Archive for May, 2012


Curt Schilling & 38 Studios

I have no real insight into the root causes of the collapse of 38 Studios, the company founded by baseball great Curt Schilling.  I haven’t followed the rise and fall of the company.  I didn’t buy Kingdoms of Amalur.

Clearly, the stories circulating on the web imply that Schilling was a poor businessman, got himself over his head and made a bad deal with Rhode Island.  A lot of voices imply that he brought this on himself.

And yet I am a little sad.

Curt Schilling is a gamer.  He is “one of us” so to speak.  It just happens that, along with his RPG habit, he also developed the ability to throw a baseball at 90+ mph.

Schilling was on the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox in his career.  Since I am a Yankee fan, this career path would normally qualify as grounds for him to be shot on sight.  And yet I cannot hate him.

He is the crossover between jocks and nerds.  I like to think that he would have been the guy at the athlete’s lunch table in high school who would stop to talk about Magic: the Gathering with the “uncool” gaming crowd.  I imagine him interposing himself between some hulking football player and a freshman carrying Pokemon cards, preventing the inevitable wedgie that was to come.

I can only wonder about the ribbing he took from other ballplayers when he “came out” with his gaming obsession.  Here’s a guy who was earning over ten million dollars a year to play ball.  Many of his peers were using their MLB paychecks to buy houses and cars and boats.  What did Schilling do?  He started a gaming company.  Wouldn’t we all love to do that?

He may have brought this on himself, but I still feel bad.  He’s a guy that has lived out some of our greatest boyhood fantasies – fame, athletic greatness, wealth, and owning a video game company.  It would have been nice to see a happier ending, on behalf of all of us who can’t pitch but wish we could.


D3 and WoW

On October 24, 2011, I made a post wondering if Diablo II would be the biggest threat to WoW.  Has that come to pass?

I think about when Rift came out and it was directly competing with WoW.  Our guild lost exactly one person to that game.  We had other guidies who tried it for a week, but they all came back to WoW.  Then SWTOR came out.  It made a little dent in our player count, but no one ever missed a raid night in WoW because they were busy with SWTOR.

Now that D3 is out, how are things looking in your guild?  Here’s a screenshot of my friends list on WoW on a Saturday evening, during what would normally have been a raid night…

On any given evening, my guild now has 3-5 people online, whereas we used to have 10-15 even on a slow night.

Of course, I can’t lay all of this on D3.  Its also a result of the long tail at the end of the expansion cycle, where we are all sick to death of Dragon Soul and looking for something else to do.  This is actually a fairly brilliant piece of timing by Blizzard.  Bored WoW players are playing D3, but due to they can still see which of their friends are online in WoW.  It keeps that connection to WoW so that we won’t forget about it.

For WoW players who didn’t buy D3,, though, it sucks to log in and see a nearly empty guild roster.  I think those players are the most likely to get disheartened and leave the game.

D3 is not a long-term game.  You can play through the whole story in a few days (or weeks if you’re very casual about it).  Then you can replay it as a different class, or go on to Nightmare and Hell modes.  I think that long-term playability isn’t there.  If Blizzard is as smart as I give them credit for, they will have the pre-MoP hype ratchet up as the D3 players dwindle.  Then bored D3 players will jump back to WoW for the pre-expansion world events and the class/talent updates in advance of the game release.

For that to happen, the final buildup to pandas needs to start up sometime this summer.  We’ll see…


Giving Diablo 3 a shot

I actually played Diablo 3 for about an hour last night.

This is both a big deal and no big deal, from different perspectives.

Its a big deal because I am not a gamer, in the traditional sense.  I don’t play lots of games.  I don’t have time.  I play WoW, and that’s the only video game I have played with any regularity for the past 6 years.  For any game to convince me to try it is a big step.

However, its not a big deal because I didn’t pay for D3.  I got the WoW annual pass, so D3 came with the package.  Therefore, there is no investment involved in playing D3.  No risk.

On the other hand, its somewhat notable because I hated Diablo 2.  Way back in the late 1990s I had played the original Diablo, and I got Diablo 2 the first week it was out in 2000.  I played it for an hour, and that’s all it took to convince me to uninstall it.  I really thought I was done with the whole franchise.

After an hour with D3, its got me involved enough that I plan to play it more.  I have no intention of going all hardcore on it.  I don’t intend to make millions on their real money auction house.  I’m not going to fly through the storyline.  However, based on my first impression it has earned a share of my leisure time.



I had a funny memory from way, way back.

I was level 19 in vanilla WoW.  I had heard of PvP but I had no idea what it entailed.  I knew that people did long grinds to get titles.  I decided to queue for Warsong Gulch.

Alliance got trounced over and over.  It seemed like the horde would just group up and make a beeline en masse for the Alliance flag, grab it, and return as a huge group.   We could barely slow them down.  But when Alliance tried to do the same thing, we got torn apart at the entrance to the horde building.

From this, I got the early impression that (1) PvP probably wasn’t for me, and (2) Horde was OP.

However, on my eighth or ninth time queuing up, we ended up with a paladin in our group.  I rarely saw paladins back then, and no one I knew played one.  Me being a video game noob, I had this expectation that paladins, as divine warriors, would be immensely powerful.

We actually won our next WG.

I walked away from that thinking that paladins were amazing.  Every time I queued in PvP for the next 10 or so levels, if we didn’t have a paladin in the group I felt that we were doomed to failure.

The best thing about vanilla battlegrounds was that all the players came from your server.  You tended to see the same characters over and over, so you got to know them.  I casually dabbled in PvP now and then (only in WG), and each time I saw that paladin in my group I got an awestruck feeling.

Ah, to be that naive again.


Legendary daggers… check

As you can tell from my previous post, I’ve completed the legendary daggers, Golad, Twilight of Aspects and Tiriosh, Nightmare of Ages.

I made a post back on December 14th, 2011 saying that I had done the Assassinate Creed stage of the questline.  Since then, it has taken me twenty weeks of Dragon Soul runs (plus one stealth run in the basement of Karazhan) to complete the questline.

This is the first time that someone in my guild has completed a legendary since Blizzard implemented the collection/grind model back in Ulduar.  We never got the Ulduar legendary or the ICC legendary.  We have someone pretty close to the Firelands staff, and I just got the daggers.

I think the whole experience was pretty fun.  The two class-specific assassination quests were interesting and challenging.  They definitely made the whole effort worthwhile.  I’m glad that I got to do that content, and its a shame that more classes don’t get to see it.

The collecting was… meh.  However, I have nothing to compare this to.  I don’t know what kind of perseverance it took to get the rare legendaries back in the Molten Core days, so I can’t tell you how this compares.  Getting a few pieces each week makes you feel like you’re progressing, unlike the MC days when you would go months (or longer) without seeing the one drop that you needed.

But I don’t feel legendary.  I’ve never done a single heroic mode fight.  We didn’t get Deathwing down until after the first nerf.  I don’t have most of the achievements related to the Dragon Soul boss fights.  Do I really feel like I deserve this?

How exciting was it?  Right after the raid, when everyone knew I was flying to Hillsbrad to turn in the quest, half of my raid team logged off for the night rather than wait the extra ten minutes to see the guild achievement pop.  That hints that the excitement of the accomplishment was gone.

Look, I’m definitely excited.  I’m not going to turn it down.  Still, I have to say that I think legendaries should be more rare.  I think legendaries should be something that you wear and people stop and stare, or say in guild chat, “Hey, there’s a guy in SW with the legendary Sword of Uberness!  Come see!”  Instead, I got my legendary by grinding through a nerfed normal-mode raid for twenty weeks.  It feels… cheapened.

But I’m slowfalling whenever the cooldown is up.  I’m even putting together a Batman-ish transmogging set.  Yay!


No, its not Red Bull…


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
May 2012
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