Our friend Zach Best died on Monday. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last February and entered hospice care earlier this year. He was 36 years old. He is survived by a wife and two daughters. “In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Child’s Play.”
We went to Walt Disney World last week. Disney has in many ways achieved what Guild Wars 2 was (is?) trying to with zoos.
By that, I mean that you have a mix of fixed, sporadic, and mobile attractions. The theme park elements are always there and always running. The Haunted Mansion has doombuggies moving continuously on a treadmill, and Mickey Mouse will always be posing for pictures. Around that, there are scheduled shows that happen periodically, along with parades (by metaphor: world raid bosses on a rare spawn). There are both large shows with highly visible scheduling and smaller shows that look more like something is just happening, a 5-10 minute affair staged outside. An example of the former is the Hall of Presidents; an example of the latter is the newer “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History.” which happens outside less frequently and with more variation. Animal Kingdom and Epcot always have some sort of performer somewhere in the “streets.” And then there are wandering characters and performers. For example, my wife was thrilled to get her picture with a suffragette on Main Street USA, and we caught Mary Poppins posing for pictures between events. Live interaction with guests, not just fixed shows!
Some of these even have the same Guild Wars 2 effect whereby one event moves to another. Before the “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” show, the characters parade from Star Wars Launch Bay; the end of the “March of the First Order” show is the march of the First Order through Hollywood Studios.
This is something I really liked about Guild Wars 2 and a reason I have trouble going back to any MMOs. It may be a thin veneer of “world” in your game world, but there is a sense of place, that there is a living world around (even if it is all on a schedule). Things are going on, there are variations instead of the exact same thing every time, and there is a sense that you might see something new this time. Over time, you will likely see all the variations, or maybe they will introduce new ones faster than you can exhaust them (unlikely in an MMO, likely in a real theme park unless you have an annual pass).
- Contrary to the linked post at the top, I find Animal Kingdom to be more zoo-like than the local zoo. There is not the same experience for every guest, and the animals are not (all? mostly?) in small enclosures. This is best seen on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, which covers an area larger than the Magic Kingdom. Within a day, you probably get a similar experience between tours, as the drivers know where the animals are out that day. But we have been to the park before, and the experience differed this time.
- If you have the chance, the limited attendance evening events at the Magic Kingdom are a better buy than the normal ticket. We went to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and even if you have no interest in the Halloween content at all, the chance to ride the most popular rides with a 5-20 minute wait (instead of up to an hour) is great. “Disney After Hours” looks like a similar experience, with more rides open and no special content. I expect that the “zoo” aspect I just talked about is not live during that, but it is extra big for Halloween.
- Hollywood Studios has the weakest reputation, especially while building its new areas, but I found it one of the better parks for having a lot of zoo, along with live content (but very weak on normal theme park content). The Frozen singalong was surprisingly great. Limited, but everything was better than I remembered from a few years ago.
- I am still interested in working at Disney Parks and Resorts, if we have any readers with whom I could network. I do project management, strategic planning, and technical development. It’s hard to get your foot in the door.
The cash shop rewards are pretty nice.
I go to Gen Con because my 12-year-old self would have wanted me to.
Pathfinder Adventures is the electronic version of the card game version of Paizo’s version of D&D.
I feel like I should be able to work a couple more “version of”s in there, but it could be a stretch.
If you occasionally get a Humble Bundle, now is probably the time to get one. Just looking at the “pay what you want” level, it includes:
- Psychonauts, which is good.
- 40 treasure chests for Pathfinder Adventures
- 500 coins for the Amazon appstore
- content for 4 MMOs
And then more. And then more MMO and MOBA content in the paid levels, and more games, and some subscriptions and betas. And then there are some more of those games and betas at the “pay what you want” level. And some other stuff.
Ethic worked out what has been going wrong with comments recently. If you tried to say something before and remember what it is, please, go forth and make your words known.
Long-time readers know that I am an immoderate person. I binge, I commit fully. I mentioned that I was reading Worm; I went through 1,680,000 words in 17 days. So I don’t drink and I am careful about getting invested in things. I am coming down from that Worm binge and am once again (still?) wanting games I could play casually even if I likely won’t. The metaphor still holds: sometimes you won’t commit to watching a 90 minute movie but you will watch 5 TV episodes in a row.
One thing I liked about the MMO genre was the ability to make small units of progress. Hop in, get a few easy objectives in 15-30 minutes, go on to whatever else you’re doing. Beyond coasting, it combines the casual game spirit of low investment play with the long term perspective that these little units add up. There are plenty of single-player games that are similar, which are mostly what I am seeking in my Steam library as I have given up on MMOs.
There are lots of games that I want to play but do not feel up to committing the time necessary to give them a fair shot. I have some 4Xs but it is not quite satisfying to pop into one of those for a few turns. I have Banished installed but my only visit to its tutorial reminded me of The Witcher 2, not in difficulty but in that its interface turned me off so much that by the time I can get over that feeling I also forget what I was supposed to have learned. Before I completed the first tutorial it seemed that building a basic settlement involved going 2 or 3 levels deep in each of several menus for each of several steps, requiring roughly a paragraph of explanation each. Banished has a rather good (if harsh) reputation, but I don’t know if I’m up to that kind of commitment just to learn the interface.
My current need is gaming in bite-sized increments with intuitive gameplay. Being me, I am likely to leap into and consume something in mass volume, but I need that intuitive gameplay to get me past the commitment conundrum of needing to invest in learning a game before I am able to enjoy it. I want the game to meet me at least half way in terms of interface, when many of our gamer games seem to pride themselves on requiring large time investments to learn their mechanics.
I am looking for a storage solution for my gaming accessories, mostly coins but also things like dice and meeples. I am considering tackle boxes and such, although I would need something with large enough spaces to hold small stacks of coins. I want compartments so I do not need to sift through things every time I use them.
Any recommendations or storage solutions you are using?