Snap Judgment – Warframe

I’m not entirely sure how to categorize a post about Warframe. It’s usually covered by the MMORPG press but after only a few minutes with it I can say it’s obviously not an MMORPG. Perhaps I finally need to add that “MMO” category to my blog, for discussing what are effectively little more than regular old multiplayer games.

I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like Warframe. In fact I’ve heard a lot of “positive buzz” about Warframe.

I’m here to change all that. :)

The Good

But first, let’s try to think of some good things to say about this game.

  • It’s free.
  • It installed successfully.
  • It did not crash.

Careful observers will note that those are pretty much the same items from the Kritika Online list. Those last two are the absolute lowest hurdle that any game must get over for me to try it out, so they did well there.

Truth be told, I’ve actually tried to try out this game at least twice before. Both times I downloaded it through Steam (still free) and got to the point of launching the game, and then stopped when it told me that I needed to create a Warframe account. Since it didn’t want to use my Steam credentials, which, in my mind, is the entire point of getting it on Steam, I uninstalled it without playing.

This last time, I bypassed Steam and went directly to the Warframe site to create an account and download the client, like I would for any MMORPG. It was more of a hassle, but again, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this game.

The New Player Experience

I was actually looking forward to playing it. I’ve seen a lot of people say a lot of good things about this game. I was in sort of a grumpy mood so I thought it would cheer me up to play a fun new game.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

The new player experience is awful, so I’ve gone ahead and uninstalled it before I punch a fist through my monitor in frustration. Perhaps in 2018, or 2019, or whenever they ever get around to ending the golden goose of “open beta,” they will care what new players think, but until then, I’m out.

Allow me to elaborate in exhaustive length.

I don’t mean the new player experience was “awful” in the sense that the story didn’t make sense (which it didn’t), or that I didn’t know what to do (which I didn’t). I can deal with those things. In fact, the game seemed perfectly serviceable, if not particularly noteworthy, in terms of killing enemies with guns and slashy weapons.

No, I mean it was “awful” in the sense that the UI is incomplete and riddled with bugs and doesn’t meet the needs of its users (namely me).

There’s probably going to be a backlash against this post, because I’m nitpicking about little things in great detail. But I’m a software developer, and it’s basically my job to nitpick about little things in great detail, so it boggles my mind to see games out in the wild from other software developers who completely ignore these little details. Not only does it make it painful to play the game, but it makes me wonder about the future of the software industry.

That Tiny Desktop Window

When I launched the game for the first time, it started in a window on my desktop that covered maybe 1/4 of the center of the screen. It started on a screen that asked you to enter your account credentials, so I thought it was a launcher, like the kind I’ve seen for a thousand other games. I typed in my name and password and waited for the full screen game to start.

Except it didn’t.

It started into the introductory story cut scene right there in that little tiny desktop window.

I had OBS setup and ready to record my first impressions of this game, like I usually do with most new games now, except I couldn’t record it because it was running in a window on my desktop, instead of a full screen game window like it was supposed to. Eventually the cut scene ended and the game asked me to choose a warframe. “Ah,” I thought, “now I will simply hit Escape to bring up the display options, change to full screen resolution, and restart the game.”

Except there were no display options. There were no menus at all. I could do nothing but select one of the three warframes there in that tiny little desktop window. I had a brainstorm, though: I would press ALT-ENTER! That usually switches games from windowed mode to full-screen mode in Windows, a time-honored tradition since the 1990s.

Except it didn’t work. It took my keyboard input as confirmation that I had selected one of those three warframes (the first one, as it turned out), and launched merrily into the next cut scene, still in that tiny little desktop window.

I threw up my hands. I went to Twitter and vented my frustrations.

By the time I got back, the cut scene had ended and people were shooting at me. Only then could I hit ESCAPE and find an Options menu, where I could change the display to full screen.

“Well,” I thought, “that was irritating, but at least now I’ll be able to start over and record my impressions from the beginning.” That’s what I thought at least. Until I started looking closer into the ESCAPE menu. Where was that Quit button? Or the Log Out button? It was nowhere, that’s where. There was no way to stop the game.

So I used the key combination that trolls have been trying to get new players to use in global chat since the beginning of time: ALT-F4. It was the only way to get out of the game and start over. Honestly I was a little surprised it worked. By then I expected I would have to bring up the Task Manager and use End Task, or reboot entirely.

Press 1 On Your Controller

That was the first ten or fifteen minutes of my experience with this game. That’s not a very good first impression. There are way, way too many great games out there, some of which are already installed on my PC in fact, for any new game to come out of the gate with such a terrible first impression.

But wait, there’s more!

Again, I had heard a lot of positive buzz about this game, so I pressed onward despite already wanting to uninstall it. I started out using my controller, because it just seemed like a controller kind of game. My very first instructions in the game told me to “Press 1 to use Slash Dash.”

I looked very closely at my Xbox 360 controller, searched it high and low, turned it over and around, and did not find a “1” button to press. “Lotus” in the corner proceeded to yell at me to hurry up, because I wasn’t using my Slash Dash ability fast enough for her.

The game thought I was using a mouse and keyboard, when I was clearly using a controller. I had used the controller to navigate the menus to select my warframe just a few moments ago. But it still wanted me to press 1 on my keyboard.

Eventually I figured out that pressing the right controller button performed the “Slash Dash” ability and Lotus stopped yelling at me.

Pet peeve: I really hate it when games tell me to hurry up. Especially when there is no associated fail state for going slow.

Keybinding Disaster

Rather than deal with the hassle of trying to translate the screen instructions for keyboard into controller buttons, I switched to mouse and keyboard. This required the obligatory keybind-remapping phase where I have to stop and change everything.

I went through the keybinds and changed the obvious ones: ESDF for movement, A for dodging, C for crouch, Q to interact, etc. You know, the normal ones everyone uses.

But there were some keybinds in the list that I couldn’t puzzle out what they meant. What is the difference between “Quick Melee” and “Melee Attack,” for example? What about “Change Weapon” and “Change Gun?” I’ve never seen this game before. I’ve never read about it. I’ve never seen it on Twitch. I’ve never seen a YouTube video of it. I looked high and low for some tool tips or explanations, but there were none. I just shrugged and thought, “Well I hope those aren’t important.”

At first I set “Quick Melee” to T and left “Melee Attack” blank. Because it seemed like melee should be quick instead of not-quick, I guess. But the game yelled at me that I needed to bind something to Melee Attack. It did not explain why, but I took its word for it. So I set “Melee Attack” to T. I expected it to remove T from Quick Melee, but it didn’t. So I figured I’d better erase it. I’ve played plenty of other games that blindly let you bind the same key to multiple actions and the results are never pretty. But guess what? There is no way to erase keybinds. At least, nothing intuitive. No delete, backspace, or right-click, like other games have done in the past. No “clear” button next to the key setting. Nothing. Eventually I just set it to backslash and hoped I never hit it accidentally.

Update: I left out the funniest part! Later, after resetting to defaults, I learned that those two keybinds were supposed to use the same key!

Moving Is Kind Of Important

I’m pretty annoyed at this point, but now that I’ve gotten my keys setup, I’ll finally be able to start playing this game in earnest and see why everyone likes it.



After changing my keybinds, forward and backward movement didn’t work. Pressing E and D didn’t do anything. I could strafe side-to-side with S and F, but I couldn’t go forward or back. Even the up and down arrow keys didn’t work.

I grumbled a lot and decided to reset my keybinds back to the WASD defaults. Clearly the developers just didn’t test ESDF. Since, you know, 2013. Four whole years now and nobody has tried changing their keys from WASD to ESDF, and nobody has added “test changing keybinds” to the regression testing scripts for every release. But okay. It happens, I guess.

I hated moving my fingers, but at least I’d be able to play the game.



Even after resetting the keybinds back to WASD, I still couldn’t move forward or back with the keyboard. I threw up my hands.

Button Guessing Game

So I just went back to the controller. It worked. I could move in any direction, a challenging game programming hurdle apparently! But every single onscreen prompt that appeared continued to tell me how to play with the mouse and keyboard, even though I was using the controller.

The keyboard-to-controller universal translator was not working.
Spoiler alert: I fell.

By then I was very annoyed with this game. Warframe, I think, has been out in the world for quite some time now (the “open beta” launched in 2013, according to Wikipedia). People have spent a lot of money on this “open beta” game through the cash shop. I even remember hearing about an “expansion” for this game.

I played my way through the rest of the tutorial, stumbling my way around trying to work out the right controller buttons on my own, trying to ignore that lady yelling at me to hurry up the whole time. It wasn’t very fun. I stoically soldiered onward just to say that I did it, but I can assure you that my heart wasn’t in it. I was already thinking about this blog post.

One other thing I noticed during the time I could actually run around and shoot things: There was virtually no visual distinction between the enemy mobs and the background. In fact, my player model, the enemy models, and the textures of the environment all were composed of the same basic shades of green and brown. Is that how they teach it in game developer school these days? “Make sure everything looks the same.” I thought surely by now there would be some backlash against all the military shooters where you can’t visually distinguish between the enemies and the background?

“And make sure the marker over the enemy’s head is muted and small.”

After finishing the tutorial, I uninstalled Warframe. If they ever decide to polish the new player experience, maybe I’ll try it again. But don’t hold your breath. I don’t particularly want to monetarily support a game company with no quality control, especially one that has a long history and should know better. I don’t appreciate being treated like garbage, even when the game is free.

* I lol’ed at the guy in that link saying he thought he was the first to think of ESDF in 2015. Update: Oops I left the footnote but deleted the text that referred to it.

Snap Judgment – Kritika Online

I alluded to trying out Kritika Online in my last post, so I thought I would write a bit about it. For one thing, I want to have a post to link to later in the year for my “Game/MMORPG of the Year” post, and for another thing, Friday is looming, and I don’t have anything to post yet.

I downloaded and played Kritika on November 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving.  I uninstalled it the same day.

Nevertheless, I will try to think of some positive things to say about this game.

  • It was free.
  • It successfully installed on my PC.
  • It did not crash.

I’m aware that just completing those three things is a major accomplishment for any game developer these days. It is not lost on me that real human beings put in a lot of time and energy to make this game, and I’m sure they are very proud of their accomplishment, and they should be proud of it.

But I’m not the right target audience for it.

According to Syp’s MMO Timeline (an invaluable resource), Kritika Online launched in September. I was reminded about the game on a recent MassivelyOP podcast because The Psion class had just been released. I had heard about this game once or twice before, but it did not even make my Games On My Radar 2017 post. So it was largely unknown to me.

That might be because this is not an MMORPG at all. At least not what I would call an MMORPG. In terms of player interaction, it is more like Guild Wars 1, which I also would not call an MMORPG (now) either. Other connected players can only be seen in very small “hub” areas before you go off into instances by yourself, or presumably in coop groups. The instances are known as “danger zones” in Kritika Online. They are a bit like dungeons, except about 1/10th the size: You follow along a path, kill trash mobs, and then confront a boss at the end.

To be fair, the “About” page for Kritika Online does not make any claim that it’s an MMORPG or even an MMO for that matter. It describes itself as a “3D RPG.”

Personally, I struggle to even call it an “RPG” because I feel like character customization should be a large component of an RPG, and there is very little to be found in Kritika Online. You pick from one of five gender-locked classes, each of which has a very distinct anime look that you can adjust only a tiny bit. Even more disappointing, equipping new gear in the game does not change your appearance.

Visually, the game looks like a Saturday morning anime cartoon. It sounds like one, too. That design aesthetic unfortunately does not resonate with me.

The game describes itself as a “brawler.” I have no idea what a brawler is, but if this is an example of what brawler combat is like, I find it somewhat lacking in complexity. I played a Gunmage, and I didn’t have to do anything to kill mobs except point in the general direction of the bad guys and click my left mouse button repeatedly. There was no discernible targeting system or crosshair. Just click your left button and things died. For variety, you can also press some number keys and watch things die with different visual effects. There was no gameplay challenge at all in the first half hour.

It seemed so easy that I experimented with pointing 90 degrees away from the enemy, to see if it mattered at all where I was looking when I pressed the left button. It turns out that yes, you do have to point toward the enemy. But there is a good 5-10 degrees of leeway in where you point. You can point far enough to the side that if there was a crosshair, it would clearly miss the target, and still hit the target.

The soundtrack consists of high-energy music with metal-sounding guitar solos. It’s very, very loud, as in highly compressed. It pegged all my meters and I had to turn the “master volume” down for, I think, the first time ever. Certainly the first time on this PC.

In fact, when I first started this game, it launched into a high-energy, super-loud advertisement for the Psion class. This was literally the very first thing I saw when I launched the game, and it looked something like this, but actually went on much longer:

On the character selection screen, each class has its own vignette like the one above that plays in the background while you peruse the class’s capabilities.

This game seems like it would be much more at home running on a cabinet in an early-90s arcade than on my PC.

Did I mention this game is not for me?

I don’t really know who this game is for. Except maybe kids. That’s probably it. This is a kid’s game. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that I don’t get it. I have little or no frame of reference for how to evaluate a kid’s game. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t challenging. It wasn’t interesting. It wasn’t engaging in any way. Such things didn’t exist when I was a kid so I can’t even say if I would have liked it back then.

In the end, I played for about 30 minutes–about the length of a Saturday morning cartoon–logged out, and uninstalled it.

The Blogosphere Strikes Back

Image stolen from Wookiepedia. And, you know, that movie.

Tobold recently declared that the MMO blogosphere was dead to him (paraphrasing slightly), so I suppose it’s my duty to point out that we’re still here, sort of.

Tobold was one of the first, if not the first MMORPG blogger I read, way back in the olden days when he talked about Vanilla WoW all the time. He was one of the original models for how I thought a blog should look. Then he sort of lost me in the last five years or so when he started panning every single new MMORPG that came out and embraced the jaded “everything used to be better” schtick and moved into pen-and-paper games. I haven’t read him much since then, but I see most of the titles of his articles going through my feed reader, and it’s hard not to notice one that reads, Is the MMO Blogosphere Still Alive?

Hey, I’m in that!

But by Tobold’s likely definition of “alive” (that is, generating ad revenue and getting free stuff thrown their way), probably not. The only way to get to that level is to a) start ten years ago, and b) embrace controversy early and often (like, say, talking about politics, which I’ve noticed from some EVE bloggers). Otherwise you have to branch out into other mediums like podcasts, streaming, or whatever.

But there are plenty of people still writing about MMOs. And even the subset of MMOs known as MMORPGs. (Here on this blog, the editorial standards are that an “MMO” means something very different from an “MMORPG.”)

I’m not particularly good at maintaining my own blogroll (because it is an incredible pain to manually make a big list of blog links in WordPress–for roughly 10 years I’ve wished for a reliable way to tell WordPress “just get your blogroll from my feed reader list and stick it on the side”), but I think the majority of mine still post relatively often. I also have a list of new blogs in my feed reader that I keep wanting to add to my blogroll.

The thing is, though, most blogs talk about their experiences in-game (including this one). Not very many talk about MMORPGs from a wider or philosophical or meta perspective, as Tobold used to do back in the day. There just isn’t that much to talk about on a daily or even weekly basis, that hasn’t already been said a million times before. I’m struggling to maintain a 3-posts-a-week schedule of interesting material here myself. Thankfully Tobold came along with this “blogs are dead” post to give me something to write about. :)

Most blogs tend to stick with one game, too. I jump around to different games a lot so I’m able to change up topics now and then, but it seems like a lot of people park themselves in one game for years on end. I can’t even imagine doing that, myself.

I think Twitter also cut deeply into a lot of blogging. Once potential bloggers discovered that they could be part of a community of their peers while only having to write 140 characters, instead of 500- or 1000-word articles, I think a lot of people said why bother? I can certainly understand the temptation myself. Why write an entire blog post about Kritika Online when I can tweet:

I can also comment on other stories around the gaming world without the effort of writing an entire post:

Those could have been two entire posts, but I couldn’t think of anything to write other than a sentence or two, so that was that. (I still might do a Kritika Online post, but the difficulty will be to avoid sounding like I’m bashing it to death just because I don’t “get it.”)

Not even mentioning streaming and YouTube, which is effectively blogging without the pesky need for structure and grammar.

So yes, there is still an MMO Blogosphere.

Ugh. This one is going to be hard to find a picture for. Another good reason to focus on in-game experiences–you can just use a handy screenshot!

Belghast also wrote about this.

GW2 – Living World Season 4, Daybreak

This seems like a decent non-spoilery picture for this post because I have no idea what it is or when I took it.

I finished up the Living World Season 4 episode Daybreak over the weekend. This post is going to contain story spoilers, so if you haven’t finished it yet, look away!

My thoughts are pretty similar to Bhagpuss’s.

But I’m going to start with the things I liked about Daybreak.

I really liked the quality of the cut scene at the end of the first chapter, Eye of the Brandstorm, when Aurene showed us that vision. It was one of the best cut scenes produced to date, I think. Naturally, I didn’t understand a single thing in the vision, but it looked neat.

I saw this on Twitter sometime before I reached the end, so the seed was planted in my head and it’s possible this is just some confirmation bias happening, but: Taimi’s voice acting was really good. She seemed like a person with thoughts and feelings instead of the standard cardboard-cut-out “quirky kid on crack.” I am just now reading that she is voiced by Debi Derryberry, or at least she was in Heart of Thorns, the most recent entry for Taimi I can find on IMDB. She is a veteran voice actor, so it makes sense it would be a good performance. (Incidentally, Canach is/was voiced by John DiMaggio aka. Bender!)

There were some good one-liners among the various cast members. Although I’ll be honest, I quickly tire of the jokey-jokey stuff in fantasy games. GW2 especially has a bad habit of using modern Twitter-esque slang in their jokes, which makes it impossible to stay immersed in the Guild Wars universe. (Eg. “It escalated… quickly.” Ha-ha-ha! That’s what millennials say! In those memes!)

I liked that I didn’t die 50,000 times. I was only “defeated” once by the Branded Wyvern, but you respawn literally right next to it so it wasn’t a big deal. The practice I’ve been putting in with my character over this past year has finally paid off! So if you’re coming back to GW2, take heart, because it only takes a solid year of practice before you can have fun again.

I really enjoyed recording my videos for Daybreak.

That’s about it, I think. The rest was a firm “meh” or “what the actual hell.” It’s good fodder for a blog post, though. :) And hey, it was free!

I was very excited to dive into Season 4. It was the first time I’ve been “caught up” enough to play one on launch day since the early days of Season 2 I think. The future looked bright, as I watched the download status bar on Tuesday.

All that optimism died about twenty minutes into the Brandstorm. It’s the same Living World as before.

Gameplay-wise, I thought it was par for the GW2 course. It was more of the same GW2 that we’ve all come to know and despise–I mean, love. Made peace with? Something like that. I was right in my prediction that there would be a ramping up in difficulty from the Path of Fire gameplay. Not as bad as Living World 2 and 3, but definitely harder than the bosses in Path of Fire.

There were no weird new mechanics to deal with, although there were a lot of Branded Crystals inexplicably laying around to pick up. There was a new mastery skill thingy but I never needed it so I guess it wasn’t important for the story. The new map is not bad, although I didn’t spend a huge amount of time exploring it. I don’t care about new achievements or mastery points or whatever. I don’t feel any compulsion to complete all the hearts and vistas and events on this new map, at least not at the moment. (I’m more into Guild Wars 1 right now hehe.) What time I did spend, I enjoyed, though. There were some beautiful sights, particularly around the Astralarium.

I absolutely hated the first chapter of Daybreak, Eye of the Brandstorm. I wrote a lengthy post about it that I’ve since scrapped. The gist of it was that you had to suffer through forty-five continuous minutes of high-energy combat, complete with flashing screen effects and blaring music. Forty. Five. Continuous. Minutes. It was exhausting, and the only real story payoff was Aurene’s vision.

Fortunately I know from Living World experience by now that even if one chapter is awful, it doesn’t mean the entire thing is awful, so I pressed on ahead even though I would have been fine never playing GW2 again after that ghastly abomination that I would rank among some of the worst combat experiences in Guild Wars 2 history. I had to take a day off from the game after Eye of the Brandstorm. Fortunately there were no more combat death marches, although the final boss fight in the last chapter had plenty of annoyances.

Now let’s start the litany of issues I have with the story. In short, they are continuing the Living World tradition of using random dice rolls to structure the plot. “This time we’ll be going to *rolls dice* the City of Fahranur! And the player’s healing companion will be *rolls dice* Rytlock! And the character who will deliver the important dialog will be *rolls dice* Agent Kito! And the surprise appearance will be from *rolls dice* Braham and Rox!”

Speaking of Rytlock, at no point did he use his incredibly powerful flaming sword, which has the power to wipe out huge swaths of enemies. I kind of wish he would accidentally break that sword, just so I won’t constantly look at him for the rest of the life of this game and think, “Would you please help me with that uber-powerful sword??”

I think the first odd thing I noticed is that everyone experienced Aurene’s vision. Previously, I think in Living World Season 3, they established that our character had some kind of special bond with Aurene, so that only we could see her visions. Not anymore, apparently.

At first, it seemed like they were setting up Order of Shadows Agent Kito to be a major new character and our “man on the ground” in Elona, although we barely knew him from Path of Fire. (I had to look up who he was. He had about two lines of dialog near the beginning of Path of Fire, and helped us get from the first map to the second map.) Agent Kito recognized a place in Aurene’s vision as a city called Fahranur (not Faramir), which set up the majority of Daybreak. Then he disappeared again, and so did his dream of becoming a major character. But then, a few chapters later, Agent Kito LITERALLY APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE to deliver a few lines, then vanished again, never to return.

Most of the rest of Daybreak was spent trying to find this city of Fahranur. Why? I have no idea. The Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik is about to destroy the world, we just had a vivid demonstration of that power in a Brandstorm, but we decided we needed to drop everything to find this city from Aurene’s vision. The only thing I can figure is that we implicitly trust Aurene to know what to do about elder dragons, so we do whatever she tells us, even if it’s vague and obscured in visions. There is also that issue where we’re still waiting for Taimi to figure out how to kill elder dragons without destroying Tyria (she has been working on this since the beginning of Living World Season 3, so no hurry or anything), so I guess we have time to kill chasing down secret cities.

We were told repeatedly that there’s only one person who knows how to get into the city of Fahranur, and his name is Spearmarshal Zaeim (the “Hero of Istan”). We spent quite a lot of time finding this guy. First nobody knew where he was, then we found out he’d been captured by pirates, so we needed to fight a guy to get a coin so we could negotiate with the pirates, then we found out the pirates had already turned him over to Joko, so we had to break him out of prison.

I’ll get to Joko in a bit.

The point is, Spearmarshal Zaeim was supposedly the only way to get into the city of Fahranur, and they dragged out Daybreak for quite some time to drive home this point. Imagine my surprise to see this quest directive up in the corner of the last chapter:

“Find the entrance to Fahranur.”

“Find the entrance to Fahranur,” it said. SPEARMARSHAL ZAEIM IS STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME! Why can’t he just tell me where the entrance is? Why doesn’t he lead me to the entrance? I’ve literally just spent the last several game hours tracking this guy down for the express purpose of getting into this city!

By that point I had given up on a coherent story, though, and just said, “Whatever.”

Now about Taimi. Again, the game spent quite a few chapters telling us that Spearmarshal Zaeim is the only guy who can get us into this super-secret city of Fahranur. But then out of the blue, at the end of chapter 5, here comes Taimi saying she’s in Fahranur and Joko has her. How did she get into Fahranur before we did? Why was she even trying to get into Fahranur? I thought she was researching how to kill Elder Dragons without destroying Tyria? They never explained that.

Also, why does it always seem to be Taimi who needs to be rescued? She was a bit of a “helpless damsel in distress” character in Daybreak.

Also, how is this Palawa Joko guy able to reprogram Taimi’s golem to suffocate her? Did she not use a strong password on the administrator account? Why can’t she override Scruffy’s defense protocols to tell it not to kill her friends? She was right there. Did Palawa Joko change the password on her? How does a dead lich king know more about programming golems than Taimi, the Prodigy? The more I think about this, the more questions I have. :)

(While editing my video, I noticed that Taimi was surrounded by “Awakened” asura right before the fight, who delivered a difficult-to-hear declaration of war from Elona on Tyria in retribution for “the Commander’s crimes.” I suppose the inference is that those golem-saavy asura are the ones who hacked Taimi’s administrator password and reprogrammed Scruffy. There is no way that I would have been able to figure that out without a video instant replay of the event.)

I thought this weird dialog was inexplicably coming from Scruffy, but I guess it was supposed to be coming from that collective of asura around her.

(While further editing my video, I wondered why Scruffy’s defenses did not activate against Palawa Joko or the Awakened Inquest Asura that hacked her password. They were, uh, formidable.)

Also, why does Taimi have a limp when she’s not in her golem? I noticed that at the very beginning, before the Brandstorm wiped away any interest in the story. Have they ever explained that? Is she disabled?

Okay, now about this Palawa Joko, the character with the name I vote most likely to have been created by a random name generator. It was not at all surprising to find that he had returned from the dead by the end. (Although now that I think about it, I don’t think we ever actually saw him. Only Taimi saw him. So maybe they’re going to pull another one of those it-looks-like-this-one-guy-but-it’s-really-this-other-guy moves like they did with Lazarus.) Every person that we encountered said, “Oh, I recognize your face! Joko is looking for you!” They made a point of having your character say, “Oh, I left Joko back in the Land of the Dead or Whatever, so it can’t be him.” So obviously it’s going to be him.

I don’t have a problem with Palawa Joko as a bad guy or anything, but again, it just seems like a huge, massive distraction from what we should really be focusing on: You know, the huge dragon destroying the world. By the end of Daybreak, Kralkatorrik is completely forgotten, and we’re off and running on Palawa Joko’s plot to send his army of minions to attack Tyria. (Well, at least, I assume that’s what we’ll be doing in the next episode.) It’s like, can ArenaNet please just finish a story? Maybe once? Without getting interrupted by some other seemingly unrelated plot line?

Then again they might tie these two plot lines together at some point. We’re probably going to find out that Palawa Joko is in league with Kralkatorrik, or vice versa, or something. Way, way back at the beginning, before the Brandstorm-of-doom, I think it was mentioned that Kralkatorrik had some “new tricks,” and it seems plausible that Joko could be one of those new tricks.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Braham and Rox literally dropping in out of nowhere to join the fight at the end. By then I was firmly in my “okay, whatever” mode and not really caring what happened in the story anymore. They sort-of-kind-of explained their presence, I guess. Apparently Joko has opened “portals” from Elona to Tyria in order to attack with his armies, and Braham and Rox just happened to find the one portal that led directly to us and our boss fight.

They did not explain why Braham was so mad at the Commander, so I guess anyone who didn’t play Living World Season 3 is probably scratching their heads about that. (*Cough* Braham’s angry outburst from my Living World Season 3 video *cough*).

Oh and one last thing, I’m starting to get on board with Bhagpuss’s conspiracy theory that they are going to bring back Scarlet:

The very end of Aurene’s vision. Who dat?

I think that would be pretty cool actually. I barely even remember her from Living World Season 1. It would be cool if they sort of re-did the first season so we could experience it again. :) From the perspective of recently playing seasons 2, 3, and now 4, I might be prepared to say that season 1 was the best one (even though I barely remember it–I at least remember being excited to play it, as opposed to feeling like the current seasons are mandatory homework).

I’ll be honest: I’m a little worried about Guild Wars 2’s future, given Path of Fire’s poor performance, and ArenaNet’s fairly obvious and unapologetic gambit to try to get people to buy more stuff in the gem store with these mount skins. I don’t think they are doing very well financially, and this game’s days might be numbered, at least under the current business model. So it pains me a little to ding Daybreak. But yeah, it could have been a lot better.

Games Played – November 2017

This GW2 jumping puzzle is not fun. Also, jumping puzzles seem harder as a Charr.

The Guild Wars franchise wins the month.

  • Guild Wars 2 – 37 hours
  • Guild Wars 1 – 21 hours
  • Dark Souls III – 6 hours
  • Final Fantasy XIV – 4 hours

I played a little Dark Souls III because I still need a new character to finish my The Ringed City DLC blind playthrough.

I feel like it’s been an extremely light gaming month, but when I add up all those hours and divide by 30, it comes out to a bit more than 2 hours of gaming every day. I know there have been many days when I have played nothing, or only a half hour at most. I usually load up a game while I’m watching news on television, so maybe that accounts for it. I wish ManicTime had more detailed reporting capabilities. I need an hour-by-hour analysis. :)

Social Jumping

Shadow added in post to enhance the illusion of height :)

I’m not going to write about how thoroughly exhausted and beaten down I was last night after completing the epic ~45 minute death march of a fight in the first chapter of the first episode of GW2’s Living World Season 4.

Instead I’m going to keep it light and talk about jumping. I saw a remark somewhere in passing about jumping in MMORPGs (apologies but I can’t remember where) which inspired me to write this.

A lot of people jump around a lot in games. I don’t know about anyone else, but I immediately assume the person behind the so-called bunny-hopping behavior has very poor impulse control, is a child under 16, is drunk, is impatient, has no historical appreciation for the real purpose of bunny-hopping in games, or any combination thereof. I only jump in very specific circumstances and very specific ways.

Mainly, of course, I jump if I need to get over an obstacle.

The more emotional or let’s say “social” reasons I might jump are the following:

If another player has done something nice for me while I’m out and about in the world (like helping me kill a mob, or waited patiently for me, or something like that), I will often jump exactly one time as a way of saying, “Thanks.”

If I’m mad about something the game has done to me, I will often run around in circles and jump up and down to simulate a temper tantrum. The avatar looks mad to me during this process. It sort of looks like he or she is stomping their feet.

(Incidentally, Dark Souls allows me to accomplish the opposite maneuver, which is to display happiness: Performing forward rolls in circles, accomplished by moving in a circular pattern and using the dodge-roll button. This is most often displayed after beating a boss. I don’t think there are any MMORPGs where you can do anything like this.)

If I’m in a group and I want to demonstrate the proper place to stand, or draw attention to my location, I will jump up and down a few times.

If I’m in a group, and someone asks if everyone is ready, I will jump once to indicate I’m ready. It’s a visual indicator to the group that I’m at the keyboard.

Sometimes I will jump once as a visual way of saying, “Yay!” For example, after beating a boss or winning a loot roll.

Sometimes I will jump over a shape or line or a rock or a log on the ground just for the fun of it. This is usually done while running from one place to another in a dungeon that I’m very familiar with because there is nothing else to do. In these cases I only jump once at the precise moment required to get over the imaginary obstacle, because I’m an adult.

Sometimes I will jump once at the top of a set of stairs or a slope going down to heroically launch myself higher into the air, or at least so it looks to me. In games that have gliding, this of course gives you a little bit of a longer gliding path.

That’s about all I can think of. I’ve always tried to optimize my finger movements when playing games. :)

I wish game developers would add emotes that are much more subtle than the ones that are usually in games. Every game has “thank you” emotes that I could use instead of jumping, but they are really extravagant bows or salutes–things that I would never do in real life in a million years. I want something like the quick wave of acknowledge you would use when signalling another driver on the road, that is sometimes no more than raising up your fingers a little bit.

Writing versus Story

Bhagpuss said something interesting in his last comment:

In general I think the idea that GW1 had good writing is fanciful. Much though I like Prophecies, the writing is pretty shoddy. I think when people praise the writing they are mainly talking about the plotting, which is fairly coherent. The dialog is mostly stilted and unconvincing, often risible.

First, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “risible” in my entire life. It means laughable, as in, “It’s risible that I’ve never seen the word risible.”

Secondly, he brings up a really good point: Does a good game need good writing?

For myself, when I mentioned that I had heard Guild Wars 1 had a good story, I wasn’t talking about the writing at all. I was talking more about the “immersive experience” or something along those lines. The world, the people in that world, the things those people are doing, and the way that my character interacts with them.

I honestly can’t think of a single RPG I’ve played in over 20 years where I looked at the quest text in a dialog box and thought, “Wow, that’s really good writing.” At best it’s totally transparent to me (which I consider good), or at worst the font is too small to read, it’s full of grammar errors, or it’s an assault of bad puns. Yes, I mean World of Warcraft when I’m talking about the puns.

I mean, I’m sure I must have occasionally thought to myself, “Nice turn of phrase, there.” But it’s so rare that I don’t even remember it.

Actually I can think of one game that I would praise the writing: The Secret World, because those cut scenes are often riveting, but they are more of a combination of good writing and good voice actor performance.

And now that I think about it even more, Lord of the Rings Online consistently has pretty good writing in their quest dialogs, at least in the areas that I’ve played, which is generally up through the Mines of Moria.

I think the issue of writing quality might be a moot point for the upcoming waves of MMORPGs, though. I’m reasonably confident that the days of reading quest text are coming to an end, if they haven’t already ended.

Guild Wars 1??

Since I’m done with Guild Wars 2 until November 28th (I got bored with dailies), I had a crazy idea a few weeks back to re-download and play Guild Wars 1 to have a look at the story. I’ve always heard it’s good.

I own this game. So why not play it? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I own all of the available GW1 content. I originally bought it somewhere around 2011, and later I think I bought all of the expansions sometime after Guild Wars 2 came out when I saw there were some achievements and titles that you could get from linking your accounts or something.

I never got very far in GW1. My highest-level character is a Necromancer that I got to level 17 in the “Prophecies” campaign. I logged into that character and had absolutely no memory of getting to where he was. He was in a place that I knew nothing about, standing in front of a row of henchmen that I didn’t know what to do with.

“You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you all here. Actually, can you explain it to me?”

So I started a new Ranger.

At first, I didn’t care much for the game. It’s clearly from a bygone era, when men were men and MMORPG players used arrow keys to turn and move. You can use the right mouse button to look around (not the left button) but anytime you walk up or down a plane, the camera shifts by itself to compensate, which is very disorienting. I can’t find any way to disable it.

Combat is very much of the “inactive” style. You stand in place and push your hotbar actions until either you are dead or the other guy is dead. As far as I can tell, you can’t do a single thing while you’re moving.

It’s fairly common to get stuck in the terrain. Don’t walk too close to any “edges” or you’ll find yourself rooted in place, bound by invisible forces. Once I tried to make my way to a river, and couldn’t go any farther, so I tried to turn back only to find that my little follower Gwen had blocked me there. I had to stand there until Gwen finally decided to move and free me. I couldn’t even jump up and down in frustration! I’ve tried to stay on the roads and obvious paths since then.

It’s pretty obvious why they decided to make a Guild Wars 2, from a technical perspective.

So with all those complaints you might think I gave up pretty quickly.

Guild Wars 1 actually doesn’t look terrible, either.

Actually, I kind of love this game. I got used to the quirky limitations after only a couple of play sessions, and after about a week I found myself running to the computer to log in and continue where I left off.

Admittedly it’s probably because a) it’s largely new to me, and b) I’m recording yet another video series and I just love reading RPG quest text in funny voices. Editing these videos is also quite fun.

But beyond that I’m finding myself engrossed in this little world around Ascalon City. It’s very interesting to see how the world changed from Guild Wars 1 into Guild Wars 2.

There is a whole lot of combat to wade through, though. It’s sort of like Heart of Thorns in that regard. But at least it’s tedious and easy, instead of tedious and hard.