Gay Christmas, Blizzard; LotRO Goes Independent, Torment Has Release Date

tracer gay overwatch

Lots of game news this week! Today Blizzard released a new webcomic for Overwatch, and the internet is abuzz because, well, lesbian.

In an ideal world this would scarcely be news, but instead we have the usual bigots and homophobes commenting their denial, and probably far more keeping hatefully, or guiltily silent, if Trump’s election is any indication of the preponderance of these people in the American heartland.

Let’s just call the American heartland “Trumpland”.

Eurogamer reports that Russia is blocking the webcomic because it is illegal. Any gayness violates Russian laws against gay “propaganda”. So if you’re not following Garry Kasparov on Twitter, or otherwise have no clue about Russia, there you go.

Lord of the Rings Online

The LotRO team announced this week that they are buying out LotRO and DDO and forming an independent company called Standing Stone Games. SSG will be published by Daybreak.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, except for surprise. One has to think about the almost unthinkable idea that LotRO could keep running for years to come.

As long as my for-life sub keeps going, that’s fabulous. My second account subscription runs out in one month.

For more information, and a good rundown, check out Bludborn’s video on Youtube, or visit the LotRO forums, which of course exploded.

2017 RPG Lineup: Torment: Tides of Numenera Leads Off

Torment finally has a final release date of Feb. 28th, 2017. This is basically the only game I’m looking forward to, at the moment, in 2017. Mass Effect Andomeda is also out there, and Star Wars Battlefront is looking at a new installment for EA next fall.

There is also Bard’s Tale IV from Inxile, which seems low-budget, but that classic in Unreal Engine 4 is worth watching.

Hearthstone: Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan

Hearthstone released a new Xpack at the first of the month, ushering in some very powerful cards that completely defined a new meta. Unfortunately, data shows this is the most unbalanced class distribution that I’ve ever seen in any class-based game.

I have a feeling this was planned for the purposes of greed. And that’s why I’m betting on Blizzard. Unfortunately, my card packs from the preorder were horrible, so I’m a little limited.

Last night I installed one of Hearthstone’s competitors: Elder Scrolls Legends. I’m still learning the game, which is far more complex and interesting in mechanics than Hearthstone.

I’m really interested in creating Elf-only decks in Legends, which is surely possible because of a superabundance of pointy ears in Tamriel. On the other hand, ESL is missing a certain something.

One thing I’ve identified is that cards in ESL don’t feel like characters. In Hearthstone, you know who Loot Hoarder is, or Ragnaros, or Piloted Shredder. The cards feel more unique and special, as well as sparkly.

There are so many cards in ESL that they become more like regiments in a deck than close-knit teams. There are also a lot more “win more”cards so far, but ESL has a systemized comeback mechanic, rewarding more card draws as the opponent beats you further down. It’s also nice to be more flexible in the hero portrait you play.

I’m not sure how I feel about the lack of a “hero power”. Hearthstone’s hero powers strongly force classes into certain appropriate archetypes. Is that a good thing, or bad thing?

So this month a lot of good players have come back to Hearthstone, and I’m playing against T1 legend decks at rank 14-15, which is brutal. I may or may not repeat rank 10 again this month, despite having an official T2 deck with my dragon priest.

Gaming Stocks

NVidia’s stock continues to soar vertically in the Trump rally. AMD’s stock has tripled since I bought it a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, I sold both of those stocks a long time ago, because I failed to follow basic investing principles.

In my defense, NVidia is now more highly valued on earnings than Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft, and a big part of that is based on an idea that the future is smart cars and VR. I remain unconvinced. There is also rumor of a chip oversupply from NVidia right now, after a shockingly incredible quarterly report.

Here is a good article on NVidia.

I think 2017 is going to be a Trumper-Coaster of ups and downs. So I’m lurking, continuing to hold Blizzard and Tencent in my gaming stock portfolio.

Sony (SNE) has declined to reasonable levels along with the China markets in general, so I’m watching those to possibly add. I was up so far in Tencent that I’m still up even after the huge pullback.

Part of Tencent’s pullback may be due to new Chinese laws that require game companies to publish all loot box odds on their websites. I assume this will include Blizzard operating in China, so this may be news for Hearthstone, in terms of more transparency for odds when opening card packs.

I’m also back to working every day on my game project, at least a little, in addition to my lame, underpaid job.

Happy holidays, and a happy New Year.


About Silverangel View all posts by Silverangel

5 responses to “Gay Christmas, Blizzard; LotRO Goes Independent, Torment Has Release Date

  • Isey

    Imagine the vitriol and hate if it was McCree.. now that would have been something.

    It was sweet and very human.

  • wumpus

    The Lotro news sounds great. The only thing that bugs me is the idea that they need a “publisher”: is this purely financial backing with the new “owners” not being able to afford such things? Turbine made a deal (before LOTRO) with Atari (to handle things like marketing and whatnot) and had to do all of Atari’s work for them and likely had to buy them out so they could continue doing Atari’s job.

    In other news, DDO is still alive as well (but not Asheron’s call). I’ve been wondering about your DDO experience and I think the best way to describe it is a lucky dodged bullet.

    In practice, there are few times when a 32 point build is actually superior to a 28 point build in DDO. In an elf wizard (or sorcerer, a similar build only replace intelligence with charisma), there is almost none. The other side of the coin is the outright commitment that Turbine had to always encourage new player to build gimps. This was even before they would charge you $10* (or so) for the privilege of making another attempt to build your character correctly (I’m guessing 6 years after they started, and and a couple of years after that they started giving away such items to all characters thanks to just how enthusiastically they wielded the nerf bat).

    It started with the “suggested paths” which would irrevocably gimp your character after 1-6 levels depending on path (you had to look for the single “custom build option” to avoid it, and then you better know *exactly* how to make your build if you chose that. Experienced D&D builders were in for a shock at the difference in practice of the very similar rules of D&D and DDO. Putting the same rules into practice in wildly different settings means wildly different rules. Taking 2 levels of rogue as a wizard? Fine (it’s called the “pale trapper” build and could often find/remove traps better than a pure rogue). Having 12 constitution? Gimp**.). When Turbine asked for assistance in writing “character building 101” of course we answered with the (true for the first 6-8 years) obvious answer:

    All DDO characters need to put 6 build points into Constitution (gets an elf/drow 12, dwarf/warforged 16, everybody else 14). This is an absolute minimum. So Turbine suggested that front line warriors might want to add a little constitution. And things went downhill from there.

    As you might guess from the above, this put elves and drow at a bit of a disadvantage. You would be right. And not only did either not get any enhancement bonuses to offset it, they had lousy (dexterity based) bonuses instead. An elf wizard was simply inferior to a human one, in many measurable ways. A drow wizard might have the advantage of a single additional point of intelligence, but at significant cost (the same is true for sorcerers/charisma). When I built a sorcerer, I chose a human even though I likely only had 28 points. I really didn’t want a drow (had I owned warforged that would have been a no-brainer. In fact the character I True Resurrected (i.e. start over from level 1 with the same gear and a few bonuses) was a warforged sorcerer).

    So while I doubt that 28 points would ever make a difference (elf wizards have 18 int 14 con either way, and the rest aren’t terribly meaningful in play) you might be torn between playing an elf and the shear annoyance at Turbine for nerfing elves simply to have less powerful choices available. This also assumes you would correctly choose to put nearly all your available points in constitution: nothing in the game gives you the slightest hint to do that. You really don’t get the message (except in the forums, chat is as bad as LOTRO) until repeatedly dying in Gianthold (about level 16 or so, months away).

    All this isn’t to say that the character generation system was bad. It was *wonderful*. It was easily one of the main reasons we played it. But it wasn’t for newbies and Turbine went out of their way to get people to fall into the traps. If you didn’t want to play such a game, stopping at the first dungeon (or before) was the right time to stop.

    I suppose after the holidays I will fire up DDO and see if any of my equipment doesn’t say “Stringtable error: tableDID”. I’m expecting it all will (I fired up one on the wrong server a year or two ago and saw all but one item that way). Some people might say DDO is in maintenance mode, but I don’t think they’ve had any maintenance since the second (much less successful) expansion.

    *$10, and I think that was cash and not turbine points. It eventually became turbine points, but don’t expect to have them shower down the way they do in LOTRO. Premium players were expected to buy quest packs, and that required buying lots of turbine points. This really confused me when I started playing LOTRO.

    ** ok, there was my “dual wielding drow paladin perma-death build”. That had 12 constitution. But that was a special case with a ton of other protections. And it was the *only* 12 constitution build I’d ever seen that I would play (it might have been 10, being a drow and all. Too bad myddo has been dead for years).

    PS. You worried for the tree? I’ve been known to be an ent in real life and I wouldn’t worry about the tree (it could probably withstand a coal truck). I’ve seen a tree wiped out by a cement truck, but it only had a 3″ diameter, not the nearly 3 foot one in the picture.

    Trees that size worry about chainsaws, fire, and rot. Not schoolbusses.

    • Silverangel

      Hi wumpus, sorry for the late response – for some reason my notifications went on a week break, apparently. I don’t know what Daybreak is doing for LotRO. I’m under the vague impression it has to do with a lot of servers, scalability to handle peak loads, that sort of thing. I really don’t know, and I don’t follow LoTRO anymore.

      I was really sick of F2P when I tried DDO, and that was a big factor. In LotRO I’m a life sub, own everything, and I modded out the F2P buy-now interface as much as possible (Elven Adventuress UI). What I saw of DDO was nice, except for the way F2P was so obtrusively handled. So I’m glad your opinion is that I dodged a bullet.

      That would have been interesting if LotRO had a resurrection system. It’s such an epic tiny incremental stat grind anyway, seems right for it.

      Have you played Sword Coast Legends? It’s on the holiday Steam sale right now, and it’s really tempting. I feel like more persistent games like MMOs have spoiled me, and it’s hard to feel satisfied with the single, one-shot campaign anymore.

      Maybe I should try Neverwinter? Thanks so much for the note about the tree! I won’t worry as much.

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