Irv Blog: One man's look at WoW, and his hopes for the future.

After my near internet-less holiday I'm back and find the world wrapped up in the Olympics. I was originally planning to kick off my new blog with an update on my minecraft adventure map but because I've been gone not much progress has been made. Instead I decided I would do a write up on WoW and my experience with WoW in general. Turns out this was the right decision with today's news on WoW losing 1.1 million subscribers. Before I end up talking in circles lets get this blog started. Note you can skip the first two sections in you like, they're more about my experience with mmos and less to do with my opinion on the game.

My Experience With WoW (And some other MMOs)

I started playing WoW towards the end of Burning Crusade, well technically I've been a player since the beginning because I played the game for about a month before BC came out but those were different times. I then picked it up and played for a while in BC but wasn't a fully committed player until the launch of Wrath. That's Wrath Of The Litch King. WoTlk is the dumbest shortening of a name in my opinion because it takes way too long to type and looks / soundsidiotic. Fight me. Anyway I will refer to Wrath as Wrath because of my personal vendetta against WoTLk will never end. so get used to it now Throughout Wrath I played a Paladin, I swear I didn't know about the over powerdness before hand it was just the time in my life when being the super good guy was cool. I never really got into raiding but I dabbled and enjoyed it, I just didn't feel like setting up a schedule for a game because I thought it would make me enjoy the game less. I played pretty heavily until probably 5 months or so before Cata. I signed back up a month before Cata launched and dived back in. That dive wouldn't last as long though mostly because most of my old guild mates had moved on long before I stopped playing and unlike me they didn't come back. Our guild broke up and we all went separate ways. I was also more bored of the content not because it wasn't good I had just seen all it earlier. Sadly I was so into all the beta footage that it felt like all the content was old the second it came out. (A mistake I will not be making with MoP, and yes I approve of MoP.) My time with Cata can be described as spastic with me guild hopping looking for a new home combined with taking longer breaks than I normally do with MMOs. Should mention that WoW is not my only MMO experience, I dabbled with EVE for a long time, continually return to DDO (The only game other than LoL doing free to play right in my opinion), had a bad relationship with Lotr, and a love hate relationship with TOR. I've played others but honestly non worth mentioning. Oh and Age of Empires Online but that's more of a single player game for me. I think that sums up my MMO experience so hopefully you can kind of see where I'm coming from, or maybe I just bored you to death with a wall of text. I should throw in a cute picture or something to grab you attention.

And it's relevant, almost like I planned it to be.

Dr. Irvandus: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the MMO

I like MMOs, yeah I admit it, those dumb hot-bars you all complain about I love em. What I don't like is how those hot-bars are implemented the same way and auto-attack. My thought on auto-attack to come later in the MoP section. I just figured I should let you know what I personally go to MMOs for. Honestly I'm pretty simple I like: well written large back stories, cool art, "interesting combat", other people (sometimes), decent pvp but it doesn't have to be the focus, challenging dungeons. That's about it really, interesting combat is a new one though. The combat doesn't have to be completely different than WoWs but I refuse to play another rage based or mana based class if MMOs are using WoW's style of combat. That's why I played a bounty hunter in TOR, ranged tank was something different along with his cool heat based energy. Should also note I prefer hitting stuff and tanking over ranged classes.

In-between time / why WoW lost 1.1 million subscribers

From the outside perspective it looks like Blizzard must have done something terribly wrong to lose 1.1 million subs and that they should do all they can to save their sinking boat. This isn't really the case though. First thing to understand is that most of those subscriptions are from the far east, which means Blizzard doesn't have to worry as much. "But Irvandus that's more than 15 million dollars a month out the window!" Not exactly, the subscription system in those countries is actually different than ours, they're not paying 15 dollars a month instead they pay through game-time cards that can be bought at most stores. Why do they do the subscriptions that way? I don't know, hat I do know is that Blizzard has repeatedly reported to investors that these subscriptions don't mean as much and as actual 15 dollar a month subscriptions. Then again you could argue this is does sweet talk to investors, in which case you might be right.

The reason for the loss is assumed to not be bad quality content but pure lack there of. The last major content patch came out in late December last year. That's about 8 months now with no new content ( I think the new circus content came out but that's just mini game stuff and not something that can really hold over players.) We also know that Blizz has said they don't plan to release anything before the launch of Pandaria. The reason that Blizzard has not made any new content is that when they released Naxx and Sunwell at the end of Vanilla and BC respectively most players chose to not do the content because the gear they would get from it would be obsolete at the launch of the next expansion. Some could argue Naxx was just because of difficulty and we were not sure how obsolete the gear was but for Sunwell that was definitely the reason. Another hold over raid was launched during Wrath called the Ruby Sanctum that faced the same issues as the last two hold over dungeons but this one was also pretty badly made to top that.

This puts Blizzard in a pretty terrible spot. Provide your players with content that they won't do and waste money and production time or don't give your players anything and see them stop playing. I think we can assume that Blizz figures that losing a few (Or 1.1 million) subscriptions is less costly than making any new content that won't be played. It's a pretty damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. Well with that let's have another short intermission after which I will detail my excitement for MoP and my hope for how it can rectify some mistakes in the past.

For those not in the know Deathwing became a tentacle monster Cthulu style during his final stage in Cataclysm. It was a pretty bad ass idea on Blizzards part if I don't say so myself. Oh and Thrall was a bad ass during it too but when isn't he. For those who haven't played since Cata Thrall has basically become the superman of the WoW universe.

Pandas

"Oh man new WoW expansion is going to be launched dude! What can beat a cataclysm that almost destroyed the entire world!"

"Maybe an expansion where we fight a Titan!"

"Or the Old Gods"

Nope Pandas, but unlike a good majority of the WoW fan base I was far more excited because of it. Azeroth at this point is a pretty ridiculous world when you think about it. Every year for the last 5 years some new monster has returned to destroy everyone. For a world with a really well written back story it's super ridiculous. Also it leads the story in every expansion to sum up to this.

  1. New Villain invades
  2. Travel to area where new villain is (Not quite in Cata, war on the home front.)
  3. Spend year and a half learning about how bad ass and evil the bad ass evil guy is while you kill other things.
  4. You kill final boss, Npc takes credit.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

On the other hand they can actually do something totally different with MoP, my understanding is that the story goes like this. (Spoilers are blocked out if you care)

  1. Discovery of Pandaria
  2. Both factions set out to conquer the land
  3. Pandarens split into two factions. One that supports the Horde and their no nonsense were going to kill your ass before you kill us attitude introduced by Garrosh and a separate faction supporting the "more political" approach of the Alliance.
  4. Player adventures in Pandaria learning the history of the Pandarens while seeing their land slowly transformed due to the arrival of the Horde and Alliance
  5. Stuff happens with a specific character. Garrosh does some dickhead thing that causes everyone who doesn't already hate him to hate him.
  6. A certain place is invaded where a certain character dies. Ogrimar is invaded and Garrosh is killed. Yeah Ogrimar is the final dungeon.
  7. End expansion.

To me this is way more interesting than the overly used format than the previous expansions and hopefully Blizz can pull it off. Their is also some cool side story stuff about Jaina proudmoore having her troops asses kicked in Theramore from Garrosh that somehow leads to her getting grey hair and becoming more powerful.

This is also the first expansion to focus on new story instead of a trip down memory lane focusing on characters from the RTS games. "But pandas are so dumb waaaaah". You should read up on them and their lore before you form an opinion, but this is the internet and I guess I shouldn't expect better. I'm also excited because it seems like Blizzard is creating a large amount of content in this expansion. As much as Cataclysm changed the world it didn't provide a lot of new high level content. The zones except for Uldum and the water zone that must not be named because I really don't like it, were the only zones that were really giant. The specific stories in each zone were really cool but you were done and out of each zone the trade off of more content for more focused quicker content didn't feel worth it. Raids rolled out slowly as usual but their was a lot of drama early on about the difficulty. Through out Wrath the vocal minority in WoW the "hardcore" (Dumb name") complained a lot about how easy everything was. Blizzard listening made most Cata content really challenging, which is bad when most of the community likes the challenge they got in Wrath. This lead to a lot of early dislike of Cata and the expansion never really recovered. Hopefully their will not only be more content at the launch of MoP but it will also be better balanced.

"Pokemon is so dumb!"

Yeah it's kind of silly on the surface that Blizzard is basically adding a pokemon style mini game to their game but after seeing the new footage of it I'm actually excited just to having something else to do that isn't crafting related, dungeon related, pvp related, or fishing. For those that don't know the game takes your vanity pets that you've unlocked and turns them into tools you can use to battle other players in a turn by turn pet based battle pokemon style. Each pet unlocks moves as it levels up and has a specific type assigned to it that makes it better against other types. For example dragon type attacks do 150% damage to humanoids. You can catch, I mean capture new pets in the wild by lowering them down to 35% health with your pets. From what I've seen it's actually really well produced and the battle music used during the fights is actually straight out of Warcraft 2 for those looking to stroke their nostalgia a bit.

That's all folks.

I felt the odd need to let this all out, hopefully one of you out there found it interesting. Certaintly not the best writing but hopefully I helped explain the loss of subscribers and my hope for MoP. I forgot to touch on auto-attack but you guys probably didn't notice that until you read this. Whoops. I honestly could have probably written another 12 paragraphs worth of stuff but it would largely be me arguing about my opinions on stuff people don't care about. Your regularly planned Irv Blog will return next week. As always leave advice and opinions. If you want to hit me up in WoW I feel like hopping back in after writing this and will tell my new character name to anyone interested. Do we have an active GB guild? If so is it on a bad server?

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Irv Blog: Prepare to Blog

I'm going to be without reliable internet for a while but before that happens I want to announce I want to turn my "two kinda blogs" into one that I update regularly. Basically I'm going to continue my Irvandus Endures, and Adventure or Bust in one blog instead of two and work on a regular schedule. I'll also add some new sections if I feel I'm not posting enough content in one post. Anyway catch you all in two weeks with the first post. Any advice would be awesome.

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SMT Imagine DAY 1: Birth of Bonuko

DAY 1: Birth of Bonuko

Well I said I'd try to endurance run SMT I or Megaten as the kids are calling it these days. Now I won't blog every day but I will keep track of what day I'm on. Enough about that though time to show you guys what's

Apparently I am able to make a new character, let's do that. Hmm the options aren't grand and you pretty much all ways end up with anime dude. This one will work but now he needs a name. For the name I will take Charlie Tonuko and combine him with Big Bo, thus creating Bonuko. Wave to the camera Bonuko. I'd change his skin color but as we all know skin color is not an option in anime land.

Holy shit cutscenes! I remember reading that this game had custscenes but they're much better than I thought they would be. I enjoy that they aren't full voiced because that way they don't take up 16 gigs on my hard drive like some other MMO. Anyway that's anime lady, she's my demon hunter mentor. For reference I will call her Obi-Wan from now on. Anyway she tutorials me about how to move and such and then I'm told to go into some tunnel to save some people because an elevator broke. I will say I know almost nothing about the Shin Megami Tensei universe so none of this makes sense right now.

Wait that's Naoto... with a sword... fighting a hydra... in MS Paint. I guess this game has fan made artwork for loading screens, It's kind of awesome in a terrible way.

After seeing that amazing loading screen I learn the basics of combat, which I will say are surprisingly good. The game runs on more of an active combat system than most MMOs. I have a basic attack on 1 where I slash and can combo that in itself or use my second ability to hit harder and than combo out of that. I also have an AoE attack and a guard ability. Enemies give you a good long hint to when they're going to attack punch-out style, when this happen pop your guard button and you will block. But not only will you block you also deliver a pretty hard hitting counter-attack. Also fuck you ghoul no one likes you.

Well this is all going well, wait wtf is that thing. Well that thing forces me into a cutscene and then kills Obi-Wan, and injures her Chimera demon friend. Oh yeah Obi-Wan has a Chimera demon friend, forgot to mention that. Chimera will be referred to as Darth Vader from now on.

Then the game explains the backstory. No like all of it. Yeah like every SMT game, it's kind of awesome that they did this. I've tried to understand what's going on in the SMT games but this cutscene actually makes the world make sense.

Whoa are you big boss!

Oh Snakeman, I understand *wink*

Anyway Big Boss, I mean Snakeman is apparently in charge of training Demon Busters, which is what Bonuko is apparently. He wants me to go out and tame a Pixie so that we can use her scales to make medicine or some shit like that. I go out and learn how to talk to demons, which is nothing like how you talk to demons later in the game, cause you know the best tutorials are tutorials that are nothing like what it's like out when your playing the game. Anyway I befriend my new Pixie buddy and head back to Big Boss / Snakeman.

I am then faced with a choice, Big Boss wants to use Pixies entire body for SCIENCE! Where as Pixie would rather go on living. I decide that Pixie may be the only demon I ever get if things go bad and decide to keep her around. Big Boss is disappointed. Then I'm told a bunch of stuff I don't understand and am sent on a quest to go investigate some tunnel south of the area I'm currently in. Which took a while to figure out cause maps in this game are crazy.

Alright let's talk maps. So instead of having one map where you can zoom in on you have a map for every area in the game and they're all separate. When you open them they open up in their own window that you can scroll around and make whatever size you want. You can also have multiple maps open at once. It's kind of needlessly complicated but then again this is a SMT game.

I leave Big Boss to do more of his SCIENE and journey into the first town for which I am completely unprepared. I find stores that are just stores but also what I think are player runs stores where people leave demons behind to sell stuff for them. I do my best to try and grasp what's going on and then I find the holy land. The Beginners Area. The Beginners Area may or may not be player run I honestly can't tell what is and what's not at this point. The NPC's in this area give me the low down on what's what on this game. Yo man what to hear about my Macca?

I then leave the area and find myself surrounded by a surprisingly number of players and Huan Po's or is it Hua Po, eh I'm too lazy to look it up. I try to tame them but honestly I don't have a clue what I'm doing so me and Pixie murder them instead. Forgot to mention Darth Vader joined my Demon crew, I don't use him because he'll betray me by the end of the series and throw me down a hole.

Anyway thus concludes my first day of Devil Surviving, get it? *sigh*. I actually look forward to playing more of the game and seeing if I can wrap my head around what's going on. If anyone has any advice of what I should do or tips please send them. Adventure or Bust 4 should be posted on Friday. For now though Me, Bonuko, Darth Vader, and Pixie say goodbye and thanks for reading.

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Adventure or Bust 3: Doing Work

Been 2 weeks since I've updated this because I took a brake during the E3 madness to post my E3 mystery inspired... tales?

-What Have I done!-

I've gotten a lot done in the last two weeks, probably the big thing is almost completely finalizing a major island as well as retooling how the island is going to work. I've also started some early terraforming on two major islands and finalized a design for the main town hub of the map, which will be named Nowhere isle thanks Hizang. The matter of texture packs came up and I'm playing around with a through, the screenshot I post with this blog are all with one I like in particular -link-

-Islands-

Nowhere Isle: Nowhere is going to be the basic town hub of the game and the only place you can buy items. It will also feature a bank of some sort which will provide storage for lore books and collectables. (You will also have an ender chest at every checkpoint but this is more of an addition for items you won't need when your exploring)

TBD Desert Isle: To be named desert isle is almost finished, if anyone has a good name idea please leave a comment. I finished up it's major dungeon and really like some of the mechanics in it. As of right now it doesn't require any specific items so you can complete this one at any time. I do want to go back and do some aesthetic thing with it but for now two giant towers are good enough for me. I do have a few more side dungeons and quest things I want to make on the island but for now I'm really happy with it.

Turtle Isle: This is the island I talked about earlier with the Sky Ship dungeon. I'm reworking some stuff on it but for the most part it's done. Link to the Past Gb fans can find a cool easter egg after they get a shovel.

TBD Craggy Isle: This is an island I'm still terraforming, yeah boring right now, but everything starts this way.

TBD Sky Isle: Just dirt right now, the big challenge is finding a way to get the player up there.

-Mechanics-

Goal: The goal of the map is to find 8 macguffins I mean gold blocks hidden in dungeons around the world, their is lore and such for why but that's more for actually playing the map and not for a blog post. You can get most of the Gold Blocks right away but a few require items from specific places, these will be marked clearly so theirs no rage quitting.

The Shovel: The shovel is the first item I want to give to players, basically I'm allowing it to be used to dig up brown wool blocks and will be key to some dungeons.

The Bow: With the last update arrows can be used to trigger pressure plate, you can expect to be using the bow to solve some puzzles.

-Well that's it for now-

I'm really having a good time making this map, and I'm glad some people have shown interest in playing it. Please leave suggestions in the comments or pm me. See you next time!

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The Final E3 Mystery: The testament of Irvandus

My previous E3 mysteries in the Firestarter trilogy:

  1. Guardians of Life
  2. The Eggs of the Hawk

I sat in my office, it was bright and sunny out, the wind blew through my hair, through the empty window, through the soul of my being. My assistant Alphonso was throwing sentences at me like a drunken NBA player "The mystery of the Davis City bank brake in!" I sighed, "It was obviously the dicks from Vinny Ville the cities are in the same city. He looked at his note book "The foreign demo wrecker!" I sigh again, "He will be doing donuts in the park two blocks down, I've already notified police." Alphonso continued his pointless list of mysteries for me to solve but it was all becoming clear, I was tired of E3 mysteries. I've delved deep, solved hard, and filled every hole of mystery this show had. Alphonso was still excited though, being my secret assistant he kept track of the troublemakers know as the bomb crew. Then it happened.

The phone rings, I pick it up. "Hello mister Irvandus" The voice is modulated and unintelligible. "We have a device of considerable power in our hands currently, and unless you do what we say we will tell George Washington about Time Travel, ruining any chance of Lincoln force from being created... or America but that's less important." Damnit they have the time belt. I shoot a look at Alphonso he starts to transcribe the phone conversation. "Alright then mister..." "You can call us W.C.B.O.P or BOP for short" I decided to play along. "Alright BOP what do you want me to do." He pauses for a second "We know that you are very skilled at solving E3 mysteries, well we have one for you." Well this is significantly less sinister than I expected. "The mystery is this, Garry Whitta was kidnapped by someone at E3 because of his knowledge of the release date for the second episode of Walking Dead. We want you to find Garry or what's left of him and then send him to us." "Alright BOP I'll play your game for now." The phone hangs up, Alphonso stops typing, the wind stops blowing.

(Insert many paragraphs of Irvandus and Alphonso going on adventures and interviewing people with the occasional funny joke or reference.)

The sky was pitch black, me, Will Smith, Will Smith, and Alphonso sit around a table on top of a building. Alphonso was easily being confused by the ruse of our guests, he had trouble telling them apart. "I've seen a lot of shit in the last two hours, one of you is going to tell me where Garry Whitta is." The one with reddish hair says "Hell no" or maybe it was the other, it's hard to be sure. "Look I don't have a clue where he is." I smashed my fist on the table, startling Alphonso, "Kojima said the Smith's know the truth!" Will Smith, the taller one says "Alright, how about we trade, you tell me why when I type in google, MW3 Faceoff, I see a chick giving a blowjob?" "Probably Google Image cache error, duh." He nods "Alright see if you want to find Garry you just have..." The sentence is never finished at that exact moment a kid wearing a Pink shirt materializes above the table in a flash of bad 80s special effects and stabs Smith with a knife. Their is a moment of silence and then the thin veil of peace is broken with a unified "What the fuck!" The kid than vanishes again. Will Smith then runs and jumps off the building to get to safety, anyone who has won a golden duder can certainly survive such a fall.

I turn to Alphonso, he is scared shit less. "Alphonso I need you to do me a favor." He nods. "What do you need?" I pause " I need you to push me off this building Alphonso." He is stunned. "What no man that's crazy." I grab him "Listen Alphonso! Will Smith was our only lead to finding Whitta! If you kill me I'll go to heaven, get the information and then find a way to get it to you!" He shakes his head "No way man, you won't come back." I turn to him "This is my last case Alphonso, it was going to be either way, don't let me down." Alphonso nods and pushes me off the building.

I wake up a week later in a hospital bed Alphonso is sitting there. " You fucking pushed me off a building!" "You told me too" "I was kidding, how would me being dead solve anything!" "I don't know you convinced me!" I sigh and lean back. "So what did I miss while I was out?" Alphonso looks from side to side "Well Garry Whitta was found dead, he was killed by someone yelling Kings for life. "Shit" "WCBOP was revealed but some damn kid detective, turns out they were the We Can Beat One Hundred Percent Corporation, they were searching for ways to beat one hundred percent." I shake my head "My career is ruined Alphonso. "Well sir their is one more thing...

Find out next E3! Not really though, Adventure or Bust will return next week. If you guys seriously want another one then you can go convince 343 to make a new trilogy.

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Adventure or Bust! (2) Sand Sucks!

Hello duders it's time for an update on my Minecraft Adventure map. I generated a new world and decided whatever I got I would stick with. Hey an island's not a bad starting area. After a quick search around I found out I was in an ocean and not a river or anything. My next move was deciding to completely explore the map so I knew what I was working with...

Well it turns out the entire world is just a GIANT OCEAN!

Phhh. Well great, I guess Wind Waker inspired it is. Hours of terraforming later I managed to throw together 4 islands and 21/2 dungeons. One of which is in an airship that teaches some basics, one is in a volcano, the volcano is most likely going to be scrapped and redone because I'm not happy with the look of it or the dungeon inside of it. The dungeon that I'm working on now are these two giant towers on a vast desert island.

I wasted about 2 damn hours making that desert island, sand physics suck... Anyway if you want to see screen shots from these places check out the gallery I just put up. Alright thanks for reading have a good day everyone and as always send feedback and suggestion to me as much as possible!

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Adventure Or Bust Volume: 1

Recently I've been growing tired of playing adventure maps in Minecraft. For those that don't know what an adventure map is, it's basically a world you download that's been built by someone that incorporates challenges or a narrative for the person playing it. Think of it as a Module for DnD, kind of. Doing a search on youtube should show you a few good examples.

The solution to my problem is to make my own Adventure Map. I'm a pretty creative person and us such see this project as a good way to vent some of my ideas. I have a basic format that I want to follow that goes like this...

  1. A Legend of Zelda style structure (Have themed dungeons that are half action half puzzle)
  2. A sizable over world (Not Skyrim big more like, well Zelda big.)
  3. Loot
  4. Creative Puzzles (Many minecraft adventure maps fall on overused puzzles, I'm looking at you complete the red stone circuit)
  5. An interesting world
  6. Something that takes about 5 hours or so to complete

Instead of going on this journey of creation on my own, I'd share it with the Giant Bomb community. I'll share weekly (hopefully) updates on my progress. Yes their will be screenshots. If anyone has any advice or suggestions please PM me.

Ps: The "volumes" after this will be formatted in a completely different way.

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Playing Good or Evil, is it good or bad?

I am now halfway into my replay of Fallout 3 and I was kind of sad at how underwhelming playing neutral was. Sure you get new party members and some nice perks but it's no where near as fleshed out as going all the way bad or all the way good. I just can't think of why games have only three *cough* two *cough* types  of characters to role play as. You can be the Heroic good person or the Evil bad ass, or the neutral dude that hangs out with the robot but doesn't really fit in at party's. Why not have more range, maybe you can flesh out neutral by making it a bounty hunter style character that works for whoever pays better. Or a character that uses people for his own needs which makes it so you can take advantage of those you helped. Just a little bit more would be nice other than Good or Evil or Third Thing That Doesn't Matter.

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Games that you keep going back to.

Why do we do it? If you missed the title I want to know why we go back and play old games every now and again. Is it just nostalgia, a good game, or something repeatable? Maybe it is even all three. I started thinking this after I started playing Fallout 3 for the fourth time. I think part of it is nostalgia because if you have good memories of something you probably want to relive the experience even if it is down watered compared to the first time you played a really good game. Speaking of which a good game is for the most part always a good game. Finally the repeating part is important because it encourages people to play a game multiply times so they can see all the content they missed as well as experiencing old content in a different light. If anyone else has any theories post away.

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