Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking in on World of Warcraft

It's not a good time for MMOs. The PC gaming market, which has always been the core of the MMO world, has become the toy of Steam, and that's not likely to change terribly soon (unless Humble Bundle opens their own game service...), but MMOs are still out there. RIFT is just coming out of a period of re-tooling and will likely have a second expansion in not terribly long; EverQuest Next and Elder Scrolls Online have been announced to much fanfare; and, of course, WoW keeps chugging along.

World of Warcraft 2009-present
Source: WoW Insider
But WoW isn't what it used to be. Its subscriber numbers have gone from a peak of 12 million to less than 8 million in just 2.5 years. So, you would think that they'd be looking at what's changed and trying to move back toward the state that brought in those 12 million? Um... well, about that...

I stopped in to MMO Champion, today, a WoW news site that I used to frequent when I played. I saw, there, all of the same arguments that the Blizzard community managers and devs were having with the community back when I played. "Squishing" the itemization so that damage numbers don't overflow the database; response to claims that the game is being "dumbed down"; and the ever-popular cry of aging games, "why can't I just have vanilla back?"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Building your own Pinball FX 2 table

Pinball FX table
I've been thinking about this for a while, and I might actually do it. Pinball FX 2 is a great game from Zen that combines modern, hardware-based physics simulation with incredibly well designed tables (see my review of several tables, elsewhere on this blog). I also have friends who are into Raspberry Pi hardware hacking and others who enjoy collecting physical pinball tables, so that gave me some ideas...

What if you picked up a junk pinball table from eBay or Craigslist and then put a TV screen on top of it? A 50 inch TV that's fairly thin should fit well, but you should probably measure the specific table and get something that will fit correctly. The junk table should not cost more than a few hundred dollars, and you'd pay that much for any decent piece of furniture.