Category Archives: News and Updates

The MMO Grinder 2015 Year In Review

Despite my nature of being vehemently anti-traditionalism, I almost like making these, so here comes another Year-In-Review for 2015, a.k.a. “The Worst Year for MMOs (so far)” I don’t want to say it’s a dying medium, but I do want to say we’ll need to start accepting that loose definition of “MMO” if I want to have more than 4 episodes a year. Sheesh.
Keyphrase being “almost like making these” as the list is late this year for several reasons, most of which involves laziness, watching AGDQ and that weird feeling that I usually did this right before MAGfest, and it’s not happening until late February.

This year, we moved the official Grindstone VOIP from Raidcall to Discord when Raidcall pledged full allegiance to Mother Russia. It was a move most of us would agree was for the best.
MMO Grinder was officially upgraded to 1080p/60fps despite my webcam and framerate not entirely cooperating with that, as my PC is only a processor and hard drive away from undergoing the Theseus Paradox.
Streaming officially died in my eyes, and we’ll leave that stuff to the experts, speedrunners and infectious personalities that keep charm and wit along with entertainment, and not some grumpy asshole who can’t stand attention seeking cultures. I have no idea why I still link my Twitch channel in my videos. If you donated to my Patreon because you really wanted to see more streams come about from me… you’ve probably pulled that support by now.
Speaking of Patreon, the service, and support for my channel exploded in popularity this year, along with my Youtube channel. It might be due to Angry Joe‘s plug of my F.E.A.R. Online review in “Worst Games of 2014” that net me a massive subscription boost. Relatively massive for my channel that is. Like, if you compare the few thousand or so subs gained purely from that plug, against the literal millions of subs he has, that’s LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of his subs. It’s barely over ONE TENTH of a percent. YT plugs can help, but even with a frighteningly popular Youtube channel plugging you, you’re not going to get noticed off it unless you entice them enough to stick around. Food for thought.

For a few of these categories, I’ll also have Co-Writer Setch Dreskar chime in with his choices when applicable.

DISCLAIMER: With the exception of unquestionably factual categories (which is basically “Most watched review”), this list is composed of nothing but purely opinionated statements. All categories and opinions contained within are as meaningless as life itself. Disagreement is acceptable and expected. Blind rage is sad and annoying. Please find something far more worthwhile to get mad at.

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Biggest Surprise: Heroes of the Storm

For a while, I was convinced the MOBA genre would be forever lost to me. Building games around competition is one thing. Building games around team competition is another thing. Catering to a preconceived, ever-evolving community-made meta is a third thing. Combining all three is a recipe for absolute mental misery. Every MOBA I played, from the genre originating DotA2,  to trend-setting LoL, and the perspective altering SMITE all ended up with the same kind of game once the MLG-360NoScope-420BlazeIt crowd settled in, demanding every single one of these games play out the exact same way. I have several other MOBAs sitting on my desktop waiting to be previewed, and I dread having to try them out. To say I had little desire to see what happened with Heroes of the Storm is an understatement. This is exactly why I listed this game as my “Biggest Surprise.” For once I was seeing a game that actually understood what caused MOBA toxicity. It broke down the genre to a psychological level, understanding that the problem isn’t that toxic players exist, it what turns them toxic in the first place. Some players can’t focus on the fact that classes have differing roles, or multiple nuances of play, and might not be able to perform to their standard. HotS made it so no one team member or class was ever fighting for experience or gold, by having everyone on the team share experience, and removing the gold/item system completely. I’d say the same thing about the brilliant move to remove the tired K/D/A scoreboard by grouping assists and kills as “takedowns” but last I checked, K/D/A was placed back in for ominous reasons. (If this is no longer the case, feel free to tell me.)
Regardless many other moves make this the most casual-player/beginner friendly MOBA outside of Adventure Time Battle Party, with still plenty of interesting stuff to keep my interest. Also helps if you have any love left for Blizzard.

Setch DreskarI had a tough time picking just one game to take this title, but for me it would have to be Pirates of the Burning Sea. There are other titles like Armored Warfare where I was weary of the game back during its alpha stages but once I got a key I found a game I really enjoyed, but PotBS is the title where I and several other members of grindstone expected little to nothing of the game and found a title that we really wish would be remade on a modern engine and with a new company. The game had ideas that would be very interesting to see redone and the naval combat was decently enjoyable for a game we were expecting to be a filler title.

 

Biggest Disappointment: Dragomon Hunter

And here I thought XLegend was going to be a shoe-in for another fun time. Hell, Eden Eternal kept me attached for far beyond the playtime needed for the video, and Aura Kingdom was practically Grindstone’s second Wushu, with tons of players and constant dungeons being run regularly by us. Lightning did not strike a third time. I don’t know what it was, but Dragomon seemed like a tired retread of everything that came before it, with nothing new or refreshing to set it apart. Dragomon collection was just another version of mount collecting. Nothing to the level of interest or complexity involved in say, Dragon’s Prophet. Combat felt like a weaker retread of Aura Kingdom’s combat, but adding in cheap instakills as punishment for missing the (oftentimes broken or invisible) telegraphed attacks. The story was worthless, the graphics seemed like a downgrade, and everything about the title failed to keep my interest. I really was looking forward to this, and even reached that obnoxious point where I was convincing myself to like it. It just took a lot longer for me to see the cracks, and when they began to show, they made the Grand Canyon start to blush. Easily the weakest Xlegend title I reviewed on this show, and marginally playable for a game developer that had no trouble competing for my attention before.

Setch Dreskar: This is easily Skyforge for me, I mean what a mess of a game. I was interested in the title at first, it has one of my favorite developers, Obsidian Entertainment, at the helm and their story telling does begin to shine through later but everything around it is just so dull. The combat system which seemed interesting and unique drags on far too much, and the grinding just so you can grind on your main grind is just so maddening I can’t believe this level of grind passed into the main title, and can only hope this was Publisher jack assery. It really does boggle the mind about how crap this game gets as it goes on, and the weekly limits are insulting even more so when you are told to play the generic facebook game if you are capped on everything else.
I do however want to mention what title would have easily swept this category for me if we had reviewed it. Triad Wars is a game that outright lies about what it is to try and garner an audience, and clearly that audience gave them the cold shoulder as the title will be closing its doors before even leaving beta. This was a game that claimed to be an MMO but was little more than a single player game with characters named by other players that you never got to see or interact with. This is a game that used farmville level mechanics to force you to play constantly to get anywhere. The most amusing part was when they changed the entire combat system and screwed over the entire playerbase that had been playing for awhile while giving a huge advantage to players just starting out. It went from sub par sleeping dogs, to terrible sleeping dogs with enemies having levels that kicked you in the nuts if you weren’t geared, and if you had been playing for a long while your gear didn’t change from the base combat system and made fights nearly impossible. Fuck you Squeenix. Fuck you for ruining such a promising title and doing everything to manipulate marketing. We all know you are a shit company but this just smacks of trying too hard to be terrible.

 

Biggest Non-Starter: Echo of Soul

Ever know when something isn’t going to be a thing, even when people are trying to convince you it is? Echo of Soul, a.k.a. “Most Anticipated MMO of 2015” by Incompetent Dipshit Gallery MMOSite, was every generic Asian MMO ever made. It did absolutely nothing interesting when looking at gameplay aspects alone… and yet this game didn’t offend me enough to not want to play it. It just exists. It’s about the best “Podcast Game” I’ve ever played. You know, the kind of game that you play while listening to a podcast or video because it barely demands your attention while still feeling like something to do? That kind of game.
While I’ll admit Aeria did some rather interesting things to keep the game’s palpably stale formula moving along as fast as possible, like lowering all item costs to 1 silver, and making the level grind fairly swift and simple, it wasn’t enough to keep any attention, or have me shower this game with any merit beyond “It’s not unplayable.” The PvP was kinda fun, too, but still not enough to make me want to keep it installed.

Setch Dreskar: This is a category with so many for me that picking one was rather difficult as I think a lot deserve this spot, but the one that edged the rest out is ELOA, mostly because it is the freshest in my mind. For the record the other dishonorable mentions would be Echo of Soul and Drift City, though all of these are games that we weren’t that excited for and looked to be doing nothing interesting and came out feeling the exact same way. I mean ELOA was so generic and dull I kept finding as many excuses as I could to not even play it, getting to where I did was a slog and was so draining that I can’t even imagine how non-bots actually stomach pushing through the title.

 

Biggest Annoyance: FFXIV Rage Runoff

“Umm, bro? This is from last year.”
Well, yeah the review is, but this thing certainly isn’t. I don’t know if this is the result of that boost in subs, or that thing that happens (in short, angry viewer misunderstands/dislikes video > angrily posts about video to game’s forum community > mob mentality ensues > shitstorm of nerd rage. See: City of Heroes) but I’m pretty much convinced I need to revoke the titles of “Best Community” and “Most well-received review” of 2014. But, in 2014 this wasn’t an issue. This stuff started cropping up a few months after, and crawls up occasionally to fart in my face. Go and look at the post on Youtube for FFXIV. Look at the dislike bar. Realize that’s the most disliked video I’ve ever done and wonder what the hell they thought I was saying.
In some self realization, I’m pretty sure this is on me for what I’ve been doing in every MMO Grinder intro. For those of you not big on picking up patterns, the intro to every MMO Grinder (the part that comes up before the titlecard) is a short anecdotal story about how I heard about the game, why I chose to play it, and what kind of history I have with the title, or things related to that title. The intro has gotten me in trouble more times than I can count. I tend to notice that most of the things I say in the intro tend to be the most discussed aspects of my video, despite the soft intro being completely irrelevant to the review.
I tend to forget this is the internet. This is a world where attention spans go to die. A world where Vine is a thing. These people likely saw me admitting my dislike of Squeenix (seriously, I think they’re terrible manipulative nostalgia-mining charlatans and I hope they go bankrupt.) and took it as if I was going to spend the entire video shitting on the game, and decided to stop watching. That or they let that fact tarnish everything I stated in the video, even blatant facts, as some sort of harsh critique… If I had a dollar for every time I saw a comment where someone took my mere observation of the fact tutorial tips were frequent and deep into levels, countering with “You can just shut them off!” as if I didn’t fucking know that, I wouldn’t need Patreon anymore.
And the excuses as to “why I didn’t like the game” or “why the video was wrong” just kept pouring out:
“You don’t like Square!” (They’re not Square anymore.)
“You didn’t get to endgame!” (That classic useless chestnut I’ve repeatedly explained in my show.)
“Your rotation was awful!” (Wasn’t aware I had to play a meta to enjoy a game. That would have been a valid critique had I said something like “combat feels weak” or “enemies are too hard to kill.” But I didn’t, because it wasn’t. They just kept harping on it because I recorded my gameplay at level 3. I’m certain they were all experts out of the gate.)
One guy actually linked my character profile in FFXIV “Totally-not-the-Armory” service as if this was somehow the smoking gun that rendered my video obsolete.
If not that, they’ll assure me that the game “fixed all of my problems”.
Oh, really? Are the first 45 levels still insultingly basic? Do the NPCs still say “mayhap” every 90 seconds? Does it still have a subscription fee? Is it still published by SquareEnix?
The sad part of this is… I don’t hate this game. I don’t find it special, and it’s honestly one F2P conversation away from being every Asian Fantasy MMO I’ve ever played, but this shit… this shit I predicted in the video itself, the very thing that’s spawning this shit, turning it into a self-fulfilling prophecy, has irreversibly soured me on this title. I can’t stand to look at it anymore, and I’ve never been so pissed off at a game that didn’t directly do anything to piss me off… Besides that constant meme garbage, and abuse of the word “mayhap” of course.
Oh and that promise I made about giving the endgame a chance and putting up a Backtrack to give my thoughts about it? Yeah, not fucking happening. Consider that officially revoked. Muzzle your god damned zealots, FFXIV Fandom.

 

My most backlashed review: Dragon Nest

Oh hey! More zealots! I can’t get enough of Nexonites apparently. It’s that dangerous combination of youth, weebism, and wannabe MLGer that makes reviewing Nexon titles such a pain in the ass. “This game would be great if it weren’t for the players” just sums up Nexonites perfectly, and I am fully aware I said that once before. It’s seriously worth repeating.
Really the complaints came in the form of something I thought was pretty innocuous.
“This game is pretty easy.”
Early out, and fairly deep in, it IS. But somehow that translated into the players who think their performance and abilities in this game are an extension of their self-worth (read: penis) had to go on the virulent offensive because this somehow implied they were not so much “good at the game”, as the “game was easy enough for anyone to be good at.” So I was inundated with rant comments from people with Dragon Nest avatars and names like “Kenshiro Kikkoman” telling me I was wrong because PvP is competitive, or the end level fights are really tricky if you play on max difficulty and don’t have any armor equipped. Some real quality projection and reaching. I’m not claiming the game wouldn’t eventually become difficult, but everything experienced by us was simply very basic, and required little skill to accomplish. The fact it might get harder does not invalidate the earlier proclamation.
Sad part is, this really should go to FFXIV now, but that WAS last year’s video, and I need to be fair. I already said my piece earlier.

 

My most well-received review(s): ELOA/Vermintide

Ok.. technically ESO is this, but I’ll have that coming up a few times more, and as far as comments sections screaming pronunciation pedantries and Upvote to Downvote ratios go, these two games came out quite solid., so it’s kind of a toss-up.
ELOA, was recent, yet well-received due to it being a rather humorous review to make, as anything with plenty to mock is always going to be a hit. People love negativity, especially when the types who agree with it far outnumber the people who’ll defend the game with their lives. From the goofy ass announcer, and terrible voicework to the generic gameplay, ELOA was a game few seemed willing to play, but a review many seemed happy to watch.
Vermintide holds the opposing end of the attention spectrum. The game and video came out looking amazing, and there was plenty for Warhammer fans and L4D fans to be interested in. People seemed to like the detail and interest in the game seemed pretty high. My Halloween eps always seem to garner some form of attention, and while certainly a better title than I’ve managed to choose for a few of those eps, I hope this won’t be the last time I have a true horror title to look at for this show.
Common complaints among both seemed rooted to one thing each, my claim ELOA wasn’t a hack and slash, despite that term being used to describe Diablo Clones before, and the fact Dreskar’s fanboying of Vermintide caused it to be a strategy guide more than a review. My personal fav among the latter being someone angry at the fact we gave away the ending. Sorry if mentioning “the world is ending” gave away the ending for “Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide”. I can see how that might ruin the surprise.

 

My most watched review: The Elder Scrolls Online

Yes, I don’t have to suffix this category with “of this year” this time. Maple Story has been officially dethroned and in its place is something I doubt will ever be met with the same kind of viewcount (and comment repetitiveness).
Holy shit did this episode get away from me. I don’t even know HOW. Was it linked somewhere? Did it get listed on some YT algorithm. Did my timing actually work in my favor for once?
After all, this was the far predicted relaunch/”f2p” conversion of ESO. We knew there would be SOME interest. But holy crap, 300,000+ views?! For a channel with barely over 22k subs at the time?!
I’ll put this into perspective:
The rage that accompanied the FFXIV shitstorm? 144k views currently.
The tits game with tits on the titlecard that was about tits, and all subsequent rage trying to call me an SJW for calling out cheesecake for being a cheap lure? 141k views.
The game directly linked to by a popular Youtube personality with millions of subs? 44k views.
ESO? Current view total: 306,214. That’s INSANE. I have no idea how that happened. The only video on my channel with more views is an old shitty video of the GLaDOS boss fight from the original Portal, posted a week after that game came out NEARLY TEN YEARS AGO. To call the ESO video a runaway success would be putting it mildly, but I’m well aware that’s still pretty mild compared to many YT channels that looked at ESO. I’m not delusional.
Just wishing I’d stop seeing people complain about that “Nim” fuck-up and the way I pronounced “Khajiit”. It’s not even a real word, FFS.

 

Best Community: Heroes of the Storm

Whatever Blizzard was doing to lessen toxicity, it seems to have worked. I’ve never seen a MOBA where most players are more focused on fun than victory, kills, or metas… I’m not saying they don’t exist.. No idea why people are so binary about that shit, as if saying “people are generally nice here” means your story about “that one asshole that one time” is immediately invalidated, but when there’s less for teammates to fight over, they tend not to fight as much. I don’t play ranked. I don’t need scoreboards to measure my worth as a human being, or I’d give a lot more of a shit about subscription numbers. So I can’t really tell you how well this carried over to the competitive scene, but at least they aren’t leaking over to casual play too often.
I say “too often” because my earlier mention about K/D/A rearing its ugly head came about when some dipshit at Blizz reneged on that promise, claiming “the community was clamoring for ‘more competitive scores’ and ‘better assassin play’. I’m sorry which community was asking for this because the forum thread that accompanied that announcement was page after page of people telling Blizzard how terrible of a decision this was. Seriously, who are you competing against with that scoreboard? Your own team. Very little of that forum thread was clamoring for this awful change that’s nothing more than a last-hit/kill-steal counter, in a game where that doesn’t even matter, and the rest are not happy with this change. Time will tell if Blizz goes back to the team friendly “takedowns” counter or pulls its classic dismissive stance of “working as intended”.
I take that as a good sign for this community, though. People defending the change are being downvoted to oblivion, while those against it are very articulate in their explanations, and unafraid to call out people who make claims without evidence or spoonfeed PR bullshit. (One of the more popular posts was someone taking Blizz’s statement of “promotes better assassin play” and simply replying with “How?”)
If you want to play a MOBA where the likelyhood of someone biting your head off for making a simple gameplay mistake is at least in the lower digit percentages, HotS is your best choice.

 

Worst Community: Wakfu

I don’t know what I was expecting. This was pretty much the perfect storm of fuckery where communities are concerned.
Weebs? Check.
Older game filled with grizzled veteran players unwilling to accept newbies? Check.
Faction based gameplay forcing needless tribalism? Check.
Sandbox world with open PvP? Check.
This, like ArcheAge, is another game that proves if people are allowed to be a dick with little consequence, they will be. The entire game’s economy is based upon whether or not other factions feel like deforesting your continent that day. High level and end level players would hunt down stray newbies and taunt their victims before murdering them for their personal amusement. The chats were an endless pile of insulting, immature, inane channer chatter, and it’s all a huge mess. It’s unfortunate, as Wakfu remains one of the more unique games with a fantastically involved world and interesting, deep combat mechanics, but the players make the “Massively Multiplayer” part of MMO seem like a really bad idea at times. Go in with a good group, as that’s the best you can probably hope for. Otherwise you’ll be digging in a lot of rough to find any stray diamonds.

 

Best Recovery: The Elder Scrolls Online

I… I don’t even know what happened here. As illustrated pretty heavily by the stupid intro I did, I didn’t want to play this game. I didn’t enjoy the beta (but not to the crushing levels of “fuck this game” quite a few people I know did.) I remember we started out expecting to completely mock and deride this game, even going around looking for technical flaws and other design derpery I remembered from the beta. Invisible friends. Endlessly farmed dungeon boss corpse piles. Weirdly repetitive dialog. And, sure, while we found some of those things, what we had to remark on is how much of it we didn’t.
We were all pretty floored when ESO beat out TSW for a “best MMO 2014” list on a website, thinking there was no possible way that could have happened. People from GW2 were just pissed off their game lost, and counter-voted, right? (Well, that did happen but it wasn’t a majority shift.) Regardless of outcome, public opinion of the title seem to have shifted, and after our second foray into the game, we were beginning to see why. This was a remarkable turnaround.
Yet, if you talked with the general gaming public about it, you’d never think it did. ESO still heavily lives with this stigma it received from the beta. Multiple sources openly mocking the game for having the gall to exist. I was still shocked to see a random tweet that came about when ESO announced its million dollar giveaway contest stating,
“2014: ESO will have a subscription. 2015: ESO will be free to play. 2016: We’ll literally pay you to play this game!”
Fun fact: Unsuccessful games clamoring for players don’t give away massive amounts of money in contests. They spam cash shop sales, and ignore all content updates that don’t involve those sales.
I get why some people might not like it, but I can’t help but commend a company that actually listened to its active playerbase, stopped trying to awkwardly fuse the fanbases of Elder Scrolls and MMOs, and worked on making it the best game it could be.

 

Worst Turnaround: Trove

What the hell happened here? I was all set for this to be my go-to hop-in-hop-out casual-play title for the year. Creating stuff for your cornerstone and club world was a blast. I loved the simple gameplay and community focus. The combat was fun, and the game was just a joy to play. In fact, for the most part, all of that is still true. There was just one problem.
Trion inverted the old philosophy: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” into “If it ain’t broke, fix it til it is.”
They just kept adding and adding and ADDING things. While most people might not understand why this would be considered a bad thing, lets just say that each new addition threw another wrench into the engine. The servers got laggy and unplayable. The grind grew more and more intolerable. Lucky boxes, and other “pay to enjoy” aspects were being steadily dumped into the game, each before the last addition ever had time to be thoroughly tested and ironed out within the community.
This made a game that I loved become steadily more unrecognizable, even after they pulled out of beta and went “full launch”, they refused to stop messing with it. After they turned the wonderfully minimalist UI into some sort of ugly Fisher-Price-meets-MSPaint looking nonsense, I was done. Have they improved since then? I don’t know. I hope so, but I’m not planning on looking back until they settle into a solid framework, and quite trying to Special Edition it up.
There’s PvP added recently, too. So that’s something else that didn’t need to exist.

Setch Dreskar addsSpeaking of Trion, what the hell happened to the company as a whole? Trion were the guys that took roleplay in Rift seriously and would help police roleplay on their roleplay servers to keep players happy. Trion were the company that listened to their playerbase and made it so both factions finally allied together because there were less reasons to remain separate in the face of an overwhelming threat, making them stand in stark contrast to that one arrogant company that seems to enjoy pissing on its fanbase and sticks its head in the snowbank whenever a suggestion is made. If you can’t guess that company is named after a destructive weather phenomena and enjoys making memes to ridicule its players.
Back to the point though, what has Trion done these days? Slowly eroded all its titles to milk them for cash, begun ignoring the playerbase, thrown in pay to win garbage into its titles, and flooding mediocre content into its titles to keep up the appearance they are giving good value. With that being said it isn’t hard to see how Trove could go from a Grindstone favorite into its current position where we are annoyed at how much Trion has squandered in the name of making quick cash. So much content is now required to have an enjoyable experience, pvp getting shoved in while being directly opposed to the playerbase at the time ensuring the friendly game where everyone could work together while be yet another generic meta-fest. I think I personally will miss the amazing musical club worlds that created intricate songs the most. Damn you Trion, just damn you.

 

Favorite Overall: The Elder Scrolls Online

I really did not see this coming. If you had told me the game I was most actively avoiding and dreading to play would have become my favorite overall MMO in 2015, I’d have asked you not to repeat such a pointless cliche… But I still would have thought you were making some pretty longshot bets.  The funniest thing about it all, is that I’m really not sure what changed or why my attitude did.
Again, we did play the beta and “we were bored” would be understating it a bit. Nothing felt special. Really, what changed?
I can’t explain it, but I can relay my feelings pertaining to both. Perhaps it had something to do with my initial choice in the beta of creating Ciann as a Breton (pronounced: ped-ANT) and forcing myself in the frighteningly boring Daggerfall Covenant opening areas. Eventually I decided to make Liatania as a Nord, and even though “Bleakrock” was an aptly named area, I felt a bit more intrigued by everything happening in that faction (Ebonheart Pact). But by the time the beta was over and I hit unplayable quest bug after unplayable quest bug, I couldn’t be assed to pay to play a game I gave no shits about the lore and world of. I basically avoided it like the plague and chuckled at every rage review that came across for the game.
So when we started up again expecting the worst, what we got felt so much better.
Combat felt interesting. While certainly simplistic, and not the best available to the reticle combat genre, something about that style seems to work, and we were able to avoid movements and perform attacks based upon the situation, not simply a rotation that should be applied to everyone we found.
Finding bits of lore and skyshards gave the world an exploration aspect that felt more freeing after we saw how the areas were being set up.
Questing plays out in a TSW style “Here’s a main story to funnel you down a path, but if you come across people to help along the way, do what you want.”
Taking the time to read and see what was at stake in many of the quests (most notably Ebonheart Pact) provided some of the most soul-crushing moral choices I’ve seen in a game. This is an industry awash in “moral choices” that can be decided with a coinflip. Choices that edge both side of extremes. Choices that have basically spawned this entire idiotic culture of binary, black and white, kindergarten-level “morality”. Knowing that neither choice I made was the unquestionably “right” one, and it was up to ME to decide what to do, blew my mind. To see someone saying the game’s moral choices were bad because they weren’t clear cut, “right and wrong” options baffled and frightened me for that person’s social future. Life doesn’t work that way.
I can’t emphasize that enough. I can recall an exact moment when the game got to me. Without trying to spoil much, I was questing in an area where a town was host to a rather polarizing condition, with clear positives and negatives. Two separate NPCs had completely differing ideals on whether this was a blessing or curse, and when I was nearing the end of the quest chain, I told my wife I only had “one more thing to do” and I would be offline. That “one more thing” turned out to be my decision to, as one NPC would see it, preserve their condition and “let them live”, or to the other NPC, end that condition and “free them from torment”. I sat there for a solid 5 minutes, internally arguing with myself. I would nearly click on an option, and then pull away with an audible grunt of doubt and frustration with myself, until I finally chose one. The other NPC then insisted I change my mind, sending soldiers to stop me from making my decision, begging and pleading with me to stop what I was doing, with a terrified intensity in his voice that wounded me to the core, even causing me to doubt myself a final time before carrying out the option for good.
I was undergoing an existential crisis over something that literally had no effect or consequence to the core gameplay and it wasn’t until Undertale (which would be my GOTY if I reviewed Indie games and not MMOs) that I would again be wracked with such conflict over my actions toward, for all intents and purposes, lines of code. Like UndertaleESO can have a serious mental impact on you if you let it.
Beyond the above few paragraphs, I suppose I like this game because I really don’t care about the lore and world of the Elder Scrolls. I don’t have a fond memory of playing Morrowind. I didn’t play any of the other titles because I simply didn’t care to. They didn’t interest me. So I’m not feeling betrayed by simplified systems, lore retcons, or even where this whole thing is even supposed to fit in the overarching story, and I think that might be the best thing this game has going for it… which unfortunately was not their initially intended audience. I don’t think it should be made to suffer for it, and it certainly takes far more risks than that other anticipated MMO that it fought alongside its debut year.

Setch Dreskar adds: This one is a no-brainer for anyone that is within the grindstone community. Elder Scrolls Online has been one of those major shocks for me. I was debating having this up for Biggest Surprise but I knew full well I would be putting the title here and wanted to talk about some other surprises we had over the year. This was such a turn around for me, everything about Tamriel Unlimited just made the game feel so much better than when I was given press access for the beta. So this argonian savage will continue to play ESO, and I am looking forward to the continued support and expansions that are being added, especially Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood!

 

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Signing off another year-in-review, here’s to remembering to change my credits to read “2016” in my next episode. We’ll see if I even still have a show to do by the end of this year.

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The Blipocalypse is here

So if you’ve been looking around the site today, or attempted to head to Blip.tv to check out my channel you might have run across something like this:
Blipbeded

It might have caused a mild sense of panic, but rest assured all my videos are now linking to my Youtube channel. I spent the last month, (and the rest of today) switching over any links on this site that still linked to Blip.tv. (MAJOR thanks to Christopher “Tebble” Torres, for snagging up most of the links for my videos in a text list, so I didn’t have to keep hopping around between Youtube and the site looking for those video links.)

But if you liked watching videos on Blip for… whatever reason… your options are now severely limited. As of today, August 20th, 2015, Blip.tv is no more. Bad decision after bad decision left the site a smoldering crater for a long while now, and only now have the final embers of life within it have been snuffed out.
Read the rest of this entry

Open Beta Tester Event: Trove

For those of you who missed the end of the Dead Island Epidemic video, we are running another Open Beta Tester Event, similar to what we did with ArcheAge.

For those not aware on how this works, an “Open Beta Tester Event” is when I offer up the “Beta Tester” Patreon Perk to all players who join the Grindstone community, (registering at the boards, and joining the Raidcall.)

As a “Beta Tester”,  you will gain access to the scripting process via a Google Doc that can be commented on, and added to. For example, say you’re playing the game being reviewed, and you see the script says something that’s not correct, (Like it reads “You can’t group with enemy players.” when you can group with them under certain conditions.) you can add a comment to that line and update the information to discuss it. You can also add your own personal experiences with the community, or just sit idly by as the notes and script appear so you’ll know what’s being said about the game before the video is ever released.

For those who wish to join us, head to this thread on the forums, and remember that unless you’re registered to the board, you won’t be able to view it. In this thread you’ll find all the info you need to join us, as well as a link to the Google Doc so you can join the event proper!
http://mmogrinder.boards.net/thread/269/open-beta-tester-event-trove

Shall we go on? Transformers Universe Episode

For many reasons, I don’t normally reveal the next episode, but this is kind of important.

Slated for the last episode of the year was going to be a Browser-Based with Optional Client Download title of “Transformers Universe” which I looked at previously in a sidequest episode. Since the game was constantly going under changes, I delayed looking at it as a full episode until it seemed like it would settle into a groove and build from there.

Note that when I gave my clue in the ZMR episode, I stated that the game I was looking at was starting to worry me. Yes, it was Transformers Universe and my reasons were as follows.
My first login to the game in a while was immediately met with someone asking me why I was logged in, and proclaiming the game as “dead”. I’ve see it before, though. A lot of times when a game is new, or makes a change, people get upset, and make a big stink about how they will never play again, offering up grand announcement forum posts as if their personal investment in the game was a load bearing beam in which the game solely rests upon. I’ve seen it happen in SMITE, FFS, and look where that game has headed.
However, when looking over the forums and announcements, I noticed that it had been a month since there was an update. That’s nothing major, as Funcom has gone months without posting news letters on occasion, but it was the fact that checking back the next month still had nothing. Also, the last thing that was posted announced that “something big was coming” (which ended up as a community meme of sorts) and that they would reveal that answer in two weeks from that post. That now three month old post.

And instead, this is the announcement we got today: http://www.transformersuniverse.com/en/news/2014/12/important-tu-announcement-161214

Yep. The game is being shut down on January 31st.

So my question is… should I still bother? The due date for the episode was the 29th, so I have PLENTY of time to find another one, but there was a lot of people looking forward to doing this as well. Knowing that the game will be completely gone in a month after the episode airs seems disheartening, and of course, renders the whole point of my show moot. It’s one thing to have a game suddenly announce it’s shutting down after I’ve made an episode on it. It’s a whole other thing when I KNOW the game is shutting down, and when, before I start to make an episode on it.

Let me know how you feel, as you’re the key audience here. Would you like to see a comprehensive guide on the game that you’ll only have a month to play, or should that time be spent looking at something less doomed?

THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED. ALTHOUGH WE WILL NOT BE LOOKING AT TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE AS A FULL EPISODE, I WILL BE DOING SOMETHING WITH IT.

The Truth About Rested XP

Oh, so you actually came here looking for this article after I mentioned it in the FFXIV review, huh? Well, here we go.
There’s an ugly hidden truth to the Rested XP system most often featured in World MMOs. What could be wrong with a system that rewards you for not playing, you ask? Read on.

For those of you who might not know what Rested XP is, it’s a system first implemented by World of Warcraft but adopted by games like Rift, SWTOR, FFXIV and many others. By finding an appropriate location, usually an Inn, you will gain a limited amount of bonus experience when killing monsters, until it wears off. Sounds awesome right? This way you can more easily catch up to friends that can play more often, as long as you log out in the appropriate spot every night!

Now before I start explaining something, I want to talk about another experience system often featured in Chinese and Korean MMOs, called “Experience Fatigue” also known as a Stamina system. A game like Rappelz would feature multiple tiers of this, dropping your experience gain by 25% per portion of your stamina level. If it was depleted, there was nearly no point in enemy grinding, which was a heavy part of the game, and you’d need to log off for a while to recover it. Some of these systems are more Draconian than others, some forcing you to log off, or making it impossible to progress through the game until you do. MMO players HATE these kind of systems, and every time I made mention of one in a game, I’d see more than a few people talking about how much they refused to play games with these restrictions. XP Fatigue systems were put in place to discourage players from playing a game for far too long, as MMO addiction and lack of productivity was an epidemic in these countries.

In fact, when Blizzard started to create their MMO, they knew the risks of addiction, and seen what happened with Everquest, so they decided they would include their own XP Fatigue system.
As you play the game, you gain normal XP amounts, but slowly become fatigued as you kill enemies. After a while, you’ll reach Fatigued status, and earn half the experience until you find an Inn and log off to replenish it. Players in the beta threw a FIT, flooding the forums with complaints, screaming about how Blizzard had no right to control how much people play, and punishing them for doing so was wrong.

Come the next patch, Blizzard announced a new system called the “Rested Experience Bonus”. As you play the game, you’ll gain normal experience from monster kills, but if you take a break by logging out in an Inn, you’ll earn a Rested Experience Bonus, giving you double the amount of XP you’d normally gain until you run out. Players rejoiced, and considered Blizzard as the most amazing and giving developer.

Here’s something you’re probably figured out unless you’re not very good at math. The values were never changed.

Under the Fatigue System, if a monster gives you 100 XP with normal status, it would give you 50 XP when you were fatigued.
Under the Rested XP System, the same monster will give you 50 XP with “normal” status, and will give you 100 XP with the Rested XP “bonus.”

It’s the exact same system! By switching which version of XP gain was called “normal”, and making it sound like players were being rewarded, rather than punished, they were able to keep their original system without changing a single thing about how it worked.

THE RESTED XP SYSTEM IS, AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN, A FATIGUE SYSTEM.

Blizzard wrapped it in a pretty bow, changed around the terms, made us feel special, and we all fell for it. GG, Blizz.

Open Beta Tester Event: ArcheAge progress

Week 2.
I no longer remember my human name.
We’ve been losing our crew as the days go on. Those of us who’ve managed to survive have endured hardship after hardship. One of our crew was left so broken and battered, we though we lost him, but he managed to recover at a great loss to his sanity. We endure, but not without a loss of our souls.

What a damned adventure this has been, eh guys? It’s not too late to join the Open Beta Tester Event in ArcheAge if you so desire! If you’re not on board with our crew during this event, remember you too can test your mettle by going here: http://mmogrinder.boards.net/thread/230/archeage-open-beta-tester-event
Remember to register for the boards, or that link will lead to an error page!
Most everyone in the guild is a different style class, and we don’t find ourselves “needing” any one specific thing, so feel free to roll whatever you desire. We just highly suggest it be some form of mage or archer. For your sake.
We have a few upper level characters, we want to murder everyone, and regular trade runs are happening as we speak.
Feel free to add anyone on that list to your friends list with “Shift-V” to see when we are online, and get yourself an invite to the guild.

Speaking of the guild, or the MMO Grinder community-at-large we call “Grindstone”, we have a symbol now! Check it out below!

Grindstone logo

It’s available with or without the added text. You might also notice that default avatars on the forums are now this image.
If you’re thinking, “Man, that would look awesome on a t-shirt!”, well, so was I! Here’s the link to the image on a shirt at Redbubble! Available for purchase whenever!:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/mmogrinder/works/12764279-grindstone-logo

That’s not the only new shirt to grace the MMO Grinder store, as my commission of Ciann a few months in the making is finally complete. While the original intention of the image was to replace the WoW poster behind me, I thought the image was so cool that I included it in the Redbubble store as well. Artwork by Andarix

Ciann Art Nouveau

If you’re a fan of mages, redheads, red-headed mages, flowers, red-headed mages with flowers, art nouveau style, red-headed mages with flowers in art nouveau style, original characters do not steal, or just bad-ass artwork in general, feel free to get a shirt or poster of Ciann Magnol here:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/mmogrinder/works/12764235-ciann-art-nouveau

Also, don’t forget to vote in the Halloween Poll! Even if you’re already voted, there’s a week long “cooldown” on the voting process, so you’re free to vote again if you haven’t done so since it first went up. remember the poll expires on the 13th, and the winner WILL be the Halloween episode for this year.

Off-Week Update (07/06/2014)

I am well aware I have no reason to call these that anymore. Accuse me of being traditionalist… but more on that later. Let’s get to some recaps.

Episode 57: Grand Chase
Yeah, this was done after a few proddings from some community members, and me constantly forgetting it exists. When Chachera spoke over us playing TSW to inform us that Grand Chase was being discontinued… only to later be relieved that it was being moved to Killer Combo, I kind of took it as a sign to look at it. When I first heard about it, I though it was something akin to Maple Story. A 2D platformer, but in 3D, yet still having a world exploring aspect. When Elsword players on their forums threw a loud fit over the fact people would ever say that Elsword and Grand Chase are related, I figured that the styles of gameplay were so vastly different that they just didn’t want people to associate the two… But the minute I fired it up, all I could think was, “THIS IS THE EXACT SAME GAME!”, and ALL of the self-important, accusatory forum posts came flooding back to my memory, where I had a loud sudden realization of “OH, FUCK YOU.” So yeah, I took quite a few moments to cement the fact that , yes, this game was pretty much the exact same thing, and there was no way to deny that anymore. I can’t stand when an “us vs. them” mentality props up in the same franchise. Especially when a game is so similar. I get why there’s one for Zelda’s Ocarina of Time vs. Link to the Past as the game are two vastly different experiences. This is like taking adamant sides on what’s better, Mario Galaxy 1 or 2, going as far to deny they’re related.
As for the game?… Meh.

Sidequest: Adventure Time Battle Party
You want to know where I heard about this game? Bro Team’s twitter. For those not in the know, Bro Team is one of the few exceptions where someone can scream at a microphone and say awful things, and in this instance, I find it absolutely hilarious. I have my reasons, but I won’t get into that here, as it’s irrelevant to the situation. As one might imagine, his Twitter is mostly the same, just off kilter and nonsensical ranting, but it was the tweet about an Adventure Time MOBA that got me to Googling it… And after confirming it existed, I thought, “Oh, I have to try this.” and after playing it thought, “Dear God, this is way better than it has any right to be…” Of course it is!
At the core, doesn’t everything about it sound like it would be absolutely AWFUL? Licensed title? Check? Based on a title that itself is very well versed in the childish, and irreverent? (Yes, I am well aware of how deep and adult the themes in AT can be. I’ve seen “I Remember You” so no need to “defend” that statement. Doesn’t make it less true.) A MOBA aimed at CHILDREN on a company website?! Yeah, any time you tell someone this game exists, they can’t help but imagine it to be awful… and yet.. it’s really capable, competent, and more importantly, FUN. That’s definitely reflected in the sheer amount of comment that mentioned that thought it would be awful, started it up as a joke, and ended up having a blast. Haven’t played in a while, but always willing to stop back in. I hope it’s doing well.

Episode 58: World Tour Fishing
Speaking of “Oh, I have to try this…”
When I heard there was a full open-world MMO based entirely around fishing, I knew I had to look at it. It didn’t really surprise me that it existed, as hell, we’ve seen tennis, puzzle, and snowboarding MMOs on the show before, and as I stated in the intro, fishing is a fairly popular aspect to a lot of MMOs, but I was mostly wondering just HOW the game would work. It didn’t take long to figure out. Reception for this kind of thing is always mixed, from the “Hey, there’s so many unique MMOs out there!” to “Why the hell would you look at this crap when there’s so many other game.” Sorry, I tend to fall into the former. If you’re here looking for the WoW Clone du jour, please move along. I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear that I define “MMO” a bit more loosely than most… but clearly not all, people.
The episode itself, for those past the concept, was pretty well received, and even MegaGWolf’s community really latched onto the title.

Special Episode: Wildstar
So.. yeah. Despite the reception mostly seen in the comments, there’s been a few detractions, and very silent disdain toward the video. (“Why debate, when you can downvote!”) There’s been a few “corrections” like claiming Focus works like Mana, which, since I’ve had no hands on with, can’t entirely conform is true.)
Still, on the comment section I’ve started to dread more than Youtube (the one on TGWTG), there was a few very vocal people angry about my rant about the subscription model, another complaining about the mid-rolls that have been in place for well over a year, and one very non-vocal person who spends every day voting one star to tank the rating. Not entirely ruling out the possibility it’s the same person.
And as far as mentioning the Patreon? Get used to it. That episode WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED if it wasn’t for the very generous pledges from the patrons on there. I don’t think people understand the kind of investment that game required, and without the Patreon, and relying only on the returns or the ad revenue, I’ll likely have lost 50 dollars just making it.
I mean it when I say the sub model is outdated and dead. Just look at the sheer number of comments claiming their interest in the game hinged entirely on the sub model. How much more unforgivable that game bugs, gameplay flaws, or quirky, outdated traditionalist mechanics become when you’re forced to pay monthly. I also find it amusing that someone dared to complain that I wasn’t giving Carbine enough credit for addressing community feedback and fixing bugs. (Which technically, I DID in this line: “…beyond some occasional framerate issues that the game has acknowledged, and has been steadily addressing.”)
Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware the game industry was so terrible that I should be giving special praise to a developer for doing its fucking job. Is that what we’ve become now? A group of players so thankful that a company isn’t trying to screw us over every second of the day, that we sing the praises of anyone capable of doing what they are supposed to be doing in the first place? Here’s a real hint, though… It’s not Carbine you should be concerned with. It’s really not.
Wildstar is a perfectly fine game, but no amount of loyalty and fanaticism, before or after the fact, is going to be the one to save it.
Speaking of things to worry about… The fact you can’t even buy timecards in the NA market, this long after the game was released? Fishy as hell.

Sidequest: Magicka Wizard Wars
I think i was in the midst of browsing Steam, or possibly waiting a Youtube ad when I saw the trailer for this game and thought, “Well, Sidequest is slowly becoming MOBAquest, so why no add another to the list. I was at least glad to see that, like DIE, it’s not something taking the formula so traditionally. There’s also a LOT less to worry about, and as brought up by someone in the Patreon thread of this game, it’s a bit of a dumbing-down of Magicka’s system, which originally allowed you to slot five elements for spells, not just three. Not been much of a reception to this one so far, as there’s not been too much exposure of it, yet.

Streams
I really REALLY screwed up making SMITE Night on Sundays. Let’s just say the long of it means that I originally picked the date because it was a time I knew I was free, weekly. However, that’s no longer the case, and now it’s something I have to plan around. Those savvy enough to note the date of this posting will probably also note this was another night it was supposed to happen, and did not. There’s been a few reasons, but the foremost has been the lack of actual freedom to play this night. The others being my lack of enjoyment when playing custom matches, as they’ve devolved from friendly matches between a few players to constant shout-fests, and places for self-proclaimed experts to show off how good they are by mercilessly destroying the other teams who don’t play at nearly the level they do. If you’re going out of your way to grab double pentakills in a community custom arena, you’re not “good”. You’re a showoff and a coward who clearly doesn’t care about anything but how cool you look. Knock it off, and play at your own level. I’m trying to help people feel comfortable with the game, not scare them off. Due to this kind of crap, I’ve stopped doing custom matches in streams. There shall be no exceptions to this unless it’s a fully pre-planned spectated match. I do miss doing those.
Of course, that’s not the only stream I’ve planned and neglected. Immersion Break, Wednesday’s TSW stream, has been even more sporadic than SMITE Night. This one, time permitting, I’d like to keep getting back into, especially now with the Tokyo content finally being added to the game. The major issue being that, unlike most everything else in TSW, Tokyo is hardly fit for solo content. It’s freaking HARD, and it’s something I’ll NEED someone else to be along on. The problem is that TSW doesn’t lend itself well to full community content, either. While not nearly as many people show up for Immersion Break as they do SMITE Night, it has happened to the point we’ll lose party members in massive quest runs, and it builds frustration for everyone. I think more planning is required for this stream, but it’s a lot of fun when everything goes right.
Any other streams you want to see? Wildstar perhaps?  I’m still paying for it, and it is kinda fun to watch.

The Board and the Community
We may not be the largest online community, but we’re certainly larger than 5, and definitely getting to form our own presence. I still feel I could be doing better to get us organized, though. As I was hoping, there are groups forming and who enjoy each other’s company in games WITHOUT me having to be there. There’s a heavy presence in Warframe, Onigiri, Minecraft, and of course SMITE, for those who have been looking for a crowd to play along with. We’re always welcoming new players, and in the event someone doesn’t make you feel welcome, I or someone WILL take care of it. Homey, as they say, do not play that.
I am not against growth, but I’m not exactly looking to form my own “Angry Army” or anything of that sort. Keep your individuality, please. Never feel afraid to contest me. For the love of GOD, don’t call me “sir”. We enlisted Marines have a saying for that.
I greatly encourage discussion, and I’m afraid the Raidcall channel is kind of overriding the forums at this point. Any feedback on how to make the forums better would be appreciated. Any feedback about anything is appreciated… well, as long as you understand the difference between “feedback” and “inflammatory complaining.”
There are GREAT people in my community and I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting a few of them in real life. There are people who, in the midst of my writing this, did a great deed for me that seriously helped me out with all the crap I had to deal with today. (Seriously thanks. You know who you are.) Hopefully we can continue this trend. Hell, people are already starting to recognize SonicRose just from appearing in so many streams.

Patreon Campaign
I have a hard time talking about Patreon. The stigma remains, and I’ve debating on making a post on this site going into great detail about all I’m using it for, why I’m doing it and whatnot. It’s kind of a catch 22. Want the campaign to go anywhere? Talk about it as much as possible. Want to sound like you’re begging everyone for money? Talk about it as much as possible. I don’t think there’s a balance here.
In quick form, I’ll just say that this has helped me immensely. Clearly I’ve used this to get the Wildstar review completed, and despite me having hovered around the $260 mark for over a month now, the fact I’m close to my “better equipment” upgrade doesn’t mean I WON’T be buying equipment to improve the show. Hell, we’ll see if one of my recent purchases pays off in the next episode.
The conundrum remains. Talk about it, potentially reach more patrons, but be seen as a beggar. Keep it quiet, and go nowhere, but make the people who hate this sort of thing keep their mouths shut.
This is merely something to make things easier for me. It’s not like this show is ALL I have to spend money on, but I promise to make sure every dollar counts. If I manage to reach my 300 goal, that 1k mystery goal will be revealed, and that might make a few people I’ve been speaking to very excited.
Also, I’ve been considering on making a new level that kind of ties into the 1k goal, as well have having found a new system for the 10+ dollar level “Beta Testers” to better see and influence the inner workings of the writing and show process. Wildstar was the first episode to really utilize this, and I loved how it turned out.
Would people rather pay monthly, or per main episode?
So, would you be willing for me to write a major post about Patreon?

Blip vs. Youtube
I really need to keep these up more often, or I’m going to keep having walls of text. What am I, an MMOsite blogger?
I don’t want to be as redundant as I am rather detailed in the post above. (If you’re not registered to the forum, you won’t see it.). It boild down to the fact that Blip might not be the best option going forward. Lots of ads for little pay. Unstable players. All that jazz. Still, I can’t stand how shitty the Youtube community is, but I can’t help but feel that focusing all my embedded content (this site, TGWTG, what have you) would REALLY help in getting the word out. (Or at least stop the “Why don’t u have more views” comments from popping up in every other video I post there.)
Feel free to vote on the thread. Right now, Blip is winning, and it’s ultimately down to you guys to make this decision… Unless I decide to make the switch anyway. I like to consider myself more considerate than that.

Upcoming content? A lot more Sidequests, an FPS made by the company everyone rags on for abandonment issues, and a Patreon Raid Leader requested title. Wish me luck.

Off-Week Update (05/24/2014)

So yeah, that didn’t work out as planned.

Spoilers: I was supposed to have the next episode completed by the time I left on my vacation, May 11th. However, plenty of distractions, I’m lazy, blah blah, best laid schemes of mice and men, whatever, no new ep. My bad. Shooting for this upcoming week, if they’d knock off changing the damned game every 15 minutes. Never played a game so old that got so many updates. I’ve already had to make two major script changes because of this.

Recap time!

Episode 56: Scarlet Blade
I think I need to stop attending convention panels. One year I mention TERA and RIFT are still thriving sub games, and both go free-to-play. This year I said I would never look at Scarlet Blade because there was no need to, and here we are. A full episode on the boob game.
I was expecting a lot of people to get a kick out of this one. It was easy to play a humor angle, and toss in jokes because the game is just oozing with material. Hell, there were “jokes” that people found that were never intended as jokes. They legitimately wrote themselves. It’s probably my most viewed episode in a long time, some thanks in part to support from Nash of RadioDeadAir, who tweeted to his followers, and also aired the episode on his liveshow.
However, and I have NO IDEA why I was surprised by this… a set amount of staunch defenders of this game, not like the previous time where I was slighting the game as a game, admittedly not giving the game a fair shake, which I have since admitted the game is perfectly competent and a bit of fun. No, they had to defend the one thing I didn’t think anyone WAS going to defend.
The perversion. The ridiculous outfits, oddly proportioned women, and the constant immature sex puns. The things almost everyone mocked. Their defense? “There’s nothing wrong with sexuality.” You’re right… there isn’t. Too bad this isn’t sexuality, it’s click bait. The metaphorical “Carrot-on-a-stick” in order to get you to keep playing the game. To defend something so shameless and pointless is baffling. I can’t help but feel it’s the demographic that this game is catering to, too smart to simply play the game at face value, but too ignorant and inexperienced to see the game for what it really is. I could go into detail here, but I had myself one hell of an angry, curse filled rant on my Tumblr page in essence to counter this oddly common detraction. People agreed. Thankfully. Others got offended. GOOD.
For those not willing to click, I’ll just take my favorite line from that rant: “This game isn’t porn. This game isn’t even Softcore porn. This is two circles with dots in the middle scrawled onto a bathroom stall. This is a calculator with the number 5318008 on the screen, turned upside down.”
If you somehow take mockery of this game with deep personal offense… you must be hella fun at parties.
 Remind me never to hang out with you.
For those who are willing to admit it’s just a big ball of shameless stupid, and aren’t trying to accuse me of some strawman agenda, welcome to my side. We have a dance club.

Sidequest: Dead Island Epidemic
I was putting this off, and putting it off… and putting it off. Mostly because I was waiting to play alongside the guy who gave me the key, and subsequently had his PC shit the bed on him. Well, it comes down to us finally getting a look at it, ready to mock it and all it stands for and… god damn it, I was having fun. This game actually removes a lot of the MOBA style strife that… Strife, thinks it’s able to overcome, but getting rid of a lot of the more annoying aspects.
No “mana pools”. You can choose the same character. The gameplay is easy to understand. There’s a single player mode that’s not just you versus bots. There’s no “towers”, no “jungling”, no match items to purchase, no real “meta” of any kind.
If there was any downside it’s they it does feel a bit pay-to-win. The alternate versions of the characters actually feel stronger than the original versions, the weapons you can purchase give a serious boost, and if the price point and difference of each one is any indication, it might be intentional. It could use some serious balancing… if that isn’t, in fact, the plan. At the very least, there’s still single player. I could probably stand to go a few more rounds in this.

Quick updates, the Patreon is going along nicely, finally once again breaking the 200 mark, and steadily climbing toward the next perk. I do have to give a quick shout out to one of my Patrons, who will identify themselves if they wish to, who is having health issues which, thanks to the wonders of the american health care system, are going to set him back a bit with meds. Everyone send him some well wishes!

There will be another Sidequest before the end of this month in addition to the next full episode. I’ve scheduled both for TGWTG, so I have a nice swift boot to my ass in order to get things finished. Let’s see if that helps.

Finally, despite missing the last two SMITE Nights, there SHOULD be one tomorrow evening, standard 6-9pm time. There will be Siege Mode matches, and Tebble matches will be kept to a minimum since they cause nothing but hate and rage… which I am to understand is the intention. I haven’t played once during the double Favor weekend… I guess I felt it more important to go to Build-A-Bear and get a Toothless plushie. Priorities.

Pics and an article from a certain portion of my vacation are coming soon… mostly because I didn’t get any time to allow filming for my original idea, and had to sneak a bunch of photos because they apparently frown upon that. Will get that tossed out shortly as well. Stay tuned.

Off-Week Update (4/28/2014)

Alright, let’s get a gap between official episodes before I spend the day grinding away at finishing the new episode before I either finish it tonight, or my heart explodes from all the caffeine I am forcing myself to drink.

Sidequest: Wildstar
I thought I was pretty cut and dry here. Wildstar is a traditional style MMORPG with non-traditional art direction, that’s in the hands of the worst possible company to publish them. Worse than EA. Yeah, I said it. NCSoft has done borderline nothing to promote the game, and only recently have I been told that there was a marketing push. In Boston only. For Pax East. Then it stopped. So yeah. No real change there.
There’s this prevalent air of traditionalism lurking in Wildstar. It’s like the dev team, who admittedly worked on some of the most iconic (and traditional) MMOs on the market, WoW and Everquest 1 and 2, locked themselves up in a bunker and started work on this game in 2006, never once peeking their head out to see if there was any market shift. No reticle combat option? Sure the skill shot thing is a bit unique, but it’s still very “target and click skills”. Two faction war. Set classes. Skill trees. Kill X, gather Y. It may not be as “cloney” as SWTOR was, but you’ve played this game before. Trust me.
There’s this odd “two game competition” going on between the fanboys of Wildstar and TESO, I’ve noticed, which tends to happen when two MMOs are due out around the same time. Though comparing TESO to Wildstar is like comparing Coke to Mountain Dew. They are both “soda”, but these aren’t just two different companies, they are two different FLAVORS. If anything, due to the rampant traditionalism, Wildstar’s biggest competition is going to be World of Warcraft… especially with the upcoming graphical upgrade making WoW look pretty damned close to Wildstar’s art style.
Also, Wildstar being advertised on fucking TRASH CANS?! Are you trying to tell us something, NCSoft?

The 1v1 me bro Tournament Finals
So after three grueling weeks of competition, we finally… don’t have a winner. Yes, in a stunning upset, Tebble was not proven invincible, and taken down in the final round by LDJoy, who fought back through the loser’s bracket after losing to RolloT. Next match will probably conclude this upcoming SMITE Night to decide out winner, since Tebble technically has to lose twice in order to be out. The playlist of the remaining matches can be found here if you are interested. (My match against Tebble is a rather interesting watch, partially for the gameplay, mostly for the yelling RolloT does.)

Digimon Masters (Episode 55)
This one… took a while. It was tough because as I mentioned before… I have no nostalgia with the title, and beyond that factor, there’s really nothing in this game. It’s there for the pet collectors, and progression feels… stale. Pointless. I wasn’t even sure if there was anything at stake, and it sure didn’t feel like there was. Still it holds a lot of attnetion for those that love it, and letting Dabeer and SonicRose take the reigns really helped keep this from being a 15 minute episode of me yelling “I don’t get it.” over and over again. This is also pretty similar to what I am doing in my Patreon for the “Raid Leader” and “Beta Tester” Patreon tiers, as well as a push to better involve my community in the creation of these episodes. It’s not ALWAYS going to be necessary, but having more than just me giving insight to a certain game helps along the fact that people will have differing opinions, but mechanics and gameplay is the same no matter who you ask.
Oh, that theory for the chat filter blocking “monkey” and “SM”?
“Monkey” has been used as a racial slur on many occasions, and SM in sequence is “S and M”, a.k.a. Sadomasochism. Considering this is a “children’s” title, the company was probably trying to block as many “offensive” words as they could think of, and with English not being their first language, it probably led to this kind of odd confusion. Take a look at Age of Wushu, for example where you couldn’t say “horse” because “HOR”, which for anyone with a PHD in Curse-ology is clearly NOT how you spell “whore”. There was also LUNA Online’s chat filter banning the use of two innocent letter next to each other because, according to rumor, the letters on a Korean keyboard would spell out a common Korean swear word. All possibilities. All stupid. Babelfish is not a substitute for localization, guys.

Chaos Previews: Echoes of Eridu
“I’m sorry, what?” you might ask. No you didn’t miss this one on site, or Blip. I made this video as a YouTube exclusive to support a game I really want to see come to light, that’s currently on Kickstarter. There, as of the time of this post, 11 days to go and the game just hit their halfway mark, but I’m going to do all I can to get this game off the ground. Again, it’s not in my wheelhouse, which is why I haven’t posted anything about it on here or Blip, but the idea of a multiplayer action Roguelike with the gameplay style of Megaman X has me floored, and I really want to see this game happen. Check out the trailer on Kickstarter, and watch my hands on preview below!

A quick update on the state of my Patreon.
Let’s say I’m doing FAR better than I thought I would, having reached the first and second goal in a matter of days, and steadily approaching the $200 mark. This means (after the first payout of course) that work on the first and second goal will commence. The first goal being “More Streams” which planning is in the midst of right now.
The plan for streams is for a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday schedule. Wednesday will be The Secret World streams dubbed “The Immersion Break.”, Friday will be a preview of whatever game I’m currently working on called “The Strea-view”, where I’ll take and field questions (a community mod would be highly appreciated during this time. Sunday, of course, is still “SMITE Night”. Ideas for other days and streams will come eventually, with another idea of mine, called the “Strea-wind” where the community votes on a game we all played/I reviewed previously and we marathon the hell out of it. In that case it would be likely any off-week Tuesday. In fact, there’s something special planned coming up soon, if we can decide on a time.

As for now, stay tuned tonight or tomorrow for the next full episode of MMO Grinder…. You won’t want to miss it.

Off-Week Update (04/05/2014)

Well, it’s closer this time, at least… Yeah, it’s been a LONG while since I’ve done a full episode, but rest assured there’s work being done on the new one… and not all of it is by me. The overabundance of Sidequest and mini-sodes isn’t about to cease, though. Until then, let’s look at what’s new.

Sidequest: Tales Runner
There’s always something nice about seeing a once dead MMO make a comeback, even if you’re not personally a fan of it. (Don’t let that be inferred as me stating I don’t like it. I know how ya’ll be.) Tales Runner wins hands down in the uniqueness factor as I’ve not played a single game that controls or plays like it (“Mario Kart clone” is a bit of a stretch when you actually give it a hands-on shot. Trust me.)
The biggest issue I see forthcoming is the community. This game is attracting the painfully annoying crowd that feels you must play a certain way, mocks new players for not knowing maneuvers that aren’t covered in the tutorial, or prefer playing in the “no fun allowed, guys” modes and tracks, disabling item usage and playing on tracks that have little to no traps or obstacles. Those were honestly the most frustratingly boring matches I was in, as the minute someone gets ahead they STAY ahead, and there is physically no possible way to catch up to them if they don’t hit an obstacle themselves. While there was few instances of the Brick-Forcian “GOGOGOGOGOGOGO” crowd, evidence was there as most players entering a room would leave within several seconds if the match didn’t start.
It’s unquestionably attracting the infamous Rumble Fighter crowd, and this could potentially explode out of control as Rumble Fighter will be shutting down on May 23rd. Of course, maybe that means they’ll ALL be going away, but I really don’t see it happening like that. Friends-Lock this game if you don’t want a headache.

Sidequest: Landmark
World Builders, Minecraft clones, what have you, are becoming increasingly popular and common nowadays, and this is probably the first instance of this kind of game not being utilized entirely by the indie scene. Instead with SoE at the helm, we might actually get the first true intended hybrid of an MMO and a World-Builder. (Because the combat system in Minecraft is absolutely terrible, and every mod built around using it, subsequently so.) As of now, it’s pretty much a very slow creative mode sandbox… but with some serious creativity potential.
The main debate is how this game ties into Everquest… if at all. As I mentioned before, this game was called “Everquest Next: Landmark” before dropping the EQ title. It is technically part of the Everquest Series, but as explained by the devs,  the freedom to create would break immersion faster than a lack of fall damage when your human decked out in fantasy gear walks past a mech station and a McDonalds. Still, the talk of how Landmark will, if at all, tie into EQN is a bigger topic for debate than whether or not Elsword has anything to do with Grand Chase.
I think there was some confusion when it came to what I was saying when I asked about interest in revisiting the title. In more than one place I got comments similar to “I don’t watch videos of other people playing video games” or “I love those Minecraft LPs!” which I’m guessing means they outright assumed I’d be turning Landmark into some sort of ongoing “LP” series. I would not. I honestly not even remotely sure how people could jump to such a bold conclusion, when the exact quote asked if people would want to “see more videos through additional Sidequests with every major update.” That’s all I mean. Combat system gets implemented? New Sidequest. Progression system revamped? New Sidequest. TBH, I don’t understand how people can just watch focusless videos of people playing Minecraft either.

(April Fools) Browser-Based: FlapMMO
LOL. Yes. This is a real thing and I put it together in about an hour. It was actually a backup plan, as my original few plans, once again didn’t go the way I wanted them to. I’d known about the game for a while, but it was suggested I do it as an April Fools joke. I figured it wouldn’t be all that hard to do. I’d tell you my alternate ideas, but that would spoil potential things for next year.
I also make it my personal rule not to make AFD jokes blatant trickery (At least two other Channel Producers had titles and titlecards for things that their audiences desperately wanted to see them review, to instead bait-and-switch with something else.) I piss off enough people just doing this show, and I’d rather make people laugh on AFD, than get their hopes up and shatter them. Maybe I’m doing it wrong…
Yes, there was a lot of truth and personal feelings in that rather harsh ending to the video. I guess, unlike fad memes of the past, this one directly annoys me due to the fact that it was simply a big ball of nothing made out to be the greatest game in the world. I do not find Flappy Bird to be addicting, fun, or even worthy of more than a passing glance. It’s an endless runner, a boring one at that, that just got lucky to be exploiting three of humanity’s worst traits. Celebrity recognition, “Just one more” addiction, and “Forbidden Fruit” syndrome when, as stated, the creator’s own crippling fear of success caused him to pull the title from the market. It’s not hard; it’s based entirely on rhythmic button presses, timing, and endurance. The only challenge comes from how long you can play it before you want to stab yourself in the eye. All that bragging about Flappy Bird high scores is going to feel as silly as telling people you they were in a Harlem Shake video, naming their guild “Gangnam Style”, or asking people what the fox says in about a few months time.
Saddest thing? When looking for an image for that video’s title card, you know what one of the first results said? “FlapMMO Hacks”
Really? Really?! WHY?! For WHAT?!

My Patreon Page
So this is finally a thing I’ve been battling with myself to put up, due to the endless stigma behind this kind of thing. However, I’ve felt it a slight necessity for quite a while now. Instability is a huge part of all of this. I’m at the whim of whatever CPM and ad campaign is running, whatever totalitarian system Youtube is unleashing upon its users that week, whether or not Blip wants to get bought out by yet another company and break its servers for the 15th time that month. I’ve also had plenty of people ask me if I accept donations, due to the fact they prefer to run adblock. Patreon seemed like the best compromise.
Hopefully those willing to contribute find the goals clear and concise, and if you have any questions on how it works, feel free to let me know. However, if you don’t wish to, or cannot, one thing I don’t need to hear is “Sorry, I can’t donate because…” Honestly, I really don’t need to know that. If you can’t, or even don’t want to, it’s your prerogative. At no point do I want people to feel they have to do this, so you don’t owe me anything. Not even an apology. This is merely an option for those who wish to do this. Nothing more.
One of my major goals with this? Getting the community much more involved and far more rewarded. Not every MMO should be solo’d after all.

In the meantime before the next full episode, we’ve been running steadily in The Secret World, running SMITE Nights over on my stream and are planning for an upcoming 1v1 tournament. Details on that in the forums and an official post will be made soon.

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