Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Priest racials, LotRO and research

My main character in WoW is a Night Elf priest.

Those "in the know" snicker at my choice because I lack fear ward. Fear. You know that ability they said would not factor in much in the Burning Crusade expansion? Yes that same ability that still causes numerous wipes all the way to 70. That Fear. On the priest forums anytime a player with a night elf posts about inequity in priest class racials, someone playing a dwarf will inevitably say "you should have chosen your character based on stats than looks" or "you should have done more research". Why? Well, night elves have something called Elune's Grace in comparison. Don't laugh.

The reason why I bring this is up is, as mentioned in a prior post, I'm playing Lord of the Rings Online open beta. When it came time to choose a character, I read what each class could do, and chose one. The descriptions are brief, but from playing WoW and other MMORPGs I know what a tank does so, for example, I knew I didn't want to choose Gaurdian.

But that leads me to the point of my blog entry today. Are players really expected to go do heavy research online or in the manual before deciding on what class they want to play in a game? And what if the only information I can gather is from closed beta? How does that disclaimer go "Your gameplay may change."? How would I know, at my initial character creation screen, that I would someday be a dungeon raider and be slotted based on a decision I made months ago?

When I created my priest I knew I wanted a Night Elf, yes based on looks and their homelands. I was playing in a fantasy world. Roleplaying in a fantasy world. I figured my choice of race was important for the roleplaying aspect. I never even came across another priest using fear ward until I was well into 60 and started raiding. When someone says I should have done research, basically they are saying I should have had access to a crystal ball.

Since I frequent a few mmorpg forums, and regardless of what game is being discussed, I always come across someone asking "What class should I play?" "What race should I play?" and what's the answer always given? "Play what is fun for you!". And that's what I want to do, I want to be able to choose a character from a game's brief description and have some fun. But MMORPGs aren't made to keep you happy for a few sittings, they last for years and things change and there is no way to tell someone in a brief description that what looks fun now will also be fun later.

So as I look at whether to decide on a Lore-master or Champion or Minstrel, I keep wondering how much research should I put into finding out what the better choice would be?

But then I think, as the Warren Buffet the billionaire said,
"If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians."

...And of course that line of thinking allows me to jump in and play instead of scoping gaming sites for opinions.

Monday, February 26, 2007

LotR Beta

I'm still playing WoW, but I am also dabbling in the Lord of the Rings beta with a friend.

Quick, one sentence description? The ui reminds me of WoW, the graphics remind me of a better EQ2 with a LotR's backdrop.

A very generic description, yet if you know anything about the three then you know my description is complimentary.

The similarity of WoW's ui makes using this one easy. Many keys do the same thing here as they do in WoW. So you spend less time figuring out how to maneuver.

One complaint many people have about WoW is that its cartoonish. Well EQ2's graphics were a head above WoW, yet the characters looked like clay. LotR's characters look real and not the weird kind of real.

Now...beat me about the head and neck with Gandalf's staff if you must, I'll admit I know very little about LotR. My friend, who is very familiar with Tolkien's world, has told me that many things are recognizable. I thought the areas that I have seen so far are beautiful, very detailed and I don't need to know anything about LotR to enjoy it.

Speaking of graphics, I love them! I hope that you have a decent system to play it on just so you can enjoy it. I placed a smattering of freckles on my human female's cheeks and my friend told me he couldn't see them.

I haven't had a chance to do much of anything, but they've done some quality work so far. I had no trouble logging in, creating a character and playing. I am curious to how laggy things will be when all these graphics collide in a populated area. My friend said his experience was a bit laggy - so a decent computer system may be a must so that you don't get irritated.

He's already spied areas he wants to visit, characters that made him say "There's so-and-so!" with excitement. I don't have the LotR background but I'm eager to play nonetheless - and that's what will sell this - making the world engaging for players like me.

As usual, it is too soon to say much about it I haven't set too far out of the starting area. Perhaps some of it is too much like WoW? A small twinge in me said - if its this much like WoW I should just keep playing WoW - but I have a feeling I may end up playing both.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Things I Learned from WoW

Something to share, if you haven't come across it already
John August's Seven Things I Learned from World of Warcraft

John August is a screenwriter and film director. Screenplays to his credit include Go, Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I like the list even if John Doe had blogged it.

My list would be a bit more cynical, I guess that is why I like his better. I'll save it for later.

What if anything have you learned from WoW?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Karazhan: The UBRS of Outland?

It's natural to take something new and apply something old to it to describe it.

Orange is the new pink.
Random is the new order.
Honor Hold is the new Barrens.

Well apparently after hearing/seeing this comment in several different places, Karazhan is the new UBRS. I'm not entirely sure what that means. I'm not sure if its a reflection of its size, raid requirement, complexity or lack thereof, or what.

Karazhan, lore depicted here, is the first 10-man raid instance which seems to be the lowest place you can getepic loot. (Aside from doing instances on heroic.) Here at WoW Insider they even question if its worth doing. I haven't looked into whether you need the rep from there (like you could get Argent Dawn rep from going to Scholomance and Stratholme in order to go to Naxxramas), or if it drops resist gear that is needed further up the raid chain (in the same way after running MC over and over you had fire resist that helped you with Ragnaros and further on to BWL) or if at the end if something drops that allows you access to another instance (the way the blood of Drakkisath was required to get into Onxyia's Lair.)

So although Karazhan is being described this way, its not really revealing anything to me that I can connect to.

At least not like how Magtheridon is the new Onyxia. I totally understand that.

Busy work

If I attempted to do "everything" in the Burning Crusade (tBC, I like that) that was possible I'd play this game a long time. But part of that everything is faction grinding.

tBC introduced several new factions, some I'm sure familiar to many of you now - Honor Hold, Sporeggar (for you conservation/geeks), Aldor or Scryer (you can obtain one or the other but not both at the same time) - and others more lesser known like the The Violet Eye and Ashtongue Deathsworn.

In an interview with sr. vp of product development, Frank Pearce, he said "In general, reputation will be earned more quickly in the Burning Crusade, so it feels like less of a grind." I've found this to be relatively true at the moment. But now with the guild pushing toward raiding, I'm starting to feel I must raise my reputation faster than its coming in naturally just by my normal gameplay (a few quests here and there, a few instances here and there). In other words, forced grinding. If I were to go at my own pace, I think it wouldn't feel like a grind. So I only have myself to blame for wanting to keep up.

Okay, actually I blame paladins, rogues and human mages in particular! If you enjoy gaining rep, I can't imagine any other race/class combo would beat a aoeing mage with a 10% reputation gain bonus. Well except an unemployed/out of school human mage. So you've got these classes that set the bar high for the rest of us classes who can't grind mobs efficiently at all (holy priest anyone?) Of course the rep will come with time, there is no "rep decay" like there was with pvp honor and in the end as long as the race isn't called off, we can all cross the finish line(s) eventually. Its only an issue if you are expecting to raid the instances that require you to have the rep with the same group of players who are pushing it. That's when acquiring all this rep just seems like busy work.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Green with Envy

One of my fellow bloggers
Cap'n John mentioned in a comment about leveling to 70... "in fact it's possible most of us are reluctant to level too fast because replacing our Purple items with Greens is just too sad, although it has to happen eventually."

I know I've been reluctant to replace some things I own that are epic, not necessarily because they are purple, but because of the time it took to acquire them and the memories that go along with them. Finally downing Nefarian after months and getting a drop off the dragon, finally after more months getting deep enough in AQ40 so that the rep rolls in and being able to get the epic ring, my Benediction which didn't take long but still holds a special place for a priest...yeah its hard to take replacements that come as rewards from quests that are simple and take you at most 15 minutes to do start to finish. Hard once I get replacements (which don't seem long coming) for me to relegate them to the bank or even worse, vendor them!

A friend of mine has, so far, refused to replace any thing he has with a green. Blues, however, seem worthy.

I'm not one of those players up in arms about the fact I raided for a long time only to see my items so quickly and easily replaced, but I can understand how they feel.

What about you? Are you holding on to your epics (if you had any?) Or are you out-healing, out-damaging me in your greens? ;)

Running with the pack

One topic on Tobold's blog was about mistakes made in the Burnign Crusade. Tobold wonders if he should level faster to 70 or take it easy and enjoy the journey.

I said if he wants to raid he should level faster. And this goes against what I've said and how I want to play the game. But I'm basing it on my own guild's experience. So take it for what its worth.

This is going to sound a bit on the negative side, depending on your perspective:

In the guild I'm in the fast levelers hit 70, got their Karazhan key and started raiding with another guild. While it stings to know the first time our guild entered Karazhan it wasn't a full guild raid, I can understand it. Why wait and help the rest of your guild get keyed when you can work on new content for yourself?

The guild I'm in has some nice, fun people - so before BC I got lulled into remembering that we are a raiding guild first, social second.

The very competitive (with lots of free time) pushed to 70 within days of release and started working on getting keyed. For some reason I thought they would help us stragglers with instances and the like, but I was wrong and I really shouldn't have been surprised by it.

I've been left with this feeling of - get to 70, get keyed, get attuned on your own (which makes me wonder what is the purpose of being in a guild is) and if you make it there, THEN we'll group with you.

I have to admit I'm disgruntled by the fact (a fact I've known for a while now) you simply have to either not have any real life responsibilities or let them suffer in order to keep up. I have a feeling that someone will come here and say they have a full time job, go to school part time, have wife and kids and other hobbies and are still able to raid - but I beg to differ. I honestly feel that either your spouse or kids or school or work or something is not getting the attention it deserves if you're really a hardcore raider. But this has been discussed ad naseum.

Simply put, you have to keep up and run with the pack. No one wants to run an old instance (old as in Slave Pens, yeah 3 weeks since its been released and its old) when they can make attempts on heroic mode. No one wants to help you run your second alt through Blood Furnace. They've been there and done that and they want to improve their own character not your slew of alts. Does this sound harsh? Then you're probably in the wrong guild. If you fall behind its hard to catch up, if you dawdle you'll lose ground, because those who push content don't really take a break. And let me say I'm only talking from the outside looking in.

I have to make a decision do I want to continue to be a part of a guild that requires you to be competitive? Watching my guild's dynamics I have a feeling that decision will be made for me.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Life in Outland?

You can tell the Burning Crusade has been keeping me busy. I've hardly posted since it was released.

I wonder if I should rename my blog, because the Outlands have been keeping me busy and and you can tell its been keeping other players busy too. I rode through Ironforge (IF) a few times this weekend (only because quests brought me back to Azeroth), and it was like a ghost city!

I haven't been putting anything up for auction so I haven't had the need to come back for that. And my class trainer is literally right beside the portal in IF. So I'd immediately hearth back to the Outlands to continue doing whatever I'm doing at the time. I never noticed how dead the once bustling hive of activity had become.

Its sad really. I remember, being late to the MMORPG scene, trying to play games like Anarchy Online, Horizons and Star Wars, which were well past whatever prime and no longer had anyone in their starter areas. It was lonely and definitely not the experience you'd want to have in a multiplayer game. Sure there were always a few diehard players trying to keep dying games going that willing to welcome newbies but there wasn't that feeling of "we're all new here and in this together as we explore undiscovered lands" type of thing. I wonder if that's what new players that aren't choosing Draenei or Night Elves are feeling?

There will never be another Ironforge. Ironforge was not only a major hub, but due to the slow release of a new expansion, it was a place to hang out when you didn't have anything to do. Which was the case for alot of veteran players. It feels weird that a place where so many players would just hang out now only had enough to count one troll hand. Shattrath City is Outland's major hub, but if Blizzard releases expansion within a year instead of two years as is rumored, I doubt players will reach that state of "nothing to do but hang out in Shattrath".

I got this feeling of "I remember when Ironforge was the place to be, what happened?" I remember when IF lag was commonplace! When players wouldn't even set their hearth there because the lag was so bad. There was a spot right before I got to the bridge that my character would freeze before it continued running. Sometimes I would fall into that pit (?). Of course they added new auction houses to all the major cities eventually, but Ironforge still remained populated. Because it was the hub for all the top end instances too. And now its not. And as I ride through, only because its on the way to something newer and "more fun", I can't think of anything that will make it that way again.

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

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