It’s Amazing What Some People Do For Fun

So look, if you’ve read this blog before you might be forgiven for thinking that the following statement is somewhat redundant, but here we go: I think about videogames a lot.

What I’ve been getting more and more into recently is thinking about how they are constructed, and this has lead to a gradual realization that my skills as a programmer are way inferior to where I think they would need to be to produce a game on my own. My brain doesn’t really occupy the same headspace as those who write serious code for a living.

… but that does make thought experiments on basic aspects of game construction very informative and revealing to me. So, let me tell you about this dream I had!

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Darkest Deconstruction

There’s been a lot of good words said about Darkest Dungeon (by Red Hook Studios), a new dungeon-crawler-tactical-turn-based-gothic-horror-themed RPG in Early Access at the moment on Steam. I’m generally not a fan of early access games, but Darkest Dungeon is already (in my opinion) a pretty well polished product and has enough content to justify the £15 purchase for me. But this post isn’t a review, it’s more of a discussion of the way its mechanics make is so good. I like deconstructing these things, so I hope you do too.

Paranoia

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In Their Words: What A Mythic Disappointment

On Thursday night, I wrote a rather emotional post about how Mythic raiding has disappointed me and my guild, made my life measurably worse, and taken away something precious to me. I honestly didn’t expect anyone to take much notice.

Ho boy, was I in for a surprise!

I’ve received a huge number of responses from people all over the internet, most of whom are in a similar position to my guild. I’ve been completely bowled over by the passion and the bitter disappointment expressed in the responses I’ve seen is touching. Moreover, the points made have been eloquently expressed and hit points which I couldn’t express on my own. Here, then, is what some of my readers had to say about their experiences. I treasure each and every one of these posts.

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Posted in World of Warcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

EA Says!

I read a news report today that made me a little bit sick in my mouth, so I thought it would be fun to deconstruct it a bit and discuss why I think EA is one of the weirdest games companies out there.

In this case, that’s not a good thing.

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Squaring a Circle

Mythic raiding. Where do I even begin?

Back in Mists of Pandaria, I was part of a very tightly knit 10-player raiding guild called Harvest Moon. The guild stood for friendship and fun and raiding in a close atmosphere. The supportive nature of the guild produced really excellent players – we cleared Normal ToT and went on to kill 11/14 Heroic in SoO. It was a real pleasure to be a part of the team, even through various leadership changes and a name change to Omnishambles.

We’ve always been a guild who believed first and foremost that playing well and progressing far in Heroic raiding wasn’t mutually exclusive with a fun and casual atmosphere. We really showed that in Mists of Pandaria, and we were totally poised to carry that on into Warlords of Draenor. But then… Mythic. 20-player only. Oh damn.

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Take 5 – Time To Talk

This is one of those short but complicated posts that I want to write sometimes but never pull up the courage to. Time To Talk, and its associated hashtag (#timetotalk) on Twitter have given me a reason to, so here we go.

I’ve always struggled with my emotional and mental state. Over the course of five years or so, I’ve come to realise that I’ve a mixture of different symptoms of mental health problems. They range from rapid mood changes to inability to sleep properly or consistently, to sometimes extreme social awkwardness. I don’t understand other people, and I don’t understand my own brain.

Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me. I’ve got past the point of really wanting to. As far as I’m concerned, my problems are part of who I am now, and I don’t want a diagnosis because I feel like it would prevent me from accepting my own personality. I’ve learned to move on from the problems and get through to what matters – carrying on like it ain’t no thing.

That’s what I take solace in – my own agency to overcome what I feel are my own shortcomings. I’m by no means consistent in this area, but when I get it right it feels like I’m competent, and I can pretend for a while that I’m completely happy. I like that.

But you probably didn’t come here to listen to my specific problems. The important things that I’ve learned could help you too; talk to people you care about regarding how you feel. Try to find in yourself the chance to accept who you are. Look for positive things that you can do to feel like you’re in control.

Most importantly, never blame yourself for your own personality. It’s nobody’s fault, and you don’t have to apologise.

I have a lot of friends who suffer from mental health issues, too. Many of them admit far more freely to it than I do, and I try my hardest to support them where I can. Just being someone there to talk to when your friends need it can make a massive difference. My own friends have helped me in the same way. I’d like to thank them – you know who you are.

Finally, take 5 minutes to talk about mental health this week. It makes a huge difference.

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Depth vs. Complexity in Raiding

a.k.a “Why 10 Player Formats Are Better”

Many pages have been devoted by fans of Warcraft’s raiding scene to whether one raid format is harder than the others. This conversation started way back in the era of Wrath of the Lich King, when there genuinely was a built-in difficulty difference between smaller and larger raids. 25 player raids were slightly harder, and rewarded slightly better loot as a result. When we moved to Cataclysm (and, later, Mists of Pandaria), the difficulty levels of each raid size were explicitly stated to be equal. Naturally, not all players agreed and the “25man players are the only real raiders” attitude became both less easy to argue and more infuriating to hear.

Now, we’re in the age of Flexible raiding and 20-man (“one size fits nobody”) Mythic raiding. I sincerely and desparately miss 10-player raiding, and I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that it was better. Not “harder”, but better.

Cue the QQ in 3… 2… 1…

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Posted in Game Design, World of Warcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments