Category Archives: YouTube

Friday Bullet Points about Playable Worlds and ManaWorks and Other Things

Another Friday with just some tidbits to share.

  • Playable Worlds

Raph Koster announced his latest venture yesterday.  Called Playable Worlds, it got $2.7 in seed capital to start making it a thing.

As jaded as I am, $2.7 million doesn’t seem like a lot of money.  Thanks Star Citizen!   But it is seed capital, so the team has to make some progress before they will get any more I suppose.  At least it is not being crowd funded. The description though… that is wide open.

As you might guess, with the online world, we are going to build a massively multiplayer world where all sorts of players can come together and find ways to regardless of whether they like exploring or adventuring or socializing or player-versus-player (PvP). It’s a sandbox world that supports many ways to play.

-Raph Koster, VentureBeat interview

All things to all people much?  It won’t be a themepark I guess.  But what will it be?  Possibly` another MetaSpace, Raph’s previous venture, where you got tools and had to make your own content.  That did not end well.  But there is a solid team signed up to give it a shot, and Bhagpuss has run down the backgrounds of some of them already.  Massively OP also has a post up about it.

As for when it will show up, you had best find something else to occupy yourself for a few years, this is going to take some time.  But you can sign up for the email list on the Playable Worlds site.  Or follow them on Twitter or Instagram or whatever.  You can also apply for a job there.

Also another article over at Games Industry Biz about MMO lessons learned that may be applicable.

  • ManaWorks

Another new studio was announced this week, ManaWorks.

Good for those looking for something from a new studio, but perhaps bad news for fans of GuildWars 2.  As Kotaku notes, the lead of the new studio is Mike O’Brien, who was up until now president of ArenaNet and quite possibly involved in whatever would come next from the studio.  With his departure, along with other members of the GW2 team, the future of ArenaNet projects is very much a matter of speculation.  There are posts up about this at Massively OP, Inventory Full, and Nerdy Bookahs that are worth reading if this topic is of interest.

  • EverQuest Show Daybreak Teaser

The EverQuest Show traveled to San Diego to talk to the Norrath team and has promised to share the interviews in the next episode of the show.  Until then there is just a teaser video up featuring a short chat with executive producer Holly Longdale.

  • Norrath Soundtracks

Daybreak has announced that the original soundtracks for EverQuest and EverQuest II are now available for purchase from Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and maybe Pandora.

Sound Tracks for Both

I’ve not been a big fan of the Norrath music myself.  It tends to run between too brassy and too few strings on the lute for me.  But I barely like anybody’s soundtrack and generally turn the music off and listen to my own while I play, so Norrath is hardly an outlier for me.

  • Skywalker Speculation

And, completely off the video game topic, a new Star Wars movie is coming this December, the third film of the third trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker.  I am sure it will make many people angry and/or happy, while making Disney just that much more wealthy.  Not a lot is known about the story, or even the meaning of the title.  Over at How it Should Have Ended on YouTube they have put an episode of Villain’s Pub that speculates on what is really coming for this entry in the saga.

It is as least as good as any of the fan theories you’ll find on Reddit.

WoW Classic – A Run to Ragefire Chasm – The Movie!

Ula has been capturing video of our adventures in WoW Classic, including last weekend’s run to Ragefire Chasm.  So here is her video, A Run to Ragefire Chasm!

 

I love this video, both because it is a pretty concise overview of our Sunday in Azeroth and because it (rightly) overlaps with much of my post about that day.

For example, at about the 1:15 mark you can see us take off for our first run at Orgrimmar.  Chad leads the way, you can see him light off his evasion, then totally dodge around the first guard, just like I described, before dying on the bridge.  Scscla runs on past everybody and makes it to the west gates of the city.

In the next run you can see Obama and Chad taking the lead as the guards lay out Scscla and Jeepy.

Later, after death five, Scscla runs up to Chad’s corpse at the turn to the Cleft of Shadows, which is also its position in a screen shot from my post.

Sprawled in the road again

Then, at the five minute mark you can see Skronk’s corpse, floating in mid air, just inches from the instance portal.  I was already inside by that point, so only heard about the position of the corpse.

And then there was our glorious dance exit from the instance at the end of the run, again seen from another angle.

Anyway, watch the video, give it the thumbs up it deserves, and maybe we’ll get more videos of our adventures.

WoWCraft and Classic Queues

Carbot Animation appears to be jumping on the WoW Classic train along with a lot of other people.  They revived their WoWCraft series of videos with the launch of WoW Classic and have another video up in the series about queues.

The joke isn’t about the queues to get into the game, but the queues that appeared in some parts of the game as players swarmed in and ended up at bottle necks for various objectives.  I was witness to some of those on the Alliance side of the game.

Everybody will get their turn

While I was not a witness, I did hear that on the Horde side of the game polite queuing was much less of a thing.

And, of course, there are still queues to get into the game.  However, Blizzard has opened up more free character transfer options for both US and EU servers which are expected to be available through the weekend.  If you want a free move, you should get on that quickly.

WoWCraft and Layering and other WoW Classic Tidbits

Carbot Animations, which has made a business out of doing cute parodies of various Blizzard games, including having plush versions of their characters in the Blizzard Store and that re-skin of StarCraft from earlier this year, has returned to the WoWCraft series, which launched back in 2014, to celebrate the launch of WoW Classic.

 

I suppose we shall see if the foibles of classic become fodder for the series.

As previously announced, Blizzard launched some more servers and allowed free character transfers in an attempt to alleviate the queuing issues that were still plaguing some servers.  That brings the total server count up to 77, 39 in the EU and 38 in the US and Oceania.

Blizzard had previously also doubled the amount of characters allowed on a given server, letting their layering tech soak up the extra load.  However, this was not only against their plan to get every server down to a single layer as time went on (see the Reddit AMA), but has led to concerns that people are exploiting layering in order to harvest resources from the same node in different layers.  Tales of harvest riches have been making their way around the net, with Icy Veins tweeting a screen shot of a player alleged to have 3,000 arcane crystals, declaring that layering was destroying WoW Classic.

Arcane Crystal Panic!  At least they said “alleged”

They have since deleted that tweet and calmed down a bit, though you can still find the screen shot in their forums as part of a thread discussing this issue. (Discord nicely had a version of the tweet for me.)

They have drawn back a bit because Blizzard says the screen shot, and others like it, are fakes.  In a forum post Blizzard says they are monitoring the issue and have some options should this turn out to be a serious problem.  No realm has layers into double digits and Blizz says that most realms have layers in the low single digits, but they may still put a delay into moving between layers.  To address any lingering aspect of this Blizz has a patch that will increase the amount of time you need between layer swaps, which increases the more you do it.

Over at Polygon there is a piece up about WoW Classic which concludes that no matter how popular this nostalgia ride remains, the focus it has brought back on to WoW as a whole has been a pretty big deal.  Certainly a lot of people were at least watching WoW Classic being streamed.

For those wishing to run dungeons, Belghast has a post up about the realities of dungeon groups that is worth a read.

And, having opened with a video I will close with one as well about the lurking menace that is WoW Classic.

 

WoW Classic with The Creators and some Lore

Blizzard, in the warm up to WoW Classic… which is launching tomorrow afternoon… put together a of video featuring some of the original WoW team talking about their experiences in creating WoW and what they worked on.  Then they bring them all into a room to start playing WoW Classic together to get their reactions, which gets some moving responses from the them.

That is a fun and encouraging watch.

Blizzard followed this up with a second episode focusing on one of the team, Aaron Keller, one of the original 3D artists, and what he worked on during early development.

That there was an episode 2 implies that there might be more coming.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, Fandom Entertainment, the group that does Honest Game Trailers, did a video to summarize the lore on which the original World of Warcraft was built.

That always gets a little… or more than a little… mixed up in my head.  And all the more so since the lore has moved on and there has been time travel and all of that.

Anyway, that is something to watch while we wait for Monday afternoon to finally arrive.

Auto Chess and Dota Underlords

Somebody tell SynCaine I actually tried a new game.  And not just a “new to me” game, but something actually new on the market as well as being new-ish as a genre.

In one of those “plate of shrimp” passages of time, last week the Auto Chess mod for DOTA 2 and the games that have spun off from it started popping up repeatedly for me.  Various news stories, mentions on Twitter, an Honest Game Trailers video, and Valve pushing their game at me on Steam all combined so that when my daughter came over to ask if I had heard about this new game she and her friends had been playing, Dota Underlords, the Valve spin on the concept, I could tell her that I had just run through the tutorial.

I don’t understand what the hell is going on half the time in the game, but I’ve been trying to figure it out.

As I noted above, all of this seemed to have spawned from the DOTA 2 mod DOTA Auto Chess.  I didn’t even know you could make mods for DOTA 2, but I guess you can for most Valve games, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

The name “Auto Chess” breaks down, so far as I can tell, as:

  • Chess – because the game takes place on a 8×8 board, like a chess board
  • Auto – because you have no control over the actual battles

My live experience of the genre is made up of a few hours playing Dota Underlords, so your mileage may vary, but this is what I have seen so far.

The basics of the game seem fairly straightforward.  I came out of the tutorial knowing the basics, even if I did stumble a bit.  The game goes in rounds, at the end of each you gain some coins.  You use the coins to buy new units to use in battle or to increase the number of characters you can commit to a battle.

Going into round 1, use your coin to buy one

You start round 1 with a single coin with which to buy a unit.  You get a few warm-up rounds against NPCs during which you earn some coins to expand your group as well as collecting a few special items to improve their performance.

The units have levels, so to speak.  They start at level one.  If you can buy 3 of the same unit, they combine into level two, which makes the stronger.  You can also get to level three by combining three level two unit, but that takes some luck.

In fact, luck seems very much in play, akin to some card games like Gin Rummy.  You decided you’re going to concentrate on a particular unit, only to never see another one while multiples of another unit appear in the buy options with every round.  So you switch, only to have the next round go the way you were originally headed.

After the NPC rounds, the battle begins in earnest.  You are grouped up with seven other players and each round has you battling one of them.  You all start with 100 points, and with each loss you lose some points based on how badly you lost.  There are further NPC rounds at intervals, but the game itself is to be the last one left with points.

Sometimes victory, mostly not

This is where I begin to fall down.  In addition to luck there is also… well… more luck… and some knowledge that I do not yet posses.

Each of the units also has a type, and having more of the same type can improve how they play fare in battle.  Again, you have to invest in the right units.

And then there is unit abilities.  Some counter other types or work well when mixed with certain units.  However the tutorial is pretty vague on that and, while you can get some basic information about units, the rounds run on timers so you’re always pressed to pick and move on or wait for the next round.

My battles over the weekend indicate that I am not alone in lacking unit knowledge.  I am never the first one knocked out and, as time wore on I was able to get into the final three survivors.

On the flip side though, there are clearly people who have figured out which units work better together and what to concentrate on.  In several matches there was that one guy who went undefeated, winning with their 100 points still intact.  They clearly have played enough to have figured out the meta, while I am still struggling just to upgrade a few units and hope for some cross-unit bonuses.

The problem for me is figuring out what went wrong in a given match.  Sometimes if it easy to figure out, like if I just have unlocked more units on the field or if I have clear superiority in level two units or some such.  But sometimes the other person wipes the floor with me despite my having more units on the field or having parity or superiority in units that have been leveled up.

So this week I need to find a wiki or a unit guide of some sort to help me find tune which units I am buying and upgrading and which I am leaving behind.  Also, I am not certain how various formations lend themselves to units.  You can place them however on your half of the board, but whether being in columns, line abreast, spaced out, or bunched together makes much of a difference I cannot yet tell.

Overall the game seems interesting, though the randomness and hands off battle method makes it feel a bit like Hearthstone to me.

Meanwhile, if the genre appeals to you, there are other options.  In addition to the DOTA 2 mod, there are two other major contenders for the Auto Chess (or Auto Battler as the genre may be called) stand-alone rip-off throne.

Riot Games has added a mode called Teamfight Tactics to League of Legends, which is their own take on the Auto Battler idea.  Unlike Dota Underlords, this is not a stand alone game, so you have to log into the League of Legends client. (Expect LoL MAUs to go up I guess.)  My daughter’s boyfriend likes Teamfight Tactics because he used to play a lot of LoL and it uses the same units as LoL so game knowlegde transfers.

The unit thing may also apply to Dota Underlords, but nobody I know played DOTA 2, so really have no idea on that front.

Then there is the upcoming Autochess Origins, a stand alone game from the team that developed the mod for DOTA 2, which is rolled into a fresh IP, so there is most certainly no pre-knowledge of units giving people any advantage.  From what I understand, Autochess Origins will be available from the Epic Store.

Dota Underlords is still in Early Access on Steam, which means whatever it means these days.  It is also available as a mobile, which reinforces the Hearthstone comparison for me as well.  As of now there is no cash shop or monetization scheme in place for it, though there are plans for a battle pass of some sort and I am sure other things to spend your money on are in the works.

And speaking of Hearthstone, how soon before we see a Blizzard version of this, either as a battle mode for Heroes of the Storm or a spin off with a name like Heroes of the Board or OverChess or some such?  It feels like Blizz ought to have all the pieces in place so that they shouldn’t need two years to get something out the door.

Then again, this is Blizzard.  BlizzCon 2019 announcement or no?

Anyway, for those interested, Kotaku has a piece up about the emerging genre, and then there is the Honest Games Trailers take on it as well.

Are wee seeing a new genre emerge here, or just a passing flavor of the month?

The Rise of Azshara Update brings Flying to Battle for Azeroth

The long discussed 8.2 update for World of Warcraft, the Rise of Azshara, goes live today in Azeroth.  The servers might even be up by the time this goes live.  There was an extra long downtime scheduled. (Also, too much stuff happened today, so now I have my fourth post of the day here.)

The 8.2 update splash screen

This is a pretty major content drop for Blizzard.  There is a lot of stuff coming, practically enough to qualify as a full on expansion for some other MMORPGs.  The update notes go into things in detail, but we were given a brief summary a while back.

Rise of Azshara Features

That ought to be enough to keep people busy over the summer as we wait for WoW Classic to show up.

Of course, new zones and new raids aside, the big item for me is the second part of the pathfinder achievement which, when unlocked, will grant you the ability to fly on your flying mounts in the Battle for Azeroth expansion.

Flying is Coming

You even get a flying mount for unlocking the ability to fly in BFA… and the bar doesn’t seem so high.  At least not for me.  They tweeted a little video about what you had to do to unlock flying.

Since I have done all of the part one pathfinder tasks, it looks like I just need to get two factions in the new areas to revered standing and I will be there.

In the process there are two new zones to explore and a raft of quests to complete.  Blizz even has a survival guide video for the new content.

 

It is time to set aside my alts, with whom I have been tinkering for the last month, and get back to focusing on my main.  My summer goal for Azeroth is set.