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Off-Week Update (03-19-2014)

You know, for someone who enjoys the playstyle and aesthetic of Ice Magic, and genuinely enjoyed the movie “Frozen” I really can’t stand winter. Sure, it was fine when I was a chubby kid, but as a more selectively chubby adult, everything about it gets to me, and I tend to be a mental wreck around this time of the year. However, with Spring Forward finally in effect, I’m ready to burrow out of the ground, notice it’s snowing again in fucking MARCH and immediately retreat to my hole in the ground to offer you these long overdue updates. How far back to I have to go? January?! Aw, crap.

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Browser-Based: City of Steam
Talk about a bit of a SNAFU. I was once again hung up on the next episode I would be doing, and remembering my contact from Mechanist games, and the fact City of Steam exists, I decided to do that game as my next full episode…. Until I got to talking to previously said contact, and he unintentionally convinced me to ignore the game forever.
That was, until I was contacted by another publisher that was also publishing City of Steam. While both games are more or less identical, it was really the story behind Mechanist and what had happened to CoS that made me decide to at least give the Gamerocks version a shot. While it still suffers from the same issues, it’s better than what I expected, hearing all that I heard, but it’s not really much to hold anyone’s attention. Also Mechanist’s version is on Steam now. So there’s a thing.

Sidequest: Hearthstone
Hearthstone is certainly a thing. Pretty much a dumbed down Magic: the Gathering, yet here I am finding out that it literally IS a dumbed down Magic: the Gathering, taking a specific rule/cardset called “Vanguard” and painting WoW characters all over it. It’s still a fun, flashy game, not that I play it all that much as I seriously have some of the worst luck in the world, and any game where “random chance” is an element is destined to find some way to screw me over. Blizzard sure makes it’s clones, flashy though, huh? Now only to see how much flashy polish they are putting into their DotA clone…

Aura Kingdom (Episode 53)
SUPAH KAWAII! This was the community’s “go-to” game for a good while, but the nature of the “well, we should probably put more quests here, ah screw it, they can grind” gameplay of the later levels unfortunately had this game drop off or collective radars for a good while. Right now it seems to be in the same vein as “Dragon’s Prophet” as a game I “really want to play, but have other things I could be doing” title. They’ve since moved on to other things… you’ll see what those other things are sometime soonish.
If there was ever a missed joke opportunity, it would have been discovering the “Demon’s Heart” quest right after making the video, which would have been a HELL of a lot better thing to mention before doing the “demonic supah kawaii” cutaway joke than what I did use. Essentially, you’re sent into a mine to discover what happened to a child’s father. Upon entering the missions you quickly find out that everyone in the mine has been slaughtered, their ghosts not out to attack anyone they see, and you find out that the child’s father came across a gemstone that possessed him, causing him to kill his coworkers while they begged for their life, culminating with a final battle against the miner, who loses his original body and transforms into a demon you’re now forced to kill to later break the news to the child that you just murdered her father. So yeah. Supah kawaii. I wasn’t joking about this game being dark.

Loadout (Episode 54)
I figured this for another game that would be simple to complete, and yeah, it kinda was… just a bit annoyed that something calling itself “launch” is once again, so oddly incomplete. This was also another “flash in the pan” obsession for a lot of people, all willing to trumpet the amazingness of the game, and immediately stop talking about it by the next week. I fault that to the aforementioned incompleteness. This was the one time I WANTED multiple people to play alongside in game, only to find out there’s no custom matches or clan system. Seems really odd. I still enjoy the title, but I don’t play it much.

Sidequest: Strife
I always tend to look at MOBAs with a certain air of dread, knowing the idiotic self-important players it tends to attract, but I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to trying out Strife, simply because the game’s overall aim was to remove the mechanics that would cause such… well… strife. They had to have chosen that name on purpose.
However, rest assured that douchery will be alive and well, as I don’t think S2 entirely understands what makes MOBA players act the way they do, and despite my having covered this in many a previous post, I can tell you right now it has NOTHING to do with specific gameplay mechanics. This game very much feels like “DotA… For Kids!” what with the cute pets, simplistic item system, colorful cast, and oddest of all, story focus. The playstyle isn’t all that far removed from the standard formula. There’s no “new map” in the vein of Dawngate, no “new perspective” in the vein of SMITE. Nothing feels all that different, so their ONLY hope to get this game to stick out from the others is to actually succeed in weeding out the toxicity. I just don’t foresee that happening. Still, I did find the game charming enough to want to keep playing it.
And before you ask, yes, I know about S2, Maliken, the HoN tirade, and all the other controversy surrounding them. No need for me to comment on here about it, save for the pure irony of it all.

Sidequest: The Elder Scrolls Online
Ah yes, the long awaited, mostly ignored TESO video. I couldn’t help but wonder about this game after hearing all the crap it went under, from the original days of it being a near literal “SWTOR” style WoW clone, to its complete overhaul (You are aware the game was supposed to launch LAST year, right), and of course the absurdly officious NDA (second only to Wildstar’s) that had players forcibly tight-lipped until only a couple months near its launch. TESO quickly went from being the MMO darling, to the “Oh? Who cares.” title in the upcoming release tide. Hell, at least Guild Wars 2 made it to LAUNCH before that happened.
Since I had no experience with the franchise, and henceforth, only real selling point to this game, I gave a key to MegaGWolf, and after finding out Nash was also in the beta, figured I’d ask him if he had anything to say… Boy did he.
This Sidequest, for those who may have missed it, is over 13 minutes long, the longest SQ to date, simply because I invited Nash and MegaGWolf to offer insight. I wasn’t expecting much more than a “conclusion” paragraph, similar to the tiny recap I give at the end of an MMO Grinder episode, but what Nash gave me was an over 5 minute, extremely well articulated stream of consciousness, many of which covered things I would have mentioned myself. You might notice the actual portion of me talking, about 6 minutes of the video, didn’t go into the standard SQ details I would normally cover, and that’s because after hearing Nash’s take, I definitely didn’t want to trample the points to death, so I inserted his audio, removing anything I would have said in repeat, and elaborating on things he didn’t cover. It’s worth a listen for that alone, even if you have no interest in the game, and it sums up the general consensus of a LOT of Elder Scrolls players, from what I’ve seen.

Browser-Based: Dino Storm
This was done entirely on a whim. We briefly touched upon it in the now defunct “MMO Underground” back when it was in an early beta, but it wasn’t until until checking to see if my Fiesta password still worked (now that it’s under control of Gamigo, not Outspark) which, by the way, it did, did I notice this game. Thinking to myself, “Oh, why the hell not?” I gave it a quick run and figured it was worth getting a video out for. City of Steam may be the “meatier” of the two Browser-Based titles I did this update, but there’s a lot more goofy imagination in Dino Storm (especially since the imagination of CoS got forcibly removed from its publishing deal.)

Sidequest: The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot
I don’t think anyone watched this as much as used it as a platform to complain about the game itself. Almost no comments about the game on this site, and half of TGWTG was people just complaining about the game in general. As I stated in reply to someone there, I get why people wouldn’t like this. This is the only game in recent memory since my seasonal mood change to force me to scream at my monitor. It’s ridiculiously frustrating the kind of “I WIN: bullshit combos that other players can force upon you, and knowing that, initially, there was a limit to the amount of traps and enemies you could place per room, makes we wonder what swayed the decision so damned much. This seems like a step backward. I can’t count the number of times I enter a castle, wander through empty rooms for about 30 seconds to a minute before stumbling across a trap generator tile and think to myself “Well, here we go”. I do this because I know my next move will involve me being flung via springboard into a pile of fire bomb traps, as I then get dogpiled by to 80+ enemies they’ve wedged into the final room. There’s no FUN in it. Sure, you’re castle defenses are pretty much rock solid, but you’ve created a miserable experience for every other player, and unfortunately, the game is pretty much LETTING you. In the grand scheme, your castle being raided is a pretty minor thing, as it depends more if they can get all three stars to do any real damage to your crowns and resources, and of course you get shielded for an absurdly long amount of time with each successful unshielded castle run. Kill an enemy with your castle? You’ll barely notice the life force bonus you get. It’s really not worth boosting up your castle to Fort Knox levels of defense, and even if that seems to be the entire point, it’s not very fun to play. Here’s to hoping someone comes to their senses about that.

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In addition to winter wreaking havoc on my mood and drive to do anything (this happens every year, trust me), as many of us in this circle of the internet might have heard, we lost someone fairly close to us near the end of January.
Justin “JewWario” Carmical has appear in more than a few occasions on this site. He was influential in getting this show off the ground, and anyone who was familiar with both his and my work would probably notice I adopted a lot of his style in my videos. (I’ll admit right now that Play, Pay, Pass is a near complete copy of his categorized conclusions at the end of each You Can Play This video)
While he didn’t come up with the name “MMO Grinder” he was more than influential in the decision (explained in the F.A.Q. section) and was unquestionably the biggest support I had when starting out.
His tips about the show’s length and pacing came prophetically true, informing me that the fifth episode of my show would set the pace for the rest of the series. (That video is 25 minutes long… the average length of an MMO Grinder episode.)
He listed my videos on his site when BT still had yet to pick me up. Introduced me to Angry Bananas as another place I could branch my audience out to, and was the first to congratulate me when I was finally taken aboard TGWTG.
He was a semi-regular in my Pangya streams, having a vested interest in the game due to his familiarity with the series as “Super Swing Golf”. Hell, it was his interest in the game that led to me meeting MegaGWolf.
I mention all these things because you’ll perhaps understand why I have yet to come to grips with the fact he took his own life. It doesn’t seem real to me. I still, in some manner, haven’t accepted this as a fact. It doesn’t make any sense. I can’t even get mad at every half-assed ignorant conspiracy theory concocted by the ever delusional anti-TGWTG fanbase, because the ridiculous shit they’ve said makes a hell of a lot more sense than the truth. But the truth is still the truth. He’s gone. Driven to suicide by something none of us saw.
Sure, our hindsight is 20/20. We can recall conversations we had and pick out “all the signs that were there”. The vacant expressions we swore we saw. The aloof nature of the conversations we held, and answers we received… but no. We didn’t see it coming, and we can’t pretend like we did… or could have done anything about it. I remember the last time I saw him, not two week prior, leaving that Peri-Peri chicken restaurant “Nando’s” during the last day of MAGfest as he stated to me “We’ll play Pangya sometime when we get back.” That day never came.
So yeah. It still hurts, and I’m still not fully accepting of this. It’s made my mood, my drive, and my motivation far more sour than winter usually brings to me. So if you hear me sound angrier than usual… if I become aloof during a conversation, and just seem angry at the world all the time… This is a big part of it. I swore I wasn’t going to make a big post about it here, that it would detract from the purpose of the site, and I couldn’t help but feel that so many of those posts being made about him were just “jumping on the bandwagon”… saying goodbye to someone they hardly knew or spoke to. But I forget that to a lot of people, Justin meant just as much, regardless of how “close” they were. Part of this reluctance to post anything was my inability to deal with the truth, and being completely unable to accept the reality… or compose my thoughts in a coherent manner. I still can’t. So instead, I’ll put it here in this nondescript update.
R.I.P Justin. You meant a lot more to this show and to me than you probably thought you did.

As for upcoming projects, understand my thoughts are still scrambled and in recovery, but there are things being worked on. Streams are still happening, I’m playing a hell of a lot more of The Secret World than I used to, the Raidcall and forum community are going strong, and SMITE NIGHT is still (usually) a weekly event (Sundays at 6pm-9pm EST). I did get somewhat sick this week to put another damper on my schedule, but looking to at least keep up appearances. I’m debating on setting up a Patreon and seeing on how I can modify my schedule to better serve and involve this site’s community, and offer up more side content. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts about that. Until then, you know where to find me.

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Off-Week Update (01-21-2014)

I managed to survive MAGFest WITHOUT getting sick? How the HELL did that happen?!

Unfortunately with the polar vortex (yay buzzwords),  botched deliveries, and several dental appointments screwing up  my schedules, my output has been all over the place. Recaps first? Alright, on to the recaps.

Backtrack: Neverwinter
Yes the Backtrack Block episode that wasn’t in the Backtrack Block. This was due to, as I stated, the new class being launched all but a few days into December. I wanted to make sure I got that portion covered, because it’s one thing for a game to update after I do a Backtrack, and it’s another for them to update THAT MUCH. I am still very much saddened by the state of the community. I was figuring that it was going to be a 50/50 endless bickerfight between the roleplayers and the goofballs, but the server merger, lack of RP support from Cryptic, and game’s relative proactive disdain from D&D fans meant the jerks got a hold of this one out of the gate and never let it go. When I say this game has a worse community then Maple Story, I mean it. There are places for reprieve in Maple, but in NW, there is NO escape. Yes, muting the chat is a solution. The point is, IT SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE ONE.

Sidequest: Dawngate
This was sprang up on me from a viewer (Tebble, to be specific) who told me he had a code for the game if I was willing to check it out. I was severely lacking in Sidequest material, considering TESO is STILL under NDA, and Wildstar is under “special snowflake” limited NDA exceptions, with me being unable to get an answer from Carbine’s press contacts. Regardless, Tebble claimed to have a code, but it wasn’t working, but I didn’t have much trouble applying for a key, and Waystone is giving them out like candy. It really wasn’t a tough MOBA to grasp, and everything I stated in the video applies: It’s competent, has interesting ideas, but it’s hardly groundbreaking. But again, there’s something REALLY weird about seeing wannabe “Major League Gamers” and meta-lovin’ min-maxers shouting at people in a freaking BETA-WEEKEND ONLY CLOSED BETA. For a game with NO TUTORIAL. A game that could completely change the way it plays in the very next patch.
I mentioned I had a theory as to why that is, and while I might eventually write a massive rant on it, it’s pretty much summed up thusly:
MOBA players are nerds being forced to be jocks.
What I mean by this, without everyone preemptively getting mad I used the term “nerds”, despite that being inevitable, is that we have a group of people who normally are not very socially adept, being placed into an activity that requires them to be so. Most “nerds” are introverts. Myself included. We expect things to work a certain way, and tend to rely on ourselves more than others.
In sports, you must play as a team. You must know your team, and your opponents, strengths and weakness, and communicate your strategy in a manner that best benefits everyone.
Us nerds tend to play games where we are the ONLY hero. Sure in MMOs, you have other who help you, but who are the NPCs generally speaking to? Who are they thanking for helping them? We’ve been playing single player games for so long that we are used to being the SOLE reason the world has been saved. If you lose, it’s failure. We’ve failed ourselves, and those who were depending on us to help them. We don’t want to lose. Losing means “the end”.
In sports, SOMEONE has to lose. It’s the nature of the games. There can not be “two winners” in every match. You can play to the best of your ability, do everything as you always do, and STILL end up losing. (Another reason I hate the concept of “the meta” but that’s a separate rant.)
I’ve seen sports coaches talk to their teams after a losing match. They (usually) don’t belittle their players. They understand the team that beat them was just better that day. They talk up all the good things they did, and identify what they did wrong so they improve themselves. They don’t mock a specific player claiming “it was all their fault”, they don’t call the other team names, and they sure as shit don’t get endlessly mocked by the winning team. Being a “sore winner” is just as looked down upon as being a “sore loser.”
Since nerds don’t understand this, they tend to see their teammates as “tools” or obstacles. Perhaps even NPCs. They are other people who must do everything they tell them to do. I understand that there needs to be a “team leader”, and someone to coordinate these moves and let their team know what should and should not be done. The “quarterback” if you will.
The biggest issue is that nearly EVERYONE on the team thinks they are the quarterback. The want to be in charge. They want the glory. They want the satisfaction, and if they don’t get it, well it’s clearly the fault of everyone BUT themselves.
You cannot ALL be the quarterback. For every touchdown pass thrown, there was someone to catch it. For every touchdown ran in by the QB, there were several people blocking others in order to keep his path clear.  Just like you were able to finish off that carry because the tank kept the assassin off of you for long enough, or the healer kept you at just high enough HP to outlast your opponent.
Team games require people to play roles, and not every role gets the glory. Supports and tanks don’t get to ride the top of the scoreboard, but without them, you’re not nearly as capable as you think you are. To quote the Rucks/Bastion announcer pack from DOTA2, “Nobody likes to play support, but everybody likes to win.”
Of course, losing is still something that’s going to happen, and it’s not always someone or something else’s fault. The character isn’t “OP”, “the lag” wasn’t messing up your game (or as often as it tends to get blamed), your team doesn’t “suck except for you”. Sometimes you are just bested. Accept that. Move on to the next match, and don’t be such a pile of shit over it.

Heva Clonia (Episode 52)
I wanted to like this game more than I did. I was thinking it might be a World MMO with a more robust and involved pet system, as the trailer seemed to illustrate. Instead, it was a fairly no frills beat-em-up styled game with no real challenge. There’s amusement to be had, but it wears thin pretty fast. Scary that I’ve had more to talk about from my mini-sodes than my main ones.

Browser-Based: Kart Rider Dash
I was surprised this game was still around when I found it. It’s not exactly like it was as a client download, but still a fairly solid racer for what it is… This was also the last video of mine to appear on Blistered Thumbs (good thing since people were using the comment section of that video to complain about BT before the shutdown announcement), with the remainder, including this episode, to appear directly on TGWTG. While I know most people reading this tend to leave comments here, if they leave comments at all, I wouldn’t mind receiving comments on there as well, mostly to show there are people actually watching it on there. I have yet to put a full episode up there yet, so we’ll see how this goes.

Sidequest: Aerena
This game snuck up on me, brought to my attention my MegaGWolf, who asked me if I was interested in looking at the title. I tend to like turn-based strategy games, despite being pretty terrible at Advance Wars (Prefer Sami in AW, AW2, AW:DS, Lin in AW:DoR) and never properly finishing any of the Fire Emblem games. I have to say that the developers are very cool, as well. I streamed a few matches a while back, only to find out the player I was against (and unable to beat) was one of the developers, and we proceeded to chat for a while. Another developer commented on the video itself, offering up a way to obtain a key for those interested in trying the game out. If even remotely interested, I highly suggest checking it out.

Recaps over, time for some quick news.

I’ve been working more and more on forming a community, and the community board at mmogrinder.boards.net is taking off quite well. We are up to 100 members already (Far more than I was expecting for a board we originally made for Age of Wushu.) We are also getting more regular streams going, including SMITE NIGHT on Sundays, and some random Secret World excursions. Feel free to join up if you’re interested. There’s plans for other games going within the community as well, and SMITE is pretty active in the board and Raidcall.

My schedule is still in a bit of a shambles. After talking with a former developer of another game I was interested in doing, and finding out the direction it went in, I decided to downgrade it from full ep to Browser-based. It should come out sometime this week. As for the new full ep, I decided to upgrade something I was going to do as a Sidequest but as I mentioned elsewhere, Aeria’s idea of a Closed Beta last all of a week and is full access. Since the game in question is on open beta now, it qualifies. Hoping that gets done before the end of the month. If only I could stop making dental appointments.

The Backtrack Block is over… or is it?

When I decided to take my short “break” I didn’t realize how much of a “not actually a break” I’d be taking. With 6 Backtracks out for the whole of November, I was 2 under my desired goal, 2 over my bare minimum, and the schedule was… everywhere. For that I apologize.

For those of you who missed it, and yet for some reason are reading this, despite the videos being like… right underneath this post…

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Off-Week Update (08-03-2013)

I call these Off Week Updates out of tradition now, I’m sure of it.

So coming off of a draft that’s been sitting in my draft folder since June 25th, let’s begin.

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Off Week Update (12-29-2012)

Ok, now that’s I’m gearing up for MAGFest again, I can at least tell everyone right off the bat I most likely won’t have a full MMO Grinder episode for the next due date. But as I said before, I’m not going to neglect any forms of content, and no, an Off-Week Update doesn’t count as “content.”

In past episode news, let’s go over RaiderZ, which actually had a fairly pathetic showing. I guess people only care about games like that when they are brand new. I’ve been hearing a LOT of people tell me that I “forgot” to mention the lag in combat… Well, I “forgot” to mention that because I never experienced it.  I do forgot a lot of my audience isn’t from the U.S.,  and some games, especially action heavy ones, tend to be more unresponsive to those playing overseas. It makes sense, but why one would IMMEDIATELY draw the conclusion that the game itself is laggy baffles me. I never had a problem with it, and I didn’t think it was a big issue. In general I thought the game was fun, and had no idea so many people took issue with it. A few others also blame the lack of attention apparently being paid to Rusty Hearts on the fault of Perfect World focusing it’s efforts on RaiderZ. I… I don’t know, but that does remind me that RH is overdue for a Backtrack.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Read the rest of this entry

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