Tuesday, 23 December 2014

HotS: Feeding Problems

I have talked about this problem before. Hell, I warned of this problem the first time I learnt about the shared experience among the team in Heroes of the Storm. I am talking about feeding here. For all those that ever played any game like DOTA, DOTA2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Heroes of Newerth, Smite or any other I might and probably have missed, and probably familiar with the concept of feeding. If you let the enemy kill you, he gets additional gold, and experience. If this turns into a pattern, then the enemy got a significant advantage over you and your team. At that point the damage is already done, and there is no point in searching for patsy. You might have overextended on the lane, forgot to ward a certain brush, played too aggressively, or were simply jumped in your own jungle.

The result is always the same. One of the enemies (in best case scenario) just got fed, and he or she is ready kick ass and chew bubblegum, and they are in short supply of the latter. At that point only thing you as a team can do is set up a series of successful ambushes and take the gold and experience back from the one you fed before. At least that is in theory. Reality is rather grim in comparison as in general at this point two or three in the team will resign to defeat, and will not even bother any more, someone will be pushing lanes, and the last one remaining will either go offline, spam the chat with nonsense, or roam the jungle in order to do something but end up feeding.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Witcher II: The Conclusion

After a bit more than a year-long pause I returned to Witcher II in order to finish it after I saw the latest trailer. I have already talked about my experiences of the First, and Second Act, and I was really excited to get back to it, but at the same time I stalled and made excuses to myself because I was afraid the game would end too fast, and I was really enjoying it. It turned out I was right. The third act, as I left with the Roche for the Loc Muinne turned out to be the shortest of them all.

I met my old friends from the first game, the Order of the Flaming Rose and they were not really thrilled to see me. Probably something to do with me siding with Scoia'tael and fighting against them. But then again, these holier-than-thou bunch of hypocrites was stealing my business, killing monsters. And to top it off, they were doing it for free. It was only logical to join the rebellious elves and dwarves. While their interests might have not aligned with my own, they at least did not steal my profits. As I see it, God intended for witchers to do the witcher's job, and noble knights and crusaders should focus on the heretics and the wicked instead.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Too Much Hatred for Steam?

First a couple of clarifications. I saw the first trailer of Hatred, and based upon it I decided the game is not my cup of tea. I saw the "gameplay" videos of Dear Esther and came to conclusion that visual novel is a more correct term for it than calling it a video game. You might call it elitist, but I actually expect certain level of gameplay out of a game, not just walking around doing nothing. But then again, to each his own, and even that is on Steam.

Now some of you might want to argue that Dear Esther in comparison to Hatred is nowhere near as violent and homicidal. You would be right. But then again, a lot of other games on Steam are far more both violent and homicidal than Dear Esther, and are still on sale on Steam. Many games on Steam are already more gory, brutal, and horrific than Hatred. We cannot really judge what kind of game Hatred really is, because it is not out yet, because it doesn't seem to have any platform where it can be sold, and because many of will not even give it a chance. Two of the three facts require no arguing, while one of those three is rather weak reasoning appealing to our morality.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Bloggy XMAS 13: A Tale of Nothing Too Serious

As quick as I was to volounteer for MMO Gypsy's Bloggy XMAS event where we would write something about the gaming and community, I had trouble actually writing something on the topic. I read the other posts that came before me hoping there would come some sort of epiphany. And since the thirteen is already accursed number in the heads of the most, I was not about to let you all down. As I was reminiscing, trying to recall what is even worth to remember in my relatively long history of MMO gaming, I came to conclusion that there is not much on this particular topic. Most that is worth retelling is about Me, Myself, and I. And while I would love to indulge in it, it is not really appropriate considering the occasion. So I was thinking what else is there. You see, I always was, still am, a person that cares only for those close to me. As I see it, far from heart, even further from the mind. And that in the end brought me to the tale I am about to tell you on this Thirteenth day of Blogging Advent Calendar.

It was back in the days when Winters were cold and snowy, Summers warm and sunny. In Autumns leaves abandoned the trees, and in every Spring life would start anew with flowers blooming after a long break. Truly those were wondrous times full of joy and glory. As I hit level 80 a month after everyone else on good old Daggerspine I was in search of a new guild. My old crumbled apart. That was something of a common occurrence back in the days. One day a guild could be the best on the realm, the next day a guild was no more. In any case, I started looking for a new "home". I went through a couple of young budding guilds, a couple of veteran, searching for my place in Azeroth. None really fit. I knew that and I left those nameless guilds without any additional thought.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Hearthstone: Miserable Launch of Goblins vs Gnomes in EU

You know how we speculated that Blizzard had separate launch for EU, and the rest of the world because it might be due to server capacity? You know how we thought this might all be because unlike other Blizzard's games, Hearthstone servers for EU are located over the pond? While that might be true or not, it does not really matter any longer. It probably never mattered anyway. What matters is the fact that the Hearthstone expansion launched in Europe a day after the rest of the world, and it still suffered for the same problems they had in America.

Now I can understand the bottleneck. I do not even blame the Blizzard for this, even though at this point they should have been better prepared. But they were not. What I have problem with is that for the whole day of the 9th of December we had barely any information about the release of the expansion that by all means should have already been released in EU. And by God, this is a problem Blizzard seems to just let happen on their own. They let it fester. It boggles my mind how a company of their level fails at the basics that are communication with your audience. This should never happen in the first place.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Tropico 3, How to be a Dictator

These past couple of days I played a fair bit of Tropico 3. Reason being this city building game was collecting dust for quite some time in my Steam Library, and I felt what could only be described as despotic urges bubbling deep inside me. As I always believed in the concept of benevolent tyrant I decided to test out my theory. To be fair, even ancient history of Rome shows us that it is possible to have one man in charge of the state for troubling period and that such a man would return the power back to the people when danger passed. After all, this is where the term dictator comes from. So with that in mind I decided to rule over the people with their own interests in mind, and become something alike second father to them all.

I have heard all possible horror stories from my friend who is playing Tropico 4. I should probably clarify that all those horror stories are of his own doing. He actually aims to eliminate all dissenters, get rid of all religious people and so on. At times I want to believe those are just stories to stir a reaction in me. First I wanted to see how everything works, and learn the mechanics. I used the campaign mode for that. After the lesson was over, I would go and rule my own tropical island for next fifty years. It is how I usually approach these things, first trial by fire where you either do or die, and then when you are familiar with everything, you can play as you want.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Blizzard's Ambivalent Approach to In-Game Store

I have to admit I am a bit bemused of late with Blizzard's various ways, schemes, and practises when it comes to In-Game Store and various money grabs. Their approach seems to be rather chaotic, and far from uniform. In every game they currently have a cash shop, their approach is different. And while I cannot judge the success of each of the shops that are placed in World of Wwarcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone, I can share my thoughts about it.

In order to avoid damnation from the very start let us begin with Hearthstone. This I believe is of late the fairest of the three shops in Blizzard's games. While I maintain that individual wings of Naxxramas are pricey as all hell, and that Blizzard really went too far with it, it seems they are aware of it themselves. Especially if we take in consideration their latest efforts in regards with Goblins vs Gnomes expansion. Right now you can get a free arena ticket. That is equivalent of 150 gold coins. You get that much gold in average with three daily quests. In couple of days, when the expansion is officially released you will be able to get three free packs of cards from the new expansion. Each pack is worth 100 gold coins.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer

Before I begin, I think a brief history of me and Star Wars is in order. I never really watched Star Wars as a child. I saw the trailers, and thought they were awesome, but I never really watched any of the films until I grew up. And when I did, on the urging of my friends and my own curiosity, I started with the original trilogy, and then went to prequels. To be honest, the original looked to me like a generic fairy tale or fantasy adventure put in space. I loved the concept around the Force which appeared to be closer to a cult, then something everybody in the universe knows about in detail. This is probably what I hated the most in the prequels. That they tried to reduce fore to something measurable, explainable and quantifiable. They changed the Force from something mystical and not really at reach into something ordinary.

I saw this as Lucas's attempt to prove the existence of Force. Which in my mind is utterly ridiculous unto itself, redundant, and without any real purpose. We already knew the Force existed, we never needed to know what exactly is this Force or how exactly it works. Next thing that bothered me was how utterly ridiculous the Jedi order was. Qui-Gon Jinn is the only one sensible in the span of the whole three prequels. Everyone else is just terrible. Jedi are the greatest bunch of hypocrites in the whole Republic. Obi-Wan and Yoda created Darth Vader all by themselves. All Palpatine had to do after that was to console him, and tell him he will help him. But anyway, let us get to this trailer and what it brings us.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Thoughts on the Warcraft Film Based on Zhang's Fanart

Blizzard or Legendary or whoever was in charge during the Blizzcon decided to show those attending a trailer or something of the Warcraft film. My issue with the whole thing, was that nobody was really sharing any details about what they have seen, and how accurate all that really was. Well, thanks to Yanmo Zhang, his good memory and artistic talent that is not so any more. If we trust him, that what he saw and then drew was truly shown, then we can to some degree decide for ourselves what to think about the upcoming Warcraft film without everyone who attended telling us how awesome was the orc face, or how real the emotions felt. I guess I care far much more about lore and "historical" accuracy than I do about the whole range of emotions an orc is capable of. So, let us examine what was all the excitement about, and if it is justified.

First five pictures are showing Stormwind, King Llane, the throne room, and the armoury. No problems, all is fine for all I care. The only gripe, is the armoury because weapons and armours shown on Blizzcon were ornamented as some sort of ceremonial gear, and not something you would wear on day to day basis for all the regular duties. But then, if the state is able to finance all this gear, well we can conclude that Stormwind kingdom is as rich as Marcus Licinius Crassus. Or more realistically, on the verge of financial collapse. I will let you decide for yourself. Just remember that Defias Brotherhood formed years later because somebody refused to pay the bills.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

My Thoughts on Preview of New Blood Elf Models

Yesterday Blizzard finally deigned to show us where they are currently with the new Blood Elf models. Overall they are improvement over the old models, but there are some striking changes that I support and some lack of changes that I would love they decided to change as well. As I am currently still in boycott I declared some time ago I was looking to this preview very much. The three conditions I set before Blizzard were the release of new blood elf models, return of flying at max level on Draenor, and introduction of Farahlon in one of the patches. And I will be damned if I buy Warlords of Draenor before at least two of the three conditions are fulfilled. At least at this increased price range.

That brings us to the new blood elf models. First on the list are the females. In comparison to the old ones, the new model actually has some flesh, and is not just skin and bones. That is nice. What I love the most about the new female models is the new posture. They are not twisting their back as if they are on catwalk anymore. Female blood elves now actually look normal when it comes to posture. And that in my book counts for a lot. All in all, female blood elf model is quite an improvement over the old as it does not resemble a mannequin any longer, but instead a normal living functioning being.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Go Watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes!

I have been meaning to write about Legend of the Galactic Heroes for some time now. Always when I start and come to the middle of the post, and believe me I know it is only middle, I come to the realisation that no matter how hard I try, I cannot summarise it for those that did not watch it. And on the other hand, I do not wish to do it. It is grand, epic, full of drama, twists, turns, ambition, struggle for power, and struggle for survival. A space opera if there was ever a name more appropriate for the series. And while the grand stage is set in the universe, where two armies don't know how to end a war, it truly is a story about people. Common, noble, rich, poor, powerful, and those without any power.

While it is an anime, it is the sort of anime that is too old to have anything in common with today's generation of animes. Thus it is great for anyone who avoids anime like plague because of its usual tropes. In that respect, Psycho Pass is a lot like Legend of the Galactic Heroes. No anime bullshit, as some would say. In any case, you have been warned. I will give you another half a year to watch it in peace. It is 110 episodes, but if you can chug down couple of seasons of whatever series on Netflix this one should not present any problems. The only problem you might have, is that this show is not really available, so you might have to get creative...wink wink nudge nudge. After this grace period, I will start talking in detail about it, and I will not care if I spoil one of the masterpieces of animes ever created to you. it is on you, and your soul now. Don't make me spoil you this epic series, because you will regret it.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

HotS: Locked Talents and Heroic Abilities

Last time I talked about my first impressions of Heroes of the Storm. Now we get to the interesting stuff. Critique. The only way to get rid of bad stuff is to criticise, and first on the list is gating of talents and heroic abilities for every her behind higher levels. In simple terms: Putting talents and heroic abilities behind a wall, and gating it by the experience earned is a stupid idea, and only good thing about it would be the day when Blizzard decides to change it. Heroes of the Storm is not World of Warcraft, and it is rather insulting of Blizzard to think that the players cannot comprehend four different abilities and decide for themselves which of the talents they want to pick during the game.

I understand that many people might be new to the game, and do not really know how everything works. It has to be said that some core things are very different from the rest of the games in the genre. But it is still a stupid design choice, I honestly hope they revert back as soon as possible. For all of you who ever played any other MOBA out there imagine if you started a game with a hero or champion you never played before. And because you are new to that champion you are limited only to the predetermined items the game decided you would need. It is such level of stupidity.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Power of Transmog: Spartan Hoplite

This armour set was long time in making. Putting it together proved to be quite the task. Finding the right pieces, especially leggings was close to impossible. At one time, I was even ready to make it an incomplete armour set with a belt instead of pants. Fortunately, I kept digging and among new batch of leggings added in Warlords of Draenor I finally stumbled upon a pair that was acceptable. Unfortunately, this makes the complete set available to Horde only. What can I say, you cannot have it all, Alliance. There is only one faction that has true warriors, and by this armour set, that faction is Horde.

The idea for this armour set came from the reminiscing I did in a post about my Warcraft experiences. You see, Astalnar was not my first paladin, and not my first main either. Before Astalnar, there was Spartanus. Also a blood elf paladin, that I played on account I shared with my friend from the start of the Burning Crusade. As we parted ways, I bought my own copy of World of Warcraft and created Astalnar. But that is sidetracking. Spartanus was the result of my fascination with the Ancient Sparta, the history, and its warrior culture. I loved their laconic nature, and their unique view on life.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Twitter, Censorship, and Freedom of Speech

Dear Twitter,

It is less than a week since I learnt you have given moderator powers to an outside activist group. I warned you right there and then that this is one giant slippery slope that will only cause problems. That this particular group is feminist has no actual consequence. The fact is you should not have done it, and have opened yourself only to more pressure from other activist or potentially political, and religious groups who may demand the same powers you have granted to FMA.

I warned you less than a week ago, how fast this can lead into censorship of those that do not agree with the particular group in power. And now we already see consequences. People are reporting as harassment other people who do not harass. Best example is Milo Yiannopoulos. While you might disagree with him about many things, simply disagreeing is not grounds for suspending him from twitter. You are effectively censoring him based on his opinion. There is another way to put it. You are discriminating against him on the grounds of his personal beliefs.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Blizzcon 2014 Wrap-up

The one big news that came out of this thing is the new IP. First for Blizzard after 17 years. The game rose from the ashes of the Titan which was killed even before it was born. Tough times. I wonder if this was the rumored Prometheus, especially when you take in consideration that Prometheus was the son of two titans.

You are probably wondering what is Overwatch all about. In short, imagine a cross between Wildstar and Team Fortress 2. Got it? Yeah, that right there, yup, you got it. That is it, that simple. Like Heroes of the Storm, the game is focused on the objectives and all its classes, heroes, champions, whatevers have their own abilities and weapons. There was much talk about diversity, and I am still left wondering how come we're not able to create our own characters. After all, Tracer did insinuate that was the gist of it at the end of Pixar-like long Overwatch cinematic. Her words: "You know, the world could always use more heroes."

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Fatigue of #Gamergate

Recently I have started seeing more and more infighting among those that use #gamergate in order to oppose the lack of ethics in game journalism. Honestly, we had it coming for quite some time now. Every war at some point comes to a standstill, and with #gamergate, it was bound to happen. Every revolution can burn bright only for certain amount of time before Jacobins come into play and start saying what is right and what is wrong with our consumer revolt.

#Gamergate was always a group of individuals that banded together because they shared a common goal. It was never a coherent group with any kind of leadership. Imagine a band of barbarians used to fighting individual battles facing against the Roman legions. They all have their own tribes, interests and ambitions, only common thread among them, is their enemy. That is the closest thing you can compare with people in #gamergate. We are far from organised, everyone does his or her own thing, and most of our battles until now were won because of our numbers, persistence, and focus on the enemy. We knew how to exploit the weaknesses of our enemies, because just like Romans underestimated Spartacus and his rebels, so our opponents underestimated #gamergate.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

HotS Alpha: First Impressions

When you see a game like Heroes of the Storm (from here on HotS), labelled as "Technical Alpha" you know the term lost all its meaning if it ever had any. In all my time spent in the game in this past week and a half, it crashed only once, yesterday. The game looks like finished product. I would argue it has less bugs than some released games, not to mention that HotS is still in development. Well, I do not know what they are still developing, but I appreciate Blizzard's zealous commitment to testing their games until all the bugs are squashed. Mostly because I know some bug will still escape and make it into the "released game", but it will be a lone case, not a common issue.

The game is rather different than other big MOBAs I played. Those would be League of Legends, DOTA 2, and for brief period of time Heroes of Newerth. HotS is in comparison fast-paced game full of action with close to nothing of downtime. The moment when you get to relax and do nothing in HotS is when you either die and wait to respawn, or when you finish the game. This brings us to first real issue of the game. It is a constant blitz. While that gives us fast games that rarely go beyond twenty minutes it also introduces rather annoying snowballing effect.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

WoW: Disappointing Iron Horde Invasion

I am not impressed. After more than a year-long wait for any kind of new content, what we get is a series of shallow couple of quests that serve no real purpose. Frankly, I am disappointed. I am disappointed with the quality of quests, and the lack of purpose they suffer from. At least on the Horde side, it appears these couple of quests do not really have any meaning whatsoever.

To recap, Iron Horde invades through the Dark Portal, storms the Blasted Lands, destroys Nethergarde Keep, and captures the Horde outpost while Horde is trying to retake Nethergarde Keep. You can imagine the Horde did it out of goodness of their heart, and how they would return the ruins of the destroyed keep back to the Alliance. Especially after realising this one keep was thorn in their side for great many years. Yeah, Horde would totally return the keep if they managed to oust the Iron Horde and not lose their base in the process.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Scheming Dice: Dungeon World

Dungeon World is one of those games you love in concept, want for roleplay, and hate when the dice need be thrown. This game is Powered by the Apocalypse. What that means, is that much of the focus and attention is given to actual narration of the story, and not so much to presenting the players with the combat simulator. (Just remembering the escapades of our party in the 4E of Dungeons and Dragons shivers me to the bones. The cold wind might be at fault as well.)

Most of the time spent playing Dungeon World, will be like playing Apocalypse World. You will create the setting together with your GM, and then spend time adventuring through the setting you created. The game is actually a strange mix. Some would say a compromise between the extremes that are on one side Apocalypse World, and on the other side Dungeons and Dragons, at least fourth edition. Two totally different approaches to tabletop roleplaying taking the best out of both systems. There is not as much rolling of the dice in Dungeon World as there can be in D&D, but effectively more than there is in Apocalypse World. This is in my opinion still the right amount of rolling the dice. It is a mechanic, and an effective one. At the same time not the one that takes away from the very game by distracting the players.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Apelles, Cobbler, Censorship & Artistic Freedom

Apelles put a picture on display,
for truth he loved far more than praise,
behind it hidden, he listened to all what
both fools, and experts had to say.

Before it, a cobbler with his irons stops,
wretched man looks at the sandals,
straps he tells, are few to call them any,
what man says, immediately Apelles's mending.

When the second day comes the man of hooves,
instead of going on to where he'd been going,
he stops, since shoes are fine, comments on calves;

Rejects him painter proudly,
and you with him, who are complainer over nought

Thursday, 23 October 2014

WoW: Minor Visual Alternatives

Awhile ago, Chris G. Robinson, Senior Art Director at Blizzard mentioned on twitter how orcs will be getting straight backs as the alternative to the hunch they currently have, some time in the future. In the language Blizzard speaks, that probably means something like Soon™. And therefore closer to never than ever. Personally I am thrilled about this piece of information. But what I am wondering these days, is why stop at orcs? While being able to choose if your orc will walk around the globe all hunched or straight as an arrow is nice, there are other races that would probably welcome a visual alternative in regard to their current state as well.

What needs to be clear, is that the changes I suggest here are based upon my own personal preference. The changes I suggest as alternatives to what we currently have are the changes I feel would help the immersion and the game overall. They are all simple visual changes that would not bring any significant amount of work to the development team, but then again, paradox of the heap is built on grains of sand if you know what I mean.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Rowan Blaze's Delusions on #Gamergate

I really love when people make demands for a consumer revolt, such as #Gamergate to stop, because people are not playing nice. I'm lying. It actually saddens me, because it shows how deeply in their own cocoon shielded from the outside world such individuals really are. It saddens me to see long posts with no actual content beside appeals to emotions full of logical inconsistencies, half-truths, and plethora of logical fallacies. But I do not think people who make these kind of arguments actually realise it. And thus they show their lack of perception about the world. Wilful ignorance truly is a sin worth of all contempt.

If you are able to mark the whole movement as terrorist, just because it demands of you to act as a moral being, or it demands you show proof for your claims, then you are already a lost cause, and I am already speaking to the quire. If you are able to mark a couple of internet trolls, and mark them as terrorists, I seriously question your judgement. While I agree that all threats should be taken seriously, that is not an act of terrorism as we know it. Not when you have beheadings, bombings, ethnic cleansing, suicide bombers and other methods like these to contrast with. All of a sudden I am able to understand how you get to the absurd claims, such as patriarchy oppressing the world and other silly notions like that. Doesn't that sound like a "theoretical conspiracy", Blaze?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Scheming Dice: Driving Force of Alignments

Last time we talked about the alignments and what kind of influence a perception can have on them. Today, we will examine what I consider the prime motivators of each of the five alignments, and consequentially even the combined alignments. I have come to conclusion that each of the alignments has its prime mover behind it. And by paying attention to this motivator, you get to follow a certain moral alignment. Of course, Neutral alignment is the exception that proves the rule in this case. I have come to conclusion as the original meaning of Neutral means Neither one nor the other, Neutral alignment is not powered by any motivator at all. If we had to find one, we would define Neutral alignment with the lack of internal motivator. There is a word for that, indifference.

Good alignment is tied to the concept of altruism. While others may walk through the thing called life not paying any attention to it, those that are in any way good are usually driven by their sense of altruism. Maybe that is for the best. While others are willing to sacrifice things, people and everything else good individuals are not. They know their conscience would haunt them, and this is one hassle they don't want. This gives them the opportunity to always do the right thing, to be altruistic, in a way no other character could really be.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

My Thoughts on Future Wildstar Business Model

It is that day. The day, when I act as hypocrite. We all have our sins, so I do not ask for forgiveness, just for acceptance. Maybe even that is too much. I refuse to ask for anything. It is better that way. In any case,  you probably wonder what all this is about. Well, Syp was wondering where exactly do we stand on the whole issue of Wildstar's business model. And as someone who really loves the game, but did not buy it ever since it came out of beta, I am a hypocrite. With that said, let us examine what one outsider wishes for the game he never played outside of the open beta.

I have always said I love and wish all best to Wildstar. Mostly because I see competition as a healthy thing, that keeps things interesting. I honestly hoped, quite ludicrously I might add, that Wildstar might even threaten a bit World of Warcraft, and make the behemoth that is Blizzard at least move, and do something instead of just empty campaigns outside of the game that mean nothing to any of us. Well, nothing happened, and it seems the only thing that moves Blizzard at this point, is like always only Blizzard itself. So I was wrong on that front, I can live with that.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

LoL: Coming Back Only to Go Away

I have been a long time LoL player. It was MOBA of my choice, fairly easy, and quite entertaining. Of course, as all these games go, they are far more entertaining when you play with friends, than when you play with complete strangers. The constant race to call your position in the game preparation window, the defeatist attitude of my fellow players, perpetual bad attitude of my teammates, constant stream of insults, bad language and stupidity, combined with the fact that Heroes of the Storm entered the Alpha finally drove me away.

But then, couple of weeks ago I read the patch notes and saw Garen was getting buffed. I thought that was unneeded, as Garen was always competent champion if you know how to play to his strengths, but I am not the on to look a gift horse in the mouth. Especially, when the horse being given is my favourite, and apparently even stronger than I remember. It was enough incentive to pull me back into the game, and give it another try after more than half a year of hiatus.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Nature of Gamer

We all know the story about the ancient "trickster" called Sisyphus. How he played the gods one against the other and ended up in Tartarus pushing a boulder to the top of the hill, only to start from the bottom as the boulder would roll down. This was the eternal punishment gods came up with for an enterprising man like Sisyphus. To just grind his days away in meaningless task that would drive everyone else insane. As Camus puts it, Sisyphus continues to defy gods even while pushing the heavy boulder on top of the hill with his smile. Gods already punished him with the worst they could come up with, and Sisyphus still smiles, as he knows this is the worst gods can do. And his smile is defiance against which even gods can do nothing. In the end, even in punishment Sisyphus wins.

Some of you probably wonder why open this article with a story about Sisyphus, a man who wronged gods, and ended paying dearly for it. To answer that, I would like to draw your attention to the perseverance and stubbornness Sisyphus displays even when enduring this cruel and unjust punishment. I would like to draw your attention to the inquisitive mind, and ingenuity Sisyphus displays while trying to trick Death (successfully I might add). I would like to draw your attention to the willingness to cooperate with others that Sisyphus displays while trying to ensure people of his city get water.

Now let's translate these characteristics to the modern gamer. Since the dawn of gaming, we knew that there are few things we can do alone. Those older than me probably still remember weird conversations they had with their friends, trying to put together the order of things they had to do in order to progress in any of the old point-and-click games. Others probably experienced a game where they were incapable of making a certain jump and had to put the controller in the hands of their sibling or a friend.

We have known how to cooperate with others from the very start. We knew we couldn't give up, so we often looked for alternatives, this is how guides even came to be. Some people knew how to progress in the game, others did not. One thing that probably defines the gamer more than anything else in my opinion, is the perseverance and willingness to never give up. To try and try again until that wall standing in your way finally cracks and you are able to continue playing the game. Looking for next challenge to crack, new puzzle to solve.

Even in today's age where games are made for every taste, we are still the same. We still like solving problems, puzzles, and progress in the game. If we get stuck, we don't just give up. We know how to find information we need in order to dig ourselves out of the rut. And while some might see that as cheating, I see it as making use of all options that are available. If you started a game of chess and did not know how to move your knight, wouldn't you welcome someone telling you? You would take the advice in good will, and be thankful for it, as this helpful stranger taught you how to play the game, not how to win it. After all asking for help is not a sin, but gamers love to win on their own merits more than anything else.

#Gamer #Sisyphus

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hypocrisy of anti-#Gamergate

Imagine you were writing for an automobile magazine. Imagine now that for some reason known only to you, you decide that enough is enough, and write an openly hostile article declaring your target audience obsolete, your readers dead, and the beginning of the new era right at the doorstep, where car enthusiasts are not needed, because the boat lovers will do just fine. Now imagine the reaction of your readership. As this was certainly not a joke, they will first want an explanation. When you insult them further, block all their means of protest, you should not be surprised when your car enthusiasts give in, and give up on you.

You should not be surprised when your former readership contacts various car and tire companies, and informs them that your automobile magazine decided to shift markets onto boats, decrying and insulting all the car enthusiasts in the meanwhile. We would probably all agree that it is in the best interest of the car and tire manufacturers, your magazine, and the future readership if the unnecessary ads are gone. And by unnecessary, I mean the ads that do not target your readers. It is pointless to have a baking dishes ads in a specialised magazine focused on cars. So it is as pointless to have car ads in a magazine that wants to write for boat lovers instead.

After all, one hand takes care of the other, and in this day and age, in this world you have to earn your money. Nothing is free. Thus everyone is looking to make good use of their money, and if your magazine will not write for car enthusiasts any longer, then it is a waste of money on the tire manufacturer's part to finance the ads in your magazine. Better to give a chance to some boat companies, and cruise ship voyages. They might find your new direction more favourable, than the tire manufacturers. After all, boats don't have tires, but ships do float on water.

And to come out, all outraged and furious, claiming tire manufacturers that stopped doing business with your magazine because of the new direction your magazine has taken, hate women is absurd. It is ad hominem, strawman, and probably couple of other logical fallacies as well. And that is a disgrace to you and your magazine as "supposed" professionals. This is the current predicament of Gamasutra. They published the article of Leigh Alexander decrying gamers, insulting them, and marking them as unneeded. Gamers said fuck off, and went to the advertisers, telling them what kind of stuff are they saying over at Gamasutra, and that there is no point in advertising for gamers, as they are not the target audience of that website any longer.

Reasonable stance all things considered. And then, comes the gall of these people, the nerve to try and change a perfectly reasonable business decision into something personal, something toxic. Intel did not remove ads from Gamasutra because they would hate women. They removed ads from Gamasutra because its editor-at-large insulted their core audience. And they realised any further connection with Gamasutra would reflect bad on them, and unlike Alexander, Intel understands who are they selling their hardware to. Nothing personal, just business.

As you probably know, Intel later on issued an apology in regard to the whole matter. But as you will notice, they apologised for any misunderstanding. They do not hate women (common sense from a business perspective), but they will not be doing business with Gamasutra either in near future.

That said, I find appeals to emotions a disgusting thing. And to see this happen in front of my own eyes is rather revolting. I saw people asking for solidarity toward Gamasutra, to support the site because Intel "dared" to pull their ad campaign. I saw people asking for mercy. I don't know in what utopia those people live in, but in my world, and I would like to believe that is the world of all sensible people, there is no mercy for the corrupt, no pardon for the wicked, and no solidarity towards unethical. These are the things where we should never compromise. You are either ethical, or you aren't. You are moral or you are not moral. There is no middle way. Only absolutes.

What I find the most interesting of all, is the smear piece they wrote about #Gamergate in past couple of days over at Mirror, and wanted to determine what #Gamergate is all about through a poll. Well, they have singlehandedly helped legitimise the movement, if that was ever required, as the option about fighting the corruption is in major lead over all other options in the poll combined, misogyny included.

Boycott is a valid means of protest. It is in my personal opinion the best form of protest in this day and age. Nobody will cave in to you for free, nobody will change their stance just because you say their stance is wrong. But reasonable people, once they see money is not coming in will notice and reconsider. Reasonable people might come to conclusion that what they are doing is wrong, and they need to change their ways.

Unfortunately gamers are not dealing with reasonable people here. They appear to be greater narcissists than me myself and I, and that is telling a lot. It does not seem any critique comes to them, and they appear to be living in their own little world isolated from any different opinion. Unfortunately for them, gamers play to win, not to have fun. For gamers fun comes form winning. And destroying their opponents is nectar of gods for gamers. Gamasutra and its likes changed this into Rule or Ruin scenario with their hostile rhetoric. What they did not realise is that gamers already rule, and they are not afraid to ruin anyone pretentious enough to question their existence. Not with the violence, but by simply not giving them any money.

So let the hypocrites burn. I look forward to seeing Gamasutra and other sites like it, who attack their core audience instead of facing the accusations raised against them fall apart and to the oblivion. It is survival of the fittest on the internet, and if you lack the common sense, then it is a good thing when you become obsolete.

#Hypocrisy #Intel

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Scheming Dice: Perception & Alignments

With the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons released, eyeing the 2nd edition of Dark Heresy, and making final preparations for the campaign we started for the Dungeon World there is a lot on my plate when it comes to the tabletop RPGs these days. But one of the perennial problems that haunt, I could probably say most of us, is the alignment system. With my friends, this is like a festering wound of sorts. We all seem to have our own vision of how it works, and we always interpret the thing our own way. The stricter the definition the worse, the looser the definition even worse. It is like a little scab constantly itching that we love to revisit and scratch every so often only to end up agreeing we are in disagreement.

My personal opinion on the alignment grid, is that the damned thing is too rigid. That is why I love one-dimensional alignment system of the Dungeon World, where you choose only one alignment ever. There is no lawful good, chaotic neutral, or neutral evil. You choose between good, lawful, chaotic, evil, and neutral. You only ever choose one of the five alignments, and then get to experience all the nuances, joys and pains of it. Depends on the individual.

Alignments are not assigned by us, the individuals who are labelled with that alignment, but from other people, the society. Yes, you do choose your own alignment, humour me. For example, you are not chaotic because you support radical freedom. You are chaotic because other people that surround you, think of you as the one who breaks the rules. You are not good because you help people, but because other people think of you as a good Samaritan for helping those in need. You are not evil because you burnt the village to the ground, but because the villagers who lost their village think of you as devil's spawn. And you are not lawful because you follow the law, but because others can see, you adhere to the laws of society.

We could probably say that it is all about the appearance, and in consideration of role-playing, we would not be far from truth. You can tell yourself you are evil, and only deceive people with your good deeds, but if your deception is actually helping those in need, than in the eyes of the system you will be considered a good person. Alignment is not so much about how you act in the world, as it is how others perceive you. You might have best intentions in the world, but if you burnt down that village, you will still be considered evil by those villagers. On other hand, local group of orcs might consider you their hero. It all depends on the perspective.

We could say that this whole debate is rather redundant as the alignment system is there only to help the players in their roleplay, not to hinder the game itself. It is to be said that in reality, and whatever game you play, alignments will rarely come in play. If ever. In the end this is more a philosophical debate for the sake of clear lines and simple terms than for the sake of better roleplay. We could again argue about this, as many, myself included, will claim that by clearly defining what alignments do or do not do will in the end help the players in their roleplay.

If you find that the alignment is more of a hindrance than of use to the players, then the alignment has to go. The worst that can happen, is that your players will act as they would normally, while the best-case scenario brings better role-play to the table. I personally find a good incentive is an excellent motivator for players to role-play "according" to their alignment.

Next time, we will take a look at what are the prime motivators behind each of the alignments.

#Alignments #Tabletop #SchemingDice

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Steam's Discoverability Update & My Curator List

Steam's Discoverability Update released last week was a gift from Heaven if you ask me. After all this time where the frontpage was plagued by various pre-orders, early-access scams, and DLCs, now there is finally peace. Tranquillity. The true perfection of silence. Instead of cacophony of chaotic half done games, the only things I now see on my frontpage are recently released games that should be on the frontpage. And I am grateful for that.

It needs to be said, that if you still want to see all "ungames" you are still able to, as for myself, first chance I got, I got rid of all the things that annoy me. This includes pre-orders, DLCs, and early access games. In my book, the game is either finished, or not finished. You buy the finished game when it is released, and don't buy unfinished game until it is finished and released. Simple rule for simple life.

Some might think back on how I backed Mandate on kickstarter, and to this day Mandate remains only thing I backed on kickstarter or any other similar service. I consider backing things on kickstarter a gamble. No matter how certain it looks, you need to accept that the money you pledged is money already lost. And with that in mind, what you end up getting or not getting is just odds in your favour. But kickstarter is a topic for another time.

Aside from getting rid of all things that pestered the Steam frontpage, now there are also Curators, people who have a group on Steam can make their own list of games they recommend. Currently the first place goes to Cynical Brit, and rightly so if you ask me. What this means, is that box quotes form more popular curators, or curators that you follow on Steam will show beside the description of the game you are currently taking a look at. This may lead to some hilarious moments, as for example DOTA 2 having a description of "The premier multiplayer misery simulator." attached to it. Anyone who ever played a game like DOTA will know how true this description can be at times.

As this is something everyone can do, I took part in it as well. You can find my curator list here. On it, are games that I consider good, and well worth the time you spend playing them. In the same breath, this will be some extra work from my side, as I intend to write an article about every game I recommend, and some of the games on my list, do not have an article written about them. I am still working on the name of column for those games that I have to write about in retrospect. For now, "In the Name of Curation" sounds good albeit a bit long. Work in progress I guess.

That aside, it seems interesting the way Steam looks to be heading in. The purpose of the whole update seems to be the ability for an individual to find games similar to those that s/he likes or plays. This is reinforced by the fact that you get in your Discovery Queue games that your friends play, games that are in some way similar to those that you play, and games that you will find on the lists of the curators you follow.

And even with all this changes aimed to make Steam more "personalised" what I still like the most is the fact that there is no more shovelware every time I open Steam, just waiting there and suffocating new and exciting releases that should have their own spot under the Sun, away from the crap that plagued frontpage for so long.

#Steam #Curator #Discoverability

Saturday, 27 September 2014

One Year of Cogitationes Astalnaris

One full year of blogging.

Cogitationes Astalnaris's age is now finally on the clock.

I will admit this is one strange post for me to write. I never liked celebrating birthday, it felt sort of artificial. Anniversaries were always just a waste of time. I never liked the attention that I got for just being. It feels cheap, and as if anyone can do it. Like those medals for participation I keep hearing about these days. Birthday to me was always of no value.

On other hand, I always loved celebrating achievements, because these were earned. Something I accomplished myself, which was not just handed to me on the basis of existing. It is why I love meritocracy.

I always liked celebrating birthdays of friends and family, because I cared for them, and I actually saw some sense in celebrating their birth. If they did not exist, my life would be empty(er). And yes, I see the irony that this same logic could be used on me, and my birthday, but I will always argue that other people actually want to celebrate their birthday. While I find my own birthday to be a great day that changed the human history, but no one should pay any attention to it until I achieve greatness. and conquer the world.

No need to be modest, we all know I am arrogance personified, and living manifestation of narcissism. I'm rather tight-fisted as well.

All that aside some changes will be coming to this blog. Some new things as well. By now you probably noticed new theme. I have been meaning to change this for some time, and there were minor changes every now and then, but I was determined to leave major changes for some more auspicious time. One Year Anniversary seems like a perfect opportunity. It is still not completely done, but it should by the end of the month.

Aside from my regular ramblings, thoughts, and musings there will be two new columns that will emerge every so often.

Fabula Brevis
The first of the two is connected a bit with the traditional NaNoWriMo that takes place in November. As I think one month is far too little for anyone who wants to write to write, I am making this into a column instead. To be clear, yes it is possible to write a 50000 word novel in a month, but why should we limit ourselves to only one month out of twelve? Why not write all the time? Here you will find short stories I have written or have yet to write.

The name is rather simple, but it hearkens back to how I decided to name my blog. Fabula Brevis means Short Story. I know, in Latin it sounds far more exciting, and I hope you enjoy it. I welcome any insight, critique or comment you are willing to give or make. Whatever you say, I will simply accept it, or in the worst case ask you to elaborate on it. No resistance, no arguing, no disagreement. No hard feelings. This is a rare chance you will not see often around these parts. So go for it.

Scheming Dice
The second of the two will be focused on the tabletop gaming. I rather like rolling dice and roleplaying, and I feel this could vary things a bit so it is not just random ramblings on how people are corrupt, or how I still have not finished all the bosses in heroic Naxxramas. In general I feel there is number of topics I could cover, and give my thoughts on, that still to this day plague every group that ever sat around a table, and decided to roll some dice and pretend to fight dragons. It is not likely I will be able to single-handedly resolve all the Gordian knots that came to be in all these years, but it cannot hurt to try.

I hope you continue reading my ramblings, and I continue to entertain, challenge, and inspire you with my thoughts about all things even remotely connected to gaming.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lack of Tier Sets in LFR

LFR is modus operandi of all those who always wanted to experience the story behind the raid, without all the time, and effort that usually had to be invested. Granted, if that was all there was to it, we would go once, see what is it all about, and never come back. The truth is, LFR remained as popular as it is among the people because of the loot. And while all those various pieces of gear are fine, we were always coming back in order to collect all the Tier pieces, or at least enough of the tier pieces to get a bonus. At least I did it because of that.

The reality behind LFR is that most people you encounter did not look up the fights, do not know what is going on, do not give their all, and are there either for the ride, or the loot. In LFR we are all strangers, and competition. If that random Warlock gets a token for my tier piece, I will not be happy, I will be cursing that warlock. If that random Warrior gets that greatsword instead of me, I will curse him too. There is no reason why I would not. I did not came to LFR for jokes and giggles. I did not join the queue to be a good Samaritan and help others obtain what they want. I joined in order to see the story, and after that to get the pieces of gear that I need. Believe me, once I collect all I need, it is "After that, it is So long, Farewell Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye!" Nothing personal.

While this might appear selfish, people in LFR are all strangers. You do not have any connections to them beyond being stuck in the same group as the other 24. If you raid with the guild, these are the people you interact with on a regular basis. This is the group where no matter who gets that piece of gear, you all profit. And you know that eventually you will get it too. With a bunch of strangers that you probably see only on this one occasion there is no incentive. There is no incentive to roll greed if you already have that piece of gear. Yes, it is nice thing to do, but then why should you be nice for the sake of being nice, if all others are jerks.

To be honest, that is not fair comparison. Personally I like to apply the golden rule to this kind of situations, and I tend to believe that how you treat others, is how others will treat you. If you respect them, they will respect you too. But that does not mean I will go out of my way to ensure everyone eventually gathers all they need.

That brings us back to the removal of Tier armour sets from LFR come Warlords of Draenor. Personally, I consider this a grave mistake. No matter how inferior the stats in comparison to the more "elite" sets, obtaining tier set from a LFR was still a goal worthy of pursuit. Random armour sets you will be able to obtain now are pittance in comparison. Not only are they ugly, they are no incentive for people to actually go and queue for LFR.

Some people will still do it anyway. For valour, or whatever the new currency will be. Some might even do it because it is just the right difficulty. Some might even want to obtain those ugly armour sets for various reasons ranging all from transmog to legitimate upgrades. But in essence this is the deep cut in the back of LFR. If you really want efficiency you are better of with a group you put together yourself. If you go, and do Normal Raid difficulty, you will be able to obtain Tier armour, items will be of higher Item level, and because you are actually coordinated group, there is a chance you know what you are doing, and how to get things done.

All the merits LFR ever had over the normal raid difficulty are lost, when you consider the fact that as of Warlords of Draenor LFR will lack any incentive to engage with it on a regular basis. Only crazy person would willingly choose to suffer for nought a group of people that he does not know, care, or want to see ever again. The truth is that LFR is internet in a box. It might have awesome moments, but it is rather depressing and insufferable otherwise.

But then again, this might be just me. Maybe others have great and many positive experiences with LFR. In my opinion, if I wanted more "hard-core approach" to raiding, I would go and play Wildstar. Hardcore might be nice, and I am certain the raiders deserve some sort of reward to set them apart from the plebs that raid only in LFR these days. That said, I do not thing Tier armour sets should be that reward. After all, raiding should be satisfaction by itself for those hardcore raiders. Any kind of reward is just a bonus for them, as they seek challenge, not medal for participation.

And yes, I see it as irony that I talk about medals for participation, and still demand to have Tier sets obtainable from LFR. My reasoning, LFR version of Tier sets is in all things that matter inferior to the versions of Tier armour that can be obtained from higher difficulty raid settings. Thus, I want only what I had until now, I want status quo.

UPDATE: When I published this post I knew something was missing. I could not pinpoint what exactly, but I knew that the argument is incomplete. As I could not identify what was missing, I went along and published it anyway. Fortunately, thanks to conversation I had with Lacotill, and Fierydemise over on twitter I figured it out. What I wanted to add is that with the removal of Tier armour sets from LFR, the mode is starting to die a slow death. Nobody likes it, and Flex is far better option. Any incentive that ever was there to enter LFR is now gone beyond that first tourist experience. And if Blizzard wants it gone, it should just remove it, not kill it slowly by letting the interest for it dwindle into nothingness.

#WoW #Raiding #LFR

Saturday, 20 September 2014

#Gamergate's Many Paths

It is probably a whole month since the Internet rose up in arms, and decided enough is enough. I lost the track of time to be honest. A whole month since instead of facing the accusations of cronyism, nepotism, clientelism, and all other words connected to the corruption, non-existent morals, and poor ethics, game "journalists" decided to declare war on gamers.

Declaring war on gamers is generally a bad idea. We fight, and squabble all the time. We fight for most minuscule things; who will get the loot, why Horde is superior to the Alliance, why there should be more left-handers in games like Link, why flying is essential in World of Warcraft, all the way to defending our hobby and convincing people, that just because you play games, that does not make you a sociopath school shooter, or sexist, or whatever misconception general public has gotten into its head in any given week. Unlike others we are used to fighting.

So when the Napoleons of gaming journalism declared war on Gamers, the equivalent of Tsarist Russia, I've got only one thing to say to these social justice warriors, misguided 3rd wave feminists, and in general anyone who stands against #gamergate for whichever reason: Winter is Coming!

Fear of the Word
Some time ago I engaged in conversation with Belghast on twitter. I was left in utter disbelief when he said, that we should not use #gamergate because his female friends feel threatened by the word. That those friends actually think someone using #gamergate would drag them on the street. I understand that Belghast is in many ways Epicurean, all he wants is for everyone to be happy, and at peace, and plant flowers in their little circle of happiness and ignore the outside world. That is all well and fine with me. If you decide to ignore the outside world I am not going to stop you.

What bothered me, was first the notion that someone can actually be scared of one single word. And after that, the fact that someone feels entitled to censor this word in a sense because it would make others feel better. #gamergate is not Lord Voldemort, you can say the word and nothing will happen. If you honestly fear #gamergate, it means you are afraid of your own past actions, and fear that what could surface might not paint the picture you want the world to see. And if that is the case, I do not feel sorry for you. The only people who have reason to fear #gamergate, are the ones who did something morally questionable in order to further their personal agenda.

Everything has its time and place. If you want to write about sexism, misogyny and feminism, do it in your own publications, magazines, and websites. As it was made rather obvious, gamers, actually want to play games, not listen to lectures why a certain game is sexist, misogynist, and all other isms that detract from the experience of the game itself. And when they lash back it is somehow gamers at blame, even though they patiently listened for years before they said enough is enough, and demanded some basic standards of those that should be reporting on the games, but do everything else instead.

What is obvious, is that #gamergate is a lot of things bunched together, and because of this we are forced to discuss plenty of different topics all valid on their own together as intertwined. That has both good, and bad sides. But in no case should you fear a word. If you fear a single word, or name, you should see a therapist, or a priest, whichever you prefer because it is rather obvious to anyone sane that you are in need of help. Go get it, it is for your own good.

Number of Opinion, Number of Paths Diverging
As #gamergate went on it became obvious that there is not only one set of goals people want to see accomplished. There are many. Some want more honesty and integrity of gaming "journalism", others just more disclosure, some want those people gone from the industry. Many people voiced their opinions, many more new voices joined the fight with the view of someone from the outside. And while some people find the motives of these newcomers suspect, I welcome them with open hands.

I think that these "journalists" are beyond help and need to go once and for all. In any other branch they would be fired for a lot lesser things. Ethics, and morality is one thing where we should not be tolerant. You either have standards, or don't have a job. There is no middle way. Because these game "journalists" are worse than rats, and will not willingly go we are forced to use more firm approach. Not visit their sites, and writing the advertisers about #Gamergate and explaining how unscrupulous, corrupt, and rude these "journalists" are. I mean, where did you ever see a journalist insult, and ridicule its audience? The answer is nowhere. So let it burn, and we will be better for it.

At least one site took this accusations to heart and decided to update its ethics across the board. The Escapist released an article reflecting on the ethical standards called Publisher's Note: The State of Gaming. I will admit that the only thing I disagree with in the whole article is comparison of gamers to the owners of sports cars. I see gamers as the drivers who use shift-stick, and see the other drivers as a bit inferior, mostly because they consider themselves "true" in comparison, but no bad blood otherwise. What gamers don't like, is when boat-lovers come along and start talking nonsense how it is unfair that cars have wheels, instead of a propeller.

The influx of fresh blood is appreciated as we can actually see what are the facts, and not just the agendas, and personal opinions. Some will disagree, and see this as just politics trying to promote their own views. Personal opinions are fine for a blogger like me. But if you are getting payed to report on the situation, than standards are higher, and these standards include fact-checking, proofs, and all other things that come to other real journalists as natural. C.H. Sommer released a video about games and sexism, here is the post where someone actually checked everything she stated in the video. It checked out.

Milo Yiannopoulos over at Breitbart seems to be tearing a new one to these game "journalists" every week, and I love him for it. His article about the state of gaming industry is a piece worth reading. As he concluded:
"The only group that genuinely isn't welcome [in gaming] is that small but noisy battalion of social justice warriors, who bring nothing but gloom and despair, and their loyal band of incompetent, unethical bloggers, who are so desperate to advertise their upstanding moral virtue to the sisterhood that they have forgotten to check their consciences. We should resist this new tyranny." 
And with that I can do nothing but fully agree. There were other voices as well. Cynical Brit chimed in, TechRaptor, and Niche Gamer are running regular updates about the movement, and what needs to be done to achieve change. Internetaristocrat, and Sargon of Akkad rumbled about the topic, and there are probably many more. And while 4chan failed us when m00t forbade any discussion on #gamergate, there are other platforms. People from 4chan migrated to 8chan. And healthy discussion can be found on the Escapist forums as well as on MMO-Champion.

What is great about #gamergate, is the fact that it is like a hydra. A hydra that was in its swamp for a long time, and did not pay attention to anyone. That Hydra did not mind other farmers settling near and started working the fields. It did not even mind when these farmers started to encroach on its swamp and transform it into the fields. But once the farmers attacked, as they felt the land they came in is theirs by default, the hydra stroke back. And no Heracles will be able to put this beast down. Because this hydra does not fight with teeth, claws, and poison. It fights with arguments, ethics, facts, and morality on its side. And all the poison it spews by accident, because its teeth are not aligned while arguing against the farmers is just a sidetrack farmers would like to transform in personal attacks made against them. There is no main head on this hydra, so when they cut one, three new rise from it.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hearthstone: Forgotten Bosses, and Great Nerf

It has been awhile since Naxxramas was released, and I am yet to defeat all of the bosses on the Heroic difficulty. I am glad I can say I have beaten two out of the five remaining in the past week. Kel'Thuzad, and Four Horsemen are done, history, caput. I have to say that these remaining bosses will take some additional time, because currently I am having a rather bad spell in Hearthstone, no matter how or with what deck I play, I lose more than I win. It is rather depressing to be honest, and it keeps my time spent on Hearthstone on bare minimum. I even started toying with the idea that I should check out how things are going in the Arena.

Kel'Thuzad was stubborn, but eventually he fell. I was quite happy I managed to defeat the undead lich with a Paladin deck. It took couple of tries, and I was about to eat myself because of some stupid misplay I did on several occasions, but in the end the damned thing died for good. Still, no phylactery was found so we can expect eventual comeback. I just hope I will not have to face it myself.

The Four Horsemen on the other hand were simply said a trial in patience. Still it was a better trial than all the other decks, so I decided to just soldier it through and be done with it. Eventually the smarter of the two gave up, and I was victorious with a Priest deck. I think at this point is well established that the heroic fights are stacked against you, and that rare few sadists will ever return to them after they defeat the boss. Some might, but I sure will not be one of them. When you play against the Horsemen, remember that even silenced Horsemen, is still a Horseman. It is preferable if you leave one of the three on the board and just silence the damned thing. Still, you need to do it early, or it will be too late.

This leaves me with Heigan, Gothik, and Loatheb. Not much of a company, but I hazard once I beat them at their own game, we will never see each other ever again. Good times will be had.

In other news, Rogues and Hunters are finally getting a nerf unlike anything we have seen before. The cards affected are Leeroy Jenkins, and Starving Buzzard. Leeroy will now cost one more mana, that is five, and Starving Buzzard will not be a 2/1 for 2 but instead 3/2 for 5. And life is good. No more Rogues fooling around with Shadowsteps, and killing you in one turn after they were about to die. No more Hunters pulling a miracle boards out of their ass with the amount of draw they got from Buzzard.

These changes are basically focused on the interesting gameplay. And while I perfectly understand the appeal of fast game that can be decided in one turn, I find it cruel and tasteless. Not that the feelings ever had to do much with anything, but I am glad to see the end of 18 damage Shadowstep/Leeroy combo. It was driving me crazy. I saw this too many times, not to be happy about it. Now if only we could convince Blizzard to up the cost on Mind Control to 11 and I will be happy...

Also, I finally got a first Legendary, Nat Pagle, from a pack of cards after four whole months of nothing. I do not count the Naxxramas Legendaries, as those were essentially welfare epics of sorts. You payed for them, and you got them, no element of randomness involved. I was starting to think they ran out of Legendaries considering how many packs I opened, and got nothing but one rare and four commons. Dark times indeed. Currently Nat Pagle found his place in my Mage deck that was in real need of readjusting after the whole Naxxramas came out. The old deck was great, but after the Naxxramas it felt like it was done.

At that pace, I might get the heroic Hearthstone card back by Christmas, it is not like I am in a hurry, and there are currently over twenty million players to defeat in the meanwhile.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Free Face Swap, and Newfound Artistic Freedom

Today is a good day for those of us who argued a free character recustomisation is a necessity with the advent of the new character models in World of Warcraft come the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. We can honestly say, we won. We got what we wanted, as it was revealed that in the next patch we will be getting a new option in the barber shop. We will be able to change the face of our character, and while not free, it costs 32 pieces of gold, which is still not the real money, which was my concern in the first place.

What does that mean for us then? What does it mean for Blizzard? What does it mean for the development of the new character models?

The answer is rather simple. More freedom. While we can freely choose whichever face we like the most for our character, it is the freedom Blizzard gained with this addition to the game that we should turn our attention to. Before they had their hand tied, the character models were required to look as much as possible as the old ones. This was rather complicated task since the old faces were simple, and pretty much alike in most cases. If we translated the same to the new model, then even with sharper lines there would be no actual progress after ten years.

But now things are different. Some might say that Blizzard is not obligated anymore to make the new model's faces resemble the old ones as much as possible. They are able to go in their own directions, like they went with the male Night Elves. While all the old faces are square, the new faces have oval shape, proportions of the body are different, and feel more natural. Sure, forearms are still the size of your average tree, but some things never change I guess.

In general this artistic freedom gives the developers a chance to show us how their artistic vision evolved over the course of time. As we can make the choice for ourselves if we like the current look of our characters, we have the option to actually choose a different look if we do not like the current, or stay with the new iteration of old if we like it.

This in my opinion solves the problem of free character recustomisation. Everybody wins. And that is rare these days. Blizzard has shown that they actually listen to our concerns, and even though they do not communicate it, they do work on the solutions that would keep the playerbase content. Now if only they did something about that no-fly thing they keep mentioning every time somebody asks what is the status of flying. Blood Elf models are still delayed, but I guess I can't have it all.In any case, they garnered a fair amount of good will after a very long time.

#WoW #Recustomisation

Monday, 8 September 2014

Diverse Garrisons and its Meaning for the Horde

Horde was through its modern history a lot of things. It started with Thrall and his liberation of all the orcs from the internment camps, but it grew from that with amazing speed. Along the way trolls, and tauren joined. Later on even Forsaken. After that, on the urging of Sylvanas Thrall accepted the blood elves, and after that Garrosh took in goblins and pandaren. With the exception of the pandaren, members of the Horde, at the time of their joining were always considered outcasts, exiles, group of people with nothing to have, and nothing to lose.

This was true for the orcs, the jungle trolls, the tauren, the forsaken, the blood elves, and even for the goblins. They all started from the point zero and moved on as part of the Horde. Some of them, like the forsaken and blood elves managed to struggle and carve something out for themselves, but in general, it was once they became part of the Horde that they really thrived. It was amazing seeing how this group of different people all with their own circumstances, goals, and aspirations managed to defy everyone else and actually succeed.

Granted, they all had their problems, but in the big picture, they were equal to the Alliance, and unlike the Alliance where they all got along by default, in Horde you had to prove your worth, but once proven you had allies and friends for life. That was the Horde Thrall envisioned, created, and passed on to Garrosh. Now, I wish this never happend. I still wish it would be Garrosh at the Wrathgate, and Saurfang the Younger safe back in Borean Tundra. I can see young Saurfang listening to his advisers, following in Thralls steps, and generally be everything we ever came to expect of a Horde warrior and leader. Something, that with time Nazgrim evolved into.

Alas, we got Garrosh. And unlike the cunning devil, and brilliant tactician we know him in the books, Garrosh we got in the game was a common bully. He was closeminded, stubborn, unrelenting, and driven. He was racist, and most everyone who joined to Horde under Thrall hated him with a fury of thousand Suns. Still we could do nothing to counter him, we just had to put up with him, and let it slide. And while we were helpless, Garrosh went on with his campaign for True Horde, undermining every good thing Thrall created in all those year.

Garrosh wanted to have a Horde that was not a diverse group. He wanted Horde to be one thing. He wanted the Horde to represent Orcish War Machine. For Garrosh, Horde was testament to the might and glory of orcish race. He did not see a coalition of nations based on trust, honour, and mutual benefit. He only was great potential for war. This is where Garrosh's downfall started. He did not trust anyone but orcs, he played favourites, while shunning, and oppressing everyone who showed any single sign of dissent.

Garrosh Hellscream saw Horde, as it probably was in times of Rend Blackhand. One great military, where all obediently follow their leader. He always thought this was the position of Warchief, the ultimate power. Form Garrosh's point of view Horde was lead by a tyrant, and thus everyone else had to comply or suffer for their dissent. In truth, the Horde Thrall founded was one led by a dictator, a Roman dictator with extended stay beyond only half a year but still. While Warchief was supreme military commander, and the highest judicial authority, his advisers were more than just that. His advisers were under Thrall's rule his equals. And while his was the final say, To go through with something others disagreed with was highly unlikely.

Thrall understood his role. That his authority over others comes in play only when in dire need. In time of peace, every adviser would govern his people as bast as they think or can. He understood that he cannot really mess with internal affairs of others, and for that he was respected. I believe Vol'jin will follow in Thrall's steps. Vol'jin was there from the first days of the formation of what we now know as the Horde. He saw how it began, and on what basis, he has the foresight needed to avoid making the same mistakes Garrosh did.

Unfortunately, Garrosh lacked that foresight. And now, once we defeated him, witnessed his trial, and let him escape, we face a new threat. Another Horde. This one, the one to Garrosh's liking. Formed of only orcs, where other races, if present at all, are subjects, servants, or slaves of the great Orcish War Machine. And instead of using this Iron Horde as a foil to contrast what our Horde is all about, Blizzard decided to go once again with full orcish narrative.

That drives me crazy. I am saddened by the fact that as a member of the Horde, I am still forced to build an orcish garrison. Even when statistics show blood elves are the most playable Horde race. I am left wondering, what does Blizzard mean when they say that our Horde is not just orcs, but then goes on developing only orcish houses and buildings. I understand human architecture. After all, humans are the most popular race in the game. Now I get it would be weird if all the races of the Horde built their garrison in the style of blood elves. I truly do, I am not suggesting it.

What I suggest is the garrison that actually includes all seven races. I would actually like my garrison to reflect this Horde of many colours. What I have in mind is that the buildings that would be stereotypically connected with a certain race, are done in the architecture of that race. I am sure it would end up looking like a shantytown, but it would look much more authentic than the generic more spikes approach Blizzard loves so much when they talk about "Horde" architecture.

For example: Forsaken Alchemy Lab, Blood Elven Enchanter Study, Goblin Engineering Works, Blood Elven Gem Boutique, Orcish Salvage Yard, Forsaken Scribe Quarters, Tauren Storehouse, Blood Elven Tailoring Emporium, Forsaken Forge, Troll Tannery, Orcish Barracks, Goblin Workshop, Tauren Stables, Blood Elven Mage Tower, Orcish War Mill, Troll Barn, Pandaren Tavern, Orcish Lumber Mill,  Goblin Trading Post, and Horde Gladiator's Sanctum.

This, would in my opinion show much better what our Horde is all about than the uniform orcish looking Garrison. It is not the orcish architecture or the orcs that make the Horde what it is. It is the Red Banner painted with black insignia that makes the Horde for what it is. Horde is not some uniform entity. Horde is a diverse group of very different people, that all share a common goal. While with years they might have formed friendships, and share certain beliefs, at the end of the day it is their variety that makes them different from the Alliance, and the Iron Horde.

#WoW #Garrisons #WoD

Review: Legionnaire (Galaxy's Edge Book 1)

When Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach started their endeavour of making "Making Star Wars Great Again", over at Galactic Outlaws . I...