A Lack of Mindful Gameplay in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

What happened to the fun of a game lasting, because of a distinct lack of mindless gameplay?

I recently took back up with Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls (D3RoS) and what I thought would be an enormous amount of fun in Season 5. Unfortunately, I was met with the same situation as before:

  • Get to 70 within 2 hours
  • Get a free set within 5 hours
  • Grind...and grind...and grind...

This was within 10 hours of starting Season 5. Granted, I wanted to try out multiple classes to see what has changed, and even (sadly) lost one of my characters (I only play Hardcore). But the ease with which I acquired items made getting to Great Rift 65 a proverbial joke. Moving beyond this requires dedication; dedication to mindless gameplay.

I don't enjoy the mindless gameplay. I like thinking, I like a plan of action. It seems within the ARPG genre, games have moved back to the mindless grinding in the hope that "RNGesus" blesses the player with that one piece of gear that is game-changing. This goes back to how much cheese you set before the rat...too much and the rat gets fat and tired. Too little and the rat finds something else to eat. But just enough and the rat continually hunts to find that next piece of cheese. D3RoS has gone towards overfeeding the rat with a wheel of cheese within 3 days of a season starting.

I've flat out given up on MMORPGs for the most part, as their gating structures lead to nothing but frustration. Developers haven't figured out a new gimmick to keep me interested in the genre (Camelot Unchained is on the horizon, and as a Founder, I am eager to see if it will fully capture my attention).

So how can one solve this problem of lack of mindful gaming?

Include more gameplay puzzles. One could argue the Set Dungeons were an attempt to add this to D3RoS. The problem is they are, in their current state, simply tied to the novelty of an achievement and have no effect on the overall game. What needs to be part of the game are puzzles. The ARPG genre is a barren wasteland when it comes to this. Perhaps they need to take a hint from Legend of Zelda titles?

More challenge early on. D3RoS is the opposite of Path of Exile on this one, and I believe Path of Exile gets it right. The game should be somewhat easy (not mindlessly easy) and move to unbelievably hard. Nobody who plays D3RoS will want to hear this, but I believe players should have to re-accomplish things before jumping into adventure mode. I get it, they don't want to because they've done it before. I'm going to venture other than to do it as fast as possible, no player has had to earn their way back through the game.

Add other leagues. Again PoE wins here too; D3RoS needs to have daily, or weekly survival leagues. This is one feature that D3RoS could have that would again, put people back into the core game.

Okay, so this turned into a comparison; it was only used to help illustrate how D3RoS is lacking and can be improved upon. Blizzard is notorious for taking ideas from other games and modeling them into their own. Perhaps it is time they looked for new solutions to make their games less of a mindless grind.


Back to Path of Exile

While it pains me to say this...I'm back to Path of Exile.

There hasn't been an ARPG with the level of detail as the Passive Tree for each class since, and I hardly believe there every will be.


Guide to Streaming Retro Consoles on Twitch (OBS Version)

Please follow this guide to learn how to stream retro console gameplay via Twitch.

Needed Items

1. A Twitch account.
2. OBS or Xsplit (I personally use OBS, though Xsplit works fine)
3. Dazzle DVC 100 (You can find this at Best Buy or online) ~ $70
4. Three (3) RCA Y splitters ~ $15 (I got these at Walmart for $0.25 less than Best Buy).
5. 12 foot (goes from TV to Dazzle) and 4 foot RCA cable (the second is for the NES unless you already have one) - $10
6. A TV within 12 feet of your computer. That being said, you can plug your game into the Dazzle and play directly through what you see on the broadcaster, but it will have a slight delay and it will screw you up at times in game.

Optional (but highly recommended) Items

1. RCA Switch Box - $25 (optional, I find it easier to use a switch instead of trying to constantly switch out the systems)
2. Additional RCA Cable for use with switch box.

Dazzle and Cable Installation

1. Install your Dazzle on your PC. Use the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

2. Put on the RCA Y Splitters. Put one each on the Yellow, Red, and White inputs.

3. Connect the long RCA cable to one of your TV's RCA Inputs, and to one of the ends of the Yellow, Red, and White inputs of the Dazzle.

4. Connect the console RCA cable to the corresponding end of the other available RCA Y splitter ends (NES will only have Yellow and Red, so if you wear headphones you will only hear out of the right ear).

Video Version

Setting up OBS

Text Instructions (Credit Triple S of Youtube)

• Have OBS open and your Dazzle plugged in
• Right click in 'Scenes:'
• 'Add Scene'
• 'Ok'
• Right click in 'Sources:'
• 'Add'
• 'Video Capture Device'
• 'Ok'
• 'Device:' pick your Dazzle
• 'Audio Input Device:' pick your Dazzle
• 'Output audio to desktop'
• 'Open Crossbar'
• 'Output' pick '1. Audio Decoder Out'
• 'Input' pick '5. Audio Line In'
• 'Apply'
• 'Ok'
• 'Configure'
• ':Video Standard' pick 'NTSC_M'
• 'Apply'
• 'Ok'
• 'Ok'
• 'Preview Stream'
• Sort out the video size and cropping and everything
Note - The following is only required for newer consoles and not for the NES or SNES
• 'Sources:' right click 'Video Capture Device'
• 'Properties'
• 'Configure'
• ':Video Standard' pick 'SECAM_B'
• You now have your Dazzle up in full colour with audio

Xsplit Version


Devilian Reviewed

I've ventured into the Alpha of Devilian; so far what I'm seeing is good. While the game is currently in alpha and closed beta tests, it is getting good reviews with some worries. I will try to explain as best I can the good and not so good to give a fair review, though I am not going to go into extreme detail about the game itself - you can get all the basic information via the game's website.


The graphics of the game are really good and give the full field of a fantasy world.

Zoomed Out

Zoomed In

Evoker Devilian Form


If you've ever played Guild Wars (or GW, the original, not Guild Wars 2) you've played Devilian. Even down to the font on the screen, the gameplay is very similar to GW. From both PVE to PVP the game runs and feels the same,  you just don't have a large troop of NPCs following you around. But that is OK! You will run into other players and the game even rewards you for making friends (well at least inviting people to be your friends).

If you haven't played GW, the game is very similar to a Diablo-esque game, though you'll notice it doesn't move as quickly. You do get a mount fairly early on and the game has a wonderful auto-run feature which allows you to get up from the computer sometimes while travelling from place to place. This feature is thus far one of the best highlights of the game - no more figuring out how to go from A to B, the game takes care of it for you!

End game wraps around repeatable content and...yes you guessed it, guild war arenas. These range from 3v3 to 20v20 for now but I can only guess they will come up with inventive ways to help the game keep players active. The downside is PVP is all in Devilian form which lags a lot in its leveling process.


This game is full of them! From the missions, to daily quests, to repeatable content, you will never run out. In fact you'll find you've outleveled the content pretty quickly from level 30 on (max is currently 52) because you'll have so many quests to do!


The UI is a standard UI that most MMOs use, but it has few customization options at the moment. I could see this being a problem for players who really want to set the screen up the way they desire most from a PVP point of view.


Something about how you turn into a devil. No honestly, that is about it. If you've been playing MMOs and ARPGs for any appreciable amount of time, there is no story here that will keep your eyeballs glued to the quest text.

What Needs Work

Right now the most work involves getting the bonuses and gifts correct for Alpha players. Currently we only received the major titles and mount on our first character. Supposedly this will be fixed before release. I am not holding my breath - I will be making an Evoker first just in case this never comes to fruition. The bonuses do need to be applied across the board for all characters as the hefty $150 price tag for access justifies giving the players some love.

Speaking of Evokers - it is the only class to me that blends its skills well. The rest feel very clunky to play, and the pauses between skills are frustrating. For that reason I won't be rolling a second character until this issue is addressed.

Wrap Up

I'll give Devilian a solid PLAY. It may not be drastically new in the genre, but for a MMO title with some extras that games like Diablo 3 lack, it does have at least a much more open world, PVP, mounts, and the ability to take out a lot of mobs at once is always happening.



I've picked up the game Trove and am having a wonderful time. Unfortunately right now a lot of people are having a wonderful time and it has caused server instability, especially during challenges.

I'll be posting up some of my creations and I stream my adventures regularly.

Dig on!

While the servers are down, why not read some strategy?


Devilian Livestream 2

Trove: Minecraft meets ARPG

I'm delving now into the world of Trove, which is a building-ARPG from Trion, who also made Rift and is producing the upcoming ARPG Devilian.

Why the switch from Path of Exile to something less hardcore? Simply put server issues and bugs plague the awakening to the point where in the Tempest league, I was dying more to bugs and server issues than anything to do with my inability to play. That alone makes the game more frustrating than ever. I can deal with overtuned bosses, but Act 4 felt both too short, and too buggy to want to start over every time a crash/bug killed my character (one of the best is when Piety stands still yet is shooting her attack with nothing showing on the screen).

On to building! So far I really like the gameplay in Trove and will give it a chance until (praying) I can get into the Devilian beta test.


Path of Exile: Awakening

Check out the trailer for Path of Exile: Awakening!

I will be participating in the new Hardcore league that starts on 10 July, 2015. Here is to hoping the new act gives more challenges and something to strive for in the leagues!


The Rise of the Mobile MMORPG

A number of producers have started bringing to the MMORPG genre mobile. What does this mean for the future?

Mobile games are generally free to play, and make their money off cosmetic or pay to win subsidization. This is a scary thought for the future of MMORPGs, if what was once an incredibly challenging (both via critical thinking and logistically with a group of people) becomes an incredibly mindless, almost simplistic version of itself, will the MMORPG even survive on PCs or cease to exist as viable for future publishers?

As a secondary thought, what does this mean for the bandwidth and data over mobile networks? Is my phone going to now come to a halt because I can't use it due to the number of people playing games?

Here are some examples:




At least Star Wars: Battlefront will keep me busy for quite awhile.


Steve Burke: The Origin of the MMORPG & More

Source: http://www.gamersnexus.net/gg/1891-where-mmorpgs-come-from-richard-garriott-interview

A great read for what the MMO invented, and why it is stale at the moment. Here is to hoping the future is better!

Techradar: Is the MMORPG on the verge of extinction?

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/gaming/is-the-mmorpg-on-the-verge-of-extinction--1289503

While I would say no, it isn't on the verge of extinction, it is definitely in an ice age of sorts. MMOs have reach a formulaic peak that is distressing. "Kill x of this" or "y of that" has been a mantra for two decades. I've even found myself streaming my NES and SNES games now because they are much more fun, especially the SquareSoft RPGs of the past.

Who knows, maybe Camelot Unchained with its focus strictly on PVP can break the mold again?


MMOSite: MOBA will Overtake MMORPG in F2P Revenue in 2015

Source: http://news.mmosite.com/content/2015-04-01/moba_will_overtake_mmorpg_in_fp_revenue_in_2015.shtml

I'm surprised it took until 2015 for this to happen. The popularity of MOBAs, particularly with their high-purse events has exploded as a phenomenon that MMORPGs can't battle.


Medical Press: Score! Video gamers may learn visual tasks more quickly

Source: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-score-video-gamers-visual-tasks.html

The best quote from the article is:

"A lot of people still view video games as a time-wasting activity even though research is beginning to show their beneficial aspects," Berard said. "If we can demonstrate that video games may actually improve some cognitive functioning, perhaps we, as a society, can embrace newer technology and media with positive application."

The researchers should have used the game Portal as their test activity.


Theory of MMO War - 1

The art of war is, therefore, in its proper sense, the art of making use of the given means in fighting, and we cannot give it a better name than the "Conduct of War." On the other hand, in a wider sense certainly, all activities which have their existence on account of war, therefore the whole creation of troops, that is levying them, arming, equipping, and exercising them, belong to the art of war.

Guild leaders must look at every activity through the lens of war within the MMO. From how they organize their guild, to whom they select as leaders in the guild it must be done with the fact the guild's existence is to win the war in the game for which they are formed. Secondary to this are other activities, but without this as the goal, the guild itself is failed from the start.

According to our classification therefore, tactics is the theory of the use of military forces in combat.

Leaders must understand what they accomplish with their guild in the everyday machinations of the game are tactics. Each event is a tactical event and is in and of itself a unique time frame. Because of this, leaders must be able to dominate their opponents within the moment through proper use of their forces. They must have an established playbook from which to use on the battlefield, which presents their theory of victory for the given circumstances.

Strategy is the theory of the use of combats for the object of the war.

Leaders must be able to identify multiple outcomes for each engagement as well as how each engagement affects the next. This timeline of battles throughout the game and victory across them is the end result of a successful strategy towards the desired end state. By developing tactics which lead to the desired end state, a leader develops a strategy. Each movement, whether it is direct combat or supporting operations is crucial towards development of a successful strategy and must be well thought out.

Leaders should develop a strategic document which outlines the tactics for combat operations, support operations, and logistics operations within the game. The document should outline the chain of command, as well as the requirements for members. Often this type of documentation is part of a guild's charter, but it may be more helpful as a stand-alone document.


Nature of MMO War - 8

By the word "Information," we denote all the knowledge which we have of the enemy and his country; therefore, in fact, the foundation of all our ideas and actions. Let us just consider the nature of this foundation, its want of trustworthiness, its changefulness, and we shall soon feel what a dangerous edifice war is, how easily it may fall to pieces and bury us in its ruins. For although it is a maxim in all books that we should trust only certain information, that we must be always suspicious; that is only a miserable book-comfort, belonging to that description of knowledge in which writers of systems and compendiums take refuge for want of anything better.

Great part of the information obtained in war is contradictory, a still greater part is false, and by far the greatest part is of a doubtful character. What is required of an officer is a certain power of discrimination, which only knowledge of men and things and good judgment can give. The law of probability must be his guide.

Players must understand the enemy in and out - as Clausewitz states, it guides their every action because actions are the product of our ideas about the abilities and weaknesses of the enemy. We see the ruin that is cause when our ideas of the enemy clash with the reality of what the enemy can do. Guilds are often at their lowest morale when the enemy, either the game's AI, or opposing players do not fit into the formula leaders have provided for their members.

No matter what someone may write or post about a character or class in a game, only through experience is knowledge gained that will guide proper actions within the game. No matter how often a player may read about doing something, until they have done it will the ideas and actions combine properly.

Probability in a game is different, as AI is limited whereas the human imagination is not. The AI in the game is held bound by the rules of the game as put forth by the developers. While players are within the same construct they can bend the rules to their favor, and developers expect and want this to happen. This is often seen when one guild uses a strategy to defeat a boss or opposing team with success, while another team may also be successful using a completely different strategy that wasn't thought of by the developers. In this way, both players and developers feed off each other to create content that is both challenging while allowing for ingenuity on the part of the players.

Over time, players gain experience through their game play to allow them to expect certain constructs to occur, and this happens during the game experience. It does not happen through just reading about the game.


Nature of MMO War - 7

Resolution is an act of courage in single instances, and if it becomes a characteristic trait, it is a habit of the mind. But here we do not mean courage in face of bodily danger, but in face of responsibility, therefore to a certain extent against moral danger. This has been often called *courage d'esprit,* on the ground that it springs from the understanding; nevertheless, it is no act of the understanding on that account; it is an act of feeling. Mere intelligence is still not courage, for we often see the cleverest people devoid of resolution. The mind must, therefore, first awaken the feeling of courage, and then be guided and supported by it, because in momentary emergencies the man is swayed more by his feelings than his thoughts.

Players in an MMO must be of the same mindset, the same understanding of events, the same acknowledgement of their responsibilities as a single player and how their role affects an entire group. They must be resolute to complete their task to the utmost of their ability, with the understanding that giving their all, along with every other player can result in fantastic results. On the other hand, simply knowing the strategy, or knowing all the variables but having no will to play to their utmost ability can and most likely will cause the larger group to fail because of their inability to put their intelligence into action.


Nature of MMO War - 6

The *military power* must be destroyed, that is, reduced to such a state as not to be able to prosecute the war. This is the sense in which we wish to be understood hereafter, whenever we use the expression "destruction of the enemy's military power."

In MMOs, the enemy's military power relates to all metrics of the opposing characters. This includes class type, level, number, group size, guild size, position, and synergies within each.

On the MMO battlefield, victory is not only beating the enemy in one battle, but victory through building a force that can win against all viable means the enemy has and against all strategies the enemy devises. Consequently those leaders who can motivate, train and equip such a force in an MMO are few.

But if even both these things are done, still the war, that is, the hostile feeling and action of hostile agencies, cannot be considered as at an end as long as the will of the enemy is not subdued also; that is, its Government and its allies forced into signing a peace, or the people into submission; for whilst we are in full occupation of the country the war may break out afresh, either in the interior or through assistance given by allies. No doubt this may also take place after a peace, but that shows nothing more than that every war does not carry in itself the elements for a complete decision and final settlement.

In MMO war, the enemy is never truly defeated until the point to where they refuse to fight against the presented force. Because of how games are developed this is not often the case early on, but later in the MMOs development it becomes a valid source of victory. As victory is obtained through smaller battles, when a force meets against another force whose reputation and triumph has already been presented as unstoppable, then victory over the opponent's will is apparent as those who would oppose them make hasty retreats. When the notion in the player's mind is, "that guild is unstoppable," then that guild has already won the battle.


Nature of MMO War - 5

"War is, therefore, not only a true chameleon, because it changes its nature in some degree in each particular case, but it is also, as a whole, in relation to the predominant tendencies which are in it, a wonderful trinity, composed of the original violence of its elements, hatred and animosity, which may be looked upon as blind instinct; of the play of probabilities and chance, which make it a free activity of the soul; and of the subordinate nature of a political instrument, by which it belongs purely to the reason.

The first of these three phases concerns more the people; the second more the general and his army; the third more the Government. The passions which break forth in war must already have a latent existence in the peoples. The range which the display of courage and talents shall get in the realm of probabilities and of chance depends on the particular characteristics of the general and his army; but the political objects belong to the Government alone.

These three tendencies, which appear like so many different lawgivers, are deeply rooted in the nature of the subject, and at the same time variable in degree. A theory which would leave any one of them out of account, or set up any arbitrary relation between them, would immediately become involved in such a contradiction with the reality, that it might be regarded as destroyed at once by that alone.

The problem is, therefore, that theory shall keep itself poised in a manner between these three tendencies, as between three points of attraction."

MMO players and leaders need to understand that within their chosen MMO, the conflict that arises through the game design is different every day, every hour, and every moment. While objectives may be static (e.g., obtain control of fixed points), how those objectives are obtained will change as players become smarter, developers change classes, skills, and code within the game.

Hitting upon the first two phases, leaders must inspire the passion within those they lead, which in turn encourages heightened display of ability. The interaction between leaders and general players is of the utmost importance to harmony when engaging the enemy. Because players will naturally gravitate towards guilds and clans that have goals which align with their own personal wishes and desires for their play time, it is important for leaders to recognized the goals of the individual in their development of goals and objectives for the guild, which will then be a part of the overall strategy in the game.

In the case of government, a guild's leadership and how it interacts with the greater game community is also of vital importance to the guild's success or failure within the game. Guild's that bring about a negative community are made pariahs (and their notoriety will stay with them across many games) while a guild who is a positive influence in the game will lead to long-standing success.


Nature of MMO War - 4

We see therefore how from the commencement, the absolute, the mathematical as it is called, no where finds any sure basis in the calculations in the art of war; and that from the outset there is a play of possibilities, probabilities, good and bad luck, which spreads about with all the coarse and fine threads of its web, and makes war of all branches of human activity the most like a game of cards.

It is very interesting that Clausewitz chooses to use a card game for his example of how war is played out. The website pokerology.com has a A Poker Winner's Checklist which would help MMO players, especially leaders in PVP, to better prepare their teams for victory. The key points of the poer player's checklist (discipline, focus, planning) are inherent in the development of strategies that win wars.

Theory must also take into account the human element; it must accord a place to courage, to boldness, even to rashness. The art of war has to deal with living and with moral forces; the consequence of which is that it can never attain the absolute and positive. There is therefore everywhere a margin for the accidental; and just as much in the greatest things as in the smallest. As there is room for this accidental on the one hand, so on the other there must be courage and self-reliance in proportion to the room left. If these qualities are forthcoming in a high degree, the margin left may likewise be great. Courage and self reliance are therefore principles quite essential to war; consequently theory must only set up such rules as allow ample scope for all degrees and varieties of these necessary and noblest of military virtues. In daring there may still be wisdom also, and prudence as well, only that they are estimated by a different standard of value.

Often MMO leaders only acknowledge their own morals, beliefs, and understanding of strategies without taking into account the same from those they lead. In some cases doing this make bring about a defeat; a team cannot stand if it is divided in its objectives. But as many recognize in MMOs, the individual player is not only playing for their side, they are playing for their own self-gratification through their chosen hobby. Therefore, the values and understanding each individual player brings are important towards determining the outcome of battles; a collective understanding of the strategy among players must exist, which in turn allows for victory through this understanding.

There is room for both the team and the individual in MMO war, but the role of the individual must always further the strategy of the team. Self-gratification outside of the strategy is at least a distraction towards victory, and if over-consuming may lead to self-destruction as well as loss.


Nature of MMO War - 3

"War is never an isolated act."

In MMOs one must look at the entire situation, rather than just a single battle. In PVE, a dungeon often consists of many small engagements, and a few larger engagements. In a strategic sense, how a group of players engages the entire dungeon to meet their goal of beating the content is just as important as each individual battle. In PVP, the smaller battles that happen do not just spring up for no reason at all, they in fact are outcomes based on the will of those participating in the game. Each event in the game is a step towards a future engagement, and the leader who can see in advance the outcome of the steps is indeed more prepared in the long run to defeat their enemy.

"It does not consist of a single instantaneous blow."

In MMOs one single battle of all forces does not bring about the final outcome of the game, instead it is a continuous sequence of battles over time. In most MMOs, PVE has a resolution through completion of content until a future expansion brings more challenges to the players. In PVP, many different mechanisms are used, often through continuous battles over terrain, or through ranking systems.

"The result in war is never absolute."

MMOs are unique in that the war never ends, and are continually subject to the process of strategy development and execution. Therefore, leaders much always strive to perfect their strategy given the changes within the MMO.