Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Gaming Deals

Its that fateful day of the year where our wallets scream in terror: Black Friday.

The fall Steam sale is already in full swing.  Check it out here.  General Steam sale reminders:
1. Don't buy a game unless its on the daily sale.
2. On the last day of the sale buy any game you wanted that was not on the daily deal.
3. Buy early as sometimes the number of copies of a game on daily sale are limited!
4. You can use http://isthereanydeal.com/ to see if a game is on sale cheaper somewhere else with a copy that will activate on Steam.

Another great place for Black Friday game deals is Amazon, albeit not as organized as one would like.  The first place to start is on the limited-time (aka lightning) deals page here.  You can set the category at the right hand side to PC & Video Games or Toys & Games (for board games).  Note: these things sell out fast, sometimes within a matter of seconds.  Keep an eye on the sales coming up in the future so you know when to be there to try and snag a copy.  If you see "Join Waitlist" that means it was gobbled up, but if a clicker does not check out with the sales price the copy will go back in the pool.

For board/card gaming it is best to keep an eagle eye on Board Game Geek's Hot Deals forum.  Users post deals all day long to this forum.  On Black Friday it can move quick so keep an eye posted.  Keep in mind for board gaming, shipping costs will often kill any great deals.  Look for sites that have free shipping on orders of a certain size like Cool Stuff Inc that has free shipping for orders over $100.

For anyone venturing into the real world; may you go bravely and return safely.  Also don't punch any kids...


...unless its for the last one on the shelf.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Be Thankful

Have a great day everyone and be thankful.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Why am I playing Archeage?

The question dawned on me last night: why am I playing Archeage?  I wasn't playing Archeage at the time.  I was playing Guild Wars 2 and rolling through the beginner Sylvari area as a level 59 Necromancer and I was having more fun than at any moment in 35 levels of Archeage.  I dinged 60 in short order, completed some more hearts (Guild Wars 2's version of quests), and tagged along with a few players running completing dynamic events.

Like Guild Wars 2 (GW2), I got into Archeage for the promise of the player contested end game.  In GW2 it was the end game World vs World vs World (affectionately known as WuvWuv).  In Archeage it is the end game promise of open sea pirating, castle sieges, home ownership, and exceptional breast physics.  The journey to get to these end game states was not going to weigh on me.  I am an MMO veteran since the days of MUDs.  Grinding is an accepted activity.  There is not game without pain first.

The actual truth of the matter is: I am an MMO veteran.  I'm sick of the grind.  I'm tired of chasing the plus one shiny.  Here is the heart of Archeage's problem.  There is literally not a game while leveling.  The questing and leveling is generic.  Quest givers are almost always situated within a split second walk of the end target.  There is no encouragement to explore off the beaten path.  In contrast, GW2 rewards me for every single thing I do.  GW2 guides players to explore everywhere and do everything and now with their megaserver technology there is always other people to play with.

Archeage questing and leveling is quintessential grind.  It serves no purpose.  I am not "learning the game" as so often is used as a defense for the leveling grind.  I don't feel like I am building towards anything.  I've been using the same four or so attacks since I first started the game.  There is no incentive for me to change up how I attack the content.  Target, 1, 2, 3, 4.  Repeat until dead.  It is mind-numbing.

All of this boredom is occurring while I read about rifts, and open sea pirates, and castles getting claimed and all of the things that I don't get to do because I'm locked into immortal grinding hell with the next exclamation point.  Compare to Guild Wars 2; at any time I am a couple clicks away from a world boss or WvWvW match or a random walk away from engaging content.  Everything, again, rewards the player in GW2.  I really don't have any reason to want to skip to level 80.  I am actually "learning the game" as I level.  Archeage, as a freemium game, really needs an option to pay up to get to the end game instantly.  I have (had?) enough interest to pay up once and get to a point where I could start what interested me in the game: housing, pirating, breasts.

The irony of all this is that Archeage has huge issues with a burgeoning playerbase seeking more land, more boats, more everything that is not the leveling grind.  All of the questing areas could just as easily be turned into housing areas and land would hopefully open to the masses.  Give players the ability to put quest givers in their home.  There are so many other ways for Archeage to present itself so that all of the cool things that it offers are part of the game.

Why am I playing Archeage? I really don't know.  It's fun from the perspective of promise but the actual journey is one I am thinking I'd rather not take.  There are other games, like Guild Wars 2, which does the "free 2 play" moniker better justice by asking for my money up front and giving me a good experience on the back end.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Initial Impressions: Archeage

Whoa. Where did Archeage come from and why did I not know about it? It is has so many things I've wanted from an MMO. Housing? Check and its non-instanced. Territory control? Check. Open world PvP? Check. Boats? Check. Pirates? Check. Beautifully rendered breasts? Discount double check.

I've had a couple weeks now to play around with Archeage and I've determined two things: I'm going to like this game and I'm going to hate this game. It is that sort of love/hate relationship one has with their spouse. On one hand you love the idea of them, but on the other hand there are some details and quirks that are going to drive you crazy which in an odd roundabout way are what seal the deal.

The first item to be noticed is the ! and ?. I am still surprised to this day by this staple that seems to have been set by the behemoth World of Warcraft. Yet, it is intimately familiar to me at this point in my gaming life and I fell right into the rhythm of hopping from quest hub to quest hub. The quest design is basic: go here and kill X rats. In fact, Archeage’s base quests make any quest in the original World of Warcraft look like a masterpiece in comparison. Archeage quests are serviceable, but are uninspired. They serve best as a guide from area to area and as a medium to introduce some game mechanics. Past that the quests are painfully bland. Fortunately I’ve yet to find a quest that takes more than a matter of minutes to clear.

While doing quests it does not take long for a player to run face first into the labor point system of Archeage. Again, the love/hate relationship becomes apparent. In simplest terms the labor point system is a tertiary “mana pool” which allows players to complete actions. At first it seems like the system is limited to crafting and gathering as both require the use of labor points. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that labor points are a means for Archeage to artificially slow down players; specifically those not paying to play.

For a non-subscriber labor points are only regained while actively online. For subscribers, called patrons, labor points refresh while offline as well. Labor points are used for gathering, crafting, and most unfortunately for basic loot acquisition. Enemies drop coin purses which require labor points to open. As a non-subscriber I have hundreds of unopened coin purses. Labor points are a constant reminder that I’m not paying to play the game and are a limiting factor at every turn.

Yet, with all the negatives of the labor point system it is still conceptually brilliant. In fact, I fully applaud the system in regards to crafting. It makes gathering and crafting into a community project. No single player has the labor points to drive an entire industry. Time and number of participants is as important as actual components. Losses incurred on the open seas or in defeat can have actual weight. At a high level I cannot yet verify how the system plays out, but at face value it is promising and something I’d like to see developed further in the MMO sphere.

Another feature that new players run into fairly quickly is the housing system of Archeage. Throughout the world there are plots where players can place houses and gardens. An experienced MMO player will quickly realize these areas for what they are but I suspect newer players to MMO could wander through them without a clue in the world that what they are seeing is completely player driven. I don’t have many details on how the housing system works, but I do know it’s one of my goals playing. From chat channel spam about plots being sold to online arguments about hackers stealing plots it is evident that housing is serious business in Archeage.

Speaking of details; that is one of Archeage’s biggest weaknesses. The game provides the little in explanation in either pop ups or in game feedback systems. Yes, the basics are explained, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked something which cost me precious labor points which had I known would cost me labor points I’d never have clicked on.

There are other things that don’t make much sense. The Auction House is poorly explained and clearly subject to the abuse of bots that can outbid at the last moments of every auction. There are vendors for everything which makes me wonder how weakened the end game economy is in regards to player production. If everything I need can be purchased via a vendor and then grown in my own garden or a public garden somewhere then why would I ever look to the economy to provide me these items.

I’ll be honest that there is A LOT for me to learn about the game. I haven’t even touched PvP. My experience of boating is limited to a single quest. I don’t know why my mount has to gain experience. I see folks rolling around in tractors and at a level I know they are performing trade runs of some sort. I see flashes in the chat log that areas are going to war. I see senior artisans proclaiming their 45,000+ crafting skill level and looking for work. I watch Youtube videos of epic open seas warfare between pirates and non-pirates. I hear there are castle sieges and I see LFG broadcasts for folks going to war. I think I’m part of a certain faction but that’s not really clearly explained during character creation. I have randomly seen “reds” in towns I’ve been to which has resulted in a flood of whooping and hollering.

There appears to be a lot of things I will like in Archeage. I just need to get through the leveling and gearing up and determine how much I can enjoy as a free 2 play member of Archeage society. If I am driven to subscription in order to capitalize on many of the features I want to enjoy then the deal is likely broken. If through my moderate play time I can remain free 2 play then I am likely to stick around and drop a few dollars here and there on transactions.












Sunday, August 31, 2014

Long time, no post


Good question.  What do I do here?  It certainly isn't anything to do with posting bout playing video games anymore.  Of course I haven't played much of any video game lately.  My time in Guild Wars 2 is just flipping items on the trading post to amass gold I will never spend.  My Solforge time is just for the daily rewards.  I've given up playing Solforge due to the rate at which cards are released and the inability to efficiently collect them to keep pace with the trending deck archtypes.  Ditto that sentiment for Hearthstone.

So what would you say I do here?  I'd like to know if anyone is still awake out there in blogger land.
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