Monday, January 31, 2011

I pity the gaming youth...

The more I think about it the more thankful I am for having grown up at the period of time I did. I had the best cartoons for my childhood; Transformers, GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, and X-Men. I got to experience playing a Nintendo NES when it was still new and remember when the coolest computer game out was Oregon Trails, which everyone played at the school computer lab. For a nerd, I was born into the perfect generation.

Among all these things I’m thankful for I get the distinct honor of being able to say; yes I use to go to the Arcade. I’m not talking about the arcade imbedded in the movie theater or your local pizza joint with 4 or 5 games. I’m talking about a business dedicated solely to the purpose of arcade games. I remember the feeling of saving up my allowance money only to turn those crisp one dollar bills into quarters for the arcade gods to eat. One thing you learned in the arcade was that the better you were the farther your money went. The kids that were bad at arcade games would blow through their money in a matter of minutes, while someone good could take on challengers for hours.

I was never amazing at Street Fighter; this was one game that often left me watching more than playing. However enter Tekken. Tekken was a step far enough away from Street Fighter that being good at one didn’t automatically mean being good at another. Therefore I took it upon myself to use my school computer lab to look up all of the 10 hit combo’s for each character and commit them to memory. Believe it or not being the guy at the arcade that can pull off a 10 hit combo with 5 or 6 characters in one game makes you popular, and feared. My money started going a lot farther.

I may not have been a pinball wizard, but for a time I was a Tekken master. Time passed and as I love my friends I taught each one of them the ways of the 10 hit combo which lead to them passing me in skill. I became the teacher; often times telling them which combo to pull or what their opponent’s openings are at the arcade machine. I also made a few enemies that way. It would seem people don’t like you telling their opponent what their weaknesses are. Yes I got in more than one fight their too.

The arcade I use to go to has long since closed. I think it’s a furniture store now in fact. Most of the other arcades in the city I grew up are all closed. The only place I can think of with a decent sized arcade is the mini golf course. Like your parents get to reminisce about walking up the hill, both ways, in the snow on their way to school I too get to talk about being at the arcade. In a way I pity today’s gamers. They missed out on the Gamer Cultural Revolution by only a few years.

Friday, January 28, 2011

My dream game…

I know most people have some game they think would be the greatest game ever. I’ve been thinking about one more and more lately and it probably isn’t what you would expect from someone who plays MMOs. I want a web based Warhammer and 40K table top game. Think of some of the Magic The Gathering online games and you get a pretty good idea of what I want. I don’t want a Real Time Strategy, I want a turn based game.

Just like Magic has you purchase virtual cards with real money so to could you purchase miniatures with real money to build your army. My only caveat would be that they cost less than the actual miniatures. Magic currently has virtual booster packs at about the same price as real ones. You could offer discounts to people who buy a virtual army in order to encourage them to purchase real ones. Just, for the love of the Emperor, make the paints free.

The game should be played through a web browser; the reason is that it would increase the user base. Take a page from Facebook games; get people to play from work. If someone can play while they are at work you increase the potential customers, the reason for this is simple. You are not competing with other video games they can play from home. You are now not competing with MMOs or console games. You are only competing with other web based games and let’s face it, there aren’t many out there.

In order to play at work it has to be turn based, with no time limit. I’ve been playing Scrabble through Facebook lately and the wonderful thing about it is you don’t have to sit there and play one game straight through. My wife and I have been spending 2 or 3 days on a game, you can even limit the amount of moves allowed per day.

Imagine the revenue that Games Workshop could generate from this.

Pay money up front for access to the game, and have it come with a basic army… Sort of like a virtual Battle of Macragge. The initial purchase price needs to be low enough to encourage people to try it but also to make them feel obligated to play after they pay. It could include a choice from maybe 3 basic armies, Space Marine, Chaos, or Orc and outfit you with a 750 point army. I would recommend a huge discount compared to if you bought them individual.

Then you can sell other armies… maybe have some of them as expansion packs but make every army useable at all times. So if I only ever buy my 750 Chaos army I can play against someone with a Tao army. Seeing someone with the other army, and more importantly losing to it, will encourage people to buy more.

Sell more units and create different leagues and tournaments based off the amount of points. So you can have a 750, 1000, 1500, 2000, etc point battles. Let normal “random” matches be free. Have tournaments and leagues have an entry fee and have prizes for the winners.

The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open PvP doesn't make sense

I’ve played on a Player versus Player, PvP, server on every MMO since I left EverQuest. I like the challenge of fighting other people as they have more unpredictable reactions than most PvE encounters. The problem I have with PvP though is not that I die or am ganked while low on health; it is that I am killed by someone who greatly out levels me. PvP is suppose to be about two people fighting one another, the problem is that is very rarely the case.

Why is it accepted on a PvP server that it is okay to kill someone 15, 30, or 60 levels below you? That isn’t two people fighting. A lower level person has no ability to remain safe or defend themselves and even most guards can’t stop a level 85 from killing you. High level characters ganking low level characters feels more akin to bullying than it does PvP. I understand that in a true combat environment you do not want a fair fight. The object is to sneak up behind your enemy and club them on the head resulting in as little causalities as possible for your side. I can accept this to a degree.

I hate analogies, not because they don’t serve a purpose but because they often cause people to debate the analogy and not the point being made by it. That being said I’m going to try one. Dying to a level 85 character on a PvP server in WoW while on a low level alt is the same as when a little kid, say 5 years old, loses a round of Counter Strike to his friend and has his 17 year old brother come in and beat his friend for him. (Yeah I don’t know why a 5 year old would play Counter Strike either, this is why I don’t like analogies)

Now before people reply with, “well it’s no different than having good gear and killing someone of the same level”… yes it is. I don’t understand how you can’t see that difference either, please explain. I could have the best gear at my level and still have no chance of surviving. Like I said, even guards can’t protect you. With a level 85 character in quest greens I may die, but I also may be able to damage you a little or run and hide by the guards. I have options. As a level 20 alt I have none as I will die in 1 auto attack.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yogi hit 80!

I’ve decided to call my Druid Yogi on the blog. I wish I had actually named him Yogi but I went with a werewolf themed name. I hit 80 last night so now I finally get to experience the Cata content on my druid. I’ve done a fair amount on my priest but as I hate Shadow, it was limited.

I was about to stop playing a few days ago. The wall felt just to insurmountable. I’m glad I hung in there however it does bring an interesting thought. Why was leveling so unfun? Well there are a few reasons. There are really only two ways to level your character in WoW. You can either quest or do instances, luckily I’m a tank so instances are a real option.

The problem is that after 80 levels I was tired of doing both. Quests are more or less all just a variation of 5 basic quests. The dungeons are stressful because most groups refuse to let me be a tank. Threat, target priority and permitting me to pull are not concerns of theirs. That is why I’m looking forward to Cata. The dungeon content is harder, so DPS SHOULD allow me to actually perform my role.

I’ve also got mining and skinning up high enough that I should turn a decent profit. Between quests, vendoring items, and selling ore/skin on the AH I earned about 7k gold from 1-80… which reminds me I have enough money for the next flight speed upgrade at 80.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Parents and MMOs

There are a few things you should know about parents. The first is you can’t tell them how to discipline, or parent, their children. You won’t make any friends and in fact you will ostracize your existing friends by doing this. The reason is very simple; every parent thinks they are a good parent, regardless of the truth. These facts are very important to remember when reading parent’s opinions and views, typically on themselves, as it pertains to video games.

If every parent thinks they are a good parent and refuses to accept criticism what do we do? Well if you want to get drawn into a long debate, assuming it’s on the internet, then challenge them. However the odds are you won’t change their mind. No it is unlikely you will change these people in any sort of direct confrontation. Bringing up studies done about video games and how they may be unhealthy or counterproductive to the social and mental growth of a child will only result in an anecdotal counter argument from the parent or youth in question.

It’s even worse when you throw Americans into the mix. We’ve been spoiled by our so called freedom here. As soon as you attempt to tell an American they should do something they cower behind the “American’s don’t like being told what we can’t do because we value our freedom” flag. Mind you that’s total bullshit, but the flag still flies high.

So what do we do if we can’t tell parents that allowing their children to play video games, in particularly MMOs, is bad for them? I’m not completely sure. To be perfectly honest I believe the only way to get parents to wake up would take a series of deaths related to video games. The problem is that people still wouldn’t place blame in the proper place. Instead of blaming the parent who neglected to… well parent their child they would blame the video game and the developer.

Thought of the Day

Q: What came first, the chicken or the egg?
A: If you believe in Creation the chicken if you believe in Evolution the egg.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Class Balance

Inspired by Nils @

Where people who perform similar roles are concerned everyone wants to be the best. If someone else is more powerful the weaker classes will complain. This is because they view it as a competition between them and someone performing a similar role. In WoW a rogue does not want to do less damage than a Mage, or vice versa. The rogue, or any similar DPS class, views their overall DPS as their value to the group. If their DPS, aka value, is lower than someone else they feel less important… not the best. By nature people don’t like to blame themselves, so where two different classes are concerned they typically point to an imbalance.

Let’s say we had a game that only consisted of 3 classes. A tank who can do zero damage but had a large amount of hit points and mitigation, a healer who can do zero damage but can heal people, and a DPS who can do a lot of damage but has no health. In this game you can only have 3 people in a group. There would be no arguments over class balance because there are no overlapping roles. The tank, healer and DPS would all recognize the other’s importance. The only issue would come from people not willing to fulfill the role of tank/healer… look to Tobold’s post last week on more of that.

The point is that there would be no class balance issues, as no two classes are competing for the same job. The problem is people like variety. Thus game developers are required to create variations of each of those classes… which results in our Holy Trinity. So now you have people who are still essentially filling those same three original roles but in different manners. Now you have variables and the problem is many people are narrow minded. They only view the “now” and not the big picture. A great example of this was when Warhammer Online launched. Many classes complained that they were unbalanced, or more specifically that the other army was more powerful because their perceived class mirror had better abilities. What Mythic did, which was a good idea but failed, was they had a set amount of CC abilities for each army. They spread these abilities around to all the classes. This resulted in both Order and Destruction having the exact same amount of stuns, knockbacks, and interrupts. However because player A’s class didn’t have the same ability as his perceived mirror on the other realm he believed his class was inferior. In some ways they were, granted, but the overall army was equal in strength and if both armies worked together equally it would have been a perfectly fair fight.

I remember in my last job interview I was asked “Is the customer always right?” I sat there and took a few seconds to think about it, at this point in the interview I didn’t think I was getting the job so I wasn’t sugar coating my answers. I responded with “No, the customer is not always right. The reason is the customer is stupid. They don’t know what we offer or what we are capable of. They can ask for impossible requests that I simply can’t fill. They deserve respect, but no they are not always right.” Needless to say they were taken aback, but they agreed with me in a more politically correct office way of saying it.

The same applies for video gamers, they don’t know what a developer is capable of. They are ignorant and whinny. They view everything as a competition in the immediate situation they are in. They don’t look at the bigger picture. As long as there is a small difference from player A’s class to player B’s class there is going to be the age old complaint about class balance.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I have $15 in Gamestop credit. Not really enough to buy much by it's self. The problem isn't that though, the problem is there is nothing I want. I've considered EVE and DCUO but why buy them when they would just sit on my shelf unplayed? I've even considered a game card for WoW... but as I have a reoccuring sub on a credit card designated for that it seems rather pointless.

I suppose a Nintendo DS game could fill a gap. Work has been really slow and my laptop doesn't work well enough to try and game at work on it. A DS would allow me to play games in my down time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Bear has found his Picnic Basket

I finally figured out a way to enjoy dungeon grinding while leveling. It was a simple solution but one that sits opposite of how I play video games. I simply had to stop caring. I had to stop caring about my threat generation and if I was a ‘good’ tank. I resolved to only care about keeping the mobs we pull off of the healer and life became better. I don’t think I’m a better tank but I’m at least a happier tank. I make it clear that I only care about the healer too. I tell the group early on mana and ready checks only apply to the healer, the rest of you can be replaced in seconds.

I’m a happy bear tank… now where did I put that picnic basket.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Project 1999

I’m considering Project 1999. I’m tracking a copy of EverQuest on Ebay right now that is the proper game client to play on it. The one thing holding me back is knowing exactly how much time it really takes to play EverQuest. I’m not delusional. I know it will take hundreds of hours to complete anything, more time than I really have. I really do yearn for that type of community though and other than the bubble of friends I hide in, WoW doesn’t provide it.

Project 1999 or perhaps another go at EVE.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


In response to:

I could go into a long detailed explaination, citing precedence, but I don't have the time nor energy at the momment.

In reality it isn't an under 25, 18, or even 14 thing. It's the way the past few generations have been brought up, including my own. The video game developers are seeing a demand for a specific set of rewards and game features and they are providing them. It is in no way their fault.

I can't believe I'm actually about to say this but... it is the way the last 2-3 generations of people have been raised. The parental ideal that you want your kids to have better than what you had has been mutated into the spoiling of your children. I deal with 18-28 year old people entering the US Army every month. A large majority of them have an 'entitlement' complex where they feel I owe them. I've seen it online as well, as most have you had. The whole "it's my $15 I'll do what I want" mind set.

In the noble effort of parents to give their children better than what they have many have simply given them everything without teaching them what earning something is about. Self esteem is learned by overcoming challenges such as working for a toy, car, or cell phone.

Compound that with the new social media devices and you have a recipe for disaster. Between Facebook and Twitter the last few generations have been taught that their voice is just as important as everyone elses... when in reality it isn't. Someone at the age of 12, 13, or even 19 doesn't have the life experience to form an educated opinion on alot of things. It's not their fault, they will in time. However with the new social media they have been told they do they have a valid opinion.

I know every aging generation blames the one following them. However take a good look at our culture and tell me if it is really going to a better place. While the '60s may have had hippies pushing solcialism they also fought for equality, peace, and love. Idealistic but atleast they worked for something.

I'm fully aware that I fall with in the generation of self indulgent entitlement however I acknowledge not everyone falls victim to it.

Uncle Ben knew this would happen...

The amount of thoughts bouncing around in my head lately that pertain to video games, MMO in particular, is starting to give me a headache. I’m not joking, I’ve had a headache for 3 days and I’ve had some things weighing on my mind.

The AAA created MMO gaming community that we knew is gone and more than likely will never return. Without a doubt MMO games have become more popular than ever. Ten years ago when my friends and I were playing EverQuest none of us would have guessed that MMOs would make it to this point. EQ was something to be embarrassed about playing while growing up; now playing World of Warcraft is as socially acceptable as playing Halo. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben… smart man.

As with any business or service as the client base grows the ability to give personal customer service diminishes. Take Home Depot for example. When they first opened they were a friendly knowledgeable resource for improving your home. Now Home Depot is a faceless corporation that will literally hire anyone with mediocre qualifications. I know, I use to work there and I had no right too. Companies simply outgrow the ability to provide quality service; the quantity of their service weighs them down. Now that doesn’t mean they have bad products that just means they aren’t as personable anymore. They don’t know you.

MMO gaming communities have reached this point. A key factor is that there are simply too many people to provide for a healthy community. I don’t believe that the size of the community is the scape goat we should be pointing the finger of blame at, but it is a key factor. In the end I believe it can all comes down to the game developers attempting to appeal to the largest possible consumer base. Stay with me a little longer, because it isn’t the developers fault directly either.

Everyone has heard of John Gabriel’s “Greater Internet Dickwad Theory” in which it simply states that given anonymity a normal person will act out in a negative way towards their peers. If this were to be applied to MMO games then why didn’t some of the older games suffer from such an immature community before? Well although they did in fact have anonymity, they also had accountability. In EQ it was incredibly hard to level a character up. It literally took THOUSANDS of hours; very few people even bothered making alternate characters due to the time sink. You couldn’t change your name or your server. So let’s look at that for a second. You had hundreds or thousands of hours invested in your character and you had no way to rename or move… you couldn’t run from any reputation you had earned on your server.

What was the result? People didn’t want to risk being black flagged by their server community so they behaved. They treated others with a certain amount of respect. In order to see any end game content you had to apply to a high end raiding guild and applying to a guild of that size and prominence was like applying for a job. You filled out an application and often times had a trial period that lasted anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.

What does all this mean? That as MMOs become more approachable for a casual gamer, the community will continue to diminish in quality. MMOs are being designed so that a person playing on a limited schedule can achieve everything, given enough time. The player is given different utilities to use as well, such as name changes, race changes, and server changes. All of these features are designed around allowing someone with a limited play schedule to achieve more. That is a good thing. However as Uncle Ben knew would happen these powers are being used for evil.

The very features which allow a casual gamer to participate in all of the games content are the same features destroying the community. The communities are what originally made MMOs great. Those are all but gone now. The only thing that remains with most new games coming out with the MMO title printed on the cover is the pricing structure. In order to regain the great communities we use to have we need less user friendly games. We need elite guilds being the gate keepers to the highest level of content. We need those gate keepers to police up their servers. None of this can be done when players can simply run from their past via server transfers or name changes.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I haven’t forgotten about you. I actually have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head but I can’t properly express them in a fashion I deem eloquently appropriate. I also started writing a story. Hope for a real post tomorrow.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What you should be watching and aren’t! and reading... 2011

YouTube Channels
Toby Turner took over Like Totally Awesome early after it debuted and has been amazing on it ever since. He has his own channel called Tobuscus and does lots of movie and video game commentary. Always a funny guy.

I talked about him last year, and I’ll do it again this year. Ray William Johnson does =3. He covers all the viral videos of the week and he has great commentary. I recommended him last year and I can’t say I’ve been disappointed after 12 months.

If you aren’t watching The Escapist every Wednesday then you are missing out. Ben “Yahtzee” Corshaw is one of my weekly highlights. He always has a pessimistic take on video games but in reality it’s refreshing compared to all fanboy praise most video games get. He has kept me from buying a few games that ended up being total crap.

What you should be reading!

Keen and Graev are still going strong. Honestly Keen has improved a lot over the last year. He has become aware of his perpetual honeymoon syndrome with video games and seems to be going in more and more cautious. It has really helped to increase his credibility.

Tobold… the man the myth the legend. He has started posting less and at a more infrequent rate… that sort of makes sense. This has resulted in the trolls showing their ugly heads less and less. I still think some of his readers are complete morons who have never played anything besides their chosen MMO who lack any perspective on the overall MMO community Tobold’s post are always top notch.

And for our new entry, Gordon from We Fly Spitfires. Honestly I’ve been following him for a little over a year but lately he has hit his stride with great posts. I think he and I share a lot of the same feelings about WoW and MMOs in general. He shares a lot of the same readers as Tobold, some of Tobold’s better readers though. Anyways thanks for making me think Gordon.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MMOs made me into the man I am.

I play World of Warcraft, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game, also known as a MMO. At the heart of every MMO over the past 10 years has been cooperative game play with other people. What you do affects the play of others and what they do affects you, which in turn has a direct impact on your enjoyment of the game. 10 years ago in EverQuest we played the game to be part of a team, to kill dragons, see all the content, and obtain loot. You had to play as a member of the team because every step of the way you needed the team to achieve anything. Your guild was your team, and without them you were nothing. As an individual you couldn’t accomplish anything. I still believe at its heart that is what a MMO is about, being part of a team.

I was a teenager when I started playing EverQuest so fulfilling my obligation to my team and guild helped to mold me into who I am. I am a team player; I place the needs of my guild before my own. In EQ it was never about me, or I, it was about us and that has carried on into every aspect of my life. Today I’m in the United States Military Reserves and that mentality has helped push me ahead of my peers. As a group I understand we are able to accomplish so much more than as any individual could. I learned from EQ that sometimes putting the needs of others before my own will make the team stronger, and thus make me stronger. I also learned I had to stand up for those who were being unfairly treated due to favoritism because the team had to always be at its strongest.

There are lots of educational games out today that are designed around helping kids learn to spell or do math but I’m not sure any teach the kind of social skills I learned in EQ. The ironic thing was that while I played EQ I was very “anti-social”. I didn’t go out at all, my school grades dropped, and I didn’t talk to many friends that didn’t play with me. So on one hand I learned about selflessness it was at the expense of being a hermit.

The important thing to realize about EverQuest was that we didn’t prioritize the team over the individual because we were somehow nobler than the gamers of today, we did so because that was what it took to overcome the challenges. We were forced to work together because the game was simply that difficult and I honestly believe that if the game had been easier that community would not have existed. If the game had been more forgiving I never would have fully grasped the idea of reputation within a community, even an online one. I never would have understood how someone from your guild could affect how an entire community looks at you simply because you are in the same guild. Everything mattered.

I went through all of this at a very impressionable point in my life. I’m thankful I went through all of this because honestly I love that I have these values. I love that I place the team first. I love that I never place myself above others. I love that I naturally consider how others will react to my actions without any conscience effort.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gaming in moderation

Playing video games with a limited amount of time requires the right mindset, and as each generation of gamers gets older they too will have to accept it. When you are young playing video games spare time is in abundance. However as time passes you find yourself being pulled in more and more directions. That time slowly shrinks and one day you realize that you can no longer play at the same pace that you once did. It’s an ugly revelation but it isn’t the end of the road.

As a kid I always assumed one day I would get tired of playing video games and that I would in fact “grow up” as so many people told me I should. Well that day hasn’t happened and after 30 years I’m pretty sure it’s not going to. I have been burdened with more responsibilities though which results in a readjustment in my gaming ideology. I can’t just play a video game until the wee hours of the morning with no concern for how it will affect me the next day. I have a career and family to consider who all depend on me.

I have never really hid the fact that I use to be addicted to video games. As our responsibilities grow we, as mature gamers, must accept the fact that we can’t play video games as much as we would like. The old adage goes “Everything in moderation,” to be honest I’m not even sure if that is an old adage. The phrase still holds merit though. The problem with any addiction, or not even an addiction but situation, is that moderation is always subjective. You must create some other rule which to judge your play schedule by in order to impartially determine if you are playing too much, or in fact to little. I strongly believe this is the key to healthy gaming life style with increased responsibilities.

I have one major rule I use along with some general ideas. Like in the military no matter what your specific mission is it is always important to know the overall goal. By knowing the overall goal you can adjust those small general ideas to your specific situation in order to keep your goal achievable. Never forget the goal.

The rule… Will it make a difference in 5 days? This one rule has been key to keeping me from staying up late every day of the week. If I stay up 2 or 3 hours past my typical bed time will I achieve something that will continue to benefit me 5 days from now? It’s a basic cost benefit analysis in the simplest terms. If I’m about to reach some mile stone that will catapult me ahead for the rest of the week, then yes I will sacrifice some sleep that night and struggle through work the next day in order to achieve that goal.

If, in 5 days, I will see no difference in what I’m doing from staying up late then I log off and go to bed. This has resulted in me logging off in 1 or 2 bubbles left to leveling more often than not. It’s too easy to get sucked into that one more mentality… one more quest… one more bubble… one more level.
Now there is one small exception to this rule and I don’t use it very often… am I having an extraordinary amount of fun that night, and would it continue if I didn’t log? There are those brief moments in a video game where the stars align and it’s just more fun than normal to keep playing. Once in a great while I allow myself to continue playing late into the night accepting that I will still have to wake up and go to work the next day. Now you may think that this is a cop out, and that I could use this rule to stay up late every night, but refer to my primary rule. Will it matter in 5 days?

Sure these things are complete opposites of one another, but that is why I said you have to keep your overall goal in mind… your mission. You want to continue to play video games without adversely affecting the rest of your life. For someone recovering from video game addiction or just beginning to adjust to a reduced play schedule I would recommend never using my exception. It has taken me five years of trial and error to discover when I can and can’t use it. I’m fortunate to require fewer hours of sleep than your normal person.

In the end just remember two things. If it wouldn’t matter in a week, don’t worry about it and you should always be having fun. If you aren’t having fun why are you playing video games to begin with?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thought of the day:

Is it the developers fault for making a system that allows players to optimize the risk out of a game or is it the players fault for choosing to optimize the risk out?