Monday, April 27, 2015

World of Warcraft: Back to Raiding

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about games I'd played in the past that I wish I'd streamed. World of Warcraft was the first one that jumped to mind. Having a recording of how I'd played undoubtedly would have been good for getting better, and it would also be nice to have things like Tribute to Dedicated Insanity up on Youtube to be able to watch and reminisce about years in the future. The very next day Sky put up a post on his blog about differences in recruiting in his current guild and in the one we used to run back in the day.

WoW also recently went free to play. Well, not exactly, but pretty close. Instead of paying a monthly fee you can choose to sell some gold to another player, through Blizzard, and they pay your monthly fee for you. I have more gold on my account than I know what to do with so resubscribing with gold doesn't cost me much of anything at all. So I can try to get back into raiding without a monetary cost...

{As an aside, Blizzard still owes me around 400k gold from when my account was hacked. Now that that amount is over a year and a half of subscription fees I can't imagine ever getting it back, but it just makes getting hacked all the more annoying.}

Sky went and cleared it with his guild leader that streaming is allowed in his guild, so I've been working on getting my gear to a state where I can plausibly raid without just being a drag on things. I did some reading on rotations and stats and such and I'm pretty ready now, so tonight I'm going to try streaming a raid at 9:30 AST.

I normally prefer to tank things, but coming in super undergeared and not knowing any of the fights means I'm going to be a beatdown DK at least to start. And maybe the whole time? The way flexible raids work really make it seem like extra DPSers is fine, but extra tanks aren't needed unless old tanks cut back on play time. But that's just fine by me, as I've liked beating down too.

I will say, I've only been back playing for a week and I'm already sick of both LFR and Ashran. The queue times for both are really long for a DPSer and the gameplay in both just isn't very interesting. But they both provide a way to bootstrap my gear, so I felt obligated to do them. I'm about done with both of them now though, I think...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls

Ike and I have been looking for a game we could stream together. I was watching Witwix a couple days ago and he was talking about how he had a 24 hour stream planned for Friday since that was the start of the new season for Diablo III. I haven't played any of the expansion at all yet, so 'new season' didn't mean all that much to me, but it felt like it might be a game Ike and I could play co-op. I suggested it to Ike, he tested to make sure his computer could handle streaming it, and it looks like we're good to go.

As I said, I don't have the expansion, and I wasn't really looking forward to paying Blizzard $40 for it. I did some searching around and found a bunch of different websites that sell keys for games. Initially this feels really sketchy. Have these sites cracked the key generation code and are just manufacturing keys? Did they buy a ton of keys from a country where the game is cheaper? Hack accounts in some way? Are they just scamming entirely?

Then there is the other option, which is that Blizzard is just engaging in variable pricing. Micro economics does say that the seller would ideally like to sell their product for the maximum amount of money to each individual buyer. But they can't well have on their website a button to buy a game for $40 and a button to buy the same game for $20. It's easy to make a more expensive button with a sound track or whatnot, but they'd likely lose more money from $40 people switching to $20 then they would gain from additional $20 sales. What they could do is sell keys to resellers for $20 and then let them mark them up a little bit and sell to the people unwilling to pay $40.

I then noticed that one of the key reseller sites sponsors the pro gaming team Cloud 9, which is my favourite NA LCS team. My favourite Hearthstone streamer, Hafu, is also on Cloud 9, and has an ad on her stream for the key reseller with a small discount code. So they're probably not straight up scammers, I would hope? There's certainly a spectrum of options for how they got their keys and some of them are pretty reasonable to support.

The bottom line is that if I was currently employed I'd just click the button on Blizzard's website and pay whatever they want to charge. But as things currently stand saving $20 is worth the risk of not knowing exactly how G2A gets their keys. So I snapped yesterday and finally picked up the D3 expansion.

I tried playing a bit, but everything is completely changed from the game I used to know. I have no idea what my old level 60 character's build should be, or if the gear she has is useful or not. But that's what a new season is for! Paragon points and stash and crafters and everything is completely wiped out for characters created in the new season.

So tonight Ike and I are going to try streaming from 10pm-midnight atlantic time. I'm going to try out the new class in the expansion, crusader, and I think Ike is going to shoot things from afar with a demon hunter. I don't know anything about what classes might be good or not except that Witwix said every 4 person group 'needs' a '0 DPS' witch doctor for some reason. I've never played any witch doctor at all... If I end up wanting to play without Ike then maybe I'll start one of those and try out public groups if those are a thing?

Monday, April 06, 2015

ALL the Achievements?!?

I finally found the last two items in The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and have now unlocked all 178 achievements for the game. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but this is actually the first game in which I've earned all the achievements. I really like trying to get achievements which is why it seems so weird to me that I've never gotten them all in any game before. Why is that?

Surely the biggest part is that official achievements only came into existence a fair bit into my gaming life. If Krusty's Super Fun House on the SNES had achievements I surely would have earned them all. I likely would have picked up all the achievements in a variety of older RPGs too. The SNES and PSX era Final Fantasy games in particular, but even something like The 7th Saga or Wizardry V I probably would have gotten them all if they existed.

And then once achievements started becoming a thing I spent the vast majority of my gaming time playing either World of Warcraft or League of Legends. LoL has no achievements at all, and WoW has way too many achievements! I have an awful lot of them, including some stupidly hard/crazy ones, but getting them all would have required being really dedicated at all aspects of the game. And ditching my guild for one that ran 25 mans.

I found a website a while ago that tracks Steam achievements. I now have fully completed 1.2% of the games in my Steam library that have achievements. But 47.1% of the games are sitting at 0% achievements! That's sure showing how many games I haven't even gotten around to installing. And that still leaves 51.8% of my library that I started but never finished getting all the achievements.

It has me wondering if maybe I should work on completing some more games? Having some direction could help with forcing myself to stream more, too. Maybe spend a day or two per week solely streaming achievement earning runs of things? It would also be a good excuse to replay some very good games, like Alan Wake and DmC. But I don't know that achievement farming would make for terribly interesting content...

But hey, at least now I can say I'm a REAL platinum god!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain

Tomorrow brings with it the release of the new adventure for Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain. The way adventures work in the game is you get a bunch of challenging AI opponents to play against that emulate different dungeons/raids from World of Warcraft. Beating the opponent gives you new cards to use in constructed, including some potentially awesome legendary cards. Loatheb and Kel'Thuzad came from the first adventure, for example, and those cards are in my current constructed deck! Along with some of the commons and rares from that adventure too. Owning that adventure isn't really optional when it comes to playing constructed and I suspect the same will be true of this one too.

So then the question is... How to buy it? There are 5 wings to the adventure and they're going to unlock one per week. You can pay 700 in game gold for a wing, or you can pay $7 for a wing, or you can pay $5 per wing for every wing you don't own. I think the $7 for one wing is a little silly. You have to buy them in order and you need them all if you want all the cards. So buying one wing at a time with cash feels just wrong. So the real question, assuming you have gold to spend, is if you'd want to spend $5 to get 700 gold or not. Personally I'm sitting on 2190 gold so I could buy 3 wings with gold easily. And it's certainly possible that in the next 3 weeks I'll make 700 gold to get the 4th one too... But I do need more classic cards, so spending gold on packs is a real thing I might want to do.

Assuming I was willing to spend $25 on packs, how many would I get? 40 packs would run me $50 so you'd think $25 would get 20. You get a bulk discount so I'd probably only actually get 18 or so, but whatever. Spending 3500 gold on packs would get me 35 packs. So if one was going to spend cash, spending it on the BRM adventure would be about twice as efficient as spending it on packs.

I do think this is a pretty sensible way for a 'free' game to make money. Sporadically put out extra content you can buy efficiently or can grind in game to earn. It makes it easier for someone like me to justify paying them some money without feeling too much like it's just a pay to win scheme. Though as a CCG it certainly still has aspects of that.

I bought Naxx because I didn't have any gold at all. I want more classic cards enough that I think if I was currently employed I'd have no qualms at all about plunking down the $25 for BRM. But I don't have a job, and I do have gold sitting around, and I certainly have constructed viable decks without buying more packs... So I'm going to spend the gold I have on BRM wings.