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World of Warcraft: Addon Incorporation

World of Warcraft: Addon Incorporation

In the past Blizzard has made changes to the default user-interface (UI) or added new features which had been previously part of popular addons. Most recently, it seems Mists of Pandaria will be incorporating the ideas seen in an addon called QuestHubber, which is a fantastic idea. It is very nice to see Blizzard taking ideas from the community and putting them into the retail game. In keeping with this idea, I would like to make two recommendations for features that should become part of the default UI. This is based entirely on my attempt to play my main, a Warlock, in the Mists of Pandaria beta where addons are currently disabled.

Awesomenauts First Impressions

Awesomenauts First Impressions
Action real-time strategy (ARTS) games are a dime a dozen these days. It’s quite easy—and valid—to say that all ARTS games are the same. Pick one of a gazillion heroes to play as. Escort your bots along lanes toward the enemy base. Push through the enemy bots and destroy their turrets. March into their base and destroy their core. If you’ve played one ARTS game, then you’ve pretty much played them all.

When you think of an ARTS game, what do you think of? I think of boring grind fests and sitting in one of the bot lanes for the entirety of the game. I think of an ongoing balancing nightmare by the developer in an attempt to add new content to appease the voracious appetite of the player base. I do not think of a game that is easy to pick up and play, nor a game that is fun to watch.

And then there’s Awesomenauts by Ronimo Games.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Sequences 1-3

Assassins Creed: Revelations Sequences 1 3

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the fourth installment in a popular series of third person sandbox-style games where players take control of an Assassin fighting an old enemy over ancient mysteries. Being a fan of the series from the very beginning, I was very excited to dive head-first into the experience. Join me as I take a critical eye to the game and explore what worked and what could have used a little more tweaking. There are spoilers within. I tried to keep them to a minimum, but you have been warned.

The Dire Consequences of Quest Rewards Based on Spec in Mists of Pandaria

You’re playing World of Warcraft. You’re out in forest on a quest, killing boars, monkeys, and snake-man hybrids. You collect all the entrails, brains, tears, scales, slime, tusks, pelts, and tails that you need. You return to the client who sent you on this errand. What’s your reward? Up to (and including) Cataclysm, you would have a choice between several rewards. Some only reward gold, while others may offer several rewards. In the case of the latter, you would often have a choice between several different item slots, different armor (or weapon) classes, and a pick between primary stats. A single quest’s reward table looks like this more often than not:

The Dire Consequences of Quest Rewards Based on Spec in Mists of Pandaria

From the quest "Fire Upon the Waters"

If none of those items appeal to you, then you can select whichever one is most visually appealing—assuming the item can be equipped. If you can’t do that, then you can select the item that sells for the most amount of gold. According to a recent Blue post, that is going to change in Mists of Pandaria. You turn in the quest and then you will be awarded gear that is appropriate to your spec. You’ll never get an item that is wasted! Read on to see Ghostcrawler’s statement on the matter, as well as what it means for players.

Blizzard’s Dungeon Design Philosophy (Part 2)

Blizzards Dungeon Design Philosophy (Part 2)

Last time, I explored the changes from The Burning Crusade’s end-game content to Wrath of the Lich King’s end-game content. It concluded with a discussion of something I like to call the “difficulty threshold.” It just means the point at which content becomes so difficult that the rewards are no longer sufficient motivation to make players overcome the challenges. This time I will be exploring the changes Blizzard implemented to make content that appealed to players’ wide range of difficulty thresholds, and how successful those efforts were.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

For a faction that focuses on contract killing and conspiracy, the Dark Brotherhood is the last place one would expect to find quests that really resonate with the player. We’re introduced to characters—clients, targets, and assassins alike—and we can sympathize with them. We can see why most of our clients want their targets dead. We can see that our targets are not simply targets, but are people with their own lives. Our fellow Dark Brothers and Dark Sisters each have their own stories that brought them to Astrid’s Sanctuary. It is perhaps the most well crafted faction in all of Skyrim.

We join the Dark Brotherhood in Skyrim by investigating a rumor that Aventus in Windhelm wants someone dead. After killing Grelod in Riften, we’re abducted by Astrid and forced to pay for the stolen contract in blood. From there, we’re as good as in with the Brotherhood, having been given access to the last remaining Sanctuary in all of Tamriel.

The funny thing about killing people is that their relatives tend to want revenge. In Oblivion, Lucien Lachance killed Mathieu Bellamont‘s mother; Bellamont joined the Dark Brotherhood and rose to the rank of Speaker in the Black Hand, which is the Brotherhood’s leadership structure. From there, Bellamont conspired to destroy the Brotherhood by using the player as his instrument. The Black Hand is aware of this betrayal from within, and suspects Lachance to be the mastermind of this treachery; the Black Hand kills Lachance.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 2)

Contract killing can be an ugly business.

In Skyrim, we’re going to find out what happens when you kill the wrong person.

World of Warcraft: Additional Character Slots

World of Warcraft: Additional Character Slots

On Monday, March 19, 2012, the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) was lifted on a Blizzard press event held the week before. The topic of the press event was the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. As a result of the end of the NDA, the internet was flooded with new information regarding the expansion. Among the topics fans eagerly awaited news for was the issue of character slot limitations. Currently players are limited to 10 characters per server with a cap of 50 characters per account. With the introduction of a new race and a new class, players began seeking an increase in the number of allotted characters per server. Blizzard heard their requests and announced . . . an 11th character slot. Upon reading the news my immediate reaction was “that’s it?”

Blizzard’s Dungeon Design Philosophy (Part 1)

Blizzards Dungeon Design Philosophy (Part 1)

I have been playing World of Warcraft since July 2008. That means I began playing during The Burning Crusade expansion when patch 2.4.3 came out, the last patch before preparations began for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. While I did manage to hit the level cap of 70 prior to Wrath of the Lich King’s release, I never experienced any of The Burning Crusade’s raid content with the exception of Karazhan. Even then, Karazhan was not “current” content and I was unable to clear the entire thing. I never even did heroic 5-man content. My guild was a close-knit group of friends that mostly did regular (non-heroic) 5-man content.

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

“Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear.”

In Windhelm, Aventus Aretino is reciting this innocuous chant.  However, locals fear that he is trying to contact the Dark Brotherhood.  As an adventurer, it’s up to the player to investigate these rumors.  Idesa Sadri tells Grimvar Cruel-Sea that what is going on inside of the Aretino Residence is pure evil.  Heading into the house, the truth is far more sinister…

Skyrim: Dark Brotherhood (Part 1)

Aventus Aretino is a child.

Tiny Tower v. Dream Heights

Tiny Tower v. Dream Heights

Dear Mr. Young:

I came across your article entitled Copyrights and Copycats, and, as an avid gamer currently going through law school, my interest was piqued. I agree wholeheartedly regarding the distinction you make between the hypothetical Steamtown and Digcraft games (and as an aside, I would seriously consider playing the non-existent Steamtown game). Visual styles should not carry a lot of weight (although it should certainly be a factor to consider) when comparing two video games for the purposes of an infringement claim. Gameplay mechanics and the “feel” of a game should be far more important than claiming two games are the same because both worlds are made up of blocks. However, I disagree with your feelings towards litigation in claims like these.

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