No, there won’t be a Horde in the next expansion

Azuriel wrote:

If World of Warcraft were not an MMO, I might have been excited at this turn of events. This feels like the penultimate chapter, the crest of a wave. Things will be sorted out once and for all. But it won’t.

There will be an expansion after this one, and another after that. There will still be the Horde faction, and Forsaken running around in it, blighting things with Tauren chewing their cuds in the background. …

What I am certain of is that the Alliance will continue to be the bumbling white hats forever extending their hands in love and friendship and peace, only to get shit on by the Horde time and again. That is in spite of the fact that there should be no redemption for the Horde this time.

To be fair, I’m not sure that it will happen. But I find it very likely. The factions are remnants of an older WoW. They are alien from the main gameplay, which is doing quests killing NPCs and doing dungeons and raids to kill stronger NPCs. Even when the hostiles were “horde” in the Garrosh uprising, the alliance and horde players got the same raid and the lorewriters just had to somehow push it in and it wasn’t believable.

The pieces are already on the table, with the on-off PvP setting and the ability of rated BGs to take 2 horde or 2 alliance teams. Arenas are already faction-independent.

I believe the Battle for Azeroth is the swan song of factions. Unless by some miracle great portion of the players turn on the PvP setting and some faction pride rises out of nothing (unlikely, considering how rejected the war is by Horde players), this will be the last expansion with Horde and Alliance.

Story-wise it is straightforward: the Alliance, with the help of a honorable sub-faction of the Horde – which obviously includes all players – will win the war. Sylvanas will be the endboss like Garrosh was for Pandaria. The players – go figure – will win, even if most of them will do so on Looking For Retards. The war will be decisively won and the Horde will be no more.

The “honorable sub-faction” (including all players) will simply be merged into the “United Azeroth”. It’s possible that some races will be converted (there are already too many). The Forsaken can be healed by some magic dug up by Jaina and be humans again, so they can live in Stormwind as capital, now that Lordearon is destroyed. The elves will be one race again, no more Night and Blood version, just elves, living happily ever after in Silvermoon which gets some well-needed rewamp.

Gameplay-wise there won’t be need for separate horde and alliance villages and flightpoints, everyone can go to everywhere (easier map creation). There won’t be need for other faction alt to do all the quests (so more content for people without both faction alts), no more juggling assets between faction alts. Most importantly, much more options for everyone to play together. A player doesn’t have to faction change to play with his “friends” on the other faction. A troll can play with a dwarf in perfect harmony which helps dungeon and raid matchmaking a lot. Battlegrounds will fill instantly with players distributed between the two sides randomly.

Sure, there will be next expansion, either against Old Gods, Demons, Sha or remaining Sylvanas loyalists, but the players will take on it as members of “United Azeroth”.


You are not a player. Just a piece in someone else’s game

This post is an expansion of the comment I’ve left on the blog of Azuriel.

The MMO bloggers are pretty upset about the horrible turn of events in Azeroth (except for psychopaths). One could ask why didn’t they do something about it?

The answer is obvious: because they can’t. Even if the whole WoW playerbase would refuse to do the before-expansion questline, the tree would still burn and Lordaeron would still fall. It was decided in the scripwriter department of Blizzard. You have no say in it. You can do the quests or forfeit the rewards but it changes nothing. You aren’t a player, you are just a piece in the play. A replaceable one.

WoW is not a game. You can watch someone else playing and get the same passive story-watching experiment. It’s not an art critic blog, so I won’t get into how stupid the story is on the scale of Agatha Christie – Megalodon movie with Dwayne Johnson. But it’s a story-watching experience, a film of some sort, not a game where you win or lose based on some kind of skill.

While I’m not a fan of reaction-time “skill” games, they are still games giving out rewards or defeat screens based on how good you did. I like strategic games better, but that’s my choice. “Game” is defined by competition between players (directly or by points) in an artificial setting. The setting can have story elements, at least implicitly (you are thrown to an empty island to fight until last man standing in PUBG), but the point is defeating the opponents to win. There is no meaningful win in WoW: everyone can complete the story and everyone can reach any ilvl, some faster, some slower, but at the end of the expansion, it won’t matter anyway.

I’m not sure why game elements are left in WoW, when they are just pointless obstacles. Let just players press “combat” button and the character would use optimal rotation while the “player” just watches the story unfold.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that women who play League of Legends have been regular targets of harassment

Not another day could pass without SJWs attacking a video game for sexism. This time it’s Kotaku (anyone surprised?) and League of Legends. The title is a literal quote from the article.

Let’s ignore that “anecdotal evidence suggests” is archaic English for “fake news” and just focus on the statement. Anyone who ever played that game can testify that this is completely and utterly untrue.

The truth is that “women, men, children, cyborgs, lizardmen or Russian election-rigging-bots who play League of Legends have been regular targets of harassment”. Not muting everyone at the beginning of every game is self-harming behavior. The only message the chat ever conveyed to anyone in that game is that he is a horrible person who should kill himself. Never-ever I’ve seen anything that can’t be summarized as above.

Sure, it’s absolutely not good, but has nothing to do with sexism. They don’t hate you for being woman, they hate you because the alternative of hating you is accepting that they lost due to their own fault and you clearly can’t expect it from a fellow “hardcore gamer”.

Now we can contemplate why this game draws “hardcore gamers” and why Riot is attracting these kind of people creatures from Hell. The reason is that this is the unique selling point, this gets the money. The players don’t run around on the same map again and again, spending hours on lasthitting whack-a-mole because it’s fun. Nor because 99% genuinely want to compete in this. Sure, there is the top 1% who really has nothing better to do with his life than perfecting his hand-eye coordination on the World-changing skill of last hitting a low polygon wizard. But most people aren’t like this.

League of Legends isn’t a niche game. It’s literally the most popular game out there. This means that it’s also the most casual game, as “most people” are casuals by definition. It’s also casual by design: short sessions, free-to-play, simple rules, few maps, straightforward task. I could sit my never-gamer mother front of it and after 15 minutes she would understand it completely. Sure, she’d fail in lasthitting and would eat every “skillshot”, but she would be fully aware what she was supposed to do. Also – most importantly – if we would implement time-slow-down in the game, where all movement and attack happen 10x slower, my elderly mum would play exactly as well as the World champion. The game is a glorified whack-a-mole, nothing more. This is why it’s so popular among … everybody.

But programming a whack-a-mole isn’t hard and there is a reason why Riot gets most of the buck: because they created an illusion of hardcoreness around League of Legends. The players don’t pay for the privilege of lasthitting, they pay for the belief that they are now seen as badass hardcore PvP-ers. When the evidence proves that they aren’t that hardcore, they get buttmad and flame on chat.

So dear women, men, children, cyborgs, lizardmen or Russian election-rigging-bots, stop whining over the game being toxic, just avoid the damn thing. It’s toxic by design and if toxic people would be removed, 99% of the playerbase would go.

No, these won’t help with cheating in PUPG

PUBG announced their plans to fix problems that exists in the game, I’ve just checked the site for the most important problem, anti-cheat and left disappointed:

COMBINED ANTI-CHEAT SOLUTION: In addition to our current anti-cheat solutions, we are in the process of deploying additional improved solutions to secure competitive integrity. Our goal is to prepare a comprehensive solution that incorporates existing and newly implemented anti-cheat functions. These solutions will prevent malicious programs from accessing the game memory, as well as detect and react to cheating programs that make attempts to penetrate the game. Through these solutions, we intend to prepare the following defenses against cheating programs.

Detecting and banning cheaters by restricting access to game memory and recognizing motion patterns of suspicious programs. Detecting hacks or other inappropriate programs that succeeded in circumventing our first line of defense. Secure an extra line of defense that utilizes machine-learning technology to improve cheat-blocking cycles more efficiently and faster. Fundamentally block cheating users by encrypting game logic, blocking Dll injection, hooking, and modulation.

This shows that PUBG corp is still fighting an unwinnable battle for the client, trying to stop cheaters from using cheat programs. That can catch some noobs who buy low effort cheats but does nothing against those who use a properly updated cheat program or one that isn’t popular.

The proper angle against cheating is server-side fighting cheating behavior. Let me explain the most obvious: movement hacks. We saw flying cars, we saw vault-teleports, we saw punches from afar and especially guys sprinting with stupid speed. These are all trivial to detect server-side: the player travels faster than possible or flies. These players should be insta-killed. Banning them is lucrative, but can create false positives when bikes have the tendency of flying without hacks. But killing them has no downside. Innocent bike-flyers will die anyway when landing, so no one would get hurt if everyone who travels faster than possible or flies would get a “you got killed by crash” message. Cheaters would immediately stop cheating.

The other is anti-recoil cheat. Currently the recoil effect makes a movement on the client cursor that the player can compensate with mouse movement or cheat program. In real life it creates a force that cannot be compensated. Nobody is capable of pinpoint shots full auto. So the proper action is that the center of the aim isn’t affected by recoil, but dispersion is. If I shoot full auto, the bullets should land in a large circle around my aim, preferably with server-side randomness.

Finally: autoaim. This can be addressed similarly: the reason scopes exist is that human eye doesn’t have the resolution to tell fraction of degree differences. Ergo, you are unable to tell if your iron sight is aligned with the target or is it 0.1 degree off. At 500m, that’s 87 cm difference. The scope magnifies the target, making the difference visible, allowing you to compensate. The in-game solution for this is giving proper dispersion to the weapons with ironsight, allowing different scopes to decrease it. Ergo, if you make perfect aim shots with ironsight (autoaim) at 500m, your shots would disperse in a 1.6m wide circle. With a 8x scope shots, these would be 0.2m circle shots. So the cheater has to find a scope first before he starts making impossible shots and the cheat program must be able to shoot with all scopes to be useful.

Scoped shots on the other hand could be limited by speed: if you hold scope on, you can’t run. If you are holding the gun hipfire, you have to first scope in before you can shoot and the server should check for proper time passes. I mean:

  1. guy runs, sees target at distance
  2. presses right mouse button to look into scope
  3. scoping animation takes place that lasts X time
  4. presses left mouse button to fire
  5. shot takes place
  6. presses run key
  7. descoping animation takes place that lasts Y time
  8. character starts to sprint

The server should check for X and Y taking place between actions. This wouldn’t stop the cheater having perfect aim, but at least would deny him inhuman reflexes.

Anyway, the point is that PUBG corp has to accept the industry standard that the client is in enemy hands and start to create server-based solutions for cheating.

Another pointless “political” act

I start to realize how much of the “political” and cultural hot-button issues are irrelevant. Please check out this reddit link! Don’t read comments and the OP is nothing but links. Over 60. Not to reddit or 4chan but to various “real” media pages.

Why? Because New York Times hired an editor called Sarah Jeong and stood by their decision. Sarah Jeong is “somewhat” racist. She talks on Twitter like a KKK grand cyclops talks to his best friend after 2 cartons of beer. Click on any of these screenshots to verify. At your own risk, they are really bad:

Needless to say the liberals are standing by her because according to them racism is not judging someone after his race, but some bizarre nonsense about historical systemic power difference or whatnot. Because a guy surely can’t commit a hate crime against you if you are historically privileged. Also needless to say, the conservatives are up in arms against her, including the president of the USA who retweeted one of the articles condemning her.

No, I won’t join the chorus. I want to point out that it’s about nothing. Tell me, how many NYT columnist do you know by name? Have you ever bothered to read their editorials? Do you think that they ever persuaded anyone about anything? They are just preaching to the liberal choir who reads them. After all…

It’s a big nothing. Your life isn’t affected by her hiring. Your life wouldn’t be affected if she is fired and subsequently starts “Stormfront for Asians”. You don’t have to read her crap, no matter where she publishes it. So please don’t waste time with such “cultural politics”! If you want to be political, fine, follow actual politicians doing actual changes instead of nobodies being racist on the internet.

What can I add?

Rend is awesome and will likely die

I’ve read about the upcoming game Rend. This video explains very well while it’s awesome. There are some good answers on the reddit of the game.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is the standard survival sandbox. Cut trees, rocks and animals, fight monsters to get food, medicine, items and to build a base while defending yourself from other players or preying on them for loot. We’ve seen this from H1Z1 to ARK.

But this game has an overarching goal: to gather 100K “spirits” before the other factions do. That gives an in-game reason to fight the others. This gives competition: your group might win or lose, because when one group reaches this value, the server ends and it’s game over one way or another. Winners get some permanent rewards, may that be only cosmetic or some few percent boosts.

Done well, this can be the next big thing. The survival MMOs have a great moment-to-moment gameplay, but after a few hours you start asking “what’s the point”? Here you have a good point, something that keeps you log in to defend your base when the shields are down or to farm off hours or to attack enemies.

But I’m afraid it won’t be done well, so I stay away until it leaves early access and have all the features done right. The problem is metagaming that every group PvP MMOs suffer from. They can generally grouped into two questions:

At first, what stops a player to hop between factions? If there are many servers and there is vacancy on some (and there must be in order to welcome new players), a player can just delete his character and roll a new one in the winning faction on some server. Only newbies who don’t know better join losing factions, making them lose more.

The second is spies: alts placed into the enemy team with the purpose to sabotage it. In Rend the way to sabotage looks obvious: as only 20 players can be online per faction, if you are online and not helping, the rest of the team will be at disadvantage. Since there are 3 teams, the alt can damage even the one he’s not at: letting the main faction farm resources on the alt, they get stronger against the third.

The first is easier to fix, by a proper league system. There are aplenty “bronze” servers where everyone can join the winning faction. If you win in a season, you get a silver pass, which allows you to start on the silver servers next season which are limited in numbers, just enough to house everyone with silver passes. You can only join at the start of the season, sure you can quit, but can’t join a new team that season, you can only go back to bronze. Winners of silver get gold pass for next season, second bests get a silver pass, the loser team gets back to bronze.

The second cannot be fixed without formal faction leadership. I mean if a player can join a faction without applying to the existing members and cannot be kicked, there is nothing they can do with a spy. Sure, GMs can get rid of an open saboteur, but a smarter one, who participates and helps the faction except “screwing up” in the worst moment cannot be distinguished from a bad player. Ergo, bronze and custom servers can operate on “wherever you apply” basis, probably even the silver servers can work that way (or simply by random faction assignment), the higher leagues surely cannot. In gold and above, the teams must have a leader who can hire and fire players at will.

I’m afraid such measures won’t be implemented and the game will just be launched with a bunch of identical servers which will be dominated by one faction from day 1-3.


PS: in World of Warships as the enemy DD was capping the point, I sneaked by the sideline to the back of the enemy. A plane spotted me for a second, so they realized what I’m up to. So a Montana, a Greater Kurfurst and an Ibuki thought it’s a great idea to turn away from the battle and chase me to the corner.

[narrator voice] it was not a great idea: