Saturday, September 24, 2011

Magic Morning

I was able to connect with local Magic players in Elko, Nevada this morning at Starbucks around 7:30 a.m. We played until about 11:00 a.m. My decks were suitable, but I did not win a round. The play style is casual with various forms of playing. It was great meeting other Magic players in town and I look forward to playing again.

The group meets at the Elko Starbucks near Smiths on Saturdays around 7:00 a.m.

Friday, September 23, 2011

NEW! Comic book/Game Store opens in Elko

Okay, so it's apparently been in town for 6 months now, but I'm sure a lot of people, like me, did not even know it existed. Elko is a small town with an economy insulated by the mining companies. I noticed a while ago that it did not have a comic book/gaming store. I was rather shocked and considered this to be one of the best opportunities someone might undertake. Well, someone did.

I know what you must be thinking, "Comic book/Gaming store in Elko? Pic or I don't believe it..."

Moving out of the saturated California market comes Frank-N-Freds Comics and Cards. The store is located at 443 Idaho Street- which is basically just down from fifth street. They are expecting to add to their collection of role playing games next week. They also sell CCG games, like Magic cards, in store, including singles. There are comics too. While many businesses have suffered during the construction on Idaho street, Frank'n'Fred's seemed to benefit from foot traffic. It was nice to have a place to talk about Magic and Comic-con in town.

I have also been told that local Magic players are meeting at the Starbucks near Smiths on Saturday at 7:00 a.m. I thought the timing was a bit early, especially for gamers who are often known for FNFFs, but was informed that the group consists of many day sleepers.


Recently, Battleforge caught my attention. The game is a hybrid card collectible game and RTS game (like Starcraft). If you were lucky enough to play the Unholy War, you will be right at home in this game. The game is free to play. You can actually earn one battleforge point a day for 15 minutes of play. In theory, in 250 days, you could actually buy a booster pack. The game is also unlockable via a retail version and you can purchase microtransactions. This was very forward thinking on their part.

The strangest part of the game is that the microtransactions were changed regarding tomes (formerly they were basically bundled booster pack) making them rental only. This seems a lot more like an expensive subscription model than most other microtransaction models. The move towards "renting" rather than owning may explain the relatively weak player base. A recent forum poll seems to suggest that the move was not popular.

It seems a bit of a shame that games continue to be undermined by their marketing approach. The game seems fairly well developed. The menu is a bit clumsy to navigate and a few things, like opening chests, are unnecessarily difficult. Nevertheless, the graphics and sound were well done and play is fairly straightforward and smooth. The card art is well done. Overall, it feels much more like a Starcraft style game than a CCG, but that is okay. StarCraft 2 requires a better computer than the one I own, while Starcraft requires a worse computer than the one I own. This game fills my needs. Nevertheless, I won't be purchasing tomes and my guess is the change to the rental model will only alienate players.

In addition to that, the game did hang while I was engaged in a 4 player pve match. Very disappointing as most people feel that the PvE multiplayer is one of the game's strengths. I consider that a major technical flaw.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Distributing Tore Loves Eliza

I am shifting gears to some real space distribution of my video game, Tore Loves Eliza.

Internet distribution appears to have its limitations. While youtube is great for storing a trailer for the game, many forums are not open to posts which link to third party sites. Many sites that are open are so flooded with information that your post is likely to be overlooked. I will not reiterate the many problems I have had on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, MySpace, and so many others.

Instead, I am moving forward with trying to get the information in the game out by trying to connect with people in real space. Of course, real space distribution costs more in materials. Still, I am hoping that I can make my distribution of the program affordable and effective.

As part of the campaign, I have created a new promotional poster for Tore Loves Eliza.

I am also creating some new cover art for the distribution of the DVDs.

Here is what the game looks like in a jewel case now:

It looks a lot more professional. Using simple Avery style 6180 labels, I simply print a small title for each disc. Office Max is charging me about 68 cents per page of color printing. Each poster takes a page, but the images for the DVD can be printed two per page.

As for distributions, I am simply looking for just about anywhere I can find to promote the game. Here is an example of creative distribution. A simple tack on a public message board with some discs tacked along in sandwich bags and DVD sleeves.

I am also trying to give a copy to the library so they will add it to their collection.

I also postered a coffee shop and will continue to look for places I can promote the game.

In any event, as I explained in readme file for the game, people are free to distribute the game. Feel free to download, burn the DVD, throw it in a jewel case with the aforementioned cover art or just print the afformentioned poster and hang it on a public message board- like at a coffee shop.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I still remain somewhat involved in the Elements community. Nevertheless, changes in the Elements gaming community mean that the environment seems to be getting much harder to navigate. Elements seemed easier in the past and early adopters seems to have a lead in the game. Right now, I am rather interested in seeing how MTGO works out.

I have returned to the world of MTG via MTGO. Some people may recall that I attended a Magic panel at Comic-con 2010.

First of all, MTGO requires a bit more money than some games. I am sticking mostly to common/uncommon cards and have not purchased any booster decks. MTG can get quite expensive if you are not careful. When I played MTG (fifth edition), I would often go into stores and purchase cheap, but effective cards, to build decks which could beat players with more expensive decks.

The ability to buy individual cheap cards is not available in MTGO. I was, however, able to purchase many common cards for only $4.99 and trade common cards in excess of 4 with other players. The inception of the 4 card limit means many of the decks I used to play can no longer be played, but it also opens up new avenues for trading. Although I am acquiring a few tickets, I am saving my tickets as reports indicate that ticket trading may not be the best option.

Whether I can prove competitive in MTGO without deep pockets remains to be seen. It would certainly be possible for a person to get a group of friends to play together and agree to spending limits. However, the reason I am playing MTGO is precisely because I cannot play with any of the people I used to play MTG with. MTGO was created and remains popular for people who want to be able to play the game on demand- something online play can do.

My early impressions of the MTGO game are favorable. The interface takes a bit to get used to. Many items are accessed via the right mouse click option and you will find yourself asking a lot of questions from the ORCs who provide customer support. In addition to that, many operations require confirmation. A missed click and you might not properly activate your ability.

The deck building features are fairly straightforward. It took me some time to build a deck which stood a chance of winning. Coming out of the Elements environment, it took me some time to adjust to a “Magic” mindset. Unlike Elements, Magic does not allow Mana to accumulate. There are many differences between the two. You cannot play all your land at once, but play one card at a time. Creatures can block. Spells can be countered. Poision does not do damage, but kills if the counters reach 10. Magic involves much more complicated turn functions and more sophisticated skill combinations. There is something enjoyable about Elements simple and fast game play, but there is also something rewarding about Magic's deep game play.

As I am currently reintroducing myself to Magic, I have been playing in the new player's section. I am not sure what it takes to be a “new” player. Certainly, I played Magic in the past, but it has been a long time and many things have changed. Some of the cards I used to own are not even available in MTGO, like Dwarven Warriors. Many new abilities, cards, and rules have been created. Nor do I have a huge deck of cards from which to build, though I have two supplemental starter decks, this puts my total investment at around $20 so far. It would certainly make sense if the new player category were restricted to to a certain spending limit.

I contacted an ORC with customer support and they indicated there was no actual criteria for new players. You could use any cards you wanted to or have played for any amount of time. This was somewhat disappointing as it leaves new players no real learning environment. The new players option only seems to improve your chances of playing against an actual new player, not guarantee it.

MTGO takes time to get used to, but so far I am enjoying it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dear Postal Service...

If you could try not to default before the end of the Dr. Pepper EA games under the cap game promotion that would be great. FYI, the end of the redemption is set for January 31, 2012. There are no EA game under the cap bottles carried in my city and I must mail away for free codes. It is already taking longer than expected to get these codes and a default would only further my difficulties. Thanks.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Not really...

As I was playing Battlefield Heroes the other day, a player was boasting of his k/d ratio. I asked the player how much they paid for their k/d and the player then asked if I was jealous. I replied, "Not really."

If anything, that player should be jealous of those of us who came of age before the pay to win era.

In other BF:H news, players are already expressing interest in knowing when the winner(s) of the Battlefield Heroes t-shirt design contest will be announced with some speculating "soon". As I stated before, I thought there were many good entries. I cannot help feel that there might have been even more great entries had so many players not left the game in protest a long time ago.

Turning my attention to a different game, I will now be exploring Dungeons of Dredmor, which I hope proves as entertaining as Telengard.

Here is a small snapshot of me playing Dungeons of Dredmor.

The game plays up its toughness and I can say players will die in the Dungeons of Dredmor. Still is it as tough as Telengard?

One other rouge-like game that is worth mentioning is the free game, The Enchanted Cave. Worth checking out.

Finally, I submitted some gaming photos to the Elko County fair. I thought my self portrait of a Wii Active Sports workout was a new twist on the "action" sub-genre. Other photos were far more serious in nature, but I felt gaming should get its due. The Elko County Fair does not have any categories for video game entries, only a generic Mixed Media other category. The fair allows for individual, but not collaborative works. Despite shortcomings, the Elko County Fair does provide a showcase for local artists- though I wonder if anyone really cares what happens at the fair anymore. In Elko, many events survive for lack of an alternative.