Why I Didn’t Buy H1Z1 For $10

H1Z1 is one of those early access games that I have a mild interest in playing, if for no other reason than that it looks pretty. In the recent Steam sale, it was discounted 50% to $9.99, which is under that magic $10 mark where I will buy just about anything in any condition. I hovered over the Buy button…

But then I started to think.

I wondered what my reward would be for buying now–what cool stuff I would get after the game launches. How many “credits” or “gems” or “zombie points” I would get, what costumes or guns I would get, what titles I would get, etc. Because obviously there should be some tangible incentives for me to buy a game that’s buggy and broken and not finished.

So I went looking. And looking. And looking. And found… nothing. There is no indication on the official web site that H1Z1 will ever launch, let alone any listings of post-launch rewards I might get for buying now. The web site gives every indication that the game is live now, and you’re buying a finished product now, and the whole “early access” thing isn’t important at all. In fact, it might even be a feature.

So I didn’t buy it, even for that measly $10.

Progression Report – June 2015

There were only two games I played any significant amount in June: Final Fantasy XIV (28 hours) and The Witcher 3 (18 hours). The latter is not an MMORPG, but since it feels exactly like an MMORPG I’m going to count it in my progression report.

In FFXIV I started in on Heavensward, but to be honest I’m still a bit burned out from all the catching up I did in May, so I haven’t played that much into the expansion. I’ve only managed to level my Bard class from 50 to 53 52, and completed the first dungeon Dusk Vigil. It’s a great expansion…

… but it’s not as great as The Witcher 3, where I reached level 23 and played to the point in the story where the curse was lifted from Uma. I’m really glad I stuck with the hard difficulty. Once I got to level 12 or so, I no longer had any trouble with it. The main thing to keep in mind is that you have to be patient and fight defensively until you get stronger and get the hang of the controls. I don’t know how much more story is left in this game, but I’ve seen swords and armor that require at least level 37, and I still have a crap ton of question marks left to explore on the maps.

Finding Heavensward

Normally everything related to FFXIV is an absolute pleasure to deal with, but getting into the Heavensward pre-order early access has been quite an unexpected challenge.

FFXIV was down all day Thursday for the big 3.0 patch which I downloaded Thursday night. I had absolutely no idea that I would have to do anything special to see Heavensward. I just assumed the patcher would know I had ordered it, it would download it, and it would magically appear the next time I ran the game after the servers came up.

So I logged into FFXIV before I went to work on Friday just to take a very quick peek at Heavensward. Well, the game didn’t look any different. Oh, I saw a few changes to the UI so I knew something had happened, but that was about it. I was puzzled, but I had to log out and go to work.

When I got home I logged in again to look around more thoroughly. The game still didn’t look any different. I went to Camp Dragonhead to find a quest to start my adventures in Ishgard, but there was no quest. I entered the little intercessory to find a quest-giver standing there with a level 50 quest I couldn’t get.

That’s when I knew something was definitely wrong and I logged out to figure out why I wasn’t seeing Heavensward.

It turns out I had left out the crucial step of applying a “bonus code” to my account to get into the Heavensward early access. Buried at the bottom of the order confirmation email I received from Square Enix early Friday was a link to “Click here to get access to your products.” That took me to a page where I could click a button to make an “activation key” for my pre-order bonus code.

With the activation key in hand, I had to go to another page–the pre-order page–to register the activation key, which then in turn gave me the actual bonus code. The big problem with this step was that, Friday afternoon and evening, the pre-order page was buggy as crap and it took a few hours of re-entering my login information, one-time passwords, and the activation key before it finally got to the end and coughed up a suitable bonus code.

Then it was off to another page in the Mog Station to actually apply the bonus code to my account. As with everything in the Mog Station, the first challenge is finding the right place to go to do the thing you want to do. After a scavenger hunt of clicking, I found a place where I could enter a code that matched the format of my bonus code (naturally I could not just cut and paste it in), and of course it said it was invalid. Whoops, I was trying to redeem a Heavensward code, not a Heavensward early access code. Those are two totally different pages, it turns out, with two totally different-shaped buttons to click. Don’t go to the big giant button that says “Enter the Registration Code for the Expansion,” instead go to a smaller button on the side that says … something I can’t remember because it’s gone from my account page now. On the second try, I successfully applied the pre-order bonus code to my account!

I ran the patcher, eagerly anticipating that I would now be able to log in and see all the cool stuff that I had downloaded the previous day. And then I discovered that I had not yet even downloaded Heavensward. I had only downloaded the 3.0 patches that applied to the old world. I watched helplessly while the patcher cheerfully started in on another 4-5 GB download.

Now, as I type this, the patcher is “Updating” and the Time Remaining is “Unknown.” Windows tells me the patcher is “not responding” and suggests that I either close the program or continue waiting for it. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to decide. Perhaps I should plan on doing something else tonight.

P.S. I stopped the patcher and re-ran it.

Heavensward

Success at last!

Besiege – Failing Is Fun

I found a hilarious physics/building game in the Steam summer sale… Besiege. There’s something about it that just makes me laugh and laugh. It’s pretty unique in that the most fun part of the game is failing. The more spectacular the failure, the more fun it is. It’s still early access but I give it a thumbs up.

I’ll be honest, in the following videos, I was more concerned about running over the chickens than anything else.

Blaugust Plans

Interstaller Tidal Wave

To hold myself accountable, I’m going to announce publicly that I’m going to try to participate in Belghast’s Blaugust this year. That means posting at least 31 times during the month of August (once a day).

Fortunately for me, I’m sure I have at least 31 half-finished posts in my Drafts folder that I can choose from. So don’t be surprised if you see posts about very old topics that everyone’s long forgotten. :)

Difficulty in The Witcher 3

witcher3 2015-06-06 18-53-46-99

I’ve just about had enough of the Hard difficulty in The Witcher 3. It’s fine for normal encounters, but when it comes to bosses it’s over that fine line between challenging and frustrating. And it’s not because the encounters are actually too difficult, it’s because of two things: 1) The controls are not responsive enough, and 2) It takes too long to re-load from your previous save.

The controls. Arg, the controls. I guess it’s “animation lock” that’s the problem. You know, where they make it a priority to make sure the character animations smoothly transition from one pose to the next, instead of prioritizing your button presses and the actions you actually want to do. So if your guy is in the middle of doing something–say, swinging his sword–you have to wait for him to complete that action before he’ll start the next thing–say, dodging–and during that interminable wait, you get nailed and die because on Hard difficulty the bosses hit pretty damn hard and fast. To me, that says the developers are more concerned with the gameplay experience of the people who might be watching you play instead of the people actually playing the game. Yuck. I hate it. Frickin’ respond when I press the buttons!

So inevitably you die because the game doesn’t respond to your button presses fast enough. You click to re-load your last save. You wait. And wait. And wait. The waiting really makes me want to rage-quit this game, because I’m already mad that the game killed me even though I knew exactly what to do and pressed the buttons in plenty of time to avoid dying. And in the case of the !@#$!@ Werewolf in that one side quest, it’s killed me repeatedly at least a dozen times already and I’m just sick of it.

So yeah, I might drop back to Normal or even Easy. But it keeps telling me I won’t get an achievement if I switch, so maybe I’ll slog it out a little longer…

Dabbling In The Witcher 3

I’ve been dabbling with The Witcher 3 off and on since it came out, as I’m sure almost everyone who plays RPGs has. After playing The Witcher 2 there was no possibility that I wasn’t going to get the third installment. Anyone who has even a slight interest in single-player, story-based RPGs should get it without hesitation.

That said, I haven’t yet been wowed or completely absorbed by it, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve only been playing in small chunks, which is made possible because it’s a very quick-loading and quick-exiting game, which is one of those small touches in a game that I really appreciate. Quite often I decide on the spur of the moment to start or stop playing a game, and it’s annoying to have to wait for them to load or shut down.

As a PC gamer, the biggest barrier to entry for The Witcher 3 (again) is the controller. (Don’t even bother trying to play it with the mouse and keyboard. The key mapping support is an absolute joke. You can’t even change the WASD movement keys.) I don’t fully understand why, but I find it awkward to control Geralt. I’m always overshooting things and having to turn back around, like when trying to gather herbs. I think it’s because the transition between walking and running with the left stick is so strange to me. It’s like you only have to barely move the stick before you’re running. It seems to me you should be walking until you push the stick all the way forward. Maybe that’s adjustable somewhere.

Those kinds of controller issues didn’t matter to me in the last game because I was only playing to see the story unfold. The mechanics of the game itself were secondary or even a hindrance to the story progress. I pretty much just button-mashed through all the combat. This time, however, I’m trying to play the game on the Difficult setting, so getting a handle on the controls is pretty important to me. They aren’t kidding around when they call it difficult, either, and button-mashing tends to kill you pretty quick.

Speaking of story, one of my favorite things about the Witcher games is how you seem to start somewhere in the middle of the story, as if you’ve missed the beginning, and you’re filled in on backstory details as you go. It’s very unusual for a game. It makes me want to keep playing just to find out what is going on.

Progression Report – May 2015

With the exception of a few interminable days at a work conference, I spent the entire month of May playing nothing but FFXIV. That clocks in at 180 hours or an average of 6 hours a day, which is pretty much the maximum amount that I can play any game in a month. (Many of those hours were spent AFK, in case you’re wondering–I tend to leave FFXIV online because it’s a pain to log in with the security token.) I should probably back off in June or I’m going to be completely burned out when Heavensward hits.

Speaking of which, I finished the Main Scenario and I’m ready for said Heavensward. Next time I will try to stay more up-to-date. I didn’t realize there were so many important quests after 50.

As if the Main Scenario wasn’t enough, I also started on those campy Hildebrand quests–I didn’t know there were trials associated with that quest line, too.

My main Bard reached gear level 121. I’ve got two more accessories I can upgrade from 120 to 130 with Carboncoat but that’s probably as far as I’ll get before the expansion. With the mountains of Soldiery Tomestones I’ve been collecting, I’ve geared up my alternate DPS classes (Dragoon and Blast Mage) to nearly 110. I should be able to use any of the three for pretty much anything outside of Coil. I also buffed up my White Mage to 100, although I don’t much like healing level 50 content.

I haven’t read much of anything about Heavensward, but I’ve been assuming there will be no need to run Final Coil for gear after the expansion comes out.

Why are you making me wear this... this... thing?
Why are you making me wear this… this… thing?

In an unexpected development, it was bothering me that my Arcanist class was sitting at the uneven level of 23, so I went and leveled it to 30 and picked up the Scholar and Summoner jobs. There it will likely sit until needed for lower level content. I’m just not fond of the way pets work in FFXIV–I couldn’t even tell you why.

In crafting, I’ve worked Leatherworker up to 50. (I picked LTW for no other reason than it was at 16 instead of 15.) I’ve also gained a few levels in other random crafting classes from doing those daily supply missions. I started doing crafting missions for the Ixal as well, which is yet another thing I didn’t even know was in the game. It was a lot of experience at the beginning but now not so much. I don’t really have any crafting goals except to slowly make newer cloth crafting and gathering gear with my weaver.

I looked briefly at buying a personal house, but those things are hella expensive, and there aren’t any plots left anyway. I don’t know why I would even need one except as a repository for housing items that show up in my inventory from time to time. (For example, I just got a Hildebrand painting as a veteran reward.)