Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seeking a [chat] for the End of the World

If you haven't seen this, then you're doing it wrong.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Meet the Pyro

Yes to this.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where The Bitches At?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Newsroom: Cast to Sorkin Archetype Translation

Will McAvoy (Anchor) = Casey McCall (SN) + Matt Albie (S60) + Toby Ziegler (WW)

Mackenzie MacHale (EP) = Dana Whitaker (SN) + C.J. Cregg (WW) + Jordan McDeere (S60)

Jim Harper (assistant producer) = Jeremy Goodwin (SN) + Tom Jeter (S60)

Maggie Jordan (assistant producer / Will's Assistant) = Suzanne (S60) + Natalie Hurley (SN)

Charlie Skinner (President of ACN) = Isaac Jaffee (SN) + Leo McGarry (WW)

Let's discuss this before I photoshop something together.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Diablo 3: 320 Hours /Played

Note:  I wrote this for the official Blizzard forums and posted it thereupon.  Since the official forums are a cesspool of stupid, though, I doubt it will ever see the light of day, or the eyes of any moderator.  I'm reposting it here because I like the bit about the monkey.

Having /played Diablo 3 for 321 hours, I would like to provide some feedback on my gameplay experience so far.

My overall opinion of the game is this: I fundamentally disagree with the current design philosophy. I think the move from Baal, Mephisto, and Pindleskin runs to the current system of farming NV stacks to kill elite packs or bosses is an atrocious mistake that completely ignores the reasons for which Diablo 2 continues to be played 12 years after its release. Rather than simply rant incoherently, though, I would like to provide some reasons for this opinion that resonate with my gameplay experience.

First, I think this quote from Bashiok correctly indicates the point of a Diablo game:

"The point of the game is efficiency... Killing monsters as quickly as possible to maximize your time to find the drops you want. That is the game." - Bashiok


One plays Diablo to farm gear; that is the game. Once we accept this as the purpose of Diablo, the next question is what the ideal setting is for amassing gear. The answer to that question is one word: Efficiency. As one invests time in the game and learns its structure, one discerns the optimal farming nodes that provide the greatest gold/gear per hour. This is why, after 1.0.3, we see videos on youtube that define the most efficient farming paths for each act in Inferno. This phenomenon needs to be contrasted with the following quote from Lylirra:

"In general, random content (i.e. Champion packs) tends to be more enjoyable over the long-haul because it helps to ease off some of the repetition -- not just in terms of what you're fighting and how you're fighting it, but also in terms of seeing different environments, dungeons, and events." - Lylirra


The sentiment seems to be that killing Baal, Mephisto, or Pindleskin 50 times in a row is boring, but farming Act 1 Champion packs 50 times in a row is not. I think this sentiment is both disingenuous and demonstrably false.

Think of it this way:

Farming method one:
New game -> Baal -> New Game -> Baal -> ...

Farming method two:
New Game -> Festering Woods -> Leoric's Manor -> Cemetary of the Forsaken -> Halls of Agony LvL 2 -> Butcher -> New Game -> ...

Both systems are repetative. The difference is that method one repeats a shorter pattern than method two. Lylirra's quote seems to indicate that the longer repetative pattern is more enjoyable than the shorter repetative pattern. Fortunately, we can provide psychological evidence that argues against Lylirra's claim.

This article ( explains the appeal of Diablo 2 in terms of the Cue-Routine-Reward system. According to the site, Jay Wilson has read the article. So, I don't feel a need to elaborately repeat something of which Blizzard is already aware. Suffice it to say that I agree with the article's assessment of the situation.

Diablo 2 provided a very simple system:
1) Monkey kills Baal.
2) Monkey gets a treat.

Since Monkey wants treats, Monkey is happy to repeat the simple task of killing Baal.

Diablo 3 provides a far more elaborate system:
1) Monkey kills an elite pack.
2) Monkey kills an elite pack.
3) Monkey kills an elite pack.
4) Monkey kills an elite pack.
5) Monkey kills an elite pack.
6) Monkey kills a boss.
7) Monkey maybe gets a lvl 55 blue treat.

Where monkey found Diablo 2 to be an appealing system of tasks and rewards, Monkey can find Diablo 3 to be a frustrating system of inefficiency and needless complication.

The mistaken assumption Blizzard has made, in my estimation, is that people actually enjoy the process of killing monsters, rather than the process of obtaining gear. When presented with these two options:

1: I kill monsters to get gear.
2: I get gear to kill monsters.

Blizzard seems to think that players favor option 2, and so have manfiested a farming scenario in which killing monsters is priviledged over amassing loot. They maintain this opinion despite the fact that the farming scenario of Diablo 2 (kill baal, kill baal, kill baal) continues to be popular 11 years after LoD was released. I sincerely doubt that people will continue to farm elite packs to amass NV stacks 11 years from now.

In conclusion, I think Blizzard has made a terrible mistake. They have abandoned a functional system of loot acquisition in favor of a newer, more complicated system of monster battles. This new system completely ignores the reasons for which Diablo 2 was a successful game that people still play, I repeat, 12 years after its release. Blizzard seems to want to priviledge the actual gameplay experience over the meta-gaming experience of discerning the shortest optimal farming pattern and efficiently executing that pattern.

I can understand why a game designer would want to think that people want to play the game. Despite that yearning, however, I think most serious Diablo players actually want to play the meta-game, and then execute the strategies discerned in that meta-game within the game proper.

I realize that different people enjoy different things. What is fun for one person is not necessarily enjoyable for another. But when you make a Diablo game, you need to market it, first and foremost, to Diablo fans. It's akin to a political campaign: First you solidify your base, then you go after the Independents.

I'm not saying that elite farming should be removed from the game, or that NV stacks are a fundamentally stupid idea. If people like farming champion packs then it is entirely sensible to provide that option.

But Blizzard also needs to provide options for those of us who conceived of Diablo as a Skinner Box. You need to provide non-nerfed treasure goblins, or some boss akin to Pindleskin, who can provide that simple system of task-reward-repeat.

I've been a loyal Blizzard customer for years. I've purchased multiple copies of Diablo 2 and LoD, I've purchased the WoW expansions and paid my montly dues. I waited for this game for years. All I wanted from this game was an updated version of the Skinner Box that was Diablo 2 Mephisto / Baal / Pindleskin runs.

I don't think it's too much to ask for one mob that I can kill, over and over again, after stacking MF gear, who can provide the task-reward-repeat experience I enjoy.

Because, after all, that's the point of the game: Repetative Efficiency.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Diablo 3: 1.0.3 Inferno Farm Guide

This gives you an idea of what Diablo 3 turns into once you've reached Inferno:  Farming Elite Packs.

Blizzard said that they wanted to remove Boss farming from Diablo 3.  Rather than farm Mephisto, Baal, or Pindleskin repeatedly they want players to explore the world.

Players, of course, will not "explore the world", but rather run a set pattern of areas with optimal elite pack spawns.

I hope Blizzard abandons this "explore the world" bullshit, and gives us our damn Mephisto / Baal / Pindleskin runs back.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Hyphens are problematic.

When a film is categorized as "comedy-drama," one expects the film to contain both comedy and drama.  When the trailer for said film contains 90% comedy and 10% drama, one expects that ratio to carry over into the film itself.  We understand that the film may deviate from the trailer's ratio to a slight degree, but only slightly.  It's a comedy-drama, so it will contain both comedy and drama.  Since comedy came first in the relationship, the film will privilege comedy over drama.  Right?

Dear God No.

SaFftEotW, or SFEW, is an apocalyptic drama that tells the story of a car trip that serious Steve Carell and emotionally fragile Keira Knightly take during the three weeks prior to the end of the world.  Steve wants to reunite with his long lost love, Keira wants to reunite with her family, and asteroid Matilda wants to unite with planet Earth.  There's also a dog, for some reason.  It doesn't do much.

The film begins in the style one might expect:  Humanity learns that earth is doomed, so we get a few scenes of apocalyptic comedy.  It's the end of the world, so you can wear casual Friday garb every day.  Ha.  Ha.  We only have three weeks to live, so people have lots of sex, take drugs, and don't worry about the consequences.  Oh, my sides, they split.

The trailer presents these scenes as comedy, as jokes.  The film, however, reflects upon these scenes as indications of a fundamental problem with the human condition.  Serious Steve Carell watches his acquaintances shoot heroine and engage in orgies, but he feels emotionally unsatisfied with their hedonistic revelry.  While his friends try to make the most of their final days through meaningless pleasure, Steve ponders the question of whether he's made the most of his life.  Once he meets emotionally fragile Keira Knightly, the two join together on a quest to reclaim their emotionally significant losses, while their friends fuck away their final days.

Once Steve and Keira begin their quest, the film shifts its focus from the apocalypse to their relationship.  All the end of the world components to the film act as backdrops to their emotional journey.  The daily countdown to Matilda's impact is a ticking clock that strictly defines their temporal limitations.  They're trying to make the most of their lives with full knowledge that their lives are finite.  They're trying to reclaim what they've lost, all the while aware of the fact that they're just going to lose it all again.

Which is why I love this movie.

If you ignore all of the lousy comedy bits that, I suspect, some marketing schmuck forced into the film, you're left with a heartfelt reflection upon human finitude and the quirky ambiguity that is desire.  Steve and Keira begin as two individuals using each other as means to obtain their independent goals.  Over the course of the film, though, they come to suspect that what set them on the journey is less important than what they've found along the way.  It's the sentiment from that John Lennon quote:  "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

I suspect that most people will not enjoy this movie.  Staring at your own mortality isn't necessarily a fun way to spend one's afternoon.  However, the film tries to deal with that in a very subtle way.  Steve and Keira confront the end of days and strive to find meaning in their mortality while their friends drown themselves in booze and sex.  Audience members who sympathize with Steve and Keira will enjoy the film.  Audience members who ignore their own morality will find resonance in the actions of Patton Oswald, who just wants to get laid.  Since the film focuses upon Steve and Keira, it attempts to convey the message that, perhaps, the Patton Oswalds of the world have it wrong.  If you don't often think about your inevitable death, and don't want to, the film offers you a subtle suggestion:  Maybe you're wrong.  Maybe you shouldn't be like Patton Oswald.  Maybe there's something more to life than sex and booze, and you should fucking think about it.

That's kind of the point.

I wouldn't say this film is depressing, but it can be emotionally draining at times.  If you feel your way through the journey and empathize at all with the characters, you'll find yourself struggling with some scenes.  I cannot adequately describe the feeling you have when the film ends.

The final scene is beautiful.  But it's that empty, painful beautiful of gaining what you love at the very same moment that it's lost.