Formerly Hardcore #1: Adventures in BRF, Part 1

Hello and welcome to the 1st edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAMs column on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. The title probably makes it obvious, but in case anyone hasn’t guessed, this column is going to be from the perspective of an ex-hardcore raider. There will still be plenty of talk about raiding in general, especially for this first post, but I’ll also talk about different aspects of WoW as a whole as patch notes and my whims take me.

For our first column, I’m going to talk about my adventures into WoW’s latest raid, Blackrock Foundry. The gates of BRF opened up to Normal and Heroic groups on February 3rd with Mythic opening the following week and Looking For Raid difficulty a week later. My raid team is not large enough to try our luck in Mythic BRF, but after three weeks of Normal difficulty, dipping our toes into Heroic as well as trying the first two wings of LFR, I’m ready to talk about the raid.

Your Next: New Scope

After a masterful marketing push, Crowfall met its Kickstarter target in about three days. The ideas look fresh and solid, and there’s some seriously hefty industry talent backing it up, so best of luck to them and check it out if you haven’t already. The goal of 800k was relatively modest, and I’ve got my hopes pinned on the $1.3M stretch goal.

All the attention on Crowfall has actually turned a few new people onto Camelot Unchained, and while I expect the games will play very differently, it looks like they’ll be fishing from the same pool. Camelot Unchained is aiming for an alpha launch some time in the next month, so expect to hear a bit about that as well.

As someone looking forward to both of these games, it’s an exciting time for me (hooray for me!), and with a few recent gems like Darkest Dungeon, LISA, Sunless Sea and Hand of Fate being Kickstarted, I’m feeling as optimistic as ever.

Your Next: Proving Negatives

For a while there I was thinking I wouldn’t have much to talk about; be careful what you wish for, I guess.

When news started to come out about the layoffs at Daybreak Game Company, players were understandably skeptical about the prospects of EverQuest Next and Landmark. With high profile names being let go, it’s easy to feel like the foundation is falling away.

It’s been wonderful to see the support from the community for the people who were let go, the tribute card in Landmark is a sight to behold, and a fitting tribute to the legacy of those people that made it possible.

It’s also a tribute to the players who made it possible and the strength of the Landmark community, which seems to have redoubled its efforts to be the most welcoming and supportive in gaming.

The message from Daybreak over the last week has been that the games remain a team effort, and while adjustments have to be made and priorities shifted, the guiding principles and foundational principles remain the same. Which is exactly what you’d expect to hear.

In times gone by, that would have been the end of it. We would have had a press release, some clarifications on an official forum, an approved interview or two, and that would be that. It’s happened many times before and shows no signs of slowing down. However, in this brave new world of open development and increased transparency, we were treated to a Q&A session with senior members of the team, using questions submitted by players.

Your Next: About People

I suppose there’s only one thing to talk about this week.

Sony Online Entertainment broke away from its parent company to become Daybreak Game Company, thanks to investment from Columbus Nova.

As is the all too common and incredibly unfortunate nature of deals like these, the company had to let some people go. When costs are too high for projected revenue, tough decisions have to be made. The important thing to remember in times like these is that it’s people making these decisions, and these decisions affect people.

For all that we care about the games (which is less than the current and former employees of Daybreak, by the way), what this means to us as players is insignificant compared to what it means to the people whose lives were affected.

I want to take a moment to state that I am in full support of the talented, passionate people still at Daybreak, their amazing work continues to inspire me, and I have complete faith they will continue to blow us away.

Greenlight Special: Neptune and Stanley

This week on my adventures through Greenlight, I continue to learn about games that no longer have that New Game smell, but are nonetheless worth delving into for a myriad of reasons. Unlike my preceding articles that seem to have some semblance of direction and organization, this week I relied on my Twitch stream chat to help me choose which game to play. May God have mercy on our souls.

Greenlight Special: Space Mechanic Joe and Besiege

Hello intrepid gamers. We’re back for another Greenlight Special. This week’s games focus on physics-based builders. I find game physics to be endlessly amusing, and I’m fairly certain many of you out there do as well, if r/GamePhysics is any indicator. I also decided to stream my adventures on Steam, and I was pleasantly surprised by the community’s interest. Onward!

Greenlight Special: Albert and Otto & Salt

 

I happen to have an incredibly well-versed boss when it comes to indie games. I draw a lot of inspiration from him, and often put myself in his shoes near as I can in order to make better decisions when it comes to work. At gaming trade shows, we spend a great deal of time checking out what’s new with the indie scene. In anticipation of GDC and PAX East, coming up in a few weeks, I thought I’d delve into more adventurous puzzle games since the theme of 2015 seems to be Adventuretime. I’m not complaining.


This week’s Greenlight Game is Albert and Otto, created by Nikola Kostic. Posted on Greenlight January 27th, this game already has a bit of a buzz surrounding it, and the community seems excited that this is in development. They have a working demo, and you have to email them to request a key, which I thought was smart. So, going through my Greenlight queue this week, Albert and Otto popped up and immediately stood out because of the stunning art style: minimalist 2D side-scrolling platformer with dynamic background, a monochromatic color palette, and creepy ambience tempered by moody, reverb-inundated music? Yes, please!

Your Next: Friendly Competition

This week we begin with a little trip down memory lane and a few thoughts about Guild Wars 2. I know I’m supposed to be talking about EverQuest Next and Landmark, we’ll get there really soon, I promise.

With the rumors of a Guild Wars 2 expansion looking more solid every day (at this point we’re just waiting for the official announcement), I found myself downloading the client for a trip down memory lane. After years invested in World of Warcraft, and the disappointment of Star Wars: The Old Republic, GW2 sits as my second MMO love. It’s true that it’s sweeter the second time around, but you never forget your first.

As this column goes live GW2 will be on sale at 75% off, and after the announcements at PAX South interest in the game will be peaking. I imagine many old faces will be returning to mingle with the new ones. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time, I definitely recommend it. It’s fast paced, fun and polished with plenty to do, and it’s really grown into itself over the last year. While there’s no shortage of things to do with other players, the traditional raiding endgame is absent, so if that’s your one and only love you’re better off looking elsewhere. No doubt there will be big things happening over the next few months, so it’s a perfect time to jump in.

Two of my favorite aspects of the game are the build system (which is beautifully elegant in design) and the combat system. Both these systems are best demonstrated in the various PvP types; the PvE content is not the best light to see them in, but it’s been this way since launch and the efficiency-obsessed corner of the community has only made the situation worse. This may be about to change though, and the reason why might interest those of you keeping a close watch on the development of EverQuest Next and Landmark.

We got to the part about EQN! If you made it this far, allow yourself a little treat as congratulations. A bon-bon, perhaps, or a glass of wine. Don’t overdo it though, there’s a few hundred words to go.

Greenlight Special: Orion Trail & Papers, Please

Welcome to the Greenlight Special.

I love that word. Greenlight. To me, it represents possibility. Hollywood began greenlighting movies decades ago, and Valve’s Steam Greenlight seems to have perfected it: putting the release – heck, even the fate – of a game into the hands of the community. What you get are a multitude of community-supported adventures, creating diversity and driving innovation forward so what we aren’t left with as the only forms of entertainment are large, cookie-cutter carbon copies of the same buggy AAA-titles. Kinda makes you wish Hollywood would do a “Steam”.

Each week, I’ll dive into that seemingly endless pool found on Steam Greenlight, and bring you the best two games I can find before that looming deadline of Tuesday shows up demanding payment. Without any further ado…

The first game on our Greenlit Game list is Orion Trail, by Schell Games. From the Steam page: “Orion Trail is a single player choose-your-own-space-adventure where you must rely on your wits, your officers and your shit to cross the deadly Orion Trail.”

DC Universe Online: 4th Anniversary

Sony Online Entertainment's superhero MMO, DC Universe Online, dinged level 4 on Sunday, January 11th. DCUO launched with fast-paced, physics-based combat, rich story arcs and the ability to play either a villain or hero while pairing up with well-known figures from the DC universe.

Since its launch the game has released a lot of content and features. To celebrate the 4th anniversary, let's take a quick look at how DCUO has grown over the years!


Fight for the Light

September 7, 2011

Fight for the Light was DCUO's 1st DLC, featuring Green Lantern and the introduction of the game’s seventh power set, Light.

In times of great need, the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps would give out “reservist rings” to worthy heroes or enthusiastic villains who will help restore the balance of the universe for their side; these players can be deputized into either Corps and fight alongside legendary ring-bearers. In addition to the new light power set, DCUO players were able to interact with characters and missions based on the Green Lantern mythos in all-new gameplay scenarios.