The 2015 Advance Pack

Marvel Heroes is a free to play game but nothing in life is free. I wrote a post some time back talking about how I personally felt I got more out of the game, by spending a little. So it’s no secret that I’ve spent money on this ‘free’ game. I think I may also have said in that post, and if I didn’t then I’ll say it here, that I much prefer this free to play, spend what you want business model.

What you pay and when is entirely down to you. The choice is yours, if you choose not to pay anything then all the content is still available. You can play the game from here until it shuts down (which is hopefully a long time from now) without spending a dime, or anything more beyond your initial investment if you choose to pay something. Contrast this with Warcraft where you have to pay for the game, then keep paying to access the game. If you don’t keep paying then you are shut out, unable to access what you have already paid for.

Anyway, recently Marvel Heroes announced their second Deluxe Advance Pack for the upcoming year. I bought the one for this year and I’ve been really pleased with it, so getting this next one was an easy decision. In fact bizarrely for a ‘free to play’ game, my biggest regret with Marvel Heroes is that I didn’t discover the fact that it existed until launch. As I definitely would have been interested in the Ultimate Pack, that was one hell of a deal.

That’s beside the point so back to it. There’s this thread on the Marvel Heroes forums where a poster basically says that they don’t like the 12 heroes chosen for the pack. It could have been a good thread where people posted their ideal pack, but given the aggressive and negative tone he took, it was more of an attack than a fun “what would you have liked?” thread. So I didn’t respond to it but it made me wonder. I like the pack as it is, but if I’d been a Gaz dev having to choose the lineup, what would I have picked?

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Rewrite and Rebrand: A Random Lockbox of Words

aka I wasn’t sure what to call it. You know those lockboxes, those bags of potential you get in games? Well, you don’t know what’s inside and it’s a mixed bag, a little like this post.

I started writing this post weeks ago, some posts are like that. I write them, then rewrite them, then add things and rewrite some more etc. I know I write in quite a conversational style, but I don’t just type continuously from beginning to end and hit post, I do go back and read what I have written. With some posts, I realise that what I’ve said is just a variation on a theme, it’s something I’ve posted before. Then I realise that my mood, or current events, are perhaps overly influencing the direction of the post. Then there’s the question, what is the point of the post? I like to, usually, try and at least say something in a post, start with a theory, talk around the subject, and then write a conclusion. After all that I wind up either rewriting or just scrapping the whole thing.

This post started off life with the title ‘Journey vs Destination’ which is something I have written about before. How the way a player approaches a game, and their expectations of it, have an affect on the way that they play and their enjoyment. It’s no secret that I’m less than thrilled with Warcraft right now, either how it is currently or the direction that it seems blizz is taking it in. So that first draft went over old ground, all things that I had said before, about how raiding had changed, about how the way that I raided had changed. There was nothing new and the whole post came across very miserable. It was basically asking the question should I quit? It seemed like the obvious answer was yes. However, I’m not ready to quit, and I’m not going to lose everything I have until I’m sure, no matter how unhappy I am with the game right now.

So what is this post about then? It’s about a lot of things, it’s one of those mixed bag posts where I have a bunch of things I want to say, and I just combine them all into a post. I’m going to talk about Marvel Heroes, Amazon Prime Instant Video with a side order of Hulu, a little bit of general TV, some Stargate SG-1 and of course Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve been itching to tweet about these things but 140 characters is not enough, that was the impetus for starting this blog in the first place.

I know this is supposed to be a Warcraft blog. However, everything I write about that is just so negative right now. I think it would be better to wait for more concrete information, after all beta has to be soon right? I can scarcely believe that it’s not been announced yet, it’s March already. Besides I’m thinking of changing the definition of the blog, it started off as Warcraft, then went to Warcraft and Swtor, before back to just Warcraft. Considering I am writing about more things these days, and more often rather than just occasionally, especially Marvel Heroes, it is probably overdue.

Right, on to the post.

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Free to play games are a misnomer

I play Warcraft which is subscription based, I buy the game and then pay a monthly fee for access to the servers. My friend plays Guild Wars 2 which is a buy to play game, you buy it and then it’s free to play on their servers after that. I also play Marvel Heroes which is completely free and whether you pay anything is your choice. These are are all PC games, there’s known Facebook games like Candy Crush, also games like Marvel Puzzle Quest which can be played on the iphone or through steam. These mobile games are completely free, like Marvel Heroes, and instead rely on microtransactions.

There’s the saying that there’s nothing free in life. On the surface there are some games that claim to be free, is that really the case? After all if no-one ever paid any money then the games companies would go bankrupt, so is there such a thing as a completely free to play game? Let’s look at the free to play games, that I play.

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Another look at Marvel Heroes

I’ve been playing a lot of Marvel Heroes lately so I thought I should do another post about it. A lot has changed in the game since I last posted. I looked back at all my posts with the ‘Marvel Heroes’ tag. It’s interesting to see how things have changed since my first post.

I started writing this post Thursday evening. The Marvel Heroes servers were down for a patch to implement Nightcrawler. I had been supposed to raid but wouldn’t let me login to Warcraft so I was replaced. I managed to login eventually, and I stayed logged in and afk, as I was too scared to logout in case they needed me and I couldn’t get back in. Having Warcraft open in one window to watch chat, and this post in another, at least kept me busy until the MH servers came back up.

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Minipost – 5 reasons to love Marvel Heroes

1) Christmas credits. When you killed enemies over christmas rather than piles of shiny coins, mountains of wrapped packages appeared. It was just a graphical change but a fun one.

2) Christmas gifts. I think the 12 hour rarity boost potion was to do with the patch rather than christmas. A Hulk costume with Hulk in Santa hat was given for free, not any use to people without Hulk but a nice gesture. The cool christmas gifts were the ones you logged in everyday for. This was a bit bugged in that you had to log in twice for them to appear in your inventory. Apart from that everyday you got 5 cube shards, 3 odin marks and 10 eternity splinters. As this went on for about 10 days this added up to a fair few. It’s all in game currency and it was a nice boost towards getting new things.

3) Speed of patches. The game has been out six months and it’s all but unrecognizable from launch. They have done an incredible amount of work to turn it round in a short space of time. It inspires faith in the dev team, that if something is wrong then they will fix it. I ran into a bugged legendary quest, googled on the forums, a purple had already commented that they’d fixed it internally and it would be applied on live as soon as possible. They have bugs and make mistakes, they acknowledge when it’s gone wrong, work hard to fix it and communicate while they are doing so.

4) Community communication. The purples, as they are in MH, are very active on the forums. They regularly write posts explaining what they are currently doing, what they are planning on doing, what they know isn’t working etc. They give estimated dates for patches and comment on their progress throughout. This is nice as we know the direction of the game, we have things to look forward to. They also actively ask for community input, they don’t always follow it but I get the feeling they listen.

5) The test center. This is obviously where they get people to test their patches, so that bugs are found and they don’t break the live servers. However, I’ve seen more than once one player advising another, to download the test center to ‘try before they buy’. As you can access heroes for free on the TC. I thought this would get stomped on but I saw one purple encouraging it. I suppose if people aren’t going to pay money unless they like it, trying it and liking it will part them from their money. I thought that was nice.

Where did August go?

Well it wasn’t spend gaming in any form, is the relevant answer. My grandparents are in pretty ill health and we were worried about them, there were a fair few trips to the hospital, which is about as personal as I get on this blog.

Anyway, I may possibly be going on vacation in a weeks time. We booked it in a fit of optimism a few weeks ok, before the heart attacks and other drama. If nothing more happens then we’ll go, but of course if something does go wrong then we won’t. Family first, after all. I’m planning a blog post of epic proportions to document it, my first vacation in four years, my first proper vacation in eight. I’m quite excited to be honest, but trying not to be as I don’t want to be disappointed if something happens. It’s unfortunate that 5.4 is going to drop as soon as I go away, which brings us back to the proper subject of this blog – gaming.

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The 100th Edition

This isn’t my first attempt at keeping a blog. I have tried a few times before this and I just never kept it up. After I’d abandoned it for a few months I removed it in embarrassment. None of these attempts reached more than a dozen posts, mostly a lot less than that. So to some bloggers the milestone of 100 is nothing, easily and quickly passed, to me it means a lot more than that. I debated what my 100th post should be about. Should it just be a normal post, or should it be something?

When I started this blog I called it a “Warcraft and Swtor blog”, when I stopped playing Swtor I changed it to just a “Warcraft blog” which is what it remains as. I’m increasingly blogging about other things than Warcraft but it remains at it’s core a Warcraft blog. I think I hold that responsible for the success of this blogging attempt. In the past it was just a blog, not about anything and consequently it didn’t have any posts. I’ve tried not to get too personal with the posts as well, and do more opinion or discussion pieces. Sometimes I’ve failed with that, but I don’t talk about life here, which means I don’t regret what I post, there is nothing to worry about.

So this post is going to be a bit of a mixed bag, just something to mark the milestone of 100 posts, then I can get on with writing the next 100.

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The Power of the Mind

This has been ticking at the back of my mind ever since The Grumpy Elf said something about approach a few weeks ago. He said that the players that just didn’t care, the Donald’s of the world if you will, actually had a lot more fun, than those that try their best.

I haven’t been playing much Warcraft lately. I’ve still been turning up to raid night, I’ve done a bit of the new holiday, I’ve tended my farm and done my research occasionally. However, I haven’t really been playing it. This will be the second week in a row that I haven’t valor capped. I haven’t gone and farmed for a Primal Egg lately, I haven’t done any mount farming lately despite only needing 4 more to hit 200. There’s things to do in game and I just haven’t been doing them. Why?

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Run that past me again?

I’ve given Marvel Heroes it’s own category now as I suspect I might wind up talking about it a fair bit. I went to login to it this morning and it was down for maintenance, a fairly big patch, mostly of bug fixes had been put in place.

It wasn’t all bug fixes though and a forum thread caught my eye, and my interest. I finished the story and got my first hero – Storm – to endgame. In this patch they’d fixed the need to find a group yourself unless you wanted to, and much like with all the little ‘dungeon’ type things in the world, you got auto grouped if you have that option enabled. I liked this change as I don’t really know anyone in Marvel Heroes yet and so it’s nice to be able to run them, I had thought that I might not be able too.

So I had a plan worked out. I got my two free extra heroes through doing the quests on Storm (Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch). I thought that I would level those through the story. In the meantime I would run Storm through the terminals. Then I would run these new heroes through the terminals when they got there. The advantage to having multiple heroes that could do the terminals was the Cube Shards. Per account, per day there was a quest where you could hand in Cube Shards and get a Fortune Card. I think in my previous post I said that you could get a hero, but I now believe that not to be the case. You can get good stuff, mostly boosts, but costumes have a chance to drop too. Over and above this daily quest, Cube Shards were really useful for levelling up the crafter as they give good XP. I want to level my crafter up to access the costume core, so that I can put an extra chance for special items (heroes, costumes etc.)

That was the plan. I did hope that maybe in the course of getting the three heroes to the endgame that another hero would drop. If one didn’t then no matter I’m fairly certain I’ll be buying a hero at some point. I still feel that they are overpriced, but as I mentioned in the other post, if I view it as like “buying the game” then it feels ok. I’m also getting into the game and so my conscience is starting to prickle. I feel like I should buy something to support this game.

However, in the patch they made it so the Cube Shards only drop once per day, per account. Run that past me again? How does that make sense? Up until that change the whole ethos of Marvel Heroes seemed to be about multiple heroes, about building a roster, there was no need for a main as everything was shared. Considering that their income comes from people purchasing heroes that seemed to be a very good model to support. There are those with lots of heroes already unlocked as they bought founders packs, and ultimate packs etc. that were available pre-launch. They still have to level them all to max, they still have to run the terminals. Maybe it was a change to try and make it more equal for the f2p people, those that don’t have lots of heroes. However, I do find this incredibly counter-intuitive, surely they want everyone to spend money. Why would people spend money if there is no point to playing multiple heroes?

It remains to be seen whether the bonus to finding special items, which is the first kill of each boss a day, is per hero or whether it has changed like the Cube Shards to per account. I just don’t understand this change. It might seem like a small thing but it isn’t. I suppose in time when I’ve unlocked the crafter, then there would be less use for multiple Cube Shards so it won’t matter so much. Time will perhaps cure this. However, I repeat that it does seem like an odd move for a company to make, when it’s income is reliant on alts. Surely they should make more benefits to having multiple heroes, not less.

On another note I started levelling Hawkeye today. It’s different from playing Storm, plus I have got used to the higher level abilities. Hawkeye doesn’t have much aoe in his skill tree either. Still I’m learning new things like I can hold my mouse button rather than click it like crazy, hopefully that won’t destroy my mouse (I was getting worried) as it’s a Razer Naga and I want it to last. Perhaps I should plug in a different mouse for Marvel Heroes sessions? You can also teleport to other players, which means no corpse run if you die during a boss fight. That feature is very cool. I also like the bodyslide, it’s like a hearthstone but you return to where you were before – no vendoring issues.

Regardless of this … strange choice I’m going to continue to play and enjoy Marvel Heroes.

Marvel Heroes – The honeymoon is over

I like Marvel Heroes, or rather I want to like it a lot. It’s a bit like Iron Man 3. I’m a big Marvel fan, I want to love it but I can’t.

Marvel Heroes has something amazing going for it, it’s set in the Marvel universe. It’s a bit like playing inside my favourite movie and that’s fun – for a while. Swtor is the same, it’s great to swing a lightsaber about, visit the Jedi temple and all that good stuff. However, if it doesn’t have a solid game underneath the IP, then you wind up disappointed. Now I’m not saying that Swtor isn’t solid, my criticisms of that are very different to the criticisms I have of Marvel Heroes. I’m just linking that it has the hook of the IP, but it needs more than the IP to survive.

I’ve written this post over the last three days. I’ve added a lot to it and I’ve changed some of what I wrote originally. I’ve gone through it and I hope it makes sense, if it doesn’t you now know why.

I’ve logged twenty hours with Marvel Heroes and I finished the story. I’m level twenty-four with the free hero I chose – Storm – which is still a long way from level sixty which is where the endgame would be. I want to put a proviso here that some of what I may say could be wrong. To the best of my knowledge I’m not saying anything incorrect, but I only have my experience to draw on, so if I’ve missed something, or failed to understand something, then I could be wrong. However, I still think that whatever I say is legitimate, as if I don’t know it’s incorrect, then it obviously hasn’t been explained sufficiently. I’m not a gaming novice, so if I can’t work it out, then those new to gaming couldn’t except by chance. Although that is a bit egotistical to say that, I don’t think it’s completely unfair.

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