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Raise Your Freak Flag

Posted by Segun777 Friday November 30 2012 at 4:46AM
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I was reading an article the other today espousing the dangers of having too much story or putting too many resources toward story. I read this article a little disappointed. I’ve always loved story and the idea that there can ever be too much story is such a foreign thought to me. As I contemplated the article I began to realize that it wasn’t the article that disappointed me, or the quality of the writing, the me-too feeling of bashing The Old Republic; what I had issue with was far more basic, the idea that story doesn’t matter.


Lightning is now my favorite Final Fantasy hero. I loved when Liara asks Shepard if she wants to run away from it all and hide somewhere in the galaxy and forget the war. I enjoyed Merrills’ little quips and one-liners. I loved the interaction of Cortana and John. I loved Ezio and enjoyed following his life through the ups and downs. My freak flag is story and I don’t think I’d ever love video games as I do without enjoying story. 

 

We all have flags. You can see it in what we love and what we enjoy. When I was reading reviews for Guild Wars 2 I would keep seeing scores for story at 8’s and 9’s. I kept trying to see what they enjoyed about the story but review after review ignored story all together. It irritated me to no end. I couldn’t understand how they could be so in love with the story but not remember to include a section about it in the review. As I reflect upon my reactions I recognize similar reactions that I’ve read from other gamers and other writers. I’ve often mistaken their flags for rudeness and such, when in reality it was merely someone unable to properly communicate what they enjoy most with regards to gaming. I loved Mass Effect 3’s combat, playing multiplayer and enjoying it was the highest compliment I could give, I still have fond memories of playing Halo over LAN with my friends on big screen TV’s. The idea that Mass Effect 3 could evoke the same emotions proved to me that “its Kung-Fu is strong, and its magic is powerful” with regards to combat. Later reading how other people were disappointed or unimpressed with the combat, always left me disbelieving, it’s no wonder now as I look back.

 

Story is my flag. Whether your flag is combat, music, graphics, or any other part of video games; you will always judge games by those merits. It is no more or less important than the way I view story, but it is also the reason why you and I will likely disagree about the merits of any number of games. So raise your flag. Keep it high if you love combat, PVP, graphics, music, sandbox, or single player; it’s your right as a gamer to enjoy a game as you will. It might not be story, but hey we can’t all be perfect!

What's The Matter Charlie Brown?

Posted by Segun777 Sunday November 25 2012 at 10:10AM
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What’s wrong with gear progression? It’s a big topic these days, the so called ‘endgame treadmill’. Gamers are up in arms over the idea that Guild Wars 2 has a ‘vertical treadmill’. I chuckled when I saw the uproar, three months is just about time for the new paint to be off a MMO, but as I delved deeper into the meaning behind the brouhaha, I was puzzled. My question is who cares? I don’t know what RPG anyone else was playing over the last two decades but gear progression is the name of the game. Cool sets of armors, that sweet sword that can only be gotten by trading a really nice sword halfway through the game. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Dragon Age, Diablo, you name it they all had it. I understand gamers want progress or innovation with regards to the structures of MMO’s, or at least they say they do, but why with regards to gear progression? It’s a time tested method of proving that all that time and hard work is paying off.

 


I’m currently playing The Old Republic, finally about to reach level 50 after six months on and off and likely 100 alts. I’m scoping out the PVP gear because it looks sweet. Of course I am what else am I going to do at 50 solo? It’s not like this is a fundamental change from the last decade of play. FFXI had Sea, which required a vast chain of quests and bosses to kill to open up. It is still the game I look at when seeing progression done well. Progression should be as difficult as possible without being cheap. No ridiculous drop rates or nonsense of that sort, just hardcore difficulty. Hitting the level cap in FFXI was just the beginning of endgame; from that plateau was gear progression, skill progression, sub-jobs, housing features, area unlocks, you name it SquareEnix had it and it was a masterful game for it.

 

 

I understand at some level that gamers have a veracious appetite for new content and that not every gamer has the same idea for game content. Some gamers don’t care for PVP and some disdain Raiding; it’s why developers turn to gear progression. It’s a sure-fire way to please the highest percentage of people. We play RPG’s, if not gear progression then what purpose is endgame? We might as well just pack up go play some Call of Duty. On some level this strengthens the perception of MMO gamers as whiners. Guild Wars 2 gives away everything except for the kitchen sink, and yet this is all it takes to turn the tide of popular opinion. I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 in a while, and I’m not likely to rotate back to it until after FFXIV drops, but when I do I hope people are still enjoying the game. I feel sometimes gamers are like Lucy telling Charlie Brown that this time I won’t take the ball away when you try to kick it, and developers being developers think to themselves this time will be different; it wasn’t very funny for Charlie Brown when Lucy took the ball away before he could kick it and somehow I don’t think it’s very funny to developers.

Cash Shop: The Old Republic

Posted by Segun777 Wednesday November 21 2012 at 12:10AM
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The Old Republic went F2P last week and brought with it cash shop. Here is what I've gleaned about what works and what you should avoid (Special Thanks to Darthhater and Dulfy for research purposes). First of all, there are tiers of packs to buy Cartel Coins; the cash shop currency in TOR, each one is bigger than the last. Buy the largest pack, the $39.99 pack; it’s the only one that makes sense. Look some things are cheap in the cash shop and some things are not, but getting the biggest bang for your buck is ideal when looking at any cash shop. Essentially the $5 pack comes out to 90 coins per dollar and the $39.99 pack is 137 coins per dollar. That’s a nearly 50% increase in spending power. What you use those coins on depends on your playing style and how much time you have.

 

For the player who makes alternate characters. You know who you are; you make at least a couple characters before you even have one that hits 50. For you the cash shop should be seen as a work around to the fact that you rarely have very much in-game money. Stay away from XP boosts of any kind, either from the legacy or the cash shop. You’ll likely have enough rested experience to avoid needing any experience boosts. Frankly it’s tough right now for you but there is one important thing to unlock and that is legacy ship unlocks. They can be unlocked with in-game currency but it’s a pretty penny and time intensive. The legacy ship unlocks including a mailbox and  neutral GTN,  allow you to move, buy, and sell items on your ship. Also take note of the inventory and cargo bay account unlocks. This will allow every character you make to have a lot of space for stuff. Hoarders unite!

 

For the returning raider or high level PVPer. Bite the bullet, resubscribe for one month. It should garner you somewhere around one to two thousand cartel coins. This should allow you to buy most of the features you’ve lost from going to Preferred Status. Avoid any of the shiny object buys and stick to either the Operation weekly pass or the Warzone weekly pass. Not only do you likely have a boatload of cash and thus able to buy most of the cash shops items on the GTN, most of the items won't do much of anything for a level 50. In the long run, this is going to be cheaper than paying a subscription. Hurray for you!

 

For the gamer with responsibilities. You have work, school, family or all of the above. Either way you don’t have a lot of time and/or money. Leveling a character from scratch to level 50 in TOR should take somewhere between 40 – 50 hours; depending on play style and skill level. It is imperative to buy the 5-pack of major experience boost. It allows you to have a 25% experience boost for 3 hours per item use on all activities. It’s cheap and easy. It doesn’t drop when your character dies or logs out of the game. With the rested experience you should experience a rapid experience gain that gives you all of the joys of leveling in a short time span without most of the headaches.

 

For the gamer with money to burn. All of the above. Take the experience packs, the legacy unlocks, and the inventory/cargo bay unlocks. Take the artifact unlock account-wide as well so that you can get the equipment suit at level 31. A 5-piece suit of armor of all purples for every class, some of them including the cunning based and strength based equipments look fairly impressive and what is more are going to give you a serious edge boost in leveling at the time when the difficulty real kicks in, the end of chapter one. Stay away from the cartel packs unless you’re not looking for any one item, or go through life wearing a four-leaf clover. If you love to PVP don’t forget to take the legacy unlock its now a 30% boost up from the 10% before F2P. There are 5 legacy lines dealing with PVP, Flashpoints, Space Missions, Exploration, and Class Missions experience boosts; but the PVP legacy line gives you the most bang for the buck

 

The Cash shop is not your enemy. It's all about finding what works for you and making it work for you. Few things are likely to break your bank if you plan, plan, plan.

Do as I say, Not as I do

Posted by Segun777 Saturday November 17 2012 at 7:53AM
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‘Why don’t people just say what they mean’? A few weeks ago I was watching The Good Wife and I heard those words. The character, an accountant turned glorified debt collector, was talking to a woman who had tried to use him and his position to hurt the firm whose debt he was trying to collect; she reacted badly when he turned her ruse back on herself. It’s been ping-ponging in the back of my mind that phrase. Three things happened this week to bring it back to the forefront of my mind.


This week Electronic Arts won an award, along with Microsoft, for being the most LGBT-friendly company in America from the Human Rights Campaign. It’s not exactly a prestigious award, but it means something especially to people who live differently than most Americans. Reading the comments around the internet though, you’d have thought that it was some pointless PR grandstanding by a company run by The Man. Rather than be silent or simply congratulate EA for its policies, the talk quickly devolved into the usual brand of nonsense best reserved for the gutter.

 

 

The F2P game Glitch shuttered its windows this week. A darling by the media and gamers alike, Glitch was branded as niche, but a beautifully made game. Its creator said that after running the numbers it was apparent that they’d never make enough money to pay the bills and that the subsequent death of Flash was an easy come, easy go scenario. Glitch was something different, better yet it was something good and yet gamers by-in-large ignored it. A complaint often heard about new games is that it’s the same old, same old and yet time and time again, new ideas are lauded publically and ignored privately. Like the dilettante who buys a library of classical literature but never reads a page, there are those who wish to appear one way while acting another way entirely. A pastor I knew once said "People talk with their wallets. What matters to you is what you spend your money on". Gamers say that they want change or innovation but they spend the most money on the old tried and true.

 

Oftentimes I’ve criticized game writers for being part of the problem, instead of the solution but this week I’ve seen the problem is bigger than I believed. The Old Republic went free to play and many a site, including MMORPG.com and Massively, gave out relevant information about the switch, and yet site after site in the comment section, it quickly devolved into bickering using false/incorrect information that could have been corrected by simply reading the article they were commenting under. I could see how the writers had clearly gone out of their way to present clear and concise information, understanding the storm they were about to create, and yet clearly it didn’t matter. Game writers can lead people to water but they can’t make them drink. Perhaps the biggest disappointment to me is the further erosion in confidence I have of my fellow gamers. I used to believe that gamers represented the best and highest ideals; sadly those days are gone.