Tag Archives: Starcraft II

#488 Heroes of the Storm First Impressions

Over the weekend, due to a combination of some free time, watching various PAX South Streams, and remembering that I actually had the game in my inventory, I booted up Blizzard’s second Free to Play game, the A.R.T.S/MOBA game Heroes of the Storm for the first time to play a few rounds.

I played between the two free ranged and support heroes of that week, Malfurion and Falstad, for a few matches in the Raven and Haunted mines map. I did have a fun time playing the game, winning my fair share of matches and even scoring a few killstreaks here or there, I contribute that to my months of Twitch training.

 Its weird starting fresh in new MOBA/ARTS game, relaying on the free champs that week instead of the handful of champs you know so well.

Its weird starting fresh in new MOBA/ARTS game, relaying on the free champs that week instead of the handful of champs you know so well.

My first impressions is that it is a fun game with more of a focus on map objectives than player kills, and the objectives are fun to partake in. from collecting skulls to power up your bulldozer of a Grave Golem as it marches from one side of the map to the other to claiming capture points to ensure that your team gets the highly prized buff or inflicting a powerful curse or attack on the enemy’s defenses.

I have only played for a handful of matches, so I do not know how I feel about Heroes of the Storm choosing a heavy focus on Talents and upgrading and side-grading the hero’s abilities over the item approach for character improvement. I definitely know that I am not a fan of Blizzard’s gameplay choice to let players pick their champions first and then enter the queue.

I lost quite a few solo-queue matches because our team was comprised of two supports and no damage and that was because there was no time to communicate to the other players and and change our team competition before rolling out.

I do not know how those two complaints will might work with the competitive scene of the game when it comes to the staple pick/ban phase and counting other champion’s play style we see in other games, that is if there is a community interest to move towards a competitive or metagame route.

of course it will, we have competitive Hearthstone tournaments

of course it will, we have competitive Hearthstone tournaments why wouldn’t we have a competitive HoTs scene

Those two complaints are not enough to deter me from the game all together, and I will still plan to play it but recreationally, I know that if I play Heroes of the Storm any more than casually I end up losing money, fast.

I know that if I lose money it will not be because of HoTs’s microtransactions or colorful unicorn mounts but by resubbing to World of Warcraft. It was the same problem I had with Hearthstone. While Heroes of the Storm uses assets from their Diablo and Starcraft games the game is heavily designed with the World of Warcraft Universe in mind, taking a bit of priority over the other Blizzard intellectual properties, with maps, building designs, heroes, mounts, sound effects, and the inclusion of Hearthstones as the item used for recalling back to base.

Even now, after playing a few games, I can feel the itch, the Warcraft itch to resubscribe to reenter the world of Azeroth to revisit those lands and important characters. The itch is especially bad with that new expansion that involves New Outland and time travel. I left World of Warcraft more than a year ago and I know that if I go back I will be lost forever giving $15 a month to Blizzard for the access to a game that I will hardly play.

I wish I could go back to World of Warcraft again, but I just do not have the time, thanks to my current schedule to to allow the time investment for the hours of preparing and committing to a guild that raids end game content continuously and progressively as I would have want.

The kicker is if Blizzard added a special champion costume exclusive to the World of Warcraft subscribers

The kicker is if Blizzard added a special champion costume exclusive to the World of Warcraft subscribers

Another reason that HoTs will not be played anymore than casually is because I already have a main A.R.T.S/MOBA game that I play,on a scheduled basis. A.R.T.S are like MMOs, you can only really choose one to sink enough time into to get the best benefits and I already have one and it’s not this one.


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#375 What items would I buy from a F2P store

I might have mentioned on this blog before that I have a personal policy against buying anything for myself in Free to Play games. A stingy policy I know, but that policy stops me from paying through the nose for every cosmetic items and every new champion the company constantly pumps out. That being said I do not have a policy of putting money in the F2P market, over the past few years my brothers and I have bought and traded Riot’s League of Legends IP cards for our Birthdays and Holiday because we have all reached that point where my brothers and I no longer want to be gifted stuff, but rather items that we can use.
But because Birthdays and Holidays only come once a year and on top of my purchasing policy of mine makes I do realize that this make it difficult for game designers and the people behind new games like Infinite Crisis and Heroes of the Storm to gather information about my purchasing patterns.

Even though I do not often vote with my wallet that does not mean I should not have a say on what items should be sold in the game. So for today’s blog post, to give the people at Infinite Crisis, Heroes of the Storm, and every other ARTS/MOBA, and F2P game a break I am going to give a quick recap on the few item I have bought in the past when I was at F2P checkout line.

First WoW, now this? I should start charging for my marketing insight and data....nah Im just going to blog about it for free.

First WoW, now this? I should start charging for my marketing insight and data….nah I’m just going to blog about it for free.

Just like yesterday lets cover the types of items that I have sworn to never going to buy from the F2P game:

My first rule is to never pay for in-game boosts/advances that unbalanced the game, this policy is easy because do not play those games where you can gain the upperhand by outspending the opponent.

The next rule I have is never to buy anything that I can earn.

This extends from the champions themselves, extra skill pages in League of Legends, Stolen powers in Infinite Crisis and EXP boosts in the game. Paying for all of those items are for the lazy and it is foolishness to spend money on those items compared to all the other things that could be bought from the online store. On top of that buying shortcuts in the game to the rewards you want seems to be counterproductive to what a game is supposed to be.

After being scorned I will never buy a pallet swapped skin of a champion ever again. This comes after buying the Phantom skin for my favorite League Champion, Karthus when I first got my hands on some microtransaction credits. If buying EXP boosts and champions are lazy on behalf of the player, this is laziness on the game developers to add these slightly changed models into the game. Granted this was a relic of Riot’s older policy on skins, like Nightmare Cho’gath where they just change the colors around and placed it on the store shelves. Now it looks like Riot and good game developers are moving away from this practice and are putting more effort into the skins they create now. In my defence I only bought the Karthus skin because it was a part of the first category of reasons I would buy a skin because it was a holiday skin or a limited edition skin.

Last christmas my brother game a few Riot IP gift cards and as a result I brought a Snow Day Ziggs, a skin that has the bomb enthusiast champion be decked out in snow gear and Riot switched out his normal bombs with snowballs and icicles. Those snowballs and icicles are actually serves a nice segway into the next, final, and greatest reason when it comes to buying a cosmetic skin because there is something special added than the original champion

I am a sucker for once a lifetime deals. Shhh keep it a secret through

I am a sucker for once a lifetime deals. Shhh keep it a secret through

Whether it be added and cool particle effects or a part of history I want to see that the skins that was creative, unique, and most importantly of all see that the game developers actually put some time and effort into it. Two perfect examples of that are the TPA or SKT skins that Riot created after each team won their Worlds championships and the Clark Kent Superman from Infinite Crisis. Something that I can resonate with and that I can show off and something that justifies my choice of giving the free to play gaming company my money.

Also do not tell anyone in videogame marketing team but I will go to the ends of the Earth for a free skins, weather it be waiting hours at PAX Expo hall for convention handouts, Facebook events, surveys, or authenticating my account. You name it I have done it, within reason, for the sake of getting a cosmetic skin for free.

Also do not tell anyone in videogame marketing team but I will go to the ends of the Earth for a free skins, whether it be waiting hours at PAX Expo hall for convention handouts, Facebook events, surveys, or authenticating my account. You name it I have done it, within reason, for the sake of getting a cosmetic skin for free.

 

Be Careful, dear reader, with this information that I have shared with you today on this public blog. I wrote this post with the intention of providing my thought process during the few times of the year when I have the money to purchase microtransactions so that videogame developers can take this data and make skins and cosmetic items that are not more appeal more towards me but to make skins that are more worthy to buy to everyone.

 


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#366 The ARTS era of Gaming

This week I am still going trough all of my PAX East loot , going through all the pins and giveaways and entering any and all codes I was handed on the expo floor.

Between everything I noticed that a common theme of the free beta tests and games were for existing or start-up MOBA games or as I call them, Action Real Time Strategy games (or A.R.T.S for short) It seems that the ARTS genera will be the go to PC game for any company in the 201Xs.

Currently we have; League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Dota 2, SMITE, Heroes of Newerth, Infinite Crisis, Dawngate, Magicka: Wizard Wars, Orcs Must Die: Unchained, and all the others that I forgot.

 

Too many launchers....and I intend to play all of them

Too many launchers….and I intend to play all of them

 

It reminds me of the last decade, where we saw every gaming company and their dog create a Massively Multiplayer Online game like; World of Warcraft, Rift, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, DC Universe Online, ESO and all the others I forgot to name.

With the end of the last decade we saw that most -if not all- of the MMO companies caved from the popping of the MMO bubble, forcing most of them to go Free-to-play.

The question is will this A.R.T.S bubble pop the same way? Because these games are not are based on a monthly payment plan, so people like me can be subscribed to multiple titles of the same genera. With the introduction and how these games are built around microtransactions these games can easily be supported by the 1 or 2% of gamers that spends a ridiculous amount of money at the online store page.

The problem these A.R.T.S games now have to face -at least my guest is- would be competing with each other on how to woo the MOBA/ARTS base to spend their free time and eventually money on their game rather than their competitors. The multimillion dollar question is how? Heroes of the Storm will have Blizzard marketing advertising power, with the appeal of free palette swapped skins. Dota 2 had more complexity and all the champions are free to play from right out of the gate. Infinite Crisis has the allure of having every DC comics Super Hero you or I have ever heard about become a playable character And League of Legends is getting ahead by just being popular.

I know there is marketing term for when a company doesn't need to advertise it's product because it is so popular....It is like the Apple/Iphone effect.

I know there is marketing term for when a company doesn’t need to advertise its product because it is so popular….It is like the Apple/Iphone effect or something.

 

On top of the question. ‘How to get the ARTS players to play their preferred game’ the other question is ‘How to make a new ARTS game that is different enough in-game play or giveaways to comfortably compete with the other, established ARTS companies.’

The first company that can come up with solid answer to those two question can dethrone LoL, HotS, and everyone else in the market.

 


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#365 Thoughts on the PAX East Heroes of the Storm Panel

One of the Pax East Panels I got to sit on Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm dev talk panel. Last year I missed Blizzard’s PAX panel, where they officially announced the launching of their new title, Hearthstone so this year I made sure not to miss a minute of this year’s announcements.

As a bonus treat to the few people who attended the panel you were able to hear what I sound like in real life, I was the person who asked which heroes the devs would add if balancing was not an issue.

As a bonus treat to the few people who attended the panel you were able to hear what I sound like in real life, I was the person who asked which heroes the devs would add if balancing was not an issue.

 

The panel went over a few things; first, there is no official release date on Heroes of the Storm and that there are no beta keys for the Heroes of the Storm. Two facts that everyone at the Heroes panel and booth were adamant about getting that point across to everyone at the convention. While Blizzard said that they are adding more people into the program each week, the only way to get in is opt in through their website and keep checking your Battlenet launcher to see if your gaming library has been updated.

I'm still not the beta but this new method of how Blizzard goes around handing out betas has guaranteed that at least one more person downloads and uses Blizzard's new cross-promotion gaming launcher.

I’m still not the beta but this new method of how Blizzard goes around handing out betas has guaranteed that at least one more person downloads and uses Blizzard’s new cross-promotion gaming launcher.

 

After Blizzard’s PSA about not trusting any emails that claims to have Heroes of the Storm beta key, the Developers then moved on to reveal some of the new heroes and mechanics to soon be added to the game.

While we have some heroes like Zagara and LiLi the one that stood out to me was Murky, the baby murloc. When the devs started talking about the inspiration for this hero, they said they wanted a hero that was incredibly weak, but the mechanic is that Murky lays an egg somewhere on the map and while he will be dying a lot he’s purpose is do little waves of damage to the enemy’s health over a continue waves of recently hatched Murkys. Chipping away the enemy team until they either cave from exhaustion or another teammate comes in for the assistance for the kill or the capture of the map objective.

A hero based around dying over and over again. Sounds like a perfect fit for me.

A hero based around dying over and over again. Sounds like a perfect fit for me.

 

Between that and everything else I have heard and seen about this new game I can say it looks fun. I do not take that word lightly, remember I wrote an entire blog post about why the recent Mario game was fun (Be MOP #349).

What also caught my eye was Heroes of the Storm’s approach to heroes skins. While it is a free to play game and it will have cosmetic skins of the champions and mounts for sale on the online shop Heroes will also be providing free in-game cosmetic palette swapped skins for the champions as a reward for playing with that one hero for a set amount of time and there will also be an ultimate skin that you can unlock once you max out that hero.

While Blizzard has the iconic PC gaming characters at its disposal, I think the free unlockable skins and designs will provides as the more important tool for the Heroes of the Storm marketing team when trying to advertise and the game above the other competitors that are currently on the market.

Heroes reminds me a bit of Pokemon, the creative team goes to town making monsters and creations with unique gameplay and then the Pokemon Company threw the entire project at the player base and the fans are the ones who create the competitive gaming leagues and separate the heroes into various tiers of usefulness. Which is something that Blizzard have said from the beginning.

 

My only PAX East regret is I was not able to get into the League of Legends gamplay design panel to see the different approach Blizzard and Riot have designing the character’s roles and move-sets  for their games.

 


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#357 Heroes I want to see in Heroes of the Storm

Blizzard had a busy week, with the launching of their first expansion for Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls. On top of their impressive launch party but Blizzard also announced that Tyrael will be one of the playable heroes in the their newest game Heroes of the Storm.

This is great news because not only are Blizzard taking a leaf out of Nintendo’s book, Building hype for Super Smash Brawl, by announcing segments of their new game in line with a major release of one of their other gaming titles. But it also means I was completely called it two weeks ago when I  exposed Blizzard’s “No game is an Island” marketing plan (Be MOP #350)

Nothing makes a blogger happy than correctly calling out a multi million dollar entertainment company's marketing plan.

Nothing makes a blogger happy than correctly calling out a multi million dollar entertainment company’s marketing plan.

 

I could go into more marketing material but today, this Friday, I want to create a list for some of the Heroes I want to see in the game. Because the best thing about this game than say any of it’s other competition in the A.R.T.S/Moba genre is that Blizzard already has three expansive universe that they could continuously harvest from for years to come.

One (or all of the) Dragon Aspects from World of Warcraft.

These were my favorite characters from the Warcraft universe, they were there from the beginning with the creation of the Well of Eternity and they fought besides the players against Deathwing at the end of Cataclysm.

Plus how cool it would be incorporating powers like time manipulation into the game.

Plus how cool it would be incorporating powers like time manipulation into the game.

Deckard Cain from Diablo

This character has been an established character since the original Diablo and while playing through Diablo 3 for the first time I felt a bit anticlimactic killing him off in the first Act, it would be cool seeing an old fragile man going 1v1 against Diablo himself on the battlefield.

I could totally see him play as a support/specialist

I could totally see him play as a support/specialist

 

A heroes from Blizzard’s still super secret T.I.T.A.N MMO

We know this project is eventually coming and even someone with no background in marketing can tell you that the moment project T.I.T.A.N is announced or hits the beta that Blizzard will be releasing a special HotS hero from that series. We now the game is in the works, it is better just to get it out of the way now.

 

An Innkeeper from World of Warcraft

I want something like an Inn Keeper in Heroes of the Storm, because it would be hilarious to see a game full of powerful heroes and villains to see one normal NPC in the heroes roster and fighting besides aliens, demons and important world leaders.

If they really wanted to connect it to a franchise they could have it be a new Hearthstone character.

If they really wanted to connect it to a franchise they could have it be a new Hearthstone character.

 

Those are just my pick for additional heroes to add to the game, but I want to know what you think, What characters from Blizzards games do you want to see in Heroes of the Storm? Leave a comment down below I would love to hear want other people want from this game.

And Blizzard, if you are reading this, I can not wait to see you at this year’s PAX East.

 

 


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#350 Blizzard’s ‘No Game is an Island’ Marketing Plan

Blizzard is back in my sights with their recent announcement that their newest game, Hearthstone, has moved out of the Beta stage and have officially released to the public.

A game that was first relieved at Pax East last year, which is surprising in terms of game development cycle.

A game that was first relieved at Pax East last year, which is surprising in terms of game development cycle.

I played the game when it was in Beta a while ago but for one reason or another I dropped it for various reasons that I have now forgotten. As of writing the final game is for PCs and Macs with an iOS version in the works with no work on the Android version.

What caught my eye from the Hearthstone release was the promotional World of Warcraft Hearthstone mount that you can get when three games. I do like this line of thinking with this promotion not only because I am a former mount collector in WoW but because it looks like it is Blizzard’s new long-term marketing plan. A marketing plan that I now will be calling ‘No Game is an Island’ with Blizzard using all of their existing games to offer a promotional in game prizes as incentive for players to buy their new Intellectual Property.

 I like to imagine that this long-term plan was started in a Blizzard executive meeting when they saw the signs that World of Warcraft was not going to last forever.

I like to imagine that this long-term plan was started in a Blizzard executive meeting when they saw the signs that World of Warcraft was not going to last forever.

 

This have been in the works for a while, it started with StarCraft II and Diablo 3 with the announcement to add exclusive non-combat no more pets in the collector editions to try to get existing WoW players to buy the more expensive versions of the game.

we saw that idea expanded with the StarCraft II's and Diablo 3's collector edition of their expansion packs with both of theme offering exclusive portraits and banners sigils for each other

we saw that idea expanded with the StarCraft II’s and Diablo 3’s collector edition of their expansion packs with both of theme offering exclusive portraits and banners sigils for each other

 

Then now that long-term plan evolved into the creation of the Free to Play Heathstone and Heroes of the Storm games which advertise the other paid games and the merger of their various game launchers into one meta Blizzard launcher.

It is a brilliant move, and it reminds me of Valve's introduction of Team Fortress 2's hats that you can only get by preordering other games that you bought through their Steam service.

It is a brilliant move, and it reminds me of Valve’s introduction of Team Fortress 2’s hats that you can only get by preordering other games that you bought through their Steam service.

 

Blizzard’s plan only works with active Intellectual Property, which might be the reason why we saw the release of StarCraft II and Diablo 3 in the past few years after an extremely long hiatus of the games. I am also excited to see what this might mean for Blizzard with for the future, especially with their Hero of the Storm starting to be prepped for a beta release.

With a free constantly updating Action Real Time strategy game like Heroes of the Storm this is an open invitation for Blizzard to start pumping out executive cosmetic items or hero skins for HotS as rewards, incentives for buying certain paid games or participating in time limited in games events or attending video game conventions like BlizzCon and possibly the upcoming PAX East.

I have not had much interest in Blizzard games ever since I stopped playing World of Warcraft but I hope that this and more importantly the Heroes of the Storm will get me back in to playing their games and from there who knows I might even pick Starcraft II or Diablo again.


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#299 Blizzard Returning to their Roots

One of the other bit of news that came out from last week’s BlizzCon was the announcement that Blizzard is working on adapting the first two Warcraft games for the modern operating systems

I wonder if they will follow the way of Steam and port it to Linux while their at it

I wonder if they will follow the way of Steam and port it to Linux while they’re at it

Between that, the reveal of their newest game, Heroes of the Storm, the launching of the Hearthstone trading card game and the release of Starcraft II and Diablo 3 (each with their own expansion packs) from the past few years it looks like Blizzard is trying to go back to its roots.

If you need to look any further just look at the new Battlenet launcher. Its an all in one stop for all your Blizzard games

If you need to look any further just look at the new Battlenet launcher. It’s an all in one stop for all your Blizzard games

One of the complaints that I heard people had with Blizzard was that since they launched their MMO in 2004, it was slowly becoming a World of Warcraft company while ignoring their other projects.  It looks like Blizzard heard those comments and are willing to make a change in direction by supporting all of their three well established games and at the same time put effort in creating new games as well.

Twelve years between the newest addition Diablo and Starcraft games. What is this Valve?

Twelve years between the newest addition Diablo and Starcraft games, why would they start now?

If I was a cynical person, I would say this change in company behavior is because they saw the number of players leaving World of Warcraft and this is their attempt to stay afloat after WoW eventually sinks below the point where it can not fund the entire company.

I do wonder if this means if we will be getting Starcraft III and Diablo 4 sooner rather than later and possibility some band new independent IPs to boot.

What do you think; Do you think Blizzard is changing their business ways for the new decade or am I just reading too much into it? and if so, what are you hoping for from Blizzard in the future?


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