Tag Archives: Pleasure Not Doing Business With You

Another Blizzard Rant

For historic reasons, I have two battle.net accounts. If you have read my blog for some time, you know that I started playing WoW on the US realms when I was abroad for a year. After I returned to Europe, the time difference made it very hard for me to raid; I had to look for the handful of EU-timezone guild scattered across all realms. When the last one I was in folded, I went over to EU, but for that I created a new WoW account before unified battle.net accounts ever appeared.

I would’ve loved to take my characters with lots of history with me, but no. The whole “you can’t migrate from US to EU, ever” was probably the thing in WoW that caused me the most strife and pain. Reason supposedly being the EU and US divisions being so separate that there wouldn’t be any way to do that.

So color me surprised when I logged into my US battle.net account for some unrelated reason and I figured, “I could just add my phone to the account, like on the EU one”, and this happened:

Battle.net error message: "This number is already in use on another Battle.net account. Please use a different number."

So, let me get this straight. You cannot, ever, transfer characters between EU and US because the divisions are separate entities and there’s no way of transferring the data; but as if by magic, my US account can figure out that my EU account has the same phone number bound to it?

What. the. hell.

I mean, this doesn’t even make sense because you might want to have several accounts for some reason, or two people might share the same phone (unlikely, but definitely not impossible). I  don’t even see why this should prevent you from registering the phone.

But on top of that, it’s just another big “screw you” for people like me. I don’t even play WoW any more, but that feels like still rubbing it in. “Oh, we’re only two separate entities when it hinders you. If we can further hinder you by being only one, we’ll do that.”

Wrong Audience

If it is true that 96% of all EVE Online players are male, it is probably safe to assume that most viewers of the EVE Alliance Tournament video stream are, too. I therefore would not have expected to see so many ads for feminine cosmetics and hygiene products.

(Or it’s a personalized ad thing and it has problems profiling me. Facebook is likewise hilariously off whenever I log in and look at the ad sidebar.)

So… It’s Kung Fu Panda After All?

Horde and Alliance fight each other. But worry not, they will band together against the common evil… the Pandas which will destroy them all. But hold on, Pandas are cute, so we are evil? I’m confused. Blizzaaaaaaard! Don’t do that to me! You know, your game should be accessible, not make me think and fail at it!

Anyway. Let me compose myself.

Unfortunate Focus

Going by the news, one of the topics of the next expansion supposedly is broader focus. Diversification. Alternate ways of advancement. I would’ve expected to see this focus on less focus in the trailer. Instead in the trailer for Mists of Pandaria, you see mists, and you see a panda. (I didn’t see a “ria”, but that might be because I don’t know what that is.) That’s about as much focus as you can put on one thing. It’s basically the title of the expansion in video form. The strong focus on one thing, the Big Bad at the end, was in line with the previous expansions, but that also means that by extrapolation, Mr. Panda suddenly gets cast into this weird role as big-bad-but-wait-not-really.

Unfortunate Reference

When I say, “it’s Kung Fu Panda after all”, that is not only because kung fu and pandas is all we really see in the trailer, except for the stock Horde and Alliance poster children. As an aside, why is none of them female? Maybe I shouldn’t ask, because all we’d get is a scantily clad woman with clothes ripped off in strategic places from her unfortunate boating accident. (Also, I guess she wouldn’t fit in, because women obviously can’t wear real weapons, so she would have to be a mage,  like all important human women in MMOs always are, and how would a Kung Fu Panda be able to beat a mage? ) Note: WoW needs more female orcs! Rawr! In your face!

No, the reason I saw Kung Fu Panda in that trailer was a very specific scene. Remember the scene where unnamed Panda #1 returns the decorative headpiece to its original place… then realizes it’s slightly askew and adjusts it with his staff? Here.

The movement, the sound effects, the timing, the comical effect… I don’t know whether I’m imagining it, but this felt so evocative of Kung Fu Panda. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kung Fu Panda is an enjoyable movie. It just doesn’t seem to fit with the “even more inter-faction war” vibe that I heard Blizzard was trying to push. Instead of downplaying the Kung Fu Panda angle with “but there’s so many more cool things waiting!”, they embrace it.

Unfortunate Use of Rhetorical Device

The first statement by Mr. Panda was that the question “why do we fight?” is a stupid one. He then proceeds to smack the previously brawling human and orc until they band up, then smacks them a bit more, then stops. Then we realize it seems the question actually might be “why do we fight?” after all, because that is what we’re given the answer to. Huh? Is it OK to be confused by that? Maybe Mr. Panda had a bit too much to drink. The answer he gives is “to protect home and family and blabla something harmony”. Well, that’s nice, I guess. I assume that is also the answer to the “real question”, as Mr. Panda puts it,  that he then rhetorically asks: “what is worth fighting for?” That must be the reason why six weeks from now, all those Pandas will randomly choose either Horde or Alliance as faction, so they can proceed to smash each other’s heads in. Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense in light of that trailer! The sad thing is, this trailer projects a relationship between the factions that I would have enjoyed a lot more than what we will get. The pandas stay together, the Horde and Alliance band up, and all need to go after the Big Bads.

Unfortunate Target Group

Well, at least for me, in a sense. Because I’m not part of it. (Whether that’s unfortunate or not might be up for debate.) I knew that beforehand. I actually watched the trailer with very low hopes. That, funny enough, often works for me like a reverse prejudice: because I go in with low hopes, there’s a decent chance I might be pleasantly surprised because I’m at least not totally disappointed. Sadly, it didn’t work this time.

Oh well. There’s other games to play. I might check out MoP once it’s in the virtual bargain bin, just for the hell of it.

SW:TOR: Second Impression

Good things first: I tried out a few characters, and brought an imperial agent to level 10, and a Sith sorcerer to 14. I liked the stories for the most part, playing full-of-themselves characters. The dark/light mechanic is a bit strange though, it seems quite random at times what qualifies as dark or light; as an effect, I ended up with a relatively even distribution, which seems to be a bad thing, stat-wise.

The game is also quite polished. It didn’t crash on me at all during the weekend, though I had to close it manually once when I got disconnected and the game didn’t recover properly. My server lagged badly for some time on Sunday, though; not sure whether they were overloaded by the amount of people during the trial weekend. Then again, there were a lot of people, but not that many that it should influence the server like that.

Performance is a bit of a problem overall. I heard in December that responsiveness was pretty bad, and I still had problems with that and the spell animations at some points. In addition, SW:TOR seems to use the same engine as Rift (Hero, or something like that), which… I’m not a huge fan of. My GPU fans go crazy during the game, not only, but especially during the cut scenes. Not sure why the cut scenes are that demanding. During “normal” play, the Hero engine has these weird lighting effects, where every character and much of the fauna seems to have this strange glow around the outer edges, which looks very out of place, like things were sprinkled with fairy dust. Then again, I could complain about most other engines used for MMOs, too, so eh.

I’ve already talked about the huge distraction that the alien gibberish is for me. That seriously degrades my enjoyment of the game. I hate to make this such a big deal, but it is for me.

Finally, EA puts a massive limitation on trial characters: they can neither whisper other players nor talk in chat channels. Grrreeeat. Especially if you are a healer, and see a group looking for one in General for 30 minutes, and you can’t do anything about it because you can’t contact them. I understand that EA probably wants to reduce chat channel spamming from bots, but there must be some other way. Put a severe rate limit on how often you can talk on trial accounts if you think you need to (though I don’t see how this is a big problem with a game that doesn’t even have a free trial yet, outside of friend passes and weekend events), but having no way of communicating with people unless you happen to stand right next to them is quite silly. I wasn’t able to test any of the group content because of that. It further underlines the lingering notion that SW:TOR is more of a single-player game that happens to run on a server so you can be charged 15 units of your local currency every month.

Overall, I have to say it is a cute little game, and I’d probably continue playing it if either 1) it was box-price only and no subscription (preferred), or 2) the other way round. I probably would see this differently if I cared about Star Wars, but whatever little interest I had in that series died with Jar Jar Binks long ago (I was young enough when I first saw the Ewoks that they didn’t ruin it for me). That pretty much leaves me with a slightly boring vanilla gameplay, with story line elements that seem nice enough that I would play through the game once or twice to see a couple.

If EVE doesn’t work out, I might pick up the game after all to tide me over until TSW is released. If I can find a good deal. I’m not keen on paying more than 30 Euros or so for the box, considering I’ll also have to pay the monthly subscription. Even if I don’t buy the game, I might pick up my good friend Thuul on the offer to play another 7 days on a new EA account at some point. I’m still a bit embarrassed I totally forgot to ask him before or during this weekend trial, seeing how I told him in January I might get the game at some point to play with him for a bit. Sorry Thuul!

While I’m waiting in the queue…

… and probably for a bunch of days, I’ll use EA’s offer to test-drive SW:TOR this weekend for free. I’m skeptic, because I’m neither a big Star Wars fan, nor eager for another hyper-streamlined theme-park  MMO, but a free chance to see the best parts of the game (the low-level areas and first two instances)? I’ll take that and then probably walk away again.

City of Heroes Doesn’t Want Me (At Least Right Now)

The other day, I felt a bit bored, and couldn’t decide which game to play. Naturally, that meant I wanted to try out yet something new. I pondered Runes of Magic shortly, but then decided being a super hero would be so much more fun.

I never had looked much into CoH. The super hero genre is something I like in small doses. I would probably have tried the game for a bit, then wandered off, not to return at any time this year. Maybe once.

Alas, it seems CoH is in a limbo right now.

Nothing to see here. Please check back later, though!

I am pretty sure CoH used to have a free trial. The link also points into that direction. But it seems that in preparation for making the game “free” (note quotes) to everyone, they shut down the free (note no quotes) trial. That’s a shame, and I’m not really sure why that would be necessary.

Oh well. CoH, you had your chance with me. Judging from experience, you’ll have your next around Summer 2012.

(And in the end, I read a book for a couple of hours, then went to play LotRO.)