Posts made in August, 2013

Cat Context Episode 33

Posted By on Aug 28, 2013 |


Episode 33 of the Cat Context Podcast is now available! We talked about the Wildstar payment model, Saints Row IV, Final Fantasy XIV, and as usual, some random other stuff. I’m pretty sure that I guilt-tripped our special guest Mangle into buying Gone Home, too, which is good!

We also touched on Hearthstone, the new digital TCG from Blizzard, our lowbie WoW experiment, and I kept up my streak of boring everyone by talking about Magic.

So head on over to the episode page, and have a listen! We even have a video there, if that’s more your style.

Also, we are doing a LIVE podcast from PAX Prime this weekend. Join us via at 5 PM on Sunday, September 1st. I have been told that we have stuff to give away, so send in questions!

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GP Oakland

Posted By on Aug 28, 2013 | 1 comment

So I’m a couple days behind on getting this out, but over the weekend, I went to my first Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix! It was a lot of fun. 1600+ people filled up the Oakland Convention Center on Saturday morning to play M14 Sealed.

That's a lot of people!

That’s a lot of people!

There were events all weekend long, and while I couldn’t hang out during the day on Friday, in the evening, I hooked up with my friend and guildmate Kinch to attend a cool seminar on the format with Ben Stark and Luis Scott-Vargas (look, these are MTG Hall of Famers, okay?!) and play in a “practice” event in the same format. Theoretically, you could come up against people from Channel Fireball, who were hosting the event, and win some extra prizes. Instead, I just went 2-1 and won some extra foil prize cards. Mostly, though, I was just there to have fun. Which I did!

Also, I asked LSV if he had given away any prizes (by losing) midway through the rounds. That was kind of awesome. Especially since he had.

After getting stuck in a 12:30 AM traffic jam on the way home, I came back Saturday morning for the Main Event. This time, I took the train – suck it, Oakland road work! They sat us down at tables, and we started – very methodically – opening packs, sorting them, and writing down what was in them. I’ve never had to do a “real” deck registration before, but the idea is that you open packs, write down what’s in them, pass them around the table, someone else verifies it, and then pass them again. At that point, you have the pool you’ll be playing with. I guess this is a good way to verify that people aren’t dropping in extra Kalonian Hydras into their decks (even though the pack being registered next to me had two of them in it…).

In the end, I played a red/green deck that had a lot of face-bashing potential. What it didn’t have much of was removal spells. This is a problem (especially in sealed), because when everyone opens 6 packs of cards, they have a lot of chance to open removal, and a lot of chance to open big fat dudes that smash you. So, while I had the possibility to just win some games before my opponent could react, I got into a lot of trouble once the board stabilized a bit. I still tended to have the bigger creatures, but it just wasn’t consistently enough.

I think that I also ended up playing too few creatures for the style of deck I was trying to build. I only had 12 creatures (out of 23 spells), which just isn’t that many. I probably should have tried to push it to 16 or so. Maybe not, since I had to dedicate 3 cards just for the Doom Blade. It’s hard to say. Here’s what I ran:

Main Deck

Main deck + sideboard

Rest of the pool

Rest of the pool

In the end, I went 3-3, at which point I dropped (basically, if you don’t go 7-2 on the first day, you are highly unlikely to make the second day). The friend that went the farthest got to 5-3 with what appeared to me to be a slightly weaker deck. It’s possible that I was mistaken – especially after he started switching colors in between rounds (which is where his winning percentage changed).

So yeah, that’s basically it. Going to a Grand Prix is definitely something I’d do again, and I’d highly recommend it to someone who enjoys playing competitive Magic. Even if you don’t think you will make it very far, the atmosphere is just really cool. There’s tons of people around who just want to play and have a good time. There are artists that show up and will sit at a booth and sign cards/playmats/whatever for hours all day. You can even buy some original card art – several of the artists I talked to did their originals in oil on canvas, and were at least selling prints.

Also, if you have watched any coverage or listened to podcasts (Limited Resources and Drive to Work are my current go-to Magic podcasts), then you will recognize a ton of Magic celebrities – all of whom seemed reasonably willing to just chat with people from the community. That, or you could spend 10 grand on a full playset of Beta moxes…

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Wild(star) New Business Models!

Posted By on Aug 20, 2013 |

I failed again at promoting the podcast, so let’s all assume that this counts. When you’re done reading here, if you haven’t already, go check out this week’s Cat Context podcast, in which we talked about EQ Next, and probably some other stuff that I can’t remember. We’re recording again this weekend, and then the following week we will do something live from PAX! Please leave us comments, ratings, and whatever other kind of feedback you want.

So, yesterday, Wildstar finally announced what sort of payment scheme it would be using when it eventually goes live (sometime next spring, which was neatly hidden in the same announcement), and it appears to a not-entirely-unique take on the “standard” subscription model. That is to say, it will require an active subscription to play each month, but you can pay for that subscription in one of two ways – first, you know, with actual money (and hooray for this!); and then secondly, with a tradeable in-game currency called C.R.E.D.D. (I will endeavor to never actually put the periods in that, again). CREDD can be purchased from their online store for the equivalent of a month’s subscription, traded around in-game (probably primarily for game money), and eventually be redeemed back in the store for a month’s worth of subscription.

As I am understanding it, this is exactly the same thing that EVE currently – and really the only part of that game that holds any interest for me. It’s also pretty similar to what Rift has done with their REX currency (although Rift has the whole free-to-play aspect, and a subscription doesn’t really get you very much). And if this is the case, then queue the Macklemore music:

This is fucking awesome…

I’ve definitely talked before about my preference for subscription models over F2P – I’m not going to go back over it here – but suffice to say that I have a pretty strong preference for paying one price and getting access to all the content. It obviously remains to be seen just how hard it will be to earn enough Ollars to buy a CREDD, but I think it’s a really smart move. Besides the fact that it means a more predictable, steady stream of income for Carbine/NCSoft, it means that people are actually going to be encouraged to play the game, since they are paying for it. And, if they want to be able to keep playing it? They have to play the game. I’m not even sure if this is able to be said enough, because the fastest way to kill an MMO is to have a bunch of players signed up, but not actually having them signed in and actively playing.

CREDD-style subscriptions (well, really just subscriptions in general) are awesome because you know that everyone who is playing is actually contributing to your well-being as a company. As a player, you know the same thing, which lends some level of investment in both the game AND your fellow players. Accounts are that much less disposable, and your actions in-game matter that much more. CREDD means that it’s that much easier to pool some resources and help a friend out through a rough financial patch, or to gift a friend a month or two of subscription. It also means that, if you want, you can dedicate yourself to in-game economical fun-times and be able to play mostly for free. Or, if you’re like me, just buy a CREDD here and there with your extra in-game cash and get a “free” subscription month every so often. Theoretically, it limits the need for sketchy gold-farming operations to exist, because it gives a more legitimate path to convert RL-cash into CREDD into in-game cash. (Note: this is not a practice that I love, but when it basically happens anyway, it might as well be done in the open.)

All-in-all, this is a positive announcement for me. I’m already cautiously optimistic about my ability to enjoy Wildstar – moreso than I am about, say, Everquest Next – so this just adds to that. I’d been feeling somewhat resigned to the fact that I’d have to start participating in more F2P games over the next year (and I probably still will), but I hope that this catches on, because I think there are a lot of benefits that come with actually having a paying customer base.

Too bad we’re also waiting another six months or so.

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