Viral Video Game Blog

Why I haven’t been playing the Cataclysm Beta


Go ahead, hate me. I’m in the Cataclysm beta and haven’t logged into it in nearly two weeks.

Why? Life happens. I may write for a video game blog in my spare time, but that spare time seems less and less. I get home from work each weekday with about 7 hours before I end up going to bed. Living in the greater Philadelphia area, approximately 3 hours of that is chewed up by watching the Phillies, especially now in the postseason. (How ’bout that Halladay no-hitter last night?) Even after baseball season is gone, that time’s gonna be funneled into the Flyers. (season opener tonight on Versus)

Weekends have even less time for gaming, since I spend most of the weekend with my girlfriend. Can’t play videogames because of sports and women? Am I developing a life? I might have to turn in my geek badge and soldering gun after a quarter century of dedicated service.

When all’s said and done, I think I now have less than 10 hours each week to dedicate to gaming. Coming from being used to making gaming a second full-time job, it’s a huge shock. My pile of games to play grows as my time to play them shrinks. I haven’t finished a game since last October when I was unemployed and powered through Brutal Legend in two days.

The current list of games I’ve been playing (and what I’ll spend the rest of this post on – I swear this is a gaming blog, not a “living a boring life” blog) is as follows:

Team Fortress 2
Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers
Assassin’s Creed II

Team Fortress 2
Yeah, it’s a game I’ve had for more than 2 years now, but the recent (probably not as recent as I think) Mann-Conomy pack has breathed a lot of new life and fun into the game. I had stopped playing right after the Sniper/Spy updates, so the weapon dynamic has completely changed with all the newer class updates. The number of achievements has nearly doubled, and the new item drop/shop/trade/upgrade system has made the game incredibly rich and complex, while still being fun and simple to jump into when you have 15 minutes to kill.

If you haven’t played TF2 in a while, break it out. It’s still able to eat 5 hours of your time in a sitting.

Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers
I’ve been a Magic player for 16 years now. I’m sure there are first-time readers stumbling onto this blog who were born around the time I started playing Magic. I was always quite good at the game mechanics, but had a very simple problem that kept me out of building incredible decks. Some decks cost $100+ just to obtain the basic resources to cast your spells. You could be looking at another $75-300 for your actual deck concept. It’s a game of outbuying your opponent, and I was always broke as hell as a kid.

The economic metagame is taken out of the equation in Duels of the Planeswalkers. There are a handful of fixed decks with unlockable sideboards (expansion cards that can be optionally added or swapped with cards in the base deck), each with roughly the same level of power depending on their core concept. I found this aspect highly enjoyable, because I was no longer at the mercy of my collection. (My actual Magic collection is expansive, more than 6,000 cards, but very few of my decks have all of what they need to reach their maximum potential. Furthermore, these decks are quite old and no longer sanctioned for tournament play.)

What I especially like about Duels of the Planeswalkers is the “Challenge Mode.” This is a series of single-turn puzzles that throw the player in the middle of a game in-progress (often in dire straits) with a simple objective: Win the game. This mimicked a series of similar puzzles published as a single photo in InQuest magazine back when I used to play heavily. It’s a fun bit of nostalgia, though I ran into a few cases where I successfully completed the challenge in a way the game wasn’t prepared to handle and lost.

Challenge Mode is my current go-to time waster when I sit at my computer and have a few minutes (rapidly spiraling into a half hour) to waste.

Assassin’s Creed II
Rounding out my “wasting my life on games that are nothing new” collection is AC2. I never played the first one, but the second one has me pretty deep. The storyline is presented in an awesome way, the ease of performing pretty badass assassinations on guards is a lot of fun, and the game does a great job representing boring collection systems (statues, feathers, seals, weapons, etc) in a slightly immersive way (having to drop items off at various locations, integrating it with the villa’s development)

There’s really just one thing keeping it from locking down my time 100%: Jumping puzzles. It’s not 2003 anymore. I know Ubisoft made Prince of Persia and probably even used the same engine to make Assassin’s Creed, but there’s nothing fun about jumping puzzles, especially with Assassin’s Creed’s wonky freerunning controls. I’ve abandoned several Assassin’s Tombs because the jumping puzzles were tedious and frustrating. It’s an unfortunate detraction to an otherwise perfect game.

So that’s too many words on why I haven’t done a Cataclysm beta live stream recently. Hopefully I can scrape together the time to do one in the next week or so. Stay tuned to this blog and I’ll let you know when I expect to do it. It seems my Vashj’ir blog posts were somewhat popular, so I’m sure some of you would like to see Vashj’ir live.

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October 7, 2010 - Posted by | Normal Stuffs | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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