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Taking a break today from WoW reminiscing to talk rant about Games Workshop and in the larger sense, our right to critique our beloved hobbies. To put things into context, Games Workshop is the company behind Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, two of the most, if not the most, populars wargames out there. Their business revolves mainly around selling us the miniatures needed to play their games.

I know this post will probably ruffle a few feathers and I can already hear the GW fanboys grinding their axes in anticipation. Fear not my friends, I will give you ample reasons to go after me. Not unlike fans of certain MMOs, wargaming fanboys can go nuts if you even suggest that their favorite hobby is not so great after all. And just to be clear, Hobby is a fancy way of saying game to make you feel better about spending hundreds/thousands of dollars on plastic miniatures.

So back to the topic at hand, Games Workshop and Warhammer (both kind) are bad! It wasn’t always like that and they do still make some of the best miniatures but the rules are a mess as a result of GW trying to get you to buy more and the material is way overpriced.  These days, a new player is looking at close to a 1000$ if not more.  By the way, I did the exercise of buying my Salamanders army from scratch including rules and paints and I got to 900$ US. This was just buying exactly what I needed but I know that as a player interest develops in the game he will want to expand his army and buy more paints, terrain and stuff and can easily double and triple that amount.

So why would anyone ever wants to start playing a game with messed up rules that has a near 1000$ buy-in price and is run by a greedy company? Why would anyone defend this? I have a pretty good idea but I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s get to my arguments shall we, how can I justify what I’m saying?

  • 1000$ buy-in. I just went over it earlier by actually going on the GW webstore and adding the stuff to my cart. This was a space marine army that has a low model count and is one the best supported army. I know other armies will run much higher than the 900$ I got.
  • Messed-up rules. This is more open for debate but in the past few years I played other games to give me a point of reference. Namely Warmarchine/Hordes, Flames of War, Rules of engagement, Infinity, Firestorm Armada and a few more on occasion. From my perspective the rules of Warhammer, especially 40k are a mess. But I’m not the only one saying it. Do a round of the competitive Warhammer scene and you’ll see intense debate about how organizers need to curtail the rules in order to have fun tournaments. We could talk for hours about this but for now, let’s keep things simple.
  • Greedy Games-Workshop. This one I can’t really prove can I? It’s not like GW has put “let’s be greedy” in their mission statement. The 1000$ arguments might help this one but it can’t be the only one.  I’ll just go from personal experiences and accounts of ex-employees for this and tell you that GW went from a company that wanted to make a good game first to a company that wanted to sell miniatures first. Sadly, this has not had happy repercussions on the game.

So here’s my soapbox. I posit that given the alternatives systems, given the cost of entry, given GW company policies and based on my 15 years of experience in wargaming, including selling said games, that Warhammer (both kinds) are bad games.

The rebuttal

I could leave things as they are, or go into more details about my arguments but for today purposes it should be enough. If I was to hit Post right now I would be one among many who say that GW is bad and I’d have fanboys come over here with the usual rebuttals to these kinds of posts.

Popular rebuttals include:

  • The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot.
  • Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons.
  • I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!?
  • The rules are great! I’m having fun!
  • How can you tell me what’s fun or not?
  • GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can!
  • What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking.
  • If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it.
  • Talk to me when you have run your own company!
  • Yet another old unhappy gamer.

And so it goes. My MMO readers might recognize a few of those and for good reason.  You’ll also notice that few of these addresses my arguments which by the way are the most common ones levied against the game so it’s not just me saying this. Most rebuttals to topics like these attack the poster by saying he doesn’t have the necessary experience/competence to criticize, they use the fun defense which doesn’t really address anything or they just don’t address the arguments.

  • The prices are justified, the process of making the minis cost a lot. Might be true, but still doesn’t change that the buy-in price might be too high.
  • Of course they have to raise the price, oil market and similar reasons. Same, justifying the price doesn’t make it lower.
  • I’m having fun with it! Why do you have to shit on my fun!? Doesn’t address any of the arguments.
  • The rules are great! I’m having fun! Fun does not make rules great or bad in themselves.
  • How can you tell me what’s fun or not? None of my arguments are about fun.
  • GW is a company; they should aim to make as much money as they can! Justifying greed doesn’t make it less greedy.
  • What do you know? You’re not there; you don’t know what they are thinking. I am not my arguments, wrong target.
  • If you don’t like it you don’t have to be an ass about it. Wrong target again.
  • Talk to me when you have run your own company! Again, not my arguments.
  • Yet another old unhappy gamer. Irrelevant to the discussion.

 

On the real topic!

I admit I had a secret agenda with this post. While I do believe that GW and Warhammer are in a bad place, it was not the only thing I wanted to talk about.

I wanted to talk about how most of this gamer community I’m part of has no idea on how to argue a point. About how most arguments turn into personal attacks and how even when presented with good arguments, people refuses to change their minds about anything.

I do understand that changing your mind about something or admitting you might have been wrong can suck. Especially if you poured hours, days and even years into it. I remember watching a documentary where someone was explaining how he was raised into a white-supremacist family and how hard it was for him at first to get out of the mindset. When he was asked what was the biggest obstacle for him he answered that it was admitting he had wasted years of his life believing in something he knew was wrong.

So going back to Games Workshop I might be dead wrong. There might be tons of valid reasons that will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that in fact GW is not greedy, that the rules are solid and that a 1000$ buy-in price is not hindering the community.

What I’m asking for is that you read my arguments with an open mind and that when you do present your rebuttal you do it by countering my arguments, not by attacking me or whether or not I’m allowed to criticize.

I swear that if you do so, I will do the same in return and will even change my mind if you can prove me wrong.

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I don’t usualy talk much about real life on this blog because I figure that people are not reading my blog to know what I had for dinner and because I like my privacy. That said, I had a craptacular confluence of real life events happen to me and my family in the past weeks and while I’m okay, I got bruised. Needless to say, blogging and gaming were close to non-existent beyond a few quick sessions here and there to pass the time between hospital visits or just to keep my mind off things.

Fittingly enough, one of the games I discovered was Plague Inc: Evolved, a game where you try to create and evolve a super virus/bacteria/killer nano bots/etc… to wipe off the human race off the earth. It’s incredibly adictive while at the same time being crazy morbid. I mean, you win by extinguishing the human race… There’s likely a few books to be written about abstraction in videogames based on this game alone.

Wildstar on the other hand has suffered greatly in the upheaval. When I play Wildstar, I like to have a good chunk of time to devote to it before playing. Maybe it’s just me but super short sessions are just not that fun to me. Since I’ve had very little continuous time these past few weeks…. Wildstar suffered.

Now that the game has been out for a while, I’m more ambivalent on Wildstar future. I still believe it’s an awesome game and I still think that aiming for more challenge is a good call… for an MMO that is. What I’m wondering though is if old style MMOs have still a place. I’m wondering how much of the old hardcore, play everynight, type of players are still around.  My gut feeling tells me not so many…

Anyways, that will be a topic for a later post.

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THQ was a bit of an odd duck amongst video games makers and publishers. In many ways they felt like an indie game company who made it big. They have numerous succesful titles to their name, games like Company of Heroes, Darksiders, Saints Row, Metro, Dawn of War just to name a few.

More impressive is that they took chances numerous times by experimenting on established video games tropes and came out ahead. Companie of Heroes pretty much showed everyone how squad based RTS could be made,  Dawn of War was a masterful display of how to translate a tabletop game into a video game, Darksiders mixed up Zelda-esque gameplay with Spawn-like comic book characters…. and I could go on like that. THQ was a big studio that still took chances…

… and now it’s going bankrupt and it will be sold piecemeal to various bidders. It’s a sad day when one of the last big studios who still innovated gets shut down.

What happened?

It’s not clear… despite all the articles about this I found the real reason of the bankruptcy is relatively unclear but here’s what I found out.

Since 2010 THQ has been having fiscal difficulties. They still released games and the vast majority of their titles were received favorably and sold excellent numbers when you compare them to similar titles in the industry. I’m not saying that everything was perfect but when you compared THQ to the rest of the publishers like EA and Activision they were doing pretty good with their games which means the problem is not related to the games.

Which leaves one likely explanation which is poor management and that’s where things get real muddy. I won’t speculate much on the exact cause because I could not find any definitive explanation. I found multiple theories though ranging from poor investments, projects costing too much, mishandling of money and outright fraud. I’ll leave it up to you to pick which reason you think is the best one.

Why it’s a tragedy

Beyond the loss of jobs and all the problems that go with that, we’re losing a big studio that was innovating. Worst, we’re sending the message that even if you innovate and make succesful games you can still fail. This worries me greatly because I’m afraid it will only drive companies to make more of the same. I can do without more Call of Duty clones.

I’m going to end this by saying that I hope, pray, that another company will rise to take THQ place and keep taking chances on games and innovating some.

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Holidays recap

And we are back. Sorry for the long silence but I needed my vacation time and I pretty much stopped everything to rest and do whatever the hell I felt like which turns out involved a lot of video games, playing uncle with my nephew and drinking various kind of tea.

I’ve completed my Resident Evil marathon during the holidays and will be posting the last two games as well as a recap but right away I’ll say that RE6 is not as bad as the critics would have you believed and that RE is at its best when it sticks closer to the survival horror genre like in Revelations.

Speaking of zombies I’ve also played The Walking Dead from Telltale and it has been one of the best game I’ve played in years. It’s not especially hard or challenging but it has the most gripping story I’ve seen in a long time and I was glued to my chair the entire time. More than anything it made me care about the characters and some of the choices and events did get to me. I think it was the game that got me the most emotionally involved I ever played.

I’ve got to thank Narxivias for making me play this game and it’s also a nice way for me to get you guys to check out his new blog where he put Walking Dead at the top of his best of list for 2012. So go check out his blog, now!

On that note I wish you all a great 2013.

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Holidays update

Hi!

just a quick update to tell you all I’m not dead, but between the holidays crazyness, having to get a tooth pulled and the Old republic I’ve been keeping pretty busy and this blog has suffered some as a result. I suspect my posting will be rather random in the coming week and I just wanted to let everyone know I’m still around.

On that note, have great holidays everyone.

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Winter is coming…

It’s cold… it’s 26f, it’s snowing heavily and it’s making me depressed… here comes 5 months of freezing to death, cold slush and heavy clothes…

@Winter Not a fan dude! Go away!

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So I had a plan to keep me occupied until Old Republic. It consisted of keeping raiding to beat that damn Ragnaros, play some Starcraft 2 and mess around in Arkham City…

Then DC universe online went free, I rediscovered the joy of being scared pantless in Amnesia : Dark Descent and I got Heroes of Might and Magic 6 on whim and it turns out it’s a great game… and then Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 get releases and to top it all off, I’m starting to think Skyrim looks interesting.

So…. besides quitting my job… anyone got any tips to juggle 9 games at once?

Edit: I forgot Dark Souls… so it’s 10 games now.

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