Oh hey; it’s time for the latest news in the realms of tech, geek and gamer.
Blizzard Did A Thing
When World of Warcraft (WoW) first launched, players had to walk everywhere across Azeroth to get their quest on. Once you hit level 40, though, you could shell out hard earned gold to learn to ride a mount. The in-game taxi service was better known for taking so long you could walk away from your PC and get stuff done as your toon went afk mid air. The major cities had boat or airship service, but if you were on a PVP server that was taking your life in your hands. I rolled a priest only for the joy of mind controlling toons off the neutral Barrens boat into a watery grave.
All this changed in the first expansion; 2007’s The Burning Crusade, when players who hit the max level could train to learn the flying mount skill.
I celebrated by flying freakin’ EVERYWHERE.
Since then, every expansion has incorporated mount flight. There was no area you couldn’t reach, and it cut travel time in half. Not to mention a ludicrous amount of collectible mounts.
Blizzard changed it up with Warlords of Draenor (WoD), as there was no automatic flight once you hit 100, and according to the press release, there never will be. Blizz decided that flight made things too easy. There was no longer that challenge to navigate the terrain or the impending threat of enemy encounters. Considering the size of the new map for WoD I’m not angry. Kind of bummed that all my flying mounts are now grounded, but if it adds to the overall game experience, I’m cool with it.
According to the shitstorm that are the WoW forums, many are not. The feeds have been filling up with everything from acceptance to unbridled all caps nerd rage coupled with threats of cancelled subscriptions.
It’s the argument of convenience versus challenge, and honestly it’s too soon to decide which side will win. We’ll see if the return to ground mounts adds to the experience, or if we’ve all been too spoiled by flying mounts to accept it. Time, and Blizzard’s bottom line, will tell.
GOG Galaxy-better than Steam?
I love that Steam exists. An online game shop that has a fairly diverse library to choose from, seasonal sales as well as daily sales, and a large community. Unfortunately, it also has some flaws; horrible customer service, a confusing front page where new releases are often buried in old games, and the questionable Greenlight program that has been under fire for years for serving up broken games and some of the most ridiculous developer behavior the internet has seen. Just ask Jim Sterling.
Part of the issue is that there’s no real competition for Steam. Humble Bundle just launched their store last year, and, although all sales support various charities and such, the library is smaller and there’s no real community like you get with Steam.
GOG Galaxy is a new online gaming platform that is built on choice. You can play offline or connect online, you can backup your games on a cloud or another driver, and you can backtrack through updates if you prefer an older version, all DRM free. These are a few of the benefits offered that I haven’t seen with other online platforms. The main Games page is simple and clean; sales near the top, news on the left and popular titles on the right. You can also watch video game themed movies on the Movies tab, and the forums are all under the Community tab. Easy to navigate and user friendly.
There’s a lot to offer, and GOG Galaxy makes a lot of promises to fix the issues Steam and other platforms seem happy to ignore. The only real issue GOG Galaxy has is breaking into a market where consumers can be loyal to a fault to their existing platforms despite their flaws.
Actually, gamers in general have that problem. Why else would we keep buying broken, unfinished games and put up with lackluster support?
Here’s hoping GOG Galaxy lives up to it’s promises and is rewarded with a healthy migration of customers from the other platforms. Let our wallets voice our displeasure with the current state of gaming, and maybe things will improve.
Hot Topic to acquire ThinkGeek
Wait, what? I know geek culture has become way more mainstream in the last decade, but when I hear Hot Topic, I think of emos and scene kids fighting over the last bottle of Manic hair dye while the bronies dive headfirst into the t-shirts. ThinkGeek, on the other hand, is the online shop where I often find random and unusual geek themed items for gifting and myself (just don’t get me started on the tariffs and shipping).
The first question in my mind is ‘will my geek points disappear before I have a chance to use them?’. After that, I kind of come to terms with the whole thing as there’s so many new online geek themed shops, that even if Hot Topic does make any changes to ThinkGeek, it won’t affect my giving of the dorkiest of gifts.
I am curious as to whether Hot Topic styled items will be added to the catalog, though.
Microsoft wants you to buy Windows 10 because Halo
Microsoft announced last spring that they intended to bring their own AI companion to market. Oh, and that AI companion would be Halo’s Cortana. Suck it, Siri.
Cortana comes in Windows 10 later this year, and smartphone users can use their PC to download the app onto their device regardless of OS. Cortana will sync with all your devices, so changes made on one will affect all others, and tasks begun on one device can be completed on another. You can set reminders on your PC and if you’re away from it, Cortana will alert you via your smartphone. There’s a bunch of fun features to play with, and the idea of having an AI companion available to me makes me want Windows 10, though I do wonder if the app alone is functional just so I can try out some of the features on my Android. No word on whether she’s as sassy/passive aggressive as her older sister Siri.
Yes, the Cortana AI companion is voiced by the same voice actress as in Halo. Fans rejoice.