Thursday 27 September 2012

Mounting fury over lack of Mists of Pandaria backlash

IRVINE, CA — Fans of massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft are disappointed and angry that new expansion Mists of Pandaria has caused little disappointment or anger in the wider gaming community. Two full days have passed since release and the expansion has racked up a paltry 15 one-star reviews on, a far cry from the triple-digit numbers hoped for. “I just don’t understand it” said keen WoW player Ian Keenwowplayer; “after the rage that greeted the announcement of Pandaria at Blizzon 2011 I was sure we were in for a maelstrom of all-caps fury, but it’s been a real let-down. My speciality is to instantly leap upon any mention of the movie Kung Fu Panda and point out that Pandaran in Warcraft lore pre-date the film by many years in a highly detailed argument with extensive annotation and footnotes. I was there at midnight on Reddit and in the general chat channel with a paste buffer full of quotes from tie-in novels, but had no need to deploy them. I had to actually play the game in the end.”

Blizzard spokesperson Ian Spokesperson tried to put a brave face on the reception, pointing out page after page of incoherent forum rants with random capitalisation, bizarre punctuation and highly innovative approaches to spelling the word “ridiculous”, but under questioning was forced to admit that the forums were always full of incoherent rants, and nothing had really changed since the expansion apart from a rise in accusations of Blizzard “panda-ing” to the lowest common denominator of their player base. Studies have yet to determine whether the majority of authors are making deliberate puns on the homophones “panda” and “pander”, or idiots.

In a bid to understand the lack of reaction we reached out to the Deputy Chairman of the National League of Angry Bloggers and Union of Really Quite Cross Online Commenters, Ian Deputychairmanofthenationalleagueofangrybloggersandunionofreallyquitecrossonlinecommenters. “It’s just been a really busy year”, he said. “We’ve had to be unnecessarily disparaging about Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, Diablo III and The Secret World, not to mention assorted updates and expansions. Guild Wars 2 is currently taking a massive amount of effort to tell everyone just how little we care about it, and how boring it is. It’s hard to keep up the sustained levels of bile and hatred that’s expected, especially when you factor in news of disappointing sales and job losses to be repugnantly gleeful over.” He also feels that the really big triple-A campaigns like that for Mass Effect 3 are having a damaging effect overall, setting unreasonable expectations. “People don’t understand the resources needed for something like that, I mean to be so tenaciously insane over something so inconsequential, we just can’t manage that for every release. We still have members searching out any story related to Bioware, EA, or the words “Mass” or “Effect” and posting furious comments, we’re not expecting them to be available for unwarranted abuse about other games before 2015. You know, we try a bit of fast-turnaround small-team abuse, but people see a couple of ‘OMG THIS GAEM SUX’ user comments on metacritic, they’re just not interested, they’re all ‘where is the nineteen page deconstruction of every quote ever made by any person connected with the game in an interview, where is the personal abuse on Twitter’, that sort of stuff takes time, you know?”

In a bid to pacify the increasingly angry Blizzard fanbase, Mr Deputychairmanofthenationalleagueofangrybloggersandunionofreallyquitecrossonlinecommenters agreed to launch an exclusive attack on Mists of Pandaria. “Erm, it’s really stupid” he ranted “like, uh, that movie with… y’know… the voice of the guy from School of Rock and… yeah, Kung Fu Panda, that’s it”.

“Oh really?” he continued “Originally seen in The Frozen Throne expansion for Warcraft III in 2003, five years before the film? No, I didn’t know that. Yeah, that’s fascinating, really… look, I’ve got a bus to catch, yeah? OK, great, you send me the scans of all the comic panels that included or referenced Pandaren together with the fan-fiction they spawned, yup, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for that, I really do need to be going though, OK?”

Monday 24 September 2012

Hobby Corner

Greetings, hobby idiots! It is I, Simon Quinlank, Earl of Hobbies and Margrave of Pastimes. I have seized control of this blog in order to bring my latest hobby to you. This hobby is called Recreating The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within A Different Game, and it is a good hobby. For this hobby, you will need:

  1. A passing familiarity with The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports. If you do not possess a passing familiarity with The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports, you may obtain one by playing The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports, specifically the Skeet Shooting event. If you do not possess The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports you may emulate it using the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator, but only if you completely legally possess the ROM and do not illegally download it at all. Other methods of gaining a familiar level of familiarity with The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports include “watching” a “videographic recording” on “You Tube”, or remembering the BBC television quiz show “First Class” hosted by Debbie Greenwood. I am going to remember the BBC television quiz show First Class hosted by Debbie Greenwood.
  2. A Different Game. There are many computer games, of which some are not The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports. You shall require one of these. I am going to use the computer game Borderlands 2. This is a good game, even though it was not featured in the BBC television quiz show “First Class” hosted by Debbie Greenwood. Neil Petark claims that Borderlands 2 did feature in the BBC television quiz show “First Class” hosted by Debbie Greenwood, but he is wrong. He is probably thinking of GamesMaster hosted by Dominic Diamond.
  3. A flask of weak lemon drink.

You may drink your weak lemon drink now, or save it until later. I shall drink mine now while thinking of Debbie Greenwood hosting the BBC television show “First Class”. Hello, Debbie Greenwood. Would you like some weak lemon drink? ANSWER ME!

Next, start playing Borderlands 2. In order to Recreate The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within Borderlands 2, you will need a shotgun. For the most accurate recreation this should be a shotgun with a two-round magazine, but other shotguns may be used if you are a second-rate hobbyist not dedicated to accurate recreation, such as Neil Petark. Once you have a shotgun, you will need to locate a Bullymong Slinger. These can be found in many of the early zones of Borderlands 2. Approach the Bullymong Slinger, and say these words that I will now write down: “Hello Bullymong Slinger! My name is Simon Quinlank and I am Recreating The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within A Different Game. I require that you fling objects such that I can shoot them from the air using this shotgun!” (Note that at the point I said “Simon Quinlank” you should say instead your own name, for you are not Simon Quinlank, unless your name is Simon Quinlank, but it is not, for I am Simon Quinlank.)

The Bullymong should then commence the flinging of objects. It may have commenced the flinging of objects even before you started speaking to it, demonstrating an admirable zeal for the hobby of Recreating The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within A Different Game. Granted, it is flinging boulders directly at you, instead of hurling clay pigeons in front of you, but I deem this to be close enough to count as a successful hobby. Now you must shoot them, with your shotgun! BANG! BANG! Do you see? Then, reload the shotgun as more projectiles are hurled. Then, shoot the projectiles, BANG! BANG! Then, reload the shotgun. Continue until you run out of ammunition, become bored, or die. Congratulations! You have Recreated The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within A Different Game. You may now select another different game in which to Recreate The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports, or you may return to your weak lemon drink. I am going to return to my weak lemon drink. Hello, Debbie Greenwood, did you enjoy my Recreation of The Skeet Shooting Event From The 1984 Konami Arcade Game Hyper Sports Within A Different Game? OF COURSE YOU DID!

Friday 21 September 2012

If the tanks succeed, then victory follows

The old MMO “trinity” has been flexing somewhat of late, what with the skill wheel of The Secret World, the everybody-heals classes of Guild Wars 2 and three player instances in World of Warcraft amongst other developments. Inspired by Tobold’s post title, Playing without a tank, I thought I’d conduct an experiment, and refuse to either play or group with a tank in a game for a week to see what happens.

In hindsight, though, World of Tanks might not have been the best choice of game…

Monday 17 September 2012

I cross the void beyond the mind

I’ve worked out who I am in Skyrim. Let’s examine the evidence:

  • Mysterious stranger
  • Followed by a frequently changing companion
  • Interferes in the business of anyone and everyone
  • Opens a lot of locks

I’m obviously an incarnation of The Doctor. My general approach to the game is entirely consistent with that, constantly being distracted by new and shiny things (not to mention dressing Lydia in Forsworn Armor and calling her Leela all the time):

“Of course, Jarl, I shall immediately go to this remote monastery you speak of, many miles away, to learn more. Come on, Leela!”
“It’s Lydia”
“That’s what I said. To the monastery, allons-y!”

Two minutes out of town…

“Ooh, a cave, I wonder what’s in there?”
“Shouldn’t we be going to the monastery, my Thane?”
“I told you to call me Doctor. Anyway, what monastery? Look, a chest! Quick zap of the old soni…lockpick, and, ooh, a Steel Helm of Fire Resistance. I wear a Steel Helm of Fire Resistance now. Steel Helms of Fire Resistance are cool.”

There is one tiny difference: The Doctor is famous for his aversion to weapons and pursuit of non-violent solutions to conflict, whereas in extreme circumstance, if pushed, I will sometimes wield a sword. And an axe. And a couple of daggers. And stab unsuspecting bandits in the back. Or shoot them with a bow. Or cast an assortment of fireballs, lightning and ice shards. Hey, nobody’s perfect…

Monday 10 September 2012

Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not

I’m on a bit of a MMOG-break at the moment. I’m coming to the conclusion that the longevity of a game may be less to do with the game itself and more my own frame of mind when approaching it; this year I spent several months in Star Wars: The Old Republic, hitting the level cap and doing a few operations, a month or two in The Secret World, and about a week in Guild Wars 2. It’s not that Guild Wars 2 is a bad game, it’s perfectly splendid, but I just haven’t been bitten by that “must play it” bug; there comes a point every now and again (I’ve blogged about several over the past years) where I need to take a break from killing a certain number of things by activating hotbar abilities to cause damage. With the Paralympics just finishing, hot on the heels of the Olympics, I’m feeling a similar way about Olympian endeavours; 25-odd days of top-notch sport have been fantastic, but a bit of a break now isn’t unwelcome. Four years is probably overdoing it slightly, but a bit of time pottering around Skyrim, engaging in turn-based World War II-ish fights in Silent Storm: Sentinels (now available from GOG, hurrah!) and perhaps madly shooting in Borderlands 2 at the end of the month might well recharge the old batteries for a proper go at GW2 or something else MMOG-y in a while.

Saturday 1 September 2012

In Memoriam City of Heroes

So. Farewell then
City of Heroes
You were My First
Like the Barry White
(But not my Last or Everything.
Still. One out
Of three
Isn’t bad.)

E. J. Zoso, age 17½

Terribly sad news that Paragon Studios are to close down, bringing an end to City of Heroes. As my first ever MMOG, City of Heroes will always have a place in my heart, somewhere between the pulmonary artery and left ventricle. It got me into this whole business and set a bar that even now some games limbo under rather than superjumping over, with features like flexible group sizes, sidekicking to play with friends, character customisation.

“In times of trouble, go with what you know”, as they say, and we know nothing here if not A Bit of Fry & Laurie. This genuinely heart-wrenching sketch from Series 2 seems rather apt.

“How do I like my MMOs? I like them the way Paragon Studios used to make them.”