Thoughts on Out of Beta’s recent blog post

Recently my friend Clockwork (his character is Bryce in our comics) posted a blog that we often re-publish on our own website (with

Someone named Tobold posted a response.

This person has an opinion and they are more than welcome to it.  I disagree with this opinion however…

To summarize, Clockwork thinks that the quality of games can suffer if you structure them around making money rather than being a good game.  The response took his opinion to an extreme, accusing him of only wanting game developers to have enough money to keep the lights on.

I dislike people who take things to an extreme simply because they disagree with someone’s opinion.

There is one thing this Tobold person says that I think makes his argument very shaky.  “If a game comes out at a certain price with a certain amount of content, you should decide whether that content is worth that price. Whether the development studio is profitable or not should not figure in that decision.”

My question is this: How do I know if the content is worth it unless I experience the content beforehand?

Even if I had a demo of the game, these demos will never include the ‘extra downloadable features’ this discussion is about.  By including them, they somewhat defeat the purpose of downloadable features.

We can debate what companies can do until the sun comes down and never agree.  I am just going to cut right to the point.

Tobold’s opinion would work just fine if we were discussing buying a car.  Video games are considered art by the United States Supreme Court, so the economics of art should apply to video games.  If Tobold would step back and take a look at how the economy works for art, he would realize the error of what he’s saying.  The price of art is never determined by the maker, but by how much money people are willing to pay for it.  This makes Jimquisition and ClockWork’s opinion not an attack on the choices of a company, but an opinion of people trying to put a price on the art they are considering purchasing.

Quality is really the determining factor for price in the art world.  Its about time investors and developers caught on to this fact.

Out of Beta: [Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk

[Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk

One of the key differences I’ve encountered when playing Dragon Age Inquisition was the feeling that my character was just a stand-in for myself rather than me stepping into the shoes of some figure in Thedas. In Dragon Age: Origins the player experienced a brief tutorial/backstory event, determined by their race/class, that explained how your character ended up in the Gray Wardens. The experience primed me on how my character might view the world.

Each intro gave the player a different experience and outlook on society in the setting. After each I felt like I had a grasp of how my character might react to various situations. My city elf, fresh from a scumbag human noble’s attempt at prima nocta, had little patience for the human king, while my recently deposed human noble found hope for revenge for his family. With each I felt like I was playing a character who had a story, goals, opinions, and feelings. Yet even though each one gave a framed view of the world the player could still decide how they would react. For example, my City Elf could choose to still believe in the good of humans, or become resentful at the injustice she faced.

In Dragon Age 2, this was toned down because the player was set in the role of Hawke, but the introductory sequence did give you some impression of who Hawke might be. Oddly enough, in their attempt to make the player feel more connected to a character they achieved the opposite result and left Hawke feeling a little hollow.

Inquisition did away with the introductory sequence and instead dropped you into the shoes of a race/class combination with a brief backstory. Now I understand that Inquisition’s storyline required the player to be in the dark, but as a result I had no framework with which to build my character. I was placed into a hollow shell, meant to be filled, but in a game where there are choices that are much more wrong than others the RP potential is sacrificed on the alter of min-maxing. Now we can say that the player is making that choice, but it means the game is, at times, punishing them for playing a character.

Were I a new player to the series, I would not understand the experiences of the various races. A new player won’t have much grasp of how the Dalish elves view Thedas after only a few paragraphs, nor the somewhat alien philosophies of the Qunari. In an attempt be more of a blank slate, the game’s setting loses it’s engrossing appeal. Origins encouraged me to play new characters to experience Thedas from their perspective, while Inqusition does not offer anywhere near that experience. There is little reason for me to replay the story; we all get to the same results anyways. They toned down the setting so much that I think it lost it’s life. Perhaps some players like that blank slate, but for me it disconnected me from the experience.

As I said, now my hollow husk of a character just picks the options that seem most likely to appease my companions because their approval as become a form of min-maxing. Instead of someone with conviction and drive, I become sycophant to my companion’s opinions. The binary approval system walks hand in problematic hand with the lack of character building. But that is a topic for another time.

Posted by Clockwork at 4:45 PM

via Out of Beta: [Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk.

Out of Beta: [WoW] A “daily” adjustment

Thursday, December 18, 2014

[WoW] A “daily” adjustment

A new player to Warlords (do those exist?) would have to be forgiven for having absolutely no idea what Daily Quests are. At level 100 I see at most a handful a day and most of those are optional quests from the Garrison. This fictional new player would have no idea that at one point in WoW’s history (amusingly enough, when WoW was taking place in Draenor’s alternate history predecessor, Outland) a player could expect to _FILL_ their quest log with dailies during any particular day. Expansions since Cataclysm have pared down the bloat. Truth be told I like not having an entire quest log to grind through every day; the fewer daily quests feel like they give me more meaningful and open-ended, “Do whatever the #$%@ I want” sense of accomplishment. There’s just one more tweak I wish Blizzard would make.

Before you call me a whiner or blithering idiot, this is a change I am essentially stealing from another game. Not that there’s anything wrong with outright stealing gameplay ideas when they work, but I admit I feel a smidgen of guilt at suggesting one game I play steal from another when they’re in direct competition for my (and everyone’s) attention.

That moral quandary aside, I want Blizzard to treat the new “Go kill ~100 things in X area” quests like Final Fantasy XIV treat it’s daily Hunts. For those not familiar, FFXIV gives you a daily set of Hunt Marks at level 50. Hunt Marks are essentially quests that involve “Go to place X, kill X things.” You can only have one set on your character at a time, but you can pick up that day’s even if you had yesterday’s on you, one you complete yesterday’s. So if on Monday I pick up my Hunts but end up setting my face on fire and don’t get a chance to play, I can login on Tuesday and go murder whatever random mobs Monday’s hunt directs. Then I can turn in the hunts from Monday (actually they auto-complete but it’s the same idea) and promptly pick up Tuesdays, allowing me to do effectively two days of hunts in one day. However I haven’t actually GAINED any extra hunts, I just didn’t miss out because one day I couldn’t.

Now, making it so that you could just keep picking up dailies and do them all at a later date would be a bit much, but giving people a one day grace period helps alleviate the feeling that I am punishing myself by missing on the largest apexis shard injection per day. Wanting players to login daily is one thing, but the time investment it takes to do the apexis shard quest makes me want to just say “Screw it…” more than it makes me want to stick around and play.

Posted by Clockwork at 5:42 PM

via Out of Beta: [WoW] A “daily” adjustment.