Monday, October 31, 2011

Library Update

As most people know, I have been in discussions with the library to try to have them add the game I made, Tore Loves Eliza, to their collection. I began the process of contacting the library in early September and gave them a personal demonstration of the game in mid-October. Apparently, they will finally have a staff meeting on Friday, approximately two months after I began this process. At the local level, it seems one deals with endless delays and indecision.

In any event, I cam across a nice article on libraries and censorship which I shared with the director.

Jeanette M. Hammons is the director of the library who is overseeing the process of inclusion.

More Battlefield News...

The Battlefield Heroes Halloween is wrapping up today. The team at Easy gave away many free items of virual apparel and the like with its Halloween rewards program. All 6 of my Heroes received at least one permanent this way, mostly hats. I also earned my Halloween t-shirts. Coupled with the earlier promotions, such as Minecraft shirt and birthday drops, my Heroes have some choices. As I have collected all the available Dr. Pepper codes for my Heroes, my Heroes now have a decent selection of clothing accessories.

Overall, the Halloween treats were a welcome event. The downside was not being able to match the item with the Hero of your choice, but still it was nice to get the unlocks. I did not participate in the Golden Machette contest as that required an investment of BF. My BF purchases have primarily been the charity santa suit last year, slot unlocks, and taunts.

My experiment with VP weapons showed that using VP weapons a player could offset, but not eliminate the pay to win advantages provided by the sale of BF weapons. Overall, I could not maintain a steady supply of VP. Likewise, whenever a VP item expires, you have to reset ability skills. It is a pain. For the most part, I am using default weapons. In the case of the Mando, that really seems to put the Mando at a disadvantage.

I do not think it is a coincidence that BFH had one of its most generous Halloween give aways, the same time that BF3 came out.

The addition of the infantry friendly Perilous Port was a nice bonus. The rumor is that the map will go to daylight mode post Halloween. Since server maintenance is scheduled for Nov. 1, my guess is the night map will be changed. It took a while, but I became acclimated to the night setting.

Even though a friend offered me a free copy of BF3, I simply do not have the hardware for the game at this time. I did, however, send him a spare Dr. Pepper code so he can start unlocking the Dr. Pepper gear. I'm all tapped out of Dr. Pepper codes for now.

Battlefield Play 4 Free has announced tier 3 updates. This means that they reordered many of the skill attributes requiring players to grind more to get some skills they already enjoyed. I played for a few mintues to check out the new tier three and then moved on. Coincidence during BF3 launch? Again, I think not.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phase I- Complete.

I spent the last few weeks working on making a CCG game. The project is now at the Alpha phase, which means I think I have the minimum number of cards necessary to test play the game. I used a lot of different programs to create the cards and artwork- ten separate programs.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Brief Battlefield News

The release of Battlefield 3 is imminent. It has received a lot of hype. I enjoyed my time playing the pre-release versions, but do not have the hardware for the current game. The trailers look good though.

Meanwhile, over at Battlefield Heroes, the community is buzzing about a possible new feature which would allow players to earn Battlefunds. Some players claim there are geobarriers to participating in the process, as is the case with Dr. Pepper codes. I have not had a chance to check it out yet.

Battlefield Heroes also released a new map Perilous Port. The map is extremely dark. Wear dark clothes or you will stand out. This is a fairly compressed map.

The Heroes of Halloween celebration is also going on. The machette contest seems a bit lame as you have to basically buy the machette to get the golden machette... The HOH supply drops are very nice though. I have obtained a few new hats.

Magical Musings

On the Magic Front

The weekly get together in Elko continues to grow. Playing in a large multiplayer setting requires a completely different mindset from one on one games. The group continues to express concern about the location. As a group, we are putting together quite a few tables and we are concerned both about the ability to obtain enough space for playing as well as the impact on other customers. Alternatives to the current location will be discussed at the next session.

In MTGO setting, I continue to try to work with the few cards I have to build decks which are competitive. As other players have undoubtedly invested more money in their decks, it is not always easy. Still, I enjoy building new decks and getting a feel for the new cards. Many players continue to discuss the absence of older features, like mana burn, and its impact on the game. I routinely include Pristine Talisman in my current MTGO decks since I can life gain without worrying about mana burn at all.

I have been contemplating Oblivion Ring and its impact on the game as well. Oblivion Ring allows you to counter an opponents permanent without mana saving. Essentially, you can deal with the problem the next round if you don't have the mana. You can cast creatures freely during your turn knowing you can use the oblivion ring on your next turn. Spells like cancel, psychic barrier, or mana leak, require you to save the mana to cast them during your opponents turn. In my opinion, these typically island spells, required more discipline and strategy on the part of the player than spells like oblivion spell.

For an example of a blue counter/mill deck in action, you can watch the following round. (BTW, my opponent had some incredible cards and he explained many of them to me during the round).



As a technical matter, MTGO is simultaneously amazing and disappointing. On the one hand, it does do an excellent job of providing a completely immersive environment in which to play MTG including deep deck building and trading features. On the other hand, joining a round is a bit clunky, but even worse is the occassionally tedious tasks of activating abilities, like Jace's Erasure. Once the field gets full of cards, the game tends to bog down a bit. A few cards have not worked as well as I had hoped and you really need to take your time when playing to make sure your cards work properly.

Finally, with the new release of the Innistrad series, more decks are appearing with new cards. New cards always put players in the uncomfortable position of feeling the need to upgrade their decks just to stay competitive. For now, I'll continue to muddle through with the cards I have. Since the real space game is more social, I continue to invest in real space cards. I would certainly be interested in a crossover product of physical booster packages that contained MTGO unlock codes.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Magic

Played MTG again. Most players are showing up at around 7:30 am. Still a lot of new cards to get used to. My decks are a bit more competitive, but my favorite deck idea failed as Tempest Efreet can only be used in ante matches. I'm not a huge fan of ante anyway, but I like the way Tempest Efreet can turn the most valuable cards into a player's greatest weakness. Guess I'll have to look at more cloning options for another deck.

The attendance was fairly good. Two new players showed up, meaning the group took up quite a bit of space at Starbucks.

Afterwards, some of us went to the comic book store in town. Gary, the shop owner, was nice enough to give me a fifty cent discount, which makes me feel a bit like a bar regular who is getting a free pour. I've been struggling with my mountain decks, so I figure I'll try to reinvigorate a mountain deck. Since the play-style is free for all or team variants, the deck style should be for group rather than one on one play.

I have also been playing MTGO to brush up on the newer cards and refamiliarize myself with some of the more obscure rules. My MTGO decks are not very competitive at this stage, but playing gives me plenty of deck ideas.

As a side project, I am making some creature cards primarily to improve my rendering and modeling skills. Unlike my last project, which emphasized low-polycount models, these models can have a much higher polycount.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dr. Pepper Codes back in stores

The Dr. Pepper under the EA game caps have reappeared in stores in my area. They appear to be promoting Battlefield 3 on the bottles. I never know how long the caps will be in my market, but it beats waiting for the codes to arrive in the mail. They even have it on the diet bottles.

Like most people, I received my beta invite to BF3 this week. Unfortunately, my system cannot even play Bad Company 2, so BF3 is out of the question.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Magic in Elko Week 2

I went to the weekly session of MTG in town. Many regulars were unable to attend, but those of us who showed up had a very good time. I won a round and feel my decks are getting better. I am still adjusting to the "new" rules (new to me) and learning about many new cards.

My fellow MTG players were extremely prepared with well designed decks. Despite the intense play, we had great conversations before, during, and after the event. Some of the discussion focused on player retention in Magic. Of course, just as interesting is what keeps people from starting MTG. I think MTG can be daunting. Most of us probably started with a group of friends who were all new to the game and we learned together. As time went on, some people spent more time and money than others and eventually people drifted out of play.

Regarding MTG, a lot of special considerations must be made. An easy mistake for new players is to try to compete with the established players who have more cards and superior deck strengths. New players need an inviting atmosphere to get involved.

It is critical to provide new players with their own events. Of course, a regulated MTG group of casual players with spending caps could improve deck parity and keep the game competitive for everyone. If players started with a couple of core decks and then were limited to spending on only 1 deck per month and started a season and ended a season together, play parity would be maintained (maybe store MTG boxes at the local store with names on them to prevent players from supplementing their decks). In my experience, players leave if play imbalances reduce player interest.

A special note about competitions is worth making. Competitions can bring out the worst in player behavior. When an award is made for winning a competition, any in-game slight can create bad feelings. To avoid this, it is smarter simply to reward players for playing, not necessarily winning. An example might be to hold a drawing for a booster pack for all players who attended X number of events instead. This encourages participation.

As for me, it has been very nice in the casual environment where I do not to have to worry about ante or foils.

Of course, the 7 a.m. time frame might also prove a bit problematic for other players. Although it meets the needs of the current group (and I have adapted), many players might want to play at a time more convenient to them. Certainly Elko has several coffee shops or perhaps the library conference room, where play options could be explored. Playing in public increases MTG visibility.