On Following Your Friends To New Games

So, if anyone noticed I did not write anything yesterday, which kind of breaks my posting every week day goal. In my defense real life crap came up and I just didn’t have the time. One of the responsibilities I have on the project I work on is taking an on call shift once every five weeks. This involves a lot of small things, but mostly making sure things are working. Yesterday we started having issues with one of our servers in what we are now referring to as “Fileocolypse”. So yeah, just didn’t have time to come up with coherent thoughts. Today I passed that on to someone else and it’s not my problem anymore.

So for a quick post I though I’d talk a little bit about how we choose games. I think I’ve touched on this before, and hopefully I haven’t already written this post. What got me thinking about this was the recent release of Wildstar, the latest MMO that people have jumped on. Personally I have no opinion on this game because my time playing with it amounts to maybe 1 hour. This is just an example. I have previously stated that I have chosen several games because I like the group of people I play with and want to play the same games as them. Wildstar is one of the few examples that I can think of that I did not “jump on the bandwagon”. I don’t feel guilty about this though, I like my friends and I like playing with them but there comes a point when you realize you only play games because you’re following other people around.

Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think there is. I mean I’ve done it enough myself so what right do I have to judge? Do I think it’s a good reason to buy a game? No I don’t. I’m getting over this myself, but the internet definitely makes it easier. There is always a wealth of information available if you look for it. The hardest part is hearing strong arguments for playing a game from a friend. Because then are you following them or are you there because you want to be?

I think that really is a personal opinion. I personally don’t think that would mean you followed them in to a game. They may have made a very persuasive argument or they had information on a game you were already interested in that helped you make that decision. When I think of “following” people I’m thinking of blindly playing a game because everyone else is. It’s like when you’re a kid and someone asks you if all your friends jumped off the cliff would you too?

There may have been a time where this was less of a big deal because there were limited means of communications but now voice chat is readily available and it is easier to communicate across games. Now if there was a good solution for cross platform voice chat I’d be all over that.

I’ll admit that having people to play with is a factor in some of my PC gaming decisions. I do prefer to play with friends but I find that is no longer a requirement. I find that I want to base my purchases more on reviews and features and maybe seeing some game play footage. Just enough information to help me decide if I want to drop $60 on it. That to me is the main thing I look for now, is it really worth paying $60+ for?



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 Playing Multiple Games At Once

Todays topic is one I’ve thought about on and off for awhile now, and that is, is it really possible to effectively play more than one game at a time? I know plenty of people who are very good at this, or at least have an effective schedule set up to allow them to play more than one at a time. Personally I’m not very good at this, and often say I have video game ADD.

For example, right now I have 2 reoccurring MMO games, World Of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online. These are on top of the other PC/Console games I’m trying to work through, namely Dark Souls 2 and the new Wolfenstein game. That list is going to grow pretty quick once Watchdogs and Murdered: Soul Suspect come out over the next couple of weeks.

For me, this presents a bit of a dilemma, what game do I play? I feel like I should play the PC/Console games first as they all have a definitive ending, unlike the 2 MMO’s. At the same time however, I feel like I am neglecting my online friends by not being around to hang out and talk or participate in guild events. Not to mention I’m stuck paying $30 a month between the two and not really playing either one. As you can see I feel like I am in quite the pickle.

Right now I’m probably going to put Dark Souls 2 on the back burner, mainly because that game frustrates me so much and because I think that Wolfenstein is probably a shorter game, and while not the hardest game ever, it is also pretty straightforward and mindless. To be honest, that is the kind of game I want to play right now. I don’t need complicated dodging mechanics, or have to worry that much about death penalties. I just want to blow things away.

The other problem I have is that I’m go to the gym at least twice a week if not more, and those days I get home fairly late and generally don’t feel like sitting in front of my computer. Even on days that I don’t go I tend to gravitate towards the couch just to relax after work. This would probably be fine if all I had were console games, but I feel like I should be on the MMO’s more than I am because of the subscription costs.

So I guess to poll any potential audience, how do you work out your gaming schedule? Do you give specific games specific days, or do you just wing it?

On Hex vs Magic The Gathering

So this morning I’m typing up a post relatively early, for me anyways. I normally don’t start a day with a topic in mind and usually comes from something I’ve read online and has gotten me thinking. Today when I woke up I saw a twitter post from Joe Vargas (Angry Joe / Angry Joe Show) that linked to a lawsuit filed against Cryptozoic by Wizards of the Coast claiming copyright infringement based on the similarities between Cryptozoic’s game Hex: Shards Of Fate and Wizards of the Coast’s Magic the Gathering.

So here’s the thing, yes the two games are similar. They’re both card based games that involve you spending money to get better cards in order to play other people. In Magic you draw “Land” cards which you use to play your creatures cards, instant cast card, etc.. where in Hex you use “Shards” for the same purpose. I’ll grant that there are a lot more similarities between the two games, enough so that I think this could have a negative impact on Hex.

That being said, I think there are also plenty of differences between the two. Namely the fact that there is a PVE aspect to Hex which has not been released to Beta yet. This aspect allows you to group up with your friends and play through dungeons to gain new cards and equipment for your decks selected champion. I know there is a style of game for Magic that allows more than one player to battle some form of boss deck, recently seen with the Theros deck release on Magic which the players could face the Hydra at retail events. I don’t think these are the same thing though, because it is not limited to one fight.

Another difference is that your decks champion can be equipped with stat gear that allows for bonuses that apply to your current deck. I don’t believe that this has been released yet, so I am not familiar with how it works. But as far as I know there is nothing similar to this in Magic the Gathering. Up until recently I’m not sure Magic even had “Champion” cards. The first cards similar to this that I’m aware of are Planeswalker cards, though I don’t know when those were first introduced. I don’t remember them being in the original deck, but I believe they came out some time prior to the release of the Theros expansion.

The last difference that I can think of is the fact that individual cards have the ability to level up in Hex. From what I understand cards will eventually be able to essentially level up and become more powerful versions of themselves allowing for more value to cards that you purchase.

Typing this up I thought of one important fact. Hex is still in closed Beta testing, and that only opened up recently. The amount of time that it took for a lawyer (or group of them) to research and develop the crafted lawsuit would have had them doing so while the game was still in closed Alpha testing. All of their information seems to have been gathered via player livestreams or from the kickstarter campaign that Cryptozoic launched in order to fund the game. So essentially they have filed a suit on a game that is not even available to the public yet.

Now there is also the possibility that this is not real news, and this could all be wasted time. I don’t know if the original source was verified. I’m posting this more as a response to the article that I read.

I will say this however. If this is indeed true and Wizards Of the Coast is going after Cryptozoic for this game then I’m going to lose pretty much all respect for them. I don’t believe that they would make them shut the game down, but asking them to redesign their entire product is essentially saying the same thing.

Oh and I probably shouldn’t fail to mention Blizzards Hearthstone here. Where’s the lawsuit against blizzard? If they’re going to attack Cryptozoic for having a similar game then they should go after Blizzard too since Hearthstone is “similar” enough. I think that Wizards of the Coast should just drop the lawsuit and welcome some competition. I’m pretty sure Hasbro has the copyright on Monopoly anyways.

Maybe Hoyle should sue Wizards of the Coast for having cards with pictures on them, since I’m sure playing cards have been around a lot longer than 1993.

All that said, this has not actually gone to trial. As far as I’m aware the papers have been filed but that is as far as it has gone. This might never go anywhere, but I’m simply annoyed by the fact that it is even happening. I don’t feel like Hex is a blatant rip off, and they are not trying to steal away the Magic fan base. I don’t think that is even possible. Magic has been around since I was 11 years old and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

On Road Trips

If you listened to the last AggroChat podcast you’ll have heard this bit already. I’m going on vacation tomorrow driving up to visit my friends Belghast and Rae. It’s not a very long drive, but I don’t get to take these kinds of trips often. I’ll have my phone hooked up to my aux jack in my car listening to “Death Masks” by Jim Butcher as read by James Marsters. This series of books has quickly become one of my favorites, and nothing beats having Spike read to you. If you’ve never read the Dresden Files of books I would highly recommend it, and if you have that much more disposable income I’d get the audio book.

While I won’t get in to the details of where I’m going, or where I’m driving from I’ll say that I’m very much looking forward to this trip. Partially because I’ve been really busy at work and really need some time off, and also because I’m getting to meet some good friends for the first time.

As a bit of background I started playing World Of Warcraft around the time it was launched, back in what veteran players call “Vanilla”. Some time after the launch of the first expansion several of my friends were raiding with a group that called themselves the “Late Night Raiders”. Belghast was part of this group, at the time a hunter. On occasion when they were desperate enough I would get invited along to raid. This was way back before I was serious about raiding, and I’ll admit I wasn’t very good at it. I was commonly referred to as the floor tank because I was dead more often than I was alive. So that is to say I’ve been playing with Bel for a long time, longer than I actually realized since at the time his character name was not the one I came to know.

Eventually I was talked in to joining the guild that Bel had started up and proceeded to get more in to doing current content, whether that was dungeons or raids. I was never the “best” mage in the raid but I did my best. Eventually I hit a bit of a burnout phase and left the game for awhile. The thing about our Bel, is that he is a lot like me. We both try out a lot of MMO’s when they come out though he tends to stick around longer than I do in most cases. This applies to a lot of folks in our guild though, so whenever a new MMO pops up there are usually at least enough of us to have a regular group to play with.

This is how I met Rae. I’m sure that we played together in WoW at some point, but I think the first time we started actually having conversations was when we were playing Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn together. Rae, like Bel, myself and a vast number of our guild mates are all software people with similar interests which is why I like hanging out in voice chat with them. If not for them I probably would have given up on MMO’s a long time ago and not met many interesting people from all over the world.

So considering I’ve known Bel for the better half of my 20’s and now in to my 30’s we’ve never actually met in person. I finally have gotten to a place where I am mostly financially comfortable to take a weekend trip, so I’ll be driving over to hang out. There probably won’t be any video games played unless I get bored in my hotel room at night, in which case I’ll probably mess around in Hex or Hearthstone. However, Friday night we’ll be breaking out some board games and pizza and having a, hopefully, good time. I might fail to post for a couple days, or if I do it will either be very early in the day or very late.

On Getting in to TCG’s

So I haven’t posted in a while, so here’s a bit of catching up.

A couple months back I got put on to a new project at work that has been keeping me fairly busy.  This particular client is probably our companies largest client and the software we provide for them to sell is used my retailers nationwide (no pressure right?). This means there is always a lot to do, either through development or testing, as well as having to be on call one out of every five weeks.  This means that I’ve been super busy.

Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t had time to write anything. As one of my gaming buddies pointed out all I really need to do is find a time during the day that I could devote to writing. This is in fact true, I find there are ways I could make that effective. I could get up earlier and write or delay my after work gaming sessions a bit. Most days though I just don’t feel like I have much to talk about, and I don’t always feel confident that my opinion on anything matters. Now I think that his advise is good, since having played several games over several years his opinion is one I greatly respect. So here’s to finding time this morning to writing, even if I’m on call (since mercifully today hasn’t been terrible, yet).

So to get on with the actual subject of this post.

In the last few weeks I have felt the need/desire to expand my circle of friends or at the very least try to put myself in to more social situations. This, to me, is a bit of a challenge because I have a much harder time dealing with people in person than I do online. Online when playing games with my friends I tend to use voice chat, which I really enjoy because I hate trying to type AND perform acts of digital genocide on kobolds. The added benefit being that something I say is less likely to be misinterpreted which tends to happen to me a lot when I type.

The other benefit to this is that if someone says something I either don’t agree with, or just don’t get, they can’t see the expressions on my face that would convey a negative reaction. I’ve been told a lot that I tend to always have the facial expression of “staring off in to space” and as such people always think that I am not paying attention. Online I don’t have that issue.

So where does that fit in to TCG’s?

Due to several people I play online with backing the new MMO/TCG Hex, and a new show on Geek & Sundry, “Spellslingers”, I have been feeling the desire to play these types of games. Those being TCG’s and other deck building games. I’ve been a fan of tabletop gaming for awhile, but only play with the few friends I have. To me TCG’s were always a money sink that I just couldn’t afford. Not saying they aren’t a money sink, but for the most part I can afford it now.

One of the major aspects of traditional TCG’s is the fact that there is a great deal of social interaction involved depending on how you choose to play. Sure you could just as easily only play with the same group all the time, but you can also go out to events such as “Friday Night Magic” at your local game store (if you have one).

Since I haven’t gotten in to the alpha for HEX yet, and because Blizzard hates me and won’t give me a beta invite for Hearthstone I went out and spent more money than I needed to so that I could get in to Magic The Gathering. Now I had played MTG previously, just not really in person since 1994 when I only ever played against my sister and had no idea what the rules were. I’ve played the Duel Of the Planeswalkers on PC a bit so I was confident in my ability to at least play with other people. So I went out and dropped the money on the cards and the deck sleeves and other shiny bobbles that are just there to make you look “pro”.

So having bought the cards I went to last weeks “Friday Night Magic” event and wound up doing a “Drafting” tournament which is basically 8 people paired up randomly and then as you win/lose you get paired up with another person with similar statistics. The other part to that is that you have to build a deck on the spot, which I wasn’t ready for at the time. So needless to say I lost. I lost a lot.

But here is the thing, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every second of it. Why? Because everyone was super nice. There wasn’t trash talking or name calling cause I was a beginner. The people I was playing with gave me tips and helped me understand the mechanics better, and I even got some free cards from one of the guys. That right there was a new experience for me because in online games there is always that risk of running in to Douchey McDouche who thinks “noobs” are a waste of time and yelling / throwing  a fit like a 12 year old is considered being productive.

So while I have enjoyed the general support of in person TCG playing I am still nervous of the online that re-introduces random douche back in to the equation. Will that ruin the game? Hopefully not. At the very least all I have to do is not respond and can always just walk away.

So to sum up really quick (work calls). I am enjoying the concept of TCG’s for their ability to give me something to learn about and talk about with current friends, and allowing me to get outside and meet new people.

That being said, I still want my alpha/beta keys.