Thursday, April 14, 2016

Feckless Leader's Blizzcon Noob Guide [2016 Update]

The #3WImigos at Blizzcon 2013.

Blizzcon 2016 is happening, so I've gone ahead and added to this guide, originally published in October 2013. I've had the privilege of attending the last four Blizzcons and this guide is meant to give first-time attendees a jump on what to expect at the convention.

Ticketing

Acquiring tickets to Blizzcon can be a feat in itself. As you can imagine, there are many more people interested in attending than there are tickets available. As a result, the event tends to sell out within minutes. Tickets this year go on sale at 7pm Pacific on Wednesday, April 20th, and will be handled by Universe. A second batch will go on sale at 10am Pacific on Saturday, April 23rd for those who missed out on the first sale. There have been some...issues with Blizzard's chosen ticketing vendor in years prior, but knowing that Universe is owned by Ticketmaster gives me some confidence that this year might go more smoothly. 

Group Effort
The fact that our group was able to secure tickets for each of the last four Blizzcons is part strategy and part luck. Obviously, you'll want to be on the ticket page prior to the start of the sale, hammering the hell out of your F5 key until tickets become available. Each year we had at least two people in our group doing this; what generally happened is once you selected the number of tickets you wanted, you were placed into a queue. If you didn't make it to the front of the line before tickets sold out---tough luck. 

From Blizzard's ticketing info page, it sounds like this year's sales will be handled a bit differently. In years prior, all one had to do is select the number of tickets they desired before being placed into a queue. It made it so that you could use multiple browsers to request tickets, increasing your odds. We also had several members of our group trying for tickets, with the first who got through being responsible for purchase, and the rest of us reimbursing them. However, that might be trickier this year, given that it appears Universe will require additional info---including credit card details and attendee names---to be entered before you will be placed into a queue. 

To prepare for technical problems, i.e. server crashes and/or getting kicked from the queue, it might be handy to have all of your info (name, address, credit card info) in an open .txt document for quick copy+paste action. If you're buying multiple tickets, just enter your own name in each attendee field---it'll save time and you have the ability to change this info until July 15th.

If you miss the Wednesday sale, make sure you're poised to try again on Saturday, April 23rd at 10am Pacific. 

Benefit Dinner
There's another option for some folks who aren't lucky enough to land a ticket before they sell out completely: the Children's Hospital of Orange County benefit dinner held the night before the convention. There's an extremely limited amount of tickets available to this event, but their price of $750 can be a bit off-putting. Still, if you have the cash, you may be in the minority when it comes to the amount of money you have to budget for Blizzcon, meaning your shot at scoring one of these might be greater. I actually have no idea, but it is an option if you missed out on the general sales. Plus, it goes towards a great cause. And you get to talk and dine with the Blizzard brass and stuff, in addition to attending the convention. 

Tickets for the benefit dinner go on sale Wednesday, April 27th.

Open Market
Lastly, if you're not able to get tickets through the official avenues, there will always be a number of people who have tickets to resell. These can be a bit more difficult to come by, as there's a high likelihood someone with a Blizzcon ticket is already connected to people who'd be interested in attending. But if you keep your eyes open, or are connected to the right people, you might come across some tickets between now and then.

Purchasing Plane Tickets

A recent-ish study makes the claim that the best time to buy a plane ticket with the goal of the cheapest fare is 54 days before your trip. And if you don't hit that head-on, the best fares can generally be found between 104 to 29 days before the trip. While you can secure your ticket now, historically prices should decrease as we head into the summer months. Another study suggests that Tuesdays tend to feature lower average rates, while rates tend to climb as it gets later into the week. Nothing here is guaranteed, of course, but these may be good things to keep in mind.

SNA or LAX?

I flew into LAX the first year, and SNA (John Wayne) the rest. LAX, as you probably know, is a rather large airport and a bit of a hike from Anaheim. I'd only recommend cabbing to the con from there if money isn't an issue. Otherwise, SuperShuttle or a similar service is the way to go. Sure, you're sharing a ride, but you can secure a round-trip for roughly $40.

SNA is a smaller airport, but quite nice and my preferred route of travel. It's about a 15-minute cab ride from the convention center, barring traffic. Depending on when you purchase tickets, flying into SNA may even be the cheaper option. I prefer SNA just because it's less of a hassle getting in and out of it, and also because the extra sleep you'll be afforded on your day of departure will have much value. Trust me.

Finding a Room

Blizzcon's own Travel Information post has a lot of really great stuff regarding lodging options in the immediate area surrounding the convention center. If money's not a concern, I highly recommend staying at the Hilton, but a stone's throw from the convention center doors. As an added bonus for those staying at the Hilton, the lobby is a social hot spot each night. For a more affordable option with equal proximity to the convention center, check out the Marriott. Word on the street is some hotels have jacked their prices for the weekend. Plan accordingly.

For the past few years, our group did something different and went in on a house rental through a service like HomeAway. With the cost split multiple ways, we each paid the equivalent of the cost of a room for 1-night at the Hilton, but got an entire freakin' house for four nights. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spacious living room, full kitchen (COFFEE MAKER), patio...your own space. Granted, we didn't spend much time there outside of sleeping hours, but we won't do it any other way---we've already got our house booked for this year. If you don't mind a short walk or sharing a cab ride to the convention center, this option should not be overlooked.

Getting Your Badge

One of the things I've noticed major improvements to over the years is the logistics of badge acquisition. You now have a twelve-hour window to grab your badge on the Thursday before the convention from 9am to 9pm---this is when you want to do it, especially to avoid standing in a badge line on Friday morning when you should really be lining up to get inside the convention center. If you miss Thursday's opportunity, badges can be picked up from 8am on convention days until 10pm, when the convention closes.

Getting Prime Seating

Seating is first-come, first-served. If you want a seat near the main stage for any of the larger events (opening ceremony, reveals, developer panels), it is best to arrive early. Really, there's not a bad seat in the house on account of the video screens strategically placed throughout the halls. The only event where sitting in the back had a disadvantage (significant sound delay) was the closing concert.

It seems pretty typical for one person from a group to arrive at the convention early and save seats for their party. This might draw sideways glances from some folks, but I can assure you this was a very common practice.

Visit the Booths Early if Swag's Your Thing

There are loads of vendor booths at the con (Razer, Nvidia, Sony etc.). At many of these booths, there are contests, prizes, and trinkets to give away. However, it was clear that these companies did not bring enough giveaways for every single con attendee. So if you're looking to maximize your swag, try to hit the booths earlier on Friday.

The drawback to visiting the booths where there's a prize at stake is the fact you'll be spending a decent amount of time standing in line. Not that you'd regret burning an hour in line, but time flies at the con, for better or worse. Use it wisely.

Mind the Schedule

There's a lot to do and see. Lore panels, live PvP matches, game testing, the booths, the people---you may not have time for it all---and that's just the stuff going on during the day. There will also be a slew of events put on by fansites during the evening hours. There is never a shortage of things to do; in fact, you'll often have to choose one thing over the other as event times often conflict. That's why it's important to mind the schedule.

Bring a Backpack

My fellow attendee and I were a bit worried about the size of our backpacks in 2011 (traditional Jansport double-strap bags). In fact, I'd brought a smaller sack for the first day that wasn't very useful until I saw they were allowing normal-sized backpacks. Of course, this is where you'll be stuffing all that free swag or items you've purchased, but it's also wise to bring along some water, a snack, and any other items you might need while away from your base. I've never gotten any guff for a plastic water bottle and a box of granola bars.

Autographable Paraphernalia

Bring a Sharpie and something for Blizzard folk to deface with said Sharpie. I recommend the art book from one of the Warcraft Collector's Editions, or perhaps the newly released Warcraft Chronicles book. A t-shirt works, too. There is a designated area of the con where Blizz folk will be on-hand for autographs throughout the weekend.

Good Shoes

There will be lots and lots and lots of walking---even if you're staying adjacent to the convention center. While comfortable doesn't always translate into the most stylin', comfort trumps style here. Bring a trusty pair of shoes you know you'll be comfortable in while walking many miles and standing around on hard concrete for hours at a time, and save your fancy shoes for the evenings.

Take Advantage of the Food Trucks

This is another aspect of the convention that has only continued to improve over the years. During the convention, approximately two-dozen food trucks from the surrounding area will be parked outside in the courtyard from mid-morning until late-night. There's incredible variety to be had, and most importantly, a lot of stuff you simply won't find at home. Well, if you're me anyway. While you do have some options inside the convention center, the food trucks seem to be the most popular option by far, and for good reason.

The Viking Truck is one of our favorites. Check it out.

Talk to the Blizzard People 

They will be out and about; if they were trying to avoid talking to fans, it'd be real easy for them to do so. One of my favorite memories from 2011 was looking Mike Morhaime in the eyes while shaking his hand, thanking him for the awesome experiences he and his team have created. 2014 was even more memorable. Once again I was able to catch Morhaime's ear for a few minutes, but I also was able to speak one-on-one with Rob Pardo, Greg Street, Corey Stockton, Russel Brower and Johnathan Brown (Zarhym). The highlight was probably a sit-down conversation a fellow #3WImigo and I had with Jason Hayes, Senior Composer at Blizzard. He talked our ears off.

Pace Yourself to Stay Up Late

I'm a late-to-bed, early-to-rise type of guy when it comes to the con. Note that this might be your only chance at attending the con, at connecting with so many like-minded gamers---don't waste it. I can tell you that a friend who came with me to Blizzcon 2011 regrets going to bed so early. Especially when I texted him a picture of Morhaime and I at 11:45pm on Saturday night. Fortunately for him, he changed his habits and got his photo-op the next year.

6-2-1 Rule

Bim (@ShieldSpec) on Twitter suggested this nifty tip, one that I hadn't heard of before, but may be familiar to those who are regular con-goers. Simply put: 6 hours of sleep, 2 meals, 1 shower---daily. Easy enough, and helps to ensure you aren't tired, hungry or stinky, which will make for an better con experience overall for you and those around you.

Full disclosure: I don't normally follow the 6-2-1 rule. In practice mine tends to look like 5-2-1 rule. Seriously though, don't skip out on the shower. Your fellow Blizzcon attendees send their thanks in advance.

Note: while practicing this rule, it's also not a bad idea to pack a travel-size container of hand sanitizer to have with you at the con.

Get Charged

Portable phone chargers will make your life at the con much better. In 2011, I had a really difficult time finding a good signal, which caused my phone to be on overdrive at all times when I was inside the convention center. So it was either airplane mode or a battery that lasted two hours. Couple that with the copious amounts of pictures you should be taking, your battery will be drained by noon. Don't be like I was the first year, running back to the hotel room in the middle of the day just to plug in the phone. Be prepared. Following my first Blizzcon experience, I picked up a model like this for less than $10.

There was a secure charging station (Verizon I believe) last year, but these tended to be full. Con smarter, bring a charger.

Don't Be a Dick

It's all about respect. 

Respect the space you're in. Respect the cosplayers. Respect the event staff. Respect the people standing/seated next to you. Respect the people staying in the room next you. Respect the place where you're staying. Respect the fact you're privileged enough to attend Blizzcon.

Four years of conventions, and four years of witnessing some pretty dismal behavior by some attendees, from intoxication leading to arrest, to sexual harassment. People disrespecting the environment around then, showing the self-control of an impulsive child free of the supervision of their parents for the first time in their lives.

Don't be a dick.

Friday, April 1, 2016

WoW Weekly: Break Time!

WoW Weekly is a biweekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

Well, it's finally happened. Made it official by posting on the guild forums: I'll be taking a break from the game until the spark reignites. Well, not the entire game, just the only activity I was actively engaged in outside of garrison chores and weekly Ulduar runs: raiding.

Last week I decided to sit out for our Heroic/Alt raid just to see how it felt to not raid when no obligations were keeping me from doing so. When raid time rolled around, I felt that familiar tinge---part routine and part desire, unsure of each's weight in the equation---but it didn't last long. There was a small feeling of being left out, but I quickly squashed that, as this choice was mine.

I've been involved in organized guild raids, whether as leader, planner, or assistant, since the summer of 2013 without taking a break. Even on a 1-night schedule, much time was spent planning, leading and organizing while helping to maintain a guild. It was honestly a lot of fun, but also demanded quite a bit of my time. Now three years later, the raid is an undeniable success and the guild seems a well-oiled machine. Given that, I've been to pay a little more attention to the feeling of burn-out.

Last fall's life change offered some new perspective as well. When you've got a great deal of the future planned out in your mind's eye and suddenly the RESET button gets hit, it tends to make one pause. I'm grateful to have had my guildies' support during the time, and the option to continue part of the routine I'd known for so long. I'm still working out how much I want my hobbies, like music and gaming, to fit into this uncharted expanse ahead of me. Stepping away, in light of the above, seems the wisest thing to do at this point.

And if it were only the two things I've listed above, I might stick around a bit longer. But there is a third prong: Warlords of Draenor's lack of appeal to me. I won't even waste the time to go through what I liked and didn't like. The fact is, I wanted to enjoy this game as much as I've enjoyed all of the previous expansions. But I didn't, and nothing's going to change that at this point. My hope is that what drew me to and kept me in Azeroth isn't completely lost. I want to like Legion, too. I'll remain cautiously optimistic for the time being.

Ulduar Runs Continue
My squad of four characters have already been through Ulduar this week and are currently resting until next week's adventure. One byproduct of next week's run will be the acquisition of the legendary mace on my priest, the second character overall to complete the chain.

Gold Collecting
This week's tally saw me eclipsing 700,000g. Exactly two weeks ago I reported that I'd eclipsed 600,000g, meaning I've averaged 50,000g per week since then. Again, this is accomplished without stepping foot outside of my garrison. I'm confident I'll see the gold cap well before Legion's launch.

Cheating on WoW
I dove into the Darkest Dungeon for a while, but the repetition and brutal challenges in that game have led me to put it aside for a while in favor of an MMO I first checked out a few years ago: The Secret World. Look for a Gaming Affairs post on that title soon!


Friday, March 18, 2016

WoW Weekly: Keeping the Flame Alive

WoW Weekly is a biweekly-ish, self-absorbed look into the things I've been doing -- or not doing -- in the game. From auctioneering and pet battling to mount farming and raiding.

Here we are again.

It's starting to look like Siege of Orgrimmar two-point-oh, sitting on nine months of no new content with nary a Legion release date in sight. Our guild has had Heroic Archimonde on farm since the middle of December, and I'd exhausted all content that personally interested me well before then. I'm not saying there's nothing to do. I'm saying that the options currently available to me don't appeal.

To be honest, I really didn't mind the Siege of Orgrimmar lull. At the time, our guild was in the end stages of a rebuild, and I was happy to use the time to continue recruitment while leveling alts and knocking out old achievements. I spent a lot of time on the Timeless Isle during those months.

I'm having a hard go at biding the time, this time around, for whatever reason. I've settled into the bi-daily routine of collecting garrison gold, but I wouldn't call it "fun." It's nice to not have to worry about paying for a subscription, but if I think about how the minutes spent in-game translate to real dollars...yeah, let's not go there.

But then, there's raid night. Where my temporary aversion to this game disappears, and I'm surrounded by a couple dozen of the raddest folks I've ever played with. Good guildies. Keeping the flame alive.

Ok, enough whining from me. Let's talk things just generally me:

Mythic Hellfire Citadel
The guild group made some serious progress on the Council fight last night. We're handling the earlier stage Reaps much better than we did on our first foray. Phase 3 came relatively consistently, but we've still got a test ahead of us.

Ironman
I've done a little bit of leveling with the monk over on Wyrmrest Accord; had a brush with death when a named mob I had to kill for a quest gave me a surprising amount of trouble. A couple more strikes would've seen Flasz joining his brother Glasz in the Annals of Failed Adventurers.

Gold Making
I've established a fairly consistent pattern of logging in twice per day to knock out garrison missions, once in the morning and once in the evening. Between profession sales and gold collection, I've just eclipsed 600,000g. As a point of reference, on January 27th of this year I was sitting on just over 300,000g. This means I'm more than keeping up with the average of 100,000g per month---and that's after I've paid for a WoW Token!

Podcast
Ooh! Yours truly was featured on The Starting Zone podcast's #WhyIWoW segment. We chat about what got me playing, what keeps me (hint: I already told you in this post), and a myriad of other topics.

Zarhym
One of Blizzard's veteran community managers recently announced he was no longer with Blizzard. A sad day. I met the guy once, and wanted to share some words.

Darkest Dungeon
In the WoD lull I'm currently going through, I've revisited my Steam library and pulled out the Darkest Dungeon. If you don't know what that game's all about, check out my first impressions.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gaming Affairs: The Darkest Dungeon

Gaming Affairs happen when Blizzard titles just aren't holding my interest for whatever reason, yet I need to satisfy that gaming itch. In this series, I'll talk about games I play outside of the Blizzard universe.

In Time, You Will Know the Tragic Extent of My Failings...


The Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios is a side-scrolling, dungeon-crawling RPG that has me absolutely encapsulated at the moment. Though I've only spent about eleven hours adventuring, the impression it's left on me has been significant enough that I am abandoning protocol and writing about a non-Blizzard game in this space for the first time since this blog's inception five years ago.

This isn't your typical dungeon crawler, though it has many of the standard elements: terrifying foes to battle against, a variety of items and trinkets to use on your characters, currency used to upgrade/augment characters, and a progression system. However, this isn't a hack-and-slash game; combat is turn-based, and feels surprisingly fluid---well, as fluid as turn-based combat can be. I think this is due to the variety of classes in the game in addition to the gritty-cartoony art style.

The core element of the game involves building a party of four characters and sending them into various dungeons in search of gold and family heirlooms---the former used to purchase mission supplies and rest your characters, the latter used to upgrade various buildings/areas around the Hamlet, your base of operations when not in a dungeon. The game informs you right off that your outlook is bleak, which sets a curiously dark and humorous tone. Many of your characters will most definitely perish, you're told, and death is permanent. But, like in Warcraft, it's only a setback.


Experiencing the Characters


What really made the experience feel unique was the Darkest Dungeon's approach to characters. Characters are recruited without cost at the Stagecoach, which is one of several areas/buildings in the Hamlet. There are fifteen different classes who can show up at the Stagecoach, with new characters arriving each week (note: weeks in game are measured by mission; i.e. once you embark on a mission, on your return the game will denote a week has passed). I haven't been able to get a full reading on class types, but it seems standard RPG fare: there are tanks, damage-dealers, support/buff classes and healers, though there's quite a bit of nuance given there's 15 classes spanning the four categories I've listed.

Each character, in addition to their base stats and abilities, has the chance to carry unique "Quirks," which are essentially attributes that can have either positive or negative effects. For instance, a character could feature a 15% damage increase to human enemies as a positive quirk; a negative quirk might see a character's attack speed diminished for the first round of combat. There looks to be over 100 different Quirks, so the possibility for combinations is numerous. Over time, the characters will acquire additional positive and negative Quirks (or replace ones they previously had) based on how well or poorly they perform in dungeons.

Another character element I found interesting has to do with one of the game's mechanics: Stress Level. In addition to managing your characters' health, you must also manage your character's stress levels. A character's stress is affected by all sorts of things: the simple fact of being in a dungeon, the amount of light in a dungeon, stepping on a trap, interacting improperly with "Curios" (special items) in the dungeon, taking a critical hit, and so on.

The stress bar starts at 0 and goes up to 200. If a character's stress bar reaches 100, their resolve is tested and they will either gain an affliction (debuff) or become virtuous (buff). Afflictions are interesting as they can cause your character to harm themselves, eschew heals from other party members, or outright refuse your orders. This, as you can imagine, can be detrimental to the party's success. I found myself cursing certain characters when they let stress get the best of them---even if partly my fault---and cheering those who persevered and became virtuous in the face of strong adversity.

What happens when a character's stress level maxes out? We'll find out.

Each character class also has a distinct personality which reveals itself through fully voiced chat when traversing the dungeon. It is pretty hilarious listening to your characters having a complete meltdown in the middle of a dungeon run.

All that said, the characters really bring this game to life: not only are you fighting against the monsters in the dungeons, you're also fighting against the sanity of your own characters. They end up feeling more real. This opens up an avenue for complex decision-making, and as a result there is a feeling of loss when a character dies---even if it's promised to be a relatively regular occurrence. We're so used to playing RPG's where the character's own thoughts, feelings, and motivations are assumed to be unflawed. The Darkest Dungeon turns that idea on its head, and as a result brings a peculiar amount of humanity to its characters.


Once Again, You Will Die


Part of me scoffed a bit when the gamed warned me at the outset that I should expect to lose characters. I thought to myself, yeah, the game is probably tuned to be challenging but if I play ultra-conservatively I should be able to make it through unscathed.

Nope. It's probably a challenge every player issues themselves at the onset, and I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's highly improbable you will finish this game without experiencing loss.

Screw it, it's impossible.

The first character I lost was a ranged damage-dealer. She took a couple of nasty crits which not only left her health at dangerously low levels, but it sent her stress over 100. Her resolve failed and she gained the Masochistic affliction, causing her to chip away at her own health points in addition to a handful of other actions that put the party in jeopardy. She soon found herself on Death's Door, which is the game state where the character is essentially one more hit away from death. Due to the turn-based nature of combat I was unable to toss her a heal before she was targeted by the enemy, and she fell.

Thankfully, the other three party members survived and were able to abandon the quest and flee the dungeon without further loss.

The next time I lost a character, the impact was much greater. With a group of my four most seasoned adventurers, I stumbled upon a certain monster that will wreak havoc on your party if you're unprepared---though I didn't know this at the time. I watched in absolute horror as my party became overwhelmed. Hit points dwindled and stress levels shot through the roof.

Suddenly, one of my characters died...from a heart attack. The sheer terror of the encounter maxed their stress level and their body couldn't take it anymore. They keeled right over. A bit amused at what just went down, I nonetheless thought it a good time to make a retreat, which is a command available to players engaged in battle.

Except, sometimes in the Darkest Dungeon as in life, retreating doesn't work. Instead of watching my characters flee to safety, I watched helplessly as the retreat failed and two more party members succumbed to heart attacks, while the third was finished off by the monster's attacks.

The entire party of my most seasoned adventurers was dead. And with them all of the gold and items they looted, all of the trinkets I'd equipped them with before sending them into battle, were lost.

That hurt.


Two Sides to the Coin - The Hamlet


Dungeoneering is really half the game---well, more than half, as you'll spend a majority of time in dungeons, but a key component to being successful in said dungeons is the prep phase. The entirety of the prep phase takes place in the Hamlet before a mission.

The Hamlet features a variety of buildings/areas that serve to help you on your quest to finish the game. The Stagecoach, which I mentioned above, serves as the place where you recruit new characters, increase your overall roster size, and increase the base level of recruited characters (as they initially start at level 0). Both the Abbey and the Tavern are buildings where you can send your characters to relieve stress and be cured of Afflictions they may have acquired during a mission.

But true to the game's nature, even these simple activities don't always go as planned. For instance, several times after sending a character to the Tavern for a night of drinking they decided to tie one on and refused to leave the bar. Meaning they were unavailable for the next mission.

In another hilarious turn of events, I sent a character to the Tavern for a visit to the brothel where he contracted syphilis, which ended up giving him a negative Quirk that adversely affected combat prowess.

The Sanitarium is where you can remove negative Quirks or lock in positive Quirks; however, this costs a significant amount of gold, and seems like an element that's best left alone until the later stages of the game where you're being more strategic about party composition and engaging in more difficult dungeon runs.

There are also a couple of buildings where you can upgrade your various characters' skills, as well as upgrade their armor and weapons.

Progression


This game is designed to be a slog. It is supposed to take you a while to master. After the 11 hours I've spent, I have yet to embark on a 2nd-tier mission, opting instead to play it safe by leveling up characters on 1st-tier missions.

As mentioned above, characters start at level zero and can reach up to Level 6. I'm assuming you'll need a full party of Level 6 characters in order to tackle the game's most difficult challenges. I decided to level up a core set of characters to 3, then send them in to obliterate the 1st-tier missions in an effort to stock up on heirlooms and gold. Problem was, when it was time to embark, all of my Level 3 characters refused the order. 

I scoffed once again. Apparently, the low-level quests were beneath their experience. My own characters weren't listening to me. In truth, it's a neat mechanic that prevents a player from essentially gaming the system. Without it, one could simply re-run early missions until they had max-level characters, and then smash through the rest of the game with relative ease.

Based on my experience thus far, I can only imagine the completion of this game will take several dozens of hours. And I'm cool with that.

Conclusion


The Darkest Dungeon on its surface may look like your typical turn-based dungeon crawler, but I'd argue it's the development of the characters and the randomness within that set this game apart. Fortune and Despair can strike at a moment's notice and without warning, just like in life. It laughs at the notion that "heroes always win." Heroes don't always win, and there often needs to be sacrifice before triumph. The Darkest Dungeon brings that home, and then some.

My Recommendation

If you hate turn-based combat, you're probably not going to like the Darkest Dungeon. I'm lukewarm on turn-based games, and while things definitely do get repetitive and can seem slow at times, the unpredictability in how the characters might react to any given situation breathes life into this game. I won't say this is a must-have, though you'll probably enjoy it if turn-based is your thing. At minimum, I'd toss it onto your Steam wishlist and wait for that $25 price tag to drop. Definitely worth the $10 I paid for it.





Friday, March 11, 2016

Dear Zarhym


We had a bit of connection, you and me. You may not have felt it, but I did. You and I, we're around the same age. Some people think we look alike. Our love of Warcraft is a given, but we also share another passion: percussion. Because of these things, I felt I could relate to you a bit deeper.

I remember the first time I met you (proof is in the header image). It was during the evening on Thursday, November 7th, 2013. You were chatting with some folks outside of the Hilton in Anaheim on the night before Blizzcon, and my friend pointed you out. By then, I knew who you were and had a basic understanding of your role at Blizzard. My goal was to talk to as many employees as I could, so I headed over.

I addressed you by your full name---not your CM handle---and you repeated it back to me like you hadn't heard it awhile. Made me chuckle. I gave you one of my business cards that pointed towards this site. Maybe you trashed that card at the end of the night, or maybe you held onto it and peeped this blog once. Either way, I don't care---the fact you made yourself so present and available to the playerbase night after night, con after con, forum post after forum post, made a huge impact.

Zarhym touches my business card. 

You will be dearly missed.

You were engaging, witty, and passionate. As players, we could see it and feel it. I can't imagine work as a CM being easy: always on-call, late hours, all while bearing the brunt of perhaps less-than-cordial feedback from an equally...passionate...group of players. In my opinion, you set the standard. A man with your talents, brain-power and experience should have nothing but a bright, promising future ahead of him.

Best of luck to you, Jonathan Brown.