Season 5 Conquered

season5_conqueror

I did the thing.

Diablo 3’s season 5 should be winding down within the next few weeks, so I finally got motivated to make the effort to unlock my extra stash tab. It definitely would not have been possible without the kind assistance of a few friends who helped me grind out paragon levels, legendary gems and gear. The reward of an extra stash tab was too much for a pack rat like me to pass up, but this process pushed me well past my comfort zone. Even after proving that I can in fact complete this level of content, I still believe that it was a mistake for a reward this desirable to be locked so far up the seasonal  progression ladder. Stretching my meager skills to get this far felt like a chore and a relief when it was over, not like an accomplishment. Since I mainly enjoy playing solo it was also frustrating having to ask for help on some of the tasks. Among my more casual friends, many struggled just to complete the main seasonal journey and earn this season’s pet (mostly thanks to having to master a set dungeon). Locking cosmetic items like portrait frames and banners behind difficult content is one thing, but locking away huge quality of life boosts like extra storage space is baffling. I sincerely hope that when the season ends that extra tab will be obtainable some other, easier way, or at very least that next season’s stash tab is at a  much more accessible point in the seasonal journey.

In any case, I’m happy to set D3 aside for a while now. Sure there’s one more tier of the seasonal journey left but I have zero desire to complete it, especially since it requires leveling at least one more character (in hardcore mode no less). The timing of my D3 hiatus couldn’t be more perfect, since I can devote all my attention to WildStar’s new Destination Arcterra patch!

Advertisements

They’ll Have to Kick Me Out

 

By now most folks have heard about the bad news. In a classic “bury bad news on a Friday afternoon” move, NCSoft laid off as many as 70 of Carbine’s staff last week, and canceled WildStar’s China release completely. Other folks have already laid out most of my thoughts on the matter (see Gamer Girl Confessions and Notes from Nexus for example), I can’t help but ramble about this a little here too. Don’t worry, I got most of the swearing out of my system on Friday night.

ws_beta_end

I saw the world end once and I survived. I’ll always stay until they kick me out.

I’ve said before that Nexus is my home and while a lot has changed since I wrote that post the one constant is that I haven’t stopped playing WildStar. I’ve gone through phases of playing other games more, sure, but I’ve had an active subscription since launch and I intend to keep it that way. Right now I’m all paid up through the end of this year. After the news on Friday though, I’m just hoping that the game is still here that long. The layoffs are heartbreaking, but for the health of the game the cancellation of the China launch is the most worrying to me. It screams that NCSoft don’t have any faith in the game, and worse, it completely removes the potential for revenue from that new market. It also has the secondary effect of destabilizing the current player base, both by causing some folks to abandon ship, and demoralizing those of us who remain. Combine that with NCSoft’s record of shutting down under-performing MMOs and the outlook is grim.

I’m looking forward to hearing from Pappy as promised next week, hopefully sooner than later. He absolutely needs to help calm the players’ nerves and I don’t envy him having to do that at a time when I’m sure the remaining Carbine staff are incredibly stressed. It is vital that he convince us though, because if people believe the game is truly heading for maintenance mode or worse they will stop spending money and make all the prophecies of doom true.

anniversary1

Everything feels like panic and chaos. And candy-coated rowsdowers.

I still support WildStar and Carbine’s awesome staff. Nowhere else have I seen such a lovely, committed group of devs who happily engage with the community on a daily basis. I want to support them with my wallet too, but as a broke student I’ve got to be careful about my finances. Convince me that the game is still moving forward with short- and long-term plans. Reassure me that the game I love will still be here this time next year. There are so many mysteries on Nexus that I want to solve and new places I want to explore and I’ll happily pony  up some more money for fancy hats or new dyes if it helps keep the doors open. But first I need to see clear goals and not hollow PR-speak. We’re all looking to you, Pappy, I’m with you til the end!

Growing Love

A while back I talked about that crummy feeling of missing out on something fun when your friends are all playing a game you are not. So when I saw a large fraction of my Twitter feed talking about Stardew Valley over the weekend, I took a closer look to see what all the fuss was about. Usually the Animal Crossing style of game doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it looked like it had some neat elements and the price was low so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Stardew_jellies

They have a jellyfish festival! What’s not to love?

Now I can’t decide if I regret the purchase or not, because this little pixel town is so engrossing that I have barely touched any other games since I got it. I guess that means I like it though!

When looking up the game to see what all the fuss was about before I purchased it, I read somewhere that unlike a lot of other titles in this genre, there’s no rush to focus on a specific aspect of the game. I hope this is true because it really freed me to just explore and try a bit of everything without worrying that the girl I like will end up marrying someone else before I get a chance to win her over. What can I say? I enjoy exploring the mines all day and I’m bad at remembering birthdays. There’s always next year.

I’m not even through one full year cycle in the game yet anyway. There are still places I can’t explore yet and many upgrades and systems still completely out of my meager farmer-and-monster-hunter budget but that’s okay. I’m already planning ahead for the next harvest, and hopefully by next spring I won’t be all alone at the dance.

Change is Good I Hate Change

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might remember me praising the (still in Steam Early Access) game Subnautica a few times. Well, I’m back again today to praise it some more, and also offer some thoughts on game updates, and game changes more generally.

First let’s get some formalities out of the way. From the beginning I thought that Subnautica was a beautiful and immersive game, and over the past few updates it has only gotten moreso. They recently did a pass on the game that effectively just made everything prettier, from improving some models and animations to updating the lighting effects. I want to spend so much time exploring this world because it is so beautiful.

Subnautica fishes

I did eventually craft an aquarium and grow some critters and plants!

Now it is time to move on to some meatier changes. The most recent update promised the ability to craft planters and large aquaria for growing your own terrestrial and aquatic plants, and for growing sea creatures from eggs. Cool! Unfortunately, this also required starting a new game again. This highlighted some changes since the last time I restarted that, while I think make the game better, made getting up to speed again much slower. There was a tiny bit more of an introduction sequence than I remembered, which was very nice. Once I hopped in the water and started working toward making a new sea base so I could start my new garden I discovered that many of the items I could craft immediately before now required blueprints, and the system for gaining those blueprints was different. Now you need to craft a scanning device to carry with you so you can scan fragments that you find until you scan enough to learn the full blueprint. You can’t add any sort of power supply to your base until you learn the blueprint for one. This really slows the pace of building, since it means you have to constantly run back to your escape pod to use the fabricator for much longer than before.

I think I’m so conflicted on this big change because I’ve been playing so long now and it is quite disruptive to my usual path of progress. It didn’t feel great to have to spend a while searching around for a blueprint for something I had from the outset before, especially when I just wanted to check out some of the cool new additions. Perils of early access I guess, but there’s also parallels to many other games. Leveling for the first time in a MMO I almost always want to take my time and explore. After that, I’m often just looking for the most direct route to get caught up to where I want to be. Having to re-earn something I already worked hard for feels incredibly unfun, whether a cosmetic item, reputation grind, attunement, or other unlocks. It is why big disruptive changes in a game feel bad sometimes, even when they’re adding great new content. The changes to old-world WoW in the Cataclysm expansion come to mind here. They added a bunch of new quests! There was so much to re-explore and see! But it disrupted my known alt leveling path, took away something I was so very familiar with (ah nostalgia!) and replaced it with new stories that I sort of wanted to pay attention to but mostly just wanted to get through quickly on my way to the level cap. To this day I feel like I never gave that content a fair shake because I was always in a hurry to rush through it, even when it was brand new.

This is a very different feeling from a simple addition of new content that picks up where you left off. New DLC for the most part, or new patch or expansion content in MMOs that adds max-level activities or increases the level cap doesn’t invoke so much resentment in me. Hopping into an existing game file or on to an endgame-ready character and working toward newly-added goals is satisfying because it feels like progress, not retreading old ground in a slightly different way.

I’m not sure exactly what all this means for me and Subnautica going forward. I absolutely love the game and will continue to highly recommend it. They are still adding monthly updates though, so maybe I need to space out my play time a bit and let a few  pile up before returning and starting over from scratch again. Hopefully that will allow more cool new additions to outweigh my grumpy resistance to change.