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Puttering Along

June 27, 2015

Dear Reader,

I’ve been doing this and that for the past few weeks.  Since school officially ended, I’ve had a lot more free time.  Of course, in that free time, I’ve gone hiking (I know, right? My calves want to punch me in the face), had a few meetings at my new school, spent some time with my father on father’s day, and, of course, played games.

I’ve got a few in rotation right now, and, for the first time in months, WoW’s among them.  Of course, the patch helped, and to be frank, I already see that waning a bit, but I have to say I really enjoyed getting back into my Wednesday “fun” runs.  This past Wednesday, of course, we went into the new raid.  I was completely unprepared, and on top of that, I ended up dpsing instead of healing, but it was still a lot of fun.

Since the balance dps rotation is heavily reliant on knowing which phase of the damn moon you’re in or something, I hadn’t played in months, and a lot of my addons weren’t updated (not through my inattention, mind you, but simply not been reprogrammed), my dps on Wednesday consisted mostly of mashing random buttons and hoping that I was in the proper eclipse.  I’m sure most of the time I wasn’t.  Ah well.  The raid itself was a lot of fun, even if I wasn’t really contributing.  Some of the bosses were steamroller easy, even with hangers-on like me, but others, like the corrupted arrokoa boss with the ball tossing, were a lot of fun.  I think the overall size of the place is a bit big, but at the same time, I really liked both Kara and ICC, and they were both really big, too, so who knows; maybe I feel this way simply because it’s new.

I’m also playing a lot of Tales of Maj’Eyal, more colloquially known as ToME, which is an old-school style RPG with a ton of character and customization options.  Even though it’s frustratingly roguelike, I have been enjoying it a lot; already having played about 20 hours of it since the Steam Sale that brought it to my attention.  The nice thing about the roguelike aspect is that each playthrough of any decent length unlocks new character options including, races, sub-races, and classes.  so you can literally play a new class every time (to a point, I’m sure, but so far it’s been true for me).

I’m also playing ARK, the dinosaur game, with my buddy and my wife.  There was a recent reset that destroyed all of our progress which upset a lot of people, but I didn’t mind too much.  I had made some choices I ended up not liking so much, and of course we weren’t that far, so I didn’t mind.  Now, though, it’ll suck, mostly because we found a bugged Triceratops that couldn’t get at us and my buddy, my wife, and I – the Mazel Toughs, per my buddy’s suggestion – tamed it and named it Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof. It would be a real loss to lose him.

Well, lose him again.  Truth be told, I can sometimes be forgetful and reckless, and when I saw a level 3 triceratops just brimming with hide and meat, I told my much-higher level Tevye to attack it.  I forgot that other nearby trikes would add to the fight, and I didn’t notice the MUCH higher-level momma trike off to the side.  RIP Tevye I.  Then of course I found another stuck trike, so now we have Tevye II.  So it goes.

Regardless, we tamed two trikes, got a stone house built and a pen for the trikes, and are slowly learning about composting and agriculture.  It’s been a lot of fun so far, but like most sandbox games, I suspect that once you’ve “Solved” the dangers, there’s not so much to do.  We’re nowhere near there, mind you, but we will be eventually.  So it’s been fun so far.


Stubborn (and breaking)

Steam Sales are my Vice

June 16, 2015

Dear Reader,

First off, here’s the final response from the Riot Custserv in my “I agree” trials.  Seems about as fair and balanced as I could hope, really.  This custserv person was calm and polite the entire way through, so I really I can’t have any animosity towards the process.  It’s the system that’s messed up.

Hello again Cripplemronion,

While I am pleased that you so readily took my house quote to heart I must clarify that regardless of my thoughts on the matter we simply do not have the tools to remove that prompt. I have read through many a players dissertation on their feeling towards this prompt, and the major point they made is reflected in your own response here, in that it’s language is too harsh and/or accusatory. To this I would agree, but at the same must reiterate that these situations must be addressed strictly as they do cause a very negative experience for the player base overall. On the other hand I often deal with players wanting more from the LeaverBuster system until there are no more leavers altogether. There is just no simple way to address everyone perfectly.

I have thought on your example and to it I personally would not drop to the level of those other players. Regardless if they were not following Summoner’s Code my course would remain clear. As for muting them; though it can be tricky initially I have seen plenty of players of all skill levels rarely use chat or use it minimally and still manage to be quite successful. Only by subjecting to those players by allowing their negative action to influence your own course do you empower them.

Please let me know if you have any further questions,

<Custserv Rep>
Player Behavior and Game Support
“Standing defiant in the face of adversity must be tempered with reasoned judgement”

TL;DR: Shut up and stop whining, player.

Ah well, I didn’t really expect anything else.

On other fronts, I finally convinced my wife to try a “first person” game.  She doesn’t like guns (neither do I, really, but I still play FPS games) and has refused to even try any FPS games for years and years.  She’s also not a huge fan of zombies, so that double eliminates a lot of the genre.

She seemed mildly interested in 7 Days to Die, though.  Since we were only using bows for the most part, she didn’t have as much of a problem with the “gun” angle, and she liked the “crafting” element of the game, but of course the zombies did nothing for her.

Enter Ark, the dino-themed survival game that was recently released.  She was actually willing to play it, so we scooped it up and have been giving it a go.  I’m pretty happy overall with it; it’s in very early release (probably the earliest release I’ve started playing), so it’s got a few issues with it, but I’m enjoying the general experience.  For one, I get to play with my wife and my buddy, somewhat of a rarity these days, and two, it’s a beautiful and exciting game over all.

I’ll give you a more thorough run down on it another time, once I’ve logged more than a few hours, but so far I can say it’s basically 7 Days to Die with better graphics and a Jurassic Park theme.  If that sounds good to you, let me know, and if you want to join the tribe of Mazel Tuffs (my Jewish buddy picked the “gang” name), let me know.


Stubborn (and on summer!)

I Should be in Bed

June 11, 2015

Dear Reader,

I really should be in bed, but it’s the last school night, and I just can’t help staying up a little late.

Thought it’s been nearly two weeks, I finally heard back from a custserv rep from Riot who was actually addressing my leaving issue.  You may recall that after leaving a game, I was required to type in “I agree” in a box stating that i would not leave further matches.  While it’s completely unreasonable to care so much about such an unimportant topic… well, really, I don’t.  I’m enjoying Heroes of the Storm well enough; it’s not got the depth I’m used to – and it is real added depth, though I’ve read reviewers who’ve argued it’s not – but I enjoy it well enough.

Anyway, I won’t commit many more posts to this, if any (maybe one more), as I suspect the Riot team’s going to get tired of dealing with me, but I figured I’d let you know how it’s been playing out.

Greetings Summoner,

Sorry it took a while to get back to you.

After reading through your ticket I’m afraid there has been some confusion; let’s see what I can clear up for you.

Firstly I can verify that you were AFK in one game recently that did prompt this warning to occur. It is also true that I cannot remove this lock, I’ve even had to agree with it after the power in my area went out.

As you state, if you are going to continue leaving games in negative situations that I cannot condone that you agree to that prompt, and that it would bring this situation between us to a standstill. I say this because by queuing up for a game you are agreeing to follow the Summoner’s Code and play out each game to the best of your ability regardless of the situation. If you cannot bring yourself to do that then this game may not be for you.

Please let me know if you have any further questions,

<Custserv rep>
Player Behavior and Game Support
“Standing defiant in the face of adversity must be tempered with reasoned judgement” (emphasis mine)

Well, that’s a fair enough response, but the rep’s quote got me thinking, so I responded as follows.

<Custserv rep>,

I certainly understand your stance from both a professional and personal view; leaving a game can negatively affect players who weren’t guilty of the harassment.

Your personal quote, though, speaks of reasoned judgment, and I wonder whether or not it’s reasonable to expect players like me, who refuse to deal with multiple negative players on their team, to honor a code that a majority of my other teammates are not honoring. It seems to me that reason would dictate that if a majority of other players in the match (2 of the other 3, since I’d be playing with my wife as well) were already breaking the summoner’s code by being jerks, that removing myself from the situation would be completely reasonable. Muting one person is bad enough, as it not only potentially affects gameplay but also is the equivalent of sticking one’s head in the sand, but muting two seems very dangerous simply from a gameplay standpoint; not knowing what 2/3rds of the rest of the team is doing – lacking that communication – seems suicidal in a game so heavily team based.

In fact, it seems that blindly following rules whether or not they make sense in a particular situation is the opposite of reasoned judgment; it’s mindless obedience, which I can understand a desire for from your players but don’t really think you expect from such a huge and diverse player base. If I had just done what I’m sure everyone else does and typed “I agree,” even when we both know I didn’t, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. I have no real faith that Riot truly believes that everyone who types that they agree to not leave matches will not do so; in fact, I suspect, and I think you’re well aware, that it’s simply a documentation tool so you can later go after habitual deserters with their own words. I understand.

I have no defense for my actions other than reasoned judgment. I would prefer to be honest with you about what to expect when I face a wave of negativity from multiple teammates. I don’t think forcing people to type in statements that any of them who intentionally left – not due to an electrical outage – don’t really mean is the right response, for while it does provide you with a paper trail later, it only drives a wedge into the player/custserv relationship that already suffers from a credibility gap that goes along with such a statement.

In fact, I wonder what you would reasonably suggest one do in a situation such as that. If I simply ignore it, it empowers the harasser to continue to do so; their behavior is for the audience of the rest of the team, not just to upset other people. If I mute them, then I put my team at a strategic disadvantage that the harasser doesn’t really care about; if they truly cared about winning, then they wouldn’t be attacking their teammates in a harassing fashion. Both of these benefit the jerk and disempower the victim either through having to tolerate being verbally attacked or through having a communications disadvantage. Neither of these is acceptable, so what do you suggest to solve the problem?

If you truly cannot lift it, then so be it. I’m sorry to leave the game, as I’m sure my wife will be. Perhaps sometime in the future when a new customer behavior initiative is tried out and this one may be retired, you can let us know and we can return, but I can’t help feeling that you’re driving away honest and thoughtful players while empowering the jerks that caused them to leave the match in the first place. That’s the environment this initiative is creating, even if it’s only a few players and a little bit at a time.

I hope to hear back from you or others on your team on these troubling topics.

Reasonably yours,

I feel pretty good about this response.  Of course, it mostly refers to a somewhat arbitrary message the rep happened to have in their signature, but he or she opened that door by having it there.  I’m curious to see how they respond.

On other notes, I’ve been playing Heroes of the Storm.  I saved up 10k gold and bought Nova first thing, mostly because I like sniper-like classes and she had a big sniper rifle.  I think I made a pretty good decision, as I’m raking in the kills – bot kills, yes, but that’s all my wife wants to play.  Who am I to argue?

I’ve also continued playing Grim Dawn, a Diablo-style ARPG.  It’s pretty solid, but my buddy and I both had a mid-game hardcore death due to hubris – the greatest killer of heroes.  Don’t be in areas 10 levels higher than you are, no matter how easy the areas 9 levels higher than you seem to be.  My buddy died first, as he always does in hardcore modes, but after a poutfest on his part we dusted ourselves off and jumped back in.

I’m moving through Valkyria Chronicles, which I’m really enjoying; each combat mission comes with a rating, though, and I’m obsessing over my poor scores.  It seems to me that if I finish a mission with no deaths no matter how many turns it takes I shouldn’t be given a D – a “below average” rating.  ZERO DEATHS!  FULL SUCCESS!  How can that be below average?

At any rate, that’s where I am.  Tomorrow’s the last day of this terrible school year!  More on that another time.


Stubborn (a teacher, not a babysitter)

Lie or Quit?

May 31, 2015

Dear Reader,

I’ll be honest up front.  You can add this post to the “Stubborn makes a huge production out of basically nothing” pile, like when I got stuck in a zone in Star Wars and the custserv reps just kept not reading my tickets, but really I only had to wait 18 hours for my fleet pass (Hearthstone) to cool down.  I got pretty upset about that, since it was a waste of time, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t really that big a deal.

This isn’t, either, but I’m still quite irritated.  I could, realistically, type seven keystrokes and be done with all this.  But I don’t want to.

You see, dear reader, I was playing LoL again, apparently because I am a masochist, and was having a really good run of not having any jerks in my games.  I think I played fifteen or twenty games with no jerks, which might be a record.  I suspect this is largely because I played only bot games and no live games, which was my compromise to keep myself cool and composed.

The details aren’t really that important, but in the final game, the jerk game, the jungler came in with no warning and jumped into bot lane right into the two enemy bots and got shredded.  My wife and I had been retreating, getting ready to head to base and buy, but apparently we were at fault because “we didn’t watch the minimap.”  I pointed out a ping could have resolved the issue as well, but that only enraged the jungler, and his apparent ally in the game who started to jump down my and my wife’s throats.  It was the typical abusive nonsense spewed from frustrated children, but also as usual, I wasn’t about to sit there and listen, either.

So I left the game, and my wife did the same.

Yes, I’m one of those people who LEAVES GAMES.  I know that’s against the summoner’s code, but, frankly, I’m not going to sit there and let myself be abused by jerks.  “Just mute them,” you say?  No.  I’ve covered the whole “/ignore” situation before, and I’m not going to act like an ostrich and stick my head in the sand, either, pretending nothing’s wrong.  It was a bad situation, and I left.  I have no regrets whatsoever about it, and it’s not a behavior I’m going to change.

So after a half-hour or so I logged back on with my wife to see what was up, planning to play more likely-uninterrupted games without jerks like we’d had so many of, and found that the only way to continue playing was to sign a placard saying that “I agree” to not leave games anymore.

Well, I don’t agree.  And I will leave games.  So I’m presented with the choice to sign the placard and knowingly lie or just stop playing.  I put in a ticket about it, explaining my point of view, and got back the first-round “I didn’t bother to read your long, drawn-out ticket” response.

Below are the ticket and the response if you’re interested. I put the ticket in as a hijacked account and had to fill out a lot of nonsensical and unimportant information before the actual ticket, which is what the first sentence references:

Dear Sir or Madam,

After having filled all this out, it’s Leavebuster that’s hijacked my account. I refuse to type “I agree” in a statement about not leaving games, as I will leave a game if I am being harassed by multiple negative players. I won’t leave when it’s just one and end up punishing several others, but when being ganged up against, I refuse to stay in such a game. Since I rarely play anything but Intermediate bot games, the so called “punishment” is pretty minimal, since my leaving puts a bot back at base, anyway.

I am a middle-aged adult, not a child. I have more self-esteem and worth than to allow myself to be verbally abused by unmonitored children. It is perfectly reasonable to leave a volatile situation, and nowhere else in the world is one required to stay and put up with abuse. I am sorry to those who get left behind, but since I’m usually playing with my wife, who also leaves, and I’ll only leave if it’s at least 2 other negative players, there can be only one other poor person left behind to deal with the venom, and, frankly, they can leave, too. It’s their choice to stay or not.

I have spent some money on the game; I’m no whale, but I pay my part. I hope that you will remove the leavebuster lock on my account, but if you will not, I will simply migrate to another game, thereby voting with my wallet. I would prefer to continue in League of Legends, but being an avid video game player, I’m sure I can find another option if I look around. So, please consider unlocking my account from the current leavebuster lock. I will not agree to stay in a volatile situation.


Here’s the response:

Hello Lordonion,

LeaverBuster provides a warning the first time it detects a left game or AFK on an account. Intentional or not, the behavior still affected everyone else in your game. For more information on the revamped LeaverBuster system, refer to our FAQ:

We can’t modify or remove leaves. If you don’t regularly leave games, this shouldn’t be anything to worry about. If you believe technical issues are causing this behavior, we can investigate a solution together. In order to do so, follow the instructions in this KB and gather the following information:
PC: A Network Analysis, NetworkInfo log, a Process List, and DxDiag
Mac: A System Report, r3d logs, a Network Analysis, and a Process List

Thank you!

Player Support Specialist
Frost Archer of Freljord

Am I right?  Does it seem like this person even read my ticket?  I guess that really I am at fault; why would I play a game so filled with toxicity, especially on a Saturday afternoon when all the kiddies are playing?

I replied further with this:


Thank you for your response, but frankly, I feel like my ticket wasn’t read carefully, as this response has a lot of unnecessary information, and, if my request was answered, it was done so ambiguously.

Here is why I’m unsure. I asked about having the Leavebuster lock on my account be lifted, and the only quasi-response here was “We can’t modify or remove leaves.”

Well, I’m not sure what that means. Do you mean in my record? I wasn’t asking for that. Does this mean you cannot remove the Leavebuster lock? That would surprise me, but honestly, I can’t tell either way.

All the other information was unrelated to my request, as I never indicated that I didn’t know what Leavebuster is, which I do, nor that I needed help with my connectivity, which I don’t. I suspect, then, that upon seeing a long ticket, that only the keyword “Leavebuster” was responded to.

That said, if there’s no way for you to remove the Leavebuster lock – if that, indeed, is what you’re saying, then that is the answer. I will not agree to not leave games, so if you won’t or can’t remove the Leavebuster lock, then our business here is done. However, I would like a more clear answer that indicates my ticket was actually read.

Thank you for your time, as I know you’re very busy and this issue may not seem like much to you, but I assure you that it is to me.


So I don’t know.  I might just get it over with and knowingly lie, deciding to face whatever “harsher” consequences are later when I do in fact inevitably leave another game.  Or I might finally just stop.  Maybe this small affront to responsible behavior – leaving a bad situation – will be enough.  I really don’t know.



Stubborn (trying to knock down walls with my head again)


May 18, 2015

Dear Reader,

I’m such a sucker for sales.  In case you weren’t aware, Humble Bundle has had its spring sale going on recently, and I’ve bought an absurd number of games.

What’s the matter with me?  I don’t have time for these!  I don’t have time to even write anymore, but I keep buying – and usually playing – games.

Of most immediate interest to me were my purchases of Grim Dawn and Valkyria Chronicles (I actually think the latter was just on a normal sale on Steam, but I’ve bought so many games I CAN’T EVEN BE SURE).  I’ve been playing Grim Dawn with my buddy; it’s a pretty basic Diablo-style game, with a lot of zombie smashing and loot grabbing.  Usually, the D-style games don’t stick with me, but so far, so good.  I’ve liked the complexity of the loot options and character design; you can pick two classes to work with, and the gemming is a mix of stats and abilities, building on games like Path of Exile.

Mostly, though, it’s just a satisfying Diablo-style game.  Valkyria Chronicles, though, which I bought to play on my own, has been spectacular.  I choose that word in particular as the game itself looks almost like a Miyazaki film crossed with a Borderlands cell-art shading.  It’s graphics are beautiful; if you watch the videos for the game, that’s the actual engine the game itself uses.  The story so far is excellent, as well, so the cinematic aspect of it truly makes it a spectacle just to watch.

The gameplay stands on its own, too.  It’s a combination between a turn-based squad strategy game and a real-time shooter; you set up your squad as you can, then give commands to each to take a turn.  On that turn, you then take over control of the squad member and run around, take cover, and shoot, all the while trying avoid accidentally turning a blind corner into a tank or leaving yourself exposed to a sniper on the enemy’s turn.

Both of these games have been thoroughly enjoyable, and of course I have about a million hours of games left to play after.  Now if I just committed some more time to write!


Stubborn (barely blogging)

Endless Entertainment

May 9, 2015

Dear Reader,

Do you remember Black Isle studios?  Or Microprose?  Or even the early incarnation of Bethesda?

Those studios, to me, spoke of a kind of quality that made it safe to buy virtually any game they made.  They knew their niche, knew their strengths, and were good at producing games that we fans enjoyed.

It’s been a while since I’ve had such a strong loyalty to a particular studio.  Perhaps this recent distance is due to the apparent consolidation of small studios under huge corporate roofs; I don’t know.  However, over the past few months, I have noticed a new, recent attachment to a newer gaming studio: Amplitude.

If you’re familiar with Amplitude, it will be from one of their three Endless titles: Endless Space, Dungeon of the Endless, and Endless Legend.  Endless Space and Endless Legend are 4x games; I bought Endless Space years ago and played it quite a lot.  I enjoyed the complexity of the 4x game without the complication that some “grand” strategy games end up with.  I played it for many hours, eventually moving on to newer fare.  The game – and the company behind it – slowly left my awareness.

Until recently.  I had been playing Dungeon of the Endless without realizing its connection to Endless Space.  The resource system is actually the same – industry, food, science, tech – but, honestly, that could be a resource system for any 4x or RTS game.  DotE is an interesting mix of an RTS, a rogue-like, a tower defense, and an RPG.  In it, you play a party of adventurers who’ve crash landed on a strange planet and must escape the underground substructures in which you find yourselves.  To do this, you must explore the dungeon, find the exit, and – and this is the real key – then carry an energy from the first room you’re in to power the elevator exit while being under constant attack by monsters.  It’s a hell of a game, and it’s a lot of fun.

Then Steam offered up Endless Legend for a free weekend and cross-marketed it with Dungeon of the Endless.  Endless Space, which had fallen from memory, was there for sale, too, and it finally struck me: these were from the same company.  I decided to give Endless Legend a try and have found it extremely enjoyable; it seems to have all the strengths of Civ 5 with an added level of city and combat strategy.  The empires you choose to play are also extremely different, moreso than just a bonus to culture or a special building that gives extra faith.  More on that in another post.

How much have I enjoyed it?  Well, I planned to write this post two weeks ago, which was about a week after the free weekend.  Each weekend I’ve opened up WordPress and a few sites I wanted to link to, sat down to write, and loaded up Endless Legend “to play while I write.”

And this is just now getting written.

I think you see my point.

So, if you’re looking for an excellent 4x game or an intriguingly different RTS/RPG/Tower Defense, check out Amplitude Studios’ games.  I think you’ll be impressed!


Stubborn (not Endless at all)

Two Gauntlet-Style Gems

April 11, 2015

Dear Reader,

I’ve recently come across two gems that you might not have tried, and I wanted to share them with you.

As you’re aware, I’ve been leaning more and more heavily towards co-op gameplay.  As a result, I’m often scouring new co-op games for quality, depth, and play time (I’ve got to get my Ed Value!).

Through some blind luck and well-timed bundles and sales, I recently found Full Mojo Rampage and Fight The Dragon, both of which are excellent games that both my buddy and I, in all our scouring, somehow missed.

Full Mojo Rampage is a voodoo-themed Gauntlet-style roguelike in which you play a novice voodoo practitioner trying to help out various voodoo loa like Maman Brigitte, Baron Samedi, and Damballah.  You play through a series of levels, each of which is comprised of connecting boards in which you play with Gauntlet-style combat.  You must complete the entire level to finish each quest, but failing on a board allows you to keep all your progress and resource gains.  To fight, you get three abilities: a main-hand ranged attack and two secondary attacks based on your class.


If that were all, it wouldn’t have been so impressive, but alongside this design is the character development.  As you level up, you get access to new “classes” which have a wide variety of abilities: a tanky class with a shield, a totem class, a bomber-healer class, a wide variety of others that I haven’t tried yet (totem, my first choice, was OP).  Additionally, there’s a Diablo-style loot system with a ton of drops that you can only keep for each level (from board to board), which means you’re constantly adjusting your gameplay to match your best gear drop.  It’s a lot of silly fun for two players.

Fight the Dragon, on the other hand, is for up to four players.  While I haven’t fought the titular dragon just yet (as I’m not sure how devastating death in the game is, if it’s an issue at all), I have played through several boards with my buddy and my wife, and we all had an absolute blast doing so.

By chance, this game is also like Gauntlet, in that it’s a class-based dungeon crawl with a few basic abilities for each class.  However, the real joy of this game is the community involvement; most of the boards past the first few tutorial boards are user-generated content.  The game’s entire system was based around users making the levels, and the community has overwhelmingly responded.  I believe there were already more than 6,000 boards laying around to play last night.

The board sorting system is good, though it could use a few tweaks.  You can search by tags like “story” or “intense,” or by categories like difficulty or authors you’ve liked.  You can also just play the daily, weekly, and monthly “recommended” boards.  Each board, too, is rated with a simple up/neutral/down system.  One improvement I’d like there is a simple percentage of votes for each category, like Steam does, rather than having to figure out if 18 up/4 neutral/5 down is better or worse than 6,700 up / 1423 neutral / 531 down (it’s not).

Regardless, none of the boards my buddy, my wife and I played last night were anything but enjoyable, and they spanned from a Diablo homage with complex barrel-moving puzzles to a terraced desert with a hidden character named Michael Night to a classic Castle Rescue.  Each one was a lot of fun and required varying strategies.

So if you haven’t checked out those titles and are looking for some fun Gauntlet-style games, check these two out!


Stubborn (throwing down the Gauntlet)


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