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.

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!

Bringing Back Videos in a New Way

Keen and Graev's Youtube ChannelI’ve given a lot of thought recently to where I see the blog going for the remainder of 2015 and into the near future. I’m always thinking about whether or not there’s something we can do to enhance the blog without taking away from our core competence of writing content about the games we play.

When Twitch was just starting out we dabbled into streaming a bit. I might consider doing that again, but a capable internet connection is not available in my area at the moment. Even so, streaming doesn’t mesh with the style of content we provide here. We’re not entertainers. We’re not serious journalistic types. We have always provided something that most sites lack; Something we have always been about: Discussion.

I want to start making videos again, and I want to tailor them towards a deeper and more analytical discussion like you see here on the blog. For example, when I talk about immersion and danger in a MMORPG, wouldn’t it be great to actually show that in a video and walk through the process of identifying those traits? Showing what I’m writing about seems to me like it can only enhance or augment what is already taking place here on the blog.

Videos were one of the biggest ways we kickstarted our blog’s success. Remember those Age of Conan beta videos I shot where I ran around the battlegrounds and discussed how each class felt compared to the others? Those brought in 100,000’s of views and visitors. How about those cheesy Allods online videos? I can’t believe some of them broke 100,000 views. The facts cannot be ignored: Videos are a preferred medium.

I’m not looking to provide TV-like entertainment or provide something you’ll tune in to every afternoon at work for a laugh or to distract you. That space is already monopolized and readily available to you on Twitch. I’m looking to provide something I haven’t found, and a space I think is empty and ready to be filled. I have the experience, especially in MMOs, to provide commentary on gameplay mechanics, design elements, and the type of stuff readers of this blog would want to see. My hope is that by turning my written-medium into video form I will be able to reach a wider audience to not only grow our blog but help educate and improve the gaming community.

The style of these videos will be very casual and similar to the “let’s play” style that has become popular over the years. I’ll probably throw an intro on there (with custom music composed by my Wife — she’s an awesome composer & arranger) and launch right into showing you gameplay with discussion.  From there I’ll just launch into playing and discuss what’s going on. I expect to probably have series going for games. I might have everything from an EverQuest series of let’s play videos to Assassin’s Creed. Whatever the game, there may be multiple videos and I want them all to showcase the games while highlighting that thoughtful discussion.

These videos won’t be super regular at the start. I can’t promise one a day yet or anything. I want to test the waters and get my own feet wet with figuring out exactly how I want to create them, but my goal is to eventually be making them regularly. They will be especially interesting and worth-watching for upcoming and newer games. I will be going through some older games as well, but will focus my efforts on what’s new when those opportunities are available.

I will, of course, post everything here. If you want to give us a follow on our (currently very out-of-date) Keen and Graev Youtube page please do! I’m also looking for feedback on a name. How about “Keen Insights” … yay, nay? The name might come later.

TESO Now Has My Attention

The Elder Scrolls Online

I’ve been a harsh critic of The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO).  I still stand by a lot of my criticism, but I have to point out that recent stuff coming out of Zenimax, specifically from the gameplay they showed at Quakecon, looks incredible.  One of my biggest issues with the game thus far has been a lack of Elder Scrolls feel.  I have to say that my concern might be invalid after watching this video.

Obviously there are certain mechanics that are more MMO than typical Elder Scrolls RPG (horses appearing and disappearing) but I felt the entire presentation was very much in-tune with the Elder Scrolls feel.

The combat in first person looks close to the real-time combat, albeit with hotkeyed abilities inserted.  I didn’t get any sense of button mashing action — actually quite the opposite as I saw countering, blocking, etc.  I think the archery looks good, and PvE in general looked like something I would expect from this type of game.  Interestingly, notice when he 2 shot that NPC in the beginning — that’s something you’d do in Elder Scrolls, but in a normal MMO it seems out of place.  I’m totally okay with that if the game is about evolving a character’s skills and not about leveling up.

Around the 16 minute mark and on there are several great looking fights against tougher mobs.  I love how the warrior brings up his/her shield and blocks — that’s real tanking!  The flow of combat is actually quite remarkable.  I’m a huuuuge fan of groups overcoming the odds and working together, and I can envision that type of experience if more combat in TESO is like these battles.

My excitement for TESO was fading fast, but this pushed me back up to the top.  Am I fickle? Yeah, maybe.  I know what I like, though, and they weren’t showing me anything to get excited about until recently.  I’m still waiting to see how much of this experience is entirely instanced, and how much of this world is open and explorable to everyone at the same time.  At least now I can be genuinely excited about, or at least wanting to see more of something in TESO.

Epic and Awkward ArcheAge Trailer

Graev and I just watched the newest ArcheAge trailer.  We put it up on the big screen, cranked the surround sound, leaned back in our chairs, and readied our minds and bodies for what was sure to be a breathtaking journey.  Let’s watch.

  • Amazing music? Check.
  • Breathtaking views? Check.
  • What appears to be a properly proportioned world? Check.
  • Drive your own boats and fish out on the ocean? Check.
  • Castle sieges? Check.
  • Dragon and epic monsters? Check.

… Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

Our reaction was literally “Woah! Sweet!  Oh man did you see that? Finally, a game that looks awesome!  … Uh, did you just see cars? Was that just a family vacation?! The heck is going on here? The trailer started to feel like an episode of The Bachelorette, at which point we started to get really uncomfortable and avoid eye contact.

All joking aside… and pretending the creepy stuff at the end didn’t happen, ArcheAge actually looks like it’s going to be a freaking blast.  I get what they’re going for with the ‘we can create a life for you here’ vibe.  I appreciate virtual world, live in it and have experiences stuff.  I doubly appreciate the emphasis on things that weren’t combat based which signals to me that they are at least interested in marketing the multifaceted nature of their game.

Here’s hoping Graev and I can launch our vessel out to sea and set course for an island to call our own.