Another Kickstarted Game (Pathfinder Online) Fails

Pathfinder Online Kickstarter Fails

Looks like we can add another to the ‘saw that coming a mile away’ pile. Pathfinder Online joins the growing club of failed crowd-funded games. Members include similar games such as Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. Pathfinder had to lay off all but three (read: all) employees because “funding didn’t come through,” and a bunch of other stuff that simply isn’t important to the average person like you and me. Truth: The game was never going to succeed. Looking at their business model and their game, this was coming.

Right now I have money in one Kickstarter, and I’m pretty sure that one will at least deliver something, but in general I have lost all faith in crowdfunding the development of a product — especially a video game. There’s way too much consumer risk, and I see the idea as a violation of the basic principle that we give something in value in exchange for something of value in return. Giving a developer money this early gives them less to fight for, less to push for, and all the reason to sit back and lay everyone off and say, “We just couldn’t make it work but thanks for the support.”

I’ve sworn off giving a lump sum of money for a product; However, a model I still have a little bit of faith in is the “pay as you go” funding model we see on places like Patreon. I think supporting people who deliver daily, weekly, monthly, etc., content is a nice option. It works great for musicians, comics, youtubers in general, etc. I see this as the same model Twitch uses for subscribers. You like it so you support it, but it’s monthly and you can cancel any time. Fail to see continued value? Then stop paying. ::whispers:: Kinda like MMO subscriptions. SHhhhh.

Crowdfunding a game in 2015 is a poor financial decision for players. Developers can have my money when they bring a game of value to market and show me they now deserve value in return. Not before.

Diablo 3 Season 4 & Patch 2.3

Whew, what a weekend. Season 4 came out Friday night which of course marks my usual seasonal return to the game. I’m playing a Demon Hunter this time around; Actually, this is the first time I have ever in the history of Diablo 3 played a Demon Hunter. Can you believe D3 came out in 2012? Has it really been that long? I was using Windows Vista (remember trying to get it to work on Vista?) and the game was almost complete garbage.

Kanais Cube

Permanently gain abilities stripped from Legendary items.

So much has changed since launch, but the greatest changes to the game, for me anyway, come with the Kanais Cube in patch 2.3.  The Kanais cube is D3’s much improved version of D2’s Horadric Cube. The Kanais Cube (KC) allows you to do several things:

  • Upgrade a rare (yellow) to a legendary or set item. This means you can take a crappy level 70 ring and get a chance at turning it into a best in slot ring, or if you’re like me and can’t get your set items you can toss in a bunch of yellow gloves and hope for the best
  • Re-roll a set item to a different piece in the set (non-ancient). If you’re like me and keep getting shoulders to the same set, just re-roll for a chance at the item you need. Pretty good early on.
  •  Apply item abilities to you permanently. Yep, this is the best feature. Essentially you take an item like a Ring of Royal Grandeur and absorb its power into the Kanais cube allowing you to toggle that ability on you permanently. You can do it to any item you can use in the weapon slot, armor slot, and ring slot. Really awesome and pretty much the crux of patch 2.3.
Kanais Cube Materials

New materials obtainable for Kanais Cube recipes. Find these in Bounty Caches.

Those are just a few of the neat things you can do in the KC. Worth checking out.

New seasons are always a slow roll for me. Some of my friends rush right out of the gate and shoot up to Torment 6-8 on day 2. I seem to take a little longer. There’s a mix of bad luck on drops and not playing for 10 hours straight, but overall I take a little bit longer to find my groove. I definitely think that in Season 4 I’ll go quite a bit further than I have in the past, mainly because I’m liking how the DH plays and how the KC has made getting gear easier.

As for my DH, I’m going for an UE build, aka spamming multishot. it’s a great build for me because I won’t have to work too hard to get the farming results I’m looking for, and I sorta like sitting back and melting everything offscreen. Barbarians and Monks are definitely more powerful this season, but completely opposite of what I’m wanting in terms of playstyle.

If you’re on Battle.net and want to team up for some rifts shoot me a message!

Youtube Gaming

Youtube Gaming

One year after losing their bid for purchasing Twitch.tv, Google has launched their own streaming platform on none other than Youtube itself. I tried getting into streaming, and sadly I have neither the internet connection (screw AT&T Uverse) nor the time to stream — personality debatable. I think I have the angle for it, especially when I really get into the games I play, but haven’t really been able to make much of it over the years. I’ve decided I’m likely better off making movies, and that’s where Youtube shines. So now that Youtube Gaming is out, let’s take a look.

Ugly and Counterintuitive Presentation

I hate — loathe, detest, despite, etc. — sites with black backgrounds and really dark colors. My eyes freak out and I feel sick. AWEFUL choice for a site all about sitting there and watching streams.

Finding streams and lesser known games is not as intuitive as Twitch, and the way Youtube is laying it out looks to me like they are pimping their high-earners rather than trying to grow the community overall. There are way too many steps and too much hunting is required in order to find streams worth watching.

DVR

Being able to rewind streams… brilliant. This is definitely a feature that Twitch should emulate. I have often wanted to pause while someone talks to me and pick back up where I left off, or go back to see something again, and having this feature is a huge incentive for Youtube.

Integration with Youtube Itself

They definitely integrated the streaming side nicely with Youtube. As a partnered publisher already, getting started is as simple as a few clicks. I can monetize my videos without having to go through the hoops of getting partnered like I would at Twitch, and I can start making money like I normally would (or in my case wouldn’t) on Youtube. That leads to the biggest issue….

“Copyright” Enforcement / Content ID

This is the number one reason I will likely never become a streamer on Youtube. Youtube still uses a strategy where the Complainant wins by default. Let’s say I play a game and a publisher doesn’t like that I’m making money or even fairly using their content. All they have to do is file the complaint and my video is instantly gone. It’s a guilty until proven innocent, and getting proven innocent means nothing if the publisher chooses to pursue the issue. In the end, you have no rights on Youtube.

Who Wins?

All day long the Twitch channels I watched were slamming Youtube and praising Twitch even before Youtube’s gaming sector launched. There wasn’t even an ounce of intention there for people to give Youtube a chance.

For me, however, I was completely ready to give Youtube all of the chance in the world. I wasn’t inherently on either side. I actually wanted Youtube to be great and for me to truly consider utilizing the new platform… but I can’t. Youtube just isn’t there yet. They may never be.

Hopefully Twitch will see a reason to light a flame under their backsides and implement some improvements. DVR would be great. Better community tools would also be nice. Reality is, even if they do nothing, they still have nothing to fear. Youtube is simply that far out from even being a consideration. For now, save yourselves some time and simply keep using Twitch.

Avoiding the Metagame Creates a Micro-journey in WoW

Coming in late to the Warlords of Draenor expansion has further validated a belief I have held since the early days of EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot: I have always been about the journey in MMORPGs. Instead of having a year+ of content ahead of me, I might have a matter of months. In that short period of time, I don’t have any desire to try and get the best gear or obtain all of the achievements, or even race to max out my Garrison. I can’t — I don’t have the time before Legion. My goal? See the content. That single goal has radically flipped this game upside down. Why? Because now I don’t care about the gear grind. What do I need to do to see the content? That’s all I care about.

Gul'dan

That’s right Gul’dan, no hamster wheel for me this time!

Suddenly instead of worrying about min/maxing my daily quest completion rate, my gear score, or my Garrison companion gears and levels, all I need to do is work on participating in the activities I enjoy because that’s essentially enough to get me to the point where I can see all of the dungeons and complete all of the raids. I can have fun and progress at my own rate and easily enjoy the content. ::gasp:: WoW feels like a game and not a job.

When it comes to a game like WoW at the launch of an expansion or in the thick of things, that journey is almost nonexistent and at times I feel like I have to make the most out of what I’m playing in order to rub away some of what masks that adventure. Coming in late has afforded me that opportunity in a way that feels psychologically easier to swallow. Granted, this same way of playing is completely open and available to me at the start of an expansion as well…. it’s just harder for me to win that internal battle.

Imagine if this is how WoW was inherently designed. Technically, the argument could be made that WoW IS designed this way, and they’ve just placed a bunch of activities between you and “seeing the content,” but I guess to me the activities placed between me and the content take center stage and the “game” fails to be about “seeing the content” and becomes about “getting the highest iLvL possible” or in general focusing on the metagame.

TLDR: When focusing on the actual ‘game’ part of World of Warcraft, it’s quite enjoyable. Coming in late to the expansion has made that psychologically easier for me to (1) Identify, and (2) Stay focused on. I wish WoW would emphasize the ‘game’ over the ‘metagame’ from the top down in their design.

Having To vs. Wanting To Do something.

Daily Quests

My post on Garrisons brought up an interesting topic: Having to vs. Wanting to do something. There’s a bit of psycholgy involved with this discussion, as well as complications from game design details, and I don’t want to dive too deeply into it that we lose the point, but here’s how I see the debate of having to vs wanting to do something as it pertains to things like dailies, garrisons, etc.

I don’t like dailies that force me to do them. I don’t like the quest hubs with 10-30 quests that I have to do every day in order to accrue reputation or points or tokens or whatever it may be in order to gain access to something else down the road. Notice my caveat: They gate the content or path to something else. Any day that I skip is a delay in my ability to access the content or the reward or whatever it may be.  I would say that in this case, these are something I have to do.

I don’t mind dailies that exist to simply provide me with gold or rewards as I do them. If I do 10 dailies today I get 100 told. If I do 5 I get 50. They exist solely to benefit me as I do them. Whether I skip a day of dailies or not isn’t going to push out my access to something, it will simply provide me with less gain. Also, I can get gold doing any number of activities from crafting to running current dungeons, or even really old dungeons. Some of these other options might even generate me income faster.  In this case, these dailies are something I want to do.

The psychology comes into play when we think, “I have to do this because if I don’t, and other people do, then I won’t be as good as them.” People will think that they have to run the dungeons, and the raids, and do all of the daily quests, and craft, etc., because if not they they aren’t taking advantage of everything. I’ll raise my hand and volunteer that I am completely guilty of this trap. I fall into it all the time. While there may (reality: is) truth to this concept of falling behind, what does that ultimately matter as long as what you’re doing still feels like a game and provides fun? This will be completely different for each of us as to what we think is fun, and for some being the best is the fun part. Ultimately though, if you’re not having fun, and this feels like a job, then YOU are doing it wrong and not the game — that is, unless the game has gated the content behind these daily quests, in which case the game is inherently flawed.

Bringing this back to WoW for a second, and to a topic that isn’t as cut and dry as gold, the ideal way to give me options would be to say that I can generate (for easy math) 1000 apexis crystals a day. I can do daily quests in Tanaan, or I can do activities in my Garrison, or I can run dungeons, etc., to earn these apexis crystals. The choice of how to earn them is mine. That, to me, is fair, as long as all of these options allow you to earn up to the cap for the day. As soon as I’m forced to do the daily quests in Tanaan, AND the dungeons, AND the garrison stuff… that’s the part that feels like a job because I may not feel like doing dungeons today.

Personally? I like options in my themeparks. And ultimately that’s what I feel a themepark MMO should be all about.