Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wildstar: Can a Game Not Take Itself Seriously Enough

My Chua wandering around the opening Dominion area

Wildstar had a beta weekend that ended last Monday, 4/21.  I only decided to give it a try one day before it started and only played a few hours.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't be buying the game and I haven't changed my mind.  I didn't even play enough to share my impressions but I did make me think about whether it is possible for a game to not take itself seriously enough.

From the comic-style graphics to the official descriptions, I knew this was a game that didn't take itself too seriously and I took that as a positive.  However, when I started playing on the Dominion side (think Empire from Star Wars), I was almost immediately uncomfortable.

At the beginning of the game, they scan your brain to see if you have any rebellious thoughts.  Those that have rebellious thoughts (all NPCs) are separated out.  Very soon after that you have a set of quests where you perform experiments on these NPCs.

You are asked to pull a lever that starts the experiment on one set of these NPCs and something goes wrong, and they all die.  This happens four times with four different experiments and each time the person who gives you the quest has the attitude that it doesn't really matter because they were rebellious anyway.

I know I have killed 1000s of NPC in MMOs I have played.  I know they are trying to set up an over the top authoritarian side which does provide opportunities for humor.  I know that killing is the most common gameplay mechanism that is used in MMOs.  I know it was supposed to be funny.  It reminded me somewhat of some of the Gnome or Engineering quests or items that are very clever but always have a chance of failure, but I believe this crosses a line where humor isn't appropriate.

This is a game for adults and adults should be able to discern that this is meant to be funny.  However, I don't believe encouraging gratuitous violence is ever appropriate.  There were some World of Warcraft quests that had the same attitude (there is one where you are required to electrocute a captor that comes to mind).  However, this wasn't the first quest in the game and I don't think it was appropriate in World of Warcraft either.  After writing this post, I may try to play further into the game to see how the attitude changes beyond the starter area.

I know I could play on the Exile side (it reminds me a little of "Battlestar Galactica") where the initial set of quests has you save a woman's life.  And I know this is a game and not meant to be taken seriously.  I don't expect a game to mirror my sense of what is right and wrong.  However, I don't want to play games or watch shows that violate what I believe are generally our common sense of inappropriate behavior.  I haven't played the Grand Theft Auto games for this reason and I may not be playing Wildstar for the same reason.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Liebster Award (continued)

First I wanted to mention that the Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2014 is scheduled to begin on May 1st, but you can already get started either helping out or preparing for writing a new blog!
In my last post I recognized Yanet and Neri for kindly recognizing me with a Liebster award.  Now for your questions, finally (the first question is pretty much the same, so I only answered it once):
Neri's questions:
  1. What inspired you to start blogging? / What made you decide to start blogging?
    • Eloise (aka Ysharra) was a member of the only guild I have ever been in and at some point she posted on the guild forums about her no longer active blog.  I very much enjoyed reading it and it lead me to Syp's blog (this was about the time the Warhammer went live) and that led me to many other blogs.  At some point later, I decided I still wanted to play MMOs but didn't know how best to balance it with my family time and I thought writing a blog would help me do that and that there were probably others in a similar situation.  At the time I was thinking this, Syp announced the "Newbie Blogger Initiative" and I went ahead and made the commitment to write knowing it would only be about once a week.
  2. If you won a free ticket to Blizzcon, what panels would you be most excited about seeing?
    • I would be more interested in meeting some of the people who's blogs I read in person, but the 'What's next' panel would be exciting (though I guess there won't be one this year).
  3. How do you balance time in-game with your ‘RL’ commitments?
    • As mentioned above, the first way I do it is to write this blog!  More generally, I don't over-commit to participate in raids and I generally at most plan to have "One Night a Week" where I spend a significant amount playing.  I also bought a gaming laptop when my previous desktop stopped working and that has made it a lot easier to play while still being able to pay attention to my three daughters.
  4. If World of Warcraft shut down its servers tomorrow (Or you aren’t currently playing), what would you be playing instead?
    • I would probably wait for Wildstar to come out and then give that a try.
  5. Are there any bloggers out there who you aspire to be like? What is it about them that you love?
    • Ocho and Stubborn are probably the two I admire closest to my style, and I always find them thought provoking.  Syp and Godmother are both so conversational and entertaining in their posts that I am always glad when they come up on my feed.  Finally, I also look forward to Belghast's daily posts and admire his ability to write something I want to read every day.
  6. Are you brave enough to show us your gaming set up?
    • I technically have a set up in my 'computer room' but I haven't played in their in months.  Here is my current setup (I tried to take a picture, but since it is only a laptop, I thought I'd just use a commercial picture).
  7. At what age would you let your children (Real or hypothetical) start playing video games?
    • I have three children and I've let them play on tablets when they showed an interest.  I think you need to be careful about what children play and how much time they spend playing on electronics, but I don't think there is a starting age.
  8. You have a weekend of interruption free gaming ahead of you. What essential supplies do you stock up on to get you through it?
    • That is beyond my imagination right now!  I have starting using Clif and Kind bars as less sugary not messy snacks for work, so I'd like them for a gaming weekend as well.  By power of suggestion, I'm going to have one now!
  9. If you could pick any job in the gaming industry, what would it be?
    • I have been a programmer and designer of business software as my job, so I have periodically imagined myself doing that.  I am glad my current position is much less stressful that it is to be a game programmer or designer.
  10. Have you ever done any gaming cosplay?
    • No and I can't imagine myself doing it!  However, I do have a great amount of respect for the amazing cosplays I have seen.
  11. What is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen done in an MMO or multi-player game?
    • Our guild had a level 1 gnome rogue raid on Orgrimmar where we all danced on the bank roof until we were killed and then resurrected ourselves a few times.  It was a lot of fun.
Yanet's questions:

2. What advice do you have for those wanting to start a WoW/gaming blog?

  • Read other blogs, they are the best inspiration for writing.  Then write what interests you, not what you think others want to read.
3. What's the biggest noob mistake you recall making when you first started playing WoW?

  • I started playing in the beta almost 10 years ago so it's difficult to remember though I'm sure I made many.  I mostly played solo and I know when I tried to participate in dungeons with my guildmates at first I couldn't control my pet.

4. Besides WoW, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?

  • I enjoy walking my dogs and spending time enjoying books and other things with my three daughters.  When we get a chance, an evening dinner alone with my wife is a great treat these days.
5. What's your biggest pet peeve in and out of game?

  • People who think they know better and can tell others how to play/live.
6. How many years have you been playing MMOs and have you ever quit and why?

  • It is almost 10 years now with the WoW beta.  I have taken three breaks when either I thought I was spending too much time playing and/or that I wasn't playing enough to be worth the cost.
7. If you could meet any fictional game character who would it be and why?

  • Chromie has such a great personality that I think she'd be a lot of fun.
8. How do you go about picking your character's names?

  • Before I started playing MMOs, I came up with the idea of taking the unique consonants from my first and last name (KNTHR) and then adding vowels to form a character name.  I dropped the H because I thought the names were better without it and I've stuck with the games I have played since.
9. Of all your characters, who's your favorite and why?

  • My first WoW character, 'Kanter', a dwarf hunter, I imagined during the beta and came up with the professions based on what I thought his personality would be like.  I wanted to be able to have animals who would fight with me and once I adopted my bear whom I named 'Iorek' (bonus points for those who get the reference), I was even more sold on his character.
10. If you could pick one thing for Blizzard to bring back to the game, what would it be and why?

  • Nothing is jumping out at me, but I do miss the non-raiding events we used to do as a guild.  I'm not sure how Blizzard could encourage it, but I wish they would.
11. What's the one thing you wish Blizzard would implement in the game that isn't available yet and why?

  • World of Warcraft really needs housing.  I'm not sure if Garrisons will fill that nitch completely, but I am really looking forward to seeing how they are implemented.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Liebster Award and the 2012 Newbie Blogger Initiative

Back in May, 2012 Syp started the Newbie Blogger Initiative and in May 2012 Wilhelm posted a summary of who was still around.  At that point there were 30 blogs out of 110.  I just checked those links and almost a year later, it looks like 18 of us are still around (have posted in the last 2 months).  So first, congratulations to all of you!
  1. Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien
  2. Ald Shot First
  3. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  4. Casual Aggro *
  5. Conveniently Placed Exhaust Port
  6. Elfkina vežička (Slovakian)
  7. Mighty Viking Hamster
  8. MMO Juggler
  9. Ravalation *
  10. stnylan’s musings
  11. That Was An Accident! *
  12. Vagabond Goes for a Walk
  13. Warlockery
  14. Warp to Zero
  15. White Charr
  16. Why I Game
  17. Wynniekin’s Adventures
In honor of your survival, I have added most of you to my feed and blog roll.  

Also,Yanet and Neri were kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award.  I was unfamiliar with it until it started circling around my blogging community about a month ago.  There seems to be some variations, but generally how it works is that you answer the 11 questions that were asked of you, you nominate 11 blogs that you believe should have more visibility and you ask them 11 questions.  I'm going to answer my questions in a subsequent post.

In recognition of posting for almost 2 years, I nominate these 17 blogs for the Liebster award (yes, I'm bending the rules).  Below are your 11 questions:

1.  What blog made you want to start blogging?
2.  How did the Newbie Blogger Initiative help?
3.  Did you find times where you stopped posting and what encouraged you to continue?
4.  Do you use other tools like Twitter or Facebook or Google+ to encourage the feeling that you are in a community?  If so, what is most effective for you?
5.  What blogger encourages you to post the most?
6.  What kind of game would you like to see made?
7.  What, if anything, do you do to help balance the time you spend online and/or playing games with outside demands?
8.  Why do you play computer games?
9.  Did you ever consider working in the computer game industry?  If so, it what role do you think you would enjoy the most?
10.  What is your Bartle Gamer Type?
11.  If you could take a trip anywhere, real or fantasy, where would you like to go?

I'll be interested see if my nominees see my post.  Please leave a comment or let me know some other way if you do.