Penny Arcade had a little news blurb up a week ago or something, where Mike Krahulik talked about some games he was digging.

One of those games was for the iPhone, called Battleheart Legacy, and it like costs real money so OMG.

BUT.

Mike Krahulik loved the game, and it’s an action RPG, and the screenshots looked cute as heck. Also, I don’t generally see people talking about great iPhone games they’re playing. I’m starved for recommended options.

Okay, game looks good, love the art style.

After seeing it and knowing I like what I saw, I was still left with a burning question. “If I drop $5 on this game, is that it? Am I done? Can I enjoy the whole game now without any nickel and dime bullshit?”

Welcome to the new age of gaming. What I look for in a game is, “If I buy the game, can I play all of the game or not? Will there come a point where it’s getting really good, and then I’ll hit a paywall where if I want to keep playing the game for even more awesome fun, FORK OVER MORE MONEY BITCH.”

This is what I look for now. Not how many classes, or what level you can reach, or how many hours of entertainment. I look for micro-transactions to tell me if the company hopes to suck $30 a month out of me on the average.¹

I did a little research on Battleheart Legacy, and it was hard to find any review that mentioned anything other than content. I never did find a review that explicitly stated whether or not there were in-game purchases after you buy it.

I sucked it up and dropped my $5 and bought the game.

I won that round of micro-transaction misery. NO IN-GAME PURCHASES! Once I bought the game, by God I owned the game and I could play it without worrying about paywalls.

It’s been so long. It feels weird to have a game on my phone that is really fun, without being pestered to buy stuff all the time.

I’ve been playing it, it’s great. I love it.

This isn’t a review about the game, I’m just saying I love this little RPG hack and slasher. It’s so fun to mix and match skills and abilities and gear to be whatever the heck combo of character I want, and if I come up with some insane OP mish-mash hodgepodge it’s okay, because there is no PvP to make losers whine about getting crushed OMG nerf Monk/Ninja PLZ.

I can take my character and mainline Knight/Barbarian with Colossal weapons, and toss in some sweet Ninja and Monk moves with a little Necromancer raising skeletons from the bones of the dead thrown in and ain’t nobody to tell me that’s wrong.

The point is, we’re driving around and the Cub is bored in the back seat, and I hand him my phone with Battleheart Legacy up and running.

Did I mention the game lets you make multiple characters, swap between them easy, copy them for multiple options, and even upload saves to the cloud and play your saves on multiple Apple devices on your account? No? Huh. Well, it does.

So he could make his own character without worry, and I let him go to it.

He’s got over seven hours logged into that thing now. He plays this iPhone game at home a few nights this week instead of playing the computer games. He played three hours last night! Only stopped because he killed my battery stone dead.

His character is nothing like mine. He’s running a dual-wield Ninja with a side of Witch powers, life draining enemies and, yeah, some Necromancer skeleton army stuff. Okay, so we both like skeletal minions.

Here is the hilarious bit.

He narrates everything he does.

It’s got to come from spending the last year watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube.

All these Minecraft video makers like the Yogscast spend their time doing Let’s Play videos playing games, and the whole time they’re narrating everything they do while they’re playing.

His favorites are the ones with Yogscast Lewis and Simon, and also Yogscast Duncan.

They all do the same things (but with various degrees of awkwardness). As they play games, they narrate everything.

Now my son does too.

It’s freaking hilarious.

See, he only does it while playing video games, and it seems to be automatic. He doesn’t do this at any other time, but if he starts playing a video game, the mouth starts narrating. Constantly. CONSTANTLY.

It’s wonderful.

Normally, he sits next to me all the time so I don’t think Cassie even knew he does this as much as he does, but it’s summer break now, and he’s home with her.

All day.

While she tries to focus on work.

Cassie works from home as a contractor making twice as much as I do because she’s smart and has an education, and I’m an idiot wage slave.

There she is, all day, working away in her home office…

…and there is our son, sitting in the living room playing video games and talking non-stop, describing everything he’s doing and how cool things are and this sword is awesome and I can totally kick that green slimes’ butt and on and on. ALL DAY.

It’s great, I heartily encourage him to share with me everything he is enthusiastic about. I figure I’m about three years away from him realizing I’m the enemy because I’m a parent, and never wanting to talk to me again. I’m going to enjoy every sweet moment of this I can, even when I really wish he’d be quiet for five seconds and let me focus on this chapter I’m trying to write, focus Bear, FOCUS.

We’re not going to discourage him from being happy and gushing and chatty.

But oh my, the look on my wife’s face at the end of the day yesterday when I came home, and she shared with me her true joy at spending the last eight hours listening to the narration of whatever games he happened to play that day.

Priceless. Just priceless.

¹Seriously, look it up. Marvel Puzzle Quest’s CEO makes it clear their goal, and the goal of all game companies in the sector is to use micro-transactions and clever content gating to net $30 out of each player per month on the average. $1 ARPDAU (Average Revenue Per Daily Active User). If the idea of paying $30 a month to play a phone game because of content gating a buck at a time so it’s hard to notice the real cost doesn’t sicken you about the direction of games publishers, I don’t know what will.

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StuffofLegends

I stand on the very edge of glory, and I only need to reach out and grab it and hold fast, and I too could be the stuff of legends.

For quite some time I’ve been following the Dragonwrath Legendary quest chain, not as an all-consuming purpose but instead as something I do when the opportunity is there. Someone running Firelands? Sure, happy to go. Nobody is collecting that particular drop? Great, I can use them.

Now, that time has past.

I finally reached the stage where certain tasks were Delegated to me.

I had to gather four Charged Foci to be able to unlock a gate within the Firelands, and take on a special raid boss that you can only access in this way. Not that has loot, but that does provide the next step in the Legendary quest.

I have done this. I have the four Charged Foci in my possession. All that waits is to gather a group and go.

Ah, but what then?

After I have completed that part of the quest, things return to a ‘gather lots of stuff from raid bosses’ cycle. To continue on the quest, I’ll need to kill Firelands bosses often.

Maybe even clear the instance once a week.

Like maybe… as a regular thing?

So I am sending out the call.

I would love to have a few people join me in clearing Firelands each week. I’m not sure of a day yet, but I’m leaning towards Monday. Thursday isn’t out of the question, but Monday seems like a nice, innocuous day where little is left to do but wait for a server reset.

If you’re interested in going, please let me know. I’m not thinking of anything too formal, just getting together and knocking over Firelands in whatever difficulty we’d like at the time for transmog and such.

I know it can be done fairly smoothly with three, since Pankration the monk tank, Tom the Disco Priest and I on my Warlock cleared Firelands 10 normal in very little time last week, and that was including my screwing around with all the charged Foci. Get five or six of us, and the world is our oyster or mollusk of preference.

Even better… since I’m fairly far along on the Legendary quest already, there is room for more to get started collecting stuffs.

So, who’s interested in going back into Firelands with me and kicking a little molten ass?

Contact me on my Battle-tag, BigBearButt#1737

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Yesterday, WoW Insider shared some news that had my wife saying, “I may have to resub for that.”

To quote Sarah Pine in the WoW Insider article,

This year is an extra-special landmark: the 10th anniversary of WoW, and the 20th of the Warcraft franchise as a whole. As a result, we seem to be getting an extra-special battle pet, a humanoid called Hogs, who bears a strangely-similar aesthetic to that legend of lowbie leveling: Hogger.

That’s right.

Your own. Personal. Hogger.

A Hogger to hear your screams, tear out your spleen.

Sorry, Depeche Mode moment.  I’m all right now.

I saw that, and my very first thought, absolutely the first thing that sprang to mind was the first time I ever played the game all those many long years ago, and the rush of feelings.

Immediately, I was there. Young(er), knowing nothing, making my Druid way through Elwynn Forest, carefully accepting quests. A Night Elf Druid making her way in the Human world, alone.

I had just shown what my cat claws could do, and my pouches were full of gold dust and, yes, I DID take your damn candles.

Now here were these new enemies to face, enemies that had staked out a corner of lush green arable land for their own.

I killed some, working my way ever closer to the river in search of this leader named… Hogger.

There he was! I snuck up on him, I readied myself, I struck from the shadows…

And SON OF A BITCH WTFBBQ OMG I’M DEAD WHAT THE F*CK BLIZZ HOLY SHIT.

I want to say it was my first experience with the graveyard mechanic. I think it was the very first time I ever saw that beautiful, faceless angel that had brought me back from the dead. That angel you can only see on the other side.

Epic moment. Total sensory rush, just thinking “Hogger pet”.

Fifteen minutes later, my wife Cassie walks up to me and out of the blue says, “I might have to resub just for that.”

I didn’t have any context for that because at the moment every idiot in the Twitter galaxy was announcing who won Azeroth Choppers before I’d even had a chance to see the episode, so I was distracted. “What?”

Cassie says, “WoW insider wrote they’re adding a Hogger pet for the 10th Anniversary.”

That immediately reminded me about the GOOD things that I’d read. “Oh yeah, I saw that.”

So then she looks at me, and gets that look, and says, “I still remember dying for the first time because YOU didn’t warn me what a silver dragon around a portrait meant. And THEN you laughed when you heard me scream when he killed me.”

What can I say to that?

“Oh yeah. Good times, good times.”

What can I say about a 10th Anniversary gift when it inspires such intense nostalgia in two out of two players tested?

Well done, Blizzard. I’m looking forward to this one. Well done indeed.

So handsome, Hogger

So handsome, Hogger

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I think it should go in the record books as the strangest first raid night for a new team I’ve ever seen.

Team Wanda of Band of Misfits met for their first 25 person raid last night, doing Siege of Orgrimmar in normal mode.

I was puttering around in the house, glanced at the time and thought, “holy crap, it’s 15 minutes to raid time! I better log on, I meant to be there chatting a half hour before the start.”

My expectation was that we’d all log in, see how many showed up, and then find out how many spots we had vacant we’d have to fill.

Hah!

I almost didn’t get to go on the freaking raid.

13 minutes before posted raid start (8 PM central time for those interested in these things) and we were only short three people.

Out of twenty-five.

Or were we?

I say short, but I tell a lie, because really the only folks in the team at that point were the ones invited from our own server.

Invites to cross-server folks went out, and at 5 minutes before we were even supposed to start we already had trash cleared and 24 people standing in front of the boss, buffed and ready to go.

One person, only ONE person from those originally expected to attend wasn’t there at that point, and several folks that were on the “Hey, I’d like to go list” were, guess what, online ready to go.

Eight O’Clock on the button and we’re pulling a boss for the first raid night, and at 8:03, the missing person showed up.

8:03.

“Hey, they just logged in, what do we do”, and the immediate answer was, “Sorry, guess you should have been on time. We’re full.”

Tom has adopted a new motto he seemed overly fond of, “Five minutes early is ten minutes too late.”

Harsh? Amazingly enough the solution is within the power of the person to control. If you want to go, you show up early!

It’s not like anyone is being asked to struggle and suffer for this.

You want to talk about suffering to raid? Do you remember raiding in Burning Crusade? Do you remember all of the scrolls, the potions and flasks, the food, the various buff stones and mana stones and sharpening stones and shit you had to bring to be ‘ready’ for each progression raid?

Shall we discuss… attunement chains and keys and resist gear? Shall we? Let’s not.

Somewhere on this blog I once made a list in BC to help folks be prepared and on time, I should go find a link to it, just to have something to point at and laugh.

Better yet, print it out, place it on an altar surrounded by lit candles, play some monk chants on a CD player, get a bunch of friends together and point at it, laugh at it, and thens et it on fire as a sacrifice to the Gods of utter futility.

These days, you just gotta be reforged, repaired and bring a flask. Someone even brings you the best food on a noodle cart, it doesn’t get more relaxed than that.

Next expansion, we won’t even have reforging to worry about. What’s next? Removing food buffs? Removing potions so you’ve only got a single possible flask buff per role, and a health or mana pot per fight?

These days, you don’t even have to sweat repairing first. If you forgot to repair, someone will have a Jeeves. And if you didn’t reforge? Well, you can go kiss my ass, but sure, someone probably has one of those crazy 100,000 gold mounts.

I can’t tell you the last time I saw someone show up for a raid only three minutes late, and be told “Whoops, you’re too late, spot’s already filled and we’re pulling. Other people were hungrier, next time pack a lunch.”

Eagerness and timeliness are a good sign. :)

On the progression side of things, the raid lasted exactly one hour and forty-five minutes without breaks, and we cleared up to and through General Nazgrim. We debated going after Malkorok in the 15 minutes we had left, but Tom felt there was too much trash in the way to get it done exactly by the two hour mark.

You have to give him credit. He may expect you to be on time, but he also respects that when the raid is supposed to be over, the raid is supposed to be over.

First night with a brand spanking new 25 person raid team, everyone early and up for it and 8 bosses down in normal mode.

I’m not all that sharp at times, but even I think this bodes well.

Second raid night is Sunday, we’ve got four hours to kill six bosses.

Somehow, and I know this sounds crazy, but somehow I think we might do it. Maybe, just possible, kind of magic eight ball says all signs point to yes levels of expectation.

Want to know the secret of our success?

It helps when more than half the team are normally part of a 10 person heroic-geared progression team, including both tanks and several healers, and everyone knows the fight.

It also helps when most folks don’t need anything from normal raids, they’re waiting for us to get settled in and begin the heroics. We might on the average overgear normals. Maybe.

My favorite parts of the night were the repeated times Tom would start explaining how we do a fight, and someone would immediately do some crazy shit like drop Rain of Fire on the Sha or wander near a Dark Shaman puppy and facepull the boss.

“Blah blah blah OH SHIT WE’RE DOING IT LIVE GO!”

Really, the only fight that didn’t go smoothly was General Nazgrim. Lots of ravagers up for some reason, and at the end Tom decided to push the kill and keep fighting through Defensive stance when Nazgrim was still at 18% health.

We killed him, but it was a case of ‘last few standing, bring home the flag.’

So. Much. Ravagers.

If World of Warcraft were modable like Minecraft is, wouldn’t you like to be able to swap one thing in a mechanic for something else?

Like, say, swap Nazgrim’s Ravager Axe for actual Outlands Ravagers?

That would be so much fun! Every time Nazgrim gets too much rage, another ravager critter would appear and chew on someone’s face with the Firelands Rageface mechanic.

Can’t you just hear the screams of “get it off, get it off, GET IT OFF OF ME!!!!!”

Also, that would give people a reason to hold a personal grudge against someone else in the raid that stood in the splash and gave Nazgrim tons of extra rage. “It’s YOUR fault I got ragefaced! How’s about next time you get your slow ass out of the splash?”

Such hilarious fun it would be! But at least then you could burn down the extra ravager and move on with your life, it wouldn’t be floating around the whole match.

Anyway, all I can say is, in the words of Shang Tsung, IT HAS BEGUN!

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I’m back in World of Warcraft where I belong.

It was a cold, lonely two days unsubbed without Azeroth to call my home.

I’ve come to the realization, and it’s a somewhat surprising one to me, that over the years I’ve gone from being a solo player to being a raider.

I don’t have to raid all the time, and I don’t have to raid serious progression, but I play the game first and foremost to have fun times with friends doing stuff together.

In World of Warcraft, that means raids.

I enjoy pet battles, and flying around looking for ore, and putzing around leveling alts I know I’m never going to play at max level. That’s still good fun.

There will forever be something magical in riding a dragon, soaring through the sky over mountains and green valleys, scanning the ground below looking for something to kill. Death from above!

For me, the true gaming pleasure boils down to either looking forward to (and preparing for) the next raid, or being IN the raid.

I log in and look at my in-game friends list, and that song from Frozen runs through my head, but the lyrics are changed. What I hear is;

Do you wanna kill a dragon?
Come on, let’s go and raid!
I never see you logging on
Come on get on
Don’t you want to come and play?

Yeah, I’m very excited to be back in World of Warcraft. It’s raid night, baby!

Tonight is supposed to be the first night our raid team in Band of Misfits begins 25-person raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Will we still be called Team Wanda? Inquiring minds want to know, this is serious business!

The first raid will be tonight on Wednesday, and there is a second scheduled night each week on Sunday.

Doesn’t seem like much, is it? Two nights a week to do raiding.

It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to give me something to look forward to. There will be good times, fun conversations, people joshing with each other in vent while internet dragons are battled.

When it’s over, there will be reasons to go out and get stuff to make more flasks, some food, get some Valor to upgrade things maybe or seek out new items in old content to build a new transmog set to wear to the next raid.

There is one truth we all know by now. In order to get a group of folks together on a consistent basis, there has to be a reward those people want. Fun in groups gets most people there the first few nights, but self-interest and the carrot of an actual reward gets people coming back time after time.

A rare mount, a pet drop, that item for transmog, and above all else a better gear upgrade, these things are motivational. Sure, we all want fun, but we also want loot.

That is why raids are going to continue being the thing that brings people together. So long as there is a potential upgrade or achievement or shiny new thing to seek, you’ll get the seekers banding together.

I’m sure some of the folks tonight are only coming because they hope to get gear upgrades, and if it wasn’t with us it’d be with someone else.

I’m sure others are just bored and here is something to do. Maybe they’ll last, maybe not.

Still more might be starting with us tonight because there is nothing in it for them today, but it’s an investment of time now to ensure that when the Garrosh heirlooms get a higher droprate they’ll be right there to get a shot every week.

And of course, most of the core team are doing this now in the hopes of a smooth, speedy transition into the new Mythic raid format once Warlords of Draenor pops it’s cork.

Me… I resubbed, and I’m going tonight, and I’m going to do my damndest to be there every Wednesday and Sunday for raid because I finally got it through my head… I just like playing with friends, and the folks in Team Wanda? They’re my friends, and I like to hang out with them.

Same with Tuesday nights. I’ve been priviliged to run with some of the fine Horde folks in Elitist Jerks in flex runs for the last several weeks, and you can imagine my surprise in finding out they’re a bunch of great folks, too.

Who knew fun friendly folks that know what they’re doing still play this game? From the drama on social media you’d think it was dead. Amazing.

People can bitch about whatever they want to elsewhere, or get enthusiastic about another game, or whatever. It doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me, and it doesn’t change my experience in the game that I do play with the people I like playing with.

World of Warcraft remains a great game. It’s controls are smooth as silk for me, there is a ton of interesting and enjoyable content to play through, and there are still many things I’d love to do, most of which takes a group to do and wouldn’t involve rewards or upgrades for other people, which is why I haven’t done them yet. :)

I remain hopeful and enthusiastic, however. Even the worst night playing with friends is a damn good time.

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