2.5 Things City of Heroes Did Wrong

Ok, besides PvP. That's too easy a target. Here's the most amount of players in a CoH PvP zone ever. Attracted only by killing a dev in giant spider form.

As linked by J3w3l, Reports From the Field wrote a post on 7 Things They Felt City of Heroes Did Wrong.

Since I’m an idiot who can’t seem to figure out how their comments system works, and have a ton of CoH screenshots that are looking for an excuse to be shown off, I decided to do a blog post in reply instead.

I’m a little less picky.

I think they only got two or three things wrong.

Sadly, I think the biggest problem was a fundamental baked-in issue that the existing devs didn’t quite know how to solve.

Repetition

I’ll narrow this down further to non-varying spawn sizes in instanced tilesets that were reused over and over.

Because frankly, a lot of what we do in games is repetition, over and over, and we can still find repetition fun.

City of Heroes had no problems with replayability in terms of alts – the insane number of character slots, classes, powersets and customisation was unparalleled.

The main problem was that each alt had to level up by entering an endless set of corridors masquerading as missions, which were optimally filled by a spawn meant for an 8-person team, and every combat encounter pretty much looked like this:

2007-06-16 22:05:10

2 Bosses, a couple of Lts. and a whole bunch of minions.

Repeat encounter 14-40x depending on how many spawn points were set in that mission, and how big that map was.

Very soon, players figured out that the most efficient way to mow these things down was via AoE attacks.

To let AoE attacks hit as many as possible, get someone to group them up for you.

(Enter the ubiquitous AoE target limit – but still, hitting 10-16 is better than hitting one at a time. And cone attacks hit 5 but need them all neatly stacked up anyway.)

There were only two main ways to do this:

Option A) Herd to a Corner

A sturdy character, usually a tanker or a brute, or in a pinch a scrapper, would initiate, aggroing the spawn and dragging them all to a handy dandy nearby corner.

Once in position, everybody else opens up with whatever they’ve got.

Riffs on this include the more skilled defender or controller with debuffing options who could set up some debuff anchors, turning a nasty spawn’s alpha strike (ie. retarded AI’s initial response of firing a salvo of attacks at the first person to aggro them) into some wimps trying to beat you with feather pillows, which by default, makes anyone a sturdy person. Pull to corner as desired.

Option B) Corners, Schmorners, The Spawn is ALREADY Grouped Up

Well, it’s true, ain’t it? They spawn in a clump to begin with.

Tank runs into the center of the group, taunts by skill or combination of aggro generation powers. The group turns inward on the tank, voila, please be to kindly open up with pewpew now.

Riffs on this include those with control options – usually controllers, dominators or the odd defender who would just alpha strike the alpha strike with an “everybody freeze” power, nullifying the usual retaliation, and then the beating things up began.

There was rarely any tactical variety required, beyond the odd variation of dangerous target to be prioritized or controlled due to faction. Yes, Malta sappers suck. Literally. Draining all endurance from players tends to make powers crash and ineffectual. So hold ’em or kill ’em fast.

Others just tended to be annoying nuisances that took forever to kill. Carnival Master Illusionists summoned a bunch of annoying decoys, and phased out for 50% of the fight, making them a time-drain to even hit. Rikti Drones projected so much force field defence that you needed pretty high accuracy or to-hit to pierce through their shielding – but if you did have enough, they were pushovers.

But by and large, it was see clump of enemies, group clump of enemies, fireball (or insert choice flavor of attack here) clump of enemies. Debuff or control if you had the options to, and yes, everybody loves buffs, buff all the time plz thx bai!

AoE attacks, the best way to fry things.
AoE attacks, the best way to fry things.

Soloing, it tended to be even worse.

You were guaranteed three minions or one minion and one lieutenant. This was somehow scientifically determined by a lead game designer as the appropriate amount of challenge for any player or powerset.

Before long, you had your skill rotation down pat.

Repeat over and over as you carved your way through numerous spawns to the end of the mission.

Skip the mobs in favor of mission complete?

Well, you could… but the mobs were a big source of xp anyway. Would you prefer to go through 3 maps of unending spawns of enemies repeating the same skills in the same patterns, or would you prefer to race through 10+ maps ignoring all the enemies except that required for completing the mission to get the same amount of xp?

“……..”

Over time, I ended up street sweeping in order not to have to choose between either mindless option, forgoing the tasty mission complete xp in favor of actually feeling immersed into a world that had NPCs interacting with each other, spawns that varied in size and had to be approached differently, more space to move around and fly and tactically pick off enemies, and feeling like my actions actually had some impact on NPCs that needed rescuing or terrorizing depending on if I was playing a hero or a villain.

Not everyone was as motivated by immersion as I.

The achievement and rewards-driven folk eventually took things to their natural optimal efficiency point.

As Task Forces became more streamlined and rewarded better loot over regular missions, they became the go-to set of missions to run. As fast as possible. Gogogogo.

Imperious Task Force. Even the best TF can only be run so many times before getting old. Note endless spawns of Longbow in background.
Imperious Task Force. Even the best TF can only be run so many times before getting old. Note endless unvarying spawns of Longbow in background. (And yes, this is why one barely blinks an eye at particle effects in GW2. It’s a miracle we knew what all these things meant, with the powers customisation that allowed you to change the color of your powers.)

When Mission Architect released, of course the most popular missions would be the powerleveling xp farms with as many xp packages clumped together as possible, with the gimpiest powersets for doing the least damage to players possible.

farmmaps

And what did you do once you hit max level as fast as possible?

Either do it all over again with another alt, or go through the same set of missions at the end for… I dunno, kicks or something, or bitch and complain that there was nothing else to do and that the game was too repetitive and quit the game because you were done.

Each alt you went through, the chances were more likely that you’d eventually hit the more jaded last option at some point when you finally hit your repetition limit.

If only they could have varied the spawn sizes and positioning in each map more dynamically, I think it would have gone a LONG way towards ending the feeling of repetition.

But I suspect the mob distribution was sadly so baked-in that they couldn’t do anything about it without totally wrecking the game’s code.

The Incarnate System

Oh gods.

Words fail to convey my loathing for this system.

The solution the live team of CoH designers hit upon to prevent this burnout from repetition scenario from occuring was the ye olde raids system.

Vertical Progression. Ever Increasing Power at Max Level. Raids Involving Massed Numbers of Players. Forget Your Alts, You’ll Only Have Time to Build Up Phenomenal Levels of Cosmic Power on One or a Few Characters.

You know, City of Heroes launched at around the same time as World of Warcraft.

WHATEVER MADE THE DESIGNERS THINK THAT PLAYERS WHO CHOSE TO PLAY COH OVER WOW -=WANTED=- RAIDS?

Thanks, devs. I really wanted my game to look like WoW, raid frames, more UI than anything.
Thanks, devs. I really wanted my game to look like WoW, raid frames and more UI on my screen than anything else.

Wanted to be FORCED kicking and screaming into adopting and adapting to the system by virtue of exclusive loot/power that could ONLY be gotten by participating in this brand spanking new system that the designers were so proud of spending their time on?

Personally, I was attracted to the game initially because it didn’t have all of the above.

Because it had a nice friendly community that were inclusive and open to anyone teaming up with anyone, who even gave away scads of in-game money to newbies just to help them out and feel like a hero, a holy trinity flexible enough that no one had to wait around LF tank or LF healer unless they were really really picky, because I could make all the alts in my head that I wanted look and feel like how I wanted, because I had options to solo or group as I preferred.

When the game no longer felt like it was supporting this style of play and when all the brand new shiny content went a way I disliked (which has some lessons that GW2 might be well-advised to heed, given the histrionics I’ve been seeing in my comments from certain players who are perceiving the direction of the game changing in a way they dislike – though I still maintain one piece of content offering nonexclusive rewards is -different- from ALL the content in an update offering exclusive rewards that can be only obtained by playing a certain way…)

…I quit.

I canceled the sub I had been faithfully maintaining for six years, through a few minor burnout episodes that I knew would recover from taking a month or three’s break time, and quit supporting the game with cash.

I sat around watching the game lead their remaining players on from 2010 to 2012 from one piece of group content to another, grinding the same set of missions repetitively for incremental currency to build the next piece of ‘gear’ that would make their characters more powerful, and played another game instead.

Because my preferred playstyle had no viable options for obtaining the same reward.

Because the designers were so insecure in the fun level of their content that they felt they had to sneakily ‘encourage’ participation in their massed group content by making it the only non-absurd way to earn that level of power.

I only came back to check things out when the Dark Astoria zone released, making it -finally- viable for solo and small group players to start earning Incarnate levels of power.

And yeah, I chose to jump into a few raids then, because it was a -choice- on my part to see whether I found it fun (not really, beyond seeing what the fuss was about) and not because I had no other alternative.

Still, there’s a fundamental problem about vertical progression systems that only drag out the death knell.

You separate the playerbase.

You really do.

Those attracted by phenomenal levels of cosmic power and don’t mind clumping together into a group become one subset. Playing at a much higher level of power.

Why yes, I am an Incarnate. And I will take all of you Rikti on.
Why yes, I am an Inventions-kitted Incarnate. And I will take all of you Rikti on.

Those who ignore the content because they don’t like it and continue doing their own thing end up on an uneven playing field of merely ‘blue and green’ level of power compared to ‘purple and orange.’

How do you balance future content for these two different groups of players?

You don’t.

It becomes skewed to one group only.

Applying more and more pressure to the other group to conform and learn the stuff they’ve been ignoring, or they quit.

You better gamble that the group of players you’ve designed that content for is big enough to support your game via cold hard cash.

(Which is another interesting parallel to GW2 – though its fundamentals are different – exotics baseline, Ascended better, no more power increase or they’ll regret it – and the payment models are different. Who’s paying the most in either game? Casuals or hardcore, y’think?

Also, Wildstar is gambling that their hardcore base is big enough, and that their casuals will be content to be strung along with housing and some solo options.

WoW, you’d think, has managed to get by with producing endless series of tiered raids, though I do note that every expansion they keep changing things up, making things easier and easier to access and ‘catch up’, with different levels of difficulty to appeal to different groups, and generally playing a very good balancing act of continually laying treadmill track in front of their carrot-seeking audience.)

Loot / Inventions

The last factor is one I feel mixed about.

It could very well be that City of Heroes could have collapsed sooner without it.

Without loot, without Inventions, without something shiny to chase and look forward to building up and improving and giving room for theorycrafting of various intricate builds, we probably would have lost a great number of Achievement-oriented players who needed the shininess of a gear upgrade to wrap their minds around.

But catering for this group of players had some fundamental repercussions on how the community ‘feel’ changed over time.

In my opinion, a great deal of the friendly community aspect of City of Heroes was lost in the later years due to this focus on loot.

It used to be about fun. About kicking ass, taking names and looking good.
It used to be about fun. About kicking ass, taking names and looking good. Together.

Originally, City of Heroes was about getting together with a bunch of friends.

And everyone was a friend  and welcome on teams because everything scales up with more people, giving more xp rewards to everybody.

No one needed influence (in-game money) beyond those necessary for Single Origins, bought from vendors at a very cheap price compared to how much influence was being given out from missions. So level 50s had so much influence they didn’t know what to do with it, and ended up going back to Atlas Park and sugar-daddying newbies with it, running costume contests and lotteries and fun social stuff.

Once loot came in and an auction house, well, influence had value.

Better hoard it now. Some heroes we were, accumulating large wallet amounts that would then be spent on more upgrades for more power. We turned commercially-minded and mercantile.

Rikti Boss farm - earn large amount of tickets, buy loot.
Plus Mission Architect absurdity: Rikti Boss farm – earn large amount of tickets, buy loot. Yes, handy dandy NPC buffers standing by.

Let’s see, help a newbie or buy a Luck of the Gambler for more defence? We’ll take being godlike, thanks, the newbie can fend for itself. (Of course, not everyone did this, but by design, loot encourages selfishness and self-interest over selflessness.)

Suddenly it didn’t matter so much if the team was just having a good ol’ social time hobnobbing it up while fighting bad guys, but more about xp and loot earned/hour. Fast runs plz. We r wastin time. More missions complete, more chance for shiny loot drops.

And what was the loot for?

For making yourself powerful enough that you didn’t need a team to take on a spawn size set for 8 players.

Who needs a team when I have bots?
Who needs a team when I have obedient bots with better names?

Your ubercharged Inventions-kitted out player would feel free to run off and separate from the team and take on spawns by themselves. Why not? They weren’t punished by faceplanting. In fact, they were helping you clear the mission twice as fast!

They were soloing while ostensibly on a team.

(Which, eventually made teaming pointless to me, and drove me into soloing because I couldn’t stand associating with those players any longer.)

Eventually, an update sealed the deal by allowing any player to control the spawn sizes they wanted to fight by themselves.

Yes, this made farming easier.
Yes, this made farming easier.

And now, there was no more need for teams. Or for much of a community. Or getting to know your fellow player or bother to be nice to them.

Just set your spawn size to 8, and run your endless series of unvarying missions as quickly as possible to keep earning more influence and more loot drops and getting more powerful.

godlike

Farm it, in other words. Farm it to death and world’s end.

Or burnout from repetition.

Whichever came first.

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GW2: Early Days in the Crown Pavilion

So refreshing, minus dome and zerg...

Funny story about Liadri.

Stayed up for the patch.

Patched.

Jumped almost headlong into Crown Pavilion…

…with one tiny stopover to experience the story instance first, because I’m a sucker for narrative and getting properly situated in game lore…

…with the initial fistful of Queen’s Gauntlet tickets, hoping to beat the queue which might naturally get distracted by the shiny skins, story instance, Labyrinthine Cliffs and wannabe boss zerging below.

Got a cage with one other person thinking the same thing.

Noted with immense pleasure the missing dome, so less constricting camera angles

(though I still managed some awkward ones on a sylvari necro later.)

The NPC medic, which revived you, so no waypoint fee and bloodboiling frustrated running back between tries

(though I still managed to pick a cage with a buggy asura medic which would sometimes not bother to revive – dang those snotty asura and their bookah prejudices)

No repair fee, from the prior patch.

BEAUTIFULLY clear orange AoE indicators, making it a lot clearer where Shadowfall was going to land, so the fight felt a lot fairer from the get go.

Jumped in the first time, thinking, man, I’m screwed, I didn’t read my own phase 1 guide from the last time, I’ve forgotten her patterns and where exactly to run, it’s going to take a while to figure out all over again.

Was shocked to make it to phase 2 running purely blind, based on reflexes alone, being in bad positions about 50% of the time (screaming my head off and relying on dodge invincibility frame or renewed focus to scrape by) and got her to about half her health before all my poor timing finally caught up with me and whittled me down out of health and endurance and cooldowns.

Huh. Felt a lot easier than last time, I thought.

Checked my FPS, which was holding at 20-24.

Gave it another two tries, which came fairly close, though I was starting to train myself to adopt the more optimal positioning in relation to the patterns again from old memories of yesteryear…

I had to exit the map to pick up more tickets saved from last year from the bank, and also swapped characters to a condi necro because I was curious as to how it would go.

…then the weird shit started.

Occasionally dying from Visions that didn’t even seem to be close at all.

One or two cases of what felt like extreme lag and dropped frames, causing the whole entourage of Liadris to turn up a lot closer than expected

(yes, taking into consideration her teleporting – the point was not even seeing her teleport, and the visions stuttered in like they were flicker-stepping in too)

Checked my FPS, and lo and behold, it was at 10-12.

The zerg was in my map, trying out the boss blitz.

Spent another 30 tickets or so ramming my head against the problem, lucking in one attempt that had her almost dead before something happened… unknown, the floor fell out, but the announcer had only spoken the first time running out line, there didn’t -seem- be a vision near me…

…I can only conclude that a vision perhaps spawned on top of me and I didn’t see it with my low FPS before being returned.

It was nearly 5am local time (or evening North American time) and I decided that each attempt was getting worse and worse.

Either possible sleep deprivation, the oncoming NA zerg thronging the Pavilion or both.

Went for a nap.

Woke up mid morning. (Had a day off today, so no work.)

Got back into the Crown Pavilion.

Noted that the zerg had died down to some 30-40 odd individuals in my particular map – generally wiping on a boss after having killed 2.

Picked a cage away from the boss they were fighting.

Noted I was back to 20 FPS.

Killed Liadri on the second go.

Then I joined TTS doing a 6 group version (10ish people per boss, simultaneous kill) of the boss blitz for the next two hours.

The selfish part of me that wants a clear gauntlet run is telling me to propagate the message that is being spread on Reddit.

Crown Pavilion isn’t a zerg farm fest anymore! No more Monty Haul loot! Oh noes. Don’t come in to zerg it up, it’s an awful waste of your time! You get no T6 mats. You get no XP, so it’s pointless bringing in your low levels. EOTM karma train is where it’s at! Please spare my toaster all those FPS drops! Kthxbai!

sixgroup

On the other hand, if you achieve this level of pretty – and I do seem to recall quite a number of people wanting interesting 10-man group boss fight content, and quite a few megaguilds or server communities who could field this number of players, not to mention the eventual wising up and learning of the playerbase:

The six bosses are fairly entertaining in their mechanics.

There’s enough people around to rez a downed player if individual mistakes happen, and a waypoint if things really go wrong.

It is quite doable to finish within the 7 minute time limit – though the issue is coordination and communication, of knowing when to stop DPS and start killing in sync when all groups are ready.

goldbossblitz

Welcome to the new champion bag farm.

Not inclusive of extra green stuff that I lost track of, after salvaging. And there might be a couple more festival tokens
Not inclusive of extra green stuff that I lost track of, after salvaging. I spent a bunch of tickets doing the gauntlet achievements. And there might be a couple more festival tokens from what I started with originally.

Honestly, I can’t fault this new turn of events.

Fair is fair.

There’s considerable amounts of solo content available with the update – Labyrinthine Cliffs is a solo explorer’s haven. Queen’s Gauntlet is a solo challenge-seeker’s refuge.

It’s even in the interests of those playing the Queen’s Gauntlet to NOT have the unwashed masses piling it up in a group of 50 under some unfortunate person’s cage.

A group of 10 underneath shouldn’t create as many issues.

It goes back to the original intent of the design, which -was- zerg splitting, with all the anti-zerg mechanics given to the mobs, except the zerg outsmarted the designers the first time around.

It’s nice to have a little playground for coordinated groups – and it’s temporary content, doesn’t give anything special that you can’t get elsewhere so no elitism issues…

…but hey, you get the fun of playing in a coordinated team, fighting not-too-hard but not-too-easy bosses, and can rack up a lot of festival tokens, gauntlet tickets and champion bags quite fast. Very fast, even. Together.

Folks who don’t want to or have the time to play together, there’s Frostgorge, Cursed Shore, EOTM to choo choo around for champion bags too. The only tradeoff is no festival tokens, and no chance at Festival Favors for the seasonal vanity stuff.

Soloists who want those Festival things, there’s Labyrinthine Cliffs to play at leisure (and small groups can do this too – I see mesmer portals being popular and casual guild events doing the half hour event pop ups as being -very- very fun and cooperative and friendly) and the Gauntlet – which is a lot less agonizing without said 50 man zerg under you.

Those who have a more competitive streak might be happier with Aspect Arena and Sanctum Sprint.

Everybody has viable options. Everybody wins.

(Except those hoping to spam 1 and get rich. Don’t worry. Anet will screw it up at some point and there will be another farm fest again.)

Regret: The Video Game

So am I the only one who has trouble getting through The Walking Dead?

Yes, it’s a nice narrative. Yes, I like the idea of having choices and consequences and branching result on paper.

But then I run into a choice in Episode 2 that sets the tenor and tone of things to come, and I really can’t decide on what kind of person I want Lee to be.

I could take the pragmatic gore-splattered option which I personally feel would be more realistic in a zombie apocalypse survival scenario. But the idea of holding carefully to morals in a world where few hang on to theirs is also attractive in a thematic story sense.

And so I sit, stalemated by not knowing which story I’d prefer to experience first and refuse to let the rest of the scene play out.

Next moment, I’ve quit the game and am scanning through walkthroughs, knowing very well that either choice is a perfectly valid option that actually changes -nothing- in a gameplay sense, and -everything- on a literary level.

At this rate, I’m never going to even make it to 400 days, let alone Season 2.

The Study of Choice in the Face of Scarcity – Disk Space Edition

Rowan Blaze has been musing about economics in relation to MMOs in his last post:

Though much of economic theory revolves around money, I had one college professor eloquently refer to it as the Study of Choice in the face of Scarcity. This is what fascinates me about it, why do we make the choices we do? It doesn’t have to be choice involving money. For instance, do I spend all morning researching and writing a blog post, or exploring the town and country I am sojourning in, or play a video game?

And that has gotten my mind down a similar track. Opportunity cost is just as fascinating to me.

I have just spent most of this Saturday forgoing the opportunity to rabidly play Guild Wars 2 (and thereby make further choices over what I actually do in-game:

  • spend an hour on invasions earning gold
  • use that same hour to run a dungeon instead which might produce cores/lodestones
  • meander around the world harvesting resources to sell and hoard

most of which slooowly works towards my first legendary…)

…and instead spent it with a file folder/disk space management utility open in one screen and web browsing on the other monitor, struggling to tidy up my hard disks and pondering deep economic and emotional decisions about games to keep and games to get rid of.

This dire disk space emergency was prompted by me trying to start up Guild Wars 1 in the morning and having it stall at the Connecting to ArenaNet server window.

After some Googling, it turns out my .dat file may have been corrupted, the solution for which was to delete and re-download.

Got past the stall point, got to character screen, logged in or tried to- as the computer began downloading the whole of Marhan’s Grotto again (you pretty much download each zone bit by bit in GW1, something that usually makes the wait time less annoying) and the whole system kind. of. slowed. down. and. was. like. wading. in. molasses…

Then I realized that there were only 746MB free space left on the C:\ drive and the download was barely 25% done.

Ruh roh.

Plans to peek back in GW1 rapidly went out the window and I started looking for stuff to delete instead.

This just as quickly escalated down an entire afternoon and evening of Adventures in Freeing Disk Space and musing about my gaming habits, economy and psychology all rolled into one.

discspace2

For instance, the biggest hog of my disk space is The Secret World.

I usually try to leave MMOs that I -might- have an urge to go back to installed, since it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever casually pop in again if I have to sit through a whole day’s download to do so.

You may note that the other two space-hogging culprits are also MMOs, also not being currently played, and all now using a free-to-log-in-and-play-casually model.

Subscription MMOs? Gone.

I simply have TOO MANY other games I could be spending my time and disk space on, to say nothing of having to specially log in to a website, re-enable my account and resubscribe for a month, just to check on what has changed.

Economically, if I had to pick just one of those three MMOs, I’d probably keep LOTRO since I’m still in love in the lore and landscapes, and do check back once a year for Weatherstock. Even if I don’t think I could ever bear to level again, be it a new character or try to push out of Moria.

I was tempted to kill off The Secret World, if only to reclaim the most space back and rationally knowing my toaster struggles to handle it graphically and memory-wise. But the way it presents its quests, and the flexible AP/SP skill system promises an intriguing basic solo leveling experience if I ever felt the urge for modern conspiracy again.

RIFT would be the loser if I really needed one to go. Despite the flexible roles each class can take, I was left uncomfortable with how cookie cutter it ended up as there were distinctly mathematically optimal ways of speccing talent trees for different purposes, and I felt I had no future in an MMO with raids as a primary focus. Still, I can’t shake off the clingy feeling that maaybe one day I might want to log in just to look around.

Which is neither probable nor sensible, to be brutally honest.

Dawn of War 1 and expansions takes up the next 11 gb. Terribly old game now. Have I ever gone back to it after finishing a campaign or two or three with some races? No. But nothing matches it (not even its sequel) in terms of being able to put out so many visually awesome Warhammer 40k models in all their racial variety, and I just can’t get rid of it.

KOTOR2 and the GoG directories (containing Arcanum, Stonekeep and Beneath a Steel Sky among others) naggily remind me that there were some old games I wanted to get around to playing. *sigh*

Doom 3? I’m positive I was almost 3/4 of the way through or nearly to the end, but those levels just kept going and going and I got tired. But the sunk cost fallacy induced me to keep it around. I really should just dedicate an hour or two and FINISH it, just to put closure on it after… (checks the folder date) 6 years. Dayum.

City of Heroes got a massive trimming some time back since I saw no reason to keep the client to a defunct game around. I wasn’t going to reverse engineer anything anytime soon. Most of the folder went into an external hard disk backup. That one gigabyte left is mostly screenshots. Thanks to this blog, I love having a whole bundle of screenshots available on demand.

It’s kinda sad that my Adobe and Microsoft Office folders barely compare.

I ended up nabbing the disk space from other folders, temporary downloads, music/videos that I won’t bother you with.

Though it did come as a bit of a shock to realize that iTunes was hogging 15 gb of space just from backing up my iPad. (Yes, that ancient 16gb device is just as crammed.)

On a bit of a curiosity roll now, I checked out my other drive:

discspace1

Uhhh. Yeah.

There’s ~2.7 gb worth of screenshots in the GW2 folder (and I’ve been moving them periodically out to backup) if you’re wondering why my GW2 directory is bigger than yours.

(That PSA about moving out your GW2 screenshots before they hit 1000 on Reddit a couple days ago? Knew about it MONTHS ago.)

The next 9.3 gb are reminding me that I should continue the 10/10 project for at least one more day and so get rid of Runes of Magic that way. I really need to stop being one MMO obsessed for a while.

Black Isle and BaldursGateTutu? Because Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment are classics. I did intend to play them again some day, but even if I never do, they can be enshrined forever for all I care.

Yes, I have two copies of A Tale in the Desert. I dual-accounted it. Some games you dual account for a better experience. I am given to understand Eve Online swings that way too. (Though in both games, this can be offset through being massively good at socializing and joining player organizations. Extroverts network. Introverts multi-box.)

Restaurant Empire 2 is part of the cheesy cooking games collection. Just because.

The elephant in the room that we are trying not to talk about is naturally, the Steam folder…

steamspace

There’s more but I wouldn’t want to scare you all. Or have my account stolen.

Suffice to say, of the 44 games shown here, 6 have not been tried yet (Nuclear Dawn, The Walking Dead, Psychonauts, Forge, Sacred Gold, Sol Exodus demo) and the remaining 38 have been at least been sampled.

Of the sampled games:

  • 3 had a very surface sampling before I put the game down, unable to go on for one reason or another – steep learning curve or didn’t like the setting or never found the time to go on.

(X3, SWKOTOR, Divinity 2 respectively)

  • 25 were played 1/4 – 1/2 of the way through or played lightly but not a game you can complete

(Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, The Last Remnant, Civ 5, Borderlands 2, Dungeon Defenders, DOTA 2, Morrowind, LEGO Lord of the Rings, Killing Floor, Men of War Assault Squad, Overlord, Culpa Innata, Worms Reloaded, Tropico 3, Titan Quest, Silent Hunter 3, Mark of the Ninja, Amnesia, Mafia, Sins of a Solar Empire, Frozen Synapse, From Dust, Civ 4, Sanctum.)

  • 6 were played 3/4 of the way through or played heavily but not a game you can complete

(Left 4 Dead, Dawn of War 2, Skyrim, Blood Bowl, Orcs Must Die, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines,)

  • 4 were played “and completed” at least to one’s satisfaction, but usually with holes in DLC/expansion content

(Portal 2, Indigo Prophecy, Alien Swarm, Defense Grid)

I dunno. I’ve been staring at it all trying to see if there were any patterns as to why I chose to play some games but not others, and for longer periods.

There’s no real relation as to whether they’re GOOD games or not (as considered by either me or the community at large.)

I’ll tell you right now that I enjoyed most of the lightly played games just as much. Left 4 Dead 2, TF2, Civ 4 and 5, Borderlands 2, DOTA 2, Morrowind, Mark of the Ninja, and Frozen Synapse are all excellent games in my book, and very highly polished. The poorer games are From Dust and Culpa Innata, and I consider the rest decently good in their own way.

The only thing I can vaguely think of is that the more completed ones were short enough that one can get to the end in a very reasonable amount of time, or had a compelling narrative that I wanted to see the end of, or had interesting game mechanics at an easy enough to progress but steadily ramping up difficulty level or some combination thereof.

I do want to get to the end of Mark of the Ninja, Frozen Synapse and The Last Remnant – I may get around to the first as it’s a very recently bought game but I’m not terribly good at stealth, the second is -very- compelling tactically but time-consuming, and the third is a Japanese RPG, you know how long those things take?!)

For many of the others, I seem to have played them long enough to get the hang of the mechanics but got bored with the repetition or grew disinterested in the story and then got distracted by a new shiny.

Well, it was worth a reminder of all the other things I could be doing instead of playing just one game out of habit.

(And yes, I am aware Psychonauts and The Walking Dead come highly recommended. They’re now on the to-do list.)

P.S. If you’re interested in doing something similar with your own system, the program I was using to scan directory sizes is TreeSize Free.

GW2: Shaping History With Your Vote

So, all the latest excitement both in-game in Lion’s Arch and in the Guild Wars 2 Reddit is the discussion about whether one is in #TeamGnashblade or #TeamKiel for the upcoming update of Cutthroat Politics.

Before we get partisan here, I’d just want to point out that this is an exciting development in player involvement with the Living Story. It harkens back to when one was given the choice to vote for Dwayna or Grenth in Guild Wars 1 in order to get a shiny hat, but a lot deeper.

Players get to both control the story and the direction of the game with their vote.

Players are making lasting history.

Whatever way we choose, we are giving up something in order to get something else. Choices and consequences. Meaningful decisions in gameplay.

Now for the analysis:

The hardcore in the Guild Wars 2 Reddit and the GW1 old guard appear to be all over Evon Gnashblade. The Fall of Abaddon as a fractal is a very tempting lure because it’s a link to both old GW1 lore (one of the major strengths of GW2 is being able to tie back into a long established history) and all bets are likely that it’s going to be gorgeous to have a look at Old Orr and the City of Arah before the Fall. There’s Gods and shit. How epic would that be?

As for Black Lion Keys, well, they’re a side benefit, but no one really gives a toss.

The fear of #TeamGnashblade is that Ellen Kiel may promise the ‘casuals’ and the not-interested-in-lore (the unspoken feeling is that it may in fact be a majority over those who prowl Reddit) decreased waypoint costs for a month.

How freaking tempting is that? Gold is always hard to come by and waypoint costs are a sneaky goldsink that affects everyone playing the game.

Finding out more about the Thaumanova Reactor explosion seems less appealing a fractals choice than the former as familiarity breeds contempt and a lot of people see the fire elemental in the reactor remains every day. Though again, some of the fear is that the new GW2 crowd who doesn’t appreciate the past may vote for it out of familiarity with the name. Others argue that we know a lot less about the reactor explosion, and that it may be an important crux point of recent GW2 lore, what with all the dealing with the fallout and chaotic portals and magic going awry that has been established in various zones in the game.

I just want to point out something that may be overlooked in all this fractals-focused excitement.

Let us not forget that this is part of the active and ongoing Living Story storyline.

We’re familiar with Ellen Kiel. She’s been established as a key ‘good guy’ type of character – a Lionguard who has worked with us since Southsun. She seems to have fairly good relations with Magnus and she now owns a frigging’ Aetherblade airship.

On the other hand, she is just a grunt out of nowhere and may not have the political acumen to last a day on the Captain’s Council. Then again, she managed to balance the pressing demands of the Consortium and still cater to refugee needs and be a good person on Southsun. She appears to be keen to work for fairness and balance, a reasonable deal between Lion’s Arch and the Zephyr Sanctum.

Evon Gnashblade seemingly comes out of nowhere, cast in the light of the greedy profiteering merchant owner of the Black Lion Trading Company and looks a little typecast as the ‘bad guy.’ Then again, most Charr look like bad guys, and you can’t really hold genetics against them, eh?

He’s an established citizen of Lion’s Arch and claims to be looking after the interests of Lion’s Arch first and foremost. He may end up doing a cutthroat deal with the Zephyr Sanctum to put LA (and/or himself and BLTC) first. He has no doubt plenty of backstabbing political experience to survive well on the Captain’s Council. And if he’s in charge of the Black Lion Trading Company and the Consortium are its competitors, that’s probably okay, right?

What are the things being left unsaid?

The most pressing question is why the hell Evon Gnashblade? Why him, just popping out of nowhere? Is he just a new unheralded NPC?

Except…

In the Molten Alliance denouement, the only thing known of the figure behind the alliance of dredge and Flame Legion charr, is that he or she came from a city and was a persuasive talker.  The dredge prisoner curses out a ““Lying, silver-tongued, snake-nosed trickster.”

At the end of the Aetherblade Retreat dungeon, Mai Trin says that someone else was also behind this, and that “Scarlet is going to have my noggin for screwing up.”

LOOK AT THE COLOR OF THE CLOTHING EVON WEARS.

You don't fool me. (Then again, maybe I'm Scarlet and trying to throw you all off the scent!)
You don’t fool me.

Thank you, I rest my case.

I’ll be voting for Ellen Kiel.

And if the worst happens, well, there’s a cool fractal as a consolation prize.