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April 2015 Gaming Update

April 22, 2015
I really don’t miss my WoW garrison daily chores. I talked to a friend at work about my departure from WoW (which he still plays), and he’s pretty fed up with the garrison. In trade chat I saw someone say that they wish it was possible to blow up the mine, so they can get rid of those awful yellow dots. Those dots are basically a metaphor for the Skinner box that is the garrison. We’ve been conditioned (by now) to respond automatically to yellow dots – we mindlessly drone towards any yellow dot and click on them.
When I first quit I was worried I’d “fall behind” on my garrison. Well, I probably have. Especially since 6.2 will introduce a new building, and a new zone. But you know what? I don’t care. Any time that I think about making any progress in the game I think about how many hours of lag I’d have to endure to do anything fun. I also realize how much fun I had with AC4, and I’m thankful that I’m doing something other than WoW right now.
The thing is, if we had /decent/ internet here, I might play a little. In particular the new Mythic dungeons interest me, and I wouldn’t mind doing SOME daily activity if it wasn’t so painful to do because of lag. <shrug> Right now I’m doubtful that we’ll ever have internet at all.
I beat Assassin’s Creed IV the other night. Man, what a good game. I don’t know which is better, AC2 or AC4. I think that AC2 was a better written game with better characters and a more human story arc, but I enjoyed the action, gameplay, and sets of AC4 more. I’d pay for another pirate Assassin’s Creed, maybe one with more of a “sim” feel to it in the naval warfare. It felt really arcadey, after having played a few other naval combat games, especially the “RPG” element – where you can upgrade various elements of your ships, but none of it makes much sense. More tactical choices in naval combat would have been great, such as being able to choose grape shot or chain shot for side cannons. I’m nitpicking, overall it was a kick ass game.
I just started Dragon Age: Inquisition. I /really/ enjoy how they implemented the “tactical mode”. All of the BioWare games that I’ve played had the same style of combat – live action that you could pause to issue orders and move characters around the battle field. In DAI you can fly the camera around the battlefield while the action is paused. It gives it a very Matrix-y feel to stop time and move the camera around a boss monster while he’s in the middle of attacking the group. Very cool stuff. So far the story is very MEH. More high fantasy tropes. I vaguely remember SOME of DAO… it was that archetypically high fantasy. Also, I still don’t care for how Fae the elves are. I rolled an elf and I’m regretting it, merely for the fact that my character’s body looks like a methed-out anorexic twig. Blegh.
Star Wars – now with more of the stuff we like! I didn’t think I’d be very excited about the new trailer, but it was pretty damn awesome. Got shivers from it, in fact. I know that I wasn’t nearly as excited about Ep I through III, even though I actually liked those movies (unlike everyone else in the universe).
44% of “gamers” are females. Unngghhh…. Median age of female gamers is 43, males is 35. Hmmm… Not too far off from my experience playing WoW. As the editor commented, the lack of a strict definition for what a “game” is makes this entire study difficult to ready into however. Almost all of the women I’ve ever met “game”, if you count Candy Crush, Tetris, Angry Birds, the Sims, Peggle, or whatever. On the other hand, very /few/ of the women I’ve met have played any game that doesn’t fall into the “social” or “phone game, heh” categories, such as Call of Duty, Diablo, Grand Theft Auto. And the women that HAVE played those games have not played more than a few hours total… ever. And almost none have sat for height hours in a gaming binge.
So this very loose non-definition of “gamer” is analogous to calling everyone who has heard classical music (even if only passively, such as in a jewelery commercial or walking past a radio tuned to classical music) a “classical music enthusiast”. There needs to be a better definition of what a “gamer” is, at least for the purpose of studies like these.
Breaking a study like this down in that way would also provide /much/ more meaning to publishers and developers. I think bad conclusions are drawn when you lump this kind of data together. It needs to be broken down into usership in order to understand gamers as customers. The spending habits of people that buy a lot of token credits for Candy Crush undoubtedly differs an incredible amount to the gamer who plays Destiny or Madden NFL.
Even the auto industry understands the need to better segment their buyers in order to predict the market demands. I’d like to think it also helps companies develop better products, but… what do I know.
Utterly predictable. Also predictable: the glut of “F2P” games that absolutely inundated the market the instant it became apparent that F2P is profitable. I think that developers (especially shitty ones) got greedy and overestimated what gamers are willing to pay for. Just because it’s “free” doesn’t mean we’re going to throw money at you. In fact, that free period is most of the reason players /don’t/ pay in F2P games – because we can spend time with the game, realize that it’s trite shit and to walk away from it without any kind of financial commitment. Just because SOME F2P games were profitable doesn’t mean that garbage will profit under the same scheme.
I hope the F2P market withers once the trough is empty, and forces developers and publishers to develop better games, and to be more intelligent about what they are asking players to pay for.
Sweeeeeet! I’ll be pre-ordering. For damn sure. I’ll be greatly disappointed if there’s no offline or LAN mode, but I still plan on buying it.
Well, it’s about time. The only thing they are /really/ missing at that point is level scaling outside of instances, so that friends of different levels can play together.
Also: Mythic instances. It’s really about damn time, as the heroics were a joke. Other than a few “must dodge” boss mechanics Heroic wasn’t noticably harder than LFG Normal mode. I remember when Cata heroics came out. Holy shit. Those were insane. I ran those with my original Vanilla guild – and even with our coordination and experience those early Cata Heroics were stupid hard until you outgeared them. Without LFR, there really wasn’t any other way to gear up at the time other than to run Heroic 5-mans. Looking back, I appreciated the amount of coordination they required, even on trash pulls (as CC was manditory in many cases) – it felt more strategic and challenging, /almost/ like a table-top game. The instances were all super linear, unlike the sprawling Vanilla instances (like BRD for instance), so it didn’t QUITE replicate the table-top experience, but it was a much better experience than the current lol-heroics.
Timewalking is another thing I’m excited about. I’ve been predicting for quite some time that some kind of side-kicking / mentoring / content-level-matching would occur. Almost every single MMO I’ve played in the past five years has SOME kind of level matching. Other than PvP servers, I really hope that they expand this to general play – so that way it’d be possible to take a level 100 and level with a friend that just joined the game. I’ve always _loathed_ the response “Well why don’t you just start an alt?”… the reason why is because it’s almost impossible for two people to match levels during the entire playthrough from 1 to 100. Believe me, I’ve tried _repeatedly_. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult either for them to program. How hard is it to automatically scale stats up or down to match a friend for group play? Apparently it never was difficult, since their doing it now, and (like I said) so many other games have already done it successfully. There’s really no reason to leave it out of the game anymore.
I’ve semi-retired from WoW (again), so I don’t know if I care /that/ much. Especially since all of my RL friends either don’t play the game are 100 (but still don’t play the game at the same time as I do). I think I ran one instance with a buddy since this expansion. The big reason I even got into the game (other than nostalgia) was to run instances with my friends. They are both so wrapped up in doing garrison shit every day and running raids with their guilds that we never get the time to run together. So, there’s that.
There’s also the “events” and holidays. I had spent so much of my 187 days played time chasing friends around to different servers (before payed transfers or character boosts), that I was rarely level cap any time a new holiday event was introduced. It bummed me out that my level cap friends were talking about content I couldn’t even see, because I was trying to get to their level. Funny thing, as they ALL ended up quitting the game too – so it was a huge waste of my time in each case.
One of my goals this time around was to have one main and to ALWAYS keep him at level cap, and geared up well enough to run any of these events as they show up. Fast forward to the Valentines event. I was excited, my first holiday event that I could actually enjoy! A five minute instance. Hm. Okay… A few cheesy quests in old zones? hmmm… I’m starting to feel let down. And all the rewards require me to grind this shit over and over? What is so special about these holiday events, other than a few decorations? Okay… well, what about achievements? I looked at the list, and most looked easy – a few were grindy. Then there’s the stupid necklace quest where you basically have to be in an organized raid group. There was only one raid group doing it at the time – I joined up, travelled to the location, and waited for my turn. My step kid had a bad cough and his mom wanted me to take him to the ER since it was a weekend and he couldn’t see his regular doctor. The cough ended up being nothing serious, so after some icecream and a hug went to bed when we got home. I log back in, and there was still a group of people doing the event. “Alright!”, I thought to myself. I get in the line to participate. The group leader tells me I’m not eligible anymore. What the fuck? I asked the bitch if she was bitter that I had to take my kid to the ER, or what? So, this one achievement (also part of the big holiday meta that I wanted) was out of my reach because some basement dweller nobody is being snobby about their WoW bullshit? Fuck that, fuck the event.
Fast forward again to the Lunar Festival. I didn’t even know it was going on until I ran into some ghosts in instances I was grinding for rep. “Oh. Yeah. This one.” I vaguely remember it from vanilla, and how hard some of the ghosts were to get to, but I do fondly remember the lowbie raid in Moonglade. So, I guess by now this became a holiday I just didn’t care about really – the rewards suck, the raid is on a long timer, and I don’t want to spend /hours/ trying to get to these ghosts. Fast forward one more time. Noblegarden. I hadn’t done this event before. I spent about an hour grinding in a newbie town to find eggs over and over and over. God, it was boring. I got the stupid mount. To get the achievement I’d have to grind some more. Fuck that. I was missing playing AC4 already. That was it for me when it came to WoW events.
I really think WoW is coming around, but I find that the game is still a time sink and I’ve kind of run out of things to do, at least FUN things that I can do with the kind of lag I experience at the mine. Our internet is so bad that it made doing ANYTHING in the game almost impossible. The only activity that is somewhat lag friendly is pet battles, since it’s turn based. So, I got into pet battles since I didn’t want to quit the game entirely, even though I don’t think pet battles are very fun. So, I started collecting more battle pets and leveling my core team. But it’s really, really grindy. A friend recommended I do the garrison pet daily to get the stones that level pets – and he recommended doing it on alts, since you can do it on every alt that has a garrison. “Okay”, I said to myself, “that’s cool, I’ll get some alts up and start doing that.” I realized what a time commitment it’d be to level alts to 100, so I might as well be efficient about it – which means heirlooms. I don’t remember where I saw it, but I read a comment from someone estimating the amount of time saved using heirlooms while leveling and it was a hell of a lot. “Okay, so I need heirlooms.” I bought a bunch, but I was missing the Dread Pirate Ring, which can only be gotten from the weekly STV fishing quest. I’ve always hated that, given that so few people can actually win it. I’ve tried it twice, failed miserably both times. I thought, “Is this really worth it?” – I figured that it probably was given amount of time that it’d save on my alts.
I can only do this once every THREE weeks, since I can only do it when I’m at home, and not at the mine. My family was asleep still, so I could get away with focusing on getting this done. I figured that I’d use my old main, since he’s on an underpopulated server, he has fishing, and epic flying. Sunday comes… and I’ve got my old toon ready to go. I’ve read up on the guides, I’ve watched the videos, I’ve scouted the lakes, and my hearth is set to booty bay. I check the time… then I realize I already missed it on that server. Shit! I miscalculated /server/ time. Shit, shit shit.Alright, what about my other alts, can I try any other time zones? I check, I’ve already missed another time zone on a character with fishing, flying, etc. Then I find my last glimmer of hope, a toon with flying on a Pacific server. He only has regular flying, but it’s a low population server… and at least he has flying. I spent an hour training his fishing up… I get him in position… My family is up by now, cooking food, and my son is running around, wanting me to play with him. In game I see people flying around, scouting, wiping out mobs, and working in groups. I could tell I was probably already fucked… but, I hoped RNG would be generous today. Maybe. Time is ticking down, already I’m getting anxious. I keep my toon by a group of fish… my hotbars are set… Ready… set…. go!
I’m off to a decent start, I start nabbing some fish. There’s not much competition right where I’m at yet. I eventually fish everything I see and have to scout for respawn. By now competition starts to show up. They are serious about it, they are fishing out of the same holes, many have water walking. I get into the teens. No announcement yet, so I figured I had a chance…. I get into the 20s… I start to get excited… Then the 30s… Almost there! … I get to 38. The first winner is announced. “Shit.” I catch my 39th. The second winner is announced. “Fuck.” I could feel my heart sink. Before I could even cast again the third winner was announced. “Okay. That’s what I thought would happen. That was what I needed to move on from this game.”
I had been in game since 6 am, and it was now 2:20 pm. That’s over eight hours of doing almost nothing, and getting almost nothing. Why was I doing it? Then I realized that I had lost track of why I even wanted the heirloom. I had gotten so wrapped up in the past week or two of leveling alts that I had forgotten my original aim. I had to backtrack to even figure out what the hell I was thinking when I started.
“Why do I even want this damn heirloom? Oh yeah, to save time on leveling alts, since I absolutely loathe leveling alts. Why am I even leveling alts? Oh, yeah, to build garrisons… why do I need garrisons again? Oh, for the pet dailies. Why do I want the pet dailies, I forgot what they do? Oh, to level my battle pets because it’s boring and grindy to level them otherwise. Why am I leveling pets at all anyway? Oh, because that’s the only thing at all in WoW that I can do at the mine… and I don’t even like battle pets!”
That’s when I cancelled my account and uninstalled the game. I realized that I had been conditioned to want to do my frustrating dailies and to “keep up”, and it just wasn’t worth it. Again.
I felt better after uninstalling it.

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