Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is all the craze lately. People everyone are playing. People who would never have even thought to play a Pokemon game are walking the streets hunting for Pokemon. I was at work and looked out the window down to the street and sure enough this lady was catching Pokemon. How do you know if someone is playing? Just watch. They’ll act really odd, aiming their phone around, spinning in circle, then suddenly stopping for no apparent reason to interact with their phone.

I went Pokemon hunting yesterday. I was on my way to a wedding with a little time to kill so my wife and I stopped off at the mall (Irvine Spectrum for people who know the area) when suddenly a wild Zubat appeared! I chased it into a Target. Then I had to take a detour into a jewelry store to catch an Ekans. Pics or it didn’t happen? Sure.

Throughout the mall I caught a dozen or so others. I went into a Sur la Table and found a Pidgey fluttering around some spatulas. Then wild Ratata appeared at the Starbucks, and a Crabby was just chillin on some lady’s purse. I had to stop and aim my phone at her — not awkward at all.

I saw several other people catching Pokemon around me. One guy in a Curse gaming shirt was having a grand ole time, and these two teenagers were running around clearly chasing Pokemon.

PokeStop Local Business

Brilliant marketing gimmicks.

An interesting feature are the PokeStops. Real world ‘places of interest’ are turned into PokeStops, or places that you can visit to get bonuses like PokeBalls. These have so far been everything from the water fountain at the mall to the tile art on the archway in my complex. The more populated the area, the more PokeStops — it’s like they want people to see you playing or something. ::Looks around nervously::

I’m more of a closet Poke Trainer… I get all shy and embarassed aiming my phone around. Bri gets excited and starts shouting “THERE’S ONE! CATCH IT!” and I’m like “SHHH” and I hide my phone and start examining the basting brushes like nothing is going on.

Pokemon Go lacks the “game” element for me. It’s a neat gimmick to use your phone camera to see pokemon in the world, but just flicking pokeballs and having it be nothing more than ‘collect’em all’ gets old. I want to battle them. I want to level them up. I want to do more of the actual Pokemon game. I get it — that’s not what Pokemon Go is about. Pokemon go is about getting random people out catching Pokemon

By the end of the afternoon I had walked just over three miles finding Pokemon. I’m already a bit bored with the whole experience. Come to think of it, that’s what Pokemon Go is all about. It’s not a game. It’s an experience. It’s a fun social experiment to see how new ways of engaging people beyond the usual gamer can catch on. Give it a shot — it’s free. Just don’t let your kids walk into the middle of the street chasing after a Pikachu.

Having a Blast in Portal Knights

Portal Knights

Portal Knights is awesome. It’s a sandbox RPG that reminds me a lot of Minecraft meets action RPG. The trailer will do a far better job than I come at showcasing the breadth of the game’s capabilities. Let’s watch and then I’ll fill you in on a bit of what we’ve experienced thus far.

Think Minecraft where you can break blocks. The “world” is broken up into fractured islands must be rebuilt with portal blocks. Traveling between them leads to different biomes with different monsters, items, resources, etc.

You can build bases/homes/whatever you want. There’s crafting for weapons, spells, armor, etc., too. Classes are Warrior, Mage, or Ranger with their own abilities and gear. Combat is real time but fairly simple.

So far Graev and I have reached level 5. We’re a couple of hours in and have established a little makeshift workshops/home in a level 3 world. We use that as our home and return after adventuring out through other portals. We gather up all our loot then come back to drop it off.

With the worlds each having different resources, we find ourselves bouncing around to gather up enough copper ore and coal. Certain monsters are only on certain worlds too so things like Scales (which are used in lots of weapons we can currently craft) become a hot commodity.

I’m taking some video that I’ll highlight for you guys. Graev and I are really having a lot of fun playing — it’s up to 4-player co-op Local or steam friends.

Portal Knights is available on Steam in early access. They are patching the game fairly often, including adding controller support and soon larger worlds. Totally worth the $14.99 I paid and really shining as a sleeper hit for me. I’m really looking forward to the bigger worlds and upcoming patches.

Daybreak Bans/Unbans Players Using Reseller Keys

I have no idea where I stand on this whole “3rd party key” debate. I’m talking about keys bought from Green Man Gaming, G2A, etc. What I do know is that people are always looking for deals, and when buying from a fairly reputable company like GMG (which I have done a dozen times), no one ever stops to think the keys might be stolen or that what they’re doing might not be legitimate.

On June 30th, Daybreak Games banned thousands of players from its games because they were linked to keys from 3rd party retailers. They then turned around and unbanned those people and issued them a warning instead. Have a read:

This is a notification from Daybreak Game Company. We regret to inform you that the account name: [Name] has been issued a warning due to a Community Standards violation. After reviewing our records, one of the characters on this account was found to have committed the following violations:

On Thursday, June 30th, Daybreak Games identified and suspended a number of accounts across EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online. These accounts had redeemed content via keys sold on third-party key selling sites. Those keys had been invalidated due to credit card chargebacks, which is often indicative of fraudulent purchases. Players should always beware of keys sold outside of Daybreak Games or our official affiliate partners like Steam.

Daybreak understands that some players may not have known that they were purchasing invalid keys. We will be reversing the suspensions through the holiday weekend so players can continue to play and enjoy our titles. However, we want to emphasize that players should be wary of any game keys purchased from sellers other than Daybreak or Steam, as those keys may not be valid, and we cannot provide any refunds for keys that were purchased from third-party sites.

We do not take situations like this lightly and are informing you that future incidences could result in further action against you, up to and including permanent account ban. You may view the full Terms of Service here: https://www.daybreakgames.com/terms-of-service

Thank you for your consideration,
Daybreak Games Support

Punishing the player is stupid. Most of these people likely had no idea they were doing anything wrong, and in many people’s opinions (mine included) they didn’t. The player isn’t to blame because they thought they bought a perfectly legitimate copy of a game from a seemingly legitimate company. And they didn’t just ban the offending game — they banned ALL of the games on the account. Meaning if you bought an EQ2 expansion from a reseller then you lost your H1Z1 game too. Daybreak likely realized this was asinine, and that suddenly half their players went missing. What? No one to buy from the cash shop anymore?

Serious Question to Daybreak: What about those streamers (who you love to pimp out so effing hardcore) who promote G2A all over their streams? How do you reconcile THAT?

I get it. Some people buy keys from the equivalent of the back of a van and get them for $5 when the game costs $35. There’s obviously something wrong there. But that’s not the majority, that’s the exception. There needs to be ways to discourage that, incentivize people buying from appropriate (or preferred) sources, and still respect your players.

So while I still can’t decide where to find a side or a position in this debate that makes sense to me, I know that punishing good customers with blanket and overcompensating bans is not the answer.

Join Us On Discord

Discord

I recently posted about the new Curse user interface and how it’s a pretty cool community interaction tool. A few of you messaged me about Discord and told me about how it has remarkable voice and chat integration. I gave it a shot, and I agree: It’s pretty cool.

Curse comes off as tailored more to the partnered streamers. Lots of flare and chrome rims, all that stuff. Discord is more about pure functionality and integration. The chat is better, the voice chat is better and way easier to set up and mimic Ventrilo (which we currently use). As a community organizer, I like the permissions better too. There’s also a pretty solid app for phones.

Neither option seems perfect for me, or the community here, but I think Discord is a little more our style. We’re still using Ventrilo. Anyone is free to join us there. Paying less than $4 a month for Ventrilo still feels acceptable to me. We also use forums for our Keen and Graev Community — yep, we’re old school. However, the chat functionality in Discord is really enticing as a “Guild Chat” of sorts since it allows a history of chat for all to see. You can feel connected even when you aren’t playing. Like right now, I’m at work but in Discord talking to some community members already online.

If you want to join our Keen and Graev Discord Server, I’m keeping our #general open to everyone. We’ll have member channels for voice and chat too, and different channels for games. We mostly play WoW, Overwatch, and other random games. Hope to see you online.

Discord App

Twitch’s Bits are Stupid

Twitch BitsI think “cheering” and “bits” are stupid. There, I said it. Twitch’s latest monetization technique tries too hard and comes across way too gimmicky — almost desperate. Have you not heard yet about “cheering” and how it works?

It’s a form of digital ‘currency’ that people can buy and practically ‘tip’ to the streamer. Twitch and its employees evangelists — no, screw it, they’re practically employees — don’t want you to think of it as tipping. I’m sure there’s a tax implication there somewhere. Twitch wants you to see it as “cheering” (hence the name) and wants you to get involved in the “experience” of “cheering”. It’s no different than throwing pennies at someone. Literally. Streamers get a penny for every bit. So for the minimum purchase of bits, Twitch takes $0.40 and the streamer takes $1.00. It’s tipping. Stop trying to call it anything else.

Buy Twitch BitsTwitch and the employees select partners who were included in the beta program are quick to point out there are gifs and memes and achievements and badges and all sorts of MORE GIMMICKS to distract from the fact that this is a tip. I’m still dismayed by people throwing money at streamers just to use their chat emotes, and now we literally have people throwing pennies by the thousands at these monkeys dancing for their supper. It makes the Apple community’s behavior appear tame.

It’s more gimmicks. Bits are another step in the direction away from focusing on the games. Excluding the statistical outliers, sponsored events, etc.,  streamers who focus on games receive less attention than streamers who focus on the gimmicks and entertaining their audience. There’s nothing wrong with entertaining people. I support that. What I don’t support are the entertainers becoming influencers. When they are perceived as influencers (and why wouldn’t they be when 30,000 people would watch them wipe their ass) then they receive preferential treatment. That preferential treatment further perpetuates the problem of them being influential, which perpetuates designing games to their nitch and the people who watch, which perpetuates the shallow nature of gaming, and before you know it you have a run on sentence more reason to continue developing games we see today.