No, not Life is Futile, Life is Feudal. This is my new game, and my new obsession. I’ve been playing for two weeks now on our own little server and it is gloriously brilliant. It is so good that I am astounded that nobody is talking about this game. Maybe because it is still in Alpha. But even in this raw state, this game is better than anything out there. Anything at all. Big call, hey? Let’s see if I can back it up.

So, what is the game? The designers have done a great job of explaining the game through its lineage. In their info page on this, they state that LiF is a combination of Wurm Online, Mount & Blade, Ultima Online, Darkfall Online, Shadowbane, and EVE Online. They state why the game is similar to these predecessors, but also how it has improved on those game’s features and made them better.

First and foremost it’s a sandbox. Do what you like within the confines of the game. there are no quests, there is no story. The game is based around a Medieval feudal period. Thus, for example, weapons are historically accurate. Do you want to wield a mace? You can, but it won’t be a purple ‘Ashram’s mace of despicable power’. You can choose between a cudgel, a flanged mace, a morning star, or a war pick. How about a spear? Sure, go and choose between a basic spear, a boar spear, an awl pike or a Bec de corbin.

Historically accurate means no magic, no dragons, no silly stuff. There are no character classes. There are no levels. There are 30 different skill sets that you can increase in potential by using them and thus unlocking further skills higher up a tree.

So when you log on for the first time, what do you do? You’re dressed in rags and you have some cookies to eat. Time to start getting your shit together. Go to a tree, right click on it and a little menu comes up. Snap off a branch. Right click on the branch in your inventory and select, ‘make primitive tool’. A primitive axe would be nice to cut down a tree but that also requires a flint stone and some wild plant fiber. The fiber is on the ground in bushes. Right click the ground until you get a green square, and select gather plant fiber. You’re going to get flint from a rocky hill or mountainside, so find that, right click, select prospecting and see if search for flint comes up. Once you have all three ingredients, right click on the branch again and make your axe. Awesome. Now cut down a tree. What can you do with the log? Right click on the log and a few options come up. You want a wood billet so you can fuel a fire to keep you warm. But you’ll need a primitive saw …

From this newbie prospective, in two weeks, three of us have built a fortified position with walls, warehouses, chicken coops, a barn, tanning tubs and drying racks for leather, and a kitchen. And we’re doing this on our own little server. Because LiF at present is in closed alpha, but you can still play the game on a basic map, (which is pretty darn large really), at Life is Feudal Your own, (LiF:YO). You find it on Steam. Buying the game, which is worth the money and that cash goes to further development, lets you open a list of private servers from around the world. You can select one in your country for better ping. Or if you want you can join me on ours. We have about 10 players in total so far. We don’t know what some of them are doing. Perhaps they are getting ready to battle us …

Our server is called Unreal Aussies. If you’re having trouble you can drop a message here and I’ll help out. Have you been complaining for ages that MMOs suck and there is nothing out there but if there was you would play it?

Time to put your money where your mouth is.

ps, the graphics are excellent. Put the settings up to max if you can handle it.

pps, I have leather armor now. Attack me at your peril.

I haven’t posted about GamerGate for a while, but if you think that it’s over and done with you would be very wrong indeed. GamerGate has always stood for journalistic transparency as well as an end to the attempted takeover of games by the looney far left socialist crowd now epitomized in the cachet, ‘SJW’ for Social Justice Warrior.

However, from the beginning the SJW crowd twisted the narrative and painted GamerGaters as misogynist evil-doers who want to rape women and send them death threats. That’s it. No attempt to examine the arguments on hand, just an all out attack to disqualify their concerns based on personal attacks. Anyone standing with them is automatically tarred with the same brush, regardless of who they might be.

(As an aside to this, Brad Torgersen, a science fiction writer currently embroiled in the massive controversy over the Hugo awards was accused of being a racist by the SJW crowd, among other things. When he posted a picture of his black wife who he has been married to for over 20 years this attack was simply passed over in favor of a new one.)

So now let us get to the point of this post. The Honey Badger Brigade is a site run by women who are for GamerGate. This of course has massively upset the SJW crowd. How could their own also be misogynists? (Hint; it helps when you understand that the true definition of a misogynist is a man who hates women as much as they hate each other.) Yesterday the Honey Badgers were thrown out of the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo:

“… Early this morning, Fan Expo Canada staff (See edit notice at bottom) banned Honey Badger Brigade (HBB) from the Calgary Comics and Entertainment Expo (CalEx). Security staff approached the HBB booth, ordered us to leave, and refused to state the reason why unless Alison Tieman agreed to speak to them away from the other members of the group, without recording. They informed Alison that they had received complaints on social media, including 25 allegations of harassment. No evidence was presented, no request was made for information from HBB, and no specific incident was cited until further questions were asked of security.

Upon further questioning, security mentioned the Women in Comics panel discussion from the previous day, where Alison was given permission to speak. Alison spoke briefly in relation to a topic brought up by the panelists. Accusers, however, claimed that Alison derailed the conversation. Alison and myself were in attendance, and you can listen to Alison’s statement in the panel here on YouTube. You can hear Alison, myself and indeed the entire panel in the full discussion record …”

Feminists are not for women. They are for the right type of woman. In other words, they are purely a political organisation. And if a political organisation uses one side to support their views, then it goes without saying that the other side is the enemy. And what is the other side? Why men, of course. Who else did you think it was?

“… However, Honey Badger Radio did not use their website to apply for vendor/exhibitor status. The “Honey Badger Brigade” on the Calgary Expo website links to a webcomic site (run by Honey Badger Tieman) instead. If you didn’t think all of this was enough to warrant expulsion from the convention (it is), there’s more.

Their show is broadcast by A Voice For Men, one of the biggest men’s rights website on the internet. Less specific plans for Calgary Expo were also detailed on that group’s site, which is classified as a “women-hating” site by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and said in part: “The Honey Badgers are a diverse group of female gender apostates–women who oppose outdated ideas of gender, particularly the association of womanhood with weakness. We offer an alternative to the damaging portrayal of women as victims of geek and gamer culture.” …”

That quote is from a site called the mary sue, which of course is purely for feminism and all its causes, particularly the takeover and subjugation of nerd culture. According to the quote I pasted here, apparently they see no irony in the fact that the Honey Badger Brigade, a pro-men movement, should be banned from the expo just on those grounds. One rule for the girls, another rule for the boys. They must be tearing the curlers out of their hair at the thought that the honey badgers are mostly women, but then again, no movement hates women as much as the feminism movement does.

Listen very carefully all of you. If you are a man and you play video games, you are marked by these people. You are the enemy. There is nothing you can say to appease them. You can crow all day and night that you are against GamerGate and that we are all nasty women-haters, but at the end of the day they will come for you too. We are not the intolerant ones in this battle, far from it. They want you to conform, and the more you do the deeper you will dig your own grave. It is very easy for gamers to just stick their heads in the sand and pass off GamerGate as a bunch of haters who just want to hate hate hate. The truth is far different. And this weekend at the Calgary Comic Expo the battle lines have been redrawn a little more sharply.

It’s still in your hands to decide which side you’re on. So do so while you’re still able to.

I haven’t played any games since I gave up on ArcheAge, so I’ve had some time to think. To ponder the intricacies of the game’s failings. One of the main reasons that it failed for me was the brutal patch that turned back the clock and made me start levelling again. For no good reason at all apart from the fact that Trion apparently thought that their players needed to be occupied.

The thing is, we were occupied. We were occupied with what was supposedly a sandbox PvP game. We were occupied with sailing the oceans and stealing packs, killing reds wherever we could find them, raiding the pirate’s stronghold island fortress, disrupting and griefing the red’s daily honor events, playing political games and maneuverings with our own faction, hunting out suitable players for our guild, and crafting and tending to our land.

Most of this ground to an immediate halt with the release of the patch that raised the level limit from 50 to 55. Here are the rough xp requirements for the levels.

50-51: 3 million

51-52: 8 million

52-53: 18 million

53-54: 30 million

54-55: 38 million

To put that into some context, farming a mob by yourself in the end game dungeon called the Library grants around 2500 xp. You do the math. Also, it originally took 3 million xp to get from 1-50.

This is crazy for a PvE game, but for a game that is explicitly geared towards PvP this is out of this world I’m licking the windows of the crazy bus crazy. And it has had the effect of literally pausing the game. For about a month now.

But I want to look at this from a more general context. Why are we still using levels in PvP centric games? Levels orginated in old school D&D back in 1974 or something like that. They were used so you could scale yourself against your adversaries. And they worked fine, although they did create the somewhat unrealistic situation of always being able to pit yourself against a suitably equal foe. But in PvP we are battling each other, not monsters or npcs. So why are we still leveling? The thing is, in pvp games, leveling is something that you do while you’re waiting to play the actual game. For a new player to ArcheAge, (when it was still a level 50 cap), they had to plow through the level grind while we played around them. You saw them in the guild window; one week they were level 18, the next they had managed to claw their way up to 31, and so on. When the finally hit the level cap then we could welcome them to the game. Because before that they were just puny cannon fodder in a PvP world.

The crucial elements are your character’s skills, abilities, and gear. A new character should be able to start working on these while still having some chance to be competitive. In other words, make them level 50 from the start and let them get on with it. Or in other other words, just make everyone level 1.

The level grind barely made any sense before, but it makes no sense now.

This is the story of a great game that got progressively weaker. ArcheAge has had its problems, but it’s never turned its back and run away from a cop with a gun. Until roughly a month ago when we were the unfortunate recipients of the latest major patch. Before I detail a few aspects of that patch, let me make one thing clear – ArcheAge was and still is an end game content MMO. In other words, the game began at level 50, and everything before that was a sideline lead up to what the game is about. This is open world, mostly sandbox, pvp, and to do that successfully as a player you have to tick a couple of crucial boxes:

1. You must be at the level cap.

2. You need some opponents.

The last major patch took that away from us by increasing the level cap to level 55, and by making the majority of the available xp grind in a dungeon called The Library. First of all lets talk about the grind. A month after the level cap release and I am half way to level 52. This is a Korean grind-fest that is insane. Some players got there in the first week. I am not one of those players. And with every moment I logged on I felt my will to play drain steadily away. Because where was everyone in the game? In The Library. And what is this Library?

A completely unimaginative grind fest pvp free zone. So Trion increased the level cap in a predominately pvp game and made the only reasonable leveling option a pve grind fest from hell. And the oceans and the lands emptied as one as every player and his dog ground out The Library, (which incidentally is a geometric pattern grid with rooms with books and the same mobs repeated over and over again. No story, no surprises, just grind away). Did I mention the grind yet?

This patch proves a few things. Firstly, we know for certain that there is no future vision for this game in its current iteration. Secondly, we cannot trust that it won’t happen again. Game getting a bit stale? Player-base rightly calling out your game’s defects on the open forums? Throw them another level cap increase, some new crafting options for weapons or armor, and let that keep them busy for a few months while we throw some more cash boxes in the cash shop with some heavenly goodies to distract them from their wallets.

This game was great. I had a galleon, a clipper ship, substantial land, and I was on my way to being in the top tier of geared players. More than that, I was one of the lead officers in a guild that I helped found which in my humble opinion is the best guild on the server with a clear vision statement for the future. The guild was the only thing holding me back from pulling the pin, but in the end it was the one thing that made me pull the pin. As one of the three officers, I owed it to the guild members to provide them with clear direction on why my playing time had slowed down so dramatically.

I’ve played this MMO full time for 6 months. It’s been a blast. But a good poker player knows that when he suddenly suspects that he might have the second best hand, every dollar he has invested into the pot belongs to the pot. It’s not worth hanging around on the unlikely chance that an inferior hand might become good again.

And now I can safely add Trion to my list of do-not-touch-again gaming companies.

I’ve been remiss on the blog. Been playing too much ArcheAge. Lots of playing, not much writing, but lots of thing to write about. I want to take this moment to talk about losing one of our guildies this week. We only have about 15 core members in the guild, and he was one of the most important. He was a content creator. He logged on, and did stuff. And people gravitated to that. He was a top pvper. He gave our guild credence. And he’s a great guy. He’s leaving not because he’s dissatisfied with the game, but because his internet ping in the wilds of New Zealand is shithouse. I told him to move to Australia, after all he’s just a miserable Scot, or is that a Geordie?

But he’s still on TeamSpeak which is a small consolation. Before leaving he handed out gifts and goodies. I was the most fortunate recipient of his largesse, an epherium squall cap and boots and most importantly, an epherium gale bow. The weapon is a very big deal indeed. There has been talk recently in ArcheAge that the weapon is everything, but until tonight I really hadn’t appreciated just how much. Our guildie logged on tonight as his ping was okay, and jumped into a major pvp battle against the dreaded reds.

And he did it in true Scottish style – he was naked. No armor, no clothes, just a big badass weapon that he hadn’t given away. And he murdered people. He raped the opposition. The kills piled up as I listened on TeamSpeak. It reminded me of Gevlon’s ‘Undergeared Project’ from a few years ago, but this was taking it to more of an extreme. The naked project, if you will. Except for the weapon.

ArcheAge is getting a new patch tomorrow in preparation for the increase in level cap to 55. One of the features of this major patch will be the release of obsidian weapons, better weapons than are currently in the game. I spent a lot of time levelling up leatherworking, but I think I should have concentrated on weaponry. You can have as much armor as you like but if you don’t have a similar weapon to strike back with, you better know how to really play your class.

And that is the key. I play a Stonearrow, which is a ranged dps with defensive capabilities. And If I hit an opponent with a certain combination of attacks, then I will shut them down for ten seconds with blanket silence and trip. They’ll be face-mashing their keyboard trying to attack with that big beautiful overpowered weapon that I just took away from them. Not many players know about these hidden class mechanics as they are literally hidden – the only clue being a small extra icon that you probably didn’t wonder about. ArcheAge has its problems and its detractors, but you can always compete with the credit card warriors if you know how. I like that.

I’d rather have my guildie back to steal packs off the reds in Austera though. Here’s to you, Mr Rip.

I suppose you’ve all heard the news of the demise of WoW Insider and Massively due to those corporate drones pulling the pin. For myself it was somewhat of a reflective moment; WoW Insider linked to me many times over the years, which always generated a crap-tonne of activity on the blog. And I honestly didn’t mind some of their writers, though many left me shaking my head at the screen in wonderment that people would actually get paid to write such rubbish.

Apparently not, it seems. Rubbish ultimately does not generate income. These sites have been closed for a reason and that reason is cash-flow versus cost. But barely have the ashes descended on these sites’ remains when news comes that the writers themselves intend to rise reborn with their very own replica sites, with sufficient crowd-funding from the masses, of course.

They’ll need it, and probably more than they think. But money won’t be their only big problem. All of these ‘creative geniuses’ and ‘unique and special flowers’ will have their own brilliant visions for what these new sites will do. Why they say so themselves:

“… We can choose which technologies we use in our content production rather than the media avenues provided by a parent company. We can generally be more agile. Free of our corporate shackles, we’ll be able to dive back into creating awesome content with renewed passion for what we do …”

Who is going to have the awesome job of keeping this mob in line with a single vision statement while bereft of the iron support of a parent company? Or are they going to go the route of becoming a Socialist Collective, where everybody’s opinion holds equal weight regardless of merit?

I’m expecting a launch that will get much fanfare in the blogosphere, (but little noise in the general population), followed by a hard fall into total failure. Which will be good for the blogosphere, for without these monolithic sites poaching our ideas and claiming them for their own, (which used to happen a good deal if we are all honest with ourselves), readers who want information on these games might be more inclined to come and seek us little bloggers out some more once again. The blogosphere should be celebrating the demise of these creatures, not wailing into the dying of the night.

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