Wrapping up Blapril 2020

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Today’s officially the last day of Blapril, so it’s time to look back upon this out-of-season festival of blogging intended to make us all feel a bit better during these trying times.

I’ve posted more and also read more than usual, so from my point of view the event absolutely succeeded – as usual.

I didn’t come even close to publish 31 posts, but then I knew from the start that I wouldn’t, and that’s ok. This isn’t a competition after all. A competition makes only a select few people feel better whereas, again, this thing is for all of us.

Just like during the last two rounds of Blaugust I’ve also learned something new and did a couple of things I’d never done before.

I had, for example, never thought a lot about tagging my posts properly. When I wrote a piece about EVE I tagged it EVE Online and MMORPGs, and that was it. While there probably isn’t an inherently wrong or right way to do it I guess this was a bit too general and not really helping all that much – unless you specifically wanted to only read stuff about EVE of course.

So I went back to many of my posts and added some new tags. Luckily I don’t have a backlog of thousands of posts yet like some fellow bloggers do. As a result there’s now an Opinion tag that’s got you covered should you for some reason ever feel the urge to only read my highly subjective rants about various topics, and an About me tag for posts where I don’t just talk about the games I’ve played, but also, well, about myself in one way or another.

That there even is a need for the latter is also due to Blapril, as I’d never done the various personality tests that made the rounds before, and probably still wouldn’t have if not for the event.

Lastly I published my first real guide on this blog. I was big into writing guides and generally helping folks out back when being active on forums still was a thing, but I hadn’t done so in quite a while. So there’s a Guides tag now, too. Maybe it’ll even lead to more than one post someday.

So this was Blapril 2020. Big shout-out to Belghast who hosted us again in his cool, calm and collected way, and to all participants who made our days a bit brighter with their many posts and comments. Looking forward to the next one!

Blapril 2020 post count: 15

Just one more personality test

Richard Bartle isn’t the only one who concerned himself with finding out what makes people tick when playing games, and what different types of players there are.

Several fellow bloggers (too many by now to name them all) have recently done Quantic Foundry’s Gamer Motivation Profile survey, most of them not for the first time. Reading their results was really interesting, and I definitely prefer this test over the other, mainly because it doesn’t feel quite as restrictive to me, and it doesn’t paint me as a psychopath just because I like PvP either.

Unlike my keyboard pals (we are kind of a modern version of pen pals, aren’t we?) I’d never done this one myself yet, just like Bartle’s survey until two days ago. Well, now I have.

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These are defined as our ‘Primary Motivations’

Without context the graph itself is somewhat baffling because I feel the Social and Creativity percentages should be much lower, while I’d expected to score higher at Mastery and Immersion. Only Action and Achievement seem pretty spot on. So what’s the deal here?

Each of these scores is an aggregate of two ‘Secondary Motivations’. The Social category, for example, is made up of your results in Competition and Community. The idea is that you’re being social whenever you interact with other players, be it cooperatively, competitively or just chatting. My Competition-score is 60%, Community sits at 52%. The former still seems a tad low to me, but as it also includes wanting to be the best at everything, which I don’t care about, it does make sense.

Creativity is made up of Discovery and Design, which include stuff like exploring the game world and customizing one’s character or spaceship, respectively, so my high score here makes sense after all.

What really made me laugh was this description of gamers with a high score in Destruction (part of the Action category):

“If they accidentally find themselves in games like The Sims, they are the ones who figure out innovative ways to get their Sims killed.”

Yep, that’s me!

So knowing what those scores actually mean I’d say that my results are pretty accurate.

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All my ‘Secondary Motivations’ in one graph

The questionnaire itself, just like Bartle’s test, is a mixed bag. A couple of questions are really weird, as is the way some of your answers are interpreted. As Bhagpuss puts it:

Constant action and excitement“. Who wants that? It would be unbearable! It’s like asking “Would you like to live on a diet of nothing but donuts forever?” and then interpreting a flat “No, I bloody would not!” as meaning “Well, you obviously don’t like donuts then, do you?

That being said, I picked the second-highest answer for the question he refers to, which is “Enjoy a lot”. Which doesn’t mean that I would want to live on nothing but donuts, so I absolutely second his critique.

I also share UltrViolet’s feeling that the test seems to be more marketing research than scientific study, not least due to the fact that you’re asked which games you’ve played and enjoyed recently, which systems you play on etc., with those answers not affecting your test result in any way as far as I can tell. Oh well, if it somehow convinces people to make more of the kinds of games I like…

My three ‘recent’ games I enjoyed playing (they define recent as ‘released in the past few years’) were Uncharted 4, ArcheAge: Unchained and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Of course I cheated a bit with ArcheAge here, but since the legacy game and Unchained are listed seperately it’s technically correct.

I’m not currently playing any web/mobile/tablet games (and never have and probably never will), so I left all of those boxes blank. I was actually a bit surprised that I wasn’t kicked out of the questionnaire right then and there.

My three ‘any other’ games that I’ve enjoyed recently were EVE Online, Warframe and NieR: Automata. Again a bit of cheating here as I’ve just started to play the latter (I’m like two hours in), so I can’t really give a verdict yet. It started really strong though and I couldn’t think of anything else anyway.

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That bullet hell sequence right at the start really caught me by surprise

So have I gained some new, groundbreaking insights about myself doing these two gamer-profile-thingies? Not really, no. But finding out stuff about yourself probably isn’t the main reason for doing them anyway. Sharing your results and talking about them is much more interesting. At least I think it’s kinda cool that I now know a bit more about the gaming preferences of my fellow bloggers, and they about mine.

Blapril 2020 post count: 12

Doing Bartle’s Test of Gamer Psychology

Bartle’s Test of Gamer Psychology has been around for a pretty long time now. Many people have done it, and its merits as well as its flaws have always been subject of much debate.

However my impression is that, despite all criticism, the majority of players are able to identify with their results for the most part.

When Krikket talked about hew own findings the other day I realized that I’d actually never taken the test myself. I guess it was about time to remedy that, wasn’t it?

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I nicked Krikket’s much nicer version of the old graph, I hope she doesn’t mind

Before showing off my result I’d like to share some personal thoughts about the test, now that I’ve taken it.

I absolutely agree with the most commonly heard criticisms. My main complaint is that a lot of the questions are rather restrictive and sometimes outright weird.

Bartle_Question

This is, I think, a good example of a really strange choice I had to make. I mean, sure, I get that this one is meant to assess if you’re more of an explorer or a killer. There’s a whole bunch of assumptions tucked in there that I don’t necessarily like though.

If I was an explorer (spoiler: I am), why would I need to feel ‘safe’ to enjoy doing so? Why would I not dare to explore if other players were also present? The essay linked above claims that explorers say things like “You mean you don’t know the shortest route from [obscure room 1] to [obscure room 2]?”, which absolutely implicates that there can be a sense of competition to it, so this forced link between safe and exploration makes no sense to me.

If I was a killer (spoiler: I am), on the other hand, why would an area be useless to me by default as long as there’s no other player to kill there? Maybe a bunch of lucrative quests that I need to do to advance my gear are located there, and I’m actually glad that I don’t need to compete with others or fight over the quest mobs.

Now, I do realize that I’m probably being too nitpicky here. If I were to conceive a test like this and didn’t want to hassle people with having to answer hundreds of questions I’d be forced to generalize a bit, too. Still, it just rubs me the wrong way when my options feel too black-or-white, and also when choices are presented as mutually exclusive when they really aren’t.

This all being said though, here’s my result:

Bartle_Result

And what can I say, it represents me pretty well I think.

I love MMORPGs that allow me to feel like an Explorer, and many great adventures I’ve experienced only came about because I dared to venture into regions unknown.

It’s no secret that I also like to fight against other players and that I’m an advocate for open-world PvP, if done right. This is where I’m really quite at odds with Dr. Bartle’s essay because his description of a Killer is, in my opinion, more fitting for players I’d call griefers instead. Some versions of the test even use that term instead of killer. This is problematic though as it paints all fans of PvP with the same brush. Unjustly, I might add, proudly donning my Captain Obvious cape. I’m the perfect example in that I like to PvP a lot, but I hate griefers with a passion and would never behave like that myself.

That 40% Socializer score is probably a bit too high, to be honest. Oh, I do like to do stuff with my close friends of course, and when I’m in a great guild I also like to group up every now and then. More often than not I like to be on my own though, and even when I’m in a group I’m usually not very talkative. Except when you get me going about one of my favourite topics, then you’ll probably wish you hadn’t after a while.

The low Achiever score definitely hits the nail on the head. Being the first, having the biggest numbers, ticking off all the boxes…I couldn’t care less about things like that. Now, I do like to get my hands on nice rewards, so I sometimes engage in achievement-hunting and stuff like that if that’s what it takes. However it’s always about what I can do with those rewards, not about the achievements themselves.

And there you have it. If nothing else I guess this shows that a test like this can be flawed and still yield accurate results somewhat reliably. If you’d like to do it yourself, here it is.

Blapril 2020 post count: 11

So Fallout 76 is better now? Well, congrats Bethesda…not!

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We now have Developer/Creator Appreciation Week going on in Blaprilverse, and while I’m usually not one to overly focus on the negative I’m taking the liberty to turn the idea upside down in light of current events.

Of course I’m talking about the fact that the long anticipated Wastelanders-expansion for Fallout 76 released just over a week ago.

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Originally set to arrive “in fall of 2019

Now, a lot of folks seem to be pretty happy with it. Syp, Naithin and many Steam-users have to say good things about the new experience, and more power to them. I absolutely don’t begrudge anyone finally having some fun (or more fun) with the game they bought, don’t get me wrong here.

Still, in my opinion this doesn’t redeem Bethesda one bit. I’m not willing to just forgive and forget their disastrous and to some extent downright criminal conduct surrounding the game’s original launch 1 1/2 years ago – yes, it’s indeed been this long.

So today I’m going to recap this train wreck of a release, lest we forget what happens when players shower game companies with their hard earned money without knowing whether they’ll actually get said money’s worth (or any worth at all) in return.

Let Developer/Creator Naming and Shaming Week commence.

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I’m not even going to beat the dead horse that is Todd Howard’s grandiose presentation at E3 2018 again. Of course it is extremely funny (and sad) to watch considering what players actually got, but I can hardly blame only Bethesda for doing what absolutely everyone does to get people hyped up for their games, can I?

So let’s leave the land of fairytales behind and cut straight to the facts.

The game released on November 14th 2018. Before being able to actually play people had to download a day one patch, about 50 GB in size depending on platform. Hell, the game client itself was smaller than that!

The real ‘fun’ began after and despite that sizeable download though…

You don’t have to listen to the commentary, just watch the first few minutes of that video to get but a small glimpse of what players went through. Glitches, bugs, crashes, disconnects, duping (accidental as well as on purpose); you name it, FO76 had it.

The game crashed some people’s gaming devices so hard that they had to reinstall the whole thing, in some cases allegedly even their console’s operating systems. Others logged into their accounts – or so they thought – just to realize that they were logged into someone else’s instead for some reason.

However, as sad as it is to say, so far this is all not that unusual for a triple-A release these days. Not many are quite this bad, sure, but bugs, massive day one patches and stuff like that have become the norm rather than the exception in the last 10-15 years or so.

Which is bad enough on its own, but apparently the folks at Bethesda weren’t content with delivering one faulty product and leave it at that. Hell no.

Fallout76_Bag

On the left you see a canvas bag, advertised to be included in the game’s ‘Power Armor Edition’, priced at 200 bucks. On the right you see what buyers actually got. Of course people weren’t happy and contacted Bethesda’s support about it. To give credit where it’s due, they did get a response.

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Click to enlarge

Wait, what? They surely weren’t serious here, were they? When more and more inquiries piled up they added:

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Now you’re talking…wait. How much do 500 Atoms cost again? Oh yeah. 5$. Five. Dollars.

Well at least folks could now buy an ingame-outfit that actually includes a canvas bag…oh.

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So close…

Only after the outrage had become big enough to be covered by pretty much every gaming news outlet there is did they cave in and promise that everyone would get their real canvas bag…in four to six months time.

But fear not, if you feel you’re in desperate need of a drink after all that crap Bethesda’s got you covered.

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Oh hey, that’s a pretty nice looking bottle of rum. And for an 80$ price tag the bottle as well as its content should be of a somewhat high quality, no?

See, they even delayed shipping because “one of the components of the product was not up to Fallout standards“.

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That’s…actually not all that reassuring, is it?

The rum was shipped about a month after its initial release date. The bottle, it turned out, was a standard glass bottle inside of a not really that great-looking plastic casing. Apparently you couldn’t pour a drink without spilling half of it, so you pretty much had to crack open the plastic and use the rather bland glass bottle. Almost needless to say at this point, the rum didn’t taste that good either. Oh yeah, and somehow there were a whole bunch of 5-star ratings before the rum had even shipped. When people called them out for it those reviews quickly disappeared as if by magic.

There’s still lots more I haven’t covered. This video by the Internet Historian sums it all up very well and is also highly entertaining…although it’s a bit like watching a car crash in slow motion.

So yeah, that’s why I think Fallout 76 doesn’t deserve a second chance. As far as I’m concerned it didn’t deserve a chance to begin with. When the makers of a product lie to me, deliver a product that’s not even close to working as advertised (or even something else entirely), fake their own reviews and generally behave as if they can do whatever the fuck they want without the smallest bit of respect for their customer’s rights, time and money, they don’t deserve anything but a hefty kick in the nuts.

I’m sure, I’d like to add, that the majority of people who worked on the game and its related products in whatever capacity did their best, and I’m not faulting them for any of this. The fish rots from the head down though, as the saying goes, and this particular head is undoubtedly rotten to the core.

I’m glad that I didn’t spend any money on this pile of crap, and I definitely won’t buy anything with Bethesda’s logo on the box any time soon. Screw you.

Blapril 2020 post count: 9

I am just like WHO now??

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It’s still Getting To Know You Week, so I thought it might be fun to do the ‘fictional character personality test’ Endalia and Bhagpuss have already done with interesting results. Man, I so hope I’ll get a high match with Dale Cooper like Bhag did!

I’ll just do the complete version of the test – should take long enough to answer 121 questions – and except for the top match I’ll only refer to characters from shows and movies that I know well, with a match of at least 60%.

Let’s gooo!

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Top match at 76%: Samantha Carter (Stargate SG-1)

I like the movie but never watched the show, so…yeah, no idea. How’s she like, folks? She’s great, isn’t she? Please tell me she’s great!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Odo

So, Odo, eh? The funny thing is, we’ve just started to watch DS9 from the beginning, so the first half of season one is fresh in my mind. I remembered Odo as a very likeable and respectable character from watching the show many years ago, though at the beginning he’s mainly grumpy and sometimes downright hostile (not just towards Quark either). I really hope the personality this test refers to is based upon that which I remember, not that first impression we get of him.

Other than that my only complaint is that Garak’s so low on the list. Not that I really identify with him, but hey, it’s Garak. One of the coolest characters in any show ever in my opinion.

Game of Thrones

Brienne

Brienne of Tarth as the highest match and no one else comes even close? I can very much live with that. As with Garak I would have liked to see Tyrion higher on that list of course (he’s at 233 with 59%), but at least there are no blonde Lannisters to be seen anywhere. Phew, dodged that bullet.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

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I omitted a few this time – there’s just too many of ’em – and I’m also starting to see a trend here. The characters I tend to like the most all appear only around the 60% mark, in this instance Tony Stark. Like the others I mentioned he’s smart and funny, but also kind of a dickhead. I guess I should probably be glad that I don’t match higher with my favourites… Anyway, Carol Danvers is very cool, so I’m not complaining.

The Big Bang Theory

Amy

I’m fine with Shamy up there, obviously. What I don’t quite get is Bernadette’s appearance this high on the list. That woman frightens me! Seriously, I hope I’m nothing like her.

Star Wars

Leia

Not bad. Who wouldn’t want a high match with our favourite snarky princess? I hope this is Sir Alec Guiness’ Obi-Wan though, not Ewan McGregor’s.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Giles

Yes! Unlike Bhagpuss I wanted to see Giles on top here, and I got him. Buffy and Willow are fine too of course. Angel’s matched just low enough for comfort.

Dexter

Dexter

Uh…70% match with a mass-murderer, and again a likeable dickhead at 60%. I think I should stop now.

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Yes. No! Maybe…I don’t know. Can you repeat the question?

Well, this was quite fun. I got to say though that the survey isn’t easy to answer for non-native speakers, and I’m pretty sure the outcome would have been at least a bit different had I been able to do it in German. Seriously, even with a dictionary’s help I have no idea what ‘debased’ and ‘pure’ are supposed to mean in this context. I just let the slider sit at 50% in these cases (about eight or so). There were others where I knew which direction to pull the slider in, but since I still wasn’t completely sure about the choices’ exact meanings I didn’t go all the way to the left or right. I assume that’s why I don’t have any matches above 76%.

Oh, and now I almost forgot to resolve this: I’ve got a 68% match with Dale Cooper, neat! Aside from him I remember so little about Twin Peaks that it would have been pointless to list more characters though.

Anyway, if you’re a movie- and TV series-fan I highly recommend doing the survey for yourself. There’s many more franchises in there, like Friends, Harry Potter, The Office, LOST, Sherlock (got a 67% match with the high-functioning sociopath, huh), etc. Should be something there for everyone.

Blapril 2020 post count: 8

Blogger recognition, neat!

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It’s Getting To Know You Week in Blaprilverse, and while I’m way late to the party I guess now’s the perfect time to address the Blogger Recognition Award, which both Naithin and Bhagpuss tagged me for.

The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the wonderful person(s) who nominated you and leave a link back to their blogs.
  2. Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  3. Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.

Here goes.

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Pictured: my history of writing, part one (ca. 1989)

If you’re reading this chances are you already know Bhagpuss and his blog, Inventory Full. He’s been around for a long time, posts very regularly and is always entertaining to read. When I discovered that there are such wonderful things as gaming blogs some seven or eight years ago, his was one of the first that I stumbled upon, and I’ve been a regular ever since. As a bonus he has the most extensive, auto-updating blogroll I’ve ever seen, which is very handy.

Naithin’s Time to Loot is relatively new in comparison. It isn’t his first blog though, and he’s a very active and thoughtful blogger too. Highly recommended.

Thank you both for nominating me, it’s an honor (not being ironic here)!

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Ca. 1995; probably not exactly like mine, but close enough

As for my own blog, I think it came into being mainly for two reasons.

One, I’ve always been a big fan of language in general and the written word in particular. I love to read, and ever since I had a keyboard I’ve also been fond of writing (I hate writing by hand, it’s pretty much the most uncomfortable- and unnatural-feeling thing you could force me to do, and nobody would be able to read any of it either).

I’m not a terribly creative person though, so making up and writing stories or something like that was never even a consideration. I believe the first things I wrote were hints and walkthroughs for adventure games I’d beaten. I distributed those on 3.5 inch disks on our schoolyard. Once the internet had taken off I became a sucker for gaming forums. I read absolutely everything there was to read about the games that interested me, and I also added to the discussions and the knowledge base. Sometimes a lot. I wrote close to a thousand posts each in some forums I was active in, for example SWG.de, the biggest German Star Wars Galaxies community at the time, or our SWTOR-guild’s internal forum years later.

Websites and forums come and go though, and I’ve written a huge amount of stuff over the years that’s now lost forever. The majority of it wasn’t really worth preserving, obviously, but I clearly remember some guides I’ve written and conversations that I’ve had which I would really like to be able to read one more time, if only for nostalgia’s sake. So I guess at some point I started to feel that I needed my own, permanent place to stow away my ramblings.

Reason number two is that video games, especially MMORPGs, sometimes let me experience great adventures that I a) don’t want to forget, and b) would like to share with others. I remember vividly that one such adventure in specific triggered the actual, tangible wish to sit down a write about it. It took another couple of years however, but in the end I finally did.

So here we are, almost three years down the road from my first blog post. I’m really glad that I took the plunge when I did, and I’m grateful for the advice and inspiration all the great bloggers out there gave me beforehand and since, knowingly and unknowingly, because without that I’d probably not dared to.

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Ca. 2003; I had this for about 13 or 14 years, great piece of hardware

Now, as there’s already so much great advice out there, what could I tell you about blogging that’s not already been said countless times?

I guess that’s advice number one right there: it doesn’t matter if someone else has already written about a certain topic.

Firstly, no one reads all the blogs. It might not seem likely from your perspective, but it’s absolutely possible that someone comes to your blog and reads about that topic for the very first time.

And even if not, everyone’s viewpoint is unique, so your take on the subject can still give new insights and perspectives that others might find useful or at least entertaining. Whatever it is you want to say, knock yourself out!

My second advice is to only publish blog posts that you are pleased with, otherwise don’t publish.

This one might just be me though as I set pretty high standards for myself, and it bugs me – probably more that it should – when I reread a post of mine after I’ve published it and think it could have been better. What really does not matter is what anyone else thinks about your writings though. Unless you’re getting paid for it you do this for yourself after all, so if you are happy with your creation you’ve done a good job, period.

RoccatVulcan
This is what I’m typing these here words with, it’s really good too

At this point I’m supposed to tag some more folks for the award/challenge/whatever this actually is, and I’d really love to. By now most if not all bloggers I read have already been tagged at least once though, and I have completely lost track of who has or hasn’t been.

So please, if you read this and haven’t been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged now and chime in. It’s fun and doesn’t hurt at all!

Blapril 2020 post count: 7

And thus Blaugust becomes Blapril

With many of us glued to our seats (or at least our homes) due to the impending end of the world that little sucker of a virus that surely won’t manage to do what bubonic plague, cholera and Nickelback couldn’t, Tales of the Aggronaut‘s Belghast, host of the annual blogging initiative known as Blaugust, had a great idea: push this year’s event forward to April so we all have something to do and to look forward to.

Of course it wouldn’t make much sense to still call it Blaugust, so we get…

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The logo says it all, really. It’s a great idea, and of course I’ve signed up to participate again. Thanks for having us, Bel!

While the event’s premise is to post every day for a full month I don’t think I’ll aim quite that high though. I managed to do it in 2018, but it was pretty stressful at times and I’d rather write when I feel like it, not because I ‘have’ to do it. On the other hand, I have been a bit lazy of late, so I guess a little extra incentive won’t hurt.

If you’d like to participate or just know more about it, you can find everything you need here.

And let’s always remember: