Rumor Mill: Disney Shopping Star Wars

Rumors have a tendency to be self-fulling, in particular when they are on the border of ‘ehh, I guess that’s possible’.  The more they are talked about, the more the folks involved can see if people like the idea.  It’s a well known tactics for a company to plant a rumor, just for that effect.

This one concerns the company I like to dislike.  Seems many others to too – but this is my blog.  Rumor is that Disney is looking for another gaming company to take over the Star Wars franchise from EA.


The Good

  • I dislike EA and their business practices.  I used to love EA in the 90s but they, along with Activision, went bananas with greed driving every decision.  EA in particular has a notorious habit of buying smaller developers, and then laying them off.  Then using that company’s IP and re-branding the game with micro-transactions (Bullfrog and Dungeon Keeper are prime).  Anything that hits EA’s pocket book is good, and SW is a massive money maker.
  • It’s possible this goes beyond Lego Star Wars and the rest of the games, where Disney can license the material to many companies.  There is so much potential in that franchise… it seems wasted.
  • The SW mobile games by EA are atrocious – they need to go.
  • RPGs! Where are our SW RPGS?!  EA makes horrible RPGs, this is potential!
  • Rogue Squadron / Tie Fighter anyone?
  • Maybe BioWare can be bought by another company, giving them a second life.

The Bad

  • Loss of this franchise near guarantees massive job cuts.  It really sucks.  Hopefully they can follow the franchise to another company.
  • Disney is the largest media monopoly and the simple thought of this occurring is making waves.  That level of power/influence is scary.
  • Changing companies means a large dip in terms of timelines for a good SW game to let the other company come to speed.
  • There’s a risk that SWTOR closes if this goes through.  Which is unfortunate since it’s a decent game…

The Ugly

  • Knives in everyone’s back until this rumor is put to bed by Disney with a new contract.
  • Could be the complete end of BioWare as Mass Effect is most likely permanently shelved, and SWTOR isn’t exactly brimming with development news.
  • Disney’s driving force is a tough one to crack.  As much as they love money, they value reputation nearly as much.  SW:BF2 didn’t meet it’s market projections and made major negative media lines.  It’s entirely possible that EA addresses this, and this limping beasts keeps moving forward.
  • When giants topple, there are always little folk that get hit that we don’t ever hear about.

Nergigante – Or How I Learned to Love the Dive

I’ve mentioned numerous times the obscure and obtuse systems that make MHW run so well.  Nergigante is a solid example of that.

Imagine if you will, a giant dragon that continually grows thorns, and if those thorns grow numerous enough, it will throw them at you for a 1 shot kill.  There really isn’t a good way to avoid him using the skill, but enough damage will break the thorns and delay the attack.  Further, the deadliest attack is a dive bomb that not only can kill you straight on, but will explode the thorns sideways as well.  Fun times.

Now onto the obscure systems – namely food and diving.


Food items are based on type and color.  Any increment of 2 (2, 4 or 6) provides a larger benefit.  Food types provide either attack, defense or resists in small/medium/large amounts.  Food colors have a chance of providing a specific buff – there are 6 color types.  One of the most notable ones is from 6 blue items, which can provide a buff that gives 1 free death per quest.  The catch is that ingredients can only be used once per quest, and that buffs can only be triggered if the ingredients are fresh (random if they are, per quest).  You can use a voucher to assure that they are fresh, but you are severely limited in vouchers.  And additional ingredients are found in quests…so it’s unlikely to have say, 6 blue fish before you’re all the way at the end.  And this doesn’t count random daily buffs from food.

All of this is provided in a 2 paragraph tutorial screen that sums to say “eat food before eating to get benefits”.  I needed to test each food combo, click a button to get a description of the skill, then cancel and repeat.  Fun times!

TLDR: Always be eating.


There are many avoidance moves, depending on a few factors.  Most weapons allow you to roll out of the way, though movement speed can be slow for large weapons.  Some provide a side lunge attack to close the distance, or to run away. Understanding how those moves works allows you to stay away from the face, and focus on the sides without getting hit.

Then there’s superman.  This is achieved by sheathing your weapon, pressing run and dodge at the same time.  You will launch yourself on your belly and for most of that duration, be immune to damage.  The catch here is that each weapon takes a different amount of time to put away, and you need stamina to dive.  One of the only effective ways to avoid Nergigante’s dive bomb attack is to use this move.

It took me way too long to figure out this invincibility bit, and once I did, Nergigante became a different fight altogether.

(Side note.  Diving/jumping from ledges acts differently if you have your weapon out or not.  Ledges can act as walls in some cases)

Free Addition: Flash Pods

Flashbugs can be turned into Flash Pods.  You can have up to 10 of the former, and 3 of the latter.  Using this on your sling attack will cause a monster to be disoriented. Using it on a flying dragon causes them to fall down and get slightly stunned.

Flash Pods have a ~90% success rate.  Be sure the monster is affected before running over.

TLDR: Always have Flash Pods.


The more I play of this, the more I realize the sheer stupid pleasure of a grind.  Where else would I play for 45 minutes, fail in a spectacular fashion, and still have a smile?  It seems like every single action taken, no matter how small or large, provides some movement forward.  I learn a new skill nuance, I learn new timing, I get a new ingredient for a buff, I find a new gem, I get the last piece to craft that piece of gear.  And there’s a lot of joy heading back and smacking some heads that took me to town not too long ago!

Hunting Tips

I’ve done a fair chunk of hunting now.  Nowhere close to some other people, but enough to have a general idea of what’s going on.  One thing I’ve come to terms with is that Monster Hunter World is complicated and obtuse – something that will push people away.

Sure, at the most basic level you run through environments and kill really big monsters.  And you can do just that, until the Anjanath (T-Rex battle).  From there on, there are some rather large walls that need to be breached.  My thoughts on that.


Try them all out in your personal quarters.  The trial mode isn’t super, but it works enough.  Realize that the Horn is meant for group play only, and that the 2 ranged weapons are much better suited for group play but can work solo.  Blunt weapons will work to stun an enemy on the head, and sharp weapons will be able to cut off tails.  Tails, in nearly all cases, are very dangerous and cutting one off makes some battles pretty easy.

Keep a “normal” weapon with no elemental damage at maximum upgrade rank, and use it for all new quests where you’re not sure what enemy you’re going to face.  It is also quite useful for missions where you fight multiple enemies with different resistances.  After that, you want to have a weapon of each damage element type – they make a massive difference.

Use the Wishlist feature (triangle on PS4) to track items.  It took me too long to figure out the use for this.  Great for when you’re tracking materials for 5 items at once.

Some weapon effects are greyed out.  They need the Free Elem/Ammo Up armor skill to activate.  Charms and a few armor pieces have this.


My rule of thumb now is that your defense level be equal to the Assigned Mission level x 10.  So if you’re on mission 12, then have at least 120 defense.  Low defense means you die faster, and you will get hit in long battles for various reasons.  Having high defense means you can ignore most mechanics and just go to town.

Resistances are good too, and you want to stay as close to neutral as possible.  In particular for Fire attacks.  You can use buffs to help with this instead of armor if need be, but keep it in mind.

Armor skills are great to have, but you’ll find yourself worrying about the above more than this for the middle part of the game.  Decorations (gems) and Charms (necklace) can add some extra skills without impacting armor.


Mantles and gizmos provide all sorts of benefits.  You’ll get the Gillie Mantle first, which hides you from combat.  Great to heal, or sharpen a blade.  You’ll find other types through optional quests that increase resistances, damage, or other useful features.  Each has a timer for re-use.  I personally like the healing mist tool, as I can put it down and the effects last for quite a while.


You Palico is very useful.  Their weapon type is great for inflicting status on enemies, not so much for damage.  The Palico can’t die but will be stunned for a bit if it takes too much damage.  Not much value in the armor here, except for cosmetic reasons.  Palico tools though… that’s good stuff.

Each zone has a Grimalkyne base, they looks like Palicos.  The icon on the map is 4 white icons.  Each has a quest involved, which rewards you with a tool and the ability for your Palico to ride a smaller animal in combat.  The solid one is from the Rotten Vale (zone 4), which is a Plunder Blade.  This thing allows your Palico to loot more items from combat… extremely useful when you are looking for ingredients.  And of note, each of the tools has 10 levels, gained through use.  Each level improves the function of the tool.  The Vigorwasp tool should be used for any new enemy, allowing you more room to learn.

Also of note, Palicos are not in battles with 3 or more players, but still gain experience.

Safaris / Argosy / Tree

These are free-ish loot events.  The Palico safaris unlock with zone 4, and you select a group of Palicos to spend 5 quests collecting items.  Their skill level needs to match/exceed the events in the quests.  Good to find some specific resources.

The Argosy is a rotating vendor, with 3 packages.  You can select the type of package for the next round.  I’ve found a few rare items here.

The Tree allows you to plant items that grow after every quest. There are more additional quests to plant extra things, grow them faster, and have more space to collect.  I use it solely to generate Zenny (gold).  Has uses.


This is way more complicated than I like.  Long story short, eat before every mission.  For monsters that you consider easy, choose the Attack buff food, otherwise focus on Defense.  Food has a 10 minute timer before you can eat again, and if you die you lose the buff.

Complete optional quests in order to unlock more food types.  They have a big impact in the buffs food provides.

Nutrients also provide temporary food-like buffs.  You should not need any until you’re at the very high rank battles.

Quest Types

Assignments are the main story missions.  One time events (sort of ) that cannot be repeated.  They unlock more zones and more options.  These are the walls you need to breach with better weapons & armor.

Optional Quests provide 1 time benefits (extra food, items, gear) and are repeatable.  There’s no reason to do them more than once, with an exception.  Some main mission battles against Elder Dragons show up here after you’ve completed the assignment.  They randomly appear, with 2 attempts each.  Strongly recommend doing these.

Investigations are repeatable quests that focus on a specific activity, on a specific target.  Kill 20 wasps, capture an Anjanath, and so on.  Unlocking more is based on a ton of things.  Finding more tracks, killing monsters, looting items… just normal play will unlock more of them.  After a while, you’ll want to delete the lower ranked ones to make place for higher ranked events.

Bounties – these are not exactly quests but collection missions that can be completed at any time.  They unlock additional hunting sites, more food, more storage… very useful things.

The general order of things for me is

  1. Assigned quests until I hit a wall
  2. Optional quests that unlock needed items
  3. Investigations for specific enemies where I know I need their drops


This investigation type provides additional loot, but requires some extra steps.  You have to bring the enemy down to near-death status (often shown by a limp).  Then you need to lay down a trap for the monster to walk through – lightning works best.  That’s a Thunder Bug (in zones) and a Trap Tool (from town).  Then stand at the head and throw at least 2 Tranq Bombs (Sleep Flower + Parashroom – both in the zones).  If you are prepared, these are actually easier than regular fights.

Big Monster Battles

Some general tips.

  • Pay attention to attack patterns.  They often chain together.
  • Understand your weapon, how much time it takes to attack, and how long you cannot move.
  • Do not attack any enemy head on.  They will bite, or shoot something at you.  Attack the head from the side.
  • If you have a sharp weapon, always sever the tail.  It provides more loot, and removes a painful attack.
  • Attack from above where possible.  Jump, and attack in the air when close to the enemy.  You may mount them, or provide a ton of damage, while avoiding most.
  • You want to see reddish numbers when attacking.  And large numbers.  Each part of the enemy has different armor levels on the body.  Pay attention to the numbers.
  • Enemies will change location in battle after a specific set of time, and sometimes after a certain amount of damage is dealt.
  • If another large monster shows up, step away and watch the fireworks.  There’s nothing worse than getting a fireball in the back.  Bazelgeuse in particular does this.
  • Keep weapon sharpness in mind.  You always want it to be “in the green”.  Yellow will do with weaker enemies, but won’t be able to hit tougher ones.  Always sharpen when you’re tracking a monster after they run away.
  • Negative effects are super useful.  Stun is obvious.  Sleep allows you to lay down bombs (always carry 2).  Paralyze negates their abilities, though they still shuffle.  Poison does some minor damage over time.  Blast is a lategame skill that acts a bit like poison – but the damage is all at once instead of overtime.
  • Elderseal only impacts elder dragons.
  • If you can’t kill a monster in the 50 minute timeslot, upgrade your weapons and pay attention to resists.


Virtual Value

The previous post talked about lockboxes and the challenge around calling it gambling.  I argue that the distinguishing difference is that gambling is a known loss, with a chance at winning, while lockboxes are a known win, with a chance of a bonus.

There’s a fundamental weakness to this argument though and that’s the concept of value of goods.

This is actually a relatively old argument, and one that eBay struggled with nearly 20 years ago.  If you read any of the EULAs for modern games, they are fairly clear that the actual ownership of these items never belongs to you, but is more or less “loaned” and can be reclaimed at any time.  Let’s walk through those impacts.

Real World

Let’s say I buy (not lease, rent, or take a loan) a car for $30,000.  It has an agreed to value, using globally negotiated currency.  I won’t go into what the level set it (gold to USD) but I know that there’s a specific value, and the courts will recognize that value.  The car company and the seller cannot take that car from me without compensation.  I own it.  If they do take it, I can go to court and get my money back.  Hundreds of years of property laws cover this.

Virtual World

I pay for services, not products, as per the agreement.  Let’s say I acquire the Sword of Death in the game.  This has a high virtual value due to it’s rarity.  I could try to exchange it, using in-game currency.  That’s akin to bartering.  Two people, using an un-managed currency, coming to terms on value.  There is no legal recourse to this exchange.  There are certain ethical issues, and this is why you sometimes see game companies do something when there’s internal fraud (I use that term loosely).  Heck, that’s discounting the ability to acquire something yourself simply by investing time (say a rare drop from a raid), that cannot be traded.  Enter the P2W conversation…


This is the increase of value of an item, based on the increase of available currency.  In the real world, inflation is controlled to a degree by central banks/agencies through interest rates, currency issuance and other monetary methods.

Games have sinks and faucets, and often times much larger faucets.  WoW is a good example.  10 years ago, 1000 gold was considered rich.  Today, 1000 gold is an afterthought.


When you drive that car off the parking lot, it loses value.  Anything used loses value.  Very few items ever increase, in natural value – typically art/gems.  Virtual goods are similar.  That Sword of Death becomes obsolete after the next patch by the Twig of Destiny.   You may spend an entire fortune acquiring one item, and then a couple months later, that value is completely lost.

Currency Conversion

There are plenty of exchange options for real currency.  Large organizations collude (that is the correct word) to set the trading rate, but are overseen by laws.  (see: LIBOR scandal).  This has gradual changes over time, and is usually based on GDP and inflation, along with overall market value.

Virtual conversion is also usually straightforward, as it is brokered by the game company.  You are buying virtual assets, to use in a specific bartering session, for an item that is unique to that environment.  It is a fairly rare occurrence that you can then resell that currency.  And you cannot transfer that item to another environment.

A real-world analogy would be buying a car in Paris, France.  You would take your currency, trade it to local baguettes (that can’t be used anywhere else but that car dealer), then buy the car that you can’t use anywhere else but Paris.  To get your money back, you’d need to trade it back for baguettes, then find a currency trader that wants those baguettes and has the currency you’re looking for.

Direct Buying Power

This is the crux of the issue – the real-world value of a virtual good that cannot be used anywhere else.  The Sword of Death in one game would have zero value in another.  You would have to extract the normalized (real-world) currency value, based on the exchange rate for virtual currency (if any).   Ex:  $5 gets me 20 gold, which can buy a super sword in Game 1.  $5 gets me 1000 gold, which gets me a twig in Game 2.  Virtually, they have different values, in the context of those games.  In practice, they have the same value.

The Lockbox Connundrum

For lockboxes to be considered gambling, the real-world value of the items has to be zero in most cases, and rarely above.  That gets even murkier, since many of the items in the lockboxes cannot be acquired by other means.  That special skin is locked in a lockbox, you can’t get it any other way.  And maybe that’s a premium skin, vs a regular one.  There is no real-world gambling analogy to that model.  Well, not entirely true.  There are many lottery types that are legal within a country, but not within some of their states/provinces due to the nuance.

The fundamental problem then, is associating real-world value to virtual goods.  There’s no scale, no measure, no consistency across the medium.  We’re at that lovely cross road of law, and of ethics.  Territory that is so uncharted and vast that no one knows where to even start.  It’s a multi-trillion dollar industry, there’s going to be pushback.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be treated like a controlled substance (a separate fun argument), or that it should be absolved of regulation.  Ethics + money = regulator’s dream job.  Now, if EA was smart and wanted to head this off at the pass, they would set up their own board (with other companies) to set some ground rules.  ESRB is such an example.  But dollars to donuts, the execs don’t see the issue yet.  BF2 was the tip of the iceberg.  They see lost dollars.. not the hammer coming in for a swing.

What We’ve Wrought

Appropriate link to Hawaii coming through with tabled legislation on Loot Boxes.

It’s a bit like Icarus flying too close to the sun, and of course it’s EA that triggers the change. They are part of the 1-2 punch of game developers after all.  There are 2 main points to this, restricting loot boxes as if they were gambling (21+), and displaying loot odds.

Now, if I recall China did the same a few years ago.  Blizzard complied by giving the loot boxes for free when you bought currency.  If you’re not buying the box, then there’s no need to disclose the odds.  This has worked fairly well since Blizz pulled in $4 billion from all in-game transactions in 2017.

I’ve stated previously that I don’t think loot boxes fit our current definition of gambling.  Gambling today assumes that you get nothing, with a chance to get something.  Loot boxes always give you something, with a chance to get more things. Imagine if playing the lottery always had a payout, even 10c.  That would require a massive investment to distribute payouts to everyone… but software companies already have that link.  That’s not to say that the definition of gambling doesn’t need to change.  Plenty of other laws have changed.

Age restrictions – that one I can get behind.  There are no 16 year old whales.  A 16 year old with that much disposable income is much to smart to spend their money on virtual items.  Loot boxes are addictive, and they do a great job of nickel-and-diming you forward.  That’s their intended design.  21 is the same age as most other controlled substances in Hawaii, so the number makes sense to them, and easier to align with other legislation.

Displaying loot chances… does that discourage the people who are buying loot boxes?  Whales are keeping the games afloat, it certainly won’t impact their behavior.  Well, unless they are min-maxers finding the best route to an item.  It won’t impact addicts either.  Maybe it will impact the regular Joe, or stop someone from even starting down that path in the first place.  People knew for years that smoking killed, didn’t make a dent.  Change all the packaging to put cancer-ridden pictures (along with lots of restrictions on where to smoke, and services to assist in quitting) and the rate of smokers plummets.

Change for changes’ sake rarely works out.  Consumers are called “the money” for a reason.  Values and ethics have not caught up to the change in technology.  We can’t go 5 years without some sort of disruption.  It’s a heck of a time to be watching society playing catch-up.


Random Bugger

Monster Hunter feels like a game of plateaus, sprinkled with randomness.  There’s something to be said about hunting a dragon for 45 minutes, then taking it down with a fraction of life remaining.

The randomness first.  Enemy behavior is based on code.  They have specific move patterns, and those patterns can change based on a few factors, mostly environmental.  If there’s another large prey around, expect a battle between them.  If they are under 25% hp, expect them to enrage and use a different skill set.  Some movement patterns are restricted due to the space on the map – space between you or space to the wall.  The randomness is which of these skills are used, against which target.

Diablos has 2 killer moves – a quick rush and a burrow attack. Both pick a target, beeline to them, and can shift a few feet left/right.  They can also trigger this move without a whole lot of warning.  Or you can stumble on a rock, or a bush.  Or just run out of stamina and get stunned.  Or, you can take a minor hit that knocks you down, and then he’ll charge you for a quick trip back to base.  That’s a bugger.

Randomness at low percentages plays against you the longer the fight draws on.  Say it’s a 5% chance of a tweak to a move that can kill you.  If he uses that move every 30 seconds, then your odds of seeing that tweak are a lot higher after 30 minutes than after 2.


Weapons have a clear tier structure, and each increases some portion of power.  For the quarter of the game, it’s just numbers.  More damage = quicker fights.  After that point, elemental damage plays a much larger role.  For the 4 basic elements (ice, thunder, fire, water) it’s pretty obvious that the damage is welcome.  Dragon is a bit different – enemies that deal that damage are usually weak to it.  This is weapon #6.

Why have a normal damage weapon?  For quests that require you to take down more than 1 enemy, who have competing resistances, and for times when you need to explore a map and don’t know what you’re going to find.

There’s a fair chunk of grinding to get the pieces needed for each item.  Thankfully there are wishlists that let you know once you have all the parts.  Still.. having to take on a 20 minute hunt for 2 items, and only 1 drops at a time, that’s a bugger.


Oh what a fun thing you are.  They say “defense wins championships” and that is certainly the case with MHW.  There are some fights where you will simply die in a single strike.  Diablos is one.  Pink Rathian is another.  It is not possible to avoid all damage due to the randomness listed above.  You can certainly avoid the big hits for a long time, but eventually you’re going to get hit.

There are 3 ways to reduce the impact of the damage – armor, resistances, and buffs.

Armor is pretty straightforward.  You have 5 slots, each with a number.   If you are in starting gear (for the skills on the gear), then you likely have ~30 armor total.  You need more like 150 to take a hit from Diablos.  I am at 171 now and I’m sure I could use a boost to something better.  But then I’d be giving up a lot of skills, which is a tough trade off.

Resistances are a pretty straightforward % decrease to specific attacks.  You want more fire resist to be able to take a fireball hit.  This is tough enough since a piece with a decent armor score and a decent skill may have a negative resistance score.  I find that the most important two are Fire (burning) and Thunder (stun).

Finally buffs – either from armor (defense boost), food (defense (L)), or nutrients.  These are extremely useful.  The downside to food and nutrients is that they are temporary, and food buffs cannot be reapplied for 10 minutes.  In the 2nd half of the game, there’s a chance that the mission will not start at a camp base, meaning that you really should be eating before leaving.  It’s a bugger when you die before that timer is done.

Breaking a Wall

There are two parts here.  Damage is what you need to kill a monster before the timer expires, and to reduce the chances of having a bad random event.  You need to have the best weapon possible, based on the available list, with the appropriate damage type – at the very least the “neutral” damage weapon should be always at max.

Armor is what you need to survive those bad events.  It allows you to experiment with new tactics and figure out how to optimize future runs.  If you are dying in 1-2 hits, then this is where you need to invest.




The Slide of Content

The more I think about this, the more I think about training wheels.

Great games have a large amount of complex, intertwined systems that allow for player agency.  You can pull a string here, and then something way down the road changes – EvE is a good example.  Amazing games have the ability to simplify this complexity, allowing for a “easy to play, difficult to master” gameplay model.  It’s a tough balance though, as often times the simplicity takes precedence and the complex under-systems get cut (looking at you WoW).

Further, many games have a tutorial (either in name or in practice) that gate the complex content until further along the process.  I don’t mean power gating, where your attack power or defense gets improved.  More like moving from ground combat to air attackers, or putting in active dodging.  The content available is typically linear, so as not to drown the player in complexity.  Smaller drips and tests, then move on.  A few games have systems that are so complex that they just put it all out there to start (most survival games).

Monster Hunter takes an interesting approach, in that the intertwining complex systems are generally available at the start.  You have 14 weapons.  You have armor.  There are tons of enemies in the first area.  Nearly all the quest types are available.  From there to the Anjanath, it’s a fairly gradual skill progress.  There are minor systems, but nothing terribly obvious or complex.

Then you open up the other half of the game after a couple missions. The maps turn vertical. Charms show up.  Environmental damage.  Modified armor and skills that stack. A very large weapon tree. I recall the start of the game going about 4 hours before understanding even the basic items, then it sort of worked out.  I feel that this is quite similar to a system dump of options, bordering on overload.  It gives that feeling that you have to do everything rather than focus on what’s important.

Compounding this is the concept of optimization.  Often, you move from one mundane task into more complex ones.  Finding a way to stop doing the mundane.  For example, in UO I spent a lot of time mining to supply my blacksmith with materials.  After a while, I had enough money to just buy the ore and produce at a much larger volume for the same time investment.  Other games have power curves, where enemies simply die faster since you are stronger – orders of magnitude stronger.

That is much less evident in Monster Hunter.  The first time you take on any big game it’s usually a 20 minute battle.  Your power goes up sure, but you’re still not talking about taking down a TRex in 5 hits.  The monster will still run away, evade attacks, you’ll get knocked down.  You can still die in a few hits if you’re not paying attention.

I guess that’s part of the complexity.  Your skill is as much a factor as the power and tools at your disposal.  And the factors you need to take into account just continually grow over time. I certainly feel like I’ve improved dramatically since the start.  I can read tells, avoid specific areas, spot beneficial items at a distance, know when it’s a smart move to sharpen the blades…all tiny things that combined make a large difference.

I have to say, I’m continually impressed after every session.