Final Fantasy Fourteen Fail

Like that title? I’m still reading a bunch of Golden Age comments so alliteration is my life now.

So sometime around today my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV expires and I’m not renewing it. This is the 2nd time this year I’ve subscribed and basically not played. It’s time to learn my lesson.

Now let me be upfront. I actually think FFXIV is a wonderful game. I love the world’s aesthetics. I love how the characters talk. I love walking through cities and watching the crowds of players interacting. I just don’t really enjoy actually PLAYING, and spending $15/month just to sight-see is a little steep for me these days.

I did have more success this month than I did early this year when I basically never logged in. This time out, I started a new character just to get re-accustomed to how things work, and interspersed those sessions with logging in my level 60 Dragoon and refamiliarizing myself with his skills, as well as setting up the UI (since this was a fresh install and I hadn’t backed up my settings to the cloud last time I played).

My Dragoon somehow had not gotten a lot of his skills so I started going through those quests. I was wandering around some bleak frozen area (Coerthas/Foundation area) where I rarely saw another player. I found the map kind of confusing; maybe the designers expected me to have a flying mount? But I would run back and forth trying to get from Point A to Point B, with the points being at different elevations. Then I’d find an NPC, talk to it, kill a couple of trivial monsters (5+ levels lower than me) then teleport back to ‘town’ and get the next bite of the quest. Solo combat was basically hit 1, hit 2, hit 3, hit 1, hit 4, hit 5, repeat. At least in theory, mobs didn’t usually last that long.

[I wanted to add, this dissatisfaction with tab-target, hot-key based combat isn’t limited to FFXIV. I’ve recently bounced off both LOTRO and SWOTOR for the same reason. The difference with those games, of course, is that it doesn’t cost me $15 to test the waters to see if this ennui has faded yet.]

It was all kind of bleak and depressing. I probably should have powered through it to try to get where combat was challenging. but then I thought “Well if I do that I’ll have to start doing PUG dungeons” which I really don’t want to do even if the community is apparently awesome.

I was kind of tempted to just buy a story skip (looks like I’d want Tales of Adventure: Stormblood for $25?) to get to the expansion where the Trust system kicks in. I just want all the things unlocked, and then I could just become a farmer or blacksmith or something, and just hang out in towns enjoying the vibe while doing whatever dungeons are required with my Trust Buddies. At least I think that’s how it works. I should check to be sure.

But again, money is a little tight these days and there are free-to-play MMOs I can jump into if I want to scratch that itch (though I don’t know of any game that has such a wonderful world as FFXIV).

So I’m kind of bummed, but I’m not sure if I’m bummed about the game or about the place where my head is at. But I have to stop paying a monthly fee to NOT play a game!

Comics are Confusing

I’ve been on a big superhero kick lately. @partpurple and I recently re-watched all the MCU movies. We watched WandaVision (loved it), Falcon and Winter Soldier (liked it), Loki (meh) and currently What If…? (loving it). We watched all seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We watched and enjoyed all the Netflix Marvel shows.

And still I wanted more. But from where? Then it hit me. There’s a thing called a comic book. I should look into those!

Goofiness aside, I’ve never really been into comics. When I was a kid I’d read them now and then, but it was hard because 1) we didn’t have comic shops, we got our comics from the drugstore; 2) I was limited to visiting the drug store when my mom needed to go and she felt like dragging me along; 3) and I had no money so I had to beg her to buy me an issue or two.

End result was I’d read some narrow slice of a story, whatever was crammed into the pages of a single issue. What I remember most about comics from when I was a kid was Stan’s Soapbox (in Marvel titles, obviously). Stan Lee was the first adult I can remember who didn’t talk down to me. Of course today I realize he wasn’t writing Stan’s Soapbox for 8-year-old me but for a varied audience, most of whom were older. But I had no idea. To me Stan was writing directly to ME and he wasn’t patronizing me. Not that I knew what “patronizing” meant at the time. To this day I kind of think of Stan as a father-figure of sorts.

All of which leads me to the point. I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited [MU] to take another whack at getting into comics. And boy am I ever confused. (Full disclosure, title of the post should be Marvel Comics Are Confusing but I was going for the alliteration thing that Marvel seems so fond of.) I’m not complaining though, it’s really fun trying to sort this stuff out.

MU promises over 29,000 issues. So where to start? Well I like Spiderman, let’s look for Spiderman… I used to watch Spiderman cartoons when I was a kid, and I’ve seen the movies and played the games. Let’s just read Spiderman. OH MEM GEEE there are SO MANY Spiderman comics! Dozens. Maybe hundreds. Where do I start? It’s just overwhelming.

Page from West Coast Avengers as displayed on my phone. Source: Marvel Unlimited
OK OK let’s back slowly away from Spiderman. MU offers a “Get started” section for folks like me who are new to comics. First on the list was The Eternals which is currently running, I think. I read like 5 issues before it stopped which is why I think it is still running. The Eternals was not for me. It was just too high concept. Earth is a machine and the comic is narrated by it, Eternals hangouts are, y’know, hidden between 3 molecules of a day old pastry or something. No offense to folks who love this shit but I want something closer to street level here.

Next was Wanda and Vision. Ok here’re a couple of characters I enjoy. These books are from the mid-1980s. I read issue 1, it’s OK. Read issue 2 and then I see in the footnotes that the story they’re telling concludes in something called West Coast Avengers, a different series. So I go looking for that, where I find Hawkeye (who I know from the movies) and Bobbie Hunter/Mockingbird (who I know from Agents of Shield) and they’re married. Whaaat? And of course the character designs are very different. But OK let’s roll with that. So now I’m sorta juggling two books.

And they’re enjoyable enough, but my vague feelings of OCD really wants to find a character, read their original origin story and follow them through the decades to the here and now. I feel like there is this incredibly complex web of character storylines and I’m just skimming the surface. So far everything I’ve sampled (more than I’ve listed) leaves me feeling like I need to back up a little and figure out what came before to set up what I’m reading.

I’ll figure it out, eventually. I mean I’m digging it. Digging it enough that I went ahead and signed up for an annual subscription. But I’m not a very patient person and when I get into a new interest I want to be an expert as soon as possible. And as nutty as it sounds I kind of wish I could sort the books by publish date and start back in 1963 or whenever the earliest books on the service are.

In terms of the mechanics of reading, I’ve mostly been doing it on my iPad using the ‘smart panel’ system that zooms in on each panel/section of a page as you read. It works pretty well though at times I need to toggle it off and on. I have it set to show the whole page, then as I tap it advances panel by panel, then shows the whole page again to reinforce context, then on to the next page.

I have the app on my phone too (shown above, right side of the page) which is OK but it’s a little small for my tired eyes (that image is larger that actual size on my Pixel 3). Smart Panel works there too but not quite as well since panels vary in size and shape. Some fit fine with the phone held in portrait mode, others work better with the phone in landscape mode. I keep turning the phone back and forth. It works in a pinch but for me the tablet version is far superior. Progress does sync between the two, which is nice.

Anyway, if anyone wants to suggest a specific series title that they enjoy, please do so! I need help!

State of Decay 2: How Multiple Play-Throughs Work

I finally finished my first campaign of State of Decay 2. I was kind of confused about the whole ‘meta’ aspects of the game so now that I know a little more, I thought I’d scribble it down so in two weeks when I forget I can refresh my memory. This isn’t a review of SoD2, but I’ll just say it’s a zombie apocalypse game that gives off a pretty strong Walking Dead vibe in that your goal is more about building a community than exterminating zombies, because the zombies are just endless. The game has action-based combat mixed with menu-driven base building. You have various materials (medicine, food, ammo, etc) that you have to maintain a stockpile of, while providing your group of survivors with beds and amenities that keep their morale up. That’s the 10,000 foot view anyway.

Fairly early in the game you’ll assign a leader. There are 4 classes of leader. I played a Builder. There’s also Warrior, Sherriff and… one I’ve forgotten. You get a specific benefit depending on the type of leader you choose.

Then you spend a bunch of hours fighting zombies, building your base, probably moving your base to a new location, making friends, recruiting friends, making enemies, probably killing enemies, and in particular destroying Plague Hearts which are these big nasty masses of flesh that pollute the area around them and produce zombies that carry a plague. Along the way your survivors level up various skills like Medicine, Farming, Mechanics and so forth.

Once you eliminate all the Plague Hearts on the map, the endgame starts. You’ll have a few more missions to do and then the campaign ends. There’s not a huge narrative drive through all of this. I played on the ‘normal’ difficulty and through the course of the game I lost one survivor. Two technically but the 2nd one I sacrificed in an attempt to get an achievement. Long story, not worth re-telling. Point being, I didn’t find it to be a particularly hard game, or maybe I was lucky.

So game over. Now what? First, you can keep up to 50 survivors in a kind of ‘people bank’ that persists between games (your band in any one game is 8-10 people so this is a lot of guys and gals to save for later). Second you get a “Boon” based on the type of leader you beat the game as. Third, the “save” you just completed goes Poof. There’s no going back to it.

When you start a new campaign you can choose up to 3 of your saved survivors to act as your starting crew on a new map. You can also take up to two Boons. Since I played as a Leader I have a boon that gives my base electricity and water, which seems like a huge benefit that would make the game even easier (setting those up in Campaign #1 took quite some time). The idea, I guess, is to play a campaign as a different kind of leader in order to earn a different Boon at the end that campaign. Eventually if you’re a super fan you’ll play all 4 leader types and have 4 boons to choose from in Campaign #5.

When the new campaign starts, your characters will have the same inventory they had when you put them in cold storage, which is good to know since, just prior to finishing your old campaign, you could load them down with high value items to make the next start even easier. Sadly I didn’t know about this. They also retain all their skills. The stockpile of goods you had in your prior campaign does not come forward with you. The fictional conceit is that a few of you left your old ‘town’ and set out to start a new one, so all you have is what you could carry in your backpacks.

And that’s about all I know so far. All the above applies to the basic “Campaign” game. There’s also now a mode called Heartland which I believe is a more narrative-driven experience, and one called Daybreak which, I think, is a kind of horde mode primarily meant for multiplayer.

Oh, and worth noting that if you don’t want a Campaign to end, you can travel to a fresh map and keep playing. This is important because resources don’t respawn on a map so eventually you could completely exhaust a map you’re playing on. New maps have a new set of Plague Hearts and of course all new resources to collect. I’m not sure why you’d do this but some people do. I saw on reddit someone say they were on day 121 or something in their game. I think I was on day 15 or 20 when I finished my game (I wasn’t really paying attention and now that save is gone so I can’t check).

I enjoyed State of Decay 2 but I don’t think I’m ready to dive right back into a 2nd game just now. Maybe at some point down the road though. Perhaps I’ll nudge up the difficulty some the next time around. I was kind of expecting a narrative-driven game but what I got instead was more akin of something like Civilization, only (mostly) action based. The developers intend you to play it over and over and they’ve added some nice systems to make that interesting for you.

And Now, a Respite

Blaugust came and I started blogging again. I did daily posts for the month of August but when Blaugust stopped I kept going, right up until today.

And I’m tired. It’s time to take a break and recharge. I have been doing daily posts because an object in motion tends to stay in motion whether it is having fun or not. I had sort of hoped I’d form the habit of daily posts and I’d enjoy writing them, but that hasn’t happened. It still feels like a chore to blog every day.

Additionally, I need to work on self-improvement in terms of technical skills. In order to find time to do that I have to either give up the daily blog post, or give up gaming, or give up spending time with the family. Only so many hours in the day. Obviously not going to set family aside, and gaming is my primary form of relaxation and one of the things that keeps me sane. Plus I mostly blog about gaming so if I stop gaming I wouldn’t have anything to blog about anyway!! šŸ™‚

So, taking a break. Hopefully it won’t stretch out to a year-long break! I just kind of feel like now I’m in the habit of daily posts and I need to break that habit. Once the ‘streak’ is broken I hope I’ll feel less pressure. We’ll see.

I can’t honestly say for sure if blogging is still for me. I’m not really happy with the quality or the content of my posts. A few of them were OK but most just read like filler to me. I don’t feel like 5 weeks(ish) of daily blogging is making me a better writer; I kind of think the quality of my posts has dropped, if anything. Yesterday I find a post in my drafts about my dog and after reading it, it didn’t really seem any worse than posts I wrote and re-wrote and tweaked. (So I published it, what the hell.)

Anyway I need to step back, think about things and decide what my next steps are. I may be back day after tomorrow and this may turn out to be the last post before the site shuts down. I’m just not really sure yet. But that’s what the break is for…to figure things out.

I definitely WILL keep reading other blogs though. That is a habit I’ve developed and that I definitely AM taking a lot of joy from. So the rest of you….please keep writing!

Until next we meet, be excellent to each other.

Lola is Eleven

A while back Bhagpuss mentioned that he and Mrs Bhagpuss are thinking about getting a dog. I think they should! I think everyone needs a dog. I love dogs.

In particular I love our dog, Lola. I used to blog about her but at some point I stopped, but then I stop most things. Going back and reading about all our plans for rules and structure just makes me chuckle because so few of those persisted.

I am not, generally, a happy person. I spend a lot of my time irritated at something. I have a nasty temper. In a lot of ways Lola saved me. @partpurple quickly dubbed her The Morale Officer of the household. Whenever I’m frustrated or angry, Lola is there to cheer me up. When I do get angry she reacts strongly and gets quite withdrawn. This has helped me to finally get control of my temper; seeing so clearly how it makes people (and dogs) around me feel helped me to come to grips with it. These days it is very rare that I lose my temper and when I do it is quite mild compared to the old me. I owe that to Lola and it has spared me SO much heartache.

Us: Lola, why is your face so dirty?
Lola: Baroo?

Lola makes us laugh or smile dozens of times every day. I love her in a way I’ve never loved anyone or anything. I don’t have kids but I guess what I feel is like 2 steps removed from what a parent feels for their child. She is our puppy-daughter. I’d do anything to keep her safe.

Before we adopted her we were big fans of the show The Dog Whisperer and we learned all about boundaries and how a dog is not a person and you shouldn’t treat them like a person. How you always have to demonstrate that you are pack leader.

Yeah, we do none of that. Maybe we’re just lucky but it doesn’t seem necessary. Lola very, very rarely needs to be corrected for doing anything wrong. If you tell her she is a “bad dog” her mood will change for hours. She’s only been told that 3 or 4 times in her life. It is the worst punishment she ever gets. Honestly I can’t remember the last time she had to be punished for any reason. Usually she punishes herself. Every once in a great while she’ll have an accident, always related to being sick. When this happens she gets so sad and miserable about it that we don’t even consider the need to correct her. She is harder on herself than we would ever be. Plus they are indeed accidents. She has never made a mess unless she was sick. And y’know, when you’re sick sometimes you just can’t hold it.

@partpurple and I both work from home. She has always done so and I’ve been doing it for 8 years. Lola is almost never alone. I think that might factor into how tight of a bond we have with her. She is always near one of us and she is happiest when we are in the same room so she doesn’t have to choose between us. The downside to this is we don’t travel because we don’t like to board her. We tried taking her with us on a trip once but she was in a panic the whole time. Lola is a homebody.

In her prime she was the life of every party and she still charms almost everyone she meets. But 11 (she turned 11 in June) is getting on in years. She has arthritis in her hips and can’t really play with other dogs like she used to (she was fearless when she was younger, happily wrestling with dogs twice her size). She is on so many meds but fortunately she is a champion about taking her pills.

Been a long day of keeping the squirrels in line. Time for rest

She sleeps a lot these days. She is no longer so quick to jump up on the couch or bed to cuddle, preferring to stay on the floor because getting up and down hurts. The stairs are becoming a challenge for her. She and I are getting old together, sitting around thinking about our glory years. She’ll probably go before me and I’m not sure what I’ll do at that point.

Sometimes I think about what life will be like when she is gone. I mean at her age, she could be gone next week or she could hang on for another 4 or 5 years. We relish every day we get to spend with her and we never take her for granted.

I don’t know if we’ll get another dog when she is gone. Walking is getting hard for me (not in a significant way, but extrapolating to 10-15 years in the future I can imagine not being able to walk a dog), money is getting tight, financial security is dicey. And I wonder if it would even be fair for whatever dog we adopted. How could it live up to the standard Lola has set? I don’t think it is possible.

On the other hand, the apartment will seem so very empty when she is gone. Not too long ago she had a tooth pulled and a cyst surgically removed from her eyelid, so she was at the vet all day. And just having her gone for a day, the house felt empty. When she is gone for good we’re going to be very sad for a long, long time.

<3 My Dog

She loves the simple things, like a field of grass to lie in

A State of Decay 2 Story

I love stories. I always have. I love to read fiction, I love to watch TV, I REALLY love sitting around a dinner table or at a bar, trading stories with people (I have dim memories of doing this decades ago). And of course I love stories in games.

There are games that have a story baked in. Narrative-driven games, as I (and I think most people) call them. Then there are games with the kind of emergent gameplay that wind up telling a story through player interaction. I think I’m saying all that right; I’m no game developer.

Anyway to set up this story I have to tell you a little about State of Decay 2. It takes place in a zombie apocalypse. There is no official ‘fast travel’ (though I think you can cheese your way around that a bit). You have a group of survivors you play as, one at a time. Some zombies carry a ‘blood plague’ and when they hit you, you get a dose of the blood plague virus. Get enough of these and now you have the blood plague, which left uncured, turns you into a zombie. There is a literal timer that ticks down to zombification. There is permadeath and finally, your band of merry zombie slayers has a leader who (I presume) is more important than the rest of the group. If I sound a little iffy about some of these points it is because I’m still in my first game and I don’t know how everything works.

Whew. Let’s begin.

* * *

So our leader Mary was trying to take out an infestation far, far from home base. She and one of her minions had driven across the map in an SUV. Things went badly. The pair were swarmed by blood plague zombies. Mary called for a retreat and they ran, but in the confusion they’d forgotten where they parked. A running battle ensued. Mary was soon out of ammo for her sidearm. Then her baseball bat broke. All she had left was 3 crossbow bolts. The crossbow was a slow weapon. Perfect for sniping but not much use in a running battle.

They finally made it to the car, but by then both had the blood plague. Their only hope was getting back to base as soon as possible. And just to add to the fun, it was getting dark.

Mary jumped behind the wheel and took off, driving as quickly as she dared. She came around a bend and tried to squeeze the SUV between a wrecked truck and a guardrail and BAM, they didn’t make it. The SUV wedged itself in. Mary tried to back away but the wheels just started spinning. The SUV engine was drawing zombies.

Their luck had not completely run out, though, as nearby was a van that looked like it might start. They abandoned the SUV and ran for the van, fighting a few zombies and taking a few more wounds. Mary was slowing down, but they reached the van. It started, but only just. It was nearly out of gas.

They drove on into the night, Mary being much more cautious now. She was trying to conserve fuel but base camp was still a long way away when the van sputtered a final time and coasted to a stop, the tank dry.

Back on foot, they stumbled through the night. Mary used her final crossbow bolts to clear a path. When those ran out they had to rely on stealth. She was on death’s door, not just from the plague but from the many wounds she’d received. It was a long, frightening walk, but they finally stumbled into camp where other survivors immediately helped them to the infirmary to get the plague treated and wounds attended to.

They survived to fight another day.

* * *

It might not read that well, honestly, but playing through this was such a tense and enjoyable experience. In game mechanic terms, we tried to take out a Blood Heart which drew in a ton of zombies. She was taking too much damage so we ran, but I didn’t have time to open the map to see where I had parked. Mary really did run out of ammo and her melee weapon did break. She ran out of healing items and her HP was blinking red at maybe 5% full. It was just a sliver of health.

The SUV did jam tight between a wreck and a guardrail which might be a bug. When I got the van I tried to push the SUV free but the ‘wreck’ was part of the terrain: completely immobile. Vehicles have Hit Points and the van, too, was almost at zero. I actually had a repair kit, so we took time to repair it and found it was almost out of gas. We didn’t make it back. Working vehicles are fairly rare in SOD2 and we didn’t come across another one.

The rest was pretty much as described. At low health your character starts to limp and hobble along. It was really dark out and I could see the glowing eyes of zombies all around us. It took a LONG time to walk back since we had to crouch and sneak around swarms of zombies, but the “Blood Plague” timer is more generous than I realized and truthfully it had only ticked down to maybe 50% by the time we got back to base.

The biggest loss was the SUV, but we do have a couple of trucks. I’m not sure what would have happened if Base Leader Mary had died.

All in all, it was really fun. I’m a terrible blogger so I didn’t take any screenshots… I was too intent on not dying!

Weekend Recap for September 7th

It was a 3-day weekend which means I should’ve done 50% more things, right? Sadly that wasn’t the case and now we have to get through to the end of November before another break. I think. I know we all hate Columbus now but I miss having his day off. I promise I never spared a thought for him; I just enjoyed having a 3-day weekend when I was working for a place that gave us that one.

Anyway, onward!

Movie Night — This week we watched Cruella on Disney+. I honestly didn’t expect to like it. I wanted to see it because I was curious as to how they’d make a live action movie about such a despicable character (You’ll remember in 101 Dalmatians she wanted to skin puppies to make coats out of them…that’s about as low as you can go.) Turns out this was more an alternate timeline Cruella and this one likes dogs. And I liked the movie, quite a bit, though I think a solid 60% of my enjoyment came from the soundtrack. It was a really good homage to Dalmatians with a lot of the same characters but everyone was just a little different. Would watch again.

Family TV — This is mostly a “see last week” situation. Still on Clone Wars and ST: The Next Generation. We did catch up on Expedition Unknown, which a kind of adventure-documentary show on Discovery. Imagine a ‘Finding Bigfoot’ show only instead of Bigfoot they’re looking for something real. This week it was the wreck of the steamship Pulaski which sank in 1838. Interesting stuff.

Reading — Still on book 7 of The Saxon Stories…

Gaming — Everything went upside down with my gaming. I had intended to play No Man’s Sky, but instead found myself logging into Lord of the Rings Online for a bit. And then, totally out of the blue (I blame reading some 7 Days to Die posts) I started a new community in State of Decay 2 and got HOOKED in a way this game has never hooked me before, despite owning it since it came out in 2018.

I think I’ve made more progress than I ever had before, and things are getting really interesting. State of Decay 2 is a zombie apocalypse game where you have to both fight off the zombie hordes and oversee a base. The ‘base building’ is all menu-driven but you fight the zeds, as they call them, from a 3rd person action perspective. Clear out hordes, scavenge for materials, try to keep your survivors alive and healthy. You switch between the members of your band, so you’re always playing a character but no character is “you” per se. Characters need to rest and to heal so it’s a matter of who is fit enough to go out on the next scavenging run. I’m finding it really compelling.

And that’s about it. Long weekend, short recap. I did spend a good amount of time messing the caching solutions for the blog. I’m still not 100% happy with what I’ve got but it’s stable for now, until I get up the mental energy to have another go at it.

Moral Outrage and Collateral Damage

Here we go again. A few months ago (time flies) the gaming world was up in arms over Blizzard-Activision’s culture of “harassment and discrimination against women.” That controversy bubbled to the surface of our collective consciousness because of a lawsuit against the company. (If you missed this story, The Verge has a good write-up about it including a copy of the lawsuit, which I just quoted here.)

Yesterday another controversy erupted. This one concerns Tripwire Interactive and we learned about it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Tripwire president John Gibson posted a tweet which said:

Proud of #USSupremeCourt affirming the Texas law banning abortion for babies with a heartbeat. As an entertainer I donā€™t get political often. Yet with so many vocal peers on the other side of this issue, I felt it was important to go on the record as a pro-life game developer.

First, if you don’t know what he is talking about, Jen over at Book of Jen has an excellent post about the situation. Jen sums the whole law up quite succinctly when they say: This is absolutely terrifying.

* * *
[Update]
Tripwire Interactive has published a statement on its site. The main take-away is that John Gibbons is stepping down as CEO. Important to note that it does NOT say he has left the company. Still, it seems like the gaming community made its voice heard.

This news renders the rest of this post somewhat hypothetical, at least until we learn more about what is going on (IF we learn more).
[/Update]
* * *

I sat out the Blizzard thing and I’m mostly sitting this one out in its particulars. Why? Because my voice isn’t as important as the voices of the people directly impacted. I feel like my job is to be supportive and to let those directly impacted share their thoughts on the particulars. (Hopefully it is obvious that I stand in support of these people.)

What I do want to talk about is the conundrum of what we, the gaming public, can do when things like this happen. It’s difficult because the only tool we have is a boycott. This is a thorny issue when it comes to games. If an author does something you disagree with, you can decide to stop purchasing that person’s books and for the most part they will be the only one impacted.

But when it is a game publisher, boycotting potentially hurts everyone working at that publisher, guilty or not. In the aftermath of the Blizzard situation I saw Tweets and posts from folks who said they’d heard from Blizzard’s devs (the actual devs, the people doing the labor of building a game) a desire that we please keep playing/buying their games. That seemed to be enough to dissuade some from boycotting.

I think this is the wrong move. To quote Spock, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

In this case, the ‘many’ refers to our society as a whole. We need to demonstrate that a company can’t get away with bad behavior. Yes, there will be collateral damage. When a company’s bottom line falls, execs are generally not the first to be impacted. It’s the workers that pay the price first, and that sucks, but they are the few in Spock’s equation.

The situation is even thornier with Tripwire. People who worked at Blizzard must have been aware of what the culture was like, plus what happened/is happening at Blizzard is illegal. At Tripwire, Gibbons is just voicing an opinion that many of us don’t agree with. It isn’t illegal to have a dissenting opinion (yet) and we don’t really know if everyone in the company was aware of the president’s opinion. I have no idea what the CEO of the company I work for thinks of Texas right now.

Add in the fact that Tripwire is a publisher. Their newest game (I believe) is Chivalry II, which was developed by Torn Banner Studios. Did TBS know about Gibbon’s opinions? Who knows? So then should we punish them for being published by Tripwire?

Unfortunately, yes we should. It isn’t fair, but again, not buying games published by Tripwire is the only tool we have. I wish we had another.

It’s hard. It’s hard to know we’re having to hurt innocent people, and let’s face it, it’s hard to take a pass on games we were looking forward to. (I was looking forward to Diablo 2 Resurrected!) But social change IS hard, that’s why it comes about so slowly.

I mean obviously we all have to do what we think is right; I’m just some loon with a blog so don’t listen to me. But maybe have a think on it.

Sad. It was kind of fun.

And honestly talk is cheap for me. I don’t really play Blizzard-Activision games anyway (though I was going to get D2 Resurrected) and I think the only Tripwire game I own is Maneater, and I got that for free via Playstation Plus. (I’m deleting it from my Playstation just in case somehow that is tracked by Sony). If we learn something horrible about Guerilla Games and I have to boycott Horizon: Forbidden West next year, now THAT would be hard for met to do. Please Guerilla, please don’t turn out to be an awful employer.

Back in the here and now, for me the boycott stands for both these publishers. Blizzard will hopefully improve and if they do, it is just as important that I reverse my boycott. For Tripwire, I don’t think anything will change. I don’t think it is a public company so it isn’t clear if there’s a board that can force Gibbons out. They’ll just go into the permanent “Do Not Support” column of my mental spreadsheet.

If anyone has ideas for a more nuanced way we can act against these companies without hurting the workers, I’d love to hear it.

A Change in Game Purchasing Habits

Not too many years ago, I was the guy there on Day 1 to buy the hot new game. Really, on Day -1, or Day -30 or something. I’d have the pre-order in well before launch date.

I noticed this summer that I don’t do that any more. It wasn’t really a deliberate decision, but a learned behavior. I think the last “OMG new shiny!” full game I bought was Assassin’s Creed:Valhalla last November.

These days I’m content to let a new game ripen for a few weeks or months before buying it. I’ve identified a few reasons why.

1) Cost — I don’t have the disposable income I once did, and you can save a lot of money by being a little patient. Games go on sale so quickly these days. This one is a no-brainer that we’re all aware of but for the sake of completeness I’m including it.

2) Game Pass/Novelty — I used to buy a lot of new games just because I was bored and wanted to try something new. Now there’s always something new on Game Pass. Even without Game Pass there are so many games coming out, and so many sales constantly running, that you can almost always scratch the ‘something new [to you]’ itch by grabbing a game on sale. Heck half of us have games in our Steam Library that we’ve already purchased but haven’t ever played.

3) Spoilers (or lack thereof) — I hate spoilers. I used to sometimes buy a game at launch because I wanted to experience the story before it was spoiled. Since I’ve become a console gamer, and primarily a single player gamer, I’m not really exposed to spoilers because no one I am in contact with plays the same games. It is VERY rare that I go to a gaming site (I just now realized I don’t do that anymore). Between these two factors, spoilers are no longer a concern.

4) Game Quality — Just about every game gets patched after launch. Bug fixes, quality of life changes, performance improvements… In almost all cases the launch-day version of the game is the worst version to play. Why not let a game improve before investing your time and money into it? One exception: if a game is coming out that I feel passionate about and that doesn’t seem to have the resources of a big AAA title, I might make a Day 1 purchase just to support the title and the team. That hasn’t happened in a while, though.

5) Single Player — As mentioned I primarily play single player games these days. A good reason to buy a new multi-player game is to get in on the fun while all your friends are playing it. That doesn’t really apply to solo games, but this is why my pre-order of New World exists. I pre-ordered that game in, I think 1885 or something. I’m still not 100% convinced it’ll launch this month!

6) Backlog — I have SO MANY games I haven’t played that it seems silly to buy new ones, frankly.

I could probably come up with more reasons, but those seem sufficient.

But it’s WEIRD, y’know? It’s such a change for me to show… restraint? šŸ™‚ At least when it comes to gaming, I’ve always been fairly extravagant. It kind of feels good too. It feels responsible. Maybe at 60+ I’m finally becoming an adult, I don’t know. I also kind of feel like I have more respect for the games I do buy. That sounds strange to say. But when I buy a game it isn’t on a whim. It’s a game I’ve been interested in for a while, and a game that has been on the market for a while and so has proven itself. I miss a lot of clunkers this way, too. Games that were hyped but then kind of fizzled. Or games that are actually quite good objectively, but would not be good for me. Returnal, on the PS5, is a good example of this. I almost bought it Day 1 but am glad I didn’t because I now know it just isn’t the style of game I’d stick with.

So that’s it, that’s the post, as they say. Only they say it about Tweets. I don’t really get what it means. I think it’s what you say when you don’t really have a point!

[Header image is from LOTRO. It’s a view of Bree from the bluffs of the Barrow Downs.]

Conflict Between Jetpack Boost and Javascripts in WordPress Sidebar

Just a quick PSA in case anyone else runs into this issue.

Was trying to squeeze a bit more speed out of Dragonchasers today and I installed a plugin called Jetpack Boost. This plugin has a few options including one called “Defer Non-Essential Javascript.” When this option is turned on, scripts, or at least some scripts, in the ‘sidebar’ wind up displaying below the page instead of in the sidebar. Which makes sense since, y’know, the script is being deferred.

The correct solution is an option to specify certain scripts as essential so the plugin doesn’t mess with them. There is no way to do this ‘out of the box’ yet, but it is a known issue.

You can track the issue here.

This issue was created on August 5th; hopefully we’ll see a new option soon.

[Header image is from Final Fantasy XIV and has nothing to do with WordPress plugins šŸ™‚ ]