Part 1: Making some WoW videos. Part 2: Let’s talk MMOs for a second.

Late night weekend update for the blog but I want to squeeze this in before I get too busy. I made a video last night while playing WoW that I wanted to share. I’ve started to notice a theme from some of you surrounding a line of questioning: Do you still play MMOs? Yes, I do. I play World of Warcraft very, very casually.

Since I enjoy making videos about the games I’m playing, I decided to include WoW and start a series showcasing why and how I am having fun back in the MMO I thought I quit a dozen times.

Now let’s chat about part 2 of this little question here. What’s with the state of the MMO industry? If you’re currently playing a handful of MMOs and you’re one of those people who can enjoy GW2 and SWTOR and ArcheAge and WildStar and you never quite understood why the population in those games was dismally low and the servers were merged then this isn’t going to be an answer you’ll comprehend. The MMO industry sucks in 2015, the talent is drying up worse than the reservoirs in California, and most simply aren’t worth the digital space they’re taking up on those MMO news sites desperate for page views.

I certainly do not enjoy them, so I don’t play them. There are a couple… maybe as many as 3… MMOs on the distant horizon worth even thinking about, but I have trouble getting excited right now. I think Camelot Unchained has the most potential for anything related to PvP. They just announced like a bazillion classes would be in the game, and I’ll write something on that soon.  Crowfall … let’s just say I have my “I told you so” post already written. Yeah, that sums it up.

If you use the term correctly, then yes I am jaded. I am tired, bored, and lacking enthusiasm. If you’re using the term incorrectly, you’re probably going to reply with something like, “Well you’re just jaded, Keen!” As if I’m wrong for feeling this way. I refer you to the correct definition. Some people like to call other people jaded as though there is something wrong with those people and the way they see something is inaccurate. I’m being pretty darn upfront here and stating that I’m bored outa my mind with MMOs and can’t find more than a shred of hope for them to improve. If you can give me a reason, I’ll be more than happy to hype it up and show some enthusiasm.

I’d much rather play a ton of fun games out there that aren’t MMOs than sit around and hate “gaming” because MMOs are currently awful. I’m having an awesome time gaming in 2015, and it’s because I got tired of waiting and moved on. Does that mean I won’t play MMOs anymore? Heck no. MMOs are my favorite games. I’m just waiting until they deserve it again, and by waiting I mean playing lots of awesome games.

Torn On Whether or Not to Get LEGO Dimensions

I’m torn. I really, really want everything. If I had all the money in the world then this wouldn’t even be a debate. I’d buy LEGO Dimensions, Skylanders Superchargers, and the rest of Disney Infinity 3.0 and be done with it all. But I don’t, and I can’t, etc. I want to be able to review it all for you guys, but unless the good people at Activision, Traveller’s Tales, and Disney decide to bestow review copies upon me then I’m stuck having to decide to space it out or forgo something.

LEGO Dimensions

Here’s where I’m at. I love Disney Infinity 3.0. Amazing game. Check out my review of the overall game as well as the TotR play set. That wasn’t cheap. I love Disney and their games. I’ve also been a long-time fan of the LEGO game series and what Jon Burton and team have come up with. We’ve played and reviewed them all here on our blog. But LEGO Dimensions isn’t cheap. It’s $100 for the starter set (LEGO markup is real) and about the same price as the other toys-to-life games out there when it comes to play sets and figures, etc.

LEGO Doctor Who

Can I say no to LEGO Doctor Who?!

When I think about it, LEGO Dimensions could technically just be another LEGO game. I’ve played LEGO LotR, LEGO Batman, LEGO et al. Do I need a LEGO game that would run me, bare minimum, $170’ish for what I want? Part of me says yes. Then I think to myself… okay, it’s LEGO. Does it have the building sandbox style of Disney Infinity 3.0 but with LEGOs? Sadly, it doesn’t, which is a huge missed opportunity.

Yet at the same time, Dimensions has a contiguous story across all of their universes which bridges the whole ‘it doesn’t make sense having characters in here that don’t belong’ because inter-dimensional travel is explaining it all. Disney Infinity sorta just throws it all in together and focuses on the characters rather than the ‘universe’ of their ‘infinite possibilities’.

Graev says I should wait for reviews. I want to be one of those reviews, dangit! I want to bring you guys information as soon as I can to help you make an informed decisions on whether or not you should go out there and buy these games. What do you think? Do I wait for reviews and see if LEGO Dimensions is worth it, or do I bite the bullet and pre-order the base game for $100? Your feedback is very, very appreciated. For now, LEGO Dimensions remains on my wishlist.

P.S. I feel like I could write a followup on Skylanders SuperChargers and hit the same chords… maybe I will.

Introducing ‘Keen Plays’

I mentioned a while back that I would start to introduce more video content here on the blog to enhance, augment, or extend our gaming coverage. I’m pleased to say that I finally have things ironed out enough that I can start making these videos somewhat regularly. My first foray into video coverage will be in the form of “Keen Plays.”

As you might have guessed, these are my own personal take on the “Let’s Play” video style. Keen Plays will essentially be video coverage of me playing the games. I might use them to introduce or do an overview of a game to go along with one of my reviews, or simply record what I’m playing that day with a microphone going in the background. I want these to be less ‘produced’ and more ‘Hey guys, I’m playing a game so come watch.”

Video production is still very new to me. I have some tools like Sony Vegas HD and Adobe Premiere Pro. I have a Live Gamer HD Portable that I use to record consoles, and I’m using OBS Broadcaster or simply Windows 10’s new Game DVR to record PC stuff. So far recording is really easy, and I can do it all in 1080p 60FPS. Where I struggle is post production, but I’ll get there eventually. Since I’m not doing this to garner 100,000’s of views and make a living, I feel like as long as my videos enhance the blog coverage then I have met my goal.

The two Keen Plays series up so far are Disney Infinity 3.0 and Super Mario Maker. I’ll go ahead and link the playlists below.

Super Mario Maker

Disney Infinity 3.0

If you looking to stay current on all of my Keen Plays videos you can visit the Keen Plays page, or visit the Keen and Graev Youtube Page where you’ll find all of our videos. Oh, and let me clarify that Keen Plays are just one of several types of videos we’ll be doing. I’m going to try my hand at formal video reviews for games (to go along with my written reviews and essentially be the same content but with video), as well as other video coverage. We’ll see how it goes, but for now Keen Plays are the for sure thing.

I hope you enjoy!

Nintendo’s New President Brings Big Change to the Company

New Nintendo President

Tatsumi Kimishima

Tatsumi Kimishima is the new President of Nintendo, and with his new position comes a great deal of change and restructuring. Although Kimishima says to Nikkei (Japanese publication) that Nintendo will be staying the course laid out for the company by the late Mr. Iwata, it’s hard not to see the massive impact this restructuring will have on the company and the products.

Kimishima has organized the company into three main divisions:

Platform Technology Development Division – Harware, Operating Systems, techy stuff.

Entertainment Planning and Development Division – Combines two previous game development divisions into one to focus on making games.

Business Development Division – Oversees the management of gaming systems, smartphones, and IP licensing.

You may be wondering what is happening to Miyamoto and Takaeda. Miyamoto will be a “Creative Fellow” and Takaeda a “Technology Fellow.” Nintendo classifies a Fellow as, “An individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.” 

While it’s a little uncomfortable to see Miyamoto stepping into more of a consulting role, it’s probably best for the company as a whole to see this shakeup. Miyamoto really shouldn’t have been in charge of the systems. He needs to focus on bringing us the games we didn’t know we wanted.

Looking at Kimishima it’s hard not to think he looks a little grumpy compared to Iwata. I’m pretty sure we won’t see Kimishima stepping out on the stage (or I guess the Nintendo Directs these days) with a big smile on his face. He looks like he’s all business. As much as I want to think of the core team at Nintendo as being all fuzzy and huggable and fun, they do need a healthy dose of change and to get back on track with making the company more, as Kimishima says, Nintendo-like again.

I hope this means we see less gimmicky weirdness from Nintendo and a return to serious core IPs that this company was founded upon. I want to see a major emphasis on system development that doesn’t lag behind the competition. I’d love to see their online play move beyond the 90’s lobby system. I want the see Mario, Zelda, and the other big franchises take major steps forward rather than fun and innovative changes to the already established norms. I think it’s possible that Kimishima could be the best thing to happen to Nintendo. Here’s hoping. Good luck, Mr. Kimishima!

Kickstarter Lawsuits

A couple of you have asked for my opinion on the recent successful lawsuit against a Kickstarter campaign. I think we’re finally seeing what should have already been a well-established precedent for crowdfunding. Kickstarter campaign organizers should be accountable for their actions, and when those actions lead to fraudulent activity they need to be held responsible.

We see a lot of Kickstarters in the gaming industry fail to produce anything even after being successfully funded. This alone is not grounds for litigation, but rather why or how they failed. Did they fail because the guy behind the Kickstarter made horrible business decisions? Was the entire campaign a front for funding something else, or preparing to be acquired and work on another projects? Was the money used in ways other than specified? There are many reasons why I believe Kickstarter campaign organizers should be made to pay. Simply failing, however, is not one of them.

I’m glad to see that the consumer is being protected.

Are Kickstarter Backers Investors or Consumers?

Yes. In some ways they are both.  Personally, I lean on the side of Kickstarters being more consumer-based spending rather than investing. Depending on the Kickstarter, I think there’s an argument to be made for not only consumer spending, but investing or even donating to support a cause. Going back to games, in most cases you are paying a tier where you are buying a copy of the game. You’re paying now, rather than later, to obtain that copy of the game in the future and support the game’s development.

Kickstarter campaigns walk a fine line. Yes, people backing a Kickstarter campaign need to realize they are not guaranteed something. But campaign organizers need to realize that their tiers and their campaigns are often presented in such a way that the backers are customers creating direct business transactions.

Fear of Failure

Will this precedent lead to fear of failure? Yes. Should it? No, unless you are planning something shady. If a campaign is successfully funded, and you go about everything above board and deliver what was promised then you’re fine. If you promised more than you can deliver, or falsified information in the Kickstarters, or (again) were fraudulent in any way then you should be afraid and you should be financially responsible.

Whether or not this leads to a bunch of litigious nonsense isn’t for any of us to really care about. Let’s leave that up to the courts.

Do Games Belong on Kickstarter?

I go back and forth on this. We can look to the successes and say that if not for those campaigns we would never have great games like Divinity Original Sin. We can look at the atrocious failures and say that developing games is simply too risky a business to take people’s money, or for people to be willing to put their money at risk. What we honestly need is a little more responsibility from both parties. Should you give your money to some random guy in a basement promising to make you a AAA MMO? No. Should “developers” be making grand promises without proof of their ability to perform or follow through on those claims? No.

Most games do not belong on Kickstarter. Generally speaking, MMOs do not belong there. I say that having backed Camelot Unchained, but looking at the financial facts alone we know that CU would not have been successful or anywhere near the game it’s going to be now without other sources of funding and Mark Jacobs himself being a good leader. In many cases, neither the additional funding nor the experience are present. On Kickstarter alone that would have been a million dollars of people’s money gone.

Call me old school, but there’s something to be said for games being made the old fashion way where you start a real company, hire real employees, obtain funding without asking for it all up front from the consumer, market your product, and deliver something. At that point, the market judges your efforts and you are rewarded with sales or not. It’s simple, but it has worked for a really long time without us having to worry about whether or not that game we backed is actually going to release.