Changes to the Website

As you can see I finally got around to updating the website. I never intended it to be a linkdump, and I did give up on that a few months ago. In order to return the site to a useful state, I made some changes:

  • Site was updated to the current “Look & feel” of my Twitch- and YouTube channels.
  • I decided to leave the videos where they belong: On YouTube.
  • “Chat”, short announcements etc will be confined to Twitter.
  • I’ll post anything “longer” to the blog – screenshot galleries, musings, articles, whatever else I might come up with.
  • I may announce new series on the blog (not individual videos), but for that sort of update… it’s best to subscribe to my YouTube channel. 😉

And as always, feedback and suggestions are very much welcome.

GW2: World Completion

I finally made it – I completed all vistas and skill challenges, found all Points of Interests, viewed all Vistas, and got World Completion. Took me “only” three years, but to be fair I took extended breaks.

worldcompletion

The reward are two “Gifts of Exploration”, which allow me to craft Legendary weapons. Or would, if I had even remotely enough materials for it, or a precursor. (I did sell off Howl.)

wc-gifts

Doing this was actually a lot of fun. Some areas are pretty annoying – Orr, I am looking at you – but was actually quite satisfying to finally get it completed.

So, what’s next? I guess I really should complete the storyline as well. That, though, is a true exercise in patience.

Skyrim: Paid Mods on Steam

As you are probably aware – especially if you are a Skyrim player – Valve has dumped a big one on us. Mod authors are now able to menotize their mods for Skyrim, through the Steam Workshop.

At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal. Why shouldn’t a mod author receive some compensation for their time and effort?

That in itself wouldn’t be a problem, but there are so many other problems with this plan that turns what, at best, could perhaps be called a good intention (it’s not, as you will see) into a complete disaster.

  • It’s bait-and-switch: Mods were free, and were expected to be free, and in the case of Skyrim have been free for four years. Changing this now feels wrong, especially for the mods that already in use by people.
  • Future Dangers: Even if it’s voluntary now, there is nothing but a simple statement to the licensing terms missing from making mod payments mandatory. This will happen, sooner or later, have no doubts about it.
  • Copyright infringement and scams: Money is a great incentive for scammers. There are already cases of copyright infringement, and reports of people trying to scam others with useless mods, or uploading other people’s work.
  • It’s divisive: Just check the comments on Steam or Reddit. Did we really need another reason for a flame war? Well, we got one.
  • Important mods can abuse their power: SkyUI, for example, is an essential mod for Skyrim and needed by many other mods. It used to be free. It will require payment in the future. This essentially breaks the social contract that existed between the SkyUI authors and everybody else.
  • It destroys trust and cooperation: Suddenly, mod authors aren’t a community anymore – they are competitors. Already we are seeing people who disallow others to use their resources, because they feel strongly about the money-making scheme now afoot. Authors of commercial mods are incentivized not to help others, even authors of free mods, because doing so lowers their revenue potential.
  • Pricing is way off: The base game used to cost 60 Euro, and is now down to 30 Euro (for the legendary edition). The 17-mod “debut pack” has a list price of circa 37 Euro. This feels out of whack. For my install base, I’d have to estimate 100+ Euro additional cost just for the mods. No, really, this is way too much.
  • Worst of all – IT DOES NOT BENEFIT THE MOD AUTHORS: Valve tries to sell this as “supporting the mod authors”, while in truth the author gets only 25% of the revenue. Valve pockets 30%, and while you could argue they need to pay for infrastructure and administrative overhead, Bethesda grabs 45% of the revenue. Bethesda does nothing for that money. Skyrim is not even supported anymore.

There is some resistance forming – people who claim this will deter them from buying Fallout 4 or the next Elder Scrolls game, some who change their Skyrim review on Steam to negative. Some mod authors actively state that they will provide their mods free, forever. Some even hide their mods on the Steam Workshop in protest.

As for me, there is not much I can do. I can post about it, and raise awareness (to all of my two readers, haha). I will not buy another Bethesda game. I will continue my Skyrim series, but that’s out of respect for the three people who watch it. I will have to rethink my relationship with Valve/Steam – I am a fairly good customer, and I need to reduce this in the future, but there is pretty much no way for me to stop using Steam altogether unless I want to kiss the investment I made in it goodbye. (There is a lesson in DRM here, as well, and about platform lock-in.)

It’s a sad, bleak day.

Mountain Bay Map

I bought Cities:Skylines and am loving it. So much that it is the first game since Neverwinter Nights that I have considered creating content for. Here’s a quick early attempt, a map based on Morro Bay area:

cities-mountainbay-map
Mountain Bay Map Screenshot

You can subscribe to it (download it) via the Mountain Bay Steam Workshop Page. Constructive feedback is always appreciated, especially since this is my first map for Cities.

 

Well, look at this. Firaxis anounced Sid Meiers Starships.

From thee sound of it, it will be a Master of Orion remake/Generic Space 4X game set in the Civilization: Beyond Earth universe.  Color me intrigued; there are no current, good, space 4X games I am aware of. I still play Sins of a Solar Empire to scratch that itch, and as much as I like it, it has some big flaws (it also makes for lousy, lousy video I think).

The only problem I see is that it is also listed as an iOS title – I hope this doesn’t indicate compromises to design, functionality, and controls imposed by tablet platforms. That’d be a shame.