On RNG or Why Can’t I Pull A Good Hand

So stretching a bit for a topic here, but I’m trying to post more again.

This weekend, like the last few before it, were mostly spent playing Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. Most of Saturday I ended up working, but either way my gaming would have been the same. The majority of the latter half of Saturday night was spent on Hearthstone building and researching decks and trying them out. The one thing that always seemed to happen is that I’d lose a match because I couldn’t pull that one combination of cards that I needed, or in a couple cases top decked just the right card to pull off a very, very narrow victory.

That happening just reminds me of how much I loath RNG in games. Granted I see the point of it, especially in a card game, but that doesn’t mean I can’t loathe it. Especially when you start the night at rank 18 and end at rank 20 (though as of last night I’m up to rank 17). So I guess it is more of a love/hate relationship. I think there’s a saying for this, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword”, something like that.

I do have some screenshots I’ve been meaning to post over on anook, so keep an out out there for them. I like taking screenshots of legendary / rares I get out of packs or really close matches.

I feel like I had more to discuss here, namely some memorable RNG in WoW but I got interrupted at work when I was typing this up (on lunch, not while supposed to be working) and lost my train of thought.

I’ve seriously considered streaming some Hearthstone, but I am not sure anyone would want to watch someone who loses most of their matches.

Advertisements

On 10 years 10 Questions

I’ve seen a few people mentioning this on twitter so I thought I’d give this a shot.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

I started playing mainly because all of my college friends were playing. When WoW first came out I was a full time college student, and I didn’t have a very well paying job so I was using the household PC. I didn’t jump on WoW right away either, because at the time I didn’t like the graphical style, so I was playing Everquest 2. Eventually I did pick it up, but had a ton of issues with my computer. Namely that while playing WoW my computer would reboot every 30 minutes. I’m pretty sure I leveled to 50 this way. But short answer, I started playing because I wanted to do stuff with my friends.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

I think that the first character I ever rolled was a hunter, but I don’t think he lasted very long. My second character was a mage and I still play him to this day. He’s always been, and always will be my main character and I use that name in every game I play.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

My friends were all rolling alliance, so I rolled alliance.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

I mentioned this in a post the other day, but one of my earliest raiding experiences is probably one of my most memorable times in the game. Another top memory is the night that Burning Crusade launched. I had pre-ordered the collectors edition and everything was patched up and ready to go. Everyone on the server was standing out by the portal waiting for it to open up so we could go in to the new area. I staid up way to late that night, but that remains my favorite WoW expansion launch still.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Exploration and achievements have always been why I keep coming back to the game. There are always things to do in the game. A lot of other MMO’s I’ve tried over the years just fall apart after you reach the max level.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

I can’t really say that I have a favorite area in the game. I tend to find myself sticking to whatever area is the current one for content.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I honestly don’t know this right now, so I’ll have to update this later. I can say thought that it has not been continuous. Over the span of 10 years I’ve taken several breaks. Some for just a few months and at most a year. I always seem to come back though.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I try to, but more often than not I just glance at it. That has, on occasion, come back to bite me in the rear.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Not starting the game earlier would probably be my biggest regret. By the time I started playing all of my friends had moved on to the end game content so I wound up doing all the levels available by myself. I never got to do the starter dungeons at level for various reasons because of this. At the time there was no group finder, and I was much shyer than I am today. The only time I ever ran with a pug group was if one of my friends was there and they got me in.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

I’m having a hard time thinking of any effects that I could solely relate to playing Warcraft. I know for sure I spent more time playing than studying, which is one factor in why it took me longer to graduate than it should have. But I have also met some really good friends on there that I still play with and talk to out of game.

oh and here’s the source

On Thankless Jobs

Ok, so honestly I wanted to make the title of this post “Thankless Jobs, not with Mike Rowe”. Nobody said I was funny, but I amuse myself.

So over the last week I’ve been trying to post a bit more as part of the Blaugust initiative thing that my friend Belghast started up. I find daily blogging challenging because it is really, really hard to come up with a topic every day. Thankfully Bel is a swell guy and put up a list of topics people could use as talking points. So today I’ll be talking about what I feel is one of the more thankless jobs in gaming, at least from my personal experience.

The Enchanter

Now, this isn’t an entirely thankless job in the sense that people say “thank you” for enchanting their gear but I don’t feel like people really know what it means to be the person in charge of handling your entire raids enchantments. A little bit of backstory before I jump in this.

From time immemorial, otherwise known as for a long time, my main character was not in fact an enchanter. He started off as mining/engineering. It wasn’t particularly self sustaining. I just liked making the gadgets, and worked very hard to build the alliance side motorcycle mount. I still have engineering as one of my professions, because there is still plenty of stuff I want to make.

Eventually a point came in my raiding career that we found our raid without an enchanter. I honestly don’t know why we lost our enchanter but we did and they asked if someone could step in and take the role over and me being the guy I am volunteered. Keep in mind this was Cataclysm raiding, and I had to gofrom 0 enchanting to raid enchanting super fast. Thankfully my guild is awesome and I got a lot of help with materials and gold so that I could grind up to raid level enchanting. That’s still a lot of work.

The tricky part is that enchanting things takes mats, lots of them, and raiding level enchants specifically required epic level items to be turned in to mats. This meant constantly running heroics and rolling DE on everything, soloing and hoping for blues or buying materials. Our raid at least had a policy that any gear that no one could use would go to me to disenchant and then those crystals would go in to the guild bank until they were needed. In writing that doesn’t seem to bad, but in reality enchanting became my second job. Keeping in mind I work full time, then had to go home and farm when sometimes I just didn’t want to.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like enchanting. I still have it and I keep it up to date as best as I can without raiding. I might not have the top of the line enchants now, but I do what I can. That way if anyone ever asks in guild for an enchanter I can say I am and be of some use. I don’t farm heroics anymore, or raids. In fact I’ve only done LFR a handful of times, and I refuse to pug dungeons.

So the moral here is thank your enchanter, they do a lot more work than you might think.

Hearthstone

On a bit of a sidenote, I’m still enjoying Hearthstone. I’ve started playing almost every evening. This week saw the 3rd wing of naxxramas unlock which I promptly worked my way through last night. Did a little bit of ranked play afterwords and ended up hitting rank 19 which I believe is my personal best.

On Warlords

So here’s the thing, I pre-ordered the Warlords of Draenor expansion yesterday. I know, I’m weak. I have no willpower. Hal Jordan I am not. There has been some discussion related to what people call an “item squish” that is going to reduce stats to be more reasonable (no more 1 million hit points you silly tanks you). But that discussion is for another day. Mainly one where I have time to fully research it and talk knowledgeably about it. This was more just me making a confession.

So yesterday my buddy Kodra (from the Aggrochat podcast) posted what he considered a significant grouping experience, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ve told this story to people on voice chat a few times, and it always gets a good chuckle. So I figure I can share it here as it’s a short story, and I need something to talk about.

Keep in mind, at the time World of Warcraft had only been out for maybe a couple years and at this point I had no raiding experience what-so-ever. Most of my grouping experience came from doing the end game content. Which at the time was Scholomance. I knew my role, go pew-pew and tank the floor. I was good at it. Especially tanking the floor. But I also had some skill in crowd control, which sadly has become less useful as the game has progressed.

At the time my college friends and I were in our own little guild, not part of the larger guild that most of us ended up in. They were part of a raiding group consisting of older people who generally only could play in the evenings. You know, adults with real jobs. They had formed a group of people that did the raiding content, and did it well. I heard my friends talking about it at school and eventually I started doing some group content with a few of those people. One of which turned out to be my future buddy Belghast (he wasn’t playing as Belghast back then so I didn’t know).

At some point or another they needed an extra dps to fill in for a night when they were running Zul’Gurub and they asked me to come along. This was back in the day when that was still a 40 man raid, not an entirely soloable 5 man dungeon. I don’t remember the entire run, other than things were going pretty smoothly up until the point I almost wiped the raid. We were in the middle of some trash pull and I was clicking buttons as I do when I accidentally cast a portal to Stormwind. Some people, not paying attention clicked on said portal and were whisked away right out of the fight. Back then all the portal spells were separate in the spell book, and I had them on my hotbar so I could get around without having to look them up.

So I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Don’t have portal or teleport on your hotbar. EVER.

I also didn’t get to raid for awhile. But they eventually let me come back. A while later Bel bribed me in to joining his guild which had a lot of those people and I started doing raid content with them. I don’t raid much anymore, but that one experience is up there in my all time favorites, even if all the details on it aren’t clear. Namely, I’m only fairly sure we were in combat when that happened, it might have just been a funny accident outside of combat.

On Fitness/Health vs Gaming

So if you follow me on Twitter, and if you don’t you should, you might have noticed me posting something quite interesting this morning. That is that I have cancelled both my WoW and ESO subscriptions. Now, I know that I have said that I wouldn’t be doing this as I enjoy both games but I had to pull some money out of somewhere to pay for something else. That something else being $125 per month membership fee for a kickboxing class.

This is where the inner/outer fat kid at me is screaming “Why God why!?!?!”. It is no secret that I’m not exactly in shape and that I’ve been trying and struggling to lose weight for years. I’ve been going to the gym mostly regularly for a couple years, and I am always trying to eat better which lasts a couple of weeks and then I fall back in to old habits. Now recently I’ve met and started talking to someone who achieved some amazing weight loss results and is helping me out with advice, and one of the things she had mentioned doing was cutting back/out a lot of her gaming. Now I find that a bit drastic, though I don’t think it’s a bad idea, it just isn’t for me. I plan to continue gaming but I will be cutting back on the money I spend on it.

The story here is that a few days ago a friend of mine that I work with and is my weight lifting partner said he was going to try out this Kickboxing class to see if it would be a good fit for him to keep doing cardio. Me, thinking “heck why not” said I’d give it a shot as well and if I found the price okay I would sign up with him.

This leads to last night where I did more cardio work than I think I’ve done in a long time, if not my entire life. Needless to say that out of the hour long class I was about to die 30 minutes in. By the time we finished it looked like I had jumped in a pool. I did have a good time however, but was a bit dismayed with the price. $125 a month is a bit high for me, but I really feel like I need to make a drastic change if I want to achieve my goals.

Unfortunately this means I have to stop playing my subscription based games, and possibly less time laying on the couch watching Netflix. I’d say there is a question here about which is more important, your health or your gaming life. But to me this isn’t a question. I think I want to be healthier more than I want to sit in front of the computer eating cheetos and drinking dr pepper. Being a gamer doesn’t mean I have to be the stereotypical overweight guy who doesn’t go outside. I feel like I can still do all the gaming I want and still have a better quality of life. If this means that I have to suffer a couple hours per week doing cardio and having trainers yelling at me to keep moving then I’m going to do it.

So not really a situation where one is better than the other. I view both as equally important to me. I want to be healthier, but I want to be able to play my games and be lazy. Maybe these are not the easiest things to do together but there are plenty of in shape gamers out there too.

On MMO Boredom

Before I get in to todays topic I need to remind everyone that they should be listening to my friend Bel’s podcast, especially this weeks because I got to come in as a guest host again (link).

Okay, so today’s topic is one I deal with every so often, and that is hitting the “end” of an MMO. What do you do when you reach the “end”? I know that in reality there is not really any ending to MMO’s. There are usually plenty of things to do such as dungeons, raids, and achievements, but what if none of those interest you? What keeps you playing a game that you feel there’s nothing left to do?

For me this usually comes up around the time that I reach max level in a game. In almost every game I get to that point where my interest starts to fade. I’ve done the raiding thing, and I’ve done the quest for better stats thing. I find these are only temporary fixes, and I’m starting to find that if I no longer feel like I’m enjoying myself then I don’t want to continue playing.

As I mentioned there was a time when I did the raiding thing which meant all of my non-raiding time was spent gathering materials to make enchants for the raid, or food buffs, or any other number of things like researching the bosses. This is fundamentally the reason I don’t ever really feel like raiding anymore. The “end game” content felt like it was a job. Getting online was no longer about me enjoying a game so I made the decision to stop playing. This also tend to apply to dungeons as well. I do enjoy doing dungeons, and I like the group of people I do them with, but my problem is that I don’t enjoy doing them over and over again to get the best gear. I like to do them to see the story, but after the first time it isn’t the same thing.

The first real thing that keeps me going in a game is achievements. Just about anyone I’ve ever played with has heard me talking about this. I love achievements, to me that is the best part of any MMO because it gives you something else to do besides killing monsters and being the pony express mail service. Achievements usually require some amount of effort and are generally fun to do. The only problem I tend to find with achievements is that it feels like an impossible task. There are always achievements that you can’t get, such as ones for raiding or pvp, both of which are things I don’t enjoy doing. I don’t mind them being there since plenty of people enjoy both of those things, I just don’t like it when a pvp achievement is a condition for some overall achievement. That just feels like I’m being forced in to content I have no interest in.  That being said, I still enjoy doing achievements because there are always new ones to do and they provide a nice alternative for more casual gamers.

The other thing that tends to keep me in a game is the people I play with. I’m sure I’ve stated previously that one thing I look for in a game is having people to play with, which for the last few years has been the same group of people. As a whole this group tends to shift from game to game as they come out and I enjoy running content with them when I can. I’ve only recently started to understand that the game I’m playing doesn’t matter so if I feel I’m done with a game this won’t keep me playing anymore. The people in the game still is a good reason for me to keep playing, but there is a limit to any game, especially one that you have to pay a monthly fee on.

Now, since the topic is MMO boredom I should also point out that I don’t make it to the “end” in every game anymore. There have been times that I get about halfway through the content before it starts feeling a bit stale and I play less and less. Another factor might be other games coming out that I’m interested in which draw me away from the PC gaming side for a little while. I feel like if it is that easy to be pulled away from a game, then I might not want to continue playing.

So I’m curious as to what keeps other people playing? Do you stick around for that end game content or achievements, or something else entirely?

On a side note related to my fitness post: Thanks for all the advice. I’m going to try cutting back on a few things, namely sugar and carbs. They won’t be gone completely, but I’m going to try to at least reduce them. This might just mean doing something simple like taking the bun off my sandwich or cutting back on sugary snacks, but small changes can have good results.

 

On Free to Play Games Vs Subscriptions

This topic has come up a few times lately, well, a couple? Enough that I want to write about it, and this is my blog so “I do what I want”. Mainly this topic seems to come up whenever a new MMO comes out that is either Free to Play or has some form of monthly subscription. The latest game to cause this was ArcheAge and the fear that it will be full of jerks. This isn’t to say that every free to play game is full of them, but it feels that way some times. This might be an over abundance of immature players (ie teenagers, or children) that can’t afford to pay monthly fees.

I think the concept of Free to Play is fine as long as it is done correctly, and so far at least Trion seems to be the ones that do it best. They have a nice balance of free content, a cash shop, and an option subscription service that gives you added benefits but does not give you an unfair advantage in the game you’re playing. In fact in their last few live streams about ArcheAge they’ve specifically said they don’t want to make Pay to Win games. I have no problem supporting these games either through cash shops or the optional subscriptions because I know where those payments go. Just like subscription based games it goes to maintaining the network, and paying their employees so that there is ready customer support and content development.

Really the only thing I don’t like about Free to Play games is the risk of having a bad community experience. If games games that have optional subscriptions such as Rift or ArcheAge offered a subscriber only server I would gladly pay the $15 a month for it so that I would be a little bit less worried about a bad experience. Now that isn’t to say having a subscription means there won’t be players that want to ruin things for everyone else. That is a risk of any game that allows you to interact with so many other people from around the world. The only way to avoid it is to play single player games.

I know a few people who don’t understand the whole subscription model, especially if it is a game you went to the store and paid $60 for to begin with. They don’t seem to grasp the concept of the company having to have at least enough of a profit to pay their employees. I would like to think that everyone that is capable of paying for an optional subscription would because that just means better support and possibly content.

That being said, would I choose a subscription over a free to play game or vice versa? To be honest I’m not sure. I like the concept of free to play games because there is no commitment to a pay schedule. If you stop playing the game for a couple months you don’t have to worry about paying the monthly subscription with no personal benefit. The first thing I tend to look at is the quality of the game, and if I find it interesting enough to compel me to want to play it. If I’m on the fence and can try it for free I will be more likely to play it. If I was on the fence and had to purchase the game first I don’t think I would. I would have to wait for someone else to tell me about it or watch videos to see if I would be interested at all. Like I mentioned before, I have absolutely no issue paying for a subscription if I feel it is worth it, even if it is optional. Some people may think that is dumb, but as a professional software developer I understand why they need that money and as a gamer I love having new content and customer support if something comes up.