My Podcast Playlist

MicrophoneI listen to a lot of podcasts. For the last several years, my sanity during the morning and evening commutes has been maintained by a trusty list of shows that are currently of interest. Recently it occurred to me that I’ve never actually posted about the shows that I enjoy, which seems odd considering that I’m such a proponent of word-of-mouth advertising for the medium! First of all, I do almost all of my listening on a mobile device, my Samsung Galaxy S5 using Shifty Jelly’s Pocketcast app. I think I paid $3.99 for the app, but since I’ve already paid, I’m having trouble determining if that price is still accurate (simply shows as “installed” in the Google Play store page). At any rate, it was a small price to pay for an app that does exactly what I need with suitable customization that I literally use every single day.

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TGEN

Beyond Bossfights 20 – TGEN Tribunal 3

This month, we have a special roundtable episode that includes members of The Gaming and Entertainment podcast network. This rowdy crew saw fit to discuss all manner of gaming topics, from upcoming expansion packs to the changing mobile gaming scene to Syl’s hidden desire to shower with World of Warcraft soap. Please be sure to visit all of the fine podcasts of my guests this month!

Download | Subscribe on iTunes | Stitcher

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The Great LOTRO Server Migration

ServersThe big news in LOTRO land is that 19 of the 29 servers will soon begin closing down, leaving only ten active servers in production. When the dust settles, 5 servers in the US and 5 servers in Europe will remain. Further clarifications in the official forums have indicated that Turbine desires to disrupt as few players as possible. This indicates that servers with the largest populations stand the best chance to survive. With further extrapolation, my original and home server of Windfola is directly in the crosshairs, and I’m still not sure how to feel about it.
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Desensitization: The Good Kind

NewbMost parents will admit that they learn as much from their kids as they are able to teach. The other day, I had the opportunity to observe my oldest son playing a PvP version of Mindcraft called “Hunger Games” (due to its similarity to the popular book and film series), and a funny thing happened.
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Is Character Personalization Really That Important?

RocketI used to think that character personalization was really important to me. In my “first impressions” posts of various MMO’s on this site, I’ve constantly cited the character creation system as a plus or minus, depending on the depth of that system and the uniqueness of the end result. However, my recent dive into Marvel Heroes has me questioning how important this type of personalized character is to my enjoyment of a game.
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Good Grind vs Bad Grind

GearsI’ll be the first to admit that I’ve lamented the amount of grind present in MMO’s. But the hard truth is, almost every aspect of MMO’s and RPG’s involves some sort of grind, and yet I still play them. I’ve long enjoyed the leveling process of MMO’s and RPG’s, which at its heart is really just an XP grind. Why are some grinds more palatable, and even desirable, while others are dreaded?

At this point in the post I realize two things. First, many of my readers play and enjoy LOTRO. Second, to those who still play, this post may seem to be highly negative with regards to that game. To those of you who fall into this category, I have this to say: I harbor no ill will towards my favorite interactive depiction of Middle-Earth. I received over three years of intense enjoyment from LOTRO, and it will always hold a special place for me. That being said, in those three years I became intimately familiar with many aspects of the game that, over time, wore down my desire to play, some of which will be mentioned here. Some of these things are a product of a game developed for another era. Game systems are continually evolving, as are gamers’ tastes and thresholds for things like unnecessary grind. Some of these things are a product of (in my opinion) developing grindy systems into the game in order to sell cash shop items to decrease that grind. Likewise, many of the positive examples that follow are from Marvel Heroes, which, while not the perfect game, has the benefit of newness and of having learned from the mistakes of older games like LOTRO. It’s also technically an ARPG, so perhaps a direct comparison isn’t completely fair.

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Potted Baby Groot

In Gaming, A Little Goodwill Goes a Long Way

Potted Baby GrootI’m not really a big spender. Having five people dependent on my financial income has required that I be fairly judicious with my expense budget, especially with regards to non-essentials. But there are several things that can enhance my willingness to trade my money for pixels. One such thing is goodwill towards the company, itself, which I feel is fairly undervalued in the industry. While some folks are only concerned about the game and the enjoyment they receive while playing, I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to feel valued as a customer. I want the company to acknowledge that I have chosen to enter into a relationship with their product, and that I can also choose to sever it if things don’t go well.

This past weekend, Gazillion’s Marvel Heroes gave away a “baby potted Groot” pet as a part of their two year anniversary celebration. When I told my eight year old son about the promotion, he was very excited to log in and claim the prize. He thinks cutesy little things like that are hilarious, and I’ll admit I was anxious to slot the pet as well! He logged in and opened his present. I showed him how to place it in the pet slot of the character screen. Then I walked away to do some odd fatherly thing or another, and when I returned about five minutes later, he was playing Minecraft, instead.

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