Friday, September 26, 2014

Titan announcement cancelled

I posted when Titan was "delayed" last year that in the time since development started on that title, the MMO genre had undergone radical evolution. I didn't name it at the time but the reality is clear now; the entire MMO genre has evolved into World of Warcraft.

I'm genuinely surprised at the news, though. I assumed that today's Activision Blizzard was no longer a company that could throw out that much work. Seven years is a very, very, very long time in game development-- I can't even imagine how much money it cost.

So I applaud Blizzard for this. They made a mistake as big as any a video game company can make and they fucking owned it. It's exceedingly rare for anyone in the video games industry to demonstrate this level of maturity.

It's funny, just last week I was thinking that with WoW's subscriber numbers slowly but steadily decreasing over time (or as MMO bloggers put it, "dying"), perhaps this year's Blizzcon is when we'd finally see just what the fuck Titan was.

I wonder when we'll find out now.

On a different topic, I mentioned last week the way Blizzard seems to be specifically targeting ex-WoW-players by expiring names-- my thesis being that, today, a good name on a good realm is a valuable thing, and that for an ex-player ambivalent towards returning to WoW, preserving your character's name is in itself a compelling impetus to resubscribe. I compared the tactic to the way some social games will cause you to lose progress if you stop playing for a while.

Today Blizzard announced they will add an interface to the game client to let players recover any of their deleted WoW characters. They have also specifically confirmed that any deleted toon level 50 or above will still be recoverable, forever. (But you better do it soon or you might lose your name!)

Is it a coincidence, or has there been an increase in people requesting character restorations? Perhaps too much for Customer Support to handle it all manually?

This new feature is terrible news for compulsive players who deleted all their WoW toons for the same reason an alcoholic would empty all their liquor bottles down the sink.

Blizzard wants you back, baby! This time it will be different!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Still dumping on Blizzard

Blizzard has thought of a solution for those people with enough disposable income to pay extra for the Expensive Edition of the Warlords expansion, but who are upset that people who bought it online got their 90 boosts already, while they wont get it until they hand over the money.

Just buy it twice. Buy it once now for the boost, and again later for the mouse mat, and if you ask nicely, Blizzard will be generous enough to refund the money you paid for the digital key. Or wait... what's that? They don't offer that refund? They'll only refund the digital key and keep the money?


Well... if you're not actively recruiting WoW players by buying them full-priced copies of the expansion that's your own fault now isn't it?

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Bashiok put out a blog today to reveal a new anti-aliasing setting they're adding for Warlords which is really really good and will improve the performance of the game and allow Blizzard to do things they never dreamed of before.

The old graphics setting wasn't that great anyway, so it's definitely not a bad thing that it's going away. You don't need to wonder why a feature was completely removed from the game because it's a crap feature anyway and you shouldn't like it because they did a load of testing and everyone agreed that it's terrible. They even asked the art and engineering teams.

You should love this new graphics setting, it's really solid and performs really well. It fulfills Blizzard's goals and it's the best they can do right now.

After Warlords release they are going to explore options for better settings, and they might even take a serious look at adding them to the game.

The graphical future has never looked brighter!

I hate the word "paradigm".

It's not often I disagree with Yahtzee, that guy is a smart cookie. Which I guess is why I was so surprised to see him in his column this week spout a bunch of distracting bullshit about "ensuring the continued survival of the species" while he tells us that a male hero / female damsel relationship is actually worse for the male because he has to do all the work (which in this case is "being a hero") while the damsel is actually better off for not having to (or being able to) do anything at all.

He says his "only" objection is that it's tired and lazy (which it is), then goes on to specifically state that he doesn't find it unrepresentative of himself. Leads me to wonder what  he expects from the real females in his life.

I'm realising that this point of view is really tricky to see past. The trouble with smart people is they are smart enough to fool themselves into believing ridiculous things if they have a good (emotional) reason to.

We all need to stop assuming that we understand all of reality. It's an illusion that your brain creates-- a necessary illusion, because a consistent reality is pretty important for human sanity. When your brain runs into ideas that don't fit in your present understanding of reality, it either ignores them or finds a reason to dismiss them. That old axiom "ignorance is bliss" is reflected in the way your brain has evolved to selectively ignore anything it thinks you don't want to know.

Some examples of ideas some people can't handle: the way we unconsciously discriminate against people we see as different from us, the fact that we are screwing up the planet with our excessive consumption, resistance to the idea of women's autonomy, the prevalence and impact of bullying on both a personal level and on the geopolitical stage. The idea of homosexuality or especially transgenderism is very hard for some people to resolve because their understanding of reality can't support an idea that complex.

And I honestly feel for those people. Society is doing things many people never even considered as possible before, and instead of explaining to everyone how our understanding of reality has evolved and improved, we just mock them for not already understanding, because our pretension forces us to deny just how easy it is to be wrong about something so fundamental. And from there people start overreacting, everyone gets angry and more time and energy goes towards controlling the conflict than tackling the ideas themselves.

So that's where we are now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Character Name Reclamation

Blizzard has realised that since they sell name changes, allowing people a richer pool of names to buy from makes very good business sense.

This idea probably came from what I assume have been extensive brainstorming sessions with the goal of finding any (cheap) changes they can make to the live game to distract players from the fact that it hasn't been updated in a year.

Or even more cynically, maybe they thought of it last year and have been keeping it in their pocket for just such a need. Hmm... would they delay the money train just so they have something to do during a slow subscription period? More active players means more purchases, right?

It strikes me as a very Farmvillian tactic; the wealth of ex-WoW players are now being dealt the news that an aspect of their character will degrade if they don't return in time-- the obvious goal being to galvanise ex-players into returning if they were on the fence.

Is this the first time that this has happened? Leaving characters the way the player left them has been a long-standing tradition for this game, and it's easy to understand why (sunk cost bias). Even deleting a toon has never been permanant.

Cynicism aside, I wonder whether this might geniunely be the best time to release unused names, in the same way that this is the best time to recruit reliable raiders: Less committed players tend to have stopped playing by now.

I'm more inclined to believe the cynical explanation though.

I've been raiding with a new 10-man group. We spent last night wiping our way through two boss kills, which isn't incredible, but being in a slower group did put me at the top of the healing numbers, which I think probably does more for my reputation in the guild overall than trying to put out good numbers against their best healers while learning a progression fight. Never underestimate the power of looking good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I know this happened last week but I just read about it and I am FREAKING OUT but not really though because that's ridiculous.

Blizzard, Blizzard, Blizzard... Isn't one of your mantras to "make it a bonus"? Didn't anybody think to phrase this as a buff to everyone that isn't a tank?

Saying over and over "it's not a bad thing, it's not a nerf" leads me to wonder why they are so certain they will have to rebut that viewpoint in the first place. I feel like these guys have lost faith in their playerbase to be rational. It reflects poorly on the company to seem so insecure and afraid of doing anything that might upset people. Couldn't this attitude even reinforce some players' demanding expectations?

Is there anything we can do about players who react negatively to anything they see as detrimental to their playstyle? How do you help someone see that they aren't the only person that matters?

Or can we at least stop giving dumb questions a platform? Is it that difficult to determine which questions are based in a totally unrealistic understanding of reality?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wat is satire i cant understand

Today I learned a new way to win an argument. If someone disagrees with you, you just pretend whatever thing they disagree with isn't real, which makes it a STRAWMAN ARGUMENT. Which means your opponent is wrong, which means you win!

If anyone tries to tell you that you have misunderstood, just disagree with everything they say. You already know you didn't misunderstand anything, which makes it a STRAWMAN ARGUMENT so your opponent is wrong, so you win!

Always remember, if you can find a two-word excuse for why someone is wrong, you don't need to engage with what they are saying because you already proved them wrong.

It's also important to note that in the case that you know your opponent is wrong, then it's okay to use a strawman to demonstrate it. If anyone calls you on it, they're only quibbling over nonsense so who cares.

Now let me tell you about the king of argument winners: sleeping with your opponent's wife. That way in case you run out of ways to attack your opponent, you can still fall back on "Yeah? Well I slept with your wife!" And you win.

In case they use the same tactic in response, make sure you've slept with your opponent's daughter as well.

You might think this all sounds a bit absurd, but just remember that if someone disagrees with you, that means they are wrong, so it's okay to be a little bit unfair to "balance" it.

Though if someone you disagree with says something unfair, that's a strawman and you win by saying so.

Engaging with the topic should only be done as a last resort. Have you tried calling your opponent childish names? Do that first.

Remember, the point of arguing is to win by reinforcing what you already knew to be true. Trying to understand other points of view is only appropriate if you already agree with them.