Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bloggy Xmas Day 20: Twisted Peppermint

So the Bloggy Xmas living advent calendar comes around to me. I share today with The Mystical Mesmer and I look forward to reading his post. One of the disadvantages of going late in the month is that I doubt I will have anything new to say about the topic of "Community." But when have I ever let that stop me?
I have covered the topic of community many times on this blog. In fact, a total of 82 posts, including this one, are tagged as community related.

Dictionary.com's third definition for community is as follows:
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the):
"the business community; the community of scholars."
The (video) gaming community certainly shares common interests,  if not characteristics, and we do perceive ourselves as distinct from larger society, even if study after survey indicates that the vast majority of people in developed countries play video games of some sort. Game bloggers are an even smaller community.

I love participating in community events like NBI, Blaugust, and Bloggy Xmas, and am grateful for folks like Belghast and Syl who organize such events. Every year, Stargrace organizes a gamer Secret Santa. Much like guild leadership, it is not a job I envy. I, myself, lack the motivation (and perhaps charisma) to get folks to come together like that, though I am happy to encourage the leaders and my fellow participants.

I have had the pleasure of playing with many fellow bloggers, and enjoy reading about the exploits of many more. Living in the Internet Age, we don't have to reside in the same geographic locale to develop friendships and, in some cases, even familial bonds. Our community spans the globe. Like many other online communities, we discover that we are not alone and can find refuge with each other from the travails of our lives.

Sometimes we disagree, and sometimes it gets ugly. But we are not all the same, anymore than mere geography makes us the same as others in our offline communities. Things can get ugly there, too.

However, this is the season for communities to come together, help each other and spread goodwill. Much like Syl's Swiss fellow citizens come together to create a town-wide advent calendar, hopefully this Bloggy Xmas will promote good cheer and a greater sense of community in this blogosphere.

Syl, the MMO Gypsy, has organized a community of bloggers to present a post or two each day from 1 December until Christmas. Just click the calendar to go to the Event site. And may you find joy in whatever holidays you celebrate this month.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Whence Progress?

The Aggronaut has a post out singing the praises of a World of Warcraft currency exchange proposed by Blizzard that Bel has dubbed BLEX. In it, Bel mentions a mentoring system as part of his wishlist for WoW innovations. Lord Tridus from A Goon's Day Off thinks that such a system is simply a bandaid, for the problem of levels and old content. I threw in my two cents. (Quotes are his.)

"Flatten or wipe out the level curve entirely and content now becomes scaled on gear"
This system has worked fairly well in The Secret World, but the classless Ability Wheel and Skill System are very different from the classful system of WoW. I wonder if there would not be balance issues if they didn't completely redesign Azeroth from the ground up (and not just the landscape). And in TSW, you still cannot walk into the top areas in low level gear and expect to survive.

"as gear stats are all based on easily scaleable formulae already"
But that scalability depends on levels—that is, a single stat unit on gear has greater impact at lower levels than it does at max. Without levels, what would they scale gear-stats to?

For better or for worse, MMORPGs seem to be about all about character progression. Progression through gear can work, but there might be an upper limit to it that would be just as bad as plain ol' levels. And then, like Funcom's AEGIS for TSW, Blizz would be forced to come up with some other new system to represent progress to satisfy those players that are at the leading edge of content/stats.

The nice thing about a mentoring system like Rift's (unlike GW2's, for instance) is that you can choose whether areas you have already surpassed will be trivial or a continued challenge. There are plenty of times where I just want to beeline my way across a low zone rather than deal with the trash mobs milling about. Other times, I want to participate in the content at level; zone events, for example, or dungeons. Mentoring allows me to do so.

Like Tridus, I would like to see a truly level-less game. But I wonder if we're in the minority.

As far as BLEX, it sounds like a good idea. I've never gotten involved in that type of market, but I have considered it in order to get some quick game currency. And if it beats criminal gold farmers at their own game while replenishing the development coffers, so much the better.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Doldrums

The first half of December has seemed fairly hectic this year. Real Life busy-ness has cut into my game time; and quite honestly, my gaming energy. I don't feel like there's a ton to write about on this blog, hence the paucity of posts. After playing Rift intensely during Thanksgiving weekend, I have barely logged in the past two weeks. This is not burn-out so much as a fear of burn-out, methinks.
On the other hand, I have burned out on The Secret World. A few frustrating sessions in Tokyo have led to me taking an indefinite hiatus from the game. This decision has a lot to do with my aforementioned energy crisis. There have been times in the past, even recently, that I enjoyed the challenge TSW presents. But I am part of the camp that feels the AEGIS system brings an unnecessary layer of complexity ("complexity for complexity's sake") to the game. And right now, I don't feel it's necessary for me to expend further energy on it. There is so much I like about the game—the story, the attention to detail, the ability wheel system—but it's not enough to overcome the feeling that, in Tokyo, I am fighting every fight twice, thanks to the necessity of burning down the mob's shield. And that's even assuming I have equipped the right "weapon," when failure to do so may or may not lead to either a hasty retreat or a not-exactly-quick death on my part.
Far more agonizing was the decision to leave Beyond the Veil. Xander, Antida, and the rest have become friends over the past year-and-a-half, and I feel I am letting them down. But I find that I have little to contribute to a webcast about a game I am reluctant to play. In the meantime, they seem to have recruited some new blood, and the show is as exciting as ever.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Syl's Bloggy Xmas

Just putting this here to celebrate the advent of "the Season."
Countdown Link
Syl, the MMO Gypsy, has organized a community of bloggers to present a post or two each day from now until December 25*. My own is later in the month. Just click the calendar to go to the Event site. :) And may you find joy in whatever holidays you celebrate this month.

*I was mistaken earlier.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Boosted to 60, Still Faffing About

In our last episode, Scooter and I were "taking it slow" in Rift, taking in the salty breezes, as it were. Funny thing, though: after writing the post, I realized we'd passed level 40—within ten levels of the original cap—in about 5 weeks; something that took months during our first go 'round in 2011.

Rainbows in the Dark
A new event came on the heels of Rift's Autumn Harvest this past week: "Unicornalia." Not a seasonal event, but a cash shop promotion, Unicornalia apparently happens a few times a year. There is an in-universe story going on, sort of, and I guess there's stuff in the store, though I haven't investigated thoroughly.

The promotion includes two daily quests that have pushed Scooter and me into activities we had not previously gotten too involved in: Instant Adventures and PvP. You probably know what PvP is, Dear Reader, but Instant Adventures don't seem particularly common in MMOs. I guess in a sense they are like Hearts in GW2, though they serve a different purpose. Basically, they are series of only vaguely related objectives that players can jump into and out of without much difficulty or much reason. Some have you traipsing across the entire zone, while the one we did last night was confined to a relatively small area. As it turns out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types; though I suppose this is true of many activities (see below).
The End of Ezmodeamus
The PvP daily involves using a wand on an opposing player and channeling a spell for a few seconds. Both Scooter and I jumped into Warfronts to accomplish this before finding out it can be done in the context of a duel with a lot less hassle. That didn't stop us from getting a ton of XP and Favor (Honor) in various battlegrounds over the course of the weekend. I think I am some kind of "Legionaire" now.

A single, non-repeatable quest (not even when the periodic Unicornalia returns) involves killing the end boss of a particular Zone Invasion event. As it turns out, this is a relatively rare occurrence, and Fynralyl and Psynister had not been able to do the quest either. But I found a handy website that monitors current zone events called, appropriately enough, Rift Event Tracker. I watched as the event we needed ("Hooves and Horns") started on another server. Shard hopping! all the cool kids are doing it. I announced it in guild chat and headed over. In the end, it was time for celebration in the House that Bel Built.
Dance Party with Fyn and Psyn
Riptide
In other news, Scooter and I took the plunge into the Nightmare Tide, purchasing the $50 Infusion pack. We felt this was the best value for our current needs and budget. Among other things, the Infusion Edition includes a single character boost to 60 (similar to WoD preorder boost to 90) along with gear, professions boosts, etc. I'm not sure how I feel about the boost, to be honest. There are obvious advantages, like the ability to do any content, anywhere, up to the expansion "entry-level" zone. We also got a free boost in Planar Attunement (similar to Augments in TSW, though with less grinding involved).

However, the boost may turn out to be a disadvantage in many respects. As you may have realized by taking level boosts in other games, jumping 20 or more levels introduces a ton of new abilities at once, and making sense of them is a chore, if not a challenge. Are they all still valuable enough to keep them on my bars? Which abilities have become obsolete and can be dispensed with? (I also discovered a Bard ability, "Motif of Encouragement," that is absolutely useless by just about any measure. And blatantly so, something I cannot remember seeing before in an MMO.)

We intend to continue on the now low-level story paths in Scarwood Reach and other vanilla zones (thanks to Mentoring, it would not be a face roll), but the boosts to our professions mean that not only will they stagnate at 375 (since we are not getting resources of the appropriate level), but that we will be missing out on the crafting dailies that give Artisans Marks or the higher level equivalents, because the low level ones are no longer on offer. On the other hand, at least I won't be asked to waste Runecrafter mats on grey items for a while. We also find ourselves relatively cash poor, though I don't think that will matter if we are just questing for story and faffing about in Rifts.
Why yes, my horse's armor IS transparent.
It Might be Me, But It's Definitely You
With the advent of Rift's "Faction as Fiction" in 2012, Warfronts became more randomized affairs. Even though our characters are Defiant, we seemed to find ourselves on the Guardian Team more often than not. But there is a huge difference in running battlegrounds at 40-ish like we did during the first part of the weekend, and running them at 60. The 40-level WFs were kind of fun—fun enough to keep doing them. I managed to accomplish a bunch of the objectives. But at 60, the tone changed. The WFs (same venues, just higher levels) are a lot more stressful, and at least one jackass felt it necessary to criticize the "PvE builds" of his teammates and otherwise insult us.

Now I will admit, I went into the WF with essentially the same souls build I'd been using for questing. But, having just boosted to 60, I was also wearing boosted gear, and there is no way to obtain PvP gear except by doing PvP (cash shop notwithstanding). So if he was referring to gear, there is not much I could do. Also, if you're screaming for MORE HEALZ in a battleground or LFG, you're the problem, not the solution. If you think there should be more of something in a random group of players, you are the one that needs to provide it.

I re-examined my souls build and switched it around, though I am not sure it's better than it was. And I am sure my rotation is not optimized (see the above, regarding boosted abilities). It seems like not only should there should be a division of Warfronts by level (in a game where that is a factor) but also by expertise/interest. That is, maybe the duffers should be separated from those players for whom PvP is SRS BZNS. After all, many of us were only there for our sparkly Unicorn powder.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.