Thursday, February 22, 2018

he can tap against the glass but I'm not coming out

What a great quote:
"I hope it can spark someone to say, 'I'm not a superhero, but I can be a scientist or build the next spaceship, like Shuri.'"
~~Letitia Wright
In other news, are you tired of playing an average, grizzled, 30-40 year old white male in videogames? Do you want more from your books and your comics than an unending parade of pallor? Selena Mills has you covered, with seventeen great books and games (for kids, sure, but hey, nothing says adults can't play or read 'em!).

So let's talk about the end of reading, or at the least, the end of Barnes and Noble. Because it's coming. As the author of that post put it,
“Whether the Andrea Gail rolls, pitch-poles, or gets driven down, she winds up, one way or another, in a position from which she cannot recover. Among marine architects this is known as the zero-moment point – the point of no return.” –Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm
A lot of us are seeing the signs of no return, and fully expecting B and N to either fold up shop and fire everyone, or declare bankruptcy, then fold up shop and fire everyone. After appropriate golden parachutes for all the upper management they want to placate, of course. And adding hefty end-turn bonuses for themselves.

There's some tie-in here with Best Buy's closure, and Borders, as well, as similar practice happened in each case. And we're going to see it a lot more, as more business owners realize they can make more money by investing it instead of actually employing people and selling things. After all, why bother, right? No one reads anymore, right? No one buys books. Or games. Or anything. We just rent them, and they can be taken from us at any time.

Apologies, usually I'm cynical and bitter, but I don't show it on the blog. I see the changes coming, but I have no idea how to fix them. I only know they're going to hurt thousands of workers along the way.

Anyway, I think I'm going to tie this up by telling you a bit about Paladins, and HiRez Studios. Now, I don't play Overwatch, I don't play Paladins, I never played SMITE and while I have loves telling me I'd get a kick out of Heroes of the Storm, not really interested in that either. Arena games really aren't me, it's too...PvP, I'm more a quests and challenges gamer.

But because I have friends who play Paladins, I hear occasionally about how awful some recent changes in the game have been. Like last November's "Cards Unbound" expansion, which seems--both to me and most of the other active player base--as HiRez directly implementing a pay-to-win system into an otherwise (mostly) level playing field of a game. This seems deceptive, and rather vile.

There have been several protests over this decision--both in and out of the company, though by far I think this one is the best reaction to date--yet, until today, HiRez seemed pretty determined to hold onto the changes.

Until today. Today this decision was handed down by the new head of HiRez. To wit, these changes will be employed:
  • Legendary Cards will now be called Talents.
  • Talents will only have a single level.
  • Talents will be unlocked for free by earning XP and gaining Champion levels (for example; level 1,5,10,15).
  • All Champion Cards will now be free (No cost or grind).
  • Deck creation will return to a point system where players can distribute 15 points across the five cards they select for their loadout.
  • Each Champion Card will have five ranks to choose from.
  • Talents will not have ranks, and are not included in the loadout point cap.
  • Talents and Decks will continue to be chosen at match start to allow players to tailor their playstyles based on their opponents.
  • New Talents will be added over time and give further varied playstyles.
  • Champion Mastery will no longer be capped at level 25. Instead, it will work similarly to Player Account leveling (which has no cap).
  • Card chests will be removed from the game.

So...that's good, right? Along with launching Paladins: Battlegrounds as a separate game.

I think that gets them out of the pay-to-win accusations, as well as un-miring them from the current sticky controversy surrounding lootboxes in games in general. It seems, at least to me, the only people out much, right now, are those who spent the insane amounts necessary to cheat using the Unbound rules in the first place, and...hey, even if they were cheating with the studio's permission, I say it still counts. I do hope HiRez works to repay the cost of all those cards, but...pfft, they shouldn't have jumped in with such vigor in the first place. It was a dumb idea.

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