Archive for May 2010

Where to go from here?

May 30, 2010

KingAmuroth

As I posted earlier my Prot Pally made it to Outland. He is now level 63 and I’ve gone through Ramparts, Blood Furnace and Slave Pens. I can say for sure that they made those instances easier, especially the final boss of Ramparts. Back when Burning Crusade first came out I remember pug groups wiping dozens of times on him until they gave up. If you stood in the dragons fire for more than two seconds or so you were dead, didn’t matter if you were healer, tank or DPS. Add to that the fact that it is really two bosses, and you have no drinking or eating time between the last trash pull and the boss, and it used to be harder to do that at the appropriate level that it was to do some Heroic Dungeons later on.

Now though I don’t even move out of the fire. Neither does my wife. We kill both bosses easily and her renew keeps anyone in the fire at full health. Let’s be clear though, I don’t think that this change is a bad thing. The simple fact was that very few pugs of the right level beat that boss. Like the Crystal Entity in Star Trek Online it simply requires far too much coordination to expect out of a pug group. Content like that is great for heroics or level cap dungeons or raids, but let’s keep the insta-death stuff out of the lowbie pug area.

DKFlying

On another note I got my Death Knight’s Mining and Herbalism to 300 by traveling all over Azeroth. My Death Knight is basically my bank alt, since he starts with nice bags and some money, plus an epic mount. I’m also using him to help out my Pally, who is Blacksmithing/Enchanting. One of us HAD to go enchanting since we were running all these instances, so I did. The wife went Jewelcrafting/Mining but I don’t like to take her ore.

On  a final note my “free month” for both EverQuest II and Fallen Earth are up and I’ve got some decisions to make. Out of those two I would probably still with Fallen Earth, but those are not the only two options. I already own Age of Conan and I’m thinking about resubbing for a month just to see how far it’s come and if it’s for me. I’m playing through the endless Tortage trial now to see if I even feel like coming back. The graphics of the world are still as amazing as I remember, but at least for me the character textures seem…poor. Especially where the neck meets the body.

Of course there is also Vanguard (Now available through Steam) though I would have to buy that one before I could play it. Finally (and the one I’m leaning more toward) is DarkFall. I had a blast during my two week welcome back period and I’ve really missed the whole “skill based” system. I’m not a fool though. I know there are “levels” whether the game wants to call them that or not. You cannot really help as a newbie. Sure you can be a distraction, but I could do that in WoW at level 1 if I wanted, doesn’t mean it’s really participating. I’d have a several month grind until I could really enjoy the game as intended, but they are changing the health and a few other things soon that would help that.

At the moment I am leading toward DarkFall, but nothing is set in stone. I’ll finish Tortage at least once and then figure out what I want to do. Wish me luck.

Dungeons Galore!

May 28, 2010

Just letting everyone know why I haven’t updated in a few days. I’m off for summer vacation and me and the wife have been playing nothing but WoW for the last four or five days. We’ve managed to get to level 60 without much questing (we did a little once we hit 58 to get some Outlands gear) and we’re very excited. We decided to quest until level 61 to get one more level under out belts before we try pug Stratholme.

I’m personally excited to get to level 62 and head into our first Outland instance with the random dungeon finder. We were upset when we reached level 58 and realized we could no longer que for random classic dungeons, only for outland. Now we are picking each individual dungeon because we want to finish all of the old world dungeons before we get too high to do them at the right level range.

You’ll hear more from me soon, once I have a second to relax and take a breath.

An Ignorant Opinion on Greed

May 21, 2010

I understand why many AAA MMO developers need to make more money. We’ve been paying $14.99 or about that since Ultima Online and the development cost of video games has gone up drastically since then, especially top tier MMOs. I know that in order to make back the money they put into the game developers are going to need to either raise the price of a subscription (suicide for any new game, and most likely for most established games unless World of Warcraft does it first), or find alternate ways of making money ON TOP of the subscription model.

What I do have a problem with is companies fleecing their players for no real reason other than the fact that they can. An angry fire was sparked inside of me when I read about EverQuest II’s new Cash Store mount, the Prowler. This mount is priced at, you guessed it, $25! $10 MORE than a monthly subscription. That means that the developers feel that this mount is worth almost double the content that I would experience in a month of gametime.

I know some people are going to already be angry and thinking “Blizzard did it first!” and fear not, I am COMPLETELY DISGUSTED by what Blizzard did. Let’s do a little math problem.

World of Warcraft (Last I heard) has 11 Million subscribers worldwide.

Blizzard Entertainment has (according to Wikipedia) 4,600 employees.

A monthly subscription to World of Warcraft costs $14.99

This math may not be entirely accurate, but it’s going to be good enough for this purpose.

$14.99 times 11 Million subscribers equals 164,890,000! A MONTH!

Let us assume that Blizzard Entertainment pays ALL of it’s employees $100,000 a year. This is almost certainly NOT the case, but let’s pretend.

A full year of salary for their entire staff would be $460,000,000. In three months they make $494,670,000. In four months they make over the entire cost of all of their employees being paid $100,000 a year, which I am CERTAIN is NOT the case.

Over a one year period, JUST off of World of Warcraft subscriptions, Blizzard Entertainment makes $1,978,680,000. This does not count the actual SALES of World of Warcraft or it’s expansion packs, or of any other Blizzard game.

The Celestial Steed made Blizzard Entertainment more than $3.5 MILLION dollars! In about a MONTH! In order to justify JUST the subscription cost alone, not to mention making people pay for a mount, a $25 mount, Cataclysm better come with three times the landmass of current WoW, contain next generation graphics, AI and gameplay, and have it’s next three years of content already made and ready to be given as patches at regular intervals.

Otherwise they’re just duping idiots into giving up their money, and I’m pretty sure being a conman is illegal. Let alone an entire company of them. Of course I blame the entire thing on Activision and their CEO Bobby “I want to kill fun” Kotick.

Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Essays

May 19, 2010

wowdanddad-lg

Gordon from We Fly Spitfires wrote, both on his blog and on this one, about the seeming transition of Roleplaying from inside games to outside them, such as on blogs or websites. It’s interesting to have watched it change over the years, and while hope may be dying for Gordon, mine has just been sparked by a simple memory.

I remember playing Ultima Online many years ago, back when it was new and revolutionary. Roleplayers were everywhere and no matter what you did you were exposed to it. In many ways it was the opposite of what we have now. But you know what I remember most? Out of my entire time playing Ultima Online, the one thing I look back on with the most fondness were the guides.

The only guides I could find, and the guides I really wish I could find now, were in character. I remember specifically reading an alchemy guide and it was entirely in character. Just try to imagine the creativity it would take to not only figure out all of the information needed to create a guide, but to then make a story out of it that was compelling.

The fishing guide was another favorite of mine. It was told from the perspective of a young whipper snapper (you) as you met with an aged, salty fisherman. He told you about some of the misconceptions the people of Brittania had when it came to fishing and the ocean. He warned you of the dangers and explained, in vague terms that were specific enough to easily figure out where to go and what to do, but it was all a story.

Jump forward a few years and most people were roleplaying in game. Guides had become information textbooks with no flare and no heart. Let’s face it, the majority of people in the world are not roleplayers. That fact by itself shouldn’t effect the roleplaying community as much as it does. If it were just for the fact that more and more people are getting into MMO’s then it should just mean that there are more and more non-RPers and non-RP servers. So why is it so hard to find Roleplaying ON a Roleplaying server?

The problem is that it’s not just non-roleplayers that are flooding into MMOs and video games in general, it’s that douches are flooding in with them. Sure it’s partly the anonymous nature of the internet, but that’s like blaming guns for murders. Sure, without the gun the murder might not have happened, but some idiot pulled the trigger.

It used to be that video game nerds were just that. We were the quiet kids who liked DnD and reading. Flash forward to now and the vast majority of gamers are people who would have tried to beat us up for our lunch money back in the day, and they haven’t changed much. They’ve invaded the hobby and changed not only the pay models, but the target audience and the treatment of people inside the game.

Sure, you’ve always had jackasses in MMOs, going all the way back to MUDs. Ultima Online had it’s fair share, but, and this may be nostalgia talking, I seem to remember it being a current beneath the broader roleplaying/adventuring vibe. Now Halo Jocks (Disclaimer: Halo is a good game, but would have been better on PC. Facts are facts, keyboard and mouse will always be superior for FPS) with popped collars are running around “roleplaying” P3nisP3n3traterXx the Orc Fighter! His battlecry is “L2P!” and his favorite taunt is teabagging.

So why do I have ANY hope left? Because I blog hop and see dozens of stories being written from the perspective of the bloggers characters. Even people who don’t usually write RP stories throw out little one shots that give me not only an insight into their character but into the blogger themselves. I see people in game trying to roleplay (some do better than others) for the first time, though it’s rare. I also see drawings of characters, in character podcasts, in character “newspapers” that publish real and made up in game events. Perhaps one day soon we will see in character guides make a resurgence! If that happens you might see the amount of in game RPing make a comeback simply because, if you can get brought in character and into the world deeper and deeper by the supplimental material outside the game, then you are more likely to be interesting in staying in character while in game.

I have never been one who believed that the lack of MMOs feeling like living breathing worlds was the developers fault. I think more and more the worlds are vibrant and interesting with some great stories playing out that even the developers didn’t foresee. I blame the community for changing and making roleplaying in a roleplaying game, or treating people nicely even, a taboo.

Then again I have no faith in humanity. I haven’t since I was a boy. That is probably tainting the way I’m seeing the whole picture but it’s just who I am. I hope that roleplaying will make a comeback, especially since it is so difficult to get six or so people together for several hours once a week every week in real life. If it doesn’t I’ll just enjoy some great roleplaying on the outside.

Below is a list of recent RP posts that really got me interested:

Yams – The Breckenridge Legacy 2.3. A Sims 2 story that isn’t so much in character as a great story and some great writing.

Star Trek: Tarpitz. This blog follows the adventures of Captain Judon Ruz of the U.S.S. Tarpitz.

MMO Gamer Chick – Fight Like A Khitan. Told from the perspective of her new Khitan Guardian. Am I the only one who can’t help but picture Kung Fu Panda whenever I read Sifu?

Tooting my own Horn. My Star Trek Online Captains Log. It’s the first one I did on Star Trek Online, and I really think it was entertaining.

Blue Kae’s Meet the Silver Hunter. It’s not in character, but more a character biography, and a well though out one I might add. I really enjoyed it.

Have your own blog or website and like to post storied of your MMO characters? Let me know in the comments and I’ll check it out!

Guest Post – We Fly Spitfires

May 18, 2010

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires has done me the honor of writing a guest post about a subject I am pretty close to. On a side note my American spellchecker nearly had a heart attack when I loaded this baby into it. Not because anything was spelled wrong, but just because of the difference in spelling between European English and American English. Gotta love that :)Without further rambling on my part, enjoy this wonderful post:

Taking Roleplaying Out Of The Game

Roleplaying is a funny old thing. Traditionally it was a group of geeks crammed round a table at night, acting and embodying the roles of their fantasy genre based characters, abiding by a pen and paper rulebook and battling against the wits of their human Games Master. It was part acting, part socialising and part gaming all rolled into one. And then along came the computer and the Internet and ruined everything.

RGP video games were designed to satisfy the itch of roleplay by creating more immersive universes that players could access at any time of the day without needing an entourage of fellow roleplayers. We marvelled at the technology and adored games like Baulder’s Gate II as they gave us a whole new RPG experience. After a few years, the next logical step in the evolutionary chain came in the form of the MMORPG and it seemed like the ultimate opportunity for roleplay. It combined all of the convenience of gaming at home with all the immersion that a computer game can provide plus the ability to socialise with thousands of other players online all bundled up neatly into one package.

It’s now been over a decade since the first MMORPG and the sad news is that all meaning behind it is starting to fade. Yes, they are amazing fun and a fantastic joy to play but they aren’t roleplaying games in the sense that first inspired their inception. They have become ruleplaying games. Players don’t play roles, they are instead just focused on being the best and min/maxing their statistics. You no long play "Utgard The Mighty Warrior who has a phobia of cats", you play "Bill, level 80 Warrior with a cookie-cutter Fury spec and a Gearscore of 4,000".

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. As players roleplay less inside the games, we’re starting to see a rise of roleplaying outside it. More and more gamers are writing fan lore about their favourite MMO or stories about their characters. They broadcast their fan fiction from blogs and forums and ignite the imagination inside us all with brilliant stories and tales of adventure. Even Everquest 2, which still severely lacks roleplaying in game, recognises this fact and provides the facility for players to write their own in-game books.

Yes, the days of "Hail, noble knight" and "Oogbah da biggest and cleverest Ogre" are long gone and maybe that’s the result of the rise of voice chat or the mainstream popularity that MMOs are gaining but, whatever the case, at least we’re seeing a new outlet for roleplaying and that’s a wonderful thing. Roleplaying isn’t dead, it’s just moved to other formats to deal with the evolution of the RPG genre. Take comfort in that, good sir, for at least the flames of roleplay are still fanning somewhere.

-Gordon

Advanced Class System…Ugh

May 14, 2010

skills

You have to understand that I am a pessimist. That said I will get almost every new MMO and at least give it an initial chance. With all of that out of the way I have to say that The Old Republic earned it’s first red mark for me.

Bioware announced the Advanced Class sytem, but other than this page I haven’t seen any more information. Some people, namely MMO Gamer Chick are excited about the new announcement. For me it has literally called into question whether I will enjoy the game.

Many games have tried this already, if it truly is what I fear. You will pick a class, such as “Scout”, and at level 10-ish you will be able to go the equivalent of “Ranged Ranger” or “Melee Assassin”. I hate this style of class system. That means that the first tem levels of two separate classes play exactly the same, and it seriously hinders my enjoyment of rolling alts, or even trying out a bunch of classes when I first start to see what is for me.

I really hope I am wrong here, and that it’s going to be a high level thing, but even then, unless they still play almost the exact same, or you can “respec”, then it’s going to just be dragging out the time you are exactly like another class.

I have never understand why games do this, other than running out of time and mashing together classes in the early ten levels. Ten of the most important levels to get players hooked on your game by the way.

But who knows? Maybe Bioware will surprise me and it’ll be a level 2 choice. Probably not though.

EverQuest III?

May 12, 2010

My EverQuest II character is a level 29 Coercer. I got him up to level 20 just doing the Neriak starting area quests and it flew by. There were some new things to get used to, and the Coercer was pretty hectic what with the charmed mobs turning on me, Mezes being resisted and my clothie but having nothing resembling a heal. There were some confusing things during the first twenty levels, and some really cool things that I learned.

Sadly it seems to have gone downhill from there. I am worried that perhaps it might just be better for me to wait for EverQuest III. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of things about EQII still and I would love to figure it all out. Sadly it seems like I might have come in too late. It was easier to figure out EVE and Fallen Earth, for me at least, than it is to figure out all the facets of EverQuest II.

It doesn’t help that I got two dungeon runs from guildies. They came down, mentored me so we were the same level, got a group together, took me to the dungeon and we ran through two separate dungeons multiple times each. I have no idea what the mobs looked like, or if it was cool or not. It was all just a jumble of movement and non-stop action. Imagine if your first experience with WoW dungeons was 4 level 80s, and you at level 60, and then running you through Blackrock Depths. Mobs are AOE’d quicker than I can see them, and the bosses are dropped so quickly I hardly understand WHAT TYPE of mob I am fighting.

So maybe judging the early dungeons isn’t a good idea. The problem is that those two runs, on the same day, got me nine levels. Now I’m stuck at level 29. I know I need to go to Enchanted Lands at level 30, but I am scared of that place. Why? Because I am currently in The Forest of…Nukerot? (Apparently it is Nektulos Forest) The Forest is filled with level 20-26ish mobs. I generally die once every four or five pulls to the level 20 mobs, and once every other pull to the 26-ish mobs. I’m 29! It’s not the class either, it’s my nubness. I have no idea what I’m doing. Are there attacks that don’t break CC? I don’t know. Do I need more AA? No idea. How do I go about getting AA? Got me, should I set my AA bar to 90% and grind mobs? The problem with that is that I’m dying left and right.

Did I do myself a disservice by going to those dungeons? My guess is yes, but how much of a disservice? Everytime I use an ability it says my skill in the corresponding skill has increased. I’m 60-something out of 100-something on most of my abilities. Does that effect my spells? Do I need to get the next rank/tier of my abilities? I have no idea! My charmed mobs can’t tank and die if they try, meanwhile my charms, mezes, roots etc break or are resisted all the time.

Today has been a terrible gaming day for me, so that’s not helping. Am I giving up on EverQuest II? Not just yet. I think I might try a class that isn’t quite so involved. A Berserker maybe? Or I might just go back to a Necromancer. I think I need to learn a lot more about the game before I can start having fun again, which is sad, especially since everyone else playing already knows this stuff and they don’t think so mention it when I ask for help.

Doesn’t help that my guild doesn’t talk much, or respond much, either. Ah well, I’ll keep trying. Just in a really foul mood today and it’s not being helped by my sucking it up.