Saturday, December 31, 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

Reviewed: Santorini: New York

 Santorini: New York is another game from the pile of new stuff this holiday season.  As avid fans of the original we were very excited to give this one a try.  Read on for some more thoughts.

 The first aspect of this updated version that catches your eye are the skyscrapers: giant golden buildings!  These beefy golden components not only look awesome but they play a key role in the game and we were excited to get to place them on the board!

 Gone from the original is the perfectly square map and in it's place is a New York shaped map.  This fits the theme but I feel like it gives up a bit of the "chess like" feeling of the original.  There are nooks on the board that a player will get stuck on (or at least did in our first couple of games).

 Also added to this version as a required feature are role cards that are played each turn that require/allow a player to take a unique action.  The twist is that if the card says "must" the player "must" take the action or lose a worker.  Simple to start but later in games this can be a real problem if, for example, you only have Subway Operators left and there is no free spaces to move to... goodbye worker (of which you only get two!).  

 The roles add some variety to the game and unlike the original where the cards were optional rules they are a core part of New York.  This makes the game a little harder to teach to anyone that has never played Santorini but for our family who are Santorini veterans it took no time to pick up.

Grrrrr... Statue of Liberty!!!!
 One annoying mechanic in New York is the Statue of Liberty.  The player that plays the highest numbered card that turn gets the statue.  You MUST have the statue in order to take a winning move.  If you can take a winning move (of which there are multiple in this version of the game) but don't have the statue you can't win.  I don't feel this really works and in our experience elongated games and punished players who were unlucky in the cards they were dealt.

 In summary the game is fun, but would not be one I recommend someone get if they don't have the original.  The original is superior; mostly for the "no god/role cards: version that is easy to teach/hard to master.  With that said, if you own the original and enjoy it, then New York is worth getting as it kicks it up a notch. 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Reviewed: Planted: A Game of Nature & Nurture

 Planted: A Game of Nature & Nurture was another board game in the pile of new games for the family this holiday season.  Here are some thoughts.

 In Planted players are raising house plants and working to keep them fed and watered so they grow up and score lots of points. Throw in some decorations (pots, shelves, hanging baskets, etc) for bonus points.  The game is played over four rounds in which players select a card before passing the remaining cards left or right similar to Sushi Go.

 Our family really enjoyed the game. It is light weight and plays quickly (~30 minutes in our experience).  It is easy to learn but requires some skill in planning out what you want  to focus on each turn.  

 Only persistent cards like tools carry over between rounds so each turn is mostly self contained.  This can frustrating if the cards dealt that round don't support what you are working for with your plants, but there is a catch all mechanic where unspent resources at the end of the round can be turned into extra victory points through a mechanic known as propagation.  This was very useful in the early rounds when I didn't have many plants and thus wound up with more resources than I could use and when victory scoring came it was the difference that put me over the top!

 The artwork and components are top notch.  We especially loved the water tokens.  The plants featured are all real and we found a few of our own houseplants dwelling in the mix.  "Hey is this the plant we gave grandma?" is the quote of the night; thats how good the artwork is of the plants.

 Over all a big thumbs up for Planted.  Anyone looking for a light weight family game this is it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Reviewed: USPS The Great American Mail Race Board Game

 USPS The Great American Mail Race Board Game was gifted to our family this holiday season and we've had a chance to sit down and play a couple games.  Here are my thoughts on the game.

 The first thing I noticed about the game were the components.  Mail trucks, an eye pleasing board, package/letter/postcard cards, and best of all: the postage slips and stamp!

 To fast forward to some final thoughts; the components make the game.  The game itself is simple and after a few plays the strategy is limited.  But the satisfaction from stamping your slip when you complete a delivery?  It feels awesome.  Every. Single. Time.

 Components aside the game itself is easy to understand and teach.  It plays quickly (~30m now that we know what we are doing) which makes this a great holiday game to play with family.  We are looking forward to playing with my brother-in-law who is a true blue USPS mailman but doesn't play games; that is approachable the game is.

 The game play is straight forward and comparable to Ticket to Ride.  You get letters/packages that need to go places and you can draw cards that let you move across the board to get them to those places.  Postcards are on the board and once passed they are gained by the player.  The board is split into different regions and delivering packages from/to different regions gains additional points.

 Best of all as players complete the deliveries and actions on the board they get to stamp their little postal slip and that is so satisfying it has brought my family back to the table multiple times.  I personally love the stamp!

 There is a bit of player on player competition as well in the game.  If you are passing another mail carrier you can either take one of their deliveries or give them one of yours.  Have a long haul package destined for Alaska?  Drop it on another carrier!  Have the travel cards to grab a package from another player and delivery it?  Then sneak in for the steal.  The only downside is newer players will get picked on by experienced players, but it is one of the most fun aspects of the game. Without "assisting another mailman" this game would be far too basic.

 My biggest complaint about the game is that there is not variable rewards as far as distance for a delivery.  A delivery that requires you to go from coast to coast is worth the same as one you can complete in the same turn.  This is OK if you have the stronger travel cards such as planes or trains, but if you don't... well you either have to swap mail with other players and try to stick them with the stinker package or you need to spend your turns trucking it out to its destination; either way its the same reward.

 Another nitpick I have is that the next letter/parcel/postcard that will replace a delivered one is visible to all players.  This is too much information for players to plan moves.  Having the "next up" be hidden somehow instead of face up would add some much needed randomness to the game.  With that said the cards being face up does allow a bit of skill in chaining deliveries together.

 My last comment will be on the rules.  They are well laid out for the basic game but they offer nothing for the scenarios or questions that pop up regularly.  For example: what does "passing through" really mean?  If I stop on a spot but don't end my turn there is that passing through?  Or is passing through just when I move through it?  Does the hot air balloon count as passing through or not because it says "go over"?  What happens if a postcard appears on the spot I am already at?  Do I just get it?  Questions I am not alone in asking as evidenced by Board Game Geek's rules sub-forum for the game.

 Over all the game is a gem and far too good considering it is literally licensed by USPS.  Have you played it?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment and I'll assist you with delivering it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Monitoring our 13 year old's game time and software to limit time spent on his computer

 As my oldest has hit the teen years (13!!!!) we've needed to better manage his electronics time.  After all we cannot have him becoming a real gamer like his old man... at least not until it's on his own dime and time.  So I've been on the look for technical options that offer management over the home network and scheduling aspects whereby we can let him have his space but have a say in when he can "game on".

 What I ended up with and what we are trialing right now is the Time Boss Pro software.  This software

Example schedule from Time Boss website.

allows you to set a schedule per user on up to three PCs on the home network.  It also has features to monitor further with event logs and such, but that's over the top for our use case as we engage with our son on what he is doing, who he is talking to and so I turn it off.  

 I really keyed in on the scheduling aspect of the software.

 In the software I can set time per day and total time per week.  I can do that whether on his gaming laptop ("his" aka the one he took over from dad now that I don't travel much) or from my main home computer.  There is a clear visual display on his end of time remaining and a built in warning system.  There is also the ability to get and give bonus time.

 Some parents may say this is overboard and "helicopter parent-ish", but I'd disagree.  One of our key jobs as parents is to prepare our children for the real world.  Regulating and managing your time and using tools to do so is a key to success as an adult.  Kids also need to learn and a tool like this helps them learn what, for example, "an hour" of actual gaming is. 

 Thinking everything can be solved through "just talking to your kid" is fine, but you cannot always be there to talk to your kid.  And as they get older the ability for them to have their own space is critical (and heck as parents we need our time apart).  Tools like this help build that trust from a distance.  Note: it still critical to talk with your kid about what they did, who they are talking to, and all that good parenting jazz.  Otherwise how else are you going to stay hip to the Minecraft lingo?

 Long term the goal is to get our oldest to a point of self management with no tools, but until then I will keep working on technical solutions on top of talking/teaching about healthy habits.  That may even require me to be a little more conscious about my own gaming/electronic habits so I can lead by example. Quick don't let my wife see this post.

Monday, December 26, 2022

We gave our 13 year old a phone for Christmas

 We gave our 13 year old a phone for Christmas.  We went with the Pinwheel phone for the parent portal and controls.  It is an extra cost but worth it for peace of mind.  No gaming on this phone though (mobile gaming is terribad anyways).

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Sunday 12/25/2022 Post (Merry freaking Christmas)

Merry freaking Christmas folks! 

The Green Bay Packers play off chances are looking:


Defense in the first half... meh.
Defense in the second half... oh yeah.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Holidays from the Battlefield team!

 Saw this and figured I'd share and maybe someone can explain to me the context for the penguin?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

New World COMMUNITY QUESTION: What do you want to see happen with the Territory Game?

 First, watch the embedded video from the New World developers on the territory influence system.  Then read on for my thoughts and my answer to the question posted to the community.

The video covered

  • Leaderboards and how they will track influence related data points
  • They talk about timing windows for pushing influence to compress the action for attackers and defenders
  • They are in early (EARLY was stressed) concept phase of control point activities for influence pushing

 The changes mentioned between timing windows and control point activities are steps in the right direction, but they are small changes on top of a system that is fundamentally not fun.  The missions are boring run here and then run back.  It is too easy for one side to out zerg the other sides.  Once a player dies they are worthless for PvP experience for a good bit so it gets really annoying having to kill someone over and over and over and over and over and over and over and what was I talking about again?

 Oh right! The territory push via PvP missions is crap. Which brings us to the community question: What do you want to see happen with the Territory Game? 

 First and foremost this system has to become more about the faction and not just the individual company.  No offense but my faction's companies are equally as likely to screw me on taxes as any other faction so why do I care... at all.. about the system?  The Territory Game needs to be more about the broader faction than single companies.

 We also JUST started getting way from super companies with shell companies owning the entire map.  Even with the changes there is still examples of large companies still owning more than makes sense.  These large companies already organized and plan territory pushes so they are really setting "timing windows" already.  Official timing windows just means they can take a breather until the actual window and be even more prepared for it.

 And this goes right back to point number one: the territory game is for the elite WAR gang.  So the answer to the question, in my view, STOP MAKING THE TERRITORY GAME ABOUT ONE GOSH DARN COMPANY!  Make the territory game relevant faction-wide!

 A few ideas (outside of getting rid of the idea of companies owning towns since that is not on the menu):

  • Give all faction members a clearer reward and benefit for a territory being owned by that faction (tax break, access to a unique crafting station, free fast travel, etc). 
  • Add aspects to territory influence that are not tied to combat and boring missions; involve the crafters and gatherers.  With more wide reaching rewards for the faction this gets more players involved.
  • Update the taverns to be full of cool stuff for the controlling faction; stop in to get unique food and music related buffs.
  • Instead of the repeatable faction quests; just give every player in the faction a set of task-like quests to complete when the influence window opens.  Then let players share these quests with other faction members so they can be completed. Once the window closes the quests go away.  The key is faction members get them automatically so they know there is something to go do.  Some examples:
    • Gather 10,000 X resource that can only be gathered while PvP flagged in the zone and prevents fast travel.  The resource drops if you get killed and the defending faction can also turn it in.
    • Kill "named boss" while defending faction has "defend named boss" (boss would have to be unique to the territory game)
    • Capture points; goes with the boss suggestion
  • Remove companies from owning towns (sorry couldn't resist); let home owners elect governors

How would you answer the community question?  Leave a comment and tell me.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Fixed: Battlefield 2042 Matchmaking Failed

 With the most recent Battlefield 2042 update players have been getting a Matchmaking Failed error.  I started getting it myself and figured out a workaround (which was also confirmed by others using similar methods).

The error: 

Matchmaking Failed
Error Code: 3:2907J:2903J P:84955732

The fix: 

 Queue up for co-op solo, cancel, and then rejoin the mode you were trying to join and you will not get the error.

 Quote from the Reddit post with their steps "If you get the matchmaking error, search for a game of coop/solo and wait for the countdown to start. Cancel the lobby and then try online again."

 Hope this helps!  It has worked for me every time.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Farmable Heavy Armor Ward Sets in New World

 Credit to the Reddit post embedded below outlining some farmable +Ward heavy armor sets in New World.  Enjoy!

Copies of the pictures from the post:

Saturday, December 17, 2022

New World: A different option than changing gems between mutations

 Caught this video from BDLG on a different approach to mutations in New World that doesn't require you to swap out gems on all armor when the mutations rotate.  This approach saves thousands of gold and expedites swapping resistances (basically now just one click).  Watch the video or read below for the basics of the approach.  Hope you enjoy the tip!

 The basics of the approach:

  • Cut Pristine Opal gems on all armor slots (increases all elemental resistances)
  • Amulet with specific protection (nature, fire, etc) + a gem that matches that protection (amber for nature)
    • In the video there is the example of Eyes in the Abyss named amulet which has Nature Protection and then you slot an amber gem; total nature protection is now ~27-28%.  

 For each mutation it is then as simple as swapping your amulet and leaving the opals in all the armor.  That is gold saved (not buying new gems each rotation) and time saved (not having to swap gems out).  Brilliant!

Note: another named amulet with protection mentioned in the video was Scorpion Stone.

Friday, December 16, 2022

New World Has A Problem

 New World has a problem.  This weekend is a free weekend for the game, but it doesn't seem anyone cares.  Based on player activity on and Steam charts, other than the highlighted "Free Weekend" note on Steam charts, you would not know anything was happening.  There is no discernible bump in player populations.  This was the case the last time a free weekend was tried.  Why is this the case?

 I think the main reason on the lack of interest for the free weekend was New World's massive success at launch when we saw a peak of 900,000+ concurrent players.  Most gamers that wanted to try the game bought it and tried it already.  As there is no subscription cost for the game players can return at any time "for free"; they don't need a free weekend.

 And what brings back players to New World?  New content.  Brimstone Sands and the fresh start servers were hockey stick charts for the game.  Players returned in droves, consumed the content, and now are settling back out to wherever the came from.  I am sure the next big content drop will see the same sort of bump and settle.  That is where resources need to focus; not free weekends.

 The question is what level of resources does the free weekend cost?  And what is the loss to other development efforts?  Nothing ever happens in the world of software development free of cost; there is always a trade off.  Only AGS can answer this so I don't want to dwell on it and I hope AGS is considering it when planning these events.

 At least with this free weekend they didn't create 70+ new servers (yes, they literally had 70+ dead servers for the last free event and none of the servers hit more than a small handful of players).  This free weekend players just play on the existing servers.

 What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

My Twitch 2022 Recap (lulz)

 Twitch has their 2022 recap posted.  You can check yours out here. Here is my recap:

 I lulz over this because I'll be honest I had no idea who my third most watched streamer, Mukluk, was until I looked him up.  My guess is I watched him for a Guild Wars 2 drop which goes into why I even have 500+ hours watched on Twitch: drops.  That is basically the only reason I am there outside of dropping off my Amazon Prime sub to a streamer in need.  And let's be honest; I am not watching actively 99% of the time... it's buried in a muted browser tab somewhere.

 Also lulz is BagginsTV.  Not that I don't like him or that he is not a good streamer, but the only reason I think I have hours watched there is because his stream is embedded and auto-plays on the New World Database website.

 Anyways, like my Reddit recap, 2022 was the year of New World!  

 What does your recap look like? Drop a comment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

How I Reorganized My Storage in New World

 It's not quite spring, but my New World storage couldn't wait!  I worked on and off the last few days to devise a way to best organize my storage in a way that would make it easier to find what I was looking for.  The main target was to make my various piles of gear more easily accessible to fit into different slots in my build.  Below I've outlined my thought process and where I've landed.

Some data points I had in mind as I worked through this:

  • There are 20 town storages available (three were added in Brimstone Sands)
  • There are 13 weapons
  • There are 3 armor weights (light/medium/heavy) with 5 pieces each; total of 15
  • There are 3 accessory slots (amulet/ring/earring)
  • You can own 3 houses
  • A tier 4 house can have 4x storage chests

We'll start with the towns where I have houses.  After paying up for cursed storage chests and paying for a Tier 4 house I was able to jam all crafting materials (except cooking) into my Windsward storage.  I then used a second town where I had  a Tier 1 house for all cooking supplies and some misc gathering/crafting gear.  My third house is Tier 3 and is the town I do my trading post flipping in so it is off limits for this exercise as its regularly maxed out on weight.

 This left me with 17 town storages to sort gear into.  At first I went with putting all light gloves into one storage and down the line with each armor slot/weight getting its own town (15 total).  This actually turned out to be a little annoying so I collapsed all light armor into one town, all medium into another, and all heavy into another.  Less searching over all for gear pieces and you can sort storage by weight of each item to neatly organize gloves by gloves, etc because the slot all have the same weight (note: this is not true of weapons; some rapiers were heavier than others as an example).

 Next that left me with the 13 weapons.  For this I just put one weapon in each of the first 13 storage available.  The exception is sword and shield which are together (not sure I like this since there are three sizes of shields but leaving it for now).  This makes it easy to peruse my collection of weapons I'll never use but am too afraid to salvage because I might think about using them.

 I then put all accessories into a single storage.  That was a mess as visually it is impossible to figure out an earring vs an amulet.  Then I mixed them with armor, but they get mixed together in the armor section.  So I ended up putting rings, earrings, and amulets each in their own storage opposite a weapon.  This worked out very well.

 I was left then with two empty storage units which is useful for making bulk transfers.  A note as well is I keep all consumables in my active inventory (potions, food, buffs) so that does not require a separate storage.  I use one town for miscellaneous storage for things like extra recipes and piles of fishing bait I own for some unkown reason.

 In the end here is what storage looks like:

Town Storage
Category 1Category 2
BrightwoodAll CookingCrafting/Gathering Gear
Brimstone SandsBlunderbussLight Armor
Cleave's PointBowMedium Armor
Cutlass KeysFirestaffHeavy Armor
Ebonscale ReachTrading Post
First LightHatchetAmulet
Last StandIce Gauntlet
Monarch's BluffLife Staff
MourningdaleSword and Shield
Restless ShoreVoid Gauntlet
Taberna MercatusWarhammer
Valor HoldExtra Recipes/SongsFishing Bait
Weaver's FenNOT USED
Wikala al-WahaNOT USED
WindswardAll Crafting


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

New Map Coming Dec 15th for Call of the Wild: The Angler


Call of the Wild: The Angler has a new reserve (map) releasing Dec 15th and it's FREE until Jan 5th.  

Trollsporet: A Gorgeous New Setting

The Norway Reserve, or Trollsporet as the locals call it, is 37 square miles (96 square kilometers) and features three distinct biomes: Nøkkensjøen, Huldraskogen, and Fossegrimfjorden. Full of opportunities for exploration, You’ll find idyllic villages, hidden paths to secret fishing spots, and astonishing views from the tops of its towering mountains. As a perk of the region, you’ll also get to enjoy the midnight sun and the Northern Lights as you explore the wilderness.

 Most importantly the new Reserve will feature 14 fish (13 new species and Northern Pike from the original map).  This is not the hundreds of species that can be found in other fishing games such as Russian Fishing 4, but its a step forward.  With that said some early comments based on the teaser trailer cast worry that the "new" species are just slightly modified versions of existing (for example: European Perch indistinguishable from Yellow Perch that exist on the current map).  I am hopeful there is some behavior and other changes that will separate the new species out.

 Also with the new map comes a bunch of open world quests and places to explore.  I am still not convinced this is a selling point for the game.  Before launch I thought it would be but having played a good bit of the first reserve, Golden Ridge, the open world aspects sort of fall flat.  They have zero hook into fishing and are very basic "find this thing".  I'd prefer the development effort going into the open world go into some form of progression system for fishing (perk, skill, don't care - something more than what is there today).

 I will give the new map a try on the 15th as it's been a bit since I went digital fishing.  Hope you enjoyed my cleverly hidden puns in the post.  Leave a comment if you found them.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Boring Final Fantasy 16 Trailer

 The Final Fantasy XVI (16) trailer has hit the web and I have some thoughts on it.  First go ahead and watch it and then read on for my commentary.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Friday, December 09, 2022

I was surprised by my Reddit Recap for 2022!

 Reddit has posted it's 2022 Recap for users and I wanted to share some of my cards.  It's funny and a bit freaky how much a site like Reddit gets to know about you simply be keeping track of what you do.

 The neatest part is the card they put together for you.  I cracked up at mine and my special +0 power.  Also surprised by my karma performance this year.  I had not realized I had gained so much! 

 So to recap:

  • In Top 1% of karma farmers earners
  • I live in the New World sub reddit
  • I like my memes (of course the entire Green Bay Packers season is a meme!)
  • Also 2022 a year for politics and world events

Go me!
And I was entertained!

tuck frump and puck futin


Thursday, December 08, 2022

An Issue With Skins

 I was thinking about skins in games and wanted to talk about one of the things that annoys me.

TF2 Silhouettes
 First I want to get nostalgic about Team Fortress 2.  One of the things that I felt the game got perfect (at least at launch, not sure about current state) was the visual feedback about what class a player was playing.  The heavy was very distinct compared to the scout who was distinct compared to the sniper/medic/etc.  Every class was visibly identifiable the moment you came across them unlike other FPS games of the time where it was very difficult to get a sense of your opponents capabilities at a glance.

 Fast forward to the modern age and the explosion of skins as a key revenue stream for online games and the one thing that annoys me about skins: skins obfuscate a characters role in the game.  For example I will use my current game of choice, New World, and how it uses skins.  

 Skins are available and can then be applied to any equipment slot for a player.  The problem is skins are not visually tied to armor weights so a heavy armor user can apply a skin that looks like light armor and vice versa a light armor user can dress up in heavy plate armor skins.  Most annoying is shield skins where players can use the skin for a small round shield while using a big ole' tower shield.  

 This means I lose out visually on clues about my opponent.  A character running around with a small round shield should be indicative of a light armor load.  If I jump in to attack them thinking that and end up hitting a wall because the player is actually a heavy armor tank with a tower shield (more damage reduction) it is a "feel bad" moment. And I will admit I've used to this my benefit by being that heavy tank with a round shield skin baiting in attackers thinking I was a light weight.

 Even though I've benefited from this skins situation it still annoys me.  Skins in games should not change the visual distinction needed for the game to give good feedback to the user.  In New World's case it is as simple as making skins require specific armor weight to apply (i.e. can't apply a round shield skin to a tower shield, can't apply a light armor skin to a heavy armor piece).

 So I plead with game developers: please don't sacrifice visual feedback to players during game play in the favor of giving more skins to players.  Please make skins as minimally impacting on playing the game as possible. 

 Thank you for listening to my rant.  Agree?  Disagree?  Leave some comments.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Cool Stuff in New World Update 1.8

 New World Update 1.8 has arrived and with it some cool stuff!  Full release notes here.

 First up is a return of the Winter Convergence festival.  Last year's festival was a resounding success; gleamite meteors shocking the MMORPG world and showing how open world content can surprise and delight players!  The meteors are back (along with the videos with "whoa this is cool" reactions).

 New this year with the festival is an open world boss; the Winter Warrior.  Similar to the Halloween event boss the Winter Warrior will appear in the open world and require a zerg of players to take down.  Initial reports are the fight is fun and has healers running for their lives.

 The update also brings a new mutated expedition that combines Starstone Barrows and Amrine.  It will be cool to revisit these two early game expeditions.  Most players likely gave Amrine a spin in their early teens of leveling but many have never stepped foot into Starstone Barrows as it is easy to leap frog leveling right past it.  Personally I've never done Starstone so looking forward to giving it a whirl.

 The most newsworthy part of the update is the shell company mitigation which will restrict how players can hop companies and how war rosters have to come together.  This should hopefully help reduce single companies, who were creating multiple shell companies, from dominating the map.  End goal is to get more players into war because more companies can participate.  This is a watch and see change, but on paper it makes sense to have the intended effect.

 I didn't get a chance to try the patch out yesterday, but will be jumping in today.  Are you out hunting meteor showers?  If so leave a comment!

 And oooohhh pretty!

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

New World Developers and the Community Face Off!

 Props to the New World development team for sitting down and taking some questions from the community in the most recent Forged in Aeternum.  They didn't shy away from the burning questions!  And they fleshed out more of what is coming next for the game.  First watch the video and then read on for my commentary.

 First I do really want to commend the team for sitting down and answering some of these questions; even taking a doozie up front at face value (i.e. reading it off as it was written).  The first questions of course were "what about PvPppppp!" and the lack of PvP focus on the road map which of course must mean the development team is all part time and something something.  Again, kudos for the team taking this on and discussing staffing of the teams (more developers than they had last year) and stating the obvious "we will deliver more than just the main items noted on the road map".

 The team also talked about a few PvP topics and specifically they are working on the territory influence process getting revamped.  Outpost Rush (OPR) was also discussed and the team shot down the idea of more maps coming to OPR.  The team doesn't want to divide the community between OPR maps, but the team does want to improve the current map so are looking to do just that with the cross-server OPR update that is on the road map. 

 I think this is the right approach for OPR and a new map would divide the players even further than they are today.  It is basically the same issue as having too many mutation levels for expeditions.  Fewer is better and in the case of OPR, as it requires 40 players, one is enough.  It is still my favorite game mode and I am no where near tired of the map.  The one thing I'd want is to fix the wide open spaces to give players more of a chance to navigate the map without getting musket sniped. Annnnnd that is my input on the community question that was posed (see screenshot)... basically keep OPR the great game mode it is with some improvements for traveling around.

 Also not on the roadmap but covered in the video was that expedition mutations will be
"squashed" from 10 levels into fewer.  They want to combine this with a grouping of changes for expeditions and mutations.

 Basically this was a polite "please be patient, we are doing a lot of good stuff" message in a community Q&A.  Ultimately the proof is in the pudding and aside from one minor item, Leaderboards, the team delivered above and beyond on the first year's roadmap.  Anyone looking at the past year of the game and saying the team is not delivering is just being  ignorant.  Keep up the great work AGS!

Monday, December 05, 2022

Ashes of Creation December Update in which we see boob armor

 The Ashes of Creation update for December is out and featured a look at the day/night cycle in the game and some group combat focused on the supporting cleric class.  Watch the update below and read on for my thoughts.

 The first thing I want to say is: combat didn't look great.  Janky movement, attacks that seem to take player characters all over the place, and way-over-the-top sound (he did mess with his sound settings in the video so not sure if that was part of it or not).  Effects do not fit the visual style of the rest of the world or what enemies are doing.  I had more hope after the combat update but many this was a step back from that point.

 The second thing I want to say is: everything not combat looked amazing.  The world. The constellation system.  The transition from day to night.  Everything else is so damn amazing.  It is so crazy to me how combat is where it is at but the rest of the game is where it is at.

 Specific to what was shown off about the cleric it was a bit hard to follow as I think UI elements were missing to help understand the concept of "convictions".  From the discussion it sounds like you build up convictions and that improves

 There was also discussion of synergy between party members with a stagger mechanic that unlocked another player to be able to stun the targets.  I replayed it a few times and not sure I could tell what stagger looked like or how you'd know they were staggered.  Hopefully they improve this aspect as combat systems with poor feedback to the player, or overly expect a player to know a bunch of nuances, never work.

 Another concern I had was that the group had to take a dedicated break to rest to regain mana.  It sounds like with different set ups and higher levels there is regen but the fact there is resting needed is a bit worrying.  In today's game market most games are moving as far away from downtime as possible.  I like that the team talked about items like campfires that could improve the rest experience.

 One really cool thing was how sometimes enemies pop up out of the ground.  There really was a sense of an ambush at one point.  This was very similar to the combat update where the rock monsters popped out of the environment.

 The only worry I have with the spawn system is they may be overusing the "pop out of the ground" spawning system.  I know Steven has said he wants to avoid the "enemies just standing around" model but if its just "enemies always pop out of the ground" model then is anything really different other than increased player frustration of not being able to trust the world around you?  For the record the only two spawn types we've seen in updates is pop out of the ground and standing around.

 One other thing I want to comment around combat is that I felt there was a lack of weight to the feeling of combat.  When the party was fighting larger enemies I did not get a sense that the enemy was, in this case, a large rock enemy.  It sort of stopped whenever a player was reached.  I expected more chaos similar to the cave troll scene from Lord of the Rings movies, but got more of a Steven Seagal karate demonstration.

 There were some UI elements; mainly health bars and a skills bar.  They looked clean and hit the MMO standard, so not much to say about them.

 Something I also caught during the video was the player mount staying around after dismounting.  I really like the idea of mounts persisting after dismount.  I hope this is something they are keeping.

 Steven talked about diminishing returns regarding status conditions (slow, root, silence, etc).  Glad to hear this as its an area that games miss on.  No player likes to repeatedly lose agency (i.e. control) and diminishing returns are a great way to ensure someone doesn't end up in the dreaded stunlock.  This is something New World has struggled with for example.  Again, good to know its being tackled out of the gate.

 Steven asked for feedback on if players wanted night to be complete darkness or whether they should reserve true dark for specific areas (like a cave encounter).  I have fond memories of true dark nights before I knew about screen brightness, but in the modern gaming era it is too easy to cheat real dark out of it's effect.  Thus my feedback is: no true dark, anywhere.

 Also Steven asked about luminosity during open world gameplay.  My feedback here is that the clearer it is the better.  I dislike dreary area after dreary area.  Let all areas be mostly clear during the daytime hours and minimize how often we have to deal with dreariness.  Basically let me have Hobbiton as much as possible!

 And I'll leave you with this last comment: boob armor.

 Did you catch the boob armor? Either way go ahead and leave a comment.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Sunday 12/4/2022 Post

 Say it with me: THE BEARS STILL SUCK

Slimmest of play off hopes still alive.

Woot! Supporting the team in Battlefield 2042!

 I had a great match this morning in Battlefield 2042 playing Irish stopping explosives and getting assists.  I may average just below 1:1 kill vs death, but I can support the team like a champ.  It is awesome that 2042 rewards support and reserves a billboard spot at the end of the match for the top assists. 

My first "Most Assists" award!

Look at all those explosives destroyed.. 83!

Game mode was Breakthrough on the Spearhead map.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Day 5: Battlefield 2042 Impressions (What does the future hold for Battlefield 2042?)

 I am going to wrap up my Battlefield 2042 impressions posts with a look at what's coming next since EA posted their "Battlefield Briefing – First Look at 2023" post.  I am going to stick with the game because I am enjoying it.  So much so that I bought the current battle pass.  Now that I am invested I am keenly interested in the future and whats next for the game.

 The biggest takeaway from the post is that there will be a Season 5 and Season 4 is primed for a launch in early 2023.  There was some concerns due to the poor launch of the game that EA would wrap it all up after season 4; essentially abandoning the game after only one short year.  Only season 5 was mentioned so that is not a commitment to more than a few months but it seems like it is the first light that the 2042 community has seen in a while.

 The next big item was the confirmation the class reintroduction will occur in update 3.2.

Update 3.2 will be a big one for us with the reintroduction of Classes to Battlefield 2042. All our existing Specialists will be placed within defined roles with a set of gadgets and equipment that best suit their purpose on the battlefield. 

 This is a massive change for the game and will bring it back to the model of all Battlefield games of the past.  While I wasn't playing prior to Season 3 my understanding is the original Specialist system was too far removed from what is expected of a Battlefield game and contributed to a lot of the "WTF" reviews of the original version.  Since launch its been a steady crawl back to the tried and true concept of Assault > Medic > Engineer > Recon.  I look forward to see what this shapes into.

 Also mentioned are new maps and map reworks.  I have mostly played Spearhead in my short stint so can't comment on the reworks.  Community sentiment seems to be that the team is focused on the right maps to rework and there is excitement around possible new maps.

 One area that was not mentioned was Battlefield Portal. I would have thought there would be a call out for whats next with Portal.  It seems like a cool concept and my few forays into I've found fun little game modes to give a try.  I wonder if its not a key feature at this point?  Not sure.

 If you are interested in giving Battlefield 2042 a try the game is free to play until Dec 5th.

 Have some thoughts about this First Look at 2023?  Share a comment.