August 2011


I thought he said he was a magician!

So, like, I made this OKCupid profile, OK, and sure, maybe I had one or two mindless flings from it DON’T JUDGE ME but then there was this one dude who totally played me, I mean he almost appeared to be like, this normal attractive person with a real job and stuff but then OMG he plays this GAME with CARDS and WIZARDS and MAGIC MISSILES and oh god it was so horrible. I did go out with him twice because he totally has his own wikipedia page which means he’s kind of famous right? But it’s in a BAD WAY and I just feel so dirty because now I probably have BASEMENT COOTIES or something.

I did get to write some crap about it for my day job and clock out early so I could load up on more Vegas bombs, though, so it’s all good in the hood, yo.

OK, I’ll stop. (Kiala did it far better anyway.)

So, what’s wrong with this piece? Let me count the ways.

  • The obvious “trendy urbanite is FAR too good for our geeky basement dwelling selves WE MUST UNITE IN RAGE” reaction. While this is the first reaction for many, it’s also the least valid. Because, really, guys?  The first geek wave (by which I mean my generation, hi) is in our mid-40s now. WE OWN EVERYTHING. We can take the paranoid nerd fury down to Defcon 4, it’s OK. Wil Wheaton has the most popular web site in the Universe, for crying out loud. WE WON. Plus a lot of us are girls, and really, this isn’t the Victorian era, we can date amongst our own kind and our kids won’t have hemophilia.
  • The author spent an entire article writing about how she didn’t like dating someone. And then she named the someone. I know things on the Internet aren’t really journalism and it doesn’t count because even trendy urbanites can install WordPress now, but really, at least *pretend* to have some ethics. It’s OK, you’ll still get hits because you’re a girl and mid-40s geeks own everything now. IT’S OK TO HAVE A SHRED OF ETHICS.
  • This was on Gizmodo…. why? Did the guy have a stolen iPhone 5? Was the woman using some kind of new media HTML5 version of OKCupid? Was Nick Denton bored that day?
  • This was… just really badly written. What was the author trying to say here? That people who play Magic are funny? That dorks exist on OKCupid? That she should Google her dates? That if any date ever Googles her they’re never going to call her back, ever? I’m kind of at a loss.
In closing:



The Engine Was Just Sitting There!

Bioware Mythic announces Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, which was originally titled Warhammer Online: Battlegrounds And That’s It Because You Gits Have The Attention Span Of A Tsetse Fly And We Added A Third Side Because DAOC Battlegrounds Were Pretty Fun That Way And This Title Is Really Long We Should Change It.

So if you played Warhammer Online and thought “you know, I really liked the battlegrounds, but not enough to pay a monthly sub, but maybe enough to pay extra for a +4 Sword Of Swordening”, this is your thing.

My fervent hope is that the all-important “kill the dude with the thing” gameplay remains intact.

Blizzard Adding Player-RMT Services To Diablo III

Well, there you go.

With the Diablo III Auction House, players will have a fully-integrated marketplace that allows them to buy and sell items, gold, and components with real-world currency (tentatively divided into U.S. dollars and euros, among others) in their respective territories. According to him, it’s based on theWorld of Warcraft Auction House, but with refinements. Diablo III‘s iteration allows for auto-bidding and instant buyouts, smart searches based on class, a shared stash, and secure item transfers.

Pardo was swift to mention that it’s not an official “Blizzard Store,” but a clearinghouse for players to have an open market to facilitate the trading of in-game items with each other. Players will be anonymous during trades, and there will be restrictions on the buying and selling of goods with real-world currency for those who choose to play in Hardcore mode.

He then outlined initial details of transactions. There will be a fee for both item listings and sales. Should players accept in-game currency, their payment will go toward their e-balance, which covers auction items, WoW subscriptions, and pets. Should players decide to cash out their items, a currently-unannounced third-party payment provider will handle the transaction and take a percentage of the sale. There won’t be any limits on item trading, but there will be a 24-hour cooling period before players can resell a purchased item.

And why are they doing this? According to Pardo, because, well, if they didn’t, you would.

“Players want this… We could take a harder stance, but with Diablo, we think [the Auction House] will end up being a good thing,” he said. The fact that in-game bartering and selling had “become a metagame of its own,” in his words, was another motivator for launching the new feature.

Left unspoken of course, is that with the arbitrage fees from Diablo III Blizzard will make enough money to fix the Greek debt crisis. I’m sure that was a very minor consideration, though.

As a game developer, I can see Blizzard’s logic behind this move. There’s obviously plenty of a market for RMT transactions, and in the long term a clear benefit over and above the strictly financial in channeling them into an outlet controllable by people who at least theoretically have the game’s best interests at heart. And given that it’s similar to a system I had designed for a free-to-play title, that makes it even more difficult to argue against!

But as a player – I have no interest to pay to win. At all. For me the ideal F2P experience is one offered by titles such as Lord of the Rings Online – one where I can play on or off at a whim, and occasionally dig into my wallet for conveniences such as a horse or such, but never feeling as though I was missing a huge chunk of the game play by keeping my wallet in my pocket. Explicitly pegging the in-game currency to a real-world analog (the implication of Diablo III’s announcement)  — well, that certainly is a fairly huge chunk of game play to bypass.

Is this a good decision? For Blizzard’s business, yes. For Blizzard’s design, yes. For Blizzard’s players? Probably not, though the actions of people who can’t resist the immediate gratification of RMT make it inevitable.

From a long term standpoint, I think this also makes it fairly clear that World of Warcraft and Starcraft II will be the last Blizzard titles that aren’t driven by RMT. Thanks, usual suspects!