Hollow Kingdom is unique take on the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of the animals left behind. The cast of characters was fun and relatable, but they sometimes feels formulaic. I enjoyed the story, but it was predictable at moments and pacing of character development felt rushed in some places and glacially slow in others. Overall an enjoyable read and a worthy addition to any zombie aficionado.
Easy – Obsession with numbers happened to WoW.
I wrote a few years ago about the DPS Meters, Theorycrafting and what I thought their impact was on MMOs. I think it’s more true today than it was then. This isn’t to say that WoW doesn’t have a myriad of other problems because it does but I think this is a foundational issue with WoW. But I can’t help but think that Blizzard’s momentum of bad decisions might have actually started to overcome the community inertia that kept the game on top.
While the obsession with numbers started with players and DPS meters, it slowly infected the designers. Bit by bit, designers at Blizzard created a game no doubt looks perfect in a spreadsheet, but utterly lacks any soul. The obsession over bigger numbers and number balance and no class being preferred over another for any reason drained the soul of the game. Ancillary systems were stripped down or tossed aside entirely. The core of the model, the gear treadmill, was so brutalized by the blind zealotry to spreadsheet design as to make the gear immaterial.
Class & Ability Diversity
The option to play your class the way that you want has been cut out, replaced by a series of “fun,” but meaningless choices that don’t change the way you play your character in any significant fashion and can be changed at a moments notice so there’s no risk-reward for any decision. Blizzard stubbornly stamps it feet and declares these to be meaningful, fun choices while the opposite is true – there is no choice. I am reminded of the saying, “You can have any color you want! As long as it’s black.”
Unique play-styles and abilities have been systematically carved off because they provided too much of a numbers benefit to one class or another, or is too powerful against another class, or made a single encounter too easy. We are left with nondescript blobs of generic abilities as classes that are min-maxed by design but have no real identity of their own. Sure the aesthetics of a rogue and a monk are different, but the base is so much the same as to be interchangeable. Ele Shaman is basically a mage with nature themed spells and can be treated as such. Enh Shaman is a warrior with nature themed abilities instead of rage. You play one over the other not because there’s any great difference game-play, but because you like the pretty of one over the other.
Do you remember when crafting was at least kind of part of the game? It’s clear that it was never truly part of the core game-play as the item you created were often beyond useless. But for a while it was at least fun and engaging in it’s own red-headed stepchild kind of way. Now, it’s been gutted. Crafting had the potential through minor bonuses to have too much of an impact on the numbers and was effectively lobotomized as a result. It’s useless to the point of nearly being punishing for wanting to craft. 99% of the items you create you will destroy or vendor because no one wants them — not even you. But they are required for you to create to get up to the highest tier were can create 1-2 consumable items that quickly become required, and you’ll never craft anything else again.
The Artifact system was brutally ripped out of the game with almost no rationale other than anemic line of text if you happened to look to look to see why your class suddenly played very different. Instead they replaced it with the so-generic-you-don’t-even-care-about-it Heart of Azeroth. Like specs and class diversity before it, it replaced a system that was engaging and fun with one that left no meaningful choice and perfectly predictable progression of numbers.
The Gear Treadmill
It’s somewhat strange when you think about the fact that a game where gear is paramount that gear paradoxically also doesn’t matter. Gear has been so stripped of personality and utility to be utterly forgettable and immaterial to the game at large. Randomized stats are applied to random weapon models with nonsensical and completely lore-ignorant naming. Blizzard has arrived at the absurd place where they’ve devalued gear for the sake of the numbers it stacks.
One grain of sand. That is all that remains of my once vast empire.The Child-like Empress, The Neverending Story
One of my all-time favorite movies is The Neverending Story. The Nothing is one of the scariest villains ever. It was unknowable, utterly alien in its motives–like despair incarnate, the void. Towards the end of the movie, the Nothing had consumed nearly everything and all that was left was a single grain of sand.Continue reading “The Promise of MMOs”
Today in “legislators are comically out of touch with how the world woks”, State Legislators in Pennsylvania put forth a bill that would add a 10% tax to any video game that receives a M for Mature or AO – Adult only rating from the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board). The state would then take that money and put into the “Digital Protection for School Safety account”…because you know, protect the children. Unfortunately, text doesn’t let me express just how big my eye-roll at reading this was.Continue reading “Proposed PA legislation attempts to put ‘Sin tax’ on Video Games”
In yet another installment of extraordinary kids do extraordinary things but still have a fatal flaw because reasons, Jonathan Renshaw’s Dawn of Wonder creates a serviceable world and interesting characters that didn’t leave me disappointed, but also not excited to read the next installment.Continue reading “Book Review: Dawn of Wonder”
There’s no obvious executable payload in the attack but the attackers may be building a collection of websites and biding their time.
I stumbled across this podcast the other day, TrailBlazers, while I was doing research about a related topic. The episode, titled Jackpot, that popped up first for me was about gambling, in particular slot machine. I’ve actually written a fair amount about gambling in my series on lock-boxes so I was really interested in this particular episode and it didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend you give it a listen — I’ll cite a few quotes here, but the full piece is worth a listen.Continue reading “Video Games as Slot Machines”
I’ve attempted to write a blog post about the slaughter that happened over the weekend in Pittsburgh and how much it really shook me the core. The words to describe what I was feeling didn’t really resonate with me. Something about what I was trying to say just felt … off.Continue reading “Fear and Practice in 2018”
Social media is drowning in misinformation and ideological war that many don’t even know we are fighting, even as they wade into ideological battle after ideological battle. Groups manipulate and subvert systems on social media to amplify their ideas, giving them a credibility they haven’t earned and don’t actually represent the will of the people. Death threats are common. Say the wrong thing, or say the right thing and the wrong person sees it and suddenly you are the target what can only be described as terrorist attack to silence you.