That Angry Dwarf

Grumbling about Games (and more)


Episode 62 of the Cat Context Podcast is now available!

It’s almost Halloween, and in honor of our favorite spooky holiday, Liore, Arolaide and I sat down to talk about scary games and movies, and what gets our blood pumping.

Liore starts us off by talking about the differences in her reaction to scary movies and scary games. Aro is all for them, and she lets us all know (spoiler alert: she really likes Silent Hill 2). I comment a bit on the different types of scary, and what those mean.

Zombies are pretty cool, but are movies handling them as well as possible? What about games? How do we feel about vampires? It’s unclear. We do like scary space stories, though, and the intrinsic terror of being alone in space. Can games handle this within their restricted design… space? Regardless, we think that games could learn a thing or two about pacing from films.

Also, something-something-Alien. And Aro is skeptical when it comes to horror games where you can’t fight back. Liore sighs very heavily at <insert grimdark horror game here>.

To listen, head on over to the official episode page, hit us up on iTunes, check out ourYouTube channel, or simply watch below! Please keep sending in comments and questions, and don’t forget to give us a thumbs up or rate us on iTunes.

Cat Context is part of The Gaming and Entertainment Network. Check it out for other great podcasts!

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Extra Life 2014


Posted By on Oct 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Extra Life 2014

Extra Life 2014 is nearly here! On October 25, I will be participating in a 24-hour gaming marathon, benefiting Children’s Hospital Oakland. For the third year in a row, I will be joining Liore on the Totally Legit Publishing team to celebrate the positive spirit of gaming to raise money for an excellent cause. There are so many sick kids, and the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals do a ton of good work throughout the year. I look forward to being able to participate in this event all year.

Over the past two years, Liore and I have raised over $2000, and the fundraiser as a whole has collected over $6 million in donations! That’s incredible! But it’s never enough to treat every kid that needs it, and this year we are looking to do even more. I’ve worked with the local Bay Area branch of Extra Life to expand participation, and we are looking to smash last year’s participation numbers. I think we’ll do it! But I need your help.

Please, if you are able, consider donating even $5 at my page. Every bit will help, it’s all tax deductible, and it the funds go directly to the hospital to help provide services for patients. If you feel like participating on the day of the event, I’ll be streaming my progress through Twitch.tv. I’m taking suggestions on what to play, and I even have a number of game codes to give away throughout the day! Pop in to say hello or join in a game –  or send in something that you’d like me to play. If you donate, I might even listen. Thanks so much!

Click Here to Donate!

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Cat Context

Interested in learning more about the games we cover on the show? Follow the new Cat Context Podcast curated list on Steam!

Episode 60 of the Cat Context Podcast is now available!

This week, Liore, Arolaide, and I talked about the Kickstarter-funded RPG Divinity: Original Sin, the launch of new MMO ArcheQueueAge, and the addictive mobile game Dragon Coins.

Aro has been playing Divinity: Original Sin in co-op mode, and she talks about how much her household has been enjoying the throwback nature of the game. We also learn (again?) that neither Liore nor Elly has ever played Baldur’s Gate, and this sends Aro into a sweary rage. Is it okay for us to skip out on an intimidating classic game because of its depth? Or are we just cowardly monsters?

Liore has spent a lot of time in queues for ArcheAge, and even a little bit of time actually playing. She talks about her early Alpha-colored impressions, and shares concerns about the future of land ownership and its impact on non-headstart players. We all hope that it shakes out and can support both casual goose-pluckers as well as more competitive trade pirates, and think it has a chance to be successful if both groups are happy!

And then… Aro discovers the joys of Dragon Coins, the crazy little Pokemon-style mobile game that we blame Liore for getting us to play! Should we or shouldn’t we recommend this? Who cares, because the monsters are SUPER CUTE! Elly also mentions Magic and eyes glaze over. Liore goes to school with pigeons!

To listen, head on over to the official episode page, hit us up on iTunes, check out ourYouTube channel, or simply watch below! Please keep sending in comments and questions, and don’t forget to give us a thumbs up or rate us on iTunes.

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First things first, links to previous missed episodes.

Cat Context

Episode 59 of the Cat Context Podcast is now available!

This week, Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide got together to talk about The Crew PC beta, the terrifying Silent Hills teaser, and Destiny’s future.

The Crew recently held a beta event on the PC, and after a mad scramble to get keys, all three of us had the opportunity to check out the upcoming CaRPG! We all agreed that it was gorgeous to look at, but we are unsure about its long term plans and “MMO” factor. But is that really that bad when you get to speed around a city crashing into things while looking like Gordon Freeman? Maybe not.

Also, Liore and Aro are finally allowed to talk about P.T., the Silent Hills teaser. This leads to some spirited discussion about how awesome the series is, in general, and a lot of Elly saying things like this. Overall, they are quite impressed with this take on the horror genre and the specifics of this “stealth marketing” campaign.

Finally, we talk some more about the other games we are playing! Several mobile games come up! Elly is excited about Destiny! We got a listener mail!

To listen, head on over to the official episode page, hit us up on iTunes, check out our YouTube channel, or simply watch below! Please keep sending in comments and questions, and don’t forget to give us a thumbs up or rate us on iTunes.

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The Gaming Questionnaire, Part 1


Posted By on Aug 22, 2014 | 3 comments

A bunch of people have been answering the gaming questionnaire that was posted at Cannot Be Tamed earlier in the week, and I figured I ought to respond with my own. However, like Liore, I’ve decided to split out the first 10 questions into one post. This is convenient, since SPOILER ALERT we may just end up talking about the second half of it on Cat Context this week!

So, here are my answers!

  1. When did you start playing video games?
    I’m not sure I even remember. I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember, but I expect the first non-arcade games I played were in the mid-80’s on my family’s Apple IIe.
  2. What is the first game you remember playing?
    It would have to be one of the aforementioned Apple IIe games. Probably Choplifter or Swashbuckler or Hard Hat Mack. It’s entirely possible that I played something on a friend’s NES or ColecoVision, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind.
  3. PC or Console?
    I’m going to hedge here and say both. I love PC gaming, but I would not be anywhere as much of a gamer today if it weren’t for consoles. And I’ve been buying and playing console games for basically just as long as PC games. These days, if it’s a game I have to pick? It totally depends on whether I’ll be playing with people. Although I will say that sitting on the couch and looking at a large screen is pretty appealing…
  4. Xbox, Playstation, or Wii?
    I have all of them, does that count? I’ve owned a PS1, PS2 (two!), PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, and every Nintendo console except a WiiU, so I’m pretty committed to not letting those lines stop me from playing something awesome. I’m leaning PS4 to start the next generation, though, if that helps. Even though Microsoft has the better controllers.
  5. What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
    This is basically an impossible question, but I’m going to answer GemStone III/IV. I’ve talked about this one before, but it is a MUD-style game that basically introduced me to long-term roleplaying and MMOs. I don’t actually recommend that anyone goes back and plays it now (sorry, Simutronics), but this is really my first true gaming love. And my longest-lasting, although WoW is creeping up on it!
  6. What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
    I love this question, and wish I had a better answer, but I really don’t. I have a lot of uncompleted games, and most of the really bad ones fall into that pile before I can start to feel too strongly about them. That said, I’m going to go with Star Wars Galaxies post-Jedi/combat revamp. I seriously hated what Jedi did to that game. Seriously hated it. Star Wars is SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING when it involves the normals, and not the stupid god-like Jedi. I don’t want to know about your bullshit ability to kill people with your mind or whatever, I just want to explore what it’s like to be a struggling spice-trader who sides with the Rebellion out of convenience! Also the combat revamp and attempt at shoehorning WoW-like quests into that game was a really bad idea. What is it with Star Wars MMOs doing stupid things to otherwise fun games?
  7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
    Umm… Warcraft 3? Anything in the Civilization series? Basically, any RTS or turn-based strategy game. With very few exceptions, I’ve never really enjoyed my time with them, despite being totally intrigued by their intricate balance and long-term strategizing.
  8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
    I’ve talked about Heavy Rain a bunch of times, so that’s the easy one. The other game that I really enjoyed, but didn’t do well critically, is Brutal Legend. There was just something so… fun about that game. And for whatever reason, I totally dug the tower defense/RTS boss battle bits, which were pretty universally panned.
  9. What are your favourite game genres?
    I have an irrational love for beat-em-ups. Like Devil May Cry and God of War. I don’t actually know if this is my favorite genre, but it’s one that doesn’t seem to get enough love in these things. I like a pretty wide swath of games, from FPS to puzzle games to Adventure games to MMOs. Basically, if it’s not an RTS, I’d probably try it. Or maybe a sim, since those have a lot longer learning curve than I’m willing to put up with these days.
  10. Who is your favourite game protagonist?
    It’s pretty hard to argue with anyone’s choice of Commander Shepard, here. I’m sure that this is in large part due to the personal investment I had in her life, but there was also just a ton of well-realized detail and depth. So I’m going with the easy answer!

That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed, and tune in to the podcast for some more discussion!

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Struggling to MMO


Posted By on Jul 17, 2014 | 7 comments

When Wildstar first launched, I was super excited. I stayed up until 2am or so just trying to create my character(s) and play around on head start weekend. A bunch of folks were hanging out on Mumble and everyone seemed super excited – and so was I! I played quite a bit for the first few weeks of launch, and maintained a reasonable leveling pace that combined exploring all sorts of things and feeling like I was making progress.

Then, however, life got a bit busy. There was some vacation, some work travel, some heavy work weeks, etc. And, eventually, I realized that I hadn’t even logged in to the game (or any other MMO, for that matter) for almost a month. That would normally be fine – I’m casual or whatever, right? – but the problem is that, even after being back to “normal” for a couple of weeks, I still just… can’t.

I’m not sure what it is, exactly, because I still like Wildstar. And every time people talk about it, I wish I was playing. But the one time I made myself log in, I just sort of wandered around my (really sparse) housing plot, looked at the 5g in my bag and the 1g it cost to make myself a relic farm, wandered around Thayd trying to remember where my quests actually were, and then logged out.

I talked a bit about some of this on the podcast this week, but I think there are a few reasons that I’m struggling:

MMOs reward habits. Or, maybe more directly, they are specifically crafted to be habit-forming. And I think they work best when they are habitual. You get into the routine of logging in, checking mail and auctions, remembering where you are in the questing, figuring out what names all your guildmates are using this time around, and going about your business. Once you break that habit, it can be hard to start forming it again. And particularly hard if you have previously been through the cycle of teaching yourself how to break an MMO habit!

Whether it’s true or not, I feel like I’ve missed out on a crucial period. My highest level character is 21 or 22, but it seems like the critical mass of my guild is now 40+. And so I’m not going to be among them when they are first running into Skullcano and encountering the guy who wants to make them into a stew, or the giant thing, or whatever the hell this picture is showing… And that’s fine, really. It’s not like anyone should feel bad for me that I was enjoying myself on the beach in Hawaii! It’s just that what I was looking forward to the most was the actual process of learning to overcome these things with people while they were learning, too. I think I kind of hyped myself up for that, and now I am left wondering if it’s all just going to be another WoW situation where everyone “knows” the best way to run any instance I go to, or whatever.

And, actually, the fact is that I could probably push hard at leveling and join most of my group by the time the stragglers are hitting 50 and starting to do dungeons and attunement things, and then I could still get involved with the learning of some things, even if it’s not all the things. That’s pretty cool! So then I come up with feelings about how speed-leveling is annoying because I like exploring and reading the stories and listening to datachrons and all that, and then I feel like I have to make that tradeoff which kind of sucks. Or, alternatively, I look at “having” to play 50-60 hours of mostly-solo gaming for a chance at something else later. And if I was going to spend 50-60 hours on a single-player game, I might actually play Skyrim! (hah)

Anyway, I’m mostly just venting here. There’s clearly some merit to the “Just start playing again! Log in for 20 minutes, do something, and see if you keep wanting to play. Then try again tomorrow!” plan. That’s probably how I will get over this funk, even. There’s also an argument to be made that I should just sort of give up on Wildstar (or maybe MMOs entirely?) for a while, since this does feel a bit like burn-out. But that sucks since people are actually playing together!

Mostly, I’m just looking to see if I’m the only person that this sort of thing happens to, and if there are any sorts of tricks that people have used to pull themselves out of it. In the meantime, I’ll work on the backlog or something…

 

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Note: I missed posting for several episodes. They can be found on the podcast’s main page, over at YouTube, or in your podcast app. You should listen to them, because they were good!

Episode 55 of the Cat Context podcast is now available!

After a few episodes missed due to travel, I returned to the podcast to join Liore and Arolaide in a discussion about the last several weeks in gaming.

Last week, a community manager from LotRO let out what is surely the industry’s worst-kept secret: raiders are simultaneously one of the smallest and most vocal segments of their community! Who knew?! Besides everyone. But it has prompted some discussion, and we joined the conversation. We start out discussing whether raiders get more than their fair share of developer attention, but as these things go, eventually worked our way around to casual vs hardcore.

Liore quickly jumps on the hardcore-is-awesome train, despite being a filthy casual, by calling out “casuals” as more often displaying elitist attitudes. In the end, we come to the conclusion that most of the problem actually lays with the bads – especially those who know they are totally not bads, you guys. After that, we took a question from Telwyn about how our attitudes towards MMOs have changed over time (thanks for the question, these always seem to start interesting discussions!).

Also, we get around to talking about our Steam Summer Sale purchases! I whine a bit about being in an MMO funk and “falling behind” in Wildstar. Aro talks about box forts and moving tiny people across state lines. Also, she takes offense at me not thinking that watching her build her rocket house is “interactive group content”.

As always, head on over to the official episode page, hit us up on iTunes, or check out our YouTube channel! Please continue to send in ratings, comments, and questions.

 

 

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No, I’M Slim Shady


Posted By on May 08, 2014 | 4 comments

Wildstar has been available for pre-order for a while now, and release (and head start – because it’s totally a race AMIRITE) are coming up in just under a month. And while I still haven’t put in my pre-order, it’s pretty clear that I will be playing the game upon release and should probably get on that. I mean, they’re giving you a rocket-house. And an extra bag because it’s more fun to restrict the inventory space of normals arbitrarily. And the head start, which is actually sort of nice because it means you can start playing on a weekend instead of the typically awkward Tuesday release date. These are all actually incentives that are useful to me!

But, as the post title suggests, there’s one bonus that’s on offer that I probably won’t take advantage of – and that’s the ability to reserve your name ahead of time. They still haven’t actually said how this is going to work (other than that it will be available May 13 – 23), but it will be interesting to see whether you have to pick a server to go along with your name choice, or whether your name will somehow be reserved across the entire game. If it’s the latter, then I can see this being a bigger selling point. And I can absolutely see the appeal for things like Guild names.

I know there are some people (probably a lot) that carry a particular name from game to game, but I’m not really one of them. There are a few names that I have reused over the years, but inevitably, I end up picking my name at the very end of character creation. Not because it isn’t important – in fact, it can totally make or break a character for me!-  but because I never feel like I can properly name someone until I know who they are. And I can’t possibly know that until I’ve gone through the rest of character creation. And even when I’ve already been playing a game for a while and could tell you with pretty strong certainty what race/feature/gender combination I am going to pick, I wouldn’t be able to pick a name until I’m looking at the finished product.

Am I weird in this? I can reuse things like a gamer tag because it isn’t tied to a character (and is sort of intentionally not name-like), but the name “Ellyndrial”? I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to use that again. It just has too much history, and that specific character means something specific in my internal pantheon. It works okay for some of the more minor characters that I’ve had – but usually those are characters that I really was interested in playing out, but never quite made it.

What about you guys? Do you reuse names from game to game? When do you retire a character for good?

 

 

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