Friday, September 26, 2014

Played Lately: Destiny - Alpha, Beta, and Launch

  • The hype got the better of me. After reading, listening, and watching so much about Bungie's new magnum opus, I had to try Destiny for myself. So when the Destiny Alpha opened on the PlayStation 4, I downloaded as fast as my wireless router would allow.
  • The Alpha had potential. There were a few missions to play in the Old Russia, Earth, zone. I wanted to see them all. I rolled a Titan, the soldier/tank class, because I am terrible at shooters. I needed a class that would let me play a little dumb and still survive encounters. I didn't play a lot, but I had fun trying to reach the level cap.
  • The Beta also showed potential. I almost didn't get in, but the folks at NeoGAF had my back. I played as much as I could and even made it to the bonus mission on the Moon. My daughter, who normally will not give up her reign over the television, sweetly let me log in with just fifteen minutes left to access the mission.
  • And that brings us to launch. The game, as launched, has a lot of potential. I've been playing since Destiny came out. I stay up to late, trying to complete one last mission, one last patrol, one last bounty.... Even though I agree with the middling reviews, the game is still enough fun to keep me going.
  • All the way up to level twenty. I can't stop playing the game. It don't help when my daughter asks if we can visit "our friend" (my character) to see how she is doing. She cuddles next to my so I can protect her from the bad guys. She points out loot chests when she spots them. So sometimes I'm playing just so she can watch me jump around on the Moon. AnjinM on PS4 if you want to help keep her entertained.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

News Filter: Destiny's Loot Cave Is No More

The social experience of a cave farming run is amazing: the herding to get a team of Guardians all behind the line and firing in the right direction, the rush to grab the loot, the scramble when the panic wave starts, the beckoning glow from inside the cave. The speed at which the community organized around this activity was inspiring and humbling to us.

But shooting at a black hole for hours on end isn't our dream for how Destiny is played. Our hope is that social engagement in public spaces is only one part of the Destiny experience. Expect changes soon which decrease the efficiency of cave farming and correspondingly increase engram drops from completing activities.

  • You have to give Bungie credit. They know how to write. At least their bloggers do. Maybe they should help write the game next time.

  • I just last night reached level 20, so I never spent any time farming the cave. I strongly dislike exploiting, so there was no chance I would have done so anyway. However, I'm glad Bungie finally got around to plugging this hole.

  • Does blogging about Destiny qualify me as an MMO Blogger again? Please?

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

News Filter: Microsoft to Mojang: "I heart you $2,500,000,000 much!"

  • Time for some blockquotes. First, Phil Spencer from Microsoft:
Today is an incredibly exciting day for our team as Mojang and the Minecraft franchise join Microsoft. Minecraft is one of the most popular video games of all time, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, from players since its launch in 2009. Minecraft inspires millions to create together, connects people across the globe, and is a community that is among the most active and passionate in the world.

Our relationship with Mojang began when we initially talked to the team about bringing Minecraft to the console. Minecraft quickly became the top online game on Xbox Live, with over two billion hours played on Xbox 360 in the last two years. That working relationship set the ground work for other opportunities. We’ve long seen the incredible potential of Minecraft.

At Microsoft, we believe in the power of content to unite people. Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms. Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.

The Minecraft community is passionate and diverse, ranging across all ages and demographics. We respect the brand and independent spirit that has made Minecraft great, and we’ll carry on the tradition of innovation to move the franchise forward. Our investments in cloud, Xbox Live and mobile technology will enable players to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect with the Minecraft community.

We’re excited to confirm that MINECON will continue next year. We’ll look to create even more ways for the vibrant community of YouTuber’s, innovators, bloggers and players to connect with each other – both in person and online. We will have much more to share in the coming months.

The Minecraft team’s unique vision, creative energy and innovative mindset make them a perfect fit alongside our other global studios. Microsoft Studios includes 343 Industries, Turn 10 Studios, and Lionhead Studios just to name a few. These industry-leading game studios within Microsoft that have had great success with beloved games and massively popular franchises like Halo, Forza, and Fable. We’re excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft family and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come.

Phil
@XboxP3

  • Next, Notch:
I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.

Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.

  • It has been easy to see that running a massive company was making Notch profoundly unhappy. Here's hoping over a billion dollars makes things a little easier for him.

  • I don't have much commentary to add. Minecraft is one of the foundational games (much like Doom was in the 1990's). As such, it would be a shame if Microsoft killed the golden goose. But the game is much bigger than Notch now. It's bigger than Mojang, certainly. Let's all hope for the best.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random Shots: Gamer

  • I self-identify as a gamer and I have zero regrets doing so.

  • It's currently not in fashion to say so. What with how people have attacked Zoe Quinn, Phil Fish, and Anita Sarkeesian. With how people have attacked various online services. With the protests about integrity in game journalism. With how Kotaku and Polygon are reacting to their employees usage of Patreon. So it's open season on gamers because several of them are awful, emotionally stunted monsters. Great.

  • But it seems like I can't turn around on the internet today without being told to toss aside the gamer label. Because what we call ourselves is the issue, right? Because identifying myself too closely with games is the issue, right? As if all we are is consumers, right? As if how I live my life is not up to your standards, right? Right?

  • One of the things I advocate in any online community I participate in is that we have to police our own. A community doesn't get to pretend that the bad actors don't count. We are how the world sees us. And the overall gaming community has a problem. We need to own up to the hatred that is being spread and speak out against it. Passivity makes us complicit.

  • So if I have not made this clear before, let me say it now: there is no place for hatred in gaming, or in the world in general. This is not how we should be treating people. We should be sharing our love for the medium, not excluding those we disagree with. Gaming could be so much better with more, varied people in it, not less.

  • I'm a gamer. I love games of all kinds. I may share this space with a lot of terrible people, but it has also brought me some of my closest friends. And there is room for many more.


© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Random Shots: The War In Ferguson, Missouri

  • Being a gamer, I cannot help but examine the situation in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, from a design perspective. What are the sides? What are the rules? What are the win conditions? On one side, you have the police, tasked with keeping the peace and protecting their power, primarily through the threat of their military arsenal. On the opposite side you have the agitators, attempting to stir up chaos through property damage and violence. And in the middle you have the protesters, the people of the town how are fed up with being terrorized, putting themselves between two terrorist groups to prove their point. But since the police and the agitators have no problem putting the protesters in the meat grinder to further their cause, their only win condition is to survive.

  • There have been several times over the course of the week that I have tried and failed to get a grip on what is happening. The police absolutely have to insure the safety of the community. And since the night time protests act have cover for black bloc agitators to assault the police, vandalize, and loot, the police do their very favorite thing: wield indiscriminate power against the citizenry. The police rule not through trust, but through intimidation, and that is what they are doing every night.

  • The agitators' end game is more nebulous. Who knows if they want an uprising or if they just want to see the world burn? So although many think they want a straight up confrontation with the police, I fear there is something more sinister. I fear that what they really want is for the police to expose the depths of their violence and start killing the protesters.

  • My wife asked me why, with all of this going on, do the protesters keep doing it? I couldn't answer her then, but I know now. As soon as the protests stop, the eyes of the world turn away. The police get to sweep this all under the carpet, no one is ever charged in the killing, and life returns to normal, as horrible as normal is to the people of Ferguson. And then Michael Brown is nothing but a footnote in a history book America would rather forget anyway.

  • This is too important to forget.

© 2014 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.
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