Thursday, July 30, 2015


In a short time, this will be swamped.
From GenCon's Facebook page.

Unlike, say, San Diego Comic Con, Gen Con is all about the games.

I know that some people have been around since yesterday, playing games and going to pre-Con parties, but Gen Con officially begins Thursday morning.

There's a livestream set up for Gen Con, and Boardgame Geek/RPG Geek has their own streaming set up for Gen Con right here.

Time to play the games...

EtA: The GenCon livestream doesn't seem to be active, so I replaced it with the BGG livestream. I'll update that info as more comes available.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy Gary Gygax Day!!

Courtesy of D20 Monkey

Today is the birthday of Gary Gygax, who with Dave Arneson created Dungeons and Dragons. Were it not for Gary and Dave, the RPG* as we know it would not exist.

Go out and play some games in Gary's honor today.

*Video games as well as pencil and paper.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Don't Blink

No, I'm not channeling my inner Whovian.

(But I couldn't resist putting this in!)

Okay, now that my computer seems to have recovered from a surprising crash, I can finish this post.

The week of free WoW came and went, and I really didn't end up doing much. I didn't check out the new areas because that'd take money, and I tried and failed several times to get into AV. After the 50 minute mark crossed each time, I would give up and start over.

I did mine some low level ore while waiting for AV to pop, but it never did.

After the week, I'd weathered the initial emotional surge of nostalgia and did some number crunching. The result: our budget really couldn't afford it right now.

So the week of Free WoW didn't have it's intended effect.


Instead of WoW, I decided to revive the long standing goal of finishing the (original) class stories for SWTOR.

As of this mark, I've got 6 of 8 of the class stories completed, having recently finished the Sith Warrior's story back in June.

I revived the Jedi Knight I'd created back in the first few months of SWTOR --and last seen somewhere on Balmorra-- and have pushed him along up into Chapter 3.

The Knight's story is interesting to me mainly because of it's eventual impact on the current expansion. I'd wondered a little bit about some of the storyline's direction with Shadow of Revan, and now I know where some of it came from. I guess from the big picture perspective you could say that the Knight and the Warrior are the two primary storylines for SWTOR, since much of the main storyline flows through them.

Obviously, not being finished with the Knight's story I don't know how it will eventually pan out, but I've my suspicions.

And when I've finished the Knight, I have to look once more at the Agent's story and decide what to do.*


Gen Con comes early this year, and next week the entire family will head over to Indianapolis for a day of immersion in gamer culture. If you happen to be there and see a brood of redheads around, it just might be us.

I'll file a full report when I get the chance.

*The chorus of people yelling "Do it!! It's awesome!!" notwithstanding.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Meanwhile, on As the World Turns....

Remember Colin Cowherd, the ESPN personality who got immensely ticked off by his network carrying Heroes of the Dorm?

Well, Colin Cowherd has now left the building. He quit ESPN for a rumored deal with FOX Sports.

Not that they needed his approval or anything, but having one less critic on staff means that ESPN doesn't have to worry about their own staff potentially sabotaging their eSports initiatives.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cards vs. Raids

While it's not explicitly MMO related, Blizz is going to have a big Hearthstone announcement on July 22nd. The expectation is that it's more than just a card pack, and my guess is that it means an eSports deal with a league and/or television coverage (see: Heroes of the Dorm, broadcast by ESPN).

I did say "explicitly" for one reason: Blizz has a finite number of devs, and the more devs that work on other projects such as Hearthstone and HotS mean fewer devs working on WoW. Hearthstone and HotS are getting a lot of the press from Blizz these days, and for good reason: their customer base is growing and profits are up. Even Overwatch is getting a lot of love, given the videos coming out about gameplay and whatnot. But if the devs are working on these three titles, what about the others?

It's likely that the "big three" Blizz properties are on a much lower priority track these days.

Sure, WoW will have a new expac announced at BlizzCon, but that also means that people will have to lower their expectations a bit. With 6.2 the last major content patch of Warlords, Blizz is obviously shifting focus in-house.

And WoW just might be on maintenance mode for a while.

Unless, of course, Blizz can figure out how to extract the BGs and Arenas from WoW and make them playable in a standard MOBA format.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rest in Peace, Iwata-san

Word has come out that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, has passed away due to a growth in his bile duct.

He was a programmer first, working on games such as Earthbound, and went up the ranks. He's seen the highs and lows at Nintendo, the Wii to the Gamecube.

He'll be missed. We don't have enough programmers who can shape industry like he did.

EtA:  Dorkly has provided a link to a large amount of art honoring Iwata-san.
Artists Across the Web Pay Tribute to Satoru Iwata

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Always on, I see

The first thing I noticed about logging into WoW after being away for a little over a year was that somebody was always on.

Whether or not people are actually logged into the game, they're never more than a smartphone away.

That was somewhat unnerving, as I first logged in to discover that yes, Azshandra, Tomakan, and Co. were still part of the old Alliance guild. I'd logged in extremely early in the morning as I used to do, not expecting to see anybody online. Well, that wasn't the case as there were a few people who were logged in via smartphone to guild chat.

And I expected to find myself sitting atop Honor Hold in
Hellfire Peninsula when I logged in. Silly me.
Nobody said hi, but I was perfectly fine with that. I hadn't thought ahead of what to say should somebody yell "RED!" or something; after all, I was pretty sure I'd been purged as would have been expected after that length of time of inactivity.

I did some puttering around on old toons**, mainly checking to see what was there and how the toons looked after the "graphical upgrade."

Barkeep, hit me again and put it on the Archaeologist's tab.
I've spent a long day working on portals.
I realize that comparisons between before and after pics happened a year or so ago, but one thing that struck me is not the cleaner lines in the facial features but how similar the toon design was to the original WoW toon design.

If you look at the clothing and cloth armor shown above, they're still stretched across the basic graphical frame. No amount of extra polygons could change that basic design of WoW toons, where the cloth --and to a lesser extent the armor-- are placed on the skin of the frame and not around the frame.

To change that, I think, would require a complete overhaul of the graphical engine, and would likely cause some issues with players on older and slower machines.*


It felt, well, eerie being back.

Have you ever gone away to college --or your family moved away from the neighborhood where you have your earliest memories-- and then you come back to visit later? That feeling of not quite fitting in, but-everything-looks-so-familiar-and-yet-I-hope-nobody-recognizes-me-and-wants-me-to-talk-about-things-I've-not-thought-about-for-years?

Yeah, that feeling.

The one thing that is a truism in MMOs is that you're anonymous. Sure, some asshat might give you some grief for not doing it right***, but nobody is checking you out through your webcam. In theory that affords the squeamish --or the reluctant-- a bit of freedom.

Blizzard did take away the ability to be anonymous to an extent by the friendship listings, and I understand what Kurn was concerned about when she felt she had no control over her ability to "be anonymous" in a Blizzard game. In a very real sense, it pushes you away from playing a Blizzard game when you just want to be alone in a crowd after a long day at work.****

The funny thing is, Warlords is designed for more solo activity than social activity. I didn't even need to purchase the expac to know that; tons of electrons have been spilt opining on the solitary nature of Garrisons. But while you may do your thing inside a Garrison, there's still plenty of social connection possible in a guild (courtesy of Guild Chat and Vent) and via the friends list. It's this weird dichotomy that I can't seem to wrap my head around.

If you want peace and quiet, a Dalaran bank will do nicely.
Tomakan must be some sort of pensioner, waiting for his monthly allowance.

Maybe my big issue is that I'm concerned I'll get sucked back in when I'd decided that I was going to give the game up. After all, that's a (potentially) $180/year commitment, and it's not like Blizz is going to finally fix the holes in the storyline continuum from post-Cata Old World to Outland and onward.

I did see that they created a specific "pre-made" PvP selection, but that doesn't preclude premades from invading casual BG runs. I'm not so foolish as to believe that BGs have suddenly skewed away from Horde dominance, either.

But still....

I spent time reading some quest text. Played around with zapping a few neutral animals in Darnassian Forest.***** I essentially got my feet wet, and memory took over. I stared for about 5 minutes at the keystrokes for my Dwarven Ret Pally on Moonrunner-US, rearranged a few things, and then decided I could brave Alterac Valley. (And, naturally, the wait time was 38 minutes, out of my range.)

What started as a simple matter of logging in, making sure my toons will live another couple of years, and logout, and now I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to end up doing.

*Even with the upgrades that Blizzard did to the game's graphical engine, it still takes much less oomph to run than, say, SWTOR or GW2 does.

**And in the process I actually did miss a "RED!!!" from Ancient. Um, sorry about that, Ancient.

***Or be hit on or something like that. I've thankfully not had to worry about that in MMOs since I dropped WoW, but you never know.

****My current non-online game of choice: Civ IV. No CD or DVD needed, and more importantly, no Steam needed either.

*****For the record: easier to kill than Flesh Raiders on Tython.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Well, whaddya know...

Remember this post??

About how I saw that Blizz was doing a naming purge and I'd considered subbing for a month just to keep the names alive.

Well, guess what appeared in my inbox a few days ago:

No electrons were harmed in the screenshot of this e-mail.

Sometimes you just can't make this shit up.

I mean, if I were to write this sort of coincidence in a novel, people would say "Hell, Redbeard, at least be realistic every once in a while!" But I've still got the e-mail to prove it exists.

What have I done with this opportunity?

Not much, if you consider accepting the free trial and keeping an eye on the PC as it downloaded 11 GB of updates "not much".

I've not actually logged in or anything. That also means I've not

  • found out if I've been purged from the (mostly dead) Alliance guild my toons were in. It has been a year since I last was subbed, after all.
  • discovered what my toons actually look like since they've been redone.*
  • checked to see what my (miniscule) friends list is up to.
  • ventured into a BG to watch the Alliance lose.**
Will I end up doing much of anything with this free time? Not likely, no. I doubt my frustrations with BG imbalance have suddenly changed, and if I were serious about returning to the game I'd start over with a new toon and level to 90 before buying Warlords, and by the time that happens Blizzard would be ready to drop their next expac.

But at least my stable of toons will survive the next purge, which is fine with me.

*Seriously, Turbine, you have to get better looking toons for LOTRO. At least make the toons look as good as the background scenery, please.

**Come on, some things never change.