Camping Poundfist, is it worth it?

Any World of Warcraft player, given enough time will hit the level cap and while there is prestige to being among the first to get there with each new expansion, WoW players fill their time, and their “brag bags” with achievements, toys, mounts, and titles, in-game items that take time, effort, or skill to acquire. There’s always been rare mount drops in the game, be it the .7% Chance of getting the Deathcharger from Stratholme, mounts like the Spectral Griffin, or Core Hound that were only available for a short time, or mounts like the new and fabled Sunhide Gronnling which requires hours and sometimes days of camping.

For weeks I’ve been reading about Poundfist the lvl 96 Elite Rare that drops the Sunhide Gronnling, reading forum posts and blogs about people’s epic multi-day journey towards getting this large, obnoxious, and extremely rare mount Read more

Review: Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

Recently thanks to the Steam Winter Sale, I was able to pick up Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, a game that has the praises of one my favorite Steam contributors TotalBiscuit. My first thoughts upon starting the game were how visually stunning the world of Brothers really was, set initially in a picturesque town at the edge of the sea, you’re immediately plunged into a story of loss and heartbreak, of Two Brothers who have lost their mother and now face the reality of having to go on a grand adventure to save their father. This adventure will take the two brothers through several lands, from the sea side town, to mountainous peaks, frozen tundra, a battle ground of slain giants, and even more epic vistas along the way. You’ll find yourself flying on a griffin, moving giants, swinging across bridges, and maybe even carrying a sheep around!

The most remarkable part of this game is its unique control scheme, when booting into it from your Steam Client (should you choose to play this game on PC), you are immediately faced with a warning that this game is meant to be played with a controller. Once you plug your controller in, you’ll see that the control scheme is amazingly simple. Throughout the game you will control, as alluded to in the title, two brothers. You control each brother independently with one of the thumbsticks of your controller, that is to say that the left thumbstick and trigger control “big brother” with the right thumbstick controlling “little brother”. Read more

An open letter to game developers.

Dear Game Developers,

the complete lack of seeming to give a single flying duck whether your game works at launch is seriously making us gamers mad. While day 1 server slowness due to over taxed servers in multiplayer can be “somewhat” excused, these half broken games lately are a disgrace to the industry.

In the past all I had was an Xbox, my gripe, it’s consistently behaving as an unstable PC i.e. needing restarts frequently and being glitchy. Being in IT for a living I deal with technology issues all day, and the one thing that kept me from building a gaming PC is I didn’t want to deal with custom PC issues like upgrading drivers, incompatibility and failing parts. The allure of a console to me is the fact that you buy it and then it simply works. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case any more, glitchy games, controllers that need updates, and frequent reboots are the norm now.

While I appreciate the fact that you have the ability to correct your mistakes with hot-fixes thanks to modern technology. What disappoints me is not that you make those mistakes, it’s that you seem to make so very many. Consoles, in the past, have been a more stable platform due to them being a known quantity, developers don’t have to worry about being compatible with every video and sound card, or developing for different versions of an OS, a console is one very specific set of hardware and knowing that, glitches can be caught in QA, and while I’m sure many are, the glaring amount that are not is what troubles me. It points to a relaxation of standards and indeed a decline in quality across the board. With the recent launch issues of games like Halo & Destiny, DriveClub, Diablo III, and so many others as of late. Games are being pushed out to the public, whether through pressure from the studio to rush out a game or the necessity of hitting a deadline, they are arriving to us crippled.

Don’t get me wrong games today are incredible, massive experiences that pale in comparison to the 8-bit adventures of my childhood. I’m not forgetting the issues of consoles in the past, anyone that ever opened a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had their own special way of getting their cartridges to even turn on. While there were plenty of issues then, we weren’t being promised as much, and glitches all too often were fun things that you found and showed off to your friends. Today with expectations, dpi, budgets, and game cost all going up, the modern game has a lot riding on a good release. Servers crashing is something that any Call of Duty fan can relate to, the first few days of release are always plagued with issues, and while we grumble, it’s something that we’ve grown accustomed to. Entire features of a game being unavailable though, sometimes for weeks has gotten to be par for the course, it’s almost as though a AAA title working on release day is becoming more newsworthy than one being broken.

While games today are more impressive, larger, brighter, and much more complex than the games of my childhood, what would at this point impress me more is simply a game that works. Is that too much to ask?

Thank you for listening,
Gamers Everywhere.

Being a responsible standard bearer of the title of “gamer” or just follow Wheaton’s Law!

As exposed by the recent “Gamer Gate” gamers as a whole haven’t been the best stewards of goodwill in the recent past. While this has only recently come to the attention of the mainstream press, this is something that most gamers, if they’re being honest, has been a problem for quite some time. Gamers being marginalized, harassed and even threatened with real physical violence is not a new trend, and not something that is restricted to games alone, but a broader problem of our modern social media and internet-centric lifestyles. The internet gives people a layer of anonymity that seems to, in most cases, bring out the very worst in individuals. While the topic of Gamer Gate has been much discussed, and received a massive amount of attention, the biggest disappointment to this writer is that the gaming community as a whole didn’t stand up in response to this and make it a non-issue as soon as it was raised.

Trash talking and gaming seem to go hand in hand, as in non-couch based sporting, any time you pit two opponents against each other, we seem to enjoy the friendly act of “trashing” our opponent, their skill level, their decisions, and sometimes going to far and attacking the person themselves in the heat of the moment. I can remember even at a young age, staying up late into the night playing Tecmo Super Bowl near ceaselessly with a good friend. We would sit next to each other, small hands clasped around non-ergonomic NES controllers until our fingers blistered, playing game after game to face each other in the Super Bowl. There was a good amount of friendly jibes, barbs and jokes tossed about in youthful exuberance, but never did we become cross. It was known that there are lines that you don’t cross, gentlemanly rules of engagement that while present in my childhood seem to be all too absent in today’s gaming culture. As I grew I continued gaming, procuring each new console and with it entering into a new rivalry with a new friend on a new game. Tiger Woods PGA tour dominated my college years, and while the language may have grown more colorful with my age, there still seemed to be an air of civility in the discourse while playing. It was only when online gaming surfaced in my life that I experienced my mother being insulted, my sexuality being questioned and various other tirades that didn’t seem at all congruous with my idea of gaming. That break in having to be next to the guy or gal that you’re playing next to and knowing that a comment out of line would likely mean a swift punch on the arm from your buddy, seems to have been a drastic one, and not for the best.

All of what I’ve said above shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that’s gamed, or even set foot on the internet in since it’s inception. People just seem to grow two feet and become tougher and more judgmental when you put them behind a controller or a keyboard. What truly alarmed me about the entire Gamer Gate situation was the lack of outrage from the gaming community as a whole. While this isn’t an issue unique to us, this is an issue that could be solved by us. That “punch in the arm” from you buddy on the couch should be applied virtually by other gamers when they witness an online act of disrespect, harassment, or outright threats. All to often the same anonymity that causes people to lash out in uncharacteristic ways seems equally capable of causing good people to be silenced in the face of online bullying. As a community, a proud subset of the population, gamers as a whole should’ve stood up and declared that this was completely unacceptable, that we wouldn’t stand for it, and then gone out into Azeroth, Vice City, The Mushroom Kingdom, Thedas, or whatever virtual realm you prefer, and as the vibrant and storied heroes that we all enjoy playing as, stood up against the evil-doers.

It doesn’t surprise me that Gamer Gate happened, but I am disappointed that an entire community has allowed it to continue. Do a favor for the rest of the gaming community, the next time that you’re in a party chat, a raid group, or an in game chat, speak out against those that act as buffoons, while the online realm does offer anonymity it shouldn’t excuse inhumane treatment of others. We all enjoy a little friendly trash talk, and that’s okay, it’s part of life and part of gaming, but we all know when the line is crossed and it’s our duty as gamers to stand up and speak out against those that cross that line. Don’t be afraid to hand out a virtual “punch in the arm” next time you see someone behaving badly online, it’s not just something that you should do, it’s your responsibility as a gamer.

Carl Jung

How I built it and they didn’t come.

For years I’ve had the mantra “if you build it, they will come” echoing through my head thanks to the Hollywood classic, Field of Dreams. Today I built my field of dreams, I set up my own Twitch.tv Channel, after watching streamers there “raking in money” and followers galore. Heck there’s even one guy that plays Clash of Clans on his cell phone and has 3k+ people watching him. With this in mind I figured that at least a few people would come watch the hilarity that is me attempting to play World of Warcraft.

Well that wasn’t quite the case this evening, I was live streaming for nearly 4 hours, and I had a whopping 1 visitor to my channel, he stayed all of 2 minutes before he left. About this time you’re either laughing at me, or wondering what exactly this self deprecating blog post is really all about. Well I learned a valuable lesson today, while “if you build it they will come” may be a timeless adage from the silver screen, we like to read it as “if you build it, they will be clambering at the door to hand you fistfuls of money, and you will be an instant success”. For those of us that have spent years gaming we know this not be to be, there are very few individuals that can sit down and “ace” a game right out of the box. Sure you see Call of Duty fans immediately take to the newest iteration, but let’s be honest, CoD is the same game regurgitated each year with a different skin, if you’re good at Modern Warfare, chances are you were good at Ghosts.TwitchTV

Take for example the #AGDQ2015 stream over on www.humblebundle.com raising money and awareness for Cancer Prevention. These are guys that can run through a game in a fraction of the time it would take you or I, but what you don’t see in these epic speed runs is the hours and hours of prep work and sweat that have gone into those flawless runs.

I say all that to say, tonight I had 1 follower, by the end of the week if I have two I’ll be marching in the right direction, and that’s not all to bad for a Rambling Newb!

Why everyone should play World of Warcraft

WoW_Box_Art1I like many non-WoW players spent years on the outside looking in. Hearing stories of WoW addiction, picturing in my mind that overweight, unkempt, hygienically challenged WoW fan. While over the years I definitely realized the fallacy of that stereotype, meeting folks of all walks of life that enjoy and sing the praises of World of Warcraft. Now that I’ve taken the plunge into the “WoW-nerd” family and thought that I’d share some of my observations about the game as an “experience”.

I find myself at an interesting and unique position within my World of Warcraft progression. that being that I’ve advanced my character to lvl 77, I’m approaching Mists of Pandaria, and then will be moving into Warlords of Draenor, having moved through a massive amount of the world and the content put forth by previous expansions. I’ve literally moved through YEARS of content. I’ve put in nearly 7 days worth of play time in game, and one would think that I would have a good grasp on the world, the lore and the overarching story of the game.

Amazingly I don’t have much of an idea what’s going on in Azeroth. It’s so very easy to move through this game and simply mindlessly quest, to move through the expansions and worlds without truly experiencing them. For most quests it’s not even necessary to read the story, you can skim over it find the key words like “gather”, “murloks”, or “go to”, and from there determine what path you need to take and where you need to go without truly taking in the story and experiencing much of anything in the way of a narrative. The ability to gain a flying mount and completely remove interacting with the world, simply dropping in and out of quests and flying back to the quest giver without ever truly having the experience of being “in” the world, definitely makes one feel removed from the experience.

This play through has been about leveling, about getting my character up to 100 as quickly as I can so that I can play with my friends who’s tenure in the game is much longer than mine, and are already involved in the end game content. I find myself yearning to experience the depth and breath of the World of Warcraft experience more than I currently am. There’s so very much to experience within the massive world that Blizzard has created, so many characters with their own stories, and so many rich fleshed out story lines. At times it seems that there’s equally as much to miss within the game as there is to experience.

Players with a WoW tenure of years will take this for granted, they’ve know Thrall, Jana Proudmore, and many of the other characters, for some, most of their lives. The story has evolved organically over time and many have had the honor of being involved in that ever-expanding story. Players have seen the world grow, shape itself, and tear itself apart. As a newb simply rambling about this can be a daunting experience.

One revelation that I came to late last night running dungeons from Wrath of the Lich King, was that the beauty and longevity of WoW is not that there is one experience that the developers want you to have as in many games that I played in the past. The game is a living book, something that is meant to play the way that you want to, but within the confines of the developers storytelling. WoW with the entirety of the world and the additions to the game over the past years, the game is unlike anything that I’ve ever played. While there is a story-arch and something to follow, there’s also an inherent freedom in the game, the ability to play the game in the way that you’d like to, to explore and grind levels, role-play, pet battle, truly explore the rich lore of the world, or anything else that you can imagine.

While I was upset and frustrated at my play experience and the fact that I felt like I was missing out on things, I’m encouraged by the fact that they way that I’ve played this character is simply the way that I’ve played this character WoW will still be there when I hit the level cap, and level all of my raid gear, all I need to do is spin up an alt and play the game entirely different. That’s amazing feeling to have as a gamer, and finally after years of gaming I see what the big deal is with WoW and I would encourage anyone that considers themselves a “gamer”, not that you should experience it, but you need to experience.