Plan Of Attack For Cataclysm?

I had decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to start any new characters in WoW.  I’d seen it all too many times, and it just didn’t seem like it could be enjoyable.  I obviously had a change of heart a few days ago when I rolled a tauren warrior.  I quickly found that I was back to my old mentality and don’t want to continue leveling him, however.  The only thing is that with the expansion coming next year, most of the content is level 1-60, so this leaves me with a few options in how to tackle the new content…

1)  I could start a character from scratch.  In this case, it would probably be a worgen or a goblin, just because that is COMPLETELY fresh content as opposed to just revamped content.  Would I start with a class that I know I enjoy?  That would mean either a warlock or a druid.  Would I rather start with a character that I know can level quickly to get to see content more quickly, like a rogue?  In any case, I’ve tried them all, so there are no classes that will seem entirely new.

2)  I could play through the content with a variety of toons that I have spread across different servers and factions.  For instance, I could start a new toon and play that to 20 or so, play my level 23 mage to 35, play my 35 shaman to 45, play my 43 hunter to 60 (or possibly 70 if there is new 60-70 content on azeroth) my 70 rogue (again, if there is new 70-80 content) then 80 to 85 with either my druid or warlock.  This would be an interesting way to keep things fresh with new characters, while getting to see all the new content.  Obviously I wouldn’t be able to play steadily with any guildmates if I went this route, which could be a drawback.  There will be a great multitude of players going through the content, though, so I will have more than enough people to group with.

3)  I could run around with my level 80 toons doing some of the quests and generally exploring the new geography.  This would only take a few days, and would probably tick a lot of lower level players off as I’m one shotting all the mobs that they need, but it would be really efficient.  I suppose this comes down to how well done the quests are and whether they truly need to be done by lower level characters to be enjoyed.

Regardless of how I play through the 1-80 content, I also need to decide whether I want to do all of that first, or whether I want to jump straight in with my 80′s and get to 85.  There are so many options for where to begin with this expansion it’s almost frustrating.  My prediction (though it could easily change) is that I will play a new race (likely the worgen) as either a warlock or a druid through all of the content, then switch over to my level 80 toons to see the higher level content.  What’s your plan?

~Kanthalos

A Quick Update

Wow… so it’s been a few months now since I’ve posted, and I figure it’s time to jump back in. I don’t want to bore anyone with details, and I really just want to get this post out of the way so I can get on to some meatier stuff.

After my wife and I ran our guild for a while, we both got burnt out. Things weren’t quite working out the way we’d expected, and we weren’t progressing the way he’d hoped, so we got out of it. I will say that I’ve gained much respect for guild leaders who can lead well and not become miserable in the process. It’s a tricky balance, and something that I don’t think (at this point) I am capable of.

My wife has, as of Sunday, gone back to WoW. This seems to be the current trend as people are getting excited about the new expansion. She’s found a nice guild and is enjoying running the heroics and will begin raiding casually (two nights a week) in a few days. It will be interesting to see whether her interest holds for more than a month. I’ve simply run too many heroics (most probably 15+ times) to validate resubscribing with my account. I made a tauren warrior that I’ve been running around with a little. I figured I’d try a class I don’t know much about, but after playing two classes to 80, one to 70, two to 40, and two to 25 (seven of eight on the alliance side) I feel like it’s already getting stale.

In other news, I’ve been playing Dragonica Online now for a few months as the betas have been up, and while I think a lot of people will enjoy it, I couldn’t really find a class that clicked with me. Also, the grind, while apparently much better than the game’s Singapore counterpart, is still pretty steep and I found that to be rather dull. The graphics were actually rather good if you like the art style, so if you want to try a free side-scroller with fast-paced combat (it’s all about combos) you might enjoy this game. It’s currently in open beta.

I’m really excited about the upcoming release of Aion. I pre-ordered the game and got to play in the most recent closed beta event, which I really enjoyed. My biggest problem is that I can’t decide with class to play. The ones that I’ve really ruled out are templar, assassin, ranger, and spirit master. That leaves gladiator, chanter, cleric, and sorceror. That’s going to be a tough decision, which I’ll hopefully be able to figure out in open beta. Since I’ve got Monday off and don’t work Tuesday, I have three solid days to play, and I can’t wait!

That’s pretty much it for now. I’ve got at least one other post I’m going to knock out later today (if not two) and we’ll go from there. Now I just need to get people reading this thing again…

~Kanthalos

P.S. I dropped the domain I had before.  I might get it back in the future, but for now I don’t see much need to have it.

Change of Plans

After my last post, I was quite happy playing both Atlantica Online and LotRO, but all that has changed.  I haven’t logged into either of those games in about a week.  Care to know why?  It’s because of WoW.  I was checking VirginWorlds first thing in the morning to see that free transfers are up once again.  Argent Dawn, my former server, had been up the previous offer so I didn’t think we would be on twice in a row.  I was wrong, though, and it was.  After debating with my wife for most of the day, we decided to take the transfer along with another guildie (It also didn’t help that 10 of the members left the same night due to a big explosion in the guild.)  So Garrosh bound we were.

This is what I’d really been wanting for a long time.  A new server with all new max-level players.  What better situation could there be for… starting my own guild!  That’s right, I’m a GM now.  The got a bunch of bank alts to sign the charter, and away I was.  The first night was pretty uneventful without too many joining, though there were few players to be found yet.  That all changed the next day, and I think we ended up with 12-15 players.  “Great!” I thought.  We will have enough to do 10-man Naxx.  Apparently that wasn’t going to be enough, though.  Our growth over the past week has provided us with between 45-50 accounts with at least one level 80 toon that is ready to raid Naxx.

Now, it’s one thing to cram a guild full of mediocre, ungeared players who want to be part of a raiding guild, but that clearly isn’t the case here.  Saturday we took out Sartharion on heroic and 10-man, and Sunday we took out the spider wing on heroic.  Many of our players have been in raiding guilds (some as raid leaders) who really know the game.  Last night, one of our naxx teams cleared everything up to sapphiron on their second night, and our second team cleared spider, plague, and military quarters on their first night.  All I have to say is that I’m excited to really push these players because I know they are up to the challenge.

As for the ride, it’s been amazing.  With the help of my wife (co-gm) and a couple officers, it’s been both challenging and fun.  Everyone has been extremely helpful, courteous, and active both in terms of running heroics and raids as well as filling out the guild bank and providing us with a vent server.  I feel closer to some of my guildmates after only a week and a half than many guildmates I was with for nearly a year.  We’ve only had to remove two players from the guild (one was a bit ugly) so I’ve already had to deal with that.  We are still trying to figure out a loot system that will end up working best for all of us, which is far more challenging than I thought it was going to be!  We’ve also had to struggle with finding the right number of raiders/classes.  We don’t have an attendance policy, so we can’t require people to be at the raids, but we need to make sure there are enough people to fill the raid, without having too many extras that they are going to be upset.  This is particularly true with tanks.  We have five tanks in the guild, but last night, we only had two that were on with one saved to the other team’s 10-man run.  Two of the tanks that had actually signed up for our run had trouble making it on, so we ended up having to pug an OT (who actually turned out to be a great help to us!)  So I’m thinking we’ll have to have a few extra tanks just to make sure that we won’t have to go outside the guild in the future.

I know things won’t always be easy, but for now I’m very happy with the way things are going.  I had always wondered what it would be like to be a GM, and now I know.  I’ll say this, though… without officers, it would be far too much for one person to handle!

~Kanthalos

LotRO and Atlantica Online

For the past few days, I’ve been playing a lot of these two games.  Syncaine and Grimwell convinced me through their recent posts that Atlantica Online was worth a shot, and I have to agree with them.  I’ve only just gotten my main to 15, but I’m really enjoying myself thus far.  I rarely play turn-based games, but I’m finding this to be rather fun.  I’m not sure how good I’ll be at later levels when a lot more strategy is involved, but I’m curious to see.  There are lots of quests to keep you busy, so it doesn’t feel as grindy as most f2p games.  I do have lots of questions that I can hopefully get answered soon by finding a guild to join.  I think I’m on Mycenae server, so if any of you are on that, let me know.  If  you are interested in having  me in your guild on another server, I’ll consider starting over as it’s only taken about 6-8 hours to get to where I am.  But yeah, it’s the best free to play MMO I’ve tried so far, with Silkroad Online second.

As for LotRO, I decided that I wanted to give this another go.  I must say I was curious to try it with DirectX 10 with everything on max settings, too.  It’s truly beautiful, though I wouldn’t play it just for the graphics.  My champ was stuck at 36 when I logged back in, and I needed a place to start.  I managed to find a new quest hub in Evendim and that took me a little ways into 37 when I ran out of quests there, and I headed to North Downs to give Fornost another go.  Little did I know that it takes 4-6 hours to run the whole instance.  It ended up taking us closer to six because we had to switch toons out several times, but I did get all the way through to level 38.  I then found another chain in Rivendell involving a series of riddles that’s gotten me about 1/3 of the way through the level.  I really just want to start fresh on a new zone/set  of zones, which I’m truly hoping will revive my passion for the game.  I think I’m ready to head to Misty Mountains now, and soon after that Agmar, followed by Forochel.  In any case, I’ll keep you informed on this process.

On the horizon:

Darkfall — I’m curious see how this progresses over the next few weeks and months.  I’m not sure I’ll play Darkfall soon after release, but I really do hope it suceeds and provides hardcore PvP’ers a home, as well as an eye-opening experience to developers about new possiblities for the genre. 

Spellborn — As for Spellborn, I was deeply invested in this game before I got into beta, but my curiousity is coming back.  I might have to give this one a shot again.  The lore and combat have me once again intrigued, but I have too much on my plate right now to play.

Earthrise — I applied for this beta, and I truly hope I get in.  After getting a taste of Fallout 3, my love of post-apocalyptic worlds has been awakened.  Some great plans are in the works for this game.

Jumpgate Evolution — After failing miserably to enjoy EvE, I’m hoping this will be the solution.  I think it will be different enough that it could suck up a lot of my time in the future.  Another beta I’m hoping to get into.

~Kanthalos

So… A New Year :)

So, it’s been well over a month since I’ve posted and all I can say is that I’m ready for a fresh start… in a couple ways.  This will recap is short segments what’s been going on for me lately.

First, I’m sorry that I’ve been so absent lately.  I think it’s the fact that my motivation for creating and maintaning this blog were skewed from the beginning and I really needed to take a break and re-evaluate my reasons for doing this.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it, but now it’s solely for me, it’s not to impress anyone or to use to better my resume in any way.  I’m going to blog because I really enjoy this community and I think that on occasion I have something worthwhile to say that you all might enjoy reading.  With that change in motivation, that could turn out to be 3-5 blog posts a week, or it could be 1-2, but I do know that I will be more dedicated than I have been in the last few months.

Second, I’ve had a pretty shitty year in terms of employment.  I graduated in December of 2007, and since then have had three jobs, two of which I left on my own accord and one of which I did not.  I am currently umemployed and looking for a job, but as you all know, it’s not exactly the greatest time for that.  It’s a new year, however, and I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible. 

Now, I’m going to crawl out of hiding to announce that I, like so many others, crawled back into WoW’s lap.  I know I railed on Blizzard and WoW pretty hard, but the truth is, they make a wicked game.  I’ve really enjoyed my time so far since coming back.  In some respects, I thought my journey from 70 to 80 with my druid was far too fast, and in some respects, it seemed fairly slow (8-12 hours per level) but it was a blast.  I ran my fair share of instances on the way up and a hell of a lot of heroics and now he’s pretty geared up, already with 3 pieces of Naxx gear.  I’ve gone into Naxx (10 man) three times now and have killed all the bosses in the spider wing, Noth, Patchwerk, and Heigan, with attempts on Loatheb, Grobbulus, and Instructor Razuvious.  So far the fights have been pretty fun, some have been too easy (Noth is a complete joke.)  The instances were a blast the first few times, but lose there appeal after the first 5-6 runs. 

With all that good stuff said about WoW, I can’t help but notice that lingering feeling in the back of my mind that says I won’t be happy in the next few months.  In fact, my time spent in WoW is pretty much limited to raiding at this point, and I’m not sure if that will change.  I have no desire to level my warlock currently (even though I just switched to demo, and it’s a lot of fun!)  and even raiding doesn’t seem to hold the same appeal for me that it once did.  Should I quit in the next month or two, I will still be very pleased with the recent time spent in Northrend, and it was well worth the price of the expansion and sub.

I tried Wizard 101, and while I liked it, I went back to WoW and found it to be much more satisfying for the time spent.  I might give Wizard 101 another try sometime down the road when I feel like I don’t have anything to play.

I played WAR for two months.  I greatly enjoyed the PvP, but felt that my character (marauder) wasn’t really all that interesting to me, and I didn’t feel like leveling up another toon.  Public Quests weren’t public, questing seemed entirely too forced and drawn out, and PvP didn’t offer the leveling curve that I feel it should have.  I think I got to 32 or 33 before I finally decided to drop my sub (for a while anyway.)

I’ve gotten a new computer!  It was pretty strong before I got a new graphics card for Christmas that my bro spent way too much on for me (THANKS!)  Here are the specs:
Intel Core 2 Quad 8200 3.2 GHz
6 GB RAM
ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
24″ 1080p monitor

Needless to say, I went back and updated my dxdiag file for a few beta’s I’ve signed up for :P  Fallout 3 on extreme quality is freakin’ sweet.  Too bad I don’t really feel the desire to play AoC, EQ2, or Vanguard right now.  LotRO, I’ll get to later.

Been reading a lot lately.  Currently reading A Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin,) The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz,) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon,) and Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.)  All are excellent reads, but I can’t seem to stick with one all the way through for some reason.  I’m also looking for inspiration to begin fiction writing again.  I feel like all I need is a strong idea before I can really get to work towards beginning a novel, something that terrifies, yet excites me greatly.  I’ve also been helping the wife get her idea off the ground, which I think is brilliant, and am excited to be a part of in some way.

Getting towards the end of Stargate SG:1.  I just watched the fifth and sixth episodes of season 10.  I must say that I’m enjoying them much more than I did season 9.  Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t giving season 9 my full attention when I was watching them.  I’ll have to go back and give them another shot soon.  In the vein of television shows, I also watched the second season of Dexter, which I highly recommend if the premise of the show at all interests you.  Pretty much anything on Showtime is great as well.  I’ve also been enjoying Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Sanctuary, and Legend of the Seeker (the last two I’ve been watching through Hulu, a great website for shows and clips.)

Games that I’m thinking about playing include LotRO, World of Goo, Braid, and Chronicles of Spellborn.  I really enjoyed the story and the atmosphere of LotRO when I last played it, but got stuck (I can’t even remember what level exactly, but I’d just ventured into the Trollshaws) and had a hard time pushing through it.  I particularly want to try it with the new gaming rig, but I’m not sure I want to shell out $40+15 to get it back up and running again. I’m not really interested in starting a new class right now, so are there any benefits to getting the expansion that I would see as a mid-level character?  If not, then it might be worth 15 to give it another shot.  I really, really would like to like EQ2, but I’ve tried too many times, and I just don’t think it’s going to happen.  As for World of Goo, this game really appeals to me.  It looks incredibly addictive and a blast, but I’m not sure if it’s worth $20 or not.  Braid looks like it has an interesting story with some fun puzzles, but again, not sure I’d enjoy it as much as I feel I should for the price tag.  The last game I bought because of it’s critical acclaim was Portal, which I found to be fiun and novel, but didn’t really have the draw I was hoping for.  As for Chronicles of Spellborn, this is kind of interesting.  I was in the beta for quite a long time, and I’ll say that I was very unhappy with it.  I won’t get into it other than to say that I felt like they tried to convince themselves it was ready far sooner than they should have.  The more recent beta patches greatly improved the game, but by then I was frustrated and never gave them a fair chance.  I know Tipa and Beau are playing on an international server, if either of them could let me know a) how to do this and b) whether it’s worth it, please let me know.  If anyone has any helpful advice, suggestions, or opinions about any of this, I’d love to know what you think.

Currently playing:  WoW: WotLK, Fallout 3 (though the wife plays more than I :) ,) Unreal Tournament 3, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’09.

That’s about it for now.  Be back soon!

~Kanthalos

Thoughts on Gear Progression, Raiding, and WotLK

So it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I’m going to take it slowly for now.  I actually have a lot to write about that I’ll get to soon enough, but something small (with the potential for vast expansion later if I choose to.)

So I was just reading Tobold’s post and the comments, which got me thinking about character progression and raiding in WoW.  What I realized is that the only real need to have really good raiding gear is to continue to push for more raid content.  On a related note, you only need to have really good PvP gear to push to become more dominant in PvP.  Shouldn’t there be other venues to put the gear that you’ve obtained to use?  Sure you can go run heroic instances with it, but you already have better gear than you are going to be able to get from there if you have really good raiding gear.  I really don’t even know what I’m looking for exactly, maybe entire zones that are more challenging/rewarding (but can potentially be ran through solo) or 1-man instances that really put your skills and gear to the test.  Who knows, I just know that I’m frustrating with the role that gear plays in WoW.

Am I alone in thinking this way?  Am I the only one who wishes there were more ways to put your raiding gear to use other than to continue raiding?  This is ultimately why I will not be purchasing WotLK.  In that vein, if you don’t like the direction Blizzard is taking their game, then this is the only way they are going to listen. Just like voting, one person doesn’t necessarily matter, but if enough people participate, then it will.  I was tempted to buy WotLK just for the 70-80 content, but then I realized that I’m paying for much more than that, and I don’t want any of the other stuff.  I also know exactly where I’m going to end six months from now if I start playing again, which is exactly where I was six months ago when I stopped, and that is debating whether raiding is worth the time and effort, and the answer for me is no.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy the game if you know you’ll enjoy it, I just know that with Blizzard being the leader of the MMO industry, I am going to do what I can to get them off their asses and start thinking the way they did when they first built World of Warcraft, instead of thinking about how they can simply retain their customer base, because that’s honestly all I see them doing right now.  

Hopefully that made sense.  Whether you agree or disagree with me is your opinion, I just know that I expect more from Blizzard and I’m not going to pay them if I’m not happy with their product.

~Kanthalos

Public Quests — Not Quite So Public

It’s been about two weeks now that I’ve been playing Warhammer, and I must say that I’m really enjoying myself.  There are a few things that bother me a little bit, though, and public quests are definitely one of them.  I think that they are a very good idea, but I think they could benefit from a bit of tweaking.

I am a bit of a solo’er, but I’m not going to go out of my way to solo.  With that said, I find that the best method of obtaining influence in PQ’s is through playing by yourself and completing the first stage of the PQ and then hopping to another PQ and repeating the process.  If there is a solid group, I’m not going to leave frustrated or anything like that, but given that PQ’s offer the most influence when alone suggests that something is wrong with the way they are distributing influence.  Yet again, this is a case of groups getting penalized, which is a bit ironic since that is the whole premise of PQ’s.

Also, the second and third stages of PQ’s should provide far more influence than they do.  It doesn’t need to be as much as you can get in stage one, but you shouldn’t feel like you are being penalized for making it further into the PQ.  Getting to the second stage is great, but if you don’t have enough people to complete the remaining stages, then you just end up having to wait until it resets before you can build more influence.  I’m primarily speaking about the Chapter 8 and 9 PQ’s in Ellyrion, and other PQ’s could be a different story, but I hate feeling like progressing further into the PQ is hindering my ability to get more influence points.

I still enjoy the general mechanic of PQ’s and think they are a lot of fun, I just think that influence points should be divied out a bit differently, and I worry that as more and more players level a) the lower level PQ’s won’t be very full and b) max level pq’s will be used up and spit out quickly and then all PQ’s will become worthless to.  We’ll just have to keep an eye on them and see how it works out.

~Kanthalos

MMOre Insight: Past, Present, and Future

Even though I would rather be playing Warhammer right now, I know that this is long, long overdue and I really dropped the ball on my blog over the last few weeks.  I think I should provide an explanation and give a little insight into what’s going on with it if anyone is still reading.

Whether you knew it or not, I created this blog for several reasons.  First and foremost, I enjoy relaying my thoughts and experiences to others when it comes to MMO’s almost as much as I enjoy actually gaming, so that is the main reason I write this blog.  The secondary reason behind this blog was that I was somehow hoping that it might provide me with a little boost towards getting a job in the MMO industry.  For several months, this was really the only career I could believe I would possibly be happy with, and that nothing else was going to do, but there is a difference between determination and being realistic.  The MMO inudstry can be very tough to break into so you really need to stand out, which I frankly don’t.  I am also not too sure that the west or the east coast are places I really want to be.  Over the past few years I thought that I really wanted to get out of the midwest, but I realize that it’s a great place for my wife and I.  I have also removed my blinders to see that there really are other careers that I would love to pursue (whether I can get a job in them with the horrendous job market right now or not is beside the point.)  I know that eventually I will find the right job and career and I can’t wait to see exactly what that is.  I am not saying that 8-10 years down the road I won’t re-evaluate things and see whether I want to head in a new direction, but for now, I’m happy here and out of the gaming industry.  In fact, my wife and I just put in an offer on a nice, affordable home that we are both very excited about.  There’s a chance that we might not get it, but the emotional process really helped me understand that this is where we want to be.

I don’t think that I’ve actually altered much of what I’ve written based on the fact that it was a sort of resume tool, but I might have sugar coated things more than I would have liked to or left some things out.  I’ve never sacrificed or shifted the ultimate intention of any posts, and you can be sure that this will never happen in the future.  I might be a little more candid and harsh than I have in the past, but content will stay relatively similar to what it was, so don’t expect a big change in that regard.

I don’t think that I want to set any number of posts that I would like to reach, because unless you are a total machine like Tobold, real life gets in the way or inspiration can fail you from time to time, so I’ll simply say that I’m going to be more dedicated now than I have been.  I really didn’t seem to have much inspiration for the past few weeks, and while I could have tried harder, I am extremely excited about Warhammer and you can bet you’ll see a good many posts from me (and the rest of the blogosphere) in the future.  I am also keeping an eye out on several other MMO’s right now too, so whether I play them or just watch from the sidelines, I will certainly have things to say about it.

Hopefully I haven’t bored you to death and hopefully you still want to read what I have to say, but I thought you might like to know what’s been going on and the future of this blog.  I have no intentions of stopping, but there might be some gaps from time to time as you’ve seen.  Thanks for reading, and expect to see some gaming-related posts over the next few days.  Now, however, it’s time for some WAAAAAAAGH!!!

~Kanthalos

What Do You Listen To?

Tipa gave me this idea with her latest post about music, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the bands/artists that I listen to that are either slightly obscure/older/completely awesome (in no particular order.) Sorry, Tipa, but I am going to have to steal a few :) I only put up videos for a few of them, and a few are actually just still images because I thought the videos were stupid or they had the best sound quality. In any case, I hope you like them and I encourage you to check out the rest if you haven’t heard of them. I would love to know what some of our fellow bloggers listen to as well.

1. Zero 7 (Electronic’esque)
2. The Shins (60′s sound)
3. Blur (Brit Rock)
4. Travis (Brit Rock)
5. Joshua Radin (think Simon and Garfunkel)


6. Jamie Cullum – Twentysomething


7. Camera Obscura – If Looks Could Kill
8. Silverchair (Rock)


9. Jellyfish – New Mistake


10. The Gabe Dixon Band – Five More Hours


11. Sonata Arctica – Victoria’s Secret
12. Dream Theater (Prog Rock, or Fantasy Metal as I like to call it)
13. Nightwish (Fantasy Metal)
14. The Hush Sound (Indie Rock)
15. The Decemberists (Indie Rock)


16. Dishwalla – Angels and Devils
17. Muse (If you don’t know/like Muse, you probably need to get your head checked ;) )


18. Nickel Creek – The Lighthouse’s Tale
19. Oscar Peterson (Jazz)
20. The Postal Service (Electronic)
21. Psapp (Electronic’esque)
22. Splender (Rock)
23. Spoon (Rock)


24. Steadman – Wave Goodbye
25. Vertical Horizon (Rock)
26. A Tribe Called Quest (Good, Old-School Rap/Hip-Hop :) )


27. Amos Lee – Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight
28. Ben Folds (Just Plain Awesome)
29. Bond (Techno-Classical?)
30. The 88 (Rock)

~Kanthalos

Thoughts on the Success of WAR

I was reading Thallian’s most recent posts about what people can expect to find in WAR and how long they can expect to play the game. While I think WAR warrants a slightly better outlook that Thallian is willing to suggest, I do think there is one key element that WAR needs more than any other in order to be truly successful. Tobold has hit on this subject, too, and it only really hit me how important it is recently, which is getting the average PvE player to get involved in the RvR conflict WAR is centering itself around. Yes, there is going to be PvE content that has been freshened up and I have no doubt that it will be enjoyable, but (thankfully) they aren’t making yet another game that focuses almost entirely on raiding and PvE content at the level cap. They are expecting players to get involved in the conflict presented to them. I am like many other players in that I primarily enjoy playing my MMOs with a heavy PvE slant, choosing to participate in PvP only when I’m bored or when it offers the best method of character progression. I don’t want this to be true anymore. I think players deserve more than that now. I think that without having a true sense of loyalty and a desire to protect what’s yours, then a game will never feel like more than just another game. If you can get the players to have a sense of pride in defending their cities, allies, and homeland, then you’ve created a far richer and more fulfilling world for the players to be a part of. This, more than anything else, is what will keep players invested in a game.

While I still want to enjoy all of the PvE content WAR is going to offer, I want to feel like when I compete in RvR battles I am actually making a difference. I know there are going to be instanced battles in WAR, and that’s fine, but what I really want is open-world RvR with tangible consequences, not a battlefield that is wiped clean every 15 minutes. I know there are hundreds of other factors that will determine whether this game will be a success, but in terms of longevity, this is the main key. As for bugs, questing, grouping, instancing, balance, etc., they will need to be up to snuff, too. I really, really hope that Mythic is up to the task, because I don’t think they can comprehend just how many hearts they are going to break if their game fails.

~Kanthalos

More Free Time For EQ2

I just received this e-mail from SOE:

For a limited time only, all inactive (in good standing) EQ players can start building a new legacy in the world of EQII for FREE until Sept. 30, 2008! New adventures and new experiences await the legends who choose to fight. A whole new world full of nostalgic EQ zones, lore and creatures are open for exploration. Journey through Norrath with breathtaking graphics and amazing gameplay mechanics all built from your hardcore heritage.

The quest continues:

Free Game Play
All inactive former trial and EQ subscription accounts (in good standing) have been activated to enable free EverQuest II gameplay between Aug. 4, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2008.
Free Rise of Kunark All-In-One Pack
Access the latest content and keep a complimentary digital copy of this compilation edition if and when you convert to a paid monthly subscription for EQII.
Discount Coupon
Receive $5.00 (or local currency equivalent) off the purchase of the next EQII expansion (scheduled for release Fall 2008) if you convert to a paid monthly subscription by Oct. 13, 2008 and purchase the expansion through the Station Store by Dec. 21, 2008.
Unique Bundle of In-Game Items
Available for all new legends.

  • Available Upon Log In:
    • Outdoor Pet Drake – Receive a Lava Drake for your evil character and a Fae Drake for your good character
    • Pouch of the Prodigal – 12 slot bag
    • XP Potion Pack – Three-pack of potions to jump-start your advancement
  • Granted Upon Purchase and Release of the next EQII Expansion Pack:
    • Cloak of the Void – A specially-designed cloak created exclusively for the upcoming expansion
Player Events
Celebrate all summer long with the community.

  • Participate in several scheduled pre-launch in-game events leading into the next expansion pack.
  • Access content from robust game updates, many offering new zones.
Legends of Norrath™
Free game client, starter pack and access to competitive prize tournaments.
Contests & Promotional Offers
Opportunity to participate in events to earn EQII merchandise, a free copy of the upcoming EverQuest II expansion pack, a beta invitation and in-game items.

Get Started Now
To download EverQuest II, click here for the installer. The download may be quite large and take a significant time.

They sure are trying to get players back into EQ2. I’m sure this is all related to the future releases of WAR and WotLK, and while I understand their desire to get more players back into the game, I don’t think this is the way to do it. Back when the Living Legacy promotion first occurred, I wrote that in order for players to come back to the game, there have to be significant changes made to the game itself, otherwise, no amount of free time in the world is going win them back. I went back to my wizard for approximately two hours before realizing exactly why I quit originally.

  • I felt like I was viewing a game with cataracts because everything was blurry since my computer can’t handle it.
  • I didn’t feel like any of the quests were interesting enough to pursue.
  • I didn’t enjoy the zones that I had to play through to continue on.
  • I didn’t feel like my class was unique enough to feel compelled to play.

There are several other reasons, but those are the biggest. While I might hop in yet again to try to power through this part of the game (20-25) that I really just don’t enjoy (though I’ve stated before that I don’t think players should ever have to do that,) I just don’t think it’s going to happen. I commend SOE for really trying to get players back in the game, but it seems pretty evident that EQ2 is never truly going to be the game for me no matter how much free play time they send my way.

~Kanthalos

Thoughts on Grouping

Syncaine just wrote a post regarding his hope that WAR, through it’s open group and public quest system, will make grouping a more viable and enjoyable form of leveling. He states that WoW has created a mentality within players that has made us jaded when it comes to PuGs, and I certainly believe this to be true. There is simply too much that can go wrong when it comes to PuGs that make players extremely weary to try. I’m going to focus on two inter-connected problems with PuGs that I believe make up their biggest flaws.

Risk vs. Reward

I’m using the term risk here very loosely. The risk I’m speaking of is mostly referring to the potential for wasted time. Say you find three other people looking to run Slave Pens. All you need is a healer, so you tell them you’ll wait until they find a healer and then head to Coilfang Reservoir. “Sweet, we just found a healer!” they tell you. You make your way over there from killing eels for a quest. Just as you resurface inside, you ask the question you hope the leader has already asked, yet secretly know they haven’t. “(insert name here), you can heal for us, right?” Several seconds pass before he says, “I’m prot specced, but I’ll be able to heal fine.” Now is where it gets interesting, because there are so many potential options and outcomes. I won’t bore you with all of them because I’m sure you’ve been down this road like I have dozens of times. The point is, almost without exception, you will end up wasting an unnecessary amount of time and likely get nothing to show for it, or you’ll cut your losses and head back to the eels. With so much potential for failure and the possibility that you won’t get any gear and only a fraction of the xp for soloing, is it really worth taking the chance?

Rewards of soloing vs. grouping

Whether it’s in an instance or just working on a quest, many games today offer no xp boost for grouping. In Asheron’s Call, eight players in a group could earn 33% of the total xp which created a huge incentive to group. While leveling was a bit stale in AC and xp wouldn’t need to be that high in games today (due to their quest-based nature,) there still should be some increase when grouping is involved. It’s almost as if developers see grouping for additional xp as an exploit. While I can understand the prevention of power-leveling by reducing the xp earned by much lower level character, why should even-level players be penalized for playing together? This just doesn’t seem right to me. When I’m grouping I don’t want to have to think about whether they are a burden or not. I’d much rather focus on enjoying my time with them and playing the game. With that said, If I can solo a quest with ease, why should I cut out some of my xp by bringing another player along? I truly wish this was not the case, though.

In games that are built around social interaction, why would developers make it more lucrative to play by yourself than with other people? I think it’s a case of players wanting more solo content because grouping was too forced before, but now developers have gone so far to the other end of the spectrum that they’ve actually taken nearly all of the incentive out of grouping, even penalizing it. If you want to group anyway, you just have to understand that you are going to be penalized for it a good deal of the time because developers are afraid you will level too fast with extra xp from grouping. Yes, instances require that you have other players to help you, but when the chance is so great (I’d go so far as to say that 30-50% of all PuGs are failures in some form or another) that you won’t get the gear (which I addressed here) you want and you won’t get hardly any xp (when compared to soloing,) why not simply put grouping off until it is absolutely necessary? I know I do, and I think it sucks.

While I certainly hope that WAR will help to change this mentality, I think it will be hard to unlearn everything that WoW and other MMOs have taught us about grouping. If the rewards don’t balance with the potential for wasted or unpleasant time spent with others, then nothing will have changed. Since player skill level and maturity are things that can be as different as night and day, it’s tough to always know whether a raid/mission/quest/instance are going to be successful before it starts, so players are naturally going to be skeptical. Only time will tell whether grouping, and more specifically pugging, will once again be revitalized as the chosen method of leveling as opposed to that dreaded thing we all must face at one point or another.

~Kanthalos

P.S. WAR open beta in just over a week, I can’t wait!!

WotLK Release Date Prediction = Faux

While I can understand that my WotLK release date post has become by far my most popular, it actually turned out to be untrue. Mike Morhaime recently said that we can expect a Q4 release. This means that technically it could be October, but this is extremely unlikely for two very obvious reasons. First is the fact that WAR is set somewhere between September 15-25th, and I don’t even think Blizzard wants to compete so directly with WAR, which is quite possibly the most anticipated MMO ever. The second reason I doubt it will be October is Blizzard’s notoriety for continuously pushing release dates back.

I think it’s pretty safe to give this a release date between late November and early December. By releasing post-WAR, they really have nothing to lose at this point by waiting an extra couple months to clean things up and expand/enhance the new features (which are few in my opinion.) It goes without saying, however, that they would have been in a much healthier position releasing before WAR, but Blizzard is never going to rush something out the door until they are motivated to work faster via a drop in subscription numbers. Regardless of the fact that WoW has millions more subscribers than any other AAA MMO, they still don’t want to see those numbers fall. Only time will tell if Blizzard’s “it’s ready when it’s ready” mentality can still satisfy 11 million subscribers. For the sake of the entire MMO industry, I hope it can’t.

~Kanthalos

Stargate Worlds Trailer

I just watched the new Stargate Worlds trailer from Comic Con, and I must say that I’m impressed.  I can also say without a doubt that I’m going to need a new computer before I can consider playing it, which is fine because I’m guessing it still has a year before release (just a guess, though.)  The graphics look stunning and the variety of terrains and atmospheres looks as good as I could have hoped for.  One of the biggest problems I had with the video was that it seems very shooter-intensive.  On one hand, I can understand this because ranged combat makes up about 90% of all fighting in Stargate, so it fits with the MO of the show.  On the other hand, however, if it isn’t executed well enough, players who are used to the typical fantasy combat style i.e. not needing to aim where they attack might find it frustrating.  If the auto-aim system is sufficiently good enough that it isn’t difficult to attack the enemy you’re after, then it will feel very much like an MMOFPS, which could be a good or bad thing.  I won’t might wielding a fully automatic weapon, but I also hope that there is some form of close range combat as well.

Another worry that I have in general about a Stargate MMO is that they will feel like they need to have a wide range of worlds to travel to (as they must) and that the worlds will feel too small and cramped or too large and empty and won’t be executed well.  However, this is definitely something they can easily expand on after release, both in terms expanding the worlds already built as well as creating new worlds.  They can add new worlds virtually whenever they want to, so I’m hoping within 2-3 years of release we have 30+ worlds to explore.

With that in mind, I really think/hope that CME is off to a great start on this game, and I hope it won’t disappoint.  There’s still a great deal of information we need to have at our hands before we can really say how this is going to shape up, and even then, we all know that information means next to nothing until we see it in game.

~Kanthalos

Final Fantasy 13 Announced

Well, Square Enix just announced the development of Final Fantasy 13 during Microsoft’s presentation at E3.  I’ve never really gotten into RPG’s or this series very much at all, but I must say that I’m looking forward to this when it does arrive.

They also announced additional levels for Portal, which I’m sure many of you will be excited about.  I just bought the title and I really can’t wait to give it a shot.  There are many, many great things they also announced during the presentation like a new assortment of XBox Live arcade games as well as a collaboration between Netflix and Xbox to provide content from Netflix through the Xbox which I’m really excited about.  There’s tons of information to digest on this one, so you should go check it all out.

~Kanthalos

P.S. I also recently bought Civ Revolution, which was my first foray into turn-based gaming.  I’m really enjoying it so far, and I’ll probably write up a review of it shortly.

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