Monday, September 28, 2009

A few Aion likes and dislikes

Disclaimer: The dislikes are minor - nothing that stops me or should stop anyone from enjoying Aion.

Dislikes first:
The personal stores. Rudy giuliani cleaned up the streets, moving vendors to their own little sections in New York a few years ago. As someone who doesn't actually live in NY I feel like they removed part of the "NY feel". On the other hand they removed eyesores.

That's how I feel about personal stores. Players setting up shop anywhere they please makes the city look bad! And their banner ads are as bad as...well banner ads. And the banners aren't set apart in anyway, so it all blends in with other text of things you actually want to see.

And many of the ones I've looked at aren't actually selling anything anyway. For example, putting up 1 cheap potion for 20 million kinah (currency in Aion) without any intention of someone purchasing it. I've read this is a way of going afk without being kicked out of the game.

Get the peddlers off the city streets!!!

Gold sellers. Cuppycake said she never wanted to hear complaints about gold sellers again. But I'm going to say it. Gold sellers. What a blight on the MMO genre. The constant whispers are a pain, and I'm not sure yet how to avoid them without removing myself from the normal social activity of chat channels.

Get the sellers off the channels!!!

Ascension.I never understood why flying was such a selling point and after ascending I still don't. Perhaps I rushed through something, because I think I missed the part where I got my wings. I didn't notice until a quest giver said, "Now that you have your wings...".

Now for likes.
Character creator. For once players actually look different than one another. The ultimate in character creators - City of Heroes, may have finally been surpassed. For once, CoH face choices seem limited.

Cut scenes. Cut scenes aren't something Aion invented, but what they've done I don't think I've seen in other MMOs - they actually include the character you created (see above) in the cut scenes. I hope I'm not spoiling anything by saying my future character looks hawt.

Innocence. I like how right now I don't know what the best manastones are for my class. I don't know what the best stats are, or what armor I should be wearing. I don't know the optimal place to quest. And that's alright for now.

Exploration. I happened on something due to simply exploring. The quests didn't lead me to it, I just happen to go off the beaten path. It wasn't anything extraordinary, but it felt good to get a payoff for doing something I wasn't directed to do.

What a Short, Familiar Journey It Was

I completed Long, Strange Trip over the weekend. I already had a 310% mount, but I do like how the violet one looks better. :)

Another ballast released.

What's kept me playing WoW consistently are these virtual goals I've set. I felt like getting Loremaster would expose me to just about everything Blizzard created for us. I set a "skill" goal of getting one of the dungeon drakes. And I felt any self-respecting longtime WoW player would complete long, strange trip, amirite?

Loremaster would have been much easier if I hadn't changed mains along the way. Had I stuck with the character I created back in 2004 I might have some rare things to look back on. But eventually I didn't enjoy playing my frist or second main, so who's to say I would have stuck with it if I had stuck with them. And actually the character I play now, kinda sucked with how things used to be. Hats off to anyone who chose a character at release and managed to enjoy playing it in all its incarnations throughout these years.

Anyway, after Loremaster I still have 25 quests in my log. Some dailies, some old quests that I fear if i drop them I won't be able to pick them up again. I might finish some of them, I might not. But if they add a "Master Loremaster" or "Loremaster: The Questening" with 500 more quests to complete? I have no desire to go through it again. Overall I enjoying completing Loremaster, but at the end it became something I was just trying to get finished.

I have never been a hardcore raider so many of the raid achievements were beyond my reach. But due to crossing paths with some great players with casual schedules (the only reason our paths did cross) this past spring I managed to get a raid proto-drake. But in the end the experience was so unsavory (guild drama), I decided I would never set a goal like that again. The journey was not worth destination.

And lastly Long, Strange Trip. As I've mentioned many times I've played since release. For some reason, knowing that fact and not completing Long, Strange Trip felt wrong to me. It's like going to Arizona and not visiting the Grand Canyon. So I made it a point to get the meta requirements done, although I had taken a break last October. Many of them I really enjoyed, but once again (see a pattern), in the end I felt like I was doing something because of the goal, not because I was having fun with it.

I want to learn my lesson here. My only goal from now on should be "have fun".

I have one last thing I said I would do, play a horde character. I made this goal fairly recently, with the announcement of Cataclysm. I found myself doing battlegrounds instead of the questing like I said I would. My old goal "complete horde quests" has been replaced with "have fun". If I get back around to doing quests so be it. If they remove some quests and I never get a chance to do them so be it. I'll live.

I've reached a fork in the road. One path is structured with checklists and achievements and endless milestone markers of virtual goals and raiding schedules. The other is unmapped.

I've traveled the first path long enough.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Aion: First impressions

Was able to purchase the game. Had a very slight problem with installation. But no queue at all when I got the chance to log on. Later on that evening there was a queue of ~600, but by then I had something else to do so it was okay. They gave an estimated time of 30 minutes, which for a new release I guess isn't so bad.

Great looking game. Runs smooth so far. If you've played WoW, etc. you'll be able to jump right into this game as well.

Disappointing to see the gold sellers. In the starter area you see as many Mxcxmsc's as regular players. And they whisper you. Do I really want someone selling me powerleveling services for a brand new game?

Did it make me feel like I did when I first played WoW. No. But that's really nothing to hold against Aion.

It's way to soon to pass final judgement. But I like it so far. I think I'll at least get my money's worth out of it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Aion jitters

I'm hoping to play Aion this weekend. Yes I want to experience it for myself so I don't keep making unsubstantiated reviews! And yes, I want to see the graphics for myself, they really do look great from what I've seen in screenshots. But more importantly I want to start playing soon because MMORPGs are simply more fun when the worlds have PLAYERS in them!

As Jaye vividly describes in text and picture, leveling later in a game's life is tiring.

I leveled several characters to 70, but only one to 80. When I thought about how it would be to come back after quitting for a while I was daunted by the fact I would not have to just level to 80 but 85, or if I'm gone long enough 90 or 100! The act itself was daunting and realizing I'd probably be doing it in empty areas made it worse.

Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way, but I like seeing other players around even if I'm not constantly interacting with them. Maybe that's why I like pvping on my new horde character more than questing.

So I want to level in Aion NOW while other players are doing the same, while the world is bustling with activity. I'm getting unexpectedly anxious that I might miss it.

Getting what you ask for

I continue to prefer doing bgs on my horde character instead of leveling during my Questing through Vanishing Azeroth experience.

I always get pumped from being able to contribute in a bg when I'm on the lower end of the bracket. But being on the high end means you get to participate more than just being a free hk. So when I hit the max for the bracket I'm in I decided to go visit the Slahtz "Experience Eliminator".

Easter Egg side note, the horde EE's name is Slahtz, while the Alliance EE's name is Behsten. Behsten Slahtz (Best in Slots). They both wear level 19 twink gear and are level 19 themselves. They whisper things about wanting twink gear (Lucky Fishing Hat) and losing twink enchants (Nethercleft Leg Armor). I assume after players noticed his hp didn't match a twinks his health was buffed to 1100 with the recent patch. No detail overlooked by Blizzard!

I quickly realized how it feels to be gold poor again as the fee to turn off XP gains was 10 gold. A mere pittance for my Alliance characters, but a large percentage of my lone Horde character's gold. But I chucked the gold pieces to Slahtz and rejoined the queues. I went about my normal activities while in queue, and didn't really pay attention at first that I wasn't getting queued up. Queues in lower brackets usually don't go past 10 minutes and are usually around 1 minute or so.

I knew there had been a patch so I searched to see if something was going on with it. Turns out hardly anyone is queuing up for the non-xp bgs!

Cynwise writes "The only twinks in the upper brackets are now ex-twinks. I sat for hours in queue with my experience frozen and never played a game once 3.2 hit. With XP gains on, I play in under a minute. The queue times speak louder than anything I could write. If you want to twink in the 50s or 60s, you won’t play."

So either twinks don't like playing with just other twinks (as they cried loudly about in the past). Or there really isn't as many twinks around as it seemed.

Now if a twink comes into a XP bg, they can still rip through non-twinks but they risk leveling out of their bracket. I can't imagine anyone is going to bother twinking much if they can't get a bg or if the bgs they get level them out of their twink gear.

The weird part is heirlooms give players the same advantage original twinks had. And not everyone has access to them, at least not until leveling one character to max. It's like Blizzard encourages twinks with one hand and discourages them with the other.

The whole thing has left me with mixed feelings. I have actually been enjoying pvping around the levels there isn't such a great gear or spell availability disparity. I'm the last person who would want to turn off XP but there I was actually wanting to freeze a moment in time.

The queues are so bad for non-XP bgs that it isn't an option for me. At this very moment I like pvping more than question so not being able to pvp doesn't work. I don't need to be able to level in BGs but it was nice to be able to do so. I heard at upper levels in AV you really could fly through some levels, but I heard they nerfed it.

I paid yet another 10 gold to turn XP back on and immediately got into a bg. Oh well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I didn't expect that!

Over at Nils blog he discussed the advantages and disadvantages of predictability in dungeons.

I immediately disagreed that unpredictable dungeons would be fun, because I feel the X factor is not the dungeon itself but the raiders.

Why is it when the boss strategies are published not soon after a first kill doesn't everybody zone in and proceed to win?

I thought about it some more and thought if I had unlimited time, then yes of course unpredictability would be fun.

But my reality is I have a limited amount of time that I can and want to raid each week. And if extra time has to be spent strategizing, well to be honest only a few raiders actually do that.

And unfortunately I cannot say there is room for both. Blizzard seems to have trouble creating new dungeons at the rate players want them.

Another Aion Review Review

I still haven't gotten around to purchasing the game. Gotta find it first.

This comes courtesy of Cuppycake at Cuppy Talk
Graphics: A
Immersiveness: A
Quest storylines: B
Character models: A
Animations: C
Performance: A
Polish: A-
Sound: B+
Combat: C+

A lot of "A" grades! That's good right??? Uh oh "C+" for combat. I remember Lord of the Rings Online's combat never feeling quite right. It affected how much I wanted to play the game.

Let's go down the list. "A" for graphics. From what I've seen in screenshots I'd agree, I can only imagine it will look even better when I actually see it for myself.

"A" for immersiveness. I'm not sure what Cuppy means when she says this. I like feeling I'm in another world. So if it gets an A that'll work.

"B" quest story lines. Sometimes I read quests, sometimes I don't. I always say I'm going to read every one, but usually end up skipping through the text. So if its a B I'm sure that's good enough for me.

"A" character models. I was about to say doesn't that fall under graphics. But City of Heroes has great character models, but graphics overall are used over and over again.

"C" animations. Hmm wonder what she didn't care for with the animations. If its jarring enough, it could affect my gameplay.

"A" performance. You don't want anything less than an A here, no matter how you describe it.

"A-" polish. That'll do as well.

"B+" sound. That's okay, how many people listen to chat or their own music anyway?

"C+" combat. This really concerns me, and I'm suprised it was listed last. Although she didn't say how she ordered the list if she ordered it at all.

If something is amiss with combat I can't imagine playing for very long. Because unless you choose a game to just socialize or craft, combat is what you spend your time doing.

Interesting how a game can have so many good points, but one bad point can potentially ruin it.

I really need to get the game so I can see for myself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog list

As I change blog themes now and then (How blah is this current one?) I inadvertenly lose my blog links. I've been slowly re-adding ones I like. I especially prefer ones that are updated regularly.

Am I the only ones that go back to old blogs just to see if the blogger came back to blog or play wow. I used to check /afk for a long time before finally giving it up. But I quit checking Out of Mana and suddenly out of the blue it was active again. I think the blogger disappeared again. I gave up on checking Mystic Worlds quickly after she said goodbye, but I've found she's guest blogging elsewhere. Hogit had a habit of posting about once a year, so I never am sure he's really gone or not.

I was debating about having a blog list, because by always checking my regular ones, I miss out on seeking out new ones. I'm always suprised to come across some that have been around for a while.

My Aion Review Review

I don't have a copy of Aion yet (see previous post). But I think it is interesting how much your idea of what a game is can be shaped by reviews. I haven't even tried it yet, not even in a beta (or as one blogger describes open betas - "prepaid release") but I've gone up and down on whether I think I'll like this game or not.

So this is my review of Aion based on other's reviews or lack of:

1) Flight. This concerns me, as I mentioned before, exactly why is being able to get wings and fly such a selling point for this game?

I've been able to fly as far back as City of Heroes. And WoW has allowed us to fly as far back as Burning Crusade. And with both, yes it made a huge difference when you had to start out crawling across the landscape. But for me in both games, I eventually enjoyed participating in things where I didn't have to travel to them at all (AE in City of Heroes allowed me to do various missions from one entry point, and in WoW if I decide to just raid or PvP I don't really have to travel for that either.)

So I'm sorry flying is not enough to make me want to play Aion. I'm not sure who this is appealing to as a selling point - angel cosplay?

2) Age of Conan curse. Why aren't we hearing anything about endgame. Or forget endgame, why am I not hearing anything past level 10? Is it going to be Tortage all over again? Where after you get done with the instanced tutorial you uninstall the game? Or like Warhammer Online when you find the very thing you purchased the game, spent your time leveling for (RvR) is a flop?

3) It's like WoW in the beginning. This is one of the reasons why I'll purchase Aion. No I don't want a WoW clone, but I want a game to pull me in again. I know I'm setting myself up for disappointment. But I'm willing to take the risk.

4) It looks great. This is a see-saw selling point for me. WoW proved a game doesn't have to look all that great to be good. But after installing EQ2 again, I really was amazed at how awesome a game can look. At some point new players are going to try out WoW and wonder how us old folks enjoyed such outdated graphics.

5) What does Aion have? Where's the beef?!? This is where my review review falls flat. But don't blame me! I haven't read much about exactly what Aion has and what players are enjoying.

Guess I'll have to go get that copy.

The Gods say No

Initially I wasn't interested in Aion when a guildmate mentioned it around the beginning of the year. WoW was holding my interest well enough. Later I knew I wanted to try it. But WoW malaise clouded my feelings. Finally I decided to give it a go and I stopped by Gamestop to see if I could get a copy of Aion. They were sold out. The Gods decided for me, for now.

If I hadn't read throughout the blogosphere about horrible queues, so much so wrote a guide on how to survive it, I would have had a more dogged persistence to track a copy down from other stores.

Surprisingly when I logged on to WoW later, I wasn't met with a queue, but with lag. It was patch day, but usually the only delay is installing the patch. This time it took a while to log in and the lag was bad once you made it in. I went ahead and managed to do a few brewfest repeatables. Unless I'm missing something there aren't many ways to get tokens each day, so luckily brewfest is going for two weeks or so.

I don't even know what I'm expecting from Aion. Someone wrote it's like playing WoW for the first time. If that is at all true I want to give it a try. My expectations are low. Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online, Champions Online, none of them grabbed me from the get-go. I have a feeling Age of Conan might have, I've read several times its 1-20 was great. But I think I was concerned my computer couldn't run it at the time. I have a better computer now. So maybe if Aion could give me that feeling even for just a few levels, I'd be happy with my purchase. That's pretty low expections.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Comment over at Spooncraft

"The biggest argument I always hear is “I cant ever leave WoW, not after the 180 days /played time I have invested on my toon”. I used to think the same way, but there comes a time when you realize that every hour in WoW you spend bored, running around in circles on your mount in Dalaran reading chat, is an hour you have wasted and could have spent discovering antoher game. When you look at it that way, your “invested” 180 days mean nothing, its just a counter of a game you used to enjoy a whole lot more. Its like refusing to sell your old car for a new model, because youve got 150000 miles on your old car."

Blog apathy

I think my previous post may have been my worst ever. I had an idea of what I wanted to blog about but it fell flat in my personal opinion. And I have no desire to flesh it out. Meh.

Pirate Days came and went. You flew down to Booty Bay, talked to someone and got and achievement. Achievement apathy.

Speaking of achievements. Brewfest has come back around. I missed getting it done last year and it is the last of the events I need for "Long Strange Trip."

Since I managed to snag a 310% mount back in the spring, the reward isn't all that impressive. But as someone who has played on and off since launch, I wanted to add this to my list of "been there, done that, got the achievement".

If I manage to get this done, I think I finally will be done with overarching achievements. Instead of having fun playing WoW and doing the world events in a lighthearted way, I felt tethered to the game, even more than the usual addictiveness.

I had already given up on chasing raiding achievements. Because obviously it relies on the raid team as a whole. I have my own apathy, having to put up with others' apathy as well and expecting that some how, some way, we're going to accomplish anything is asking too much.

So...before I played the game without achievements, then achievements were introduced and I played them for achievements and now getting the achievements aren't as much fun anymore.

I realized by "pvping" so much on my horde character I'm not even questing through Azeroth as much as I meant to. I'm starting to say to myself, if Cataclysm removes things I'd never witnessed or been a part what?

And now I can just switch one of my higher level characters to horde if I really wanted to see what some of near end-game would be like. But since everyone can, I don't really think things would be any different at all. Meh.

And this feeling I have is restricting me from even trying Aion. Sure it could be fun for the first 10 levels. But I'm starting to wonder, seriously, what could any new MMO offer that we haven't already seen. What could they possibly do better, do so much better that you feel you're getting a new experience?

Does a game really want to be successful not because its at its core extremely good, but that its a shinier face on the same-ole-same-ole you're trying to leave behind?

Yikes this post is emo.

Raid Apathy

Oh wikipedia, you have everything! This graph does a good job of explaining how I feel during raids.
Image Hosted by

For Wrath I decided to get back into raiding behind the curve. My guild was already in Naxx and I was new to the guild on top of that. Overall the challenge level was in the middle (many will say the challenge level was nil) and my skill level (read armor into as well) was low. So yes I worried about how I'd do.

We moved on to Malygos and Sarth, and not to mention achievements like undying and immortal so I moved into the anxious territory.

When the guild went into a meltdown I moved over to a new guild. They were around the same progression as my previous guild, but overall they weren't as good. So suddenly I could, but didn't have to perform as well. I think this would fall into the Arousal area.

But eventually we kept doing the same stuff, not really moving forward or being capable of doing hardmodes to reach new stuff. So we never reached the Flow level. We were at Control mode, which is as much fun as this graph would make it seem.

The only thing I don't agree with is Relaxation, Boredom and Apathy.

When my skill and gear outgrow a dungeon, I move from boredom to apathy. But it looks like I should be moving over to the Relaxation phase.

When skill is high and challenge is low, I'd rather not be there at all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog overlap

A break from after hours work for me and break in the various other social activities of my friends coincided so that we could finally play Champions Online together.

As I've played mmorpgs overall longer than they have (one of them introduced me to them) and more variety, their excitement exceeded mine and I envied the fun they were having. Because I attribute it to not playing them as much as I have. We plan on playing together for short periods each week. While I'm not having that much fun with the game itself, I do enjoy playing with friends. I just hope higher levels of CO start to get more interesting.

The blog overlap I mention in the post title is based on the fact I thought it was a coincidence that I was about to make a post about pvp twinking when Tobold and We Fly Spit Fires did the same thing. Of course its not such a coincidence when you factor in we've all decided to level new alts due to WoW's Cataclysm announcement of the removal of old content.

While questing is just fine for me, traveling to quest bores me quite often (even with my mount and copious flight paths). I can enter a battleground from anywhere so that's what I've been doing usually when I log on. I am not waiting until i hit max level for a particular battleground, so I spend most of my time underleveled for it. But I've found I only really only get pwned by players with heirloom items and spell/attack advantage (warlocks I'll have cleanse one day!)

First let me say I don't have a problem with twinking. I don't have access to heirlooms hordeside but I can purchase nice blue and epic items for my level. However since I'm not a greedy goblin with maxed cap gold, there is a limit to what want and am willing to purchase for a character who will outgrow it.

I still think it would be a neat idea to do like Warhammer Online and make everyone max cap for whatever battleground you're in. You'd still have the gear gap but maybe things wouldn't be so lopsided.

The problem is you can never balance things. It's obvious from even the lowly 10-19 bracket. If level isn't what separates players its gear (and professions). If it isn't gear its class. The classes you find in 10-19 are rogues and hunters. Both get benefits at their level that other classes don't. The only way you can create true balance is to make everyone the same class with the same gear, oh! and same faction.

Can you imagine a battleground full of nothing but one class?

Monday, September 14, 2009

To comment on later

Gamers or Raiders

Good question

Friday the Greedy Goblin asked "Why are you playing Now?

GG goes on to say there are things he enjoys in WoW and other things he does not (mostly to play with his GGf). On the latter he writes: "I guess we wasted lot of time of our life with boring and not fulfilling activity because of the ape subroutines in our head. This must change. The activity must be fulfilling for itself, and not because of the people we do together."

I've found myself several times doing thing in WoW not necessarily because I've enjoyed them but because of routine. I think raiding is the biggest culprit. I've raided many hours in the past not because I really wanted to but because as a healer there is usually a group looking for one. Never mind how few times the show has ever skidded to a stop because of lack of healers.

I've taken that knowledge and finally started using it to my advantage. I no longer worry about whether this group or that one needed a healer for the night. If I feel like raiding I will, but I no longer do it out of any sense of obligation. There won't be any successful guilds based on players like myself. But then again, I've never been in any guilds actually making serious raid progression. Quid Pro Quo.

Horde side

In general life horde side isn't much different than alliance for me. But every once in a while I get a quest that sends me to a cave or area I've never seen. I think that's still impressive, especially after this game has been out so long.

My whole purpose of leveling up yet another alt was to see all of Azeroth before Cataclysm. But what I realize is while I never leveled a horde very high before, I have at least rode through many of the areas while getting the exploration and loremaster achievements on my alliance character. I may not have fought quillboars but I've road past them. So I'm not actually seeing as many new areas as I expected but I am seeing a few.

I haven't had too many leveling lulls yet, however I think my leveling experience would have been vastly different without the addition of all of the extra flight paths and I cannot emphasize enough what a difference having a mount at lower levels makes. And if I'm not mistaken I'll be able to get a 100% mount at 40!

I would have undoubtedly been bored out of my skull running by foot to all of the areas I have so far. You still have to ride to the flight paths at least once (if you don't have a warlock and mage porting you around) so you still get to travel through the world, you just don't have to keep doing it so slowly.

I also have always wanted to see how pvp was horde side. It seems more alliance than horde are twinks in Warsong Gulch. Even with our lower levels and gear we're usually able to cap the flag first and if no one caps the flag three times we win by default. (I've heard that's been changed recently). And now that I'm high enough to play in Arathi Basin, I've played horde side and I can honestly say I'm not sure why we win so much in there. But it is a refreshing change.

Putting all your frags in one basket.

The first Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings was made back in June. As of last evening we're just starting at one Fragment of Val'anyr.

Is it the first one to drop for us? No. The person to get the fragments in our guild was chosen before I joined. That player wasn't able to show up very much for whatever reason and so they started giving it to another player. Well, over the past week or so I guess *that* player decided they couldn't raid and last night we had a random roll among the most consistent players recently. Of course that screwed over anyone who had contributed overall, but it's all about "what have you done for me lately".

This was met with no drama that I know of. I just don't think getting a legendary is special anymore. Now you can farm for legendaries if you are so inclined. Back in Molten Core days it wasn't conceivable your legendary would ever be eclipsed by anything. Now legendaries are surpassed by a quest reward and relegated to kill shots.

Our guild officers had a tendency to really pump up the two players who were getting the Fragments of Val'anyr. I don't know if they did something special before I joined, but they weren't exceptional players compared to any others I've known (once again really exceptional players normally don't stay in the guilds I raid with!) Either way I could tell they felt burned when these players quit with the fragments.

Players are going to come and go, most likely 5 years into this game, its the latter. Hand the fragments to whoever you'd like to have them and hope for the best. But by putting it to random made it feel like all of our healers, myself included, are a dime-a-dozen.

And people still continue to wonder why they have trouble finding healers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Winding down subscriptions

After another evening of a buddy of mine playing Arkham Asylum instead of Champions Online with me, I decided to go ahead and make sure I cancelled before my subscription re-upped.

I'm just not enjoying it enough solo to want to continue to pay for it on the off-chance my friend (who encouraged me to purchase it by the way!) will find time for us to play together. I always like playing a game for myself instead of wondering whether I would have actually liked it or not. I would have been okay purchasing it further down the road out of a discount bin.

My City of Heroes/Villians ran out not to long ago and I don't miss it. I liked it for about a day or two after I hit level cap (powerleveling through the AE system). So I don't feel any money was wasted there.

I also made sure my EQ2 sub will expire. Such a great looking game on my newer computer! I may have been sucked into it instead of WoW if had the computer I have now back in 2004. Now it's just a game I'd like to have a sub for but doesn't make the cut when I eventually want to try out Aion.

WoW gets to keep taking my money by default. I'm torn by this. I want to keep playing but just don't feel it truly deserves the money it gets from me each month anymore. I feel like the subscription fee should be lower. In the past I paid for 6-months which was cheaper, but I don't want a long-term tie to the game anymore. I'm going to end up paying more just to have a sense of freedom.

So on the horizon I should only end up paying for two accounts, hopefully one, by the end of the year. I'm hoping it will be Aion, but it will probably be WoW.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's special about Aion?

I've given the blog another new look, since I'm branching out to playing a different class for a while, I decided to change it if you've noticed.

I came across Hardcore Casual (Hmm I just went to get the link and realize I didn't have the right one I usually read).

Hardcore Casual (I'll call this one A) made a comment about being tired of reading WoW blogs. Basically because they aren't original. We complain about the grind, and talk about specs, etc.

Hardcore Casual A would be happy to know Hardcore Casual B has started a more general purpose blog, as I mentioned before isn't as WoWcentric.

Well anyway, this blogger really likes Aion. And then he goes on to say what he likes about Aion so much and I don't see what's so special about it.

Now I want it to be special, in a way I want another game to knock me off my feet. Of course what that would entail (time-sinkage) means I really *don't* want it, but the idea of it is nice.

As usual he mentioned wings, I just can't see switching from one game to another simply because you can fly. But I've read it enough on other sites to see it must really be important.

The other things he mentioned like being able to train skills out "in the field" and a aggro radius on your mini map seemed like nice to haves, but still nothing amazing.

Is it the look? I've seen screen shots and they are nice, but so are EQ2's.

I'm not wanting to be sold on it, because I plan to plunk down more cash to try it out for myself. But what is so special about it? That it's not WoW? Every game that has come out since WoW has that and usually ends up disappointing.

An Aion comparison

Compare the comment of a blogger Cuppycake who has played MMOs since EQ and Sai Pannell one who has never really played any MMOs.

The difference is quite striking isn't it. And I've felt how both of them do.

I felt like this back in 2004...

I've barely seen daylight since the beta started on Sunday. I've been locked up in my bedroom with the computer, only coming out to grab something to drink, or something to eat... and go to sleep. I've been so obsessed with this game, its almost sad.

And I've felt like this many times since...

I logged in and played for about 15 minutes last night, and to be honest – I did one quest and instantly sighed in annoyance.

I think I've been in a type of mourning for a while because unlike Sai, I no longer feel similar to this with each new MMO I try:

I love how this game takes you to various places. Beautiful lakes, lush forests, humble farms, grungy mines, elegant buildings in the sky, cute little villages... I never know what to expect next, and where my next Quest will take me to.

Instead I feel like Cuppycake:

Whether it’s Free Realms, EQ2, LotRO, Wizard 101, Runes of Magic, DDO, or any of the other MMOs I have installed on my hard drive, NOTHING has kept my interest or inspired me. I think I really might be getting crufty, and that makes me sad. =(

I don't know what crufty means but I think it might just describe me.

Questing through the vanishing Azeroth

I continue to level my horde character. I'm only in my twenties so things may change later, but so far I haven't found myself without quests to do.

My mount and all the added flight paths have made it easy to move from area to area doing quests that are green and easy to solo.

I always happen to see players out questing, but just like me they are usually solo. Usually no one wants to group, so I'm glad I'm able to kill stuff on my own at a reasonable pace.

As I do these quests and mine nodes, I think to myself, this has *got* to be the last time I do this. But then I when Cataclysm is released I'll make a worgen or goblin and level through the changed landscapes. That's how they!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The casual raiding scene

I've raided casually for a year. It's the only way I can raid. I quit raiding for a while because it seemed the only thing out there were 4-5 night a week raiding. But I'm able to reasonably manage the 2 night a week raiding schedule of my current guild. Even then I get tired of it sometimes.

Our guild has had trouble filling raid slots. I chalk it mostly up to summer. But I also blame burn out (guilty). AND you can get the same gear without raiding, so I've heard.

We managed to clear normal 25-man Trial of Crusader. Perhaps we'll continue to do so to the point we're geared enough to make it through Ulduar. Unfortunately I don't think our guild is capable of hardmode anything. Since we inevitably pug some slots, we always have to go through the mistakes new players make. Not to mention the ones us old players make.

Ensidia is having interviews with its new recruits and one of them mentioned how Ensidia's players don't repeat mistakes. That's the difference between clearing something months ago vs. beating your head against the same stuff.

We need the gear to smooth out the suck. ToC bosses seem to drop a lot of loot so that's good news for us. I just don't think we'll ever see Algalon. This isn't being pessimistic, even our top guild (by default, 3 other better guilds have left our server) hasn't bested him.

The casual scene is one of guilds just hoping they have enough to show up and do something for the evening. That's a low bar and lately we can't even clear it.

Champions Online

Unless my schedule syncs up with the two friends that suggested we play CO together I'll probably cancel my subscription before it recurs.

I don't think CO is a bad game, but as far as I can tell it doesn't do anything better than the other games out there. I think I could have an alright time playing with friends. But it definitely doesn't pull me in enough to want to play by myself.

I wish people wouldn't say this game is awful, but then again I can't say its great either. It's just...there, another alternative. Someone brand new to MMOs might love it. It's 5 years too late for me.

Beginner Leveling

As someone mentioned in the WoW trade channel "leveling is easy". This was in response to someone else saying they wanted to join a guild to get help with leveling. As I winded down my quests in the Ghostlands someone cried out "this is booooring". I checked their levels and both of these players were under level 10.

Leveling has never been easier, but based on my own experience as I level this new character horde side, what is missing is leveling with others. I can't remember the name of the blog, but the blogger is trying out wow on a Refer-A-Friend account and when he plays with his buddy he's having a blast. The triple xp is a blast, but from what I read the fun is playing *with* someone. Becoming more than the sum of your parts.

I wasn't able to get my twink items transferred to me, but I had some extra gold on another lowbie character that I never leveled very far and managed to purchase a twink weapon that helped make things easier. The quest givers and objectives weren't very far apart so leveling has been okay. However I didn't really start having Fun with a capital F until I decided to get a group for instances. I found out I really outleveled the first one, Ragefire Chasm, and since I'd run Wailing Caverns ad naseum on my alliance druid I had no desire to go do it. As luck would have it someone asked if anyone wanted to do BFD and I jumped on the chance. They turned out to be a higher level but gathered a bunch of other lowbies like myself. I forgot to mention I had a mount by that point and I hadn't spent time traveling by ground mount with a group of players in years. It reminded me of how awesome flight is, but how in a way it takes away from that cohesion I was talking about in a post before.

Speaking of mounts, getting one at 20 is great. The quests I would normally give up on because I look at the map and decided I don't want to run that far were made 60% more appealing. I had been copper pinching since I wasn't sure how much the mount would cost. Turns out I forgot as a paladin, mounts are free, but even if I had to pay, 5 gold is practically free.

I think I would have even more fun if playing a paladin was more active. But the nicer weapon makes things bearable. I plan on making sure I have more twink weapons waiting for me as I continue to level.

But back to leveling with people, its just more fun. I've had friend come and go in WoW. Some transferred different type servers, different time zone servers or just quit. I've done all three myself. This fourth time is changing faction. I'm hoping with the paid change I convince one of my friends to switch one of his many alts over eventually.

And my whole reason for coming hordeside? Well I left Ghostlands so I'm getting to do some new quests finally. It feels weird to enter Tarren Mill and not have the mushroom guy yell at me. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I don't want no scrub

I came across a post made by the best warrior in the world, pvper Serennia back in July as well as one Big Bear Butt made today.

I mention them together because both players are surprised by how few of us really know how "2play".

BBB pugged with a druid who didn't use lifebloom and a tank that spun around like a top. He was surprised in the age of so much information on how to play, elitist jerks, etc. there were people who still didn't. Once he adjusted to the fact, he'll be able to soldier on.

Serennia met the unwashed and unlearned masses at a lan cafe he had to resort playing in. As he was discovered as a Wowlebrity, he was amazed by the number of players who didn't know the best way to slot gear, etc. What was interesting is that he appreciated the fact these same players still seemed to have just as much fun as anyone wearing BiS. What is interesting to me is how each of us expect a certain standard of those around us. My guild plays at a scrub level. But when someone really bad (gearwise or stay-out-of-bad-stuff-wise) we feel pretty knowledgeable. Then someone really good steps in to help and we remember we're scrubs.

Players like Serennia and BBB play at a different level that the majority of WoW players. And those around them play at an expected level of knowledge and skill. Like the Ensidia recruit I mentioned earlier, they don't repeat mistakes. Ensidia plays at the top of the pve ladder, Serennia plays at the top of the pvp ladder. It is a very small percentage that play at that level. But being able to use lifebloom or taunt is pretty darn basic and as BBB hilariously described even that can't be expected. I'd be willing to say the majority of WoW players are sub-scrub. Appreciate them, learn to play with them, or avoid them like the plague but they are here to stay.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Faction changes, Cross-realm LFG, and cohesion

I can only think of one thing I've really wanted in WoW and they've already added it - dual specs. Actually I wanted free respecs, but dual specs works just fine. Actually with the amount I play at the moment I only need one spec...but that's neither here nor there.

Another thing that I wanted but not as badly was the chance to play horde. Of course I could fulfill that wish by leveling, but I never stayed with it. I'm giving it another go right now.

But with faction changes I can swap one of my higher level character and experience "the more mature" side. I think the introduction of blood elves blew that description out of the water, but now I have the chance to see first hand.

It got me wondering about what will that do to pvp battleground balance? Will more horde switch to alliance? Will more alliance switch to horde?

Speaking of switching, the few people I know that have come alliance side is because we have more people to run instances with. The few people that have left alliance to go horde have done it for pvp. But I haven't known anyone to do it recently other than to simply see what the other side is like, and that's my plan.

Cross-realm LFG should help everyone but especially low population realms and factions.

But I'd go on to say it breaks down the cohesion of sticking with a side and grouping with the same people, just like PvP battlegrounds changed when they went cross-realm.

I mentioned a few things I've wanted in the game, one of those was the ability to do battlegrounds without having ridiculous queues. A few years ago, queues were really bad for some sides and when they introduced cross-realm bgs, the problem all but disappeared. But then the familiar faces you fought along side or fought against started to disappear. They were still there, just spread out amongst all the other realms in the battlegroup. Chasing down or running from someone that you knew from the forums had a little more meaning. When you can't tell Legolas-Magtheridon from Legolas-Zuluhed the tiny extra thrill isn't there. Be careful what you wish for.

It will be better for those of us who hate waiting for groups. I will be great for those of us who want to log on and jump in an instance, instead of logging off after 30 minutes when you can't find one.

But comments like "I grouped with you before, you're a good tank" and "pick that mage up, I did HoL with him" and "we became friends after a series of instances together" will be more scarce.

It's the principle of the thing revisted

Few days ago I posted about how I wouldn't want to raid with someone who just hit 80.

Michael, a commenter, pointed out that he meant a brand new 80 could get geared up very fast within a week's time if they focused on it.

I don't doubt it a bit. Someone who is serious about their contribution to the raids would do exactly that.

And it is very unlikely that anyone in greens (you get blue drops as quest rewards at the very least) would show up at a raid.

Yet that's exactly what happened to me recently. Our guild was attempting a new boss and I'm not sure how this person got in the raid, but there they were standing beside me in quest greens and blues and the occasional epic.

Here's where I disagree with Gevlon (or is it Tobold?). Because unless you are exceptional (and we all have to agree we in general aren't or there wouldn't be an "in general"), crap gear will only take you so far. Since the person didn't manage to outdps anyone in the raid, not even our tanks, they certainly weren't exceptional. So they weren't capable of doing the role they came for.

If we're doing a fun run with no expectations of success, then someone can show up naked for all I care. But we were attempting to make some progress on a boss and having weak links in an already brittle chain didn't help.

What hit a nerve is they kept standing in the wrong places. Since standing in the wrong stuff or not standing in the right stuff has the tendency to make things exponentially worse, you can imagine how fun the night was.

I'm not the type of person to call anyone a M *or* S, even though I realize that's how I come off describing it. Let's just say they were more S than M. And S is easier to fix.

In the end, all I want to do is raid progress with like-minded and like-geared people. And that's exactly what Michael and the shaman's point is - badges, VoAs, etc. make that possible. Just make the effort, the loot is there.

Hopping from one to another

As a result of bad planning, or no planning on my part, I'm paying for several subscriptions of MMOs all at once. Just as Tobold asks would anyone play two at a time, I find myself paying for 3. World of Warcraft, Everquest 2 and Champions Online. I am not going to keep all 3 accounts. The idea of paying for multiple accounts while maybe not financially sound isn't that far-fetched. Family households usually have several and multi-boxers pay multiple to literally play the same game. And while I'm not going to the poorhouse anytime soon (crosses claws) I don't feel comfortable with that many accounts.

However it does let me compare the three, if not in playstyle, in how I feel about them. I want the feeling back of really enjoying an MMO. The feeling original Everquest players had, the feeling I had when I first started playing WoW. But every new game I've tried since is lacking. I call it the Flimsy Chain Armor Effect (FCAE). I think I've described it before. It's the discovery that not only do you need to kill ten rats, those rats may have something on them you could use. And not only something you can use but a set of something, and not only is it better than what you're wearing it matches! So not only will you kill ten rats because someone told you so, but you keep killing them because you have a chance to get Flimsy Chain gloves and Flimsy Chain boots! Now the Flimsy Chain set wasn't a set like a tier set per se, and it was grey - poor quality - vendor trash. Come to find out it probably wouldn't last you farther than Goldshire. The equivalent of buying something and then getting something better after you've walked a block. However first starting out in the World of Warcraft it was an improvement and no one ever gave you a quest to acquire this stuff but I did. And oh! some of these wolves drop pouches! I could use a pouch! I wonder if they drop more? It propelled me forward even without Marshall McBride telling me to go kills some kobolds.

I hadn't played a game like that before and maybe its the feeling of newness that I can never feel again even when the MMORPG is brand new.

But I try, even by going back to older games like Everquest 2. One thing I can say about it, I finally, after 5 years, have a computer that can do it justice. In the very beginning I had to set the graphics down so low I couldn't see anything when it came to going into caves. A new computer later things were better, at least I could see, but it still wasn't optimal. Finally I can play the game on its highest settings and other than the claymation skin, the game is really impressive looking. Unfortunately, 5 years ago, they forgot much of their audience, while used to using their imagination to fill in pixels, couldn't necessarily fork over the cash just to play a game made to run on computers not built yet. Champions Online uses the same claymation skin, but the rest of the world isn't as detailed as EQ2. I've heard Age of Conan rivals EQ2, but I can't imagine anything else does.

I've almost got my new blood elf the same level as the blood elf I abandoned. I have a feeling of deja vu doing the same quests over again so soon. Because of my many false starts with blood elves I think I've played through Eversong Woods more than any other starter area, rivaling Teldrassil. I can't wait to get to the part none of my horde lowbies have made it to. I don't even know where I'll be questing first, Ashenvale?

And the only reason I jumped on WoW was because I couldn't get logged on to Champions Online server. I'm not surprised by this, launches always have their set of issues. But when I talk about that feeling I keep wanting in a new game? Well Champions Online doesn't have it either. When I couldn't get on the server, I didn't even bother to keep trying. Instead I just logged off and logged onto something else. Back in the day, I would have sat their at the WoW log-in screen trying and trying. Or getting up to check where I was in the queue. That "this game is so great I can't wait to play again" is just not there and I haven't had that feeling in years. You can never go back.

Take for instance Champions Online character creator. It is great! But, since City of Heroes already had a game-defining character creator, CO's, as great as it is, isn't that much better than City of Heroes'.

Speaking of character creators. I chuckled when someone described Everquest 2's wide variety of characters - big humans, short humans, skinny humans, fat humans. I wouldn't go that far, but I get what they were saying. What is with these games saying you have the ability to change your character SO MUCH, when the changes are a so minor you end up looking like someone else as soon as you log in? I played Chronicles of Spellborn (already on the back burner) for a short bit. I spent some time as I always do creating a character and a pixel turn of a lip or eyebrow may seem like a choice, and getting to dye my armor faded blue instead of sky blue, still had me looking like someone else in the end.

At least I'm not paying a subscription for that game.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Civilians Online

Well, apparently Champions Online was hit with a nerf bat today. Yes, the day of it's release. I almost had let it slip by.

I guess players were leveling too fast (pre-orders had access to the live game earlier). This is only a problem if A) leveling slow isn't fun and B) there is no endgame.

I don't care whether there is no endgame. But I do want to have fun while leveling up.

Sleeping with the enemy

I decided to abandon my other low level character to reroll on my main's server. The plan is to get some twinkage going eventually. Since its cross faction I won't be able to use heirlooms (what a gyp!), but I still should be able to purchase some superior items that will make leveling easier.

I haven't gotten around to transferring items yet, so I just spent time leveling up in the blood elf area again. Starter areas are enjoyable. The quest givers and the quest objectives are never far apart.

Since I've never leveled a blood elf very high my goal is to reach 20 this week and buy a mount. A mount at 20. I'm curious what a difference it will make having a mount so soon. It will be hard to gauge because I've never actually leveled any horde past 20. I'm expecting it might be quite fun.

For a split second I thought about trying to get Loremaster on a horde character like I did alliance. That way I can really say I've covered the bulk of the content before Cataclysm changes it forever. But Loremaster wasn't a walk in the park alliance side, a side I've been playing for years. Not sure I'm up to doing it hordeside. We'll see.

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"I don't *need* to play. I can quit anytime I want!"

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