Author Archive: Isey

Waning Enthusiasm – Legion.

It was bound to happen sometime, right?

My Rogue finally hit friendly with all the factions and was able to do a world quest. This was where things would get exciting for me, I was certain. I had three queued up (it does that when you first get world quests) and I rattled off the first – for an 805 blue. The second – another 805 blue. Of course the third time wasn’t any sort of charm and I saw myself staring at boring, non-epic lewts. The excitement of iterative gear scaling had taken a huge step backward for and it actually felt…. unfun.

I had a momentary thought about starting another alt, but then realized I had my duties to do on my main and now duties to do on my alt, which left less time for yet another alt. My routine is still pretty consistent but now duplicative:

  1. Do World Emmissary Quests (Daily)
  2. Do World Quests with gear upgrades
  3. Do World Quests with profession materials
  4. Do Champion quests with Champion XP or Gear upgrades until maxed out (Druid has no more xp leveling to do with his champions, just gear)
  5. World Boss (weekly)
  6. Do LFR for gear upgrades (3 wings now, weekly)
  7. Play the Auction House (daily) for free subs and profits.

That is my standard to do. Listed like that it does seem a bit like “work”, right?

I still have options – I haven’t even finished the main Suramar questline on my druid yet and that will unlock two more instances for me. I also have some Mythic dungeon quests that I’d like to try, but there is no LFG system which means that will take effort to put a group together (the horror.. the horror…). I do get a ton of Artifact Power now and could load up a third (or even 4th spec) for my druid which would be completely new for me – I have never tried Feral or Balance spec.

And of course, if all else fails, I could try another alt. I really do enjoy the class story lines as much as I do not enjoy repeating the faction content that needs to be done to drive the levels to do the class story line. The fact that I am thinking of my next step shows I am still invested. The fact that I am trying to find the next step to retain my interest illustrates that it is indeed, finally, waning.

Happy Endings

I enjoy the TV show “The Walking Dead”. I wouldn’t call myself a giant fan but I watch every season. I tend to watch the season a season behind (I just started season 6, season 7 is underway) and it is a weird place of enjoyment-but-not-quite-fandom. I have a vested interest in seeing what happens to the original crew of the show.

I say that deliberately – the original crew. Season one of The Walking Dead was some of the best TV I have ever enjoyed. Season two was great, season three was good, and now the series is in what seems like maintenance mode – things are happening that are consistent with a zombie apocalypse and some of the events even follow the comic books (loosely and somewhat) but the show is just not dynamite. This is bound to happen when my main tie and motivation for the show is around the people and in earlier years they did a better job of developing them.

This show kills off recurring characters weekly and main characters annually, for the most part. Now in season six there really are only four characters that I care greatly for – Rick, Maggie, Glenn and Carol. I also, to a lesser extent, tend to care about Carl and Michonne.  Other characters have come, been killed / eaten, and gone – but their introduction and story lines just didn’t leave a lasting impression. I have no clue how long they plan on running this series but I do kind of have my own time set when to stop watching, when those characters are no longer a part of it.

I tend to struggle with long term TV shows as it seems the first couple of seasons are done exceptionally, and then people recognize that there is great money to be made so things adjust to profit. I don’t mind (and appreciate!) that they can drive profit from their art and work but I am unsure if the quality is really lowering or if it is just my personal experience. Take the series LOST, for example. That is a perfect example of an exciting and intriguing first year. After that it was pretty clear that they stopped moving the plot forward and focused on introducing new characters only to give them an episode to explore their backstory. I am not even cynical but that is my lasting impression of the show – “How do we stretch this out”, instead of “how do we explore a great plot”. I know that series lasted several years – perhaps others have far more patience than I do, or found something in it I couldn’t

I am not a big TV fan to begin with because it is just so passive. I don’t mind watching sports on TV but otherwise I am far happier with a laptop out and reading, or playing a game – even if the TV is on in the background.

Back to The Walking Dead – there is no possibility for a happy ending. The world explored becomes worse and worse and with less hope. The entire population is infected and there is no hope for a cure. It is a show to watch to explore the human condition when hope is at a premium.  I still watch because I want to see how far the people I like make it. When their future / ending is decided and I can finally turn off the program for good is when my happy ending will be with the show.

Miscalculation

Legion is still the most fun I have had in gaming in years. There is always something to do, there is measurable and frequent progression, and the game play is smooth and nuanced. It’s not boring to play but not too difficult, and you can weave in complexities to your actions to make the rotation and combat just a bit more fun. Like most things it seems you get out what you put into it.

My druid remains in maintenance mode although I did add the LFR (Looking for Raid) activity into my weekly rotation. I had left WoW long before LFR was a thing – and the old raiding snob in me sees it as a complete dumbing down of content / loot pinata, while the [filthy] casual in me is very thankful that I can progress in some of my quests, see bosses I would never see this expansion, and also get some sweet sick loot. I received my first ilvl 850 loot this morning on a raid that was less challenging than completing a heroic dungeon. Truth is the more that are in an activity, the less the individual contribution matters. I can live with that. I still push myself to be on the top of the healing charts for the sole fact that I know that will make it easier on others, and hey, I still want to “win” – even though I am just playing a largely solo experience. That means I only have to beat my own expectations.

My rogue, on the other hand, is now friendly with every faction and ready for world quests. Except that is where my miscalculation arrived – you can’t do Suramar (the 5th faction to unlock world quests) until you hit level 110. I am not sure why I thought I could level via World Quests but that was a goal I worked towards that I now can’t complete. This is disappointing because going through the story line a second time is as un-fun as watching a “just ok” movie over and over. DPS classes definitely get a raw deal here as dungeon queues can run 40 minutes plus so questing is the only real method to advance.

I have 37 problems and a tank is one

This is a minor gripe and the same one DPS classes have been struggling with forever. The Outlaw rogue is my *dream* spec. I LOVE the flavour of the class and the abilities. It is less convenient for me to do dungeons and fun things but I enjoy it enough to find new ways to play. The Class Hall quest line fits really well – without spoiling, you become a member of a shadow council who operates in the background of society and not leaving things to chance. Kind of like a secret society, pulling strings from the shadows. I wasn’t sure how the rogue would translate over in this manner as the Druid and Paladin quest lines work well on a big scale (heroes of the light / forest) – how could a stabby class compete? It does this well, albeit a bit standard fare.

Racism alive and well in Azeroth

I have actually been pleasantly surprised with the tone and attitude of the player base, and then this smacked me in the face the other day (names blurred out)

I have seen far worse, but actually I haven’t seen ANY talk of this nature in a long, long time in WoW. That is the small positive I will take from this, that it is clearly improving. The sad part is that it still exists at all. Whether or not it is really improving or only *feels* like it as people take it to less public channels I have no clue. It was a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go both as a gaming community that hides far too comfortably behind anonymity.

Legion Casual Hurdle

I like being efficient with my time. If I have three stops in town I try to pick the route that makes the most sense to get to each of the three without much backtracking. Why go back and forth when you can find a clear path? This changes somewhat if buying groceries is one of the three stops because I don’t want my groceries sitting in the car while doing other shopping / appointments. I just rearrange the trip to factor that in. Same if I have to be certain places at certain times. Might as well think through things for a minute before racing off and wasting part of a day.

I find myself in the same predicament with Legion now. The first hurdle.

Recently my posts have been arguing that there is too much to do – and this very true, to an extent. There are things to do but how efficient of my time is it to do them? Now that my character is ilvl 834 I have some limits on what I do to move forward effectively, and I am now in maintenance mode with my “main” Couchon. My Class quest is done as far as I can (Raid is the next step). My tradeskill quests are done as far as I can efficiently. My Artifact(s – my main and my offspec (Guardian and Restoration)) are as high as they can be efficiently with both being rank 15 (~12,000 AP to level up).

My daily routine now consists of this:

  1. Do World quests for treasure chest (chance to get a legendary). The quests are ok but the rewards are below what I need right now. Typically gives 700(ish) gold plus an 810 item (below what I have in every slot) but a chance for a legendary. 30 minutes of playtime.
  2. Do World Quests for Herbalism (if they are up) – I need a TON of mats to get to the next alchemy step and instead of flying  running around to collect mats (I would do it if I could fly..) I wait for any quests that award me 20/40 herbs and are saving them up that way.
  3. Do daily Heroic if there is a reward for queuing as healer or tank – I don’t have many upgrade opportunities in heroics but I still enjoy 5 mans – I still haven’t received an upgrade through heroics that I can recall
  4. Do world quests for gear upgrades (if there are any) – there are some 835+ gear options through world quests if you pay attention, so that is what I look for.

If there aren’t any of the above, I have nothing to do. Grinding artifacts at~12,000 per point when you get 90 to 410 AP for quests / world quests is highly inefficient. If I wait a few more weeks my Artifact Research (currently level 4, 140% of AP gained) I will get double or even triple that. So why grind it out slowly when with some patience, it will come much easier? The shot at a legendary is so difficult, that even that seems like not the best use of time – but going for that shiny orange gear is too good of an opportunity to turn down.

None of this is a complaint. This is where I am at as a player until such time I can try LFR or something else, major happens. This actually makes me happy because now I have an even better excuse to go play my Rogue.

Rogue-ing It

I was so tempted. So VERY tempted to buy another boost to 100 for my Rogue, since I wasted mine on what I thought I wanted to do with a ranged Hunter. WoD content was dry compared to Legion and my time is at a premium. I was also justifying it much so because I have 4 months of free wow ($60) from playing the game already with the WoW Token. It made sense to boost in my mind but I had a tingling in the back of it – what if I hated this boost as well? I needed to play more of the Outlaw rogue before making that commitment. I had full rest XP, level 92, and a night off. I went to work.

I was fortunate that my Garrison upgraded to level 2 as there is a 30% XP boost potion to buy, for very cheap resources (100). As I was flush with cash from my Legion antics I also upgraded all of my Heirlooms to go to level 100. I didn’t bother with quest texts and did my treasure hunting during my travels in Draenor (nice touch on the rogue, and 40,000 xp per find (7% at the level I was at)). The result was surprising. Level 97 in two hours. Plus I don’t even have flying in Draenor. With three levels to go and a lot of potions left I am really glad I put in the effort it because I DO love the Outlaw Rogue mechanics (yay Randomization as a core game mechanic) AND I saved myself $60. Patience can be a virtue after all.

Blizzard Fanboy level +1. Just don’t tell my EQ friends.

Token Questions

What do you do for a living? Are you married? Do you have kids? A/S/L? While these are all great questions in general conversation I am still really curious to learn more about the WoW token, and exactly how it works. When it was first launched I made the assumption that for every WoW token sold there was one purchased with cash which would make it a net even cash proposition for Blizzard. However, if this was true then why can’t tokens be used for other things in the WoW store? Mounts, level 100 boosts, et al all require cold hard cash. This leads me to believe that the Token does not have an equivalent cash value to Blizzard and makes me wonder the math behind it all and how much money they are actually making compared to a straight sub fee situation. From what I have heard Draenor basically bestowed hundreds of thousands of gold on basically anyone and everyone who put in a minimum effort. Then there are players like me that probably wouldn’t be playing past the first month without the WoW token – which is ridiculously easy to attain in Legion. (in one month, I basically have my next three free.) If anyone has some insight here I would love to hear it. I would also prefer to use those tokens to inst-level my 90 rogue – the WoD experience isn’t nearly as fun as Legion so far.

Set me free!

Not flying in this expansion is completely dumb. No ifs ands or buts. There isn’t even an in game reason for it. It is most likely the dumbest thing Blizzard has ever done (which is saying a lot). The sad thing about it all is that they actually FINALLY made compelling enough content that perhaps people wouldn’t fly anyway to skip the content. The whistle mechanic completely trivializes non-flying as a barrier. Let people fly. Let them enjoy the game. This sounds like someone up high at Blizzard just has a personal feeling about this because it is not rooted in any sort of sensibility or logical reasoning. I am reminded of how much I love flying every time I get to go back to Azeroth and that becomes more irksome with each return visit as well.

You are the wind beneath my wings

Pleasantly Surprised

Similarly I keep finding myself stopping to take pictures and walking off the beaten path to explore. Not flying doesn’t encourage me to do this, beautiful views and curiosities do. Design well and you don’t need fake walls to bang your head (and subscription fee) against. (This is a backhanded compliment, yes, I realize that. Intended!). I was Herbalizing (not what you think it means) and stumbled across Night Elf bodies. Why were they there? There was no sign of how they died, or why, but there was a small village nearby so I went exploring to do some detective work. I didn’t find out why but I spent some solid time trying to learn. This is why Legion is working for me. I am engaged in the world.

why.. wHy.. WHY!!!??!

It is also the little things – such as water with flowing current. I know that sounds silly, but I fell into a river and started flowing downstream. I was amazed. I also found a treasure chest that I had to fight against the current to line up to get enough time to open it before I was swept away. Little details are very world immersive. I don’t fondly remember these as much in past expansions and admittedly that might be because I was focused on raiding on progression.

River Deep Mountain High

Old Stomping Grounds

I really enjoy the fact that there are quests that push you back into old zones from all previous expansions. I am almost done a herbalism quest that sent me to Azeroth, Northrend, and Draenor. This was great because I got to use my flight form… in Azeroth and Northrend. I was fortunate enough to have the flight path for the Draenor zone because I had just done enough quests in Draenor to get it – that would have been a complete pain in the ass trying to find my way through a zone I had no clue about. That could be a poor design decision if anyone did skip over the full expansion. Players should get all flight paths from old zones when new expansions launch.

Which way is up?

I continue to enjoy my time in Azeroth, once again. Who knew? I am only a flight form away from being a complete fanboy. Still curious on the longevity but I am not even thinking about that at this time.

Oh, one more flight photo. Just because.

Arti-fictions

One disappointing thing about Legion for me is that the advanced Artifact model options are gated behind some really crazy accomplishments. When I first saw the preview for them it was exciting to think that we had personal choices on how we were going to look. Turns out those choices are largely illusionary unless you count “you look exactly the same as everyone else who has advanced as far as you have” as a choice.  I didn’t expect it to be gated behind levels or raids for the simple fact that with Transmog in game alive and well the look of weapons is completely meaningless. It was disappointing to think I could  make a laser bear from the get go only to find out that I need to complete a slew of Mythic dungeon achievements that I may never get the chance to. It’s a minor gripe but part of the attraction for me from the outset was that there would be a higher level of personalization available so not all bears would look the same. Turns out we do. I get in the past, having the totally geared out raider standing in the middle of Ironforge in his epic loots was a driver for subscription numbers. Now the focus is on the character’s personal story so that is moot.

Courtesy: WoWhead

Some of these, someday.

That has always been an issue for me with the Druid to begin with too. As a Paladin, the better I get the better I look – you get some incredible armor, weapons and shields. As a bear you get a big ol butt to stare at during fighting. I suppose that has always been the trade off with the only 4 role class in game.  I do like the druid mechanics and I am having fun but I wish I could express myself a bit more through my shape shifting choices like every other character.

Rogue-ish Ways

This is also true with my Rogue and Artifact – when I saw the rapier graphic from the Dreadblades I was instantly excited to level and play that skin. Turns out it is gated by a secret mechanic that no one can find. And by no one, I mean a fully dedicated rogue swat team can’t even find it.

Not sure on the math, but that claims over 25,000 hours searching… (click to enlarge)

It may not even be attainable but they are still trying. This is actually really cool quirk if it is a well kept secret. If it’s not even turned on or find able yet that 25,000 hours seems like quite the sacrifice. With all that in mind I am going back to my rogue for leveling next. It will be a bit longer of a slog since she is only level 90 but I suspect by the time I get to 100 the artifact issue will be sorted. Hopefully it isn’t gated by something that I can’t complete as a mostly (filthy) casual that doesn’t deserve nice things.

MS-DDOS

I have no clue what is going on, but it seems like there is a permanent DDOS attack on Blizzard. It is even hitting their Hearthstone servers as well. I get the “fame” that big hacking groups such as Anonymous get for taking down corporate giants in the name of taking care of the little guy, but have no clue why this DDOS is consistent and ongoing. Is it because they can? They are angry at Blizzard for something?  It hasn’t affected my game play (yet) but it is still confusing for me. Kids will be kids? Or is it: script-kiddies will be script-kiddies?

Mo’ Money No Problems

Legion is proving very easy to earn money in. I did have a goal of getting a “free” month through the token system by playing the AH. I already have two with most of my month to go still. I know Leo’s Life mentioned he has millions of gold in a recent post – I suppose I should have played Warlords of Draenor afterall. This does really make me wonder – with so many players flush with cash, who is actually paying for the tokens with cash? When I buy my next two months with 34k gold each, which player paid $20 cash for each of those to offset the monetary losses? I am very curious.

Token bridge to nowhere?

Couchon, my “main” has an 825 ilvl and hasn’t stepped foot in a heroic dungeon yet (but am able to queue for mythics). There is definitely never a shortage of anything to do. Thankfully World Quests are gated to one faction per day (so it seems) but my quest journal is still overflowing – AND I still have a full zone to explore and experience. I am definitely getting a huge itch to play an alt and I burned my 100 boost on a Hunter because I was convinced I wanted a ranged DPS class. I boosted and got to playing only to realize that I hate the Marksman rotation. That felt like a waste and I definitely should have went with the Warrior after all (or at least, used the free 100 trial character BEFORE boosting). It is really easy to “justify” spending the money on a new boost – since my sub will seem to be free indefinitely with just a tiny effort of running a mod every couple of days there is a part of me that thinks it is worth spending that money instead of that time. Still, at this point, I will invest the time instead of the cash. It isn’t that hard right now. I also have my Paladin at 101 and thematically I always aligned well with that. Warrior of the light and everything, just like real life. The truth is that there is just so much to do on one character that I am having a hard time imagining doing it on another. Curiosity is getting me though as I really want to experience the other class quests.

Tanks Everywhere?

My change from main healing to 5 man tanking revolved around loving 5 mans and hating waiting in line. I find it really fascinating that in this expansion I have not hit a Tank queue yet! I always enter into the group finder as both tank and heal as my role options, and so far it has always been healing. Sure, I have only completed around 15 or so instances but that is quite the streak. I wonder if it is because of how easy people are finding PVE as a tank and the proliferation of the new Demon Hunters with a tanking option. I don’t mind healing now that gear changes with spec (something I hoped they would do 3 expansions ago). It makes it easy to play other roles without much additional effort. I am really curious to see if it is just a string of bad luck or a new trend. I am really looking forward to tanking – if it ever happens.

(note: I somehow published an unedited version. This should be cleaner. Going to take another pass but had to do a fast update because it was really, extra, terrible. =)

It’s a Main’s Main’s Main’s World

But it would be nothing, nothing without a twink or an alt.

Bhagpuss said goodbye to Legion before he started it and in his post he has links to other people who are stepping away from the game or criticizing various mechanics. This is nothing new for World of Warcraft as if you look hard enough {sarcasm] many posts on this blog have also been critical with decisions Blizzard has made over the years on their flagship title. This is all healthy debate and interesting to see the different thresholds various bloggers have for the new things in the game and the tweaks and twists on old mechanics.

In a most simple of viewpoints: when discussing politics I have made the argument that where you are in your life at the time can have a huge impact on how you lean politically. For example, many young people who are optimistic  lean left (life should be fair) as they get older and go to school and start building a resume to enter the workforce they may start to move to the centre (life should be fair, but I have worked hard, and should get benefit) if they own their own business often they lean right (I pay a lot of taxes and create jobs and I should get a return). This is the Canadian spectrum. Of course the person who lost their job to an immigrant may go hard right, and there are various other personal situations to change that including family history – I don’t want to get hung up on the political argument but instead using it to set the table for the far more important one (ahem) about gaming.

When I was young and single and could play 40+ hours per week and idealistic I wanted the ultimate virtual world. As my time became more scarce and my friends left me all behind in those virtual worlds I wanted more convenience. And as it became scarcer still I wanted to consume content at a pace and cost that gave value. Yes, I went from raider and GM of a guild to very casual. As my personal situation has changed so has what I want from and look to gaming for.

Play nice, Legion

Legion is not going to be ALT friendly – at least, definitely not yet. The reason why I want to play my ALTS (and make more of them) is to experience the Class story behind each. The Class story- especially once you hit 110 – is a long, patient quest line. Getting to 110 over the exact same content time and time again isn’t going to be a fun slog either. This is the mountain that has to be climbed for that experience, so here I am again, wanting to change the way a game is to better fit my needs. I didn’t say it was fair or right – just my thoughts and feelings.

What I would like to see in WoW is phasing to the ultimate personal experience. The main story is tied to your account not a specific character.

My Rogue can’t get the second Pillar of Creation because my Warrior already did. How can it be retrieved in the same world twice? Did someone take it back? This breaks consistency for me in such a big way, much like how every other druid in the game is also the “chosen one”. The technology exists, let’s use it to make the world feel more like a world and less like a slot machine that hits every time. I think it would be fascinating to build the world around your stable of characters instead of just one – and the best part about it is that it doesn’t detract the experience from people who prefer to play a single character. Leveling for the secondary, third and fourth characters would be new for their class quests and artifacts (they can still be the chosen rogue, or chosen mage) and as long as the main has unlocked the world portion of things (World Quests, aptly named, this expansion) they can participate in those. Better yet, those things could be unlocked with different characters in the account. This way the loot reward (a big motivator for many) from the big story line quests are less important – there are other ways to level up for both xp and gear. This is far less important now with the zone and loot scaling. The person who focuses on a single character would be further ahead in loot and XP but the ALT player would be equal in terms of story progression. Everyone can have their own pace.

You can build a world story with your different avatars instead of each being forced to live the same one. I see little downside except the effort required in the setup. Does anyone really enjoy running planned obsolescence quests more than once? Didn’t someone already kill ten rats for that NPC?

Eye Candy

I have never been one for screenshots. I really wish I was great at that back in the days when everything was new and exciting in online gaming but those days are long gone. What I have noticed in my Legion play through that I find myself with several OOOOH and AAAAAH moments and find myself cracking on the screenshot key farm more than normal. I never quite realized how pretty the World of Warcraft really is.

Here are a small sample of some of my recent adventures:

Really? Why does Malfurion get flight form this early in the expansion? HAX!

Dragons, Giant Trees and Bears – Oh MY!

I didn’t even notice this until I turned around to grab a herb. Was an amazing discovery. We spend too much time looking down in our virtual worlds

Glitter butt complementary of random alchemy buff

I would play this if it was a racial option. Also, side buzz cuts on women are so trendy right now

Stuck in hell? HEL-YA! (… groan)

OK – I never promised that I was actually good at TAKING screenshots and I definitely don’t take many – but hopefully this is a small reminder of how beautiful Azeroth really is. Do you have a favourite SS?

The Legion App

App-tastic

The launch of the Legion App is not breaking news although the actual launch time is still a mystery. In the past I would have groaned at the prospect of this style of interaction. You can’t MMO on a portable and being always connected definitely doesn’t feel healthy. Then again not much of MMO gaming is.

Surprisingly to me I am really looking forward to it. Truth is the companion missions feel like they shouldn’t really be in game anyway and it is better suited for a small device. Their “necessity” in this expansion is a surprise to me (remember I skipped all of Warlords of Draenor where this style of game play became synonymous with WoW) and I view it as a nice questing break and a new part of my routine.

How I play is pretty simple and ritualistic:

  • I gather materials I come across while questing during my playtime
  • hearth to Dalaran to see if any new quests pop up
  • sell my junk/old equipment
  • use materials I harvested to get skillups
  • mail my sell-able items to my auction house mule
  • dreamweave to class hall
  • check in on missions / followers / quests (etc.)
  • log into my AH mule
  • collect gold, put up new listings
  • logoff

It is a 10 minute or so ritual. The Class Hall missions I am often logging in during the day to keep them flowing. With most of my missions taking two or four hours currently there is a lot of passive content to consume and rewards to be had. This will take out that entire step and allow me to continue progressing offline while at work, with my friends, dinner with my family, at a wedding… wait, did I mention something about health earlier…

Going for Gold

My goal is to not have to pay my subscription when it comes up and I purchased two months to help me get my feet wet. I think at my current play I will be fine. I use Auctioneer (addon) in WoW to scrape the prices on the Auction House and then batch post what I have in my inventory for profits. It automatically undercuts the current lowest price and is very handy. I mailed all of my old ‘crap’ to my AH mule (my Shaman, used to be my main) and she posts and collects. The old things really aren’t selling that well but every once and a while they will. Not a huge surprise since new expansions brings new focus. I am, however, making a killing off of the herbs I have collected while leveling  – 5000 gold last night alone. I am not expecting this to keep up as right now people are racing to level and with alts and secondary specs may not be focused on farming.

Say Fjarnskaggl 5 times fast….

Here I am using the Armory App but only to see if things are selling. Posting is way easier in the addon.

I have made almost $15,000 in gold so far doing this and mostly from the new things that I am finding while leveling – I may not get a free month every month but if I can push it out that I am only subbing every 60 days that isn’t so bad. Truth is I am less worried about it than in the past because I am actually putting in the hours and the time to make it feel like I am getting value from subscribing. The AH money raising is just another fun way to play a game within the game.

I can’t wait for the app to come out to maximize the effectiveness of my Order Hall. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Hook, Line and Legion

WoW, that escalated quickly (see what I did there?)

Legion has sucked me back in. I am loving it. For all my past and present complaints about WoW it does one thing great – provides entertainment. Sure, it’s not really a world, and yes, it’s so dumb that every single person you see is the savior of the planet, and yeah, of course they could do things to try and fix that but they won’t. They don’t need to. It’s still fun. You just need to stick your fingers in your ear and shout ‘lalalalalla’ anytime someone wants to start a discussion about substance or world building. It’s a goddamn slot machine.

The good of this expansion is that you are rewarded for exploring. I went into a cave (for no reason, because it was there! There wasn’t a breadcrumb or a question mark or anything…

Neat place to leave loot

….and in it was a treasure chest, that gave me some Artifact power. On a second instance, in a separate cave, there was a teleporting circle. When I clicked it it moved me to the top of a mountain. There I found a dead horse and some other mean, not so dead horses (which I fixed) and sure enough, another reward for exploration through artifact power.

Teleporting cave in question

Sure, it was a long way down but I didn’t mind. I jump, died, and resurrected. Since I can’t fly that is turning out to be a faster way to travel around the Broken Isles. The only downside here is that there it seems every cave actually has something, so it isn’t much of a surprise. Go into caves, get what was put there for you, and get out.  The ‘rare’ mobs (indicated by a star on your minimap) aren’t rare, and they spawn 30 seconds after they die so don’t sweat it.

Don’t look down…

I am 3/5 story lines in Aszuna, almost 103, I have 2500 Order resources, I am still wearing almost the full 700+ gear from the Invasion events, and my Artifact weapon has a few upgrades. I didn’t even pre-research which way to build out my weapon. One, because I am not raiding or being competitive (so who cares) and Two, because YOLO. I am glad you can tag mobs in WoW and everyone gets their own loot finally. That makes sense and long overdue.

going both ways

The other thing WoW has sucked me into is the logging in more often. There are 2 and 4 hour follower missions – which I feel compelled to log in and check on even at work. I suspect this happened even moreso with the Garrisons in WOD, but I missed all of that. Logging in multiple times per day is new to me here. Is it 2pm EST yet? I have to check on something.

I already received my second Artifact and picked up my third quest for the third one. I am not sure if I can also get the fourth right away – there is mention that it “could be some time before I can get the next one” but they also said that about the second and the third. I am not pushing forward on my feral artifacts because the Restoration one was actually challenging – I haven’t healed in years, and I had to keep up the worst 5 man NPC group for the challenge. They purposely stood in fire, stayed in cleave / cone range, and also did crappy DPS.

It felt like home.

I don’t know the Feral rotation and I am assuming there will be some kind of DPS challenge so I am going to wait on that until I can do some research to sort that part of it out.

I can’t wait to work on my other characters, and I still have a 100 Character Boost waiting for me. I don’t even have time to pace myself. I am glad I bought this expansion.

Make Me the Hero. Or Don’t.

Being a Hero

I am a happy, artifact weapon wielding druid. They look amazing. I feel amazing. The quest was decent to get them. I am on my way in Legion.

High 5 anyone?

… and all of that is ruined by the crowd of other druids in my class hall that look exactly the same. I know Blizzard is stuck in the early 2000’s of “gear envy” – whereas those awesome raiders would stand around in the centre of towns and regular players would gawk at them and only dream of obtaining the same gear, which made them then try harder and stay invested in the game. That is long gone. With Transmog, people are more likely to pick an old favourite set to look like than the new raid gear. With gear being even easier to obtain than ever, there is no gear envy. It’s a silly concept.

Almost as silly as telling me I am the sole person who can wield the Claws of Ursoc. And then have 20 other druids beside me also wielding them.

I actually like the savoir story. it works in WoW, it really does! What would work better is putting that phasing technology to good use. Let the class hall be my personal domain. Or at bare minimum, if other druids are going to be out there, make it so no one I see has the Claws of Ursoc. Much like a toggle to see a helm or cloak, there should be a toggle to show other artifact weapons. As WoW has shown over the years, ignorance is bliss. Let me be the hero. Make me believe it. At least put in some effort to the illusion. Grant the same to every other player, and in visual appearance at least you can feel like a true hero. Not the one being lied to.

Questy McQuesterton

Last night was fun for another reason as well – Couchon hit 1500 quests during the Artifact quest. I had no clue he was even close to that milestone (or even what that represents..) Is 1500 quests a lot on a character that skipped all of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor?

Here is to 1500 more! Wait… let me chew on that.

Maybe. Maybe not. This is a benefit to the Achievement side of things in MMOs when you do something you were not aware of. I have never spent much time Achievement hunting but my new acceptance of Casual is as Casual does may make me pay more attention.

Artifact Checking

My initial plan with Legion was focus on my main, grow and build out his story. Of course, right after getting my Artifact quest I became instantly curious as to what my only other level 100 (My Paladin) would have to experience to get her artifact. And then I started thinking about my next closest two, my level 90’s (Rogue and Hunter) if they were to level to get theirs as well. I could also get to 100 pretty quickly if I rolled a Demon Hunter, and I haven’t even touched my level 100 boost yet! And… here I go again. My alt-itis is already driving me to do things I hadn’t planned on doing. That is OK though – I am in no rush. This is a bad time for me for the sole fact that I want to sustain my sub through the token system and every new expansion resets the AH expectations, which I will need to play heavily. I already started by Rogue in Warlords.

So much content, so much time, so little focus. With no raiding expectations and nowhere to be at any specific time this could be the best expansion yet.

Also, no guild. That is sadface. Having a hard time connecting with old friends since I wasn’t a big fan of the Battle.Net tag thing when I was still playing. Any Blognation communities formed around the expansion?

 

Legion Invasion Wrapup

For me, anyway. This weekend I am with friends and sailing, and Monday / Tuesday at a course, so I finished up my Legion Invasion to-do list: which was getting one more character to cap and geared out. My Paladin.

Fully loaded and ready to open

I didn’t get quite as many chests because I was far more active in the invasions, meaning more XP and less chests. Still, I received a full suit and then some, with a few 710 and 720 ilvl pieces to boot. I was sure to use all three specs to get all three weapons (Tank, Heal, DPS). One huge miss I noticed for my Druid Restoration set that continued even more frustratingly so on the Paladin was the lack of offhands. Like many other players I fired up fast in levels, replacing every single piece of gear – except one ring, one trinket and my offhand. I have an ilvl close to 700 and a shield of 435.

Still, as they say, don’t look a gifthorse in the mouth. Beggars can’t be choosers. All of that stuff.  I still think it was a conscious decision though which makes me wonder why it was important to leave those holes.

With invasions done for me I went and did something I really enjoy – visiting old content. Karazahn is my favourite 10 man instance (of all time, I believe) so I went through it to see how challenging it was(n’t) for a freshly minted level 100 tank. It was a breeze, one shot bosses – but still a joy to visit. I ended up deleting a lot of my old raid gear before Transmog came in and Karazahn is keeper to my favourite set – the T2 Druid Malorne Set. I started gathering it so I can enjoy my nostalgia full blown not only in activity, but in looks too.

This is supposed to be showing you my new old Crown of Malorne. I must not have hit the right screenshot key, so enjoy Magtheridon instead.

One thing I have learned from the invasions and Legion that for a community that doesn’t talk much, it sure has a rhythm. It didn’t take long to have 50 complete strangers all working together and going in the same direction (which usually was the most efficient direction) to take down bosses and maximize XP gains. This is from years of training in WoW I believe. The flow is actually incredible and it doesn’t take long for new people to find the natural pace. The upside is efficiency – the downside is there isn’t any room (or success) for people to go off and do things on their own. I suspect Blizzard would consider that mission accomplished.

Opening Presents in WoW

Couchon, my “main”, finally made it to level 100 after prancing around in both participatory and non participatory ways of Legion invasions.

Couchon before boxes

At the end of it all, there were many gifts to open!During my time in invasions I had the following:

Large Legion Chests x 41

Small Legion Chests x 34

I have no clue why the difference. If I missed out on certain stages, miscounted, or whatnot – but when I added it up at the end those were the two tallies. Clicking on the links above gives the full loot tables, and you can get multiple pieces per open. How did my Druid do in terms of gear?

Item ilvl 700 ilvl 710 % slot
Head 6 1 8.64%
Gloves 6 7.41%
Pants 8 1 11.11%
Boots 13 1 17.28%
Belt 10 2 14.81%
Wrists 2 1 3.70%
Shoulder 8 2 12.35%
Vest 10 1 13.58%
Weapon 9 11.11%
Total 72 9 100.00%
% 88.89% 11.11%

Pretty spread out across the board. I also received 2 Upgrade Fel (it takes 6 to  upgrade your weapon from 700 to 725), a couple thousand in gold from selling the extras, and just under 1500 Nethershards (which you use to buy rings, trinkets, cloak, neck, etc.) I had enough to buy all of them plus the additional upgrade Fel to get both my Tanking and Healing weapons maxed out. Don’t forget to swap your specs to make sure that you can get the other, appropriate weapon. Which, I am guessing, doesn’t really matter with artifact weapons on the way. There is a bug with the Leather chest for Druids that doesn’t show the AGI / INT swap during specs, so I kept changing to see if one would drop. Turns out Google reigns supreme once more with the easy answer with little effort.

Couchon with full gear (and boxes left to open)

The event was/is fun, and undoubtedly the fastest way to level with the bonus of the mini-game of opening chests for loots afterwards. I am trying to decide how much effort I am going to put into this event for my alts – I still need to save the Draenor leveling experience for one, and I will get a free level 100 when/if I buy Legion. Much to do, all the same.

How was your luck with the chests from the events?

Working On/During Invasions

I’m glad I have a flexible IT department. Or lack of internet traffic monitoring. Either / or, I can finally level while doing spreadsheets, with two to five minutes of effort every 30 minutes. Participatory XP is incredible right now during WoW invasion events – you get awesome XP. Thing is, you have to pay attention and put in effort. Work Invasions, as I now fondly call it, I can do my work and check on myself every 10 minutes or so with an ALT-TAB and still get levels – just by being present. This isn’t really a problem in my eyes because I am taking nothing away from other participants – I am doing as much as I would be if I wasn’t there at all, so I am not detracting from their experience. Still, I bet there is a crowd out there mad at my welfare XP. If you can’t tell I am completely fine with it. I paid my taxes (tanked through half a dozen yesterday) so now time to collect my freebies. I just wish they had a better, offline version of it – maybe optimized from my android device – so I don’t have to bother the alt-tab. EVE levels similarly to that, right?

My new leveling experience

Just yesterday I commented that I wanted to see the story of Warlords of Draenor – and I do! Problem is I started at level 94 which meant I kept missing quests (too low level, had to search them out) and that as well as the ridiculously easy challenges meant marginal XP from the quests. I do love a good story but I love me some XP along with that. I have plenty of characters in the 85-90 range so in the short term I am going to use the invasion XP as I can, and save the WoD experience for a better level appropriate character. Best done when the opportunity of free, easy XP is long gone. Right now I am getting close to 1/6 of my required experience to level per Work Invasion (at level 96) AND I am being highly productive at work too. That is a win/win. Tonight I’ll get back on and participate and be a good WoW-citizen. Until then, thank you Blizzard, for streamlining the leveling experience even further.

Back In WoW

I’m back in.

I have often lamented that I will never truly be done with WoW until my main character Couchon (where some of my best gaming experiences have happened) had a proper end to his story. As a druid, fittingly, that would be in the emerald dream. The armchair developers keep sharing rumors and ideations of that eventual expansion. With limited playtime I decided to focus on Couch (nickname – not a typo) as my starting point. If he sticks, that would be great, because I would have both heals and tanking covered and be ready for fast queues in the five mans. Back to Azeroth I go.

As a druid at 87 I don’t have Bhagpuss’ continental travel issues for invasion hopping. Baseline spell: Teleport Moonglade for the class and my hearthstone in Stormwind gets me back and forth. My flight form is more direct and faster than the griffons. My level 90 characters have it even easier if they made it to the Shrine in Pandaria (not all of them did) where you can hearth to an inn near capital city portals. Still, I am focusing on Couchon. Focus. (I have a hard time with avoiding alts….)

A big complaint of mine with WoW has always been that once you start using mods (especially if you are a raider, there are a dozen mandatory ones) you can’t stop. There are a handful that should be default UI by now. Maybe more. I have been afk’ing invasions as I sort out my mods. Sure, its not the most efficient XP but it’s free and better than the non-xp alternative. I received two levels while setting up Weakauras alone. Grid and Status and Indicators will be another level or two. I needed another 3 or 4 hours before I felt even comfortable playing my character.  This was all with one spec (tanking) which isn’t that optimized for the leveling experience, or the non-grouped invasions. I still have to mod out and practice healing. The invasions were good for practicing rotations and mod settings and I still have a few to setup including Tidyplates. All of my favorite mods are still there but I do not know if they are the “right” ones anymore.

Once I became active in invasions they were an incredible source of participatory XP but became really repetitive, and dull. After stashing 50 or 60 loot boxes I decided that with a new expansion coming I should go quest through Warlords to see what I missed. Single player story lines are the new MMO anyway. I already out-level the content but the hard stop is 100 and full of free loot, I might as well enjoy the journey.

Like a comfortable pair of socks the flow and comfort of WoW is undeniable. I have a Garrison that will soon be gone, but I’m curious to see what that experience would have been like if I played when it was new. So I am loaded up with goodies and ready to go. My goal, if possible, is to pay for my sub through the token system but that means putting in time and effort on the Auction House. I should go set up that mod next. Have I mentioned yet I haven’t purchased Legion? This little trip back to Azeroth will guide that decision.

Real Hot Mess

I’m struggling finding fun in gaming right now.

It is definitely not for a lack of trying, I have been buying games like crazy and giving them a good chance to hook me. I even made blog posts about it, to try and drum up some momentum to get into a game or two and strengthen that tie and enjoyment with some good old fashioned blog posts. It’s just not happening. I have been abandoning games at an alarming rate this year and am just not finding that groove. I am completely jealous and envious with Bhagpuss who continues to find enjoyment in the same spaces and am struggling with a hobby I am not getting enjoyment from and missing terribly at the same time. As you can probably tell, the quality and frequency of my blog posts has also deteriorated. The struggle is real.

Looking back at my 2016 to date and my positive gaming time:

  • Destiny (Heavy time): I was on a nice schedule of an hour a day. I have all 3 classes at top level (not top gear, since I do not raid) and since the content has dried up I stopped playing. There are expansions on the  horizon (and sequels!) and that is something to look forward to.
  • EQ Progression Servers(Heavy Time): I shot myself in the foot here as I did three characters to level 30 (and had so much fun doing it) but took a step back when I heard they were launching a no-box server. When that server finally launched, I had a hard time chewing through the first 10 levels for a fourth time. Daybreak also nerfed quest XP and XP gains in general, so it was extra painful (even with XP bought potions.) I couldn’t get a good start again and the servers I had abandoned were leveling ghost towns (all end game).
  • Pillars of Eternity (Completed): A good RPG but I admit that near the end I was rushing to finish, not explore.
  • X-COM 2 (Completed): Fun game, but hard to pick up DLC when you already saved the planet!
  • March of the Living Dead (completed with one character): Really enjoyed this title but like many indie experiences, there wasn’t much reason to replay through as the encounters became familiar and repeated.
  • Portal Knights (ongoing, its gaming time with my 11  year old. Infrequent but checks a lot of good boxes)
  • ….is that it? Really?

That is a lot of single player experiences outside of EQ. Sure, Destiny is online but not a chat/social platform at this stage (unless you include pointing and dancing.) Looking back at 2016 to date with my stops / starts:

  • The Division (40% done): I grabbed this for the PS4 (and also received a free copy with my new laptop) and finished half of the main storyline (which was intriguing enough
  • Fallout 4 (60% done): I’m not sure when or why I stopped playing F4. I remember actively enjoying it and then… done. Not sure when or why that changed.
  • Landmark (toe dip)
  • Rimworld (three solid days, and lost interest)

I have even started reloading MMOs on my gaming drive “just in case”. Last time I checked I had EQ2 (highest level 18) ready to go, EQ (highest level 55), TSW, (in Egypt), SWTOR (level 22) And just this weekend, WildStar.

WildStar is my new “give it a go”. I did something in WildStar I never do (play the “bad” side) and this weekend was a blast as I worked on weakening a local tribe that was capable of building very powerful weapons, which made the Dominion nervous. They do not want any new, strong enemies. The action combat does wear on me (I read an article where it was changed from tab targeting half way through development – bad move!) but the stories are fun. I do want to get a max level for the story aspect – both sides. This is another MMO that for me would be better as a single player game – although, I do like some of the early dungeons when the queues used to pop. I just wish WildStar took itself a bit more seriously, there would be a great story there if there was less joking around and less 4th wall breaking. I think it could prove a worthy distraction. With quarterly revenues up, but low (2M USD equivalent) I’m afraid the game may go away before I get a chance to learn more about the planet.

I am struggling with WoW as a tempting revisit. I didn’t play a single level in Warlords (I did buy it at 75% off) but my pocket cleric from EQ Testserver (Candarie) messaged me – “Come tank for me B (Braack). Just like old times.” Candarie is still a full time gamer and I am now on the other end of the spectrum. A few hours a week is lucky for me, which makes commitment to anything in gaming worlds hard to do. For the first time in my life I feel like a big hot mess in gaming. I miss it, I wish I could make more time for it in my life, but something else would have to give. I am not quite ready to sacrifice my wife, family, work, or health.

Yet.

Telling Stories – Rimworld

I have always wanted to play Dwarf Fortress. I have downloaded it several times. It’s hard, and I haven’t found the patience to truly learn it or get into it. Dwarf Fortress is very much a game like EVE to me – great to read about, not fun to play.  While it is a similar result to each other, they are two titles that couldn’t be further from each other in style or substance. Enter Rimworld, and early access title on Steam that has spiritual similarities to Dwarf Fortress but a “Friendlier” interface and graphics package. I started reading some of the stories that were generated through play throughs of the title, and decided to plunk down the $30 to give it a try on my own. I instantly had buyers remorse. After a few slow starts and some confusion I realized that this title is going to take patience and perhaps reading about the stories would have been a more fun use of my time instead of slogging through the game itself. Still, that was such a quick and unfair assumption and the title deserved a bit more of my attention. So I tried again. And again. And finally, I had a breakthrough and started sorting things out, and it starting being fun. This is the starting story of my Rimworld adventure.

There are currently three build in scenarios, and I chose the one that was most like me. Ok, that isn’t true, but chose the one that felt like the easiest start. With only one person to manage, that should be much easier! Also, having gun turret research in hand sounds like something handy to have on an alien planet. Just saying.

The AI Storyteller manages story events and encounters. I took the Classic approach, did a mid range “difficulty”, and also agreed to permadeath mode. I mean, YOLO and all of that. Upon further reading, Random Randy seems to be the preferred storyteller (keeps it more interesting – Cassandra has a series of well paced, escalating encounters, from my understanding). I probably won’t make it through a year so Randy will get the nod next time.

I hit randomize around 30 times to find a young, male player. There were options for 70 year old people, but I figured I need to be prepared to live basically forever on my first play-through so I really should find someone young. Besides, who doesn’t want “Starship Janitor” as their Adulthood backstory?

The map options are absolutely gigantic. You literally pick a pixel of that play area as your home base. You do NOT get the option of moving around outside of that though, which I feel like is very limiting to the game. Still, I wanted to choose an island, among the mass, so I did.

You can see by my little pixel and all the things about it – Avg temps (and by season), types of stones, growing seasons, and then some. I should have did “random” to be in better spirit of the game.

Again, just like real life. This feels more like telling the future, than a game.

I decide to build into an existing sandstone structure instead of building a base outside. It just feels safer.  One way in, one way out! This always worked for dwarves (historically, right?) so why not rich space travellers? I have a healthy starting inventory so I ignore things such as finding food sources and building defences while labouring away inside my soon to be mountain home. Then, tragedy strikes, an encounter! Which I didn’t even realize was happening because I wasn’t paying full attention.

It’s hard to see, and I forgot to take a screenshot in my frantic defense from a MAN HUNTING TURTLE (yes, you read that correctly.) I was attacked by a man hunting turtle. The man-hunting adjective in the tutorial explains that if you go hide, the beast will wait around and search for you. I have never heard of a turtle being vicious, let alone man-hunting. Seem to be this turtle was kick-ass – it cracked my jaw, bit my torso AND bit my left leg causing trivial blood loss.

And with that, I end my introduction of my adventure and Rimworld. Stopping after successfully defending an attack from a Man Hunting turtle is about the most excitement that has happened thus far and seems like a high point to end this post and start this series.

Portal Knights Inspiration

I know, I should stop. Landmark is what Landmark is, and no amount of wishing for private servers with complete autonomy (paid for, of course) and entire worlds that can be changed, explored, and molded will change that. Oh the adventures to be had. The game is what the game is and I should just accept that.

Except I can’t, because I think it would be perfect in a private server model. And I am going to keep dreaming (and writing) about it. The latest inspiration is from Portal Knights, a game my son and I are playing together. It is in early access, and on steam, and checks off every box that I want Landmark to be (except one).

  • Persistent, private world? Check!
  • Sandbox-y, build, conquer, create? Check!
  • Explore, discover, surprise? Check!
  • Character Development? Check!
  • Modern, believable graphics? NO. *sadface*

Portal Knights has three character classes (Ranger, Warrior, Mage) that all play just a bit differently. In the simplest of terms you could say it is a more focused Minecraft. It has all of the building elements of Minecraft but more RPG built in. You start on your own private, floating island and through discovery find and unlock a portal. This leads to a separate floating island with different resources (mobs, plants, trees, ore, etc.) which also has portals. Some islands have dungeons, boss mobs, and the like. Each world, currently, has 49 different floating islands. I can setup homes and crafting stations in each (which is overkill) but there is that option to personalize each of the islands. The time swaps between fighting and resource collecting (and a day/night cycle) keeps the game play fresh.

I have my private world and can do what I will with it. I can also invite up to 3 friends to explore my world with me, through Steam friends, and/or LAN. It’s a great setup. We have been having more fun with PK than Minecraft and my son is level 15 while I am level 13. One of the better parts is that we can have our own, private worlds plus a shared one for when we can play together. You can advance in, around, and outside of each. Whatever you have on you when you visit a world you have. It’s that great mix that a world moves on without you, but yours can’t. You can have your cake and eat it to.

It’s fun, addicting, and the first boss battle I did was simple enough – but it is always exciting to drop a boss in any game. I look forward to continuing to explore the worlds and enjoy the game for what it is – did I mention it was in early access?

While enjoying it for what it is, I can’t help but think Landmark could have a similar setup, where you could explore other people’s worlds when invited and they even have a better setup to personalize your world with dungeons and mob placement. That is the version of the game I really want to play.  I am also being consistent here, as I have argued for World of Warcraft to have private, paid for servers as long ago as 2008. I think that is the kind of model that is going to have a future. Portal Knights is where we spend our gaming time now and it has been a polite, engaging distraction. Hopefully other worlds follow.

The Sounds of Silence

With Pokemon GO! ruling the airwaves, I haven’t seen much commentating on the news that Blizzard will be putting in a silence penalty to improve the community. Straight from Battle.net:

The first time a player is silenced, their chat will be restricted for 24 hours. This duration will double for each silence penalty received after the first, and there is no maximum. This means that players who receive multiple silence penalties may find themselves unable to chat for a very, very long time.

This leads to some questions:

  1. Does anyone really need to talk in WoW today anymore, anyway?
  2. How long until someone shows a screenshot that they were banned forever (10 bans would equal 2.8 years of cumulative ban time)
  3. Will this have a measurable impact on the tone and style of WoW?
  4. Can we apply this to the Internets as a whole?

Snide comment #1 and joking comment #4 aside, my initial thought is that this is a step in the right direction. There is little incentive for people to be nice in chat since random group queues means you never play with the same person twice. The guy that freaks out on their team and/or is inappropriate is suddenly at a disadvantage. I don’t think you can teach manners with rules, and a better solution would be to not only not let them talk, but also not let them play. Right now you can still be a complete ass to randoms and chat all chummy with your pre-set raid team. I’d like to see it go further. I bet that would really shake things up. Still, it will be a fascinating experiment to behold and hopefully they stick with it through live or add an even tougher version.

My other thought to this is if it really even matters. I think WoW players have grown thick skin and I believe it’s unlikely that this will bring players back. “Oh, people will be nice to me now? Subscribe!”. I am genuinely curious if this feedback came from players who quit – and where this idea was generated from to begin with. It’s a community building tool by subtraction.

Regardless, effort is effort. I give them credit for the attempt and curious for the results.

Missing the (Land) Mark

Like my dear Landmarkian friend ( Landmarker? Other guy who plays?) Bhagpuss, I went back to Landmark now that it is a “real” game, completed and everything.  For a quick recap on how I felt about Landmark: it was an awesome time killer. I was an early tester of Minecraft and Landmark could be the next big thing! Although I hate action combat, there was enough in Landmark to get me excited about Everquest Next. It was a fun tool slash simulator to run around and play in. I even built an awesome serviceable home. (That link is important later).

Sure, there was no game there, so to speak, but there was a grind and building and exploration and a grind. It was a visual update to Minecraft without being able to change much of the world permanently – just your own little plot. Beautiful graphics, great movement animations, great scenery. The future was bright.

I stopped playing. Really, I got back involved in EQ (Progression servers) and my serial game play nature doesn’t let me delve into more than one title effectively. Besides, there was a lot of work to be done from it’s Alpha state and since I was a founding member, I could come back anytime and check out the changes. I just didn’t bother. Part of that was the fear of the time I would lose “playing” a “game” that had a long way to go before being done and the other was that I was engrossed in other games. It remained there as something I couldn’t wait to see shape and grow and then get back into when the time was right.

The time never was right. EQ:N was cancelled and there was even more doubt about what Landmark would be. I kept playing other games. Bhagpuss started posting about it again and I became interested and updated the game, and loaded it back up for fun.  I made it to the selection screen, made a character, and had to log off for some reason or another. It sat another week. I forgot about it. I found it again. Loaded it up, to find I made a character in a space suit, whose first tutorial job was to build a castle. Good, fitting, scenario.

While it should have been a futuristic colony I did appreciate how easy it was to click “castle parts” and build a castle. No more messing around with various shaping tools. I also got a dream plot of land – waterfront! Without any effort. No clue how it got there and what went into that random choice.

The server population was low, and a quick glance around was a sea of other barely started tutorial land plots. Not what you would call a vibrant, inviting neighborhood.

The landscape was dotted with half built castles as far as the eye could see. What WAS interesting, mind you, was the first row of the building tool in the screenshots – the game had saved my Claims from alpha, including my home sweet home ‘Isey’s Mountain top retreat’ (which I don’t recall naming as such, but was accurate as I remember it.). Sadly, I couldn’t build that due to a lack of resources and props. I suppose there will be some work to do in Landmark after all. What I could build though was my dragon mouth (the link far above, that I said was important, is for this reason). I did have the resources for that so stuck it on the side of my vanilla pre-fab castle just to see if it would work.

Fully satisfied in my initial building experience I continued down the road of the tutorial, stopping right after I bought the Dungeon pack where it seems I can build my own mini dungeon with NPCs and the toolset. While I didn’t get far two things became crystal clear to me. The first being that I couldn’t set up shop there. Too empty, too many people started there an didn’t finish, there was literally not a single building completed as far as I could see. Just a couple tutorial pieces. I am tempted to keep the waterfront but more curious to go explore and see where (if) the community is.

The second moment of clarity was that if I didn’t log off immediately I would be sucked in and lose a few hours of my afternoon, which I could ill afford to sacrifice today.

/quit

It’s a dangerous title and one I am not sure what I will do with. What i am certain of is that if it was indeed the next minecraft, I would pay a lot of money. If I could host my own server where my guests could shape and build the world, and not just a small plot of land, that would be worth a lot of my investment. As the way it stands now, not so much. I will play it for sure at some point. I often struggle when I want to give money to a company if they would only do one thing I want that they don’t do. It feels selfish of me. Still, I will hold out hope that they sort out a hosting business model so they get their money, and I get my updated Minecraft-esque world to build, shape, and populate with imagination.

New Rig

Pulled off an amazing “need case” at work for this sweet, sweet mobile gaming (and computing) powerhouse:

Delicious and Nutritious?

So far it has been wonderful, except for the fact that  the case is warped. In certain situations it moves corner to corner when typing and that is incredibly annoying. Gaming wise it has performed as expected, but those dual fans really kick up a lot of noise to keep it cool while under load.

I also dislike the keyboard lighting. For me so far it seems to make the keys look “fuzzy”, if that makes sense as a descriptor. I am curious if when they send the replacement (which they are) if the warped casing has anything to do with that, and also distracting when not a single, pale colour. Maybe my eyes are going in my old age. Who wants rainbow lighting moving around your keyboard anyway? And why won’t those kids get off my lawn *shakes fist*.

It seems to run EQ just fine, at least. (yes: obvious sarcasm)

Sure, I understand you can get 2x the desktop rig for the same price but I don’t need to be on the bleeding edge and I like being able to game in different parts of my house, and also on the road (which I travel for work). So it is a win win. Plus, the IT department knows I put a lot of visual and computation strain on my computers with the various data-sets I run and this will mean less time alt tabbing and waiting for a result and more time sending results. So far so good. I can think of a couple other excuses – subtle ‘nods’ from gamers when they see the snake logo light up in a business meeting and all the nerd-cred that goes along with that, things of that nature. I think I might be cool again. Is the word ‘cool’ making a comeback?

I used to lug around old Asus laptop gaming machines with 17 inch monitors and 8-10 lbs of glory so this has been a really nice, thin change.

Privileged White Men

Click bait worked?

I was reading Izlain over at his blog about Gender Swapping Heroes and started writing a long comment. It got to the point where I figured I should make a post instead.  When I cross the 200 word threshold in a comment I tend to do that. The basis of his discussion there was whether or not people should care if Link, from the Legend of Zelda can and should be a woman instead of a (presumed) male figure. While I don’t care what sex Link is in the game it did make me think about the space gaming fills in the world and the different ways I have been looking at that.

My struggle with this is around what kind of medium games are. If they are “art”, then it should be anything the “artists” want. Remember, people have made art out of feces (go ahead and click it, you know you want to. No one here is judging!) and put it on display. They can be far out, wacked out, main stream, boring.. all the things games are today.

If games are a business, then it should be anything the business wants. They will realize that different choices will affect the bottom line and program their business accordingly for maximum return. They can have male only protagonists, female only protagonists, alien only protagonists, whatever they want. Whatever they feel is the right business decision.

Sometimes – rightly or wrongly –  it feels like games are being asked to be community services. There is an expectation that they must be inclusive of everything so participants can participate unharmed in safe, inclusive spaces. At the end of the day, most of these games are about killing stuff. Inclusivity for murderous purposes is important, I agree! *smileyface emoticon*

Much like the Bartle taxonomy of gamer types gaming to different people (and different companies) are a mixture of different things. Many would probably assume in the Art Business Community (ABC) scale, Blizzard would be heavy on Business, extremely light on Art, and moderate on Community (Overwatch Assgate as an example). Indies might be heavier on Art and Community over Business. You get the idea. Just another worthless need to quantify things. You would hope that being creative and community minded would lead to good business (which may be true sometimes) but in general, non quantifiable mind you – the highest grossing games are rarely the most artistic or focused on improving historically marginalized communities.

Example – The Division. I rescued the Doctor (not THE doctor, but a doctor who can save New York) who is a largely forgettable main character. I don’t even know her name. This has nothing to do with her being a woman, or a doctor, but just a non-interesting NPC who you interact with on big missions that result in Medical Wing points to upgrade facilities. While largely uninteresting, at one cut scene she mentioned she lost her now deceased wife with the pandemic. Her being a lesbian did nothing for the story, and didn’t really make her much more interesting (although I do remember that she is a lesbian and not her name…) and while it may have been an attempt to tear jerk a bit (loss of a loved one) it wasn’t effective because I wasn’t that invested in her as a person. Now, to be fair, if she had lost her husband to the pandemic it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of how I felt at all either. When that happened it was chalk one up for the lesbians who have representation in a major side NPC in a blockbuster game. Did someone at Ubisoft check a box off to ensure they were inclusive in the title? Is this a mandated aspect to token-ize inclusivness or it was it a genuine effort by the company or a writer to make a LGBT person say “I can identify with her”?

I ask that in earnest, because I am a privileged white male, of course. An open minded and curious one at that.

I believe that games should be run as businesses, and the smart developers will be inclusive in order to make customers happy and get more customers. To add narrative elements to enhance the story or improve the experience – not as a public service of some sort. I think that is the method that feels the most empowering.  I am certainly more interested to learn the perspective of those hoping for more inclusiveness on what they think is most effective. What is the best way? Without the outcry or the threats of loss of dollars, would we really just continue to get all white, male games?  Do those games actually make more money, and do gamers actually NOT buy games because of lack of inclusiveness?

At the end of the day, none of those things impact my game play. I can be the lone white male in a sea of LGBT ethnic minorities and it won’t impact my enjoyment of any game. I would  play the Black LGBT only protagonist in a WW3 FPS  in story mode, as long as the game play and story is good. Sadly, I may be in the minority with that.

Things I Don’t Like About the Division

Should I tell you how I really feel?

Even though that is a far less eloquent title than normal there is a lot I think I should like about The Division –  but a few key items are holding back that full endorsement. I do find it odd that people compare it to Destiny as it is a very different style and format, although I do agree that they compete for the same “time slot”. It’s like having The Simpsons and Family Guy on at the same time. Right now, for me, even with lack of content and progression, Destiny is the Simpsons. It boils down to three simple things, and I will use Destiny as a comparative in them as well.

  1. Snow: It is the only environment I have seen. I get the feeling that that’s all there is, because of the beautiful way the background has been rendered. In Destiny every planet you went to had a theme so you were able to get a lot of different looks and feels. Right now you have snowy streets, foggy, snowy streets, and snowy, snowy streets. There are indoor zones that have some differentiation but for the most part you are walking down streets. A lot. Snowy ones.
  2. Gear: I am not even level 20 yet so maybe this does get better but I have gone through over a dozen pair of gloves that may or may not be different. I may have missed it, but can’t zoom in on the gloves to see the detail in the work to understand how they may differentiate. Sure, the shader or color may change from dark blue #544 to dark blue #677 but the gear change just hasn’t been that noticeable. Scarves, hats, etc. are but that is a far cry from feeling like you are moving along the gear train. So far there has been little differentiation and I am starting to wonder if there is even a point. There is SO much variation in Destiny between classes and options (including shaders) that the lack thereof in The Division is very noticeable.
  3. Dark Zone: No, I haven’t played it. And before you get all “how can you review something you haven’t played” I am going to be all like “I hate it thematically so not going to play it”. I get it, they need to find a reason for PVP. I just don’t like it among the very cool and engaging story line so far. It feels like such a senseless bolt on that they could have done better.  I will dip in eventually, but the idea behind it has already left a bad taste in my mouth
  4. Real World limitations: Because it is based on today / everyday life you can’t go too far outside of that realism. Mechanics are shoot, grenade, advanced things (such as turrets) fit okay, but it is limiting on the types of things you can fight. People.  This limits mechanics and other interesting options. It has given some variety so far but it feels (fairly) far more constrained.

I want to like The Division more, and I am far from being done with it – my attention is just being drawn elsewhere currently and I feel like those deficiencies (in my mind) are holding me back from making it a focus. I haven’t done any grouping yet so perhaps that will help. I will play through the story campaign and see if any of the above changes. The good news is, with such low expectations, it will be easy to surprise me.