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The Winner Takes it All, or Collecting Things in MMO’s

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A lot of social media space this week on my feed has been taken up by a Moose. This Warcraft Mount was going to be purchasable at some point before Legion. Instead the designers have decided that actually, this is too good an opportunity to pass up. So, as of Patch 6.2.3 that launched this week? You can only get one by defeating the End Boss of the Expansion on the two hardest Instance difficulties, Heroic and Mythic. The playerbase’s reaction to this has been nothing short of revelatory: groups of people offering to help the less geared and qualified with runs under the Twitter hashtag of #FriendshipMoose. Players who hadn’t even played organised content weeks ago are now touting Heroic Achievements and a new found sense of belonging. However, for some of us, this whole sequence of events is nothing new. There’s been Meta Achievements in game since Wrath of the Lich King whose rewards you can still gain. Blizzard now take the mounts away from Instances at the start of each new Expansion to maintain the ‘unique’ nature of the achievement. However, what people don’t realise is that it isn’t the pixels they collect to begin with. The ‘reward’ isn’t what you gain from defeating Archimonde, it’s what you find within yourselves that matters more. You’re not passing over money for a plush or a badge, this is simply a virtual nod to the time you took to go to Hellfire Citadel and make an effort.

So, why does anyone bother collecting anything virtual to begin with? If you have no real proof of your efforts, if there’s nothing to sell in X years or to leave to your grand-kids… really, what’s the point? A lot of this is tribal, of course, that for a new generation of players it’s just the same as sticking a band poster on a wall or sewing patches onto your jacket. Wanting to belong is a vital part of human behaviour, as is being able to use what you collect as a means of showing your worth. Every Moose that appears in my timeline (and trust me, there are many) is a sign that players have ‘completed’ one of the most poorly-received Expansions in Warcraft’s history. This is undoubtedly a good thing for a company who lost 40% of their sub base in 12 months over their inability to make compelling content. Suddenly, everyone’s in the one bit of the whole package nobody really had any complaints about: raiding. Maybe more of these people will raid come Legion: that has to be Blizzard’s hope as a result of the exercise.

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SWTOR: A New Hope

Tyrhon

Saturday afternoon and I’m sat at my desk playing SWtor once again, when there’s a knock at the door…
“Uncle Marty!!!”, my nephew exclaims enthusiastically as I open the door, before he bounds in with a barrage of information specifying the events of the past few hours from the wonderful perspective of a 5 year old’s fruitful mind.

After going to shut down my pc to prepare myself for the obligatory Lego building session, I hear from behind me Layton’s curious enquiry when he glances at my screen. “Is that Star Wars?, now you can imagine I’m totally ready to nerd out now, already a fan of other things all star wars related I ask myself the question “Is he ready to play an mmo?”
I hit escape, go to settings>enable profanity filter. “So you wanna make a character Layton?”, the high five and grin that stretches across his face in response is genuinely heart-warming!

“So what character do you want to make?” I ask, “A Jedi!!” he replies, and proceeds to wave his arms around making the clashing & humming sounds of his ‘Air lightsaber’ moves. We make some modifications to his characters appearance, which he is keen to make look like a grown up version of himself. “Time to name him now dude, what shall we call him?”, “erm…. I like painting, so let’s call him ‘Paint’”. Seems as good as any other name I think so we enter it but the name is unavailable… I suggest that as play on his surname we call him “Bringonthepayne” after trying many more taken character names, he agrees and proceeds to vocalise his new creations name with glee!

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Mad Max – A Good Game For A Bad Day

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We’ve all had them kind of days, days where you just want to cry, scream and sleep, all at the same time. For some people talking with friends or loved ones, venting about the utter tripe that is your day, is a great way to unwind, while others prefer to be alone and indulge in a hobby, such as reading, or if you’re like me, play video games. I usually play the same type of games when I’m in a bad mood: Call of Duty, Battlefield, anything with a shooting element, my frustrations being taken out on the right trigger. To people that don’t play video games, the fact that blowing virtual heads off helps me to unwind after a stressful day, probably sounds quite psychotic, the Daily Mail having a field day with my admission. However, they’re are definitely many like me, and it’s probably you people that can imagine how much relief Wolfenstien: New Order brought me, after playing it on the day my grandad died. Shooters, especially online ones, have, for quite a while, been my go to place when I’m royally peeved, but last week, I found a new kind of game to make me feel even better.

With a release date that seemed a little nonsensical, Mad Max was pitted against MGSV when both came out in September, the excitement for the last Kojima game overshadowing Avalanche’s foray into the desert. I saw thoughts on Twitter about Mad Max, I read how people were both enjoying it and how some were finding it an overall, mediocre experience, but I tried to stay away from any reviews, wanting to formulate an opinion on the game myself. When I finally got round to some extensive playing, I found myself agreeing more with the latter of the two above opinions, boredom setting in after just a few hours.

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The Cult of Celebrity In MMO’s (but especially Warcraft)

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In the interests of full disclosure, I should admit before we begin today that I’m at the more mature end of the MMO demographic. I remember when that Lara Croft lass was all pixelated breasts, for starters, not the realistic and clearly rebooted young woman she’s become. In between then and now, a lot has changed in gaming. Back in the day, streaming was what you did with a fishing net and Wellington boots (or possibly as a result of an allergic reaction) while the World Wide Web was merely a twinkle in Tim Berners Lee’s fertile imagination. Now it’s all Twitch and Kappa, plus that bloke who’s been dead for a decade still painting pictures. On top of it all, there’s a cult of celebrity that frankly puts early Norman feudalism to shame. And today I am here to stick my head in the mouth of a beast that frankly scares so many people I know into swearing they’ll never go near You Tube even if paid.

For a title like Warcraft, there are streamers now for everything. You have players of both sexes, Lore, PvP, questing, pet battles, farming vanity mounts and that’s even before I get started on the Gold Farmers or the Role Players.

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What You Want, Others Don’t Like :: Expectations in MMOs

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My (utterly brilliant) editor tells me I need to prepare you good people for a fairly personal post, which this is. It’s been a tough couple of weeks at Alternative Towers, and it all came to a head yesterday when I was informed in no uncertain terms that I’ve no idea how to have ‘fun’ in the game I choose to write about daily. Needless to say, I know a red flag when I see one. So, instead of going and muttering incoherently about how people don’t understand me in a corner? You get this, because sometimes it isn’t just about what I want or what you think is right, it’s about making everybody understand the bigger issues at play.

I’m getting increasingly annoyed with being told to cheer up when it comes to how I write about Warcraft. It appears that, according to some, I just don’t have enough ‘fun’ any more, and that being ‘nice’ is far more important in most cases than playing the game.

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The physics of a Lightsaber

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We have all seen it. The lightsaber has been deeply embedded in our culture ever since the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977. Since then there’s been a multitude of books, comics, games, animated series, movies, collectables and theme parks. There’s even a religion that spawned out of all of this – Jediism! There’s a lot of fascinating aspects from these movies you could write about and study but for this article I will take on the physics of the lightsaber. Is it possible in the natural world of science to replicate this piece of weaponry?

First we need to figure out what the lightsaber is made of as well as the components and the energy that drives it. The movies so far haven’t revealed much in how lightsabers work (but as mentioned above) there is plenty of material from the extended Star Wars universe to look through.

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Are you aspiring to be a better player? Should you?

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A few weeks back I got into a bit of hot water by suggesting that Warcraft players could be better than they are by coming more prepared to Group content. In fact, my assertion that using a food buff plus a flask (+200 to primary stat) met, from some, with calls for me to check my own mental state. Because CLEARLY, preparation for anything is not within the remit of anyone else to suggest to players, let alone place IN A GUIDE. In the end, the arguments stretched from passionate agreement with my stance all the way through alternatives and suggestions. Maybe it wasn’t about the stats per se, but the willingness of players to show that they understand that grouping has a different rule set than playing alone.

What followed in the next few days was not dissimilar to the run of personal abuse I experienced when I suggested that players might not need flying for Warcraft content. Perhaps there was more fun to be had by learning to overcome difficulty as opposed to simply trivialising the content by flying over it. It is abundantly apparent that some don’t only dislike being told what to do, but will have serious issue when it is suggested they could play better than they are. This is not unusual across the MMO spectrum either: often, players will tell you how friendly their title of choice is in terms of helpful people. We all know those individuals who can’t take criticism, and we understand how hard it can be sometimes to tell others that they’re wrong.

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Are Friends Electric? :: The Minefield of Friendship in MMO’s

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I’d like to tell you a story about an Internet Friendship.

Once upon a time, two people met online. They were drawn together by mutual interests, and the love (in this case) of an MMO. They spent time together chatting via various forms of Social Media, but for one of the two involved, alarm bells had already begun to ring. Because this person knew that the Internet was not a place to begin relationships, that the level of anonymity that the medium allowed meant that people could not be trusted. This meant Person A was open and polite whilst talking to Person B, but wasn’t truly being themselves, or indeed respecting Person B’s enthusiasm and love of what they did. You see, B loved the Internet. They saw it as a golden opportunity to meet people that shared their interests, and A was exactly the kind of person they’d just love to hang around with at the end of a long day. What this meant, of course, is that this friendship was doomed to fail, because sooner or later A and B would collide, and they did. The likelihood was that it would be over something totally trivial and nonsensical, and the drama that resulted would undoubtedly end up being smeared all over everyone’s social media. The final straw was when A blocked B on Twitter, and B had a very public and pointless meltdown as a result. T’was ever thus.

This is pretty much how the world works for many people who use the Internet as their extended social circle on any given day.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – A Game For The Unfamiliar?

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As a kid, I was never really interested in Metal Gear Solid. The only entry in the series I gave any time to being Ghost Babel on my Game Boy Colour. I tried the PS1 classic, a demo I believe giving me my first taste of its stealth action, but I could never get on board with it.METAL GEAR SOLID V_ THE PHANTOM PAIN_20150918181320 (1)

It required timing, precision, educated moves and at that moment in time, my attention span was not ready for that kind of gaming. I preferred the colourful ridiculousness of Crash Bandicoot, the platform exploration of Spyro, not to mention the little block men of ISS Pro Evolution (damn, I loved that game). It was only when Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow came out that I really started to enjoy stealth, my mind and hands ready for a new type of experience. By this time, the Metal Gear series wasn’t on my radar, other games were out and, despite my new found appreciation for the stealth genre, my earlier experience had put me off playing it. According to many of my friends, I missed out.

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*Unable to connect to network*

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Integration
ɪntɪˈɡreɪʃ(ə)n/
noun

  1. 1.
    The action or process of integrating.
    “economic and political integration”
    synonyms: combination, amalgamation, incorporation, unification, consolidation,
    merger, fusing, blending, meshing, homogenization, homogenizing, coalescing, assimilation

 

Thursday morning, I arrive at work and have a particularly important scheduling report to compile in time to present to a customer visiting today. I shuffle my hands and think “right, got a few hours to get this done, let’s crack on!”

**Unable to connect to network**

Well that knocked the cheese off my cracker! For almost 3 hours the entire site network is down, for those unfamiliar with ERP/MRP, these are software packages integrated into the functionality of almost all operational systems within a business. Therefore, when the software fails, everything else cannot function. Anyway, while I was sat twiddling my thumbs for a few hours, this whole vocational dilemma got me thinking…

How reliant are we upon the technology we currently have access to?

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