Tag Archives: Dragon Age

New Hearthstone X-Pack Leaked, Blizzard Crits Earnings, DA:I on EA:A, Etc.

king krush

Hearthstone “Lost Secrets of Un-Goro”

This week the new x-pack for Hearthstone may have been leaked by a voice actress resume, as reported on the Hearthstone subreddit.

The new card set appears to be themed from the Un-Goro crater area. This means a fertile green jungle with dinosaurs, Night Elf history, crystals, and scientists.

So basically a lot of my favorite things, except the insects. Those things are annoying! I turned back every time I reached Un-Goro in WoW, looking for better adventuring options elsewhere.

I do play Hunter sometimes in Hearthstone, and Hunter might make a comeback from the bottom of the current insanely unbalanced game. Existing dinosaurs in Hearthstone are typically Beast cards (i.e King Krush shown above.)

(I have the beautiful and hungry-looking King Krush card for Hunter, but it isn’t really playable.)

We also learned that Blizzard will finally balance the game a bit – at the end of February, not long before the next X-pack. You can do the math on that.

Gaming Stocks

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) stock ended Friday up 18% on better than expected earnings, crazy user statistics, and the announcement of plans for a $1B (?) stock buyback over the coming months.

So this was a good day. I think I spent $170 on Hearthstone last year, and Blizzard gave me like 200% cash back, plus a dividend.

On the other hand, my venture into Rambus (RMBS) two weeks ago was ill-timed, so I lost 6% on a medium bet. Rambus received a strong upgrade of support from J.P. Morgan yesterday, however, and it’s clearly coming back. Now would have been a better time to buy.

After a bit of experience my policy is to hit it, then hold or forget. This is a forget. I listened to the conference call live with the CEO and CFO, and I was unimpressed. Many other chip companies killed it this quarter while Rambus squeaked by using non-GAAP accounting. It seemed sketchy to my intuition.

I also mentioned Pepsi (PEP) two weeks ago, and it has surged strongly since then, but I’m wary of the inflated U.S. market. If you look at a long-term chart, the curve on the S&P is just too steep (etc. etc.).

There has to be a FOMO effect at this point, and Trump believers are notoriously dumb. 51% actually believe the (mythical) Bowling Green Massacre is real, and a reason why we need a travel ban.

Another question mark over Pepsi is Mondelez (MDLZ), which said last week in their earnings report that the U.S. environment for snack sales last quarter was very challenging, with strong promotions/discounts.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

This week I was looking for a new game, and I noticed DA:Inquisition is now on EA:Access for $5/month! This is by far the best deal I’ve seen. I’m looking forward to exploring EA Access games for a few months until Un’Goro, then Mordor.

Cheers and have a good weekend. Time for dragon slaying, and maybe a little courtly romance. Who knows.


Elder Scrolls: A Hearty Alchemy


I’m two weeks into Elder Scrolls online, and I’m having fun. Some of my opinions haven’t changed since beta: beautiful scenery, average story, and profitable, although they’ve postponed console releases until next winter.

The public verdict on ESO seems to be that it does nothing better than any other MMO, but it’s a solid, enjoyable package. I agree, and all of the bugs I saw in beta are gone.

My beta report said caveat emptor, but now it’s two kitty thumbs up. Jump in at a discount. I want to talk a little about the game writing, combat, Fallout, Dragon Age, and this and that.

ESO: Combat Is Better When–

You play a Templar. Why? Because with spells and a weapon, you have two resource pools to strategize and use (stamina with weapon, magicka with spells.)

I can’t imagine playing ESO as a one-pool class after playing my Templar. There’s no going back. The game is also a perfect challenge for me so far. Mages and Dragon Knights look like they have it too easy.

I’m trying to play my Templar like a LotRO Captain. Support, off tanking and healing. We’ll see how that goes. I was happy to find out there are oodles of theoretical skill points. You aren’t as restricted as I’d feared.

You can craft like a gnome on crack if that’s your brand of gaming hat.

Elder Scrolls: Writing Weaknesses

I often harp about my Smiling Jack concept (borrowed from Vampire: Bloodlines, maybe the best example I’ve ever seen). When you get into the game, you have a smiling, sympathetic friend who shows you the ropes, not just pop-up tutorials to follow.

Elder Scrolls Online doubles up and gives you two interesting friends: the Prophet and Lyris Titanborn, notably voiced by Michael Gambon and Jennifer Hale.

The problem is that you find no emotional connection or camaraderie with them. It’s very cold, and the story isn’t about your character. Neither one of these people give the impression of caring about me, although the stakes are high and dramatic. I can say that.

In fact, the last mini-dungeon story episode was about Lyris Titanborn and her experiences and past. Well, what about my past? Where is my soul and all that? It’s off track.

And then, on a particular low-level questline in Morrowind, the NPCs make a big deal about you being a great hero, a saviour. It just seemed off-key and unbelievable to me at level 8 or 9.

The issue with limited writing is the voice-overs. There just isn’t enough forested real estate (dialogue “trees”) to say everything or have a real dialogue with real conversational choices like in Vampire: Bloodlines, and meanwhile the voices of Hale and Gambon aren’t empathetic. So.

Idea: Make Two Versions Of MMOs!

MMO devs of the world, here’s an idea for you: write your MMO in text first, and then boil down the text into voice over synopses, and give players a choice.

Players can play the unedited director’s cut, or they can play the Hollywood version.

Why not? The writers write a long version in the first place. It’s called the second draft. Then everything is edited and cut several times over for voice. Just delineate a boundary where everything goes into the text.

The effort will half pay for itself in saved bandwidth if you offer separate downloads. Writers will be happy dancing if they are worth their salt. Players will exchange lore back and forth, lore that will seem special.

Elder Scrolls: So What’s Next?

I have no idea. Due to a ridiculous persisting bug, beta players are denied forum write access. That includes this kitty, so here is my furry finger. (Yes, you can file a ticket, whatever.) I’ll say this.

The game needs more classes desperately, more than Neverwinter did. Four classes is not enough.

A better auction solution is still needed. Everyone agrees the guild stores are horrible. It can’t even be a girly bargain-bin delving game without properly functioning search features. Geez.

Fallout Online?

Where is Fallout at the moment? Bethesda gained the rights to a Fallout MMO from Interplay a few years ago. After all of the resources and investment Zenimax (Bethesda’s parent company) is putting into Elder Scrolls on PC and the next gen consoles, it would seem foolish not to use that experience to push forward and leverage a post-apocalyptic Fallout campaign.

I’m hoping to hear something about this at next year’s E3. What about this year’s E3? Oh, was there one? I almost didn’t notice.

Class Dependency In MMOs

Mark Kern wrote an article last week for MMORPG, and I thought it was horrible. The thesis is that MMO classes are being homogenized and class dependencies are being quashed for soloability, but really for profit.

The author argues that “it’s worth it to invest R&D in this area.”

Really? R&D? He talks about MMOs being effectively single player these days. This is an example of vaguely false exaggerations made for the sake of writing out a controversial article.

What’s killing class dependencies isn’t soloability and homogenization per se through self-heals, aggro management, personal CC, and general survivability. It’s dumbing down, reducing the need for skill, and giving players only 6 skills to use at a time. That forces all of the other stuff out the window.

It isn’t necessary to “strip away a lot of the identity and customization and role that the class used to offer.” You can have both like in LotRO, except no. Apparently we can’t handle that, certainly not on our couches with console controllers.

Unless you want to argue ESO has class dependencies because tanks and healers are needed, then dumbing down is my final answer. You say chicken, I claim egg.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Angry Joe Interview

Angry Joe posted an interview today with the producer of DA:Inquisition. I’m excited for this game.

The game will give you a combat choice this time. Choices are the future, we players can only hope. You can play top-down tactical like in DA:Origins with better camera controls, or go with actiony combat like in DA2.

DA:Inquisition will have an epic story, but also a big breach in the sky with demons pouring out. You take the good with the bad when it comes to sky rifts and cliches.

You’ll be managing the resources of your organization, which I’ve never been into in a single player RPG. It’s hard to feel like any of that gathering and building makes any difference when the game is going to end in a few hours.

Managing a keep-like housing facility in an MMO? Purr. Now that’s something I’d like to see, and I’m keeping my eye on Blizzard’s Draenor expansion for that.

Leliana plays a big part in Dragon Age:Inquisition! Yay. I’m not super thrilled with her new look, but we can ease into that topic later in our relationship. You know how it goes.

In related news, David Gaider, lead writer for Dragon Age, last month affirmed Bioware’s commitment to supporting LGBTQ characters and romances.

So duck and roll, I might vomit a rainbow. I’m feeling better. I think. Thanks for reading. Have a cookie and five gold kitty stars if you got this far. Happy gaming.

gold stars

The Sophisticated Dragon

For some reason I’ve always seen Flemeth from Dragon Age to be more of a dragon than a human. I’ve lamented on this blog how two-dimensional dragons have become lately–evil creatures of greed and destruction and little else.

In the old days of Dungeons and Dragons, the titular big lizards were of all sorts of alignments–good ones and “evil” ones just like the fairy folk. Maybe we have Tolkien to blame or thank for cementing this fantasy archetype of evil.

There is a lot of value though in simple, powerful symbols that don’t require thought, only a connection to the subconscious “lizard brain” as it’s called in Dexter and the Dresden Files. Every character in fiction can’t be sketched down to every wart and talon, so we get summaries in a nutshell.

I’m a little bogged down in Rift this week. I’m L56 and needing 4-5 million XP per level to get to 60. At the rate I’m going, that could take months, not weeks.

I plan to sub Rift, but I want my Rift sub duration to span through the next expansion. (A year or six months is a better deal.) So I’m in a holding pattern, sniffing for a time frame on this (Daglar’s long-awaited state of the game address for example), crafting and playing with builds until I pull the trigger on some XP-boosting subscription relief.

This morning, I found a wonderful award-winning cosplay image of Flemeth on Tumblr via the Gaming In Your Underwear blog. I thought she was official game art at first!

No, this is YumiKoyuki, a costume arts student at the Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture in Finland.


Flemeth cosplay image.

Weekly Wyrm ~ June 7, 2013

Town Crier ImageThis week I played Dragon Age: Ultimate. I also logged into Rift tonight, played with my outfit, and gazed over the ocean while listening to the birds chirping.

I have fond memories of Rift. For example, I might be the only player on Faeblight and one of very few people with the Town Crier title for guide writing (given during six or so months after launch).

Investing time in Rift again is a decision I can’t take lightly, but it would be fun to roll a lowbie on June 12th and experience crowds like at launch with raids forming up in the starter zones to take down big invasions.

Smart players are jumping in now, of course, since Rift lite allows unlimited play to L20. The kitty and F2P get along like elves and goblin mech-saws, but Rift F2P is going to be big. My newbie guide has nearly 500 visits just this week.

A lot of discussion is taking place now about XBOX One and PC versus the new consoles. No surprise. It’s one of those ever-favorite and complicated topics. Angry Joe makes good points in his rant #2, but he also might be a little over the top.

Microsoft isn’t killing used games outright. Based on what AJ is saying, they are designing a system that enables options for them and game developers to take a royalty instead of 100% of the profits going to the used game purveyors.

Like old cowboys, XBOX 360 games have a less viable future. By refusing to program backwards compatibility, Microsoft is putting expiration dates on all games for the previous platform. This is another perk for the PC, of course.

The requirement for an internet connection is terrible for a lot of non-moneyed, non-first-world people. As poignantly pointed out by a few American armed services members in the comments to Angry Joe’s rant, always-on internet is difficult in Afghanistan or in a submarine under the Pacific ocean.

Profit is the United States of America.

In an epic discussion over PC vs. console on Escapist this week, someone declared no advantage for PC because “no one is playing ten-year old PC games.” That is so not true. I’ve played Baldur’s Gate and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines in recent weeks.

Those are nearly 15 and 9 years old and still playable on the PC. I installed Bloodlines off of my original CDs, DRM-free.

I also listened to the Vampire Bloodlines soundtrack this week on Youtube. It’s one of my favorite game soundtracks. I like the Main theme, the Santa Monica (zone) theme, and the Downtown theme.

Revisiting Dragon Age: Origins (with all DLC) has reminded me of how to do everything right in a fantasy RPG. When the game launched, I thought it was great, but didn’t realize that it would be one of the greats ever. I played it originally on PS3, now I own it on PC thanks to Steam.

A lot of current day RPGs have lost their way with game writing. Dragon Age nails a few key things that are also found in other great RPGs like Planescape Torment and VtM:B.

  • Friends in the game right away. The friends help you and make you feel at home in the setting.
  • Solid factions that are rich and interesting. You either feel like a part of them, or you don’t like them at all.
  • Real choices with consequences (if only towards the respect of your companions.)
  • Your character is heroic, but in moderation. Not the chosen savior of the universe.
  • Steamy romance with handsome/beautiful rogues. (Ok, not really but it’s something to consider ~ haha.)

An example of a recent big-name RPG that tried but failed? The Secret World.

I also like the classic, realistic-looking game map and the mostly silent protagonist in DA. There was an article this week on Escapist about the silent protagonist. Silence has my full favor.

The voices of my characters are actually a problem for me in Guild Wars 2. I have made at least ten different characters in GW2 and none of them feel like the one. My Leonore in Rift, on the other hand; she always felt like the one.

Felicia Day Reveals New Dragon Age 2 Web Series On Jimmy Fallon

Felicia Day appeared last night on Jimmy Fallon to debut a trailer for her Dragon Age 2 themed web series sponsored by Bioware: Dragon Age Redemption.

I’m a fan of Felicia, Dragon Age, and Elf power, so this is good news! Felicia gets ripped for fight training! (Ripped as in elf-girl muscles.) Sounds exciting. See an article and the video for last night here–the internet says so.

Also notably, Season 4 of The Guild will be on DVD next week from Netflix. Duly added to my queue. Season 5 of The Guild was also announced. If you haven’t seen the WoW-derived vehicle of Felicia Day’s fame, you should definitely check it out. Previous seasons are available for view in different places, including YouTube, Netflix On Demand, etc.

In another DA2 side note, Bioware has recently announced a demo for DA2 that will be available on Feb. 22, 2011. “Rise to power by any means necessary.” Does it get better than that for RPG goodness?