Game developers and reviewers, pay attention!

alexmetallicaherosmallAhem.

Cassie purchased for me Guitar Hero: Metallica for our anniversary.

I have not played it nearly as much as my 6 year old son, Alex.

Is it for lack of enjoyment?

NO!

It’s because the damn game has a ‘beginner’ mode, which let’s someone play the songs while only strumming, not having to use the keys on the neck!

When a note comes, it’s a rainbow hue, stretching across the frets. So one only needs to have the rhythm to strum at the right moment.

Game developers, pay attention to this, please, if you desire money.

If you don’t like money, then ignore it as you wish.

Game reviewers, you might also want to pay attention. Those games you review? Most of the people that read your reviews and have money to blow on games have kids, and like to share their video game obsession with them

So here’s the deal.

Guitar Hero: Metallica has just shot to the ‘most favorite game in the house’ status, based on the fact that I can play this with my 6 year old. I will play this game bunches. He is playing it, on songs like ‘No Leaf Clover’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, and he is rocking it, his head is all into it at the beat, he’s focused and he is freaking lovin’ it.

Game Developers, the fact that this game not only has regular modes for us regular gamers, but also includes a mode, an incredibly basic mode, that my 6 year old can enjoy is pure genius. I would have bought this game based purely on knowing this fact, if it had been, you know, advertised or on a review. If you include kid friendly modes on the games we adults want, we will come.

I will look for future games that have a young child friendly mode, and if I find any of them out there I think would be neat, I WILL buy them too. Because it will be something I can share with my son, that isn’t f’ing Dora the Explorer in horrible shit art that looks like a smurf took a crap on a keyboard and foisted it on small kids because they aren’t selling a quality game, they’re selling a brand they know parents will recognise.

Guess what I don’t buy? I don’t buy crap games for Alex. I rent a Dora game from Blockbuster, see it’s crap and an insult to my son, and pass on by.

The Go Diego Go game for the Wii using the motion controls was a quality game, though, credit where credit is due. They did a real nice job there. It was just so linear and short that my son beat it, at the age of five, in 1.5 hours. And looked at me, and said he didn’t really ever feel the need to play it again. Ever. Too short, too simple.

You take $50 for a game a 5 year old beats in 1.5 hours, and has no replayability? I don’t care how nice a job you did mapping the controls, I’d like to smack you.

Game Reviewers? Yeah, this part is for you.

Remember where I mentioned who buys games? Who has the cash? And what those folks have… kids?

Yeah, we browse your site reading your reviews, giving you pagehits in exchange for info to help us make an informed purchase.

We know about FPS, RPGs, MMORPGs, tactical shooters, Sims, etc.

We don’t know shit about ‘kid’s games’. Games targeted at kids.

All we know is, we like games, we LOVE games, and we want our children to experience that same joy, that same wonder, that same ‘this is so freaking cool’ that we got playing video games as kids.

Guess what?

If you review a game, and you include just one single paragraph in each review telling us if there is any possibility that my son could play this in any mode or setting and enjoy it, I will bookmark your site and come back time after time, just to see if a game *I* am interested in has any appeal I can share with my son… an appeal where he DOES it himself, not just has to sit and watch me do it.

If you write reviews and don’t have kids… protip, they want to do it themselves. They don’t want adults to do it for them, or just watch adults do it. That’s boring.

My son watches me play WoW. He sees me fish, or mine, or herb, and says “Daddy, i can do that, can I try?”

He wants to have fun, not watch!

Make your game, rock on, make it good. But if you add a mode or capability for the primary owner/player to play it WITH their children, even their SMALL children… your game will pass from mild diversion to family favorite.

Yes, even Guitar Hero: Metallica.

I cannot even begin to imagine the success a Guitar Hero or other game using the guitar would have if it had reasonable music and a Beginner mode, targeted not at what idiots like McDonalds and Disney marketing thinks kids music should be, but what kids think kids music should be; light and fun and fast and boppy.

Man, you should see Alex rocking to ‘No Leaf Clover’.

He wants to try ‘Battery’ next.

I’m… I’m so proud.

Oh, and good lord, they included Bob Segar’s ‘Turn the Page’ on here. Is that awesome or what?

My son could be playing guitar for ‘Turn the Page’. Is that the shit or what?

Only way it could be better is if they included Blue Öyster Cult. /swoon.

Reviewers? I’m dead serious. I’ve been to your sites, your idea of kids games and reviews for them is a joke. That’s why you don’t get my traffic anymore. I can make up my own mind about what I’m interested in, it’s trying to figure out if my son would like something that sends me to a review site.

Word to the wise, you want my money? Make what the demographic with the money wants… and we want more ways to have COOL fun while interacting with our children.

This game and Paper Mario – sure genius.

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The Fine Art of Communication

Do you ever suddenly become aware of the words coming out of your mouth, and get a quick flash of what a stranger listening in might think?

On the phone, in your office, co-workers all around, and your wife calls. Just for the sake of argument, we’ll call her Cassie. As an example.

And she has questions about the Naxx run that night, who is going, which character she should bring, who will be doing what.

And as you’re talking (and at the same time multitasking other work, answering email, writing work orders, generating Purchase Orders) you suddenly realize you are, in fact;

In the office.
Surrounded by (presumably) professional adults in the workforce.
On the phone.

And the words coming out of your mouth are;

“I’m sorry there doesn’t seem to be much loot for Ret coming out of Naxx. Maybe Ret in Naxx works the same as Bear did in Kara, where most good stuff came from Quests and Heroics, and there were very few true upgrades from the raid zone. If you want to stab stuff, that’s cool, but your pally was putting out 1500 deeps in Heroics, you’ll be fine for hitting Naxx first time. Grai will be on Fal so you’d be bringing the Replenishment for the mana gulpers which will help on Patchwerk.”

“If you can’t find a loot list for Ret that ranks like Shadowpanther does, maybe if you try a Wowhead filter search and sift by content top down you can get some ideas.”

“Just, go on who you want to go on, dear.”

“If you go stabby there are others that could use the same loot from the kill, but your pally would be one of the few that could use plate stuff for deeps and heals, the rest have most everything now. Remember the lesson of Fal and Kel’thuzad… sharded Tier sucks. It’s your call, either way is fine. I just know that having 5 people all vying for the same Tier gets old, maybe you should change it up.”

“No, really, I think your 1500 deeps on heroics is fine for hitting Naxx.”

“I talked to Fal quite a bit last night after we blew up ZG and ripping Hakkar’s heart out. Too bad we didn’t have the potion to light the brazier, madness is fun. Next time we’ll get crazy, next time.”

Umm…

/shiftyeyes.

Did anyone else hear that?

Uh oh.

Thank god we weren’t taking about first person shooters.

“They’re coming to take me away, haha, they’re coming to take me away, hoho, heehee, haha, to the funny farm, where life is happy ALL the time!”

Or, to quote my favorite villain from one of my favorite movies…

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better, and better!”

I’d say another quote from that but the rest are too well known.

Word is, new Night Elf Bear forms are up… maybe

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Zach at WoW Insider got taken on this one.

Edit: Limb broke under weight of big bear posterior, update below.

And I’ll be more than happy to offer an apology if I’m wrong.

WoW Insider reports that an insider Twittered them with the new Druid Night Elf Bear forms.

I’ve looked at those pictures, and compared them most closely with the hi res offerings at Blizzard’s official page (where no such official post has been made, by the way).

I’m sorry, I just don’t see the Night Elf ones on WoW Insider having the same polygon count and detail as the ones Blizzard released.

The necklaces, the feathers, the body textures themselves, I just don’t see it.

It’s an amazing job, I can see where they really could be taken as the official version. The glowy night elf eyes without pupils, the facial scars, etc.

And I’m not even talking about the different font styles on the screenshot for “Ye Oldde Bear”. I’m serious, they don’t look as hi-res or detailed to my eyes.

Hey, maybe I’m wrong. But I’ll leave it to you to compare, speculate, and we’ll all see when Blizzard puts the true info live on their home site.

In the meantime, until we get true official word… please don’t go nuts about not liking (or liking) the Night Elf versions. Give it time.

And if WoW Insider is right, then grats on getting there with the scoop first!

Update: Aaaaaannnnndddd… I WAS WRONG!

Minutes after I put up my post, the official Blizzard page got updated with the hi-res image of the Night Elf Druid Bear form.

It’s basically the same image as WoW Insider put up, but much higher res, and with different font for the text, lol.

You know, technically, I was right based on why I thought it was fake, because the original image WoW inisder put up WAS much lower res than what Blizz put up. Yeah, I’ll keep telling myself that. Uh huh. Still wrong, wasn’t I?

So apparently the facial markings and glowy eyes are going live, folks!

My apologies to Zach and WoW Insider for doubting them!

And here they are!

nightelfbearsmall1

Frankly, I like the facial markings, feathers and colors. They feel fun.

What surprises me most is that players can have different facial markings, or even none at all, but these bears all share the same one. Either we get no choice in the bear facial markings and they all have the same ones regardless of our characters, or this will be changed individually just like on our toons. 

Interesting, very interesting. They reveal, and yet create even more mysteries. Just like Lost.

We're the players, not the enemy!

This isn’t a rant, no it’s not. I’m in a good mood, a playful mood. I am!

I think this needs to be said, though. I’ve been consistently tweaked by this issue for a long time, and I think once I get it out, I can move past it.

Yo, Blizz!

Hey, love the game, keep it up, way to go, know wut I mean?

Yeah, about this whole stat thing.

Do you think you could, like, take a break on the stat complexity thing? Just for a little? And while you’re at it, make stuff in harder content better than the stuff that came before?

Hey, it’s cool, I know you guys want us to stay challenged, stay excited. I gotcha. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say nah more.

But, you know, it’s just an idea and all, call me crazy, call me kooky but…

How about you focus on keeping us excited and engaged with the content we’re playing in?

I love the game as much as anyone, but come on.

The game is cool as it is. You don’t need to feel like you have to artificially raise the difficulty by making the stat system clear as mud, and by constantly, intentionally, endlessly jerking around what stats are better than which in a fight of what duration under what conditions just to increase the challenge… blech!

Have fun making the encounters fun. Knock yourself out with challenging content. Force people to follow a progression that requires them to get solid upgrades from one stage before going on to the next.

This Ulduar thing? Rock on. Love ya, babe.

Just stop making the gear, the loot, that shiny old bling all confusing and silly.

You design the gear. You assign the stats. And you decide what drops it where.

You have the power!

You are the mighty Cthulhu, and we are the investigators that, let me be honest, are failing our SAN checks here.

You don’t have to punish us, the players, for having gear you feel is too powerful for where we’re at progression-wise. You put it where we found it, we didn’t hack your server.

And if everyone uses the same axe because it’s just that good?

It’s not a problem. There is nothing that says that we need 5 weapons of equal value, but with wildly different stats, just so you can feel good about itemization, or feel that those graphics models get used.

If we have a single item that we find, through our research and study, is best in slot… it’s cool. You didn’t fail. Because no matter what you do, no matter how screwed up and confusing you try and make the stats… someone will wade through the formula, figure out a stat weighting system, and publish a gear list… and something will be sitting at the top as best in slot, even if you do everything in your power to make stuff evenly weighted and hard to define.

It’s cool. It’s just the way we are. You give us a challenge, and we will try and figure out the best avenue of approach to overcome it, and part of that is a defined gear list. With something perched at the top.

Change the stats, add more stats, all that does is change whats at the top of the list… and annoys the people that worked damn hard to get to the top of the last list and spent all their DKP.

So stop the craziness, drop the crap stats and weird itemization, distribute it evenly among the tiers of progression, okay stuff at bottom, good stuff in middle, best stuff at top,  and let us struggle to get it.

We’ll do our part. We’ll play the game, and have a great time doing it.

And when we down a boss in new content that is a little harder than the content we had been doing before, I assure you, no really, I swear to God, when the loot drops and it’s clearly a little better than the loot from the content we had done before…

…we promise we won’t feel cheated.

No, really, it’s cool.

Having Ulduar drop better loot than Naxx, it’s okay with us. Fights are harder than Naxx, so having the loot be better sounds spiffy. We won’t mind.

See, right now, and maybe you haven’t noticed this, but the thing of it is, there are so many stats, and the way those stats are distributed amongst the itemization is so wonky, that it really is damn hard to look at two pieces of gear side by side and tell by a glance whether you just got an upgrade.

I don’t know about you folks up there in Developer Heaven, but when us player folks down a boss, loot drops, someone rolls on it and wins it, and then says, “Oh dang guys, I just checked my spreadsheet, and that item wasn’t really an upgrade, I’d gain 24 Crit Rating but lose 16 Armor Pen and 12 Haste Rating, and that works out to a loss of 34.7 DPS over a 4 minute fight, sorry…”

Well, that sucks. In a lot of ways.

Us players, we’re simple folks at heart.

Yes, many of us love the complexity of the fights, of working out the math of what is better than what, of making gear lists and figuring out tactical manuevers…

But everyone loves to get an upgrade. And nobody likes to take down the hardest fight yet ever, and then have everyone pass because the loot is inferior to what they got on a much easier fight.

I don’t personally know a single person that likes the current murky, vague ‘is this damn thing an upgrade or isn’t it, lemme check my notes’ nature of itemization.

Maybe they’re out there. I can’t speak for everyone. And some folks like fish flavored ice cream, too. Some people are just plain crazy.

Just from me, though, come on, guys. Work with us, okay?

We’re not your enemy, we WANT your game to rock! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t pay you for the priviledge of playing it, okay?

Come on, we love you, so why all the abuse?

The perfect Heigan dance song

I’ve been meaning to post this thing for weeks, and have never really found the right time before.

For some reason, and I really couldn’t say why, now seemed like the perfect time.

I really hope that the next time you dance the Heigan dance, you’ll at least momentarily think of this song. 🙂

P.S. DO NOT PLAY THIS SONG IN A ROOM WITH SMALL CHILDREN WHILE USING SPEAKERS.

http://www.esnips.com//escentral/images/widgets/flash/esnips_player.swf
Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

I do so love the Violent Femmes. Can you guess the name of the song?

Glory, glory hallelujah! New Druid Artwork!

That’s right, true believers, new Druid form artwork! The release of the artwork! It’s begun!

/gush!

Okay, seriously, though. The artwork that has been released so far is beautiful.

Quoted directly from Blizzard;

In our next major content patch, druids will find a host of new textures for two major forms, cat and bear. There will be five different designs for each of these forms for the Horde and Alliance. Night elves can choose to change their cat and bear look at any time by visiting the barber shop and changing their character’s hair color, while tauren will be able to change which look they use by switching skin tones in the barber shop — a new feature for tauren in the next major content patch. Given that there are more hair colors and skin tones than unique form looks, some colors and tones will overlap with these new textures. The hair and skin colors chosen will, in most cases, correspond with the color seen in the look of each form. Some similar colors that may share a particular cat texture will not necessarily share the same bear texture.

We’d like to share with you this new art for each form and faction in four installments. So without further ado, our first preview is for the five new textures of the tauren druid bear form. We’ll also show the current form design so you can easily see the extra detail and textures of the new art. Work continues on new looks for the remaining druid forms and we hope to add them in future content patches.

Stay tuned for a preview of the new night elf druid bear form art coming later this week.

I’d like for you to think about how neat the concept is that they describe in that announcement.

Our Druids will shapeshift into a form that corresponds most closely with our Night Elf hair color, or our Tauren fur color.

I… I cannot in all honesty ask for more.

And the bear forms look as though they are using the richer textures with the greater detail that you find in the Northrend armor models, so we can expect a long term beauty that will help us fit in with our friends and their fancy armors.

Thank you, Blizzard. Seriously, thank you.

Here is the picture they released of the Tauren Bear forms, for your delight…

newtaurendruidartsmall

My thanks to MMO Champion for posting this up, and to Cassie, who was the first to let me know about it, and who actually sent me links, pics in various sizes, and the whole enchilada so I could post about it even though I’m at work and have zero access to MMO or Blizzard or any other major WoW website from here. Thank you both!

Updates:

Since the comments and emails are going nuts on the whole “Bear with mouth open” thing, and even though people have already cleared it up in the comment section further posted comments clearly are speaking without reading first, let me get this straightened out.

Nethaera (Blue poster) said:

Also, in the screenshots the bears are roaring, but when just sitting normally, their mouths will close in a toothy grin so to speak.

Please read what I already stated in a previous post in this thread. You will notice a more toothy grin to go with the usual intimidating roar.

No one has said anything about it only closing while sitting. 🙂 I think there have been some incorrect inferences.

Just to clarify, when I said, “sitting around” that was in reference to idling, hanging out and being bearlike.

Tree and Moonkin forms are still something we’d like to do, but it’s something for a bit further in the future. We are aware these are things that people would like to see additional customization for.

We also would like to allow gear to affect the visual look of the forms, but this too is something that is going to need additional work in order to get it to work properly and look good.

You’ll see the further distinctions between the forms (bear and cat for tauren and night elf) as we go along in the previews.

The models have been updated and the poly count is also increased on them. So this isn’t just a simple re-skin.

And Ghostcrawler said;

They are new models and new textures. You can tell by things like how much less blocky the bear’s shoulders and rump are. There are more polys now. The difference in detail is pretty amazing and hard to really appreciate from a simple screenshot. The animations are the same as they’ve always been.

Honestly with things like this we have to be a little careful. While not many people will champion the fidelity of the old forms (because they look old!) players can get very attached to them. We were concerned that if we changed them too much (remove the horns for example), long-term druids might really feel disenfranchised. The artists did a great job of capturing the feel of the old forms while still updating them.

If you have more hair color choices than pelt colors available on the animal then more than one hair option will map to the same animal.

Having the art itself upgrade as you improve your gear is still something we’d love to do, but is obviously a much bigger undertaking. We’ll see.

And wait until you see the new Tauren cat! That was the one most in need of an overhaul, IMO.

Okay? The mouth is going to close, okay? /cry

I swear, some days I wonder if the Devs ever think of just deleting a class, and have fun announcing “Since ya’ll can’t ever be satisfied, we figured… eh, screw it. Reroll.”

What ever happened to being delighted and happy to be able to play an amazingly awesome video game? And if you’re not… why are you still playing? What do you want, a return to the pure aesthetics of Pong?

Bear offers Ret Pally advice, world ends, film at eleven

Yeah, yeah, I know. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.

I’m playing my Retribution Paladin alt, having fun, soloing in Borean Tundra lately.

Along the way, I came across something that I did not know, got irritated, figured out a quick solution, and then had the thought, “Maybe somewhere out there is another noob Ret Pally like me, and they could use this too.”

The situation?

The Retribution Paladin Talent “The Art of War”, when 2/2, increases the damage of your Judgement, Crusader Strike and Divine Storm abilities by 10% and when these abilities critically hit your next Flash of Light spell becomes instant cast.

Nice, right? Insta-cast self heal in the middle of a scrum, no interruptions.

On my interface, when one of these three activities crits, a little buff icon (with timer since I have the buff timer activated under Inerface Options) pops up showing The Art of War is active for 14 seconds, and of course during that 14 seconds, any single Flash of Light cast is instant, and consumes the buff.

The problem?

Fine and dandy, but on my interface, the only way to tell it’s live is by actively looking at my buff section, and trying to see if it’s popped up or not.

When you’ve got Replenishment popping up and down, auras for various trinkets going off and on, and, oh, I dunno… you’re in a stressful situation where you might actually NEED an instant cast Flash of Light, I personally find it a pain to try and keep an eye on the buff section and see if I can recognize The Art of War active up there before I take time to click the heal.

My solution?

Well, I use Scrolling Combat Text, have for years, and I love it dearly. It already has the functionality built in to display messages. It’s what it’s for.

It has, by default, many of the special moves various classes use already built in and active, and when a buff goes live or a special ability becomes active, it pops up a message letting you know it’s time to activate it.

The Art of War, for some reason, is not one of the defaults built in.

So, you can do what I did, and create a custom event to make The Art of War display.

Here’s how.

First, a simple screenshot of the settings I used in Scrolling Combat Text “Custom Events” to make it work.

artofwarsct

And now, as I promised…

Film at eleven!