Thursday, September 16, 2021

Narrative Warfare: When The Enemy Seizes What You Already Rendered Irrelevant

Conventions are not fit for purpose.

The use case for conventions are few, all of which rendered obsolete by the Internet.

  • Information Distribution: Panels, be it formal dialogs or informal discussions, originally were an outgrowth of academic and governmental conferances where participants would confer--hence the name of the event--on specific topics of importance to the wider field. Due to video and audio-based technologies, this eroded fast and with livestreaming now a thing coupled with Voice Over Internet Protocol applications such as Discord there is no need to travel to do this anymore. You can read, watch, or listen to such things from anywhere at anytime where you have signal. Poltical operations are likewise subsumed by these developments. This, by the way, includes demonstrations of operations.
  • Unusual Mercantile Transactions: Selling unusual goods and services related to the conference's topic in a Dealer's Room or Artist's Alley (or something like it), often due to the niche appeal making normal mercantile operations difficult or highly-local at best, was a regular feature of conventions. Some are flat-out trade expositions with concept items, prototypes, or other early iterations of future commercial or institutional offerings. The rise of online storefronts--especially Amazon and its competitors--rendered this function wholly obsolete.

That's it. Those are the use cases for conventions. The Internet has rendered all of them irrelevant and thus pointless to execute. Therefore, when I see news items like the following, all I have to say is "They can have their pile of ashes and dirt" because what they conquered no longer matters.

You'll note that I gave no credence to socializing. That's because socialization is not a use case of conventions. Conventions are places to distribute goods, services, and information related to a topic or issue. It is not an excuse to get together with people you otherwise make no effort to talk to, be seen with, or otherwise go do extrovert things even though a lot of conventions have a lot of this going on.

Too bad. If you really wanted to see Sheila the hot catgirl from that cosplay group across the continent, you'd make the effort to do so without needing a convention as an excuse. So no, I see nothing here to freak out about. Being excluded from something that no longer matters is hardly a punishment, and the sooner folks see that this is really no different than not needing a bar to drink (or needing booze to hit on that girl), the better everything gets.

You don't use your hand to pound nails when you have a hammer. You don't need conventions when you have the Internet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

My Life As A Gamer: If You Need To Watch This Video, Your Game Failed You

When folks say "The game doesn't teach you how to play!" this is what they mean. You should be explicitly trained on everything here by the game itself, but you're not and most have to either learn from guides or muddle through (often eating floor) to do so.

Yes, Game Designer, you do have to explicitly teach your users how to play your game and you have to gate content access behind that tutorial. Behavior proves it. Suck it up and do what needs to be done.

Yes, Game Designer, you do have to pick a standard and stick to it. All bad actions use this telegraph, good ones use that one, and that goes for sound effects too; don't let the players or anyone else use Danger Bongos for non-danger purposes.

Guides are an unfortunate reality, especially with online cooperative multiplayer games like MMOs, but they shouldn't and it's got to stop.

And since I missed this when I first made this post, I'll just add this video guide in here. This should be in-game if you play FF14.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

My Life As A Gamer: "Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers" Reviewed

I finished Shadowbringers this past weekend. I am all caught up now, and ready for Endwalker's release late this year. For those coming in late, here's the original trailer--the one still accessable from the menu--that lays it out in retrospect. There is no spoiler protection.

There's plenty to say. That means this is a long post, so you'll see it after the jump.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Business: Why Metas Are Enforced By The Players

This one's for the Normies.

You're playing a multi-player game. This is your relaxation time. You put in a long day at work. Kids' homework is sorted. Now you just want to log in and run a dungeon before you go to bed, and being months behind you're just getting to this one a year or so after it got patched into the game. It's new to you, and you have no idea what to expect. Maybe you remember to say so to the others.

Then you end up eating floor and wondering why the healer stops talking to you. If you're not that important in the group, this is merely inconvenient; if your role is make-or-break (e.g. the tank in most MMORPG parties), then they're eating floor with you and maybe they're screaming at you in chat about messing up their milk run.

Normie, I'm going to tell you why they're mad: you walked into a solved problem without knowing what to do.

I would not presume that the folks yelling at you are not Normies. They likely are, believe it or not, because they--like you--just want their gaming entertainment to be stress-free ROFLstomp roller-coaster rides. Gamers, more often than you think, are more tolerant of first-timers screwing up. The difference? The Normies listened to a Gamer telling them to go watch a guide--like this one below--before stepping into it.

Why did those Normies bother to watch a guide?

Think about it. Spend five minutes to be handed, on a silver platter, all of the solutions on how to handle the situations this dungeon puts you in? That's a massive time-saver, and time saved (in MMO terms) is money saved; this gets to be a massive return on investment once you're farming these instances for metacurrencies you need to improve your character beyond what the first playthrough allows.

Go watch that video again. She shows you exactly what is going to happen at every step, what to do about it, how to do it, and that translates into very fast and clean runs that go smooth like a hot knife through butter. That is exactly what you, Normies, want out of your gaming entertainment. Gamers want this too, as they're doing this to farm for those metacurrencies they need for the real game they play. Everyone wins.

However, there is a price.

There is no sense of discovery anymore. New games, and new patches, have all their content and mechanics fully documented and solved within days of release at the most; in severe cases, this is done before the official release, as is the case with Game of Gankcraft- and as been for over a decade.

Normie, if this isn't something you want when you play, consider switching to single-player only games or games that have no online multiplayer (aside from fighting games, of course). You'll enjoy Breath of the Wild far more than you will with any MMORPG or similar game if you want to play blind and figure things out as you go. Like it or not, most players-- also being Normies--go with applying known solutions over figuring it out themselves because they want the thrill ride and figuring things out is work.

Blaming the Gamers for solving the problems doesn't help; they just want the best odds to beat an unknown and difficult problem. Blame your fellow Normies for gladly accepting anything that makes the game conform to their expectations for entertainment. Gamers, by and large, aren't going to care; they'll raise you, tell you what you ought to know and go again- they know that eating floor is expected when you're new.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

My Life As A Gamer: How To Gate Normies From Gamer-Tier Content

This post follows on my Normies In MMOs series. Check the date on this video; it's from 2015.

That's right, there were two glorious years where the most minimal of gates kept a lot of Normies out of entirely optional instanced content in Game of Gankcraft.

The reason it went away with the next expansion was because (a) the Normies got mad and (b) it turned out that the raids and dungeons in question held the top end of power and prestige in the game and thus was only formally optional and not in practice- there was no other way to the same end.

This is not the case now. The game in question does have other routes--introduced in the very next expansion--that can be brute-forced with sufficient time, skipped otherwise, and thus those Normies are--were--retained.

But it's still a worthy concept, and it should be implemented in any MMORPG worth a damn.

And, as I said previously, it needs to be explicitly stated with all the subtitly of a brick repeatedly smashed into your face that you need to pass this competency check to gain access to this optional content at all.

Such a Proving Ground system would requir you to demonstate mastery of your class, your specialization within that class (if applicable), and role in the party to meet that mentioned standard; you could not overlevel it or overgear it, and you had to learn and master mechanics--you had to have actual skill at the game--to pass the check.

Dungeons, raids, etc. can therefore be split into Normie and Gamer.

The main plot, the core of the game's narrative experience, is Normie-tier in difficulty. It is the roller-coaster thrill ride with minimum and standardized mechanics that Normies demand from their entertainment.

The optional stuff, what goes on after the narrative concludes (i.e. endgame) or as irrelevant sidestory content, gets put behind the Gamer gate; you have to prove that you're willing and able to put in work to pass the check, and you can't brute-force them.

One such pass/fail gate per role in a group (if you use such), focused on tight mechanical execution and adaptation to non-standard encounters; boss fights are assembled from a pool of at least a dozen unique mechanics, at least half of which are not in Normie-tier content, so you can't just watch a guide and cheese it. (PVP has this sort of thing as an inherent quality.)

Yes, keep the Normies out of Gamer-tier content. Let them use long grindy questlines as well as crafting and gathering--economic activity--to get the same gear (i.e. power), and leave the prestige to the Gamers. Make it clear to the Normie that they will have to put in work to pass the gate, while providing another route that caters to Normie sensibilities, and they will accept exclusion just fine.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Life In Fandom: Geek Gab Talks "Wild Stars" This Week, w/ Michael Tierney

They're back, and this week Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal have Michael Tierney on to talk Wild Stars.

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UPDATE: Pushed back to the 18th.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Admin: A #BrandZero Announcement

Today's post will be short.

Yes, I am aware of the new Keanu Reeves movie that isn't a John Wick sequel.

Yes, I am aware of the leaks about its plot that the trailer seems--seems--to confirm.

No, I don't care. I won't give this money or attention. It doesn't matter if it's pozzed or not; I was satisfied with the end of the previous trilogy, and I see no need for more in this series to exist at all regardless of the quality. I'm done, and I moved on. I have no need to see this film anymore than I need to see my ex-girlfriend. So into #BrandZero it goes. Its time came and went. Back to the past with you, shade of yesteryear.