Wolfenstein: The New Order and modding

I’ve been a massive fan of Wolfenstein since the very first game, Wolfenstein 3D. I played it briefly as a little kid before my grandparents decided it was too adult for me and restricted my access.

wolfenstein-3dI doubt kids of this generation would be phased by the pixels.

When I hit early high school, I became reunited with this game, and discovered it’s extensive and at the time large modding community. Over the decades hundreds and most likely thousands of mods were made for the original game, not just changing maps and graphics but pushing the abilities of the engine to it’s limit. Talented programmers converted the game engine to get around memory constraints and added many many features that pushed the game so far that sometimes it’s hard to recognize it as Wolfenstein 3D.

So, we get to Wolfenstein: The New Order. Upon running it for the first time, I was treated to the honour of being forced to agree to a EULA. I skipped through it as 99.9% of people do, but did skim a little bit of it. I saw mention of the following.

If the Software makes available, as a separate downloadable installer, a level editor or other similar type tools, assets and other materials (the “Software Utilities”) that permit you to construct or customize new game levels and other related game materials for personal use in connection with the Software (“Customized Game Materials”), then in the event you access such Software Utilities, the use of the Software Utilities is subject to the following additional terms, conditions and restrictions:

(a) All Customized Game Materials created by you are exclusively owned by LICENSOR and/or its licensors (as the case may be) and you hereby transfer, assign and convey to LICENSOR all right, title and interest in and to the Customized Game Materials and LICENSOR and its permitted licensors may use any Customized Game Materials made publicly available to you for any purpose whatsoever, including but not limited to for purposes of advertising and promoting the Software

So basically, should a level editor or any type of game modding tool get released, any content you create in those tools become the property of the “LICENSOR”, which I assume is Bethesda/Machine Games/id Software.

If my assumption is right, this unsettles me. Modding games is something that has been around as long as games have been. I can almost guarantee that from the moment the first video game came out, people tinkered with it; it’s human nature to do so.
We are at that point where community involvement is nearly crucial to games. Valve rely on community created content for games like Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. Community created content that gets approved for the game actually goes into an in-game store, which the creator gets most of the money for.
The new game being developed in the Unreal Tournament series, UT4, is being made transparently with actual contributions from the community. Every step of the way, we can see videos of work in progress, offer feedback and ideas, and even view and contribute to programming, map design and any other aspect of the game we’re interested in. After release (Which will be 100% free), there will be a marketplace for the game, in which users can sell their own content created for the game. This can be anything from maps, models, sounds, even full blown game modes and other mods.

So in a world where this is direction we’re headed, it is frustrating to see one of my favourite game developers take such a backward stance. Id Software used to keep modding in mind, and actually encourage it.
The original Doom games were built to use WAD files, so users could create their own campaigns and other modifications and release them in one easily shared file. The result of creating such a classic game and making it with modding in mind is that the game is kept alive, people are still playing it and even creating new content for the game despite it being over twenty years old.

Since then it feels like community has fallen by the wayside for Id Software, possibly due to the acquisition by Zenimax. Rage was released in October of 2011, but it took until February 2013 – 16 months after release – to get the official modding tools up. The game had Multiplayer, but only co-operative missions and a four player vehicular competitive mode. I never played it because it just was not popular enough to find anyone to play with.
I decided, upon writing this piece of word vomit, to look up the wide, vast variety of mods that would have come out in the past year and a half of the game’s release. Except it turns out only one mod is listed on ModDB, which adds a new single player map and a survival map (?) as well as a bunch of balancing modifications.

There could be any variety of reasons for why the game did not have multiplayer game modes more commonly associated with first person shooters. It is questionable whether or not they would have helped the longevity of the game, but in comparison with games like Quake 3, which people are still playing, Rage was a failure.

Wolfenstein: The New Order won’t suffer from that problem with longevity because Id Software didn’t even implement multiplayer this time. This seems like a good decision, given the way other shooters like those in the Call of Duty series are losing any real decent story in their campaigns.
Should we get any modding tools for this game, obviously those mods will need to be singleplayer.
At the time of writing there has been five thousand total players playing the game at the same time on Steam today. There is obviously a player base at the moment, so if any modding tools were released in a timely fashion, we should be able to get some mods out and there will be a sizable number of people to play them. That leads to the original issue though; will players be willing to create content that takes their valuable spare time to make, only for Id Software and Zenimax to look at it and go “That is ours now.”?

I’m willing to guess, probably not.

The Marvel of 2003 confuses me.

I am almost completely happy with my purchase of Marvel Unlimited, where for the price of around seventy dollars a year I get access to almost all of Marvels decades of comics. The only problem I have with it is that recent issues take six months to come to the service. This is to encourage people to still buy physical copies, but all it means is I have to try avoiding spoilers.

Now, the point of this post is merely to bring you a single panel from an issue of Venom, the Marvel comic that was published in the early 2000s.
If you can explain the artistic direction taken on the anatomy, please enlighten me.

Screenshot_2014-05-07-17-17-43

I don’t understand.

I am so glad I didn’t buy The Elder Scrolls Online

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series An Epic Saga Of Personal Growth

1 When I first heard about the online installment of the Elder Scrolls series, I was ecstatic. I first heard about it late 2012, after getting into Guild Wars 2 and MMORPGs in general. To me, having Elder Scrolls translated to an online experience seemed fantastical. I was in love with the worlds of Oblivion and Skyrim, and the idea of having them played in the style of a game like Guild Wars 2 lead me to believe I should have just gotten this tattooed to my forehead.

9e9
Animated tattoos are a thing, right?

As time went on, my excitement increased. I knew with utmost certainty that I would purchase the game and put hundreds of hours into it. Utmost. Certainty.

Introducing a scrubscription.

August last year was when my excitement took a dip. Bethesda announced that the game would have both an initial price, and a monthly fee to continue playing. This worried me, because why would The Elder Scrolls utilize such an archaic pricing structure? I, as well as a large portion of gamers, hate the idea that if we stop paying, we lose access to the game we paid money for.
Matt Firor was quick to defend the decision with this quote I just happened to have on me.

When you’re in an Elder Scrolls game, you’re in a world,” he said, explaining the former point. “We don’t want players to hit monetisation fees when they’re in the world.
We wanted to do monetisation outside of the game. So, if I pay for a month at a time, I have 100 per cent of the game. I don’t have to worry about paying one more cent. I’ll never run into a pay gate and I’ll be in the world.

Arguments about scrubscription fees being monthly pay gates aside, I can sort of understand what he’s saying. A monthly pay cycle means they can forgo charging for DLC like they have in past games of the series, and they don’t need to worry about other monetisation options like an in-game cash shop…

The in-game cash shop.

Oh. So despite having a scrubscription fee, there’s also a cash shop. This was the next nail in the coffin for me. It was defended at the time as just being name changes and other such things. However apparently in the store at the moment there is a horse you can buy with real money and an upgrade to the Imperial Edition which we will talk about in a minute. To get a basic horse with in-game currency will set you back 17,000 gold. Now in perspective, a few YouTube reviewers have said that after three weeks of playing the game with friends they only have around 4,000 gold. Assuming gold scales with level, we’re probably looking at a few more weeks before you obtain the gold for the most basic of horses. So including your free month, you’re paying another fifteen dollars to keep playing and then EVENTUALLY, MAYBE, get your horse.
So you could spend almost two months saving up all your gold to get a horse so you don’t have to crawl to every area, or you could throw some more money at the game and skip all of that.

Alternatively, you could buy…

The Imperial Edition

This was the thing that made me literally say “No. Nope. Fuck no. God dang it. Fuck off. No.” Basically, you could preorder The Elder Scrolls Online as a regular game, or as the Imperial Edition. I like special editions of games because I like getting things like figurines and art books. What does the Imperial Edition come with? Check check check it out:

eso ps4 imperial edition

I see an art book. That’s awesome! I see a statue for the antagonist of the game, which is even better. That statue can sit next to my Duke Nukem bust I got from Duke Nukem Forever!  There’s even a map for the world, that can go on the wall next to my Skyrim map!

That was what I said, until I read the features on the right. The exclusive digital content includes a cosmetic pet, which I am absolutely okay with. When it comes to paying real money for things in an MMORPG, I love cosmetics. It’s the best way to support a developer without getting an advantage that makes a game “Pay To Win”. Guild Wars 2 has a lot of cosmetics you can buy, and hell I’ve bought a fair few of them because they make my characters look fucking awesome.
Next, you get the Rings of Mara. These are rings you and a friend share. You perform an in-game ritual (I assume), and then whenever you play together you get an experience boost. I’m not 100% okay with this, but it’s not terrible and I assume it takes up a ring slot on your character that eventually gets swapped for an upgrade.This tool ends up being good for casuals.

Now we get to the stuff that made me boycott this game. First I would like to remind you if you read this far, that this version of the game is twenty dollars more than the standard edition. I assume if you buy the standard game and want to upgrade through the in-game cash shop it will cost the same.
The first insult is you get a mount right from the start of the game. Sure, you still apparently have to buy it from a stable, but you know how much it costs? One. Fucking. Gold. One gold and you have the horse that standard players have to grind fourteen thousand gold for. So that’s the first thing. However, that is in no way as much of an insult as the final feature of the Imperial Edition. At least in regards to horses you can get one without paying if you grind long enough.
People who buy the Imperial Edition get access to an exclusive race. If you spend twenty dollars, you get the option to play as the Imperials, who get to play as either alliance. To clarify, every other race is restricted to a specific alliance similar to how World of Warcraft was split between Alliance and Horde. If you want to play with a friend you either need to restrict yourselves to the few races allowed in the same alliance, or buy the Imperial Edition and laugh at your friend as you gallop away to the next quest on a horse while he is forced to walk for five minutes to the same location.

Exclusive content is in no way new to games, it’s in fact something that happens a lot. However, it directly contradicts promises from the developers that there will be no pay gates in the game bar the scrubscription fee. You can’t say that, then turn around and say “By the way you need to spend extra money if you want all the races in the game.”

From what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of people who quite enjoy the game, to which I say “That’s awesome!”. However with the above points and the problems I’ve heard about the game have brought me to completely boycott Elder Scrolls Online, at least until it inevitably becomes free to play.

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1. Featured image from http://skyrimfansite.com/. After reading the articles it’s associated with, I have regret in attributing this to something that feels very bias and opinionated, but we’re here and the image is perfect for what I’m talking about here.

Woot crate.

I came home and joy of joys, a box was waiting for me.

20140324_130201

Not just any box of course, but a Loot Crate. The greatest discovery for me in the past month was discovering that these items could now be purchased in Australia.

What is a loot crate?

Yes I hear you asking that, and I’ll explain. Loot Crate is a monthly delivery in which you receive a cardboard box full of goodies based around a theme. This month the theme was “Titanfall”. Opening the box, I was greeted with the following:

loot1

Who am I to argue with what the box says? I want to apologize for the quality of the photos, they’ve been taken with my Samsung Galaxy Potato.

loot2

So being my first Loot Crate I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. Inside, I got the following:

  • Monthly Loot Crate Magazine
  • Large Titanfall shirt, which is apparently a Loot Crate exclusive based on the shirts owned by the development team. That’s pretty freaking awesome.
  • An Attack on Titan sweat band. Attack on Titan is an anime/manga that is apparently popular, though I only know it for this.
  • Speaking of Attack on Titan, the crate also came with the first issue of the English manga. I’ve never really watched the show, but this will give me an opportunity to read it and see if I like the story.
  • A Titanfall Lanyard. This will be pretty good for when I go to PAXAUS at the end of the year.
  • A magnet. Just a simple one that says “Attack on Titanfall”. GET IT? BECAUSE THE CRATE IS FULL OF TITANFALL AND ATTACK ON TITAN THINGS.
  • A coupon giving me a free digital copy of the Titanfall strategy guide. If I end up buying the game, it will be useful.
  • Lollies because lollies. Lollies.
  • A badge, commemorating the loot crate.

After all that, there’s just some coupons for gaming related things that I probably won’t end up using. Anyway, it’s definitely worth the money coming in at twenty dollars. I’m pretty happy with this and honestly can’t wait for next month’s crate. I have no idea what will be coming in it, but I’m pumped.

Youtube Alternatives

Edit 16/09/2016: This article is pretty much void now; Bitvid got canned, and Gamewisp has become a subscription program that serves as an alternative to Twitch.tv partnership.

I like making videos. I’ve made a fair few, pretty much all Let’s Plays of videogames. I’ve been doing it as a hobby, but am starting to take it a bit more seriously with each passing day.

YouTube has been making more and more weird decisions in relation to how it handles copyright issues, which has been causing a lot of displeasure in the community. This has led to a few groups working on their own competitor services, mostly based around gaming.

5dba448910c1faa3026553e24a6d77a2Bitvid is one in progress, but seems like it is a bit of a way off from being released. Gamewisp however, had it’s release just under a week ago. It’s still a work in progress as they add new features and tweak it. The service is to be tailor-made for videos of games, with tools to make content discovery easier, better analytics, and better different forms of monetization.
On YouTube, a creator gets money if they display advertisements on their videos. This is a volatile system where YouTube and Google get the majority of money, and you get paid by them. Gamewisp offers monetization through paid subscriptions. Basically, if you decided you liked a particular series of my videos, you can subscribe to it. When you subscribe, you can opt to sponsor the creator for a few dollars. That money is split 70/30 between the creator and Gamewisp, and gives the sponsor a variety of benefits, including timed exclusives and premium content.

There’s a lot that can be taken advantage of, given a specialized platform. Analytics that can be more relevant to the platform.  As quoted from /u/hootener/u/hootener on Reddit,

[Say] you publish a lot of survival horror content to your channel. As a data platform, GameWisp can provide the information to you that most users who watch a lot of survival horror also watch a lot of RPG content.

So it sounds like data will be easier to interpret in a way that helps the creator.

Right now there’s still more that needs to be added for the platform to really shine. Once the discovery tools are finished, viewing and finding videos will hopefully be a more pleasant experience.
As it stands though, there’s so much potential in the Gamewisp platform and I’m just proud to be able to say I’m a part of it.

By the way my channel is located here and it’d be neat if you took a look.

Infinity Wars!

Infinity Wars is a Digital Trading Card Game made by fellow Australian company Lightmare Studios which got it’s official Steam release this weekend. I’ve been a reasonably vocal fan of this game since they showcased it to everyone at PAXAUS last year where I first got a chance to play it. I got a beta key and got into the game almost immediately. I’ve even gone so far as to make a series of videos of my playing the game.
The game is simple to learn –much like Hearthstone is– but where Hearthstone feels very basic in it’s mechanics, Infinity Wars has more nuances and gameplay elements that make the game more complicated than merely attacking and casting damage spells. While Hearthstone plays a lot like traditional table-top card games (And as such could easily be converted to a physical card game!), Infinity Wars seeks to define itself by taking full advantage of the digital space it fills.
To me, the biggest way they achieve this is with the feature of simultaneous turns; both players plan their turns at the same time, then once the turn is over, their actions resolve at the same time. This means decisions need to take into account what the opponent is most likely to do as well. Games can be won and lost on whether or not you were able to guess the other player’s strategy and accurately counter it. There’s a certain thrill to that, and the suspense I feel as I wait to see what my opponent does really gets me pumped. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.

It’s a fantastic game and I don’t think I could ever give it justice in a blog post. It is a free game which you can (and should) download from Steam immediately.