Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, meandering, muddled mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"We were a good team. Weren't we?"

So Scooter and I just finished Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD on Tuesday night. When the show premiered almost two years ago, I was pretty hyped, coming off the high of The Avengers. I even wrote up a short, positive review of the pilot. Unfortunately, the next few episodes were a little "meh," and I ended up losing interest, especially given how seldom I watch weekly episodic television. Also, unfortunately, I apparently stopped watching about the same time Season 1—like John Cleese—got better.

The benefits of Netflix include the ability to binge watch entire seasons of show in a relatively brief period of time, allowing weak episodes to be subsumed into the larger flow of a series. Such is the case with AoS. I watched the first season in December or January, when Scooter was busy with something else, and ended up really enjoying it. But Hulu didn't have all the episodes from Season 2, and I didn't want to start "in the middle." And Scooter still needed to catch up with Season 1. So we've been doing just that for the past few weeks, interspersed with SWTOR sessions.

Anyway, the second season was even better than the first, though there were still a few episodes here and there that were weaker than others. I like how they tie the AoS storyline into events from the movies without making it necessary to see either the movies or the show to make sense of what is going on. Some interesting plotlines have developed, and the season finale brought some good closure, while teasing a few new plotlines for Season 3. I don't want to spoil anything if you haven't seen the show. I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity to see Agents of SHIELD in the near future.
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Monday, July 27, 2015

This Mini Rant Is Brought to You by Syp

Today, Syp posted a bit about things that annoy him in MMOs that he likes. I considered responding to each in the comments, then realized I could make a post out of it (Syp's original points in italics):

WildStar: For a game that has made such a big, big deal about customization (and excels in this in many areas), the fact that classes can wield one and only one type of weapon (set) vastly annoys me. In most MMOs you can choose from different weapon types and experience different visual flair and animations, but here? What you got at level 1 is the same at level 50.
In most games, most weapons are simply skins, perhaps improving stats, but rarely affecting more than a few abilities (GW2 being a notable exception). For instance, in WoW, it doesn't really matter whether you're wielding a sword or an axe, or a mace. The animation will be the same. And for the casting classes, the weapon sits on your back or hip anyway. SWTOR, on the other hand, is similar to WildStar in that each advanced class has one ideal weapon (though you are free gimp yourself if you manage to choose a non-optimal configuration). But Syp is even more annoyed by something else in SWTOR, as you'll read below. All I'm saying is that, while understandably annoying, a single weapon choice per class is not unique to WildStar.

The Secret World: This game’s wonderful storytelling and nuanced body language is sometimes undercut by faces that are ugly and border on the uncanny valley. The facial art style doesn’t gel for me the way that it should and serves as an irritant when I’m trying to get into the tale.
This is a matter personal preference, I happen to really like the character art in TSW, more so than SWTOR for instance. (You'll see me harp on SWTOR a lot in this post. While these may be criticisms, they're not annoyances for me exactly.) Certainly in the cutscenes, the characters move more naturally in TSW than SWTOR. And though Syp does have a point about the uncanny valley, I think it just adds to the general creepiness of TSW.

You know what annoys me about TSW? To the point that it broke my favorite game for me? Playing rock-paper-scissors trying to kill everything twice in Tokyo. Complexity for complexity's sake alone (that the Scenarios that were supposed to prepare us for Tokyo never included). I went from preaching about "adapt to the game" to "fuck this shit" after just one session in Tokyo last fall. And honestly, it makes me sad.

Marvel Heroes: This game’s social tools are really lacking, I’ve found. There needs to be support to join multiple supergroups, better supergroup tools, and a proper LFG tool. Fast track these, Gazillion!
I have nothing to say here, since I've never played. But I felt I should be thorough.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: I do love that the game has housing, but coming from other MMOs like RIFT and WildStar, it can’t help but fail to live up to the industry standard. I am not a fan of the clumsy hooks and placement interface that makes sorting through one’s decor far more tedious than it should be.
I have a feeling the hooks we see in the player housing interface in SWTOR are the same hooks the devs have for the general world, just based on the placement of various items in the larger environment. I like that the Stronghold has some useful items; unlike Rift, which has very pretty—but useless—housing. WildStar seems to have some interesting utility in the housing system, but I pretty much stalled on all my characters after hitting 14 and getting a house. Where Syp is annoyed by SWTOR's placement interface (which is admittedly clumsy), at least the decorations I decline to use are not cluttering my inventory somewhere (but still counting for conquest points, which. . . I have no idea). I just wish all the companions for all my characters were there, and not just holograms.

Girasol the Rogue
RIFT: Such ugly armor. Such ugly. It makes the awesome wardrobe system weep in frustration. What is up with the armor artists in this game? Why must we all look like first drafts of a ninth grader’s fantasy portfolio?
Agreed. Rift's costume design aesthetic leaves a lot to be desired, but I did find a cool outfit in the cash shop for my rogue when Scooter and I returned briefly last fall. Rift's biggest drawback is its generic-ness. Not to mention they've changed the story in such a way that we had no idea what was going on in the world as far as the original threat from the Regulos the Dragon (a fan of big government), which seemed to have dissipated in our absence. Telara just doesn't hold my interest.

Neverwinter: Cryptic not only failed to live up to the insanely high standard it set for character creation in City of Heroes, but failed to live up to the industry medium in this respect. I am stunned how hard it is to make good or interesting-looking characters in this game with the sub-par customization options on display. Do they even know how hair looks?
Another game that just doesn't hold my interest. At least I managed to make a cute Half-Orc with pigtails. (Sorry, no pics handy.)
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Speeder Keys: Prinawe Junction


Thanks to my good friend, Galactrix, I am sitting on two Cantina codes for the Prinawe Junction. Since the number of times these can be shared is much greater than for the Congregates, I am just going to post them:


To redeem them, simply log onto www.swtor.com, then click one of the above links, or copy and paste into your browser address bar. You will also be given a new code to share with 50 of your closest SWTOR-playing friends. Then the next time you log onto the game client itself, the speeder and an extra surprise will be wating in your mail. Every character on the account will get one. Good luck, and if you are unable to redeem the code, let me know so I can edit the post.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Value of Entertainment

After watching a vlog by Jasyla over at Cannot be Tamed, Belghast then posted about the perceived value for games. He would be willing to throw $5 at a game that only takes four hours to complete, but certainly not $60 or even $30. I wonder what he would say to $16 for a four-hour experience.

This is not an endorsement of any Adam Sandler movie.
If the average price of a movie ticket (in North America) is about $8 (which happens to be about what I pay where I live), and the movies I usually watch are about two hours in length, I can use that as a yardstick for assessing the value per hour of a video game. We could go with hours per dollar spent on cable TV or internet; but there, I'm paying for access to far more than I could possibly view, and my TV watching time varies widely from month to month. Not to mention, Scooter and I have "cut the cord" on regular cable TV, and our internet access enables the MMOs we typically play along with services like Hulu and Netflix. Of course, when Scooter and I go to the movies, we almost always have a meal that costs more than the movie tickets. But that is optional, really.

So having said all that, to be a decent value to me, a $60 game would have to give me at least 15 hours worth of entertainment. Otherwise, I should just go to the movies or watch Netflix. Bring a subscription into the mix, and the benchmark for value increases, at least in the short term. Typically, games charge subscribers $15 per month; in which case, the game has to provide an additional four hours of entertainment each month on top of the 15 "base" hours from a $60 box price. Granted, many (most?) MMOs over the past decade have shipped with the basic box around $45 (11.25 hours); and any special/collector's edition would have to provide more value through swag.

Now, Dear Reader, if you were to look at my /played time on MMOs, you may guess that I have more than gotten movie-level entertainment value out of each one, and I certainly would not disagree. However, not every second spent in a game is entertainment, as you well know. I don't consider inventory management to be entertaining, but it's necessary in most RPGs. The other night, Scooter and I spent a good hour "window shopping" for speeders on the Galactic Trade Network (SWTOR's "Auction House"—which I just realized has no actual auction function. Hmm. . .). Window shopping can be interesting, but I'm not sure I would call it entertainment. All the time spent on chores I have to do in RPGs may make them appear to be a higher value if I am only looking at my Raptr stats, but they make it really hard to determine what the actual entertainment value per hour is.

What do you consider to be a reasonable value (cost per hour) for a game? Do you like to pay full price or more to be among the first to play, or do you wait to pick it up at discount prices?
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Summoning Demons


Last year, I posted a short film by Hugh Hancock, sometime curator of The MMO Melting Pot blog, called "Death Knight Love Story." This, I hope, has been mutually beneficial, because that post consistently stays in my top five every month, garnering well over fifteen thousand separate pageviews since I first published it. The man who coined the term "machinima" has a new film coming out 13 July, this time using live action. "HOWTO: Demon Summoning" looks to be a fun romp into a mess of Lovecraftian proportions.

You can support Hugh's new venture, not by donating cash (though I'm sure he wouldn't mind that), but simply by helping publicize the film's release. Go to Thunderclap and schedule a post on social media to promote the premier. Personally, I can't wait till Monday.


























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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.