order to extract that mineral, A level two thumper will extract everything up to titanium. Before though thumpers would just gather whatever was in that spot and the differences in thumper tiers was related to difficulty. If you wanted to gather quicker or have a more challenging experience you went for the better thumper. It was also a way to tailor the experience to the group you had; more players go for a higher tier, new players maybe play it safer but you could still all gather what you wanted. Now you have a choice of Personal or squad and there seems little differentiation between the tiers of these in regards to difficulty.

All these changes do seem a bit negative, the thumper ones I’m particularly annoyed about but there might be some certain positives as well. Now, when these restrictions on level were created they still made some easier ways around this. Just getting into a group will help you open up far more content, it’s a way of encouraging grouping in a way and maybe setting up new players into groups with the more experienced. It also means that you can have a friend play with you regardless, if they are low level they can just tag along and join in with everything your doing which I think is an important factor. Downlevelling seems to be a growing trend in mmo’s but I think this takes it one step further, not many people want to go backwards after they have already levelled and this lets new or casual players still join in with higher zones and end game content.

It’s also ok for the you to do the lower content as well because you seem to scale for the zone in certain ways and also for the instances. Regardless of that the Ares missions, job board ones, and events seem to reward just as much as the higher level content. You might not get on par materials for crafting as those seem to be within certain spaces and level ranges but the currency and exp rewards are still good. This makes sure the entirety of the world and content is available to each and every player and, is still rewarding… now tell me why this isn’t common practice again?

I understand the draw of creating a progression system more focused on defined levels, it just seems to align with how people tend to think about RPGS. There is no need to get complicated with design around progression like they were before, just adding levels is enough to maintain that feeling of growth and provide consistent accomplishments during play. it’s a widely tested and used facet for a reason but it seems they’ve done there best with it while keeping much of the game still open to play. I’ve talked before about removing levels from mmo’s entirely and while that doesn’t sound likely this seems like a good enough compromise.

#Firefall #Update #Sandbox

Link Dead Radio: Dangers of the Digital Age

 The links

If you are to read something this week make it this long treatise from game designer Brendan Vance that really just explores everything making up our modern consumer practices, just make yourself a coffee or tea first and find a nice relaxing place to absorb it all. It goes into the changing meanings of word sand how they’ve been appropriated. The nature of games, art and replayability. The changing methods of distribution and the ways this has revolutionised the marketplace and corporate practices and a whole plethora of other concerns. It is the amalgamation of modern game designer concerns wrapped up in one package.

  • Camelot Unchained had a big week of info dumping during and after the BSC Days event. Massively had a few big presentations on a few mechanics and there is a lot answered in the comments section. Keen and Graev got an interview as well. There are heaps of vids on the Camelot Unchained youtube now too.
  • Next month is Blaughust, apparently. An event about being a bit more personal and open in your posts inspired by Belghast and his post a day blog. I’m far from being open in how I talk here and prefer to keep that sort of thing to a minimum but it might be an interesting experiment, just don’t expect a post everyday
  • Talarian is tired of saving the World and talks about his experience in a jrpg just playing as an everyday alchemist in a starnge world. Personally, I’m rather sick of that feeling as well and see it as one of the cutches the industry seems to be relying on far too much.
  • Dragonchasers has a post about the gambling elements within Firefalls shop. It’s an element that is my major issue with the game right now as I will never, ever, EVER pay for a chance at an item. I see it as taking advantage of people.
  • MMO Gypsy talks about Late comers and MMO citizenship. About how you seem to lose a little something when you come into an mmo late as everyone has experienced a commonality you missed.
  • Cogitationes Astalnaris talks about the disappearance of WoW Bloggers  gets a little pensive in his wonderings on where the wow bloggers have gone and it really relates to whatever community. The whys and hows are often hidden but it’s still a sad thing to see people just dissapear.
  • SImcha talks a little about her experience with morality in games with regards to roleplaying characters and game mechanics and how a recent experience of being notorious made her feel.
  • Low Key Gaming discusses the issues the issues they have with Hyper realism and how it can be a little distracting in the way you engage in the rules of the game world.
  • oh and PLUSHIEEEEEEEESSS.. gotta catch em all and here’s a list on where to find them

The Vids

Darkwood Interactive trailer

Rainbow 6

Tekken 7

The long Dark

Repopulation Interview

Rise and Shine

Firefall and more of the same

Jumping in it Firefall again has been rather illuminating. I keep wondering around the mmo landscape searching for that mmo home, a place to settle down in and maybe become a part of it. Firefall, and New Eden feels like it could be that place. Before the update I felt this way as well, there was just something about the game that really entranced me.

Inventory Full talks about this same feeling in Guild Wars 2, an indescribable feeling of getting that foundational feeling right for the person. For me that’s having a sense of freedom in my play; the ability to go wherever, whenever, to do whatever I might feel like. I don’t need as much direction, I don’t want the restrictions of story and such and I don’t want to worry about running a gauntlet of tightly controlled instances. I just want an open world to explore and engage in and this is what Firefall gets right for me.

I finally got in from a long day of play yesterday and I was once again greeted by a world and that “go do stuff” attitude. During my play I ran around the Coral Forest zone getting used to the combat and my Dragonfly frame once more. I explored the zone, jumping and gliding around. I did a few of the more dynamic Ares missions. Then I thought to try out the new tutorial which seems better now that it’s actually in the world and it does a decent job of showing the basics.

Firefall

Gliding challenges

I stopped this for a bit to check out the new crafting and research system and progressed through a few of those lines. I then thought to go explore the new zone so I drove over there and in the process of unlocking the map view I fell into a group for some thumping. This then led to chasing tornadoes with the group and a few Ares mission. Another few people joined our group and someone left and we continued on. While running around a large event happened to protect one of the town’s so we started doing that adn it was an amazing new zone event.

I even got to check out the old Diamonhead zone, now Devil’s Tusk to join those on the chosen warfront and trying as a community to claim more land on this content and that was amazing to be a part of this large communal goal. Just this morning they seem to have accomplished the first step too and a step that wasn’t timed or forced but one enacted by its players.

Thus sort of process went on for hours where I’d go in and out of groups, trying a range of different pieces of content and just being in that flow of play. I wasn’t stuck to some prescribed path or filling out a checklist of daily tasks or achievements.. I was just playing this game. I seriously love that, more than I could possibly express.

Jumping onto one of my alts was still a pretty similar experience. I was still just exploring around and doing a range of content, I jumped back into the higher zone for a bit more to explore around again, falling into a few more groups that really didn’t mind this level 16 frame being a part of their group. Levels just don’t matter that much and there’s always an advantage in having another.

Even before there where technically levels, it was that weird hidden from view progression mechanic that involved unlocking constraints and such to allow better gear, now it’s just more visible. The new and old zones do take this into account and display level ranges for the spaces but it’s really not a restriction on play, more a recommendation… A difficulty index. The new zones are available as are the new instances and if you are skilled enough or have a higher level friend for support its easy enough to just go wherever, whenever to do whatever

Plus new zone is purrrrty

Plus new zone is purrrrty

As you level up and attain better gear it does make a difference. You gain power and health and from where I am now close to cap at level 34 it seems to be a bit over double. Some things really don’t grow much at all over the levels but are just nice improvements. There is also no hidden stat to decide whether you’ve hit something or not, or whether critical damage happens, it’s a shooter after all and that’s rather refreshing. I could just start a new frame and play with my friend in the higher zone while still contributing damage healing and killing potential… Seriously, how often does that ever happen and it’s a feature I’ve been longing for.

What this adds up to is an experience that feels more open and more social. There are minimal restrictions on play so everyone can just join together. There’s no item level so you can’t do an instance, no requirement to gathering higher level materials and no silly quest that get in the way of playing with someone. Playing above your level or below is equally interesting as well, the rewards are still there from resources and experience and the gameplay is enjoyable.

If Firefall had actually been updating at a decent pace it could have still been my main game as it’s an mmo that’s tried to be an mmo first and not a single player game with mmo annoyances. The more modern mmo elements they gave added like the levels, job board story and instanced are more a guide on play rather than a rigidly defined path to power which will be nice for those that need structure without ruining the experience for people like me. That’s a huge difference and a change I wonder why we don’t see more often. It’s the type of game I can really settle into and want more of, now the wait to see if they can keep the world growing.

#Firefall #Review #MMO

Couch PODtatoe 5: Attack of the Beaverine

Welcome back traveller, come close to the fire while I spin a new tale, a tale of Couch PODtatoes

This week we discussed the recent change of direction from a couple companies in trying for more diversity in their characters. It was all spurned on by this article about Blizzard changing where the CEO for blizzard made a few statements about creating more diverse characters going forward. We argued a little over the reason for this quite drastic change as just a few months ago Blizzard seemed to be stating the opposite, that they were a company focused on fun not making a social stance.

We talked a bit about the differences in characters and the changes we would like to see and what changes we think were appropriate and I think I’m ok with these sorts of changes in the absence new characters. We also discussed what type of changes are important and about the nature of just trying to be politically correct.

We then ended with a funny question, that I also pose to you dear read.. What diversity makeover would you give to a character?

Lady Gambit for me

Download / Podomatic Itunes Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode  5: Diversity (runtime: 46:38

Breaking the Ice: what are we playing? (starts at 1:20)
Diversity in the Media (starts at 13:46)
Idiots on the Internet: Child Traffickers (starts at 34:00)
Community Talk: Being a Critical Fan (starts at 39:44)

Idiots on the Internet article:

Idiots for this week is the father that sold his son to pay for his free to play gaming habits.

Community Spotlight:

LadyCroft3: Link Saves Zelda
the article: http://linksaveszelda.com/2014/07/10/being-a-critical-fan-the-importance-of-finding-the-perfect-balance/

A talk about being a critical fan and the elements that go into conversation; the balance of being understanding of the flaws as well positive elements. We also talked a little about the fail/hype train for games on release and the article referenced was from Tuxcedo Ninja Gaming.

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing the Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

#podcast #Podtatoe #Diversity #Beaverine

GW2 and Content Charges

I’ve been reading a bit about the new Living story updates for Guild Wars 2 and, it has me intrigued. Not enough to go in there yet but enough to prod my attention towards it so I’ll be reading a little more about the story and changes to come.

There have been several great round-ups already on the new changes, of these and I’d probably recommend Inventory Full, Sygnus and Why I game of those but then I know I’m forgetting some as well. I just wasn’t paying that much attention at first until a little way into it. A new, growing zone to exploring, a better story telling approach and with the journal it won’t feel like such a constant achievement grind.

It seems as though they have taken all their learning from the first season and applied it now for the second, apparently it still has issues but nothing as overwhelming as the chorus being repeated from the first. Of course I still wonder why they so doggedly persevered for that entire time with a system that so obviously wasn’t working but, whatever.

I’ve actually been thinking about re-downloading it once more just to see some of these changes and experience the new content. Plus, I want to log in to at least get these content releases without having to pay for them but then there seems something a little wrong with them beginning to charge for content, now of all times. Yeh, it’s only a small part of each update that I’m guessing is locked behind the cost and the actual game changes like the world and gear are probably included but it’s still holding back content.

They do have allowances towards this as well, log in for a short time and you gain access to the current living story within the new journal mechanic, play it whenever you want from then on and that is extremely great of them but then, why charge at all. There are going to be new player coming in all the time, well, that’s what you want anyway and what your doing is restricting the amount of content to them unless they pay another charge.

Thinking about this further I seemed to remember some of the initial marketing speak and conversations about the payment model before release and arenanet were saying something like you would never need to pay for content, that all updates would be free. Sure enough with a little digging there was an old forum post from Colin Johanson

No need to buy them, Gw2 will feature consistent free content updates and in-game events going forward. Our goal is to make it so you get more from Gw2 for free than you get from a game you pay a subscription for.On top of a large amount of free bonus content, we will be expanding on offerings in the Black Lion Trading Company going forward, as well as be doing large-scale expansion content down the road.We’ll cover a lot of the details on the kind of support and plans we have in place over the next month or so on the Gw2 blog and with our press partners.We do appreciate that you’d like to buy lots of new content, but we’d prefer to give a lot of it to you for free, cause that’s what we think a responsible MMO company does!

Now, I guess you can kind of say the updates still are free, the game is getting updates it is a story rather than mechanics but…hmm. It also is free if you log in but still, that all seems like a rather tenuous line to draw. It does seem to be dealing a lot with the semantics of what is said, twisting it to the current vision of the game like they’ve done with a lot of the other larger changes.

There was also this comment within one of the G4TV presentations where Johanson stated

“When you buy Guild Wars 2 you get the whole game, period. You’re never going to get a microtransaction to get more of it

That seems a little less vague and more like they are breaking another one of their original guiding principles.  A principle of Buy to Play that many in the industry hold up as a beacon now and while it does appear small at first, a mere 200 gems it quickly adds up when you consider the speed and how long the living story will go for… Lets see, bi-montlhy updates for 6 months will cost about another 30$.

To be honest I did, and do have a problem with their payment model which is probably why I’m bringing it all up once more. It just seemed like there were too many gameplay changes as a way of reaching further into the players wallets. I called it the gold grind as I personally saw them trying to push people towards buying gold, and their gold or at least engaging in insane amounts of terrible gameplay to compensate for certain frustrations. It was also their rather insidious use of lock boxes and RNG for near everything interesting.

It also felt like WvW wasn’t getting any decent updates partly because they had no idea how to monetise it but that’s another rant now buried deep within the depths of my black, oozing, mmo heart

My main thought about this new change to their payment model is “why now”. Why after nearly 2 years would you begin charging for content and an obviously needed and highly asked for feature at that. Oh there’s definitely the demand for it but just because something might be good business doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the game. It almost feels like they are designing an issue just to sell you the cure… Zynga would be proud.

Are they not as well off as the wanted or projected and needed the extra boost. Is the current strategy of cosmetics gated in their use by other mechanics and the sale of lock box keys not working out as well any more. Have the masses become wise to the abysmal probability. Last quarter was 10 million less in sales but looking at the quarterly report it’s hard to determine as you don’t have all the details and after a false report of 3 million sales in china we have yet to hear the real numbers.

Now, I am being a bitch and mostly picking at small changes backed by some decent allowances to avoid these new payments but it’s these slippery slopes of payment changes that have a tendency to grow larger and more intrusive with time. At least what they’re producing is better this time around, maybe it is worth they extra money… is this the eye of the north equivalent expansion everyone’s been asking for?

#GW2 #Update #microtransactions