Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's Just One Wafer Thin Mint

You'd think that January would be a prime MMO gaming time. After all, in the Northern Hemisphere it's Winter, and you're not exactly going to be doing a lot of outside work when it's below freezing. Additionally, the high school (American) football season is long over, so my oldest doesn't need to go to marching band practices multiple times per week.*

But. (You knew that was coming, right?)

I've just not found the time to go onto MMOs very much the past month or so. It's kind of strange, really, but when I've sat down to play a little on the computer I've been dialing up Civ IV instead of an MMO.

Part of this is practical: I can pause in Civ IV any time I want without impacting the game at all. (Yay for turn based games!) I used to be able to do that --to an extent-- in WoW by summoning a flying mount and shooting upward into the sky to park for a while, but leaving WoW meant leaving that behind.  (There's also the issue about no flying mounts in Draenor, but I digress.)

I have done some questing on SWTOR, but that's been often in the evening when prying eyes can watch what I'm up to. Typically it's not a big deal if I'm on an Imperial toon, but since the Mini-reds play SWTOR, I'm trying not to give away any class stories.** My youngest reminded me of that when I got to the part in Chapter One with Risha and Tatooine, and my youngest blurted out loud "She's betraying you!!!"  I looked sidelong at her and said "I know the story --or enough of it-- and you don't. Don't jump to conclusions when you haven't seen the lead-in to this part."

There have been other games I've been playing, such as GW2 and STO, but for some reason I can't play for more than 1/2 hour at a time, so any long stretches of exploring, questing, and doing other things simply have to wait.


It's a strange feeling, being in MMO limbo.

You read other blogs and you say to yourself "Yeah, I want to get back to playing again!" But then reality intervenes and you have to go take care of some laundry or dinner.*** I'd gotten used to that scenario when I played pencil and paper RPGs, which require some actual playtime of an hour or three at a time, but when my MMO reality is 1/2 hour at most....

I'd started Dragon Age: Origins, but that petered out when I realized I'd be spending long hours at a time in front of the computer screen. A well written computer game is akin to reading a novel, and I've been known to... have issues... putting down a novel at night. Several months ago I spent a little time on Saturday night tinkering with Star Trek Online. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just play for a little while, do a little exploring one of the zones, and call it a night."

I finally called it a night at 4 AM.

Um, yeah. I don't have any problems stopping. No sir. And no, my name is not Mr. Creosote, either.****


Ironically enough, the mini-Reds have been busy on LOTRO, enjoying the fun that comes with group content in their own kinship. As a parent, it derives me no end of pleasure listening to them talk about their exploits in Middle-earth, and of the songs played at the latest concert in Bree. They've even started talking about adding to their kinship, but I've cautioned them about not recruiting people other than those friends they know from school who would be interested in this sort of thing. I'd rather not have them deal with guild drama if they can avoid it.

That said, it wouldn't necessarily shock me if they decided to start their own LOTRO band. I guess I'd have to help them with the technical end of things, but I'm sure it's a minor obstacle.

*I'm still surprised that the school never accepts band classes for the physical education requirement. Unlike some other schools, our high school requires all students taking either wind ensemble or symphonic band classes to march in the marching band. And as the marching band students will tell you, marching band is a very strenuous activity, far more so than the actual phys ed classes out there.

**They only play Republic toons, so I'm safe playing Imperial toons when they're around.

***Or sleep. I'm no longer a spring chicken --it's a saying, kids, go look it up if you don't believe me-- and I like to get as much sleep as I can. I'd get even more if I wasn't obligated to stay up while my oldest completes her homework.

****If you don't know where THAT name comes from, you might not want to know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is this necessarily a problem?

Polygon is reporting that selfie portraits have recently become available in the WoW PTR.

Oh, I get where this is interesting, but I'm wondering the why of it all. Outside of the occasional up close pic here and there, WoW is more about clothing, art, and other items than up close facial shots.

From Polygon. I find it... interesting... that Blizz
came up with this AFTER the Blood Elf rework.

But I can see where this becomes a target of the late night talk show circuit: "As if we aren't narcissistic enough as a society that we have to take selfies in our video games...."

Oh well.

Monday, January 26, 2015

So it's not MMO Related...

...but Bioware has the Dragon Age: Inquisition tavern songs available for a free download right now. Whether or not you played the game, it's still free.

The best part? Not just the music, but they have PDFs of the sheet music so you can sing along. The sheet music isn't for multiple instruments, but it's far better than nothing at all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We'll call it Overwa-- What do you mean that's taken?

Apparently Blizz might have to change the name of Overwatch to something else.

Innovis Labs submitted a US Patent and Trademark request for the name Overwatch 2 months prior to Blizzard submitting the same request, and you can probably guess the rest.

Here's a short blurb from The Escapist on this little mixup.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For Charlie


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Making the Rounds: Ten Years of WoW in Ten Comic Panels

Courtesy of Nerd Approved and created by, you'll have a good chuckle.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Waiting for the Ball to Drop

By many standards, it has been an eventful year in my house:

  • The oldest Mini-Red is now able to legally drive and has begun receiving college literature.
  • The youngest Mini-Red has left elementary school behind for middle school.
  • The Mini-Red in the middle* reached the state finals of the National Geographic Bee.

And oh yeah, there were some games played, too.

When the year began, I had two main games --WoW and SWTOR-- and a couple of smaller games that I played in Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Age of Conan. I was content to get my regular fix of Alterac Valley, and when the PvP Seasons would restart I'd play the other BGs before the arena players got too far ahead of the rest of the more relaxed (if there is such a thing) BG crowd. I'd only finished two class stories on SWTOR, and I really enjoyed the questing and flashpoints.

In a sense, my original WoW habit had broken into two games because of my dissatisfaction with the 5-mans and the dysfunctional questing progression in Cataclysm.

Mists was an okay expansion and better than the incomplete Cataclysm, but the emphasis on Dailies, Pet Battles, LFR, and Scenarios meant that the parts of the game that I liked best (BGs and 5-mans) got the short shrift.

The Mini-Reds started the year playing LOTRO with occasional forays into SWTOR. Blizzard's subscription design kept them out of WoW --I wasn't planning on forking over around $45/month just for them to play an hour or so a day (each) in Azeroth-- and given the toxic nature of some parts of WoW I wasn't planning on letting them play there anyway. When I get a crude come-on in the middle of Isle of Conquest, you know there's just enough creeps out there to not make it worth the risk.


What surprised me the most about 2014 was how some issues that had been lurking just under the surface finally exploded.

If you'd have asked me about the most problematic aspect of Gamer Culture in January of 2014, I'd have mentioned the crossover area into Hentai and the seedy underbelly of child porn that thrives there. People like DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, while not gamers themselves, have spread a taint over all of Geek Culture that isn't easily removed.

So what happened in 2014? Oh, not much, only an explosion in how women are treated in the gaming world.

You know, Gamergate. Among other things.

The fallout from Gamergate will take some years to completely process. While the Gamergaters themselves are a distinct minority, they have tainted an entire industry with their nearly insane zeal to protect their Boys' Club from 'the wimminz'. The hatred and bile that the Gamergaters spewed across the internet became an eerie echo to what happened when the anti-suffrage movement took on the Suffragettes.  Spinks has referenced this quote attributed to Rebecca West, but it still resonates with me: "Women, listening to anti-suffrage speeches, for the first time knew what many men really thought of them."

In the end, the Gamergate campaign has not achieved any of their goals --if you believe the goals they lived by as opposed to the often mocked goal of "ethics in gaming journalism"-- and if anything it has hardened the resolve of people to be more inclusive.


Other things happened in 2014, of course.

In our household, the biggest surprise was the rise of Marvel Heroes 2015.

It's no surprise that in a household of three Marvel fans that the F2P MMO-ish game Marvel Heroes** caught on. It's Diablo meets Marvel, without all of the messiness of who owns what property in movie studios. Apparently when Marvel Heroes launched, it was a bit of a dud, but over the past year plus it has really come along (as in fixed bugs and issues with gameplay) and gained a pretty decent following.

The first boss you meet. Oh hey, Black Cat. Wasn't expecting
you at a bank robbery. Not. At. All. (from Marvel Heroes Forums)

The gameplay is fast, the cutscenes are fantastic comic book drawings, and being able to see Storm in the same cutscene as Luke Cage and Spidey is just icing on the cake.

Oh, and the music is pretty good too:

(Alas, I couldn't find a link to the 6+ minutes worth of credits.)

Oh yeah, and the Mini-Reds started their own kinship in LOTRO, and it seems to be going well for them. They're now excited enough about the four person requirement for a guild in SWTOR that we're going to get one going on one of the NA servers (I get to be the Guild Master of the group).


As for me, my growing frustration in BGs has been well documented, and it eventually drove me away from WoW. Considering how much I'd stuck through on the game up until that point, it's a bit of a surprise that BGs were the breaking point, but really that's all I'd been doing in WoW by then.

What I find ironic is that I've been poking around the crew portion of Star Trek Online a lot recently, and everything I read about Garrisons sounds exactly like the missions and other things you can have your crew do as a mini-game in STO. People are comparing Garrisons to SWTOR's and Wildstar's housing, but they should really be comparing it to STO instead.


I guess you could say that I was eventually going to give up on WoW, but I certainly didn't expect to pick up Guild Wars 2 as a replacement.

Unlike WoW's movement toward solo play, GW2 continues to buck the trend and emphasize the social aspect of MMOs, and they do it organically through the regional events that people come out of the woodwork to do.

It's not a perfect fit for me, but then again I don't think any of the current crop of MMOs are.***


As the year ends, I have to admit there was a lot of shakeup in household's gaming. A long time stalwart has been removed and replaced with something I'd tried out a year ago but passed on. One game came from out of nowhere to take the Mini-Reds by storm (or is that Storm?), but they held onto their long time favorites.

And after a year of turmoil, maybe we as a gamer community can finally start to move forward constructively.

What does 2015 hold? I have absolutely no idea. About the only thing I can say is that the only constant is change. (Except for Blizzard creating a controversy by creating a "Doh!" moment; they seem to do those on average of once a year.)

I hope you haven't overindulged tonight; there's games to be played tomorrow!

*Note to self, contact FOX about a reboot of Malcolm in the Middle.

**I'll drop the "2015", even though it's implied.

***If I had to guess at a perfect game for me, it's Civ IV.