Saturday, October 22, 2016


For those in the know --and those not impacted by the DDoS attack on DNS servers yesterday-- Friday was the beginning of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists against eleven prominent video game companies.

Here's the list of companies, courtesy of the SAG-AFTRA pdf:

  • Activision Publishing Inc.
  • Blindlight, LLC
  • Corps of Discovery Films
  • Disney Character Voices, Inc.
  • Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
  • Formosa Interactive, LLC
  • Insomniac Games, Inc.
  • Interactive Associates, Inc.
  • Take 2 Interactive Software
  • VoiceWorks Productions, Inc. and
  • WB Games, Inc.
If you notice, several major MMO properties are hit by this, such as WoW (Activision), SWTOR (EA), and LOTRO (WB Games).

I do have to wonder what sort of impact this strike will have on future games in the pipeline. I don't think that games that are already in the can but haven't been released are going to be affected, such as the latest SWTOR expac or Mass Effect Andromeda, but anything still being developed is likely to be impacted.

The interview with Jennifer Hale (yes, the Mass Effect and SWTOR Trooper Jennifer Hale) on NPR linked to above is very interesting.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Switching Things Around

Nintendo became the first of the big three console makers to drop a trailer for their next gen console, the Nintendo Switch.

Unlike Sony and Microsoft with their upcoming releases, the Switch is actually a replacement console for the Wii U, and it goes in the direction that Sony attempted to move with their Vita 2, but amped up to 11.

Here's the trailer that Nintendo dropped this morning:

Yes, you saw that right. They were playing Skyrim with the game.

With the presence of Splatoon on the Switch, it seems that the Wii U will still likely connect to the Nintendo network platform.

Additionally, given Nintendo's typical modus operandi of supporting the previous console's games on the current console, Wii U games will likely be playable on the Switch.

Nintendo also claims to have 50 developer houses on board for game creation for the Switch, but the real question is whether they will hang in there or bug out after a year or so like developers did with the Wii U.

One other item of note is that the system runs on a custom Nvidia Tegra processor, the same processor family found in Nvidia Shield tablet. Perhaps that is why the Switch looks like it can do so much given its mobile emphasis.

Still, it looks like Nintendo is blurring the lines between mobile and traditional console gaming in a way that wasn't possible before.

EtA: Added the links to some of the items.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You know you've become immune to video game bugs when... almost fail a quest because you think that the "slurred" words are merely bugged, poorly translated ones.

That happened on LOTRO for me, with the Lothlorien quest (just north of the vinyards) to admonish the Elven revelers who have... imbibed... way too much.* I read the exclamations above the revelers, and at first thought that those who actually said something were the ones who need to be admonished.

One try disabused me of that idea.

Then the next try I noticed the slurred or mispronounced words. Surely, I thought, they could have gotten a better QA person to fix this.


OH! THOSE are the people I need to admonish!

Excuse me while I go and imbibe a little, myself...

*Seriously, with three weeks to go before the 2016 US Presidential Election, I think I'll be doing the imbibing along with the NPCs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Not Everyday an MMO Trailer Blows Up

Well, I should clarify that and say "an MMO trailer NOT from Blizzard blows up the internet".

Bioware must be doing something right, as the 6 minute trailer from Bioware for the upcoming expac for SWTOR started trending on FB today. The funny thing is, people are pointing at the trailer as being better than several of the Star Wars movies.

Seriously, go Google it and you'll see.

Oh, and here's the trailer if you haven't seen it yet:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Yeah, Right...

Courtesy of Facebook.

Pretty sure people know my opinion on this one.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Few Short Musings

  • If I ran as much as my LOTRO toon does, I'd be back to a normal weight.

    I'm at that point in the Mines of Moria storyline where I'm sent from the Crossroads down to the Waterworks, then back to the 21st Hall, then down to the Flaming Deeps, and then back to the 21st Hall, then down to the Waterworks.... You get the idea. Outside of the fact that the storyline wouldn't simply wait for me to go back and forth like that* if this were closer to a real time event, I'd have worked off all those years of helping to "eliminate" excess Halloween candy in our household.
  • Even though I love the "slurring" that WoW has their toons perform when talking, I think I prefer the LOTRO version of the "drunk toon". Sure, both MMOs have the screens get progressively blurrier, but LOTRO takes it a step further by making everything monochromatic sepia toned, like you're swimming in an oil tainted pool. The toneless muttering also makes it sound like I've collapsed in a corner, arguing with myself over whether Stalin would have arisen in Russia if Lenin hadn't passed away when he did.
  • It felt weird logging into SWTOR after having spent so much time in LOTRO recently. I'd jumped on a toon that was deep in Justicar territory on Coruscant, and it felt.... Airy. I never thought I'd say that about the lower levels of Coruscant, but after a month's worth of slogging through the Mines of Moria, it sure feels open. And welcoming.

*I once read it described as an offshoot of moving at the speed of plot. In a novel or a pencil and paper RPG, these boring parts can be skipped to keep the pace going. Videogames, not so much. You'd have to rely upon cutscenes to keep things moving, or automated transportation perhaps, but neither is an ideal situation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gimli cast his hood over his face.

The Company stood silent beside the tomb of Balin. Frodo thought of Bilbo and his long friendship with the dwarf, and of Balin's visit to the Shire long ago. In that dusty chamber in the mountains it seemed a thousand years ago and on the other side of the world.

At length they stirred and looked up, and began to search for anything that would give them tidings of Balin's fate ...

'I fear the book had ill tidings to record ...' said Gandalf. 'The first clear word is sorrow, but the rest of the line is lost, unless it ends in estre. Yes, it must be yestre followed by day being the tenth of novembre Balin lord of Moria fell in Dimrill Dale. He went alone to look in Mirror mere. an orc shot him from behind a stone. we slew the orc, but many more ... up from east up the Silverlode. ... Poor Balin! He seems to have kept the title that he took for less than five years.'
--from The Fellowship of the Ring

I'm a bit of a night owl. This admission is no surprise to people who know me, but it also means that I'm used to the night sky and darkness in general. There were days at a previous job when I'd go to work early (3 AM local time) and leave at 7 PM, and in the winter I'd never see the sun in the sky.*

But after a few weeks of Moria, I've started craving the sun.

Although I may play one on LOTRO, I'm no elf. I don't mind urban environments, and as a kid I wanted to be an astrophysicist**, so I was fine with staying up all night working on telescopes. Khazad-dum, however, is a completely different animal.

Sure, there are places where there are wide open caverns that give the impression of space, but you're still enclosed under a mountain of rock.***

At least somebody has a sense of humor in this Valar forsaken place.
There's plenty to enjoy about the Mines of Moria, however, I can't shake the sense of impending doom. Sure, I know what happened to Durin's Bane courtesy of The Fellowship of the Ring, but that doesn't mean that the devs don't have more tricks up their sleeves. After all, the last third of Shadows of Angmar was a case study in an increasingly futile attempt to stop Angmar's inevitable victory in the North.

Having just completed the Waterworks (minus the raid part), all I can think of is that Balin and Company certainly weren't unprepared, and Balin himself was a shrewd and wise Dwarf. Was he simply blind to the reality of Durin's Bane, or did he think he'd marshaled enough forces to overcome what the entire Dwarf city of Khazad-dum could not? Of course, the expedition in the Expac is fortuitous in that a major obstacle (the Balrog) is removed, but the Balrog itself didn't destroy Balin's expedition; it was everyone else who'd moved into the Mines since the Dwarves fled who did it in.

(One of these days I should just go look up Stephen Colbert and shoot the breeze with him about whether he thought that Moria was reclaimed in the Fourth Age.)

*I would get in early so I could actually, you know, get work done. the 4-5 hours of (almost) nobody around meant that nobody would stop by and talk to me about stuff, so it meant I could focus on my large pile of work to do.

**I figured that since I was nearsighted --and consequently unable to sign up to be a fighter pilot-- going the science route would be the best way to qualify for the astronaut corps. There's one family story about when my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said "An Astrophysicist!" A puzzled look crept across her face, and she turned to my mom. In a loud whisper, she asked "What IS that?" "I don't know!" my mom whispered back.

***I've visited a couple of artificial caverns created by mining limestone (and Detroit has underground salt mines that I've not visited but are similar in scope), and the spaces created are similar but on a smaller scale. The closest I can describe it is the 21st Hall in terms of columns preventing the ceiling from collapsing, as I doubt Tolkien had the mining knowledge to understand how to tie the ceiling into the bedrock above and prevent the ceiling from collapsing. Tolkien could understand columns, however.