[WoW] Freely Returned

I find it ironic that I am returning to World of Warcraft at the exact moment subscribers are apparently leaving in droves. I am also returning for free deciding to create a new priest in a new server rather than removing 10 years of dust from my priest of old.

Yes, a decade of dust. I bought World of Warcraft to tide me over for Guild Wars 1. That $15 was a lot back then, and so when I really was hitting the leveling wall I quit. A friend used my account for awhile so I have a few expansions. He quit with Pandaria.

I would say it took a pretty perfect node to get me back. I love Heroes of the Storm so am constantly seeing “advertisements” in that. I am bored in Guild Wars 2 with that expansion nowhere in sight. I just can’t bring myself to get back to The Secret World, where I dislike combat, or Lord of the Rings Online, for sentimental reasons of keeping my memories back in the good ol’ days rather than what appears to be a pale horse. And, I can play for free in World of Warcraft up to level 20.

My strongest memories were of Elwyn Forest; gliding through the treetops on the flight service. Then there was that haunting, perfect music. I picked up a new human priest on Ravenholdt (RPPvP), and away I went. What was new after a decade gone? Continue reading [WoW] Freely Returned

Town of Salem Team Balance

Still playing Town of Salem. I have switched to the Chaos – Any/All game because it is the only way to consistently see all the roles. The problem is that it really does mean any/all chaos, so the game might be randomly unwinnable for one team or another. Not technically unwinnable, but practically so.

If the town has less than half the population, the town loses. It is not technically impossible for the town to win, given good luck and/or incompetent opponents, but I have yet to see the town win with less than half the population. I have been in a game with only 3 people in the Town. Being mayor of a three-person town is just waiting to die. Other times, the town will get a stack of roles that cannot synergize or help find the Mafia, like 3 mediums and 3 transporters. A 2-person mafia is also likely to lose, but I have seen them pull it out occasionally. A game with 3 serial killers and/or arsonists is going to be rough for anyone except the neutrals.

The standard game uses a standard set of roles to better ensure a balanced game, but you lose out on variability and seeing all the game has to offer. You will never see about half the roles in the standard game. Chaos takes that to the other extreme. There needs to be a balance with variation but constraints on randomness. Maybe make some of these official?

: Zubon

[TT] Necessary Complexity?

I have an oft-stated fondness for elegant rules mechanics, which give rise to games that are easy to learn and have surprising depth. Checkers is more “simple” than elegant; chess is pretty elegant, because you know almost all the rules if you know how the pieces move. Settlers of Catan is elegant, a classic strategy game where most of the important information is contained in the little card that lists costs. Games that come with books of rules are rarely elegant.

The Awful Green Things from Outer Space is being re-released. In my youth, this seemed really awesome for its lack of elegance. Lots of little tokens! Different stats for the whole crew! Randomized weapon effects! Lines of sight and zones of control! Special rules for a dozen special circumstances! Extended rules for fighting outside the ship!

Basically, it is the sort of game that could work really well as a computer game, but for a tabletop game it is way more complicated than it is worth. As a young nerd, grasping that complexity was a game of its own, but I cannot recall ever getting anyone to play a full game with me. It just is not worth the time commitment to learn the rules to play maybe a few times and still need to check the rules every few minutes.

“More complicated than it is worth” does not mean “unnecessarily complicated.” I really do think all those details are important to the game. Not in the sense that you could not build a streamlined version, but rather that the developers made it for people like themselves, like that young nerd I was, for whom the complexity is a virtue. It is worth it for them, and I imagine they have a great time playing.

Once you have accepted that you want that much complexity, the game is surprisingly elegant in its retention and presentation of information. You can reference things like differing hit points and movement rates per unit and what each weapon does this game. And as the old joke would have it, the amazing thing is not whether the dog can do it well but that he can do it at all.

: Zubon

[GW2] Lion’s Arch: The Mnemonic Connection

This morning I had my coffee while doing my daily. As usual, I do my last 1-2 daily achievements in World vs. World. The exit portal from that eternal battle heads in to Lion’s Arch, where I usually log off now. It’s just a nice place to be. A place with history.

When I logged on – in Lion’s Arch – I had an NPC on a broomstick floating by. Other days I see Suriel the Blazing Light jogging through the city to train for her next fight. The city feels alive, but more important than activity, the city feels personable.

I know friends who have bought the gem store broomstick so when Mr. Broomstick goes floating by the pot stirs with a plethora of those memories. I have fought Suriel, and her presence brings up memories of the Queen’s Gauntlet and that whole celebration. There are memories and secrets tucked in to every corner of the city. Bhagpuss covers secrets quite well.

I think ArenaNet hit the perfect MMO city for those two reasons – memories and secrets, that is. Any MMO developer can create a fantastic city of activity and architecture. ArenaNet themselves created five more. Yet, unless there is a connection to be there, all the superficial beauty in the world is wasted. Continue reading [GW2] Lion’s Arch: The Mnemonic Connection

Rollers of the Realm

Pinball-RPG hybrid. You have a standard RPG story: start from humble beginnings, collect a motley crew of allies, realize your initial foe is part of a scheme to take over the world, save the realm. You have RPG character advancement, whereby you can level up, select new party members, and upgrade them with equipment. The twist is that each map is a pinball table. Instead of standard RPG combat, your characters are pinballs that bash your enemies down. Each character has a special ability and different stat mods, so the knight breaks things and has a shield, while the rogue does more damage from behind and has a dog multi-ball, while the ranger shoots arrows as he passes by enemies and has a bigger multiball of animal companions.

The campaign mode is a few hours of content, so not a lot. As pinball, it is as replayable as your enjoyment of pinball. The achievement checklist suggests the “real game” is playing for gold medals on the arena maps. Those seem to be variations on “complete this map quickly” and “get a high score on this map.” I have only briefly sampled that part of the game.

If you like virtual pinball and character advancement mechanics, this certainly seems to be for you. I enjoy it in small doses, so I’ll check out the arenas gradually.

: Zubon

Order of Operations

Minor virtue of Card Hunter: the end of round steps put “check victory squares for points” and “check if someone has won” before “discard excess cards.” It is a small thing, but it saves annoyance. It is a good practice to check “is this necessary” before “has this been done.”

: Zubon