Archive for January, 2013

/puts flame resistant coat

So I’m looking ahead at the future MMO titles coming our way and I’m not super impressed. City of Steam is gathering some momentum due to its steam/fantasy/punk roots but it feels too much like a giant cash sink for me to get excited.

Then we have Elder Scrolls online which a lot of you seems to be real excited about and I cannot grasp why at all.

So…. what’s exactly new in here? It’s a warrior type guy fighting a big monster in what looks like a classic MMO fight.  I mean, I’m reading all I can find on the website and so far I’ve only seen the same exact things we’ve seen before in WoW, Rift, Swtor et all. There’s level, endgame, raids, craft, etc… etc…

Don’t get me wrong, it could be a very well executed “MMO we’ve all played before” but why get super excited about it? If anything, Swtor proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that even with the best IP ever backing you, you are not immune to the same flaws as all the other MMOs.

So… why all the excitement???

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Second week of my 2013 Sc2 challenge and what was bound to happen happened, I met my first wall. It’s not big surprise really and I had read multiple people talking about how the general flow of improving oneself in Sc2 goes. You read some new strat or valuable insight, you apply it, see rapid gains for a little while and then you reach your next plateau.

So right now I’m solidly placed in gold, hovering between rank 20 and 10 of my league depending on the results of my latest games. Sometimes I have good days where I win more than I lose and others I have bad days like yesterday where I lose four games in a row. Like I said, it’s nothing surprising and it’s only indicative that I’m pretty much where I belong according to my current skill.

I believe in the plan

Macro is still my main focus even if I’m not feeling a lot of progress on that front lately. I’m still practicing the same build I was from a week ago and even if I know I did make some progress on that front I would have liked more. I come within inches of meeting the deadlines most games but I’m still not quite there and I still have some games where I forget about doing some critical step. I think I need to rewatch the guides and practice a bit more solo to get back on schedule on that particular front and not be sidetracked.

On the good news side of things, I’m seeing more and more mid-game, late-game scenarios and I feel like I’m doing better at countering the various builds even if I don’t always get the win in the end. Where before I would be crushed by the first wave of banelings/roach, now it takes five or six of them to finish me off.

In the end, I know I’m improving and I just have to stick with it until I can make it to the next step.


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What if LFR had a MMR?

I was talking last weekend to someone about how I’d probably love to be able to raid with a hardcore crew where I wouldn’t have to handle raid leading or tell people to gear up or any of the stuff I often have to do in more casual groups. That I’d love to only have to worry about my numbers, my gear and leave it at that. You might be tempted to tell me to find such a guild but I have a big problem… I simply cannot and don’t want to commit to a set schedule of raiding… and all the more serious raiding guilds do ask that you be present at the raids.

I started thinking about all of this, about how I’d love to be able to raid with people of similar skill level to mine but without having to follow a set schedule of raids. I started thinking that I’d love to be able to hit the LFR button and be matched with people of similar skill level and be able to run a few harder raids. I’m pretty certain I’m not the only one who would love that.

But how do we achieve this? Why not take a page out of RTS and Moba games and have a MMR (match making ranking) value for each of us? We’re already edging in that direction with the gear level requirements but why not take this further? Assign a value based on gear, on dps done, on unavoided damage and anything else relevant. Make it so that if my score is good enough I can queue up for hardmode version of the LFR.

I’m curious to see what everyone thinks about this. I know there’s some who will say it would split the community, would turn people into bigger asshats but still, I  think the idea has some merit.

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The other day I stumbled upon this article from the Penny-Arcade Report where the author explained to us what might be looming ahead of us in regards to companies tailoring cash shops to extort ever more money from us. It’s food for thoughts and I highly recommend you go read the article in question. To sum up, it seems some companies are thinking about displaying different prices to the user based on our buying habits.

Easy example, people in North America (more fortunate) pay more for DLC than people in more impoverished countries. By the way that is a real example. Many companies price their games differently based on where you love. Starcraft 2 for example costed around 60$ in the US, was going for less than 20$ in Asia and was even free in Korea. This is nothing new in itself…

What’s new is that there might be changes in price depending not on where you live but also your buying habits. Example, if you buy a lot of Cartel Packs, then the price of the Packs could be raised since EA knows you’ll be buying them anyway.

Some people will say that such a move would drive people away cause we would figure out what was going on and it would create customer backlash…. but companies can be creative when they need to. Let’s say an MMO drop boxes that you can loot but to open them you have to buy keys. Same prices for the keys for everyone so it’s fair right? But what if the rate at which the drop boxes dropped changed based on much keys you have bought in the past?

Instead of changing the price of item what if they made it so the more you spend the more opportunities to spend the game puts in front of you? Way more sneaky but it would have the same effect as rising the prices….

I’m not panicking yet… but it’s definitively something I’ll keep an eye on… food for thoughts…

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Some more Starcraft 2 today as it’s time to do my first week report about my progress. Last week I gave myself the challenge to improve my Sc2 during 2013. To achieve that I have two precise goals, the first was to be less stressed when playing and the second was to reach Platinum league, which is a step higher than my previous highest placement back at the game launch.

The plan

Saying you want to improve at Sc2 without a plan is a risky business. I tried that once, failed miserably and most experienced players who talk about improvement point out that you’re more likely to end up frustrated than seeing progress. Sure… some people have improved  by just playing lots of game but in my case I needed to be a bit smarter about it.

So I searched high and low for threads and videos about how to improve and I ran into a problem. Everyone was talking about Macro but no one was really explaining how to improve it. Sure there was talks of copying builds and always making workers but I didn’t find it to be super useful. If you’re wondering, Macro is your ability to build a strong economy and keep doing it all game long. It’s about gathering resources and spending them well.

But I eventually lucked out and found some videos from a high level player who explained the why’s and how of how to improve Macro along with defining set goals. Telling me I need to have 50 workers by the 10 minute mark is way more useful to me than just saying “build more workers”.

So I decided to trust his method and for the past week I’ve been working on improving my macro to the exclusion of all else. I’m not focusing on making the right counters or fine movement of my units.I just do my best to hit my Macro targets and trust that will be enough to give me a victory.

Goal progress

So at the beginning of last week I was placed in Silver league and starting a new online match made my heart pound as if I was going to wrestle with a 400 pounds bear. On the stress side there’s been huge improvement. I still get pretty pumped while playing but I don’t have the same dread I used to have.  Having a plan to follow so I can improve myself and set goals helps a lot with the whole stress aspect.

And as for the league progress…. this happened yesterday.


Back in gold! To say I was surprised is putting it very mildly. I expected this to take a few weeks at least especially since I was beating silver opponents but struggled against the gold ones when I was put against them. Still, I’ll take it as a sign that working on my Macro was the right move to make!

So a lot less stress and one league closer to my goal. I’d say that was an excellent week.

Bonus content!

Special mention to my opponent from Monday night and apologies for forgetting his name. The guy was playing his very first online game of Sc2 (I checked his match history) and was one of the nicest opponent I had for the entire week. He didn’t talk at first so I went about the game as hardcore as I could be and when I marched up to his base I utterly crushed him. Then he started asking me questions about how I managed to have so much stuff and admitted to it being his first game.

We chatted a while and I tried to help him as best I could but I felt so bad for him. I truly wish him the best and I hope he doesn’t give up. Multiplayer could use more nice opponents.

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