Tag Archives: Minecraft Dungeons

June in Review

The Site

I think I fixed the MMO Blog Feed in the side bar that shows the blog name, though I am keeping the alternate one on hand at the bottom of the side bar in case my changes do not prove resilient.

I also had an odd call back to the past via Twitch this month.

Twitch is Twitch

A bunch of things have been going on around Twitch, including them… Amazon… selling the game mods part of Twitch (which used to be Curse) to another company, their competitor Mixer basically giving up, a Twitch blackout protest, Trump’s Twitch account getting banned (he had a Twitch account?), and Twitch getting sued.

It is that latter that came up here as I noticed a sudden surge in hits on a post about Erik Estavillo, from when he sued Blizzard because World of Warcraft was too difficult.  As it turns out, he is also the person who is suing Twitch because they allow women to use their sexuality to exploit sex addicts like himself.  First WoW was too hard and now he is too hard.

It had been a decade or so since his name popped up and you think that maybe people change and get on with their lives.  But I guess not.  Now I wonder who will pop up next?  Is it time for another Jack Thompson headline?  Who will 2020 inflict upon us next?

One Year Ago

I had declared that there were three problems MMORPGs were never going to solve.  I remain pretty solid on that.

I was also mocking the purity of leveling.  People be mad if you don’t do it right.

After waiting for it to finally drop, the Rise of Azshara update finally hit, bringing the flying unlock to Battle for Azeroth.

Over on the WoW Classic front, Blizzard had a load test that went pretty well.

In EVE Online the CSM14 elections kicked off.  The results were probably not surprising, though the last candidate squeaked into the tenth spot by a mere dozen votes.

New Player retention was very much on CCP’s mind.  I am not sure selling skill points in the Starter Pack was going to fix that, though it looked good to old handsThe June update though was more about shadows and putting repair services in every NPC station.

Actually in the game the Imperium was well into its plan to “glass” Pure Blind, Tribute, and parts of Vale of the Silent and drive PanFam from those regions.  I have a series of posts about that campaign:

We were poised to keep pushing, with The Mittani suggesting we might go as far as Malpais, when there were suddenly reports of Drifters attacking null sec citadels.  The Chaos Era was about to arrive.

The Spring FML season ended and we rolled into the Summer FML blockbuster season with a few new rules.  Remember back when we had movies and theaters and such?

I was also trying to figure out where the Age of Empires II Definitive Edition fit into the scheme of things.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.  There always is.

I had a Friday Bullet Points post about Stadia, Google, esports, and something Blizzard cancelled.

Five Years Ago

There was a cheer for the NBI class of 2015.

I was wondering what Turbine would do after they cancelled Infinite Crisis.  I was also looking for a summer game to play.

After waffling before a live audience, Blizzard finally caved and said there would be flying in Draenor.

Remember that time we killed a Mordus Angels Revenant?  It seems like everybody has killed one by now.

Also in EVE Online we got the Carnyx expansion, which had some of the initial Fozzie Sov features.  So we were out sov-wanding station services, though Dominion sov quirks still ruled the day in our fight at ED-9LT.  We then headed back north thinking maybe our friends in Querious would come visit us some day… *cough*

The coming of Fozzie Sov also meant further consolidation of holdings to make sure we could defend our space.  TNT got pushed out to Tribute to share space with the Circle of Two.  Tensions between the two alliances started almost right away.

And then there was Burn Amarr.  I took some screen shots.  And I splurged on ship skins.

Over at Daybreak they were talking about special servers for EverQuest II at last.  It looked like we might get some sort of progression server, for which there was a poll.  And then another poll, looking for a name.

Meanwhile, over in EverQuest, they were still working on how to deal with raiding on the Ragefire server, and the Ruins of Kunark unlock vote was upon us.

I was playing Neko Atsume on the iPad… back when it was only in Japanese!  I was also going on about 64-bit OS requirements finally coming to video games and an old grievance of mine.

My daughter suddenly wanted to play The Sims.  That lasted for about three days.  This is why I make her wait a week on any sudden new fad she want to follow.

The Steam Summer sale came and went and I bought nothing.  That turned out to be the last sale with the traditional daily specials format.

I brought up the F2P business model yet again based on a quote over at Massively OP which, if nothing else, got a long comment from Brad McQuaid on the subject.

And, finally, I played Minecraft with my daughter for Father’s Day, which led to a whole new adventure in gaming.

Ten Years Ago

Warhammer Online, whose game tips I previously mocked, was out soliciting user written game tips with the most boring video game related video ever.  Really, I was embarrassed for them.

Meanwhile, there were comical tips to be found in another game.

CCP was telling people that the steep learning curve in EVE Online was just part of the game, and Hulkageddon III was on the way.

FrontierVille came along, evoking the whole Oregon Trail thing… for which they recently were sued.  And a good thing to, as they are a bunch of lying bastards there at Zynga.  They never sent me my FarmVille magnet.

There was the big news from Turbine with Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play.  I wondered is Lifetime Subscribers like myself would get the shaft in this transition.  But Turbine made me a perm VIP instead and put out one of those charts that seems to accompany these multi-level subscription scams structures.  But I was winning LOTRO lotteries, so I was happy for the moment.

In Pokemon SoulSilver I had beat all the gym leaders, but we were having Pokewalker problems.

Then there was Blizzard.  Where to start?

They were selling WoW Gold straight from the main page.  Really.  It just isn’t what you think.

They screwed up the parental controls interface… in my opinion… along with compromising the security of it.

The whole RealID thing was just getting warmed up.

One of the accounts in our guild was compromised and the guild bank was looted.  That has happened so many times to so many people that isn’t news any more.

And during all this, the instance group was working its way through The Burning Crusade content with our Horde alts, but we weren’t really feeling it.  Ennui had set in and our only hope was Cataclysm.  And there were plenty of offers to get us into the beta.

Fifteen Years Ago

In EverQuest II we got the Splitpaw Saga adventure pack.  Those of us with Station Access got it as part of the package, while those without had to pay… ten bucks I think.  I actually ended up playing through that quite a bit.  As early experiment with content that scaled with your levels, it was good from level 20 to level 50.  Unfortunately, it never progressed and now every time I end up in the Thundering Steppes with my newer characters the intro quest pops up.

In EVE Online the Cold War expansion hit, bringing freighters, dreadnoughts, and player owned stations in null sec.  The latter are gone, but remembered via special faction Fortizars.

Twenty Years Ago

Diablo II launched. It enlarged on its predecessor with more classes and a four act storyline that played out over different environments.  A pre-digital distribution title, it was awarded a Guinness Book record as the fastest selling video game ever, having shipped and sold one million boxes over the course of the first month.  For comparison its 2012 successor, Diablo III, sold 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours, also setting a Guinness Book record.

Shogun: Total War launched, setting down a template that would become the Total War series that is still getting new titles.

[I mistakenly put these two in the May post, but the anniversaries are actually in June.]

Most Viewed Posts in June

  1. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. EQ Aradune Server Remains Over Crowded
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. EQ Aradune and Rizlona Servers off to the Usual Rocky Start
  6. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  7. Darkpaw Announces and Adjusts Plans for the Rizlona and Aradune Time Locked Progression Servers
  8. EQ Aradune Server and Trading One Problem for Another
  9. Why We Had Asset Safety in the First Place
  10. EVE Online Gets New Ships and COVID-19 Research with the June Update
  11. Hints of a Diablo II Remaster
  12. Ruled by Discord

Search Terms of the Month

play eve the way it’s meant to be played “eve online”
[Good luck with that!]

eq full servers wtf
[IKR!]

rizlona vs aradune server
[boxing versus queues]

heritage quests everquest 1
[Not so much]

jintha’alor altar solo run
[Be level 60]

Game Time from ManicTime

WoW Classic turned out to be the game of the month, though it was off to a slow start.  Even two weeks into the month it was in no better than third place.

  • WoW Classic – 37.41%
  • EVE Online – 31.81%
  • Minecraft – 14.62%
  • Minecraft Dungeons – 8.58%
  • EverQuest – 7.07%

EVE Online

The GEF deployment ended as we began ramping up for war in null sec.  The other two blocs, PandaFam and Legacy Coalition, might be coming for us.  Or maybe just Legacy.  We shall see.

We also got those new EDENCOM ships.  I’m training up the skills.  We shall see if the ships are any good.  And CCP finally made it so you can swap characters without exiting the game and logging back in.

EverQuest

I let my Daybreak Access account lapse.  I wasn’t doing anything that required it, except checking to see if the Aradune server still had a queue.  But I have still been logging on to play with the Overseer feature.  It does not require a subscription and I just log in once or twice a day for a bit to check up on missions.  I’d play this as an iPad game I guess.

Minecraft

The month started out strong on Minecraft.  I think in the first week I played much more of that than all things combined.  Then things started to pop a bit in EVE Online and I started getting back into WoW Classic outside of the instance group and Minecraft began to slip.

Minecraft Dungeons

This was the other game I started off strong with early on.  I played through the story and started playing through it again at the harder level… and then I sort of stopped.  As I said, the game isn’t bad, but unless you want to play the same content through over and over, there is only 4-7 hours of game there depending how you play.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I edged ever closer to level 40.  The remote raid pass option has meant we have been able to catch a few Pokemon that we might have otherwise missed out on.  But the social distancing and the hot weather have combined to make our Pokemon walks somewhat rare.  Nobody needs that when it is 95 degrees out.

Level: 39 (38% of the way to level 40)
Pokedex status: 545 (+4) caught, 576 (+7) seen
Pokemon I want: Some of these Unova Pokemon where I only have one
Current buddy: Fraxure

World of Warcraft

I did Darkmoon Faire on my main to get my trade skills up a bit and that was pretty much it.

WoW Classic

Old Azeroth was resurgent this month as the group got back into dungeons once again.  I also started working on alts once more.  After a bit of a break it was nice to get back into the old game again.  There will no doubt be more posts coming on it.

Coming Up

It is going to be a long, hot summer, made agonizing by a presidential election failing presidency and we won’t even have NBC’s Olympics coverage to complain about as a distraction.

So staying home will remain a thing.  Fortunately, we have video games.

We will see if there is to be war in EVE Online between the Imperium and Legacy Coalition.  We still have a few days of prep.

The instance group might actually run a dungeon besides Zul’Farrak.

It remains ever a temptation to go back into WoW and Battle for Azeroth to play through the Horde story while the double xp lasts.  It doesn’t seem likely, but it could happen.

There is another weekend of the Steam Summer Sale.  I might buy something.  It is always a possibility.

Honest Game Trailers and Zero Punctuation Reviews go after Minecraft Dungeons

As I was playing and writing about Minecraft Dungeons, I decided to avert my eyes a bit from some of the other press it was getting, if only to not influence my view while it was still starting to gel.

It is Minecraft and Dungeons

Now that I think I have written about all I am going to for the time being, I thought I would bring out a couple of video reviews of the game.

The first up is Honest Game Trailers.

 

Honest Game Trailers generally has two modes.  They either give titles they look at light hearted jabs at their weak points or else they go for the jugular.  This one is the latter as they savage the game as a low effort Diablo clone.

And then there is Zero Punctuation.

 

Yahtzee’s modus operandi is generally to be grumpy and dissatisfied with any game he reviews, grudgingly offering respect or compliments once he has vented for the few titles he eventually warms to.  In that continuum, Minecraft Dungeons falls into a valley of mild complaints that it is not really anything to do with Minecraft while being a competent if very lightweight action RPG.

And Yahtzee unable to either damn or compliment a game is almost the worst outcome, as it reveals an underlying lack of passion generated by the game.

So it goes.

As I said in my own post, there isn’t anything really wrong with the game.  It seemed fun enough for a bit.  But I also stopped playing it after a week once I made it through the main story and found that all you got after that was the same level with more difficult mobs.

Further Thoughts on Minecraft Dungeons

I think people are mostly in agreement that Minecraft Dungeons isn’t a very deep game.  The question, for me, is more whether it was worth the price.  If it had been a full price, $60 game, the answer would have be a clear negative.  But for just $20, is it worth getting mad about?

It is Minecraft and Dungeons

I’ll give that a firm “maybe.”

The game itself is light and easy.  Despite the hurdles of purchase, it runs smoothly and well with only the rare rough edge. (The delay between closing the in-game map and having the game respond to inputs is just long enough to be annoying.)  There is little to object to when it comes to how the game plays.

The game is short.  The thin story… defeat the Arch Illager… took me a little more than six hours to work through, and I spent some time experimenting with gear and enchantments (and setting up screen shots) along the way.  By the time I got to the final boss I was level 23.

The last fight in the story

I am pretty sure a more focused run could knock it out in much less time than that.

Who are those people in the end cinematic?

Once I’m done with the story in most games I am generally done with the game.  While finishing the story unlocked a new difficulty level, that seems a bit less than compelling.

After the story, do it again

Going back to replay levels isn’t bad.  As noted, the mechanics of playing are light and easy and fun in a simple sort of way, and I found on my first run that notching up the difficulty in order to get better drops did open up some more side-dungeons in the various areas.  But you don’t get anything new, just the same ten areas you just finished.

I had to crop and merge to make this one map

There is a marker there for “Island Realms,” but that is some DLC that has yet to be released.  We will have to see how soon “soon” really is.

No islands for you yet

Replayability is also hindered by the fact that there are no classes, just the default Minecraft adventurer.

There is a hint of classes in the gear.  The armor you choose to wear corresponds to class roles that you see in MMORPGs.  It would be interested for a group who plays together to focus on specific roles via the armor they choose.  But for a solo player there isn’t a lot of point.

So it might be worth $20 to the right person, but as I noted in my first post, it seems a bit thin for the price otherwise.  Not that it isn’t fun, but if you had $20 to spend on an ARPG, there are other options.

For just $10 you can get a copy of the original Diablo over at GoG.com.  It feels a bit raw these days, but it has atmosphere, story, and three classes.

For the same $20 you can get the remastered Titan Quest Anniversary Edition on Steam.  It sprawls well beyond Minecraft Dungeons in content, and has expansions if you want more.

And for just five dollars more, you can get the Grim Dawn base game over at Steam, which has a lot more depth and content than Mincraft Dungeons will likely ever have and is more recent than the first two suggested alternatives.

Then there is Diablo III and Torchlight II and Path of Exile, the latter of which is free to play, if you want more ARPG options.

But, if you’re like me and have played all of the above and want something in that vein that is light and easy and fun, Minecraft Dungeons isn’t bad.  (And if you have the Xbox Game Pass for PC it is free.)  Just know that there isn’t a lot of “there” there when it comes to the game… though being able to have a pet llama that attacks your foes by spitting on them is not nothing.

Me, my llama, and my bat

As for the coming DLC… I feel like I might skip that unless they really step up their game.  We shall see.

Starting Off with Minecraft Dungeons

As I mentioned in the month in review post, I bought a copy of Minecraft Dungeons last month and actually found some time to play it this past week.

It is Minecraft and Dungeons

I am going to get my negative vibes out of the way first.

It is kind of a pain in the ass to buy the game on PC.  That you have a Mojang account cuts you no ice, you have to have a Microsoft account.  You probably have once if you have Windows 10, since they require it, but you may not remember that the login for that is probably in your password managed under a URL that doesn’t have the word “microsoft” in it. (Look for “live” on the list.)

Then there are three different versions, a Windows 7, 8, and 10 version, a Windows 10 version, and a Windows 10 Hero version, which will get you the next few DLC packs they push out.  But otherwise, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the first two… the descriptions were paltry in the extreme, so bought the first one because… more support is better?  I don’t know.  Maybe I made a mistake there.

And then there is the fact that the game has its own launcher, which may sound like a nit pick, but there is a button for it on the damn Minecraft launcher that, before you buy the game, gives you a link to the store page and, which after you buy it, comes up with a button to launch its launcher.  I mean, WTF?

That button is a lie

Minecraft Dungeons is also clearly a console game that they also brought over to Windows.  The opening page starts in with all the controller buttons you need to activate this or that.

My keyboard does not have most of those

That also probably explains why there is no built-in functionality to take screen shots.  I had to hit print screen and tab out to paste images into Paint.net to get what you see here.  I tried to use the nVidia GeForce experience to take screen shots, but the game is too new to be supported in that yet, and I didn’t want to go dig up my Fraps account just for this.

After 45 minutes of buying then trying to install it some place besides the default location… and being warned not to uninstall for heaven’s sake… I was perhaps not all that favorably disposed towards the game.

And, in the end, it isn’t actually Minecraft… you cannot punch trees or build or whatever and it is click to move as opposed to first person perspective.  But if you’re making an action RPG Diablo clone, being able to build a redstone sugar cane harvester probably isn’t a requirement.

That is what it is after all, an action RPG with a Minecraft skin on it.  And the game meets expectations there.  Zombies groan, skeletons rattle, creepers go “sssss… BOOM,” and so on, while you and your blocky avatar move through the game.

A skeleton and a baby zombie!

The UI will be familiar to anybody who has played a Diablo or Torchlight or most any action RPG, with perhaps the arrow count standing in for the mana bulb, as there isn’t any magic casting classes… as there are not really classes.  You’re just a Minecraft protagonist.

Once you play through an intro that sets the story, you end up in a base from which you will head off on your adventures.

The center of the base

The base is pretty sprawling, and I assume  you end up unlocking things as you go along to make some of that space meaningful, but as you start out there are mostly just a chest here and there you can open to collect some of the game currency, which are emeralds of course.

Unlike Diablo, Minecraft Dungeons is mission based.  You go to the mission table in your base, click on it, and choose from some of the missions currently available to you.

Some early missions

Each mission has its own story which ties it into the over arching story of the game, and each has its own set of discreet objectives, bosses, and what not you need to overcome in order to finish.

This is not a bad thing.  While you don’t get a sense of a world as you are teleported into each mission and return back to your base, it isn’t a giant leap away from something like Diablo and its waypoints and quests.  It works.

And there are, of course, chests and loot and upgrades to be found as you run through missions.

Some new stuff!

You can find better gear, and there is an system of enchantment points that let you improve the gear you have.

The thorns enchantment

That gives you the whole optimization element where you have to decide on gear, the benefits it provides, and the enchantments it offers, the latter of which can be different for items that are otherwise the same.

And you can salvage gear you do not want for emeralds and a refund of the enchantment points you have spent on a particular item.

Things start our light and charming, the game play is easy, and it was quite the delight.

Look, a gelatinous cubes!

The missions have a map that shows you where you are and what areas you have yet to poke your nose into (because chests are always a possibility in every side path) and little arrows point you towards every objective, so you are unlikely to ever feel lost  Even death has a light touch.  I did a jump roll into some water and died… no swimming here I guess.

It was bound to happen

You get a set number of lives per mission, but when you die you get dropped back at a safe spot and can just carry on.  But if you die to many times you get sent back to your base to start over again.

After a couple of missions I was pretty happy with the game.  I showed it to my daughter, who liked the idea, and considered getting a copy for my Switch Lite.  It seemed like it might be a good title to play on that.  There is no cross platform play… or even cross platform saves/accounts… but I wasn’t so dug into the PC version that I felt I couldn’t change over.  You can play with up to three of your friends, which on the PC side is controlled through a friends list, though how that really works I haven’t seen yet as I have nobody on my list.

And then I got to the content gating mechanism.

While you have levels… because levels will never die… and gain enchantment points with each level, you also have a power measurement based on your level, gear, and enchantments.

Each mission has a recommended level of power you ought to have to take it on.  After the first few missions I ran though I was at power level 6 and the next range of missions were suggesting 10.

It isn’t a hard barrier.  You can run the missions with a power suggestion higher than your actual, but they are tuned for that suggestion as a minimum.  Still, you might get a gear drop that will boost your power as you go through.

Or you can re-run past missions.  You can actually dial up their settings from their default to something more challenging, which gets you better drops.

Mission settings

I am less enthused with that option because, with all the charm and cuteness and Minecraft feel to the game, none of the levels were really interesting enough that I was thinking, “I want to do that again!” when I was done.  I was far more, “Okay, let’s get the next mission going!”

Still, it feels a bit thin so far, though I need to measure that against the $20 price.

And I am also not that far into the game yet, so perhaps I have not hit the more interesting missions.  It is light and easy to pick up though.  It just needs to clear the “compelling” hurdle for me.

Friday Bullet Points about Minecraft

It has been just over four years since Microsoft paid Markus “Notch” Persson 2.5 billion dollars for Mojang, the company he founded.  Of course, what Microsoft was really buying was Minecraft.  Notch had been forecasting doom when it came to Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8, but it turns out that a couple of billion dollars can change your mind when it comes to monopolistic practices.

Notch said at the time that the deal wasn’t about the money.  And I am sure he was right.  It is never about the money, it is about what the money can buy.

Anyway, four years down the road and it seems like Microsoft hasn’t managed to screw up Mojang and Minecraft.  I was concerned at the time as there is a long history of big companies buying small studios and then destroying them by not understanding what they really bought.  But Microsoft has managed to avoid that fate, in large part I imagine because they have mostly left Mojang to focus on what it does best, while pushing a few smart ideas of their own that their size and muscle allowed to be a success.

There has been some news out about Minecraft this week, which I am going to mix in with a couple of items of my own for a list of bullet points about Minecraft.

  • A Lot of People Play Minecraft

In a recent interview the head of the Minecraft business group at Microsoft, Helen Chiang, said that more than 90 million people play Minecraft every month, up from 74 million at the start of the year, and more than 150 million copies of the game have been sold, up from the 100 million mark back in mid 2016.

This is no doubt related to the fact that Minecraft is available in some form on a lot of platforms.  I was going to compare to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for most platforms supported, then I saw Minecraft was available on things like Apple TV and the Nintendo 3DS and started wondering if we were getting into Tetris levels of platform support.

  • No Minecraft 2

Also in that interview the question of a sequel came up and the idea of a direct sequel for the core Minecraft product was dismissed.  Microsoft gets it.  If you have a popular product with 90 million people playing it every month, you don’t yank the rug out and force them to decide between what they currently enjoy and some new item.

While Club Penguin didn’t have that level of popularity, things would have likely ended better had Disney not tried to force its player base onto the now discontinued Club Penguin Island.

So while Microsoft will use the Minecraft IP for other games, it won’t try to replace the core game.

  • Minecraft Dungeons

And speaking of using the Minecraft IP, at MineCon this past weekend a new spin-off was announced in the form of Minecraft Dungeons.

Described as something of a cross between Minecraft and Diablo, this will be a multiplayer dungeon crawl experience.  I have actually wondered about a Minecraft dungeon crawl experience in the past, though I would like it to be in the world where I can also build stuff.

Here is the trailer:

This could be interesting if done right.

  • Minecraft Realms

Not in the news, but something I want to mention as an item Microsoft got very right.  Part of what Minecraft does well is a shared experience.  You can play with your friends.  Minecraft is a power in online gaming that people often don’t even consider.

For a long time there was a plethora of third party hosting services for Minecraft and then Minecraft RealmsRealms didn’t offer any of the customization options that the third party hosts did and was much more expensive to boot, at least if you just wanted to play with a few friends.  It was pretty much a non-option when I first went looking for a place to host our Minecraft world.

Somebody at Microsoft figured out that if they couldn’t do quality when it came to features, they could easily do quantity based on a much lower price.  So they dropped the price and added in support for the various editions of the game, and kept it all easy to manage.  The UI for Realms is built into the Minecraft client.

You still can’t run mods and such, but for $7.99 a month it is an easy, no hassle way to put up an invite-only world that you and your friends can use.

It sure as hell was a better plan than that whole Mineserver fiasco.

  • Cuteness Overload

Also announced at MineCon was some of the plan for the next Minecraft update, which will be version 1.14.  Core to this will be Pandas.  There is a video.

There are also new NPCs planned, called pillagers, but this will be known as the panda update.

This is the sort of thing that will keep people coming back to Minecraft.

The MineCon announcement summary has been posted.