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Red Dead Redemption 2, Dead Souls, and podcasts

I’ve recently started to watch Joe Rogan online. Some of his episodes are amazing, for various reasons. Right now I’m listening to his stream with Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein. Wow. Absolutely amazing to hear people actually talk about the danger of lack of historical education, especially with regard to political rhetoric. I’m saddened and actually scared by the modern political and social climate in the western world – on both side of things it’s just too much shouting and not enough talking. One point in particular that struck me as interesting was how Joe brought up Che Guevara, and how he’s a chiq symbol of anti-authoritarianism, yet in reality the people wearing the Che shirts or wearing berets with a star probably have no clue who he was. None have read Guerilla Warfare or Letter to the Triumvirate, or have any idea about his life. I’m not saying Che was good or bad – but I know for a fact that he’s more of a fashion symbol, or icon, to represent modern, young, angsty anti-authoritarianism. As others have said, he’s now a Nike swoosh … he’s an icon. I won’t speak to the merits or problems with socialism or communism, but I will say that he was documented to have murdered people without a trial, and the methods of warfare he advocated would in the modern age be considered terrorism in many cases. Yet, he’s fashionable… and I think that those that would wear Che on a shirt aren’t really ready (in any way, in terms of education or emotional preparedness) to discuss violent revolutions or the history that he actually represents.

The athletes and nutrition experts he has on his show are equally great to listen to. Less far less philosophy and far more bro-science, but it scratches a different itch I have.

Random aside here: car talk. I used to love cars and motorcycles. I still like them but I’m not reading magazines about motorsports or the auto industry, like, ever. I still fantasize about someday buying a sports car, but I’m never home enough to justify the cost or the space it would take up, since my garage is full of shit that my kid’s mom keeps buying, she’s a shopaholic and a bit of a hoarder. A motorcycle is very reasonable however, especially a used sport bike for like $3k. I can get an okay bike, and for $6k I can get a new or almost new bike with the specs I like. Plus, there’s nothing like touching the road with your foot one second, then being at 100 mph with the snap of the wrist. You never feel as connected to the road as on a bike. It’s the most naked, raw experience you can have in motorsports – except maybe motocross, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do that. I think I would have loved it. Anyway – I fell out of love with cars about 14 years ago, when I realized how incredibly expensive the hobby is, how dangerous it is (potentially), and how much trouble it can be if you get caught breaking the rules of the road. I had gone from living in Europe with a sports car, to living in the US with a Crown Victoria – a car that begs to be driven slowly. Plus, I always loved my Bronco… enough that I needed to buy another truck eventually. So I did – and since moving to the US most of my vehicles have been trucks.

Still, sometimes I get the urge to go a little faster for that smile, or to get around a corner just a little snappier. I’ll google sports car stuff for an hour or so, and then just move on. Well today I did that (after being inspired by having played a little GTA 5 recently), and I was wondering what production cars handle “road racing” conditions well. I figure Leguna Seca raceway is a fair metric – having “driven” around that track and dozens of others in various racing simulators, it seemed like it was one of the most well balanced tracks that would most closely emulate a “fast drive through the edge of town”. I was actually blown away that the rally inspired cars fared so poorly, and how well the Corvette did. Hrm. Likewise with other American muscle cars… I’ve always wanted a vette, and while it’s much more of a white-knuckle experience than an AWD car, it was interesting to see the difference in lap times between the Vette and the rally cars. Here’s a list of quite a few cars, and here is a detailed breakdown of the driving experience of he top cars. I don’t actually think I’ll be able to afford a NICE sports car in my lifetime, since I have student loans, two trucks, and a house to pay off (and a mountain of credit card debt)… but, it’s fun to think about.

Anyway. On to games. Yes. I’m still gaming, even after I’ve rage-quit gaming as a whole like five times in the past few months… I think it’s a matter of habit and boredom. :/ And fatigue and laziness. I’m always so burnt out after my 12 hour shifts (for 14 days straight) to do much of anything. Bleh. Anyway… so, yes. I’m gaming.

First let’s get the bad shit out of the way. I just want it said and done so I can move on to the good stuff. The bad: Dark Souls 1. My fucking God, is that the worst game I’ve ever played in my life or what… It’s just not fun. It’s torture for me to play. It’s a combination of things: cumbersome and floaty combat controls, shitty camera angles, awful the textures and models look, how boring the levels are, and how incredibly repetitive that game is to play. I’m really bad at timing when it comes to games with very sluggish controls. As much as I bemoaned my lack of twitch skills I’m actually fairly damn good when using a gamepad if the controls are fluid and responsive, e.g. Dead Cells, Mark of the Ninja, Magicka… I’m sure I’ll think of more later. But if it has 16-bit-era style response time (i.e. instantaneous) I can do really well. But if the attack animation takes about four seconds per swing, and then I have to rest to catch my breath between swings, and dodge-roll. I fucking HATE dodgeroll in games – I’m looking at you Witcher 2. It’s completely immersion breaking and a cop-out of having to make solid defensive animations like parry, deflect, and sidestep… I just… I can’t. Plus, respawning mobs every time you “rest” for health or you die. Wow – so that entire level of really shitty skeletons I have to slog through AGAIN? oh, and AGAIN? AND AGAIN? No. Fuck you. I get it, you “get gud” and then things get easier – that wasn’t the issue as much as boredom. It wasn’t at all difficult to slog through the full army of the (boring) undead in order to give it my fourth go on the fucking boss… but each run takes like 10 minutes, minimum. I get 30 seconds of face time with the boss for every 10 minutes of plowing through the undead. So that’s 30 seconds of frustration, and 10 minutes of boredom. Let me do the math on that. Boredom plus frustration equals go fuck yourself. (P.S. I stopped filtering my language… I always worried that a guild leader or something would look up my character name and find my entries here, and be aghast at the language … but, whatever. If they are offended they weren’t my kind of people anyway.) I think the others in the series don’t have respawning mobs, so I may give those a try… but I want to burn through the rest of my collection first, which might take a few decades at the rate I finish games. I was actually greatly disappointed to find out that Yahtzee likes Dark Souls 1. I agree with +90% of his reviews and I find his tastes in gaming almost mirror my own – so I don’t know what the hell he liked about that game. I gave it an honest try, but the combat was too clunky, there was too much repetition, and the payoff just wasn’t there. I get it, that the combat and level design was intended to be punishing so that you were always on alert, and each battle felt “real”, and had stakes. But it didn’t, in most runs. Before I played the game my understanding was you lose ALL souls when you die, like, EVER. Nope, just the ones you collected that run. No big deal tbh with how close bonfires were (in most cases). Also, the “realistic” combat was just awful. It was slow, it was clunky, and anyone that at all (ever) calls it realistic hasn’t seen the ridiculous anime weapons that are unlocked later. Circle strafing a skeleton with my shield out and waiting for it to attack is the same fucking combat Zelda 64 had with it’s Z-targeting. It’s Zelda, but slow and clunky, and fewer hits to die. That’s some how revolutionary? I just don’t get it. To me, something more like For Honor would be more “realistic” (but we’re still talking cartoon realism here), where you can attack and block from various directions, and use specific moves for single or multiple attackers, and you could more easily position yourself on the battlefield. The Dark Souls guy plods around like he just doesn’t give a fuck, like he’s in no hurry, and there’s no immediate danger. His combat animations are slow (I know, I’ve said repeatedly, but that’s how bad it is) and his stance looks like someone that’s a new HEMA student or a LARPer that just isn’t in the mood.  So the sloppy-seeming animations didn’t help the weak, simple combat. Z-target nearest mob with shield up (as there’s always archers). Back pedal to a spot where you can choke the 2-4 skeletons down to 1-2. Circle strafe the nearest one until it attacks, stab it a few times, maybe get a lucky “backstab”. Repeat. Again. And again. And again. That’s literally all that combat is in that game. Z-target, strafe, dodge/block, stab. I think the main reason I’m so venomous about this game in particular is it already has clout as a “masterwork piece of art” of gaming history – and I’m already defensive against the notion of “get gud”. Look, fucker, I don’t want to “get gud” at a boring and frustrating thing. I could take up any number of boring and frustrating hobbies, and still not give a fuck.

Oh, that reminds me. I found a few videos on AC: Odyssey that really made me feel validated about my dislike for Odyssey. Specifically Yahtzee nails it on the head, the best parts of the game are ruined by the leveling system and it’s just not worth finishing. I’m really surprised Angry Joe ended up saying as many positive things as he did about it BUT he did leave a review with quite a few marks against the game. Bleh. I feel dirty and old when I get so negative about games. 😦

I bought a PS4 since it was on sale, and so were most of the key exclusive titles: God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Spiderman, The Last of Us Remastered, and also Red Dead Redemption 2 and UFC 3 if you also count console only games. No regrets on that end really since I paid far less than I thought I would. AND the thing acts as a better BluRay player than my giant ass XBO. The PS4 slim is small enough that I can fairly easily bring it back and forth to work with minimal risk in order to get updates. And a PS4 fanboy friend of mine told me it’s the best system with regards to offline play.

So Red Dead Redemption 2. Hot damn. This is going to end up being one of my top ten or five favorite games of all time, and I’m barely a few hours in. If you like games at all, and you have any means to play this at all, do so. You won’t regret it. I’d say more but I want to get further into the game before I gas on about it – plus it’s not like there aren’t 1000000000 reviews on the internet to read, that all say “awesome game, has a few minor issues, but you need to play this”.

Also, since I’ve turned my primary laptop into a “portable console” I gave GTAV a try – just to make sure it works. It works, and goddamn is that an amazing game or what. I can’t stop playing it, every time I start, and I’ve already played the hell out of that game on two consoles. I literally bought this game three times: XBox 360, XBO, and PC. I gave the online mode a very quick visit, and looked up some videos on what that plays like. If I had good internet I might actually give that a solid try. It seems like my kind of thing.

I’ve also picked up a few more Switch games for my travels (including Dark Souls, BLEH). The most noteworthy of those games is Dead Cells. It’s a roguelike game that is a mish-mash of Mark of the Ninja (which I seriously loved, played through twice) and FTL (which I also loved – albeit I disliked how heavily RNG weighted each playthrough), and Metroid. Reviewers have likened it to Dark Souls… which I positively do not see, at all. I don’t consider combat in Dead Cells hard at all – in fact it’s intuitive and mechanically a very tight game. All combat actions are instantaneous, and battles are often a flurry of various attack types and dodges. The AI is basically nonexistent, and long play throughs require constant abuse of that, but the combat just feels fantastic. The random levels seem to fit together much better than other games I’ve played with procedurally generated content. Other than air tight 16-bit style combat, what Dead Cells does right that other roguelikes get wrong is it offers meaningful choice in each play through. FTL offered you choices but many times you didn’t know what the outcome would be. Dead Cells gives you choices between upgrades and weapon types, and which path to take in the game. There are quite a few times when I had to take a moment to ponder what weapon to upgrade to or which new bonus to unlock. Most roguelikes offer almost no choice at all. The persistent upgrades and “Cells” currency is another step in the right direction for “dirty casuals” such as myself. Even if you totally bomb a play through if you at least get to the end of a level you can cash in your cells on upgrades. That feels much more rewarding than the “all in” method of roguelike. Call me a casual, but yeah, too many good games out there to “get gud” at just one RNG heavy roguelike – so I appreciate the simple cumulative rewards.

I’m still playing Diablo 3 but I think I may be on the edge of burnout for this season. It’s become extremely grindy and my progression has slowed to almost a total dead stop. I was hoping to unlock the rest of the Season Journey stuff, but not at the risk of giving up time with RDR2 or Dead Cells. I’ll try to push to Torment 10 and if it takes too long I’ll take a break. Having said that, I’m actually excited for the season to end, because it’ll move my necromancer over to “normal mode”, which won’t require a connection to play. My internet is often VERY limited when I play, so having constant connection for Season play is not always available. This will give me an offline guy to mess around with.

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I should have said retirement from PC games >.>

Fair warning, this post has a lot of jumbled rambling. Why am I even writing about this, especially online? Well I don’t expect anyone to read this except myself – and I find that keeping my thoughts online about my hobbies has provided me with insight as to what I liked and didn’t like. I often times forget awesome games, books, movies – or I over-romanticize things from my past that actually weren’t all that good. It’s been cool to look back at my thoughts on the WoW expansions, for instance…

After uninstalling ALL games off of my computers I didn’t really have an urge to play, but I did struggle at times to fill my time since instinctively gaming was how I filled up my down time between major activities. Basically gaming for me was what most people use facebook for – a way to fill in the blank space between things that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been an advocate of “games are art”, and not just a children’s toy, but in terms of my enjoyment of it and how it fits into my life it became less of a destination for me and more of a gap-filler. Likewise with the intellectual value of most of the games I was playing. I didn’t get much thinking-man material out of the bulk of games I’d played over the past decade or so. There are some obvious exceptions with amazing (or at least unique) writing, such as Mass Effect, BioShock, Red Dead Redemption – but other than those I think most of my games had been time filler style games. Basically the big boy version of Zynga games.

Anyway. I have been struggling over the past year or so to enjoy games as much as I used to. I don’t have many particular “Wow, that was awesome!” memories as I did 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. I also find myself getting increasingly frustrated at games. Entire genres that I used to like I now really can’t stand (turn based, racing, JRPGs). There are a few awesome examples from recent history – such as Ghost Recon Wildlands, but overall I barely recall with any clarity most of the games I’ve played, and I don’t remember any awesome moments. Mostly just passing time and not getting as much fun out of it as I have been watching hit TV shows (such as The Americans… SUCH a good show). I went through my Steam reviews and damn – so much negativity. Generally well written and detailed, but negative… and it’s about “award winning games” that I should have loved – but I didn’t.

I noticed that my skill in twitch based games, especially shooters, has rapidly declined over the years – especially the last 5 or so. I know that part of it is just me getting old and fat, but I realized there’s another component. I’ve been struggling hard with carpal tunnel for the past 5 years or so… to the point where I ache when I play games on PC for too long. I have to set up my mouse and pad just right in order to not be irritated right away. I used to be able to game with any mouse in almost any position … but now it’s not that way.

Another confounding issue I’ve had has been the “portability” of my gaming. I have two primary PCs, and multiple “side PCs” that I thought would become a primary but didn’t. I have to drag at least one of my primaries to work and back, and it becomes a pain in the ass. Worse is the CONSTANT fucking updates. I get it that it’s easier for developers to patch on PC, but holy mother fuck, can you guys NOT update every fucking hour? Please? Especially with 2-5 gb patches? Like what the literal fuck!? I remember when patches were optimized to ONLY fix particular issues with the game. Now, they are lazy as fuck and just cram the whole game (or most of the game) into a big ass file that you need to download. No new content, just a few lines of code and .inis changed here and there – but it was easier for them to package it as a MAASSSIVE patch. Really, the only exception I’ve seen to this has been Blizzard. Whenever you get a big download (+200 mb) for any Bliz game you are getting CONTENT, not just baseline game tweaks without even a single texture or model. Pardon the cussing… but it’s really obnoxious. I come back to my room after a LONG day of work, hoping to play a game I’m really into …. “Update queued…. 5.5 gb.” Fuck. You. 🙂

Anyway. Consoles seem to patch less frequently, especially the Switch… which is awesome.

You can see where this is leading – frustration with PC gaming was leading me twoards consoles. Even though I absolutely love the fact that you buy it once on Steam/Origin/whatever and have “backwards compatibility” for the rest of time, and prices (with sales and humble bundle) are crazy, crazy cheap in comparison to console games. I’d say I pay on average 1/3rd as much for my game collection (per game) than I do on console. Maybe less… But. That does me no good if I can’t be fucked to actually set up the damn thing to play. Add the carpal tunnel issue in to the mix and it’s kind of a no-brainer. The portability issue is markedly worse with most consoles than it is with PC. I can play about 50% of my game library on a 1 lb Surface Pro 4. I can play 95% on my 2 lb Yoga 15 720. Hell, even my behemoth 11 lb (with power adapter) MSI gaming 17 inch is still considerably more portable than a fucking Xbox One. Believe me, as someone that has brought ALL of that crap at the same time through airport scanners repeatedly, nothing beats consoles for “most obnoxious thing to travel with” award. Moreover, I can set up my laptop to play while I’m in the airport… can’t do anything like that with a console. Better yet… the Nintendo Switch. I bought it when it was new just to play Zelda (worthwhile, but pricey for one game) and put it away after that. My PC games just looked better and were way cheaper…. but now that I can’t comfortably play PC games, and how sick I am of fucking updates and authentication… the Switch is now literally in my pocket any time I travel – or even when I go to the office (I play at lunch).

I bought Diablo 3 Eternal for the Switch, and I love it. It’s quite a bit different than I remember base Diablo 3 being when it was originally release. I don’t think I even ever hit level cap in that game. I beat the main campaign on one toon and quit. Using a gamepad for D3 is much more intuitive (although less precise) than using mouse and keyboard. And, no carpal tunnel problems! ❤

It’s kind of mind-blowing, still, that I can push one button and pause what I’m doing, grab the console out of the dock, play while I’m travelling, then throw it in a different dock when I get to my destination and keep playing the same game. No mega long load times, no fucking launchers or authenticators… just.. gaming. Authentication / patches wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t work/live in the ARCTIC CIRCLE, but, I do. So that will always be a problem. I think I found my new gaming home. I’m actually having a great time gaming again, for the first time in a while.

P.S. I really want to pick up a PS4 Pro this black friday. There are like 6 “must play” games for that system I can’t get on PC. This goes against my issues with big fatty consoles – but I plan on using it primarily for “must play” titles only, otherwise getting everything else on Switch, or (god forbid) PC. It’s just so goddamn unfortunate that almost every PC game these days requires authentication. I’m debating on making my gaming laptop into a dedicated “PC Console” and setting all the launchers to Offline only mode. >=/

Gaming Retirement

Time to take a big long  PERMANENT break from gaming. I’m pretty burnt out. I had uninstalled all but 4 games the other day – like The Witcher 3 and a few others … and I reinstalled a few more a few hours later after regretting my choice to “retire”.

Looking back – it was probably the right choice. Looking at my Origin game play list, the only two I give half a shit about are Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect Andromeda. After watching a few YouTube videos on why the game was so bad, and realizing there would never (ever) be another game in that franchise, and realizing I just fucking suck at FPS games…. I realized I was better off just retiring, rather permanently.

I kind of sort of want to get Red Dead Redemption on PS4 – but that’s going to be a $500 entry for one game, and maybe like 4 other games, that I may or may not have fun with. I seem to be having a lot less fun with gaming. I think I’m just getting old, and sick of games.

I tried wiggling out from under my AC Odyssey purchase as I really didn’t like the game to start out with, but I gave it more of a chance. It’s definitely addictive, but it’s still not very much fun. I don’t know if I can honestly call it bad, as it’s not a steaming pile of shit, but it’s just not very much fun. It’s definitely far less boring than AC Origins. Side note – I I actually regret playing through Origins – other than The Hidden Ones campaign. The Hidden Ones was legitimately the best fan service the series has provided since … AC Brotherhood? Like, what, eight years ago? heh.

I should just run down the list, to see what I’ve got left. In no particular order, I guess:

Racing games. I absolutely cannot fucking stand them, in any flavor. I rage on those soooo hard. I used to love them, having basically 100%ed Gran Turismo 3: A Spec, Forza 1, Need for Speed 1-4 (the original ones), Burnout 1-3, and probably others. Anyway… not sure why, but I just… can’t fucking stand racing games anymore. I won’t touch them. I think the fact that I fell “out of love” with racing and cars in general contributed to this. Cars are expensive, and racing is extremely dangerous. I learned a bit later in life that cars don’t get chicks (and chicks that are “turned on” by particular cars, especially badge cars like BMW, are shallow cunts), and that nice or fast cars are stupid expensive and/or unreliable and/or impractical and/or unsafe. Like, they are just… shitty cars. They are a thrill, but tbh might as well get a motorcycle – that’s so much better of a thrill, for a lot less cash. Better yet – a quad. Anyway – anything except a racing game.

FPSes: I don’t hate them, like I do racing games, but I don’t like them very much overall. I can’t remember the last FPS I enjoyed very much. Doom had a fucked up save system – while the gameplay was okay the save system ruined the experience for me. I felt like I was in groundhogs day – just… constantly refighting the same shitty fights with the same respawn patterns. I’m sure some people like that Neo “I know kung fu” moment where they have memorized enemy patterns so well that they develop a 6th sense of what will happen next – but that’s the same thing as the memory flash card game to me – it’s just a memory game. I found Metro very atmospheric but the gameplay was simple, the AI was awful, the gunplay was sloppy and felt like something out of the DOS era, and the whole gas mask bullshit ended up forcing me to have to quit the game in the last level. I COULD go back and load a much older save and cheat by doing the mask trick through the rest of the game – but I already wasn’t having fun, so wtf would I do that, versus watching a Lets Play.

Mutlplayer FPSes…. well. Yeah. This is a particular sore spot for me. I used to be good, VERY good at multiplayer FPSes. Now, I’m maybe “bad”. Not quite “awful”, but decidedly lower than the average. Very low KDR in games I’m not intimately familiar with. My reaction time is much slower than when I was 20, I have ADHD so bad that I can’t bother to replay the same maps enough to know where anything spawns – so without the tactical advantage of knowing the map, or the split second reaction time to compensate for no tactical advantage, I almost always die before anyone else. So, fuck that. Seriously, fuck it straight in the asshole. Nope nope nope nope.

I even tried that blizzard game. Oh yeah, overwatch. Heh. I wasn’t having fun. It was like TF2, and, I can see the appeal, but I just wasn’t having a good time, and I suck dick at the game. Like, I’m awful. Granted, I could learn ALL the characters, meta, and all that other shit…. or, I could go watch a few dozen movies, read a couple good books book, and learn a language – all in that same time…. instead of banging my head against the wall to eventually maybe not suck, by the time that I get so bored with the game I quit anyways.

RTSes. Is that a genre? XD Seriously, is it? I REALLY don’t like clickfest games like Red Alert 2 or competitive StarCraft II… and the SC2 story sucks. Badly. And the missions are based on trial and error – which I hate. So. No.

MMOs: LOL. Don’t even go there.

Turn based games of any flavor: No. Not sure why, but I get sleepy, actually, playing turn based games. I LOVED Civilization I-III, X-Com 1 and Apoc, and even thought the new X-Com was okay. Everyone was saying it’s a 10/10 game. I’d say maybe 7/10, because it was turn based. Anything past Civ 4 I find unplayable.

Top down RPGs. Hrm. This might be okay. I might actually give this one a shot.

“Stealth games” … erm, with the AC series dead, there are no stealth games. I liked Wildlands – but I don’t expect a sequel. I kind of want to try Dishonored 2, but I recall the first game being frustrating and a bit clostrophobic. I like stealth games, but I don’t like walking on my hands and knees through a house to get the mission done. First person stealth just doesn’t work for me anymore.

UPDATE: Yeah. I’m permanently retired. It makes me a LITTLE sad. A little. This was a really big part of my life, and a big part of how I would decompress after a really shitty day. Since having written this post I “tried” Metro Last Light and a little more of AC Odyssey. Oh and a little Blops 4 Zombies with friends.

First let’s get AC out of the way. Yeah, I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t… but, the lure of taking down bases stealth style is just too much for me to resist. That’s something I’ve loved in a lot of other games. Well, that was a HUGE, GAPING GOAT ASS of a mistake. I was having a slightly-bored (but not quite bored enough to just quit) time with the game, and took on a big base. It got fun when I accidentally killed the Region Leader (I thought he’d last more than two hits) and got my 5 Wanted Stars Helmets (wtf?). I had every bounty hunter in the region after me! That was … kind of fun. It wasn’t the kind of “Oh it’s 5 am!?” fun that I remember games being until I was like 24… but, it was better than the shit on TV. Then came the Level 33 Demigods. Well, being “Only” level 28 or so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I should have known better from my days in AC Origins. 5 level difference is 99.9999% of the time a death sentence. And for no reason. These guys weren’t “bosses” in any awesome way, like, they weren’t the skeleborg thing from Mass Effect 2, or Harbinger from ME 3, or even Bowser from Mario. Nope this was just a normal, regular-ass looking guard, with a number above his head that was different than the other idiots that look identical to him. He didn’t breath fire, or have a giant laser canon, or do anything out of the ordinary. He just waved the piece of metal he was holding at me twice, and it was over. What little fun I was having was over. I get it – building tension or whatever, but this was arbitrary. This dude had a higher number than the other fuckers I had been killing all night. Total utter bullshit. Uninstalled.

Blops 4. Short version: boring and grindy. I never did like the Blops zombie missions because I was a Left4Dead fan. I mean, how the hell can anyone that likes L4D like Blops zombies? You just score headshots on shamblers and do some carpentry before moving on to the next zone after getting a slightly less shitty gun……  Well, Blops 4 zombies was better than that stereotype, but just barely. Still a really bad mix of both linear AND repetitive. L4D was linear, as it had a narrative. That’s okay. It kept you moving along. Killing Floor was repetitive (in terms of playing the same level) but it was all unlocked from the start and it encouraged you to experiment with kiting routes and defense strategies. Blops had the worst of both. You walked a very linear path to unlock shit, then you ran in circles or defended a single boring point. It was always in that order too. You couldn’t experiment with interesting defense strategies on harder levels, because you always started out with a shit weapon with like 5 super slow crawly zombies… and have work your way through the levels at a painful pace. God forbid something go wrong or you have a newb on your team it could mean you’re stuck in that loop for a very long time. I do appreciate that many levels had hidden weapons and upgrades, but most of that shit was right out of the NES era where you ended up looking up codes online. Look guys, this isn’t 1987. We don’t subscribe to Nintendo Power and trade secrets for extremely esoteric shit at the playground. No need for the really obtuse level progression. Anyway. So, I wasn’t having a lot of fun but I wanted to unlock more weapons – as you can’t get experience for a weapon until you’ve unlocked it (why that is, I have no idea, other than bad design). Well, I got to level 44 or so by a combination of playing with friends and grinding solo. And I realized it was painfully boring. Just… painfully boring. Even when my friends would log on I’d hope they would want to play a game I don’t normally play, so they’d leave me alone. We had a bit of an issue where one player would do everything he could do “be FIRST!!!!1” on kills so we couldn’t ever, ever do the progression. He’s the type of guy that refuses to ask for directions, or google tips on how to play a game, and always insists on playing games at a much higher difficulty than is fun for anyone. I think it makes his dick get bigger when he plays it on harder difficulties right from the start – I dunno – I can’t think of any other reason why than it gives him a massive stiffy that he just can’t control.

Anyway. I was bored with the game before I started grinding zombies, and then I started grinding zombies and I wanted to uninstall the game. ugh.

So… the straw the broke my very worn back. Metro. A while back I had rage-quit Metro 2033 due to the gas mask BULL-FUCKING-SHIT that I can’t stand. I get it, they want to add more tension onto a game with fucking radiation and monsters and future steampunk Nazis and shit. Yeah, so I need something else to micromanage, other than my fucking bullets (which also double as a currency)!?!?!!? That shit can fuck RIGHT off. Anyway, I knew I was really close to finishing 2033, so I reinstalled and went back a few chapters and did the gas mask trick where you put it on for 4 seconds, then take it off for 10. That is SUPER, super annoying and really breaks the immersion. Well, I beat the game, and, it was all very underwhelming. No big deal. Then I jump into Last Light, started out entertaining, but not greatly so. It was “Okay, not bad”. Like, 6/10, maybe 7/10. Action was old school and barely competent, but the AI was fairly retarded and the stealth part of the game was just flat out broken. I could snap the neck of one guy 2 feet behind his buddy, he grunts, and flops to the floor. Not a peep out of his friend. Then I snap the next guy’s neck. Visual detection was a joke. If there was a “light source” they could see me pretty well from normal ranges, but if there was no light source I could be humping the shit out of their leg and they’d just stand their picking their nose. BUT, if they were “alerted” they’d get cyber sniper fucking vision through fog, smoke, darkness, etc. They all had the aim of a Stormtrooper, so…. no worries really. But it was still annoying. ANYWAY, fast forward to a pretty boring level about going through a swamp. Bland, low res textures, bleh monsters, and protagonist that can’t swim – oh, and any puddle of water is arbitrarily 10 ft deep, and has monsters in it. 🙂 I.e. bullshit. I will say the game handles water better than Assassin’s Creed 1 – but only marginally. I get to the end of the level and there’s a mega mega shrimp boss. Ultra fucking annoying. Soaked up about 300 bullets total (not counting what the friendly NPCs shot into him). His body would have been positively more lead and steel than actual flesh… but, he still kept slithering along. Not that big of a deal as the boss fight itself was trivial, BUT I ran out of gas mask filters early on. I repeated a few more times, doing the retarded gas mask trick, and fell in the water both times. The second retry was after I knew he was dead. My friendly NPCs just stood there doing their RP bullshit as I was gasping for air, keeling over ready to die.. So, I tried jumping the 3 ft gap – I flopped around in the water and died. I promptly uninstalled and never looked back.

That was the last straw. Really unfortunate. But, I’m fucking sick of gaming.

I thought as I uninstalled each game: How frustrating will THIS one be? What kind of bullshit will I have to put up with in order to enjoy it? And each one I could think of at least one “controller breaking” moments that I’m sure I’d encounter, and clicked Uninstalled with a smile on my face.

So long, it’s been … well, it’s been something. I can’t say it’s been fun or else we wouldn’t be here, would we? I’m not really sure what I’ll use this blog space for in the future since I am 100% done with gaming… maybe thoughts on movies, shows, books? That’ll work. Having said that I don’t tend to watch the newest movies, because I don’t have anyone to take to the theater with me (my only relative that’d like to go would rather stay home and play PS4, ironically). Anyway, not like I played the latest games either!

Well, farewell gaming. I hope this says more about me developing as a person than it does the devolution of gaming and how it is losing the ability to entertain.

Retiring from gaming, one genre at a time, thanks to WoW and AC… among other bullshit franchises.

Well. Originally I wanted to give AC Odyssey a “Let’s see how this pans out” early review, but I’ve already uninstalled it, and I’m not going back. Likewise, I’ve already uninstalled Syndicate (in spite of just having bought the pretty fucking boring and linear Jack the Ripper DLC) and uninstalled Origins, even though there was arguably (!?) still some really boring content to hack my way through.

Why uninstall after I just spent $60 on it? Well, I got a lot more joy from the fucking TEXT BOOKS (no joke) I downloaded today than  I did Odyssey. I think that means I’m becoming an old, crotchety curmudgeon. That really sucks – but I can’t help it but say “I didn’t enjoy my time with AC today”, and I spent probably 5 hours total between Origins and Odyssey and had almost no joy at all between the two of them. I finished off the Origins: Fart of the Faroehs expansion… and I started Beginner Island on Odyssey.

Well, the only thing at all that was really interesting in a story telling sense was in the EXTREMELY short Hidden Ones campaign. That was pretty badass. Fart of the Faroghs or whatever was just… only interesting in a historical sense. Like, the afterlife sequences were very surreal, which I enjoy, and felt like a mental sequence out of Psychonauts (also a fantastic idea of a game that played like utter and total shit), but it was completely, utterly out of the blue and disconnected from the AC universe as a whole. Bayek saying “Heh, well, it was in my head” is hard to explain away about 20 fucking HOURS of gameplay in those zones and fighting the CONSTANT reappearing pharaoh ghosts – it’s like, that mother fucker is tripping some SERIOUS balls if he’s literally at risk of dying from his fantasy (Freddy Kruger style) and sees people being murdered in front of him in the real world by these ghost pharaohs – the same that everyone else around him seems to be VERY worried about… but, it’s all just in Bayeks head, or some shit? I don’t fucking know – it made no sense. Anyway… the best part of that expansion (I’m so fucking sick of the term DLC) was the historical accuracy-ish of certain parts. Like, the fact that Tutankhamun’s tomb was basically a hoarders mess. It was an unfinished tomb hastily put together after the unexpected death of a feeble, diseased, inbred king – dying from one of many different possible causes (chariot crash? Complications from being inbred? Disease? All of the above? Murder?) – so they just slapped one last coat of paint on PART of his tomb, threw in (LITERALLY threw in) a bunch of afterlife shit he might want, and sealed it shut. I was shocked how accurately his antechamber was versus the photos and sketches of the tomb I could find online. When I first walked in to the tomb in the game I was like “what the fuck is this? What is all this shit piled up around the room? wagon wheels? Random ass chairs? Wtf?” – and I spent about two hours on the internet looking it up, and it was almost one-to-one perfectly replicated from the real life findings. It makes sense! From a historical context anyway – unexpected death of a pharaoh no one gave a shit about, and they just toss his traditional useless “next life” shit into his tomb and seal it shut. It’s very interesting to me that ancient people were generally as shallow as we are and had as little faith in their own religions as we do in the modern era. I mean, if they gave a fuck about Anubis and whatnot they wouldn’t have just thrown a pile of random wheels into the corner and haphazardly stacked a bunch of random furniture in the back room…  but no, they really didn’t give a fuck, and just threw it in like it was wood onto the fire, and sealed it shut like slamming the cupboard door on an overstuffed cabinet shelf with too many random dishes. That’s awesome. 

I’m rambling about the most interesting part of the game, which was in no way tied into the story or would get more than a glance from the average Kek gamer. When I was growing up Egyptology was “all the rage” with the nerdy kids. We even had to learn some hieroglyphics in my advanced placement class and develop a burial site for our opposite class to uncover (and they did the same for us), so we had to make cartouches out of clay and everything. We had to memorize all of the Egyptian gods, the basic mythology, and so on. I thought it was cool at age 11, so to actually run around in ancient Egypt and go through various versions of the Egyptian “afterlife” was pretty cool. BUT, the gameplay was route. By this point I’d already earned all of the skill points necessary to max out my skill tree, and I had the game down pat as to how to play – so I was in tourist mode. But, I still had to plow through some pretty broken ass quests – which included VERY poorly orchestrated chain quests that had multiple dependencies with NO indication as to what the dependencies were – so it was easy to hit many, many brick walls along the way.

By the last few hours I was very eager to just be done with the fucking thing. I was tired of clearing out outposts of idiot ass NPCs, I was tired of kiting those Egyptian fucking Pharaohs (the ONLY way to fight them was to KITE them, uggghhhhhhhhh), traveling infinite distances across fucking SAND and SANDSTONE. Note to Ubisoft and other gaming programmers / developers: you mother fuckers need to get outside more. You have no idea how fucking boring sandstone is – I get it, it’s fucking Egypt, but as a geologist I could literally not be more bored by fucking SANDSTONE. I’d put my fucking horse on autopilot and go AFK until I felt like I was probably there. That’s awful guys… that’s MMO “quick travel” style bullshit there.

Anyway. So I got done with it, and TBH I regret it. It’s the first full expansion that I remember actually totally regret playing. It had good moments, but it was so. mother. fucking. grindy…. omg. So much copy paste, so much useless backtracking. They really wanted players to just waste time at that point.

So. AC Odyssey. WTF went wrong? Well, first of all, it’s just “skin” or a “mod” on AC Origins. Everything, and I fucking mean everything is 1:1 ripped from Origins, right down to the fucking idle animations. Every. Fucking. Bit. of gameplay etc is just too similar to Origins – and Origins wasn’t good, so I’m dumbfounded why they copy pasted a very mediocre system. It wasn’t bad but it was so very far from their best that it’s not funny.

The thing that kills me (and caused me to uninstall) is the same bullshit mother fucking level system – but this time you get NO (and I mean zero, el zilcho, nada, nic, nicht, нуль, what the fuck ever word everyone uses for ZERO)  credit for anything you do between quest completions – as far as I could tell. I wiped out the same mother fucking outpost TWICE. I spent two hours total trying to 100% this fucking place, being level 2 and it being level 4. Both times I killed both captains, freed the idiot ass captives, and in the first instance I got all treasures but one, then got murdered by the roaming “bounty hunter NPC” that was 3 levers higher than me, and the second time I 100%ed that fucking joint, only to get 2-shot stunlocked by the same mother fucker. Okay, so I can sneak up on this bitch and neck-stab him FIVE TIMES and he’s still ready to party? Yeah, no. Fuck you Ubisoft. Fuck you. If I wanted imbalanced ARPGs I’d stick to the fantasy genre. Not the “Erm. kind of realistic historical thingie!?” genre. This is the second game ever (other than the identical Origins, which I also cannot recommend) where you can’t use stealth to just… win the game. Like, you arbitrarily MUST, MUST grind out levels. What this means is: going to areas that are slightly under your level or MAAAAAYBE at your level (provided you don’t have a fucking bounty or bad luck), or else you’ll get killed, and die, and start ALL THE FUCKING WAY OVER WITH NO CREDIT FOR ANYTHING EVER 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Yeah no, fuck you Ubisoft. Fuck you hard. That’s the last AC game I buy, the last AC game I play, and the last Ubisoft game I buy… mostly because their formulas are so route I feel awful. I feel like I literally could not be wasting my time more than to grind in a fucking offline MMO-wanna be game that grossly inflates their /played time (for investors) with shit ass tactics like this.

Unfortunately, as I go through my Steam profile and look at all of the negative reviews I’ve left over the past ~3 years, I can’t help but kind of realize that I’m…. not a gamer anymore. I refuse to play about 2/3rds of the popular games, because they bore and frustrate me… and it’s becoming clear that my heart isn’t in the hobby anymore. I find myself spending MUCH more time watching movies and “dragging myself” to play games. I think I’m really bored with games. And talking about games. Fuck it. :/ I guess it’s on to bigger better things, like learning languages. HEH.

Star Wars stuff

I’ll keep this brief, as I don’t want to get neck deep in a topic I only give half a shit about. Basically I overall liked The Force Awakens. I liked Rogue One even more, I think. And Solo wasn’t bad (but had a very B-movie feel to it). However I absolutely loathed The Last Jedi. Like, I wish I could go back in time and make it not happen – not because I’m that big of a Star Wars fan but because I think it was such a monumental waste of everyone’s time that it is one of those “if we had a time machine” kind of mistakes.

There are many many critiques of the film to choose from that word it much better than I could. The one that I’ve found that summarizes it the best can be found here. Awful writing, awful pacing, shitty characters with really bland “arcs” (if they don’t arc, is it a story line segment or a ray instead?), CGI heavy action sequences, over-reliance on WWII bomber analogy in the first space pew pew segment, and feminist “we are the world” agenda being absolutely crammed down our throats. I really like the short summary of the SJW / Liberalism / Feminism agenda being pushed on this page:

“One of the major aspects of Star Wars is that of individuals needing to develop themselves in order to meet challenges.

Rey, however, seems to get a pass on much of this. Despite being young and leading a humble, solitary life she can…

  • Beat the s**t out of two grown men using a staff.
  • Fly the Millennium Falcon like a stunt pilot on her first attempt.
  • Knows how to maintain the Millennium Falcon better than Han Solo. (Recall that her equivalent, Luke, in a similar situation, only managed to squeeze out, “What’s that thing flashing!?”)
  • Use force powers with no training.
  • Defeat the main bad guy in a duel, again, with no training.
  • EDIT: Speak Wookiee.

Meanwhile, the male support is kind of bumbling and has an episode of acute cowardliness.

The gist of the feminist propaganda is that she does not need to work at anything, she’s naturally awesome just by being a woman. Its a characterisation that tends towards idealism and grandiosity rather than realism.”

Even in TFA I was flabbergasted how Rey and Finn could wield a lightsaber with amazing proficiency, without having ever been trained in the use of one, or even having probably ever fucking seen one before. I know that I was given a long sword right now and told to go fight right away or compete I’d get my ass fucking handed to me. (That’s not me btw, I just had to find a HEMA buttwhoopin). Believe me, you’d get your ass handed to you as wellhard. I know, I know, it’s fucking scifi fantasy – right right, but it’s also super lazy writing. Terribad writing. More to the point it’s inconsistent with everything we’ve ever seen before.

I also found a lot in common with the views on and also this page.  There’s too much on that page to quote, and I don’t agree with everything there, but it generally rings true – it seems that The Last Jedi was written as a story about modern liberal values, especially about women fighting the manocentric manocracy. It’s just another day of the week if SJWs and feminists are standing up for themselves or for values they believe in – but I find it really distasteful, to the point of being repugnant, to forcefully shoehorn in patently opaque and obvious social and political themes of the modern era into a fucking space opera set in the past so long ago that they can’t even fucking date the thing. You’re right, it is “just a story”, it is “just a fantasy” – so, why the fuck does it have so much HuffPost bullshit in the story? Like, would it be fine if we throw that shit into Game of Thrones too? Have some overhanded commentary in the final season about voting laws and equal pay? That would fit about equally well into the GoT universe as the shit writing of The Last Jedi does in the Star Wars setting.

I got a bit off the rails there and focused a bit heavily on just the social themes and how much they bug me… but the film as a whole, even without the “WHITE MALES CAN FUCK OFF AND DIE” attitude throughout the story telling, the rest of the story is just garbage. The first link I posted most accurately echos my thoughts on the movie. It’s just…. bad.

Amazon: from fantastic to utter shit

I’ve been buying from Amazon since 2000. Back then it was basically just a book retailer. I was living in Europe at the time and it was the best way to get English language books – shipped straight from the UK to continental Europe. When I moved back to the US I didn’t use it much at all until the past 5 years or so. Being a father that lives and works away from my family (most of the time) it was super convenient to be able to shop for my family while I was away. About once a week I’d ask my family “want anything else when I order from Amazon?”

Yet, I found that over the past 3 years or so it’s been increasingly more difficult to find quality products, due to an absolutely massive deluge of shit products from no-name, fly-by-night “third party sellers” and garbage Chinese manufacturers. Don’t me wrong, most everything in the modern era is either built in China or has parts made in China, but there’s something about the cheapo knock off crap that really gets under my skin. Anyway – Amazon went from selling mostly name-brand products to selling mostly Chinese garbage from extremely weird and hard to look up companies. You know, those companies that have ZERO hits on Google other than their Amazon products? No company website, no product support, nothing. They are just a vendor of shit from parts unknown. And Amazon is their storefront.

Confounding the problem is the awful, and I mean truly AWFUL review system Amazon has. While paid reviews aren’t anything new, it’s taken on an entirely new life on Amazon. There’s an entire industry designed to create fake reviews for products, especially on Amazon. So reviews absolutely cannot be trusted – yet with the absolutely insane amounts of trash products on Amazon it’s impossible to find what you are looking for, there’s no real information available on products. To their credit Amazon does sell normal, name-brand products – but for the most part almost all of their prices are at least as much as what you can find on NewEgg, eBay, Walmart, or other online retailers. EDIT: I found a LOT of articles indicating that much of the brand name products sold by Amazon (especially those “fulfilled by Amazon”) were total fakes. And Amazon doesn’t give a shit. They blame it on the 3rd party seller and provides ZERO customer protection.

So over time I found myself getting duped into buying more and more Chinese garbage, literally throwing away about a third of what I bought because it was less money out of my pocket to just toss it in the trash than to spend my time returning it (given what I make in an hour, and how precious my time is when I’m actually with my family).

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I tried leaving a negative (read: scathing, but not profane) review of some awful cables I bought from a dishonest seller. My reviews got shitcanned, and when I tried to reword them to be more fluffy kittens and rainbows it disappeared into the void. I contacted their support department, got a refund on the trash products (in this case I felt my time was worth it, to send a middle finger to that retailer), and they said that my reviews would be looked at by the review department for posting. I never heard back. Seriously Amazon – that’s awful, you slave wage labor assholes. 🙂 Even your own employees hate working there.

Apparently I’m not alone in my experience. I looked up reviews of Amazon, and was actually quite surprised how low they are ranked by thousands of reviewers. Take a look here, and here, and here. Those are just the first few hits on Google. Many of the experiences were similar to mine. Bad products, awful customer service from Bangalor-zbeki-stan-stan, where customers were LITERALLY berated then hung up on if they ask to speak to someone can communicate better than broken Engrish. And yes – the person I spoke to used very broken Engrish. Of course, per the modern custom, I was snowed with apologies before the conversation even started. Look, I don’t need you to apologize, I need you to fix it, okay? Oh, you can’t fix it, you can only apologize? Heh. Yeah. Back to Bestbuy.com I go I guess.

I cancelled my Prime membership which was about to re-up in a few days. I sent a note to their “give us feedback!” department as well – and I basically shit through the letterbox. I know, I know – entitled consumer alert. It’s less that I’m entitled and more that I paid for product, did not get product, got screwed with instead, then got the runaround from “customer service”. One thing that really bothers me the is how Amazon changed their customer support from the US to where-ever-the-hell-stan. Their US based support were very capable of fixing issues (without needlessly apologizing ten times in five minutes), and the products they offered weren’t absolute loose butthole.

It’s a totally different store now. Imagine if your favorite bookstore became a China Town flea market full of shady dealers and products from god knows where, and when you ask Ya Habib (aka “Steven Jones”, or “Jerry Smith”) to speak to his manager or to speak to someone that is a native speaker of English he tells you he’s sorry and runs for the hills.

I won’t buy from Amazon anymore, even if it’s cheaper. A week ago I literally paid an extra 20% for sports products to buy directly from the manufacturer versus Amazon – because I really, really can’t stand Amazon.

Update: Holy shit. Apparently fake and bullshit products has become a very serious problem on amazon. Another article here talking about it as well. I found many others but those were the two most detailed. Fake goods being “fulfilled by Amazon”, which is meaningless, and Amazon doens’t give a shit. Yeahhhhh… never buying from Amazon again. I’d rather pay DOUBLE the price for ANYTHING than to ever buy from Amazon again. I hope the company implodes – like, people get sick of the current paradigm and boycot, and they just become some nobody online shop. That’s incredibly unlikely due to the convenience (of buying conterfit goods), and they can rest entirely on the purchases from the Millenials, apparently – who will never give up on their brands… but whatever. I won’t be buying.

Also interesting to note in that article is the Alibaba is actually considerably MORE proactive in their approach to protecting customers than Amazon. Amazon has become a turd of a company. Just… stinky and needs to be flushed. peee-yew.

Update 2: Oh god. Even the Guardian is bashing on Amazon. 😦 Wow. I miss, more than anything else, what the site used to be. US-based customer service (rather than Oompaloompa-stan-stan), almost no fake reviews (now about 95% of the reviews I see are fake or paid reviews), no garbage products, no counterfeits being “fulfilled by amazon” that were 100% fakes… it was just an online store. Now, it’s an online swap-meet without any cusomter protection. I would much, much rather use eBay since I can at least see the reviews of the seller and people can leave nasty reviews of products and sellers. I don’t think they filter their reviews at all which is how it damn well should be. If a customer gets screwed over or bought a junk product they have every right to write a scathing review for other customers to review before they decide to spend their money on it.

Look, most people work hard for their money. I know I sure as shit do. So it burns when a company like Amazon rips people off and doesn’t give a shit. That’s entirely unethical. I’d MUCH rather gamble with some shady dealer on eBay or even using a “legitimate flea market” like Alibaba – which is apparently becoming FAR better than Amazon with regards to eliminating trash goods. ugh. What a damn shame… how the mighty have fallen. :/

Permanent WoW Retirement. RIP.

UPDATE: Well, Michael from Bellular has chimed in on the issue. While it feels good to have my views validated by someone that is so big in the fan community, it’s sad that even he considers the disdain of the loot the system (and more so Blizzards dismissive response to player unhappiness) obvious and a serious problem with the game at its core. 😦 Bummer deal. The link I provided skipped passed some commentary on other things not related to the broken gear system – but he had dropped several hints that he’s bored with the game almost entirely. And looking back, he’s dropped hints in almost every video for the past month or so, that he is just kind of done with WoW. I’m not sure if (for him) it’s BFA, or just WoW, but a video he made inspired my earlier post about choosing what activities to do and not do in WoW – because he was already cherry picking things to do, since so much content is just boring as hell.

UPDATE 2: Oh jeeze. Even TradeChat got in on the bashing. Many of her points are not repeats of Michael’s… and most of them I didn’t even think about. Gfdi bliz, you done fucked it up. One point she brings up that really hits home is it “doesn’t feel like a good use of my time” (she was referring to the fishing, but…).

UPDATE 3: Fack. Even PREACH is shitting on Bliz’s response to the problem. Wow.

Update 4: Well, I’ve mostly stopped reading on WoW shit and watching WoW videos, but I thought maybe Asmongold would have had something good to say about the direction WoW is going. Heh. Yeah-no. Asmongold rips it in two and sounds like he’s on the verge of quitting it too, due to shit design and just overall bad design philosophy on Bliz’s part. He brings up some excellent points not really mentioned in the previous videos. It’s almost crazy how many DIFFERENT bad points that each of these core WoW YouTubers brought up. They are all legitimate points. I will say that one thing that Asmongold really nailed on the head is that a lot of these design changes seem like they were based on analytics and gambling-style methodology – that they want players to “keep playing longer”, and that the game wasn’t designed with art or “love” (as he puts it, I’d call it “love for the craft”, perhaps). He even goes as far as to demand to see the armory profiles of the developers to see if they even play the game. I couldn’t agree more – really. I 100% agree that the game currently feels like it’s made by suits that really don’t like gaming at large, and are probably disgusted by WoW as a game, but the analyists said they should do this and that in order to make the game sell better. It’s just a boring, unfun slog. “There are so many things in the game that just don’t feel good.”

RIP WoW 2018. Thanks Bliz.

Previously:

I had been following WoW to see if anything was getting better, and to see when Zandalari would finally be unlocked. Unfortunately I found this fairly hefty “Blue post” defense of the broken (and quite boring) Azerite system. This really crushed any hope I had of playing the game again in the future. First I’ll explain why that is in broad terms. In general the post demonstrates that Blizzard is unwilling to listen to customer feedback in order to improve their game. Instead, they double down on a bad bet and dig themselves deeper, bringing their customer base with them. The second thing that really disappoints me is how much grinding Blizzard wants us to do.

So first off – yes, I am a “content tourist”. Look, it’s the year 2018. There are far more games released every month that I’m excited to play than I would ever have time for. I have to pick winners and losers. Very few games outside of the MMO genre require “grinding” of any kind. That’s a passe form of inflating gameplay hours. I’m at the age where I’m painfully aware of my own mortality and what limited time I have on this dirtball before I am put inside of it. Games are a way for me to decompress from a stressful job and complicated home and social life. My relaxation shouldn’t ever feel like a second job. I shouldn’t be doing boring, repetitive tasks unless there’s some kind of psychological itch that it scratches. Grinding of any kind is something that instantly irritates me and is so glaringly obvious in some games that I avoid it as soon as I see it, to the point of just straight up quitting a game if it feels like it’s asking me to waste my time. It makes me feel that the developers don’t value my time – like they just don’t give a shit, as if WoW (or whatever grindy game) is the only thing in the world I could be doing right now. They want us to be on a slow, set path of progression so that we’re forced to subscribe, and play, indefinitely. From a business standpoint, I get that, even though I disagree with the logic. From an ethical standpoint I spit on them. That’s fucking ridiculous. Try to imagine this in any other medium; imagine this in books – that you can’t get to the next chapter of the story unless you re-read each previous chapter about 10 times. 8 if you are “elite” at reading books. Want to get on with the story? Well fuck you! Nope! How about TV shows. How about we make you watch the really boring part of the show for an extended 3 hours, just to get to the ending. Does that sound like fun? Or would you rather use the DVR fast forward button to get to the meat of the content.

I’m sure I sound “entitled” from a developer’s perspective. Possibly. Possibly I am. However I like to look at it as “my time is precious”. It’s already a guilty sin to WASTE it on gaming – but that’s the hobby I enjoy the most, and I’d rather not choose to waste it on a game that is stringing customers along, wasting their time, for no logical reason at all.

The it’s clear from the tone and the words that Blizzard is 100% aware of the customer dissatisfaction (EN MASSE, not even a minority of players) with the systems as they are now, and they really don’t give two shits. They even go as far as to blame the customers for not liking the system, comparing it to old, admittedly shitty, grindy systems that I thought Blizzard had evolved beyond. Yeah. Right.

The comments section below are a fantastic analysis of the Blue Post. In short: unfun, grindy system goes unchanged, and Blizzard DOES intend for players to “grind” (a lot) in order to get much of anything out of the game.

I’ve seen other threads where fanboys (mostly customer service reps that hate complainers) stick up for Blizzard, and I get it, players are feeling overly entitled. That doesn’t mean that a conversation can’t (or shouldn’t) be had about how things can be improved. Moreover, it is just a product. A single product. We can always chose to spend our money on other things; and that’s what I’ve done.

Two things stand out as greatly unfortunate about the direction WoW is going. First, there was so much potential, and it’s obvious that it’s never going to live up to what players hoped it would become. Years ago Bliz started trimming the fat, reducing grind, giving us more options of gameplay with less pointless grinding to get there. Items worked for multiple specs, stats had been simplified, earning reputation was getting easier and more streamlined. Then, all of that progress got flushed down the shitter. We are now back to several bags of gear for different specs (or even for the same spec but different situations! it’s literally in his post that is what they want! and they want us to fucking GRIND for each piece of gear at a MISERABLE drop rate!), back to shitty rep grinds, back to the extremely RNG heavy portions of the game that drove me to away from the game in vanilla. Hell even the PvP rewards have been changed so that it’s a huge, huge timesink now, and utterly incompatible with gearing up via PvE. They resurrected a substantial number of awful, time consuming, soulless aspects of the game that I have zero interest in.

The second reason all of this is unfortunate is because I have already invested so much time and energy into the game. I don’t mean just literally playing, but reading guides, watching YouTube videos, buying fucking merchandise, talking about the game with friends about WoW. At it’s artistic core, the story and “feel” of the game is amazing. While it’s not very unique – WoW mashes together so many different aspects of mythology, history, and fantasy that I find more points to connect with than any other IP. It’s hard not to get sucked into something that you connect with so well, and to want to spend time enjoying that. But, at the game design level it’s fundamentally flawed. It always was, but it kept getting better over the years. It looked like Blizzard was taking customer feedback and crafting a better experience for players. Now? Well, they shit on that. They went back to their roots, and decided that a blind time commitment with little (and random) reward was the way to go. Shame.

Anyway. I’ll likely revisit the game only during the “free week” they give former players every expansion; and I’ll have little trouble “keeping up” with the big news with the game since major game news outlets cover the key points every time there’s a big change.

Speaking of which, a little aside here, the first time I’ve ever seen a major gaming news outlet use the word “shitty”, ever, at all, was in a headline describing the aforementioned gear system. Cute.