Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

A WoW-Intensive Weekend

To preface things I was quite sick this three-day weekend, so I took it upon myself to relax, and by that I mean play an incredible amount of World of Warcraft. I had an amazing time, and got a lot of stuff done. I joined a new guild which seems to be doing pretty well. They can clear all but two bosses in Karazhan, and while I’m getting fever and would like to skip Kara completely, I think it will be a lot of fun once I get attuned (started on that this weekend as well) but that will still be a while as there are six instances I still need to get through.

As I’m sure you can tell, I also made it to level 70! Levels 66 and 69 were pure torture, but other than that, it was a pretty decent climb, and I enjoyed it for the most part. I also ended up with something like 2400g so I still have about 1300g after my flying mount, so it shouldn’t take too incredibly long to get my epic mount, I just have to decide whether I want to get exalted with the Sha’tari Skyguard or Netherwing to get an epic nether ray or nether drake.

It was also a double honor weekend in Alterac Valley so I ended up getting about 16k honor, which puts me at 25k. With patch 2.3, all Season 1 arena gear will be purchasable with honor points, which means I only need to get 2k more honor to get this staff. While noone knows for sure when the patch is supposed to be released, it’s predicted to be around mid-November so I’m willing to wait rather than pay more for a lesser weapon now.

Also, to cap things off, I ran through the Steamvault late last night with a pug and cleared it with only one wipe! Alas, my faith in pugs has returned (for the time being.) That was a great way to close things off since it was the first instance I’ve run since returning, which got me to honored with Cenarion Expedition as well as a sweet headpiece and 25g for a quest reward.

All in all, this was a very fun weekend, and while I could have been more productive, I couldn’t have had more fun. I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks and possibly months bring. With the gear fever I’ve gotten these past couple weeks, I’m itching to get back into some raiding. Who knows, if I keep having this much fun, I may even keep playing along with all of the new MMO’s heading our way soon.

~Kanthalos

RIP: XP Grinding

Let’s all think longingly back to the good old days of grinding in Asheron’s Call and EverQuest. Those were great times. Who didn’t thoroughly enjoy those hundreds of hours spent killing tuskers or olthoi (or whatever they were in EverQuest) ? Just kidding. Back then this was the only form of leveling. We didn’t know any better, and that’s all we knew so we accepted it, and yeah, we were pretty happy and satisfied with it. Sure there were quests, but they were few and far between, and certainly not the main form of leveling. Today this won’t fly. No one (or very few, rather) are going to willingly spend hours on end farming the same creature for xp to get to that next level. Every once in a while this can be somewhat relaxing when you want to watch some tv and not run or fly all over the place. That’s exactly what I was looking for tonight.

So there I was, fresh into level 66, sitting in Blade’s Edge Mountains when I realized that I really didn’t like (or felt the necessity to complete) any of the 12 or so quests that were currently in my quest log. That said, with 18 bars of rest xp to my name, I decided to go to my favorite gold grinding spot. In about five hours, I managed to gain about 500g worth of crafting mats and vendor trash, as well as 16 bars of xp. This certainly wasn’t shabby, and I probably would have gotten about the same amount of xp and 1/3 the gold questing. That was with rest xp, and most people don’t depend on this for leveling, so would I have done this without rest xp? Not a chance. It literally would have taken twice as long, which means that grinding through level 66 would take the average person about 12-16 hours, depending on class and skill.

While this seems horrible, Blizzard being their utilitarian selves realize that those who grind for xp are the great minority, and therefore cater extensively to the questing crowd. They don’t want their quests just sitting there, so they offer excellent xp and gear bonuses for completing them. Virtually every other game out there runs on the same concept now. Even Asheron’s Call is including far more quests and large xp bonuses for completing them to help compensate for all the grinding that is still more or less required. Some gamers are stuck with the mentality that since grinding is more hardcore that it is still the fastest way to level if you know what you’re doing, but why then is any leveling guide that’s decent using almost nothing but quests to level? Because times have changed, and while grinding definitely used to be the fastest form of leveling, its days are over.

So what does this mean? It means that you can grind if you choose, but you better have rest xp or kill creatures with excellent drops or you’re in for a fruitless, boring time. That said, you might just be looking for a little mindless grind like I wanted earlier, and you can certainly still do that, as long as you know that you aren’t maximizing your time. Then again, you are playing a game after all…

~Kanthalos

One Mythos Beta Key

I have one Mythos beta invite to give away, so here it is.  It’s another extremely objective contest in which you tell me your favorite book, and I choose “the best one.”  The contest will end at midnight EST on the 26th.  If you win, just send me your e-mail address and I’ll get you set up.  Let’s see what you’ve got!

~Kanthalos

P.S. If you want to submit and don’t need/want a key, just put “for fun” or something next to it so I know.

P.P.S. I will be back with something meatier soon 🙂

Back On The WoW Train

Well, I’ve been playing for three days with Anaktoria and I’ve gotten her from 2 bars into 63 to 14 bars into 65, so basically two and a half levels or so.  It’s been a blast so far.  Taking that six-month break seemed to be exactly what I needed.  I’m thinking I’ll have her to 70 in about a week and a half, maybe two weeks.  While I really enjoy playing a mage, I think I like my warlock better, but that’s apples and oranges.  They are both fun classes, and it’s nice going back through this content again.  I have a feeling I’m going to get sucked back into the world of raiding once Ana and Tonks (my warlock, 63) have gotten up to 70, even though I know that the gear will be crap come the next expansion.  It’s still a lot of fun to do the actual raiding, though.

That’s about all I’ve got for right now.  I probably won’t be posting for the next few days since I’ll be out of town after classes are over on Thursday, but I’m working on another essay that I’ll probably post for you guys when I return.  Back later!

~Kanthalos

Be Respectful Of Your Fellow Bloggers’ Toes

Tobold just wrote a post apologizing to Krones (Plaguelands.) Basically what it boils down to is that there are too many bloggers trying to write about the same material right now. I think a lot of this has to do with the “calm before the storm” and I for one wish it was much, much shorter. Don’t get me wrong; there are still plenty of things to write about. Yes, we can write about stuff like EA buying BioWare and everything like that, but when it comes down to it, we all really want to write about MMO’s, and since we’ve played the hell out of every one of them, we’re getting sort of scarce for fresh material, leaving us basically diary posts, or writing about the business. Inevitably, this does mean there will be some toe-crunching while we all post about what’s going on (if you let something go for more than 4-6 hours, you might as well not bother or have something really important to say,) but I think that’s just something we need to deal with and try to understand. I love this community and we’ve all really enjoyed each other (as far as I can tell) and I’d hate to see that change. It’s going to be another 6-8 months before we are over our heads in material again, so until then, let’s try to make due and have some fun while we’re at it. 🙂

~Kanthalos

Mythos Has A New Patch Today!

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to let everyone who plays Mythos that they are releasing a new patch today that include a whole new zone with a great deal of new content. The bad news is that there will indeed be a character wipe. That doesn’t really bother me though as this game is a total breath of fresh air. While it does have a lot in common with Diablo 2, it distinguishes itself quite well so it doesn’t feel like it’s looming in Diablo 2’s shadow. My one major gripe with the game was that there was a lot of repetitive content (creatures and maps) but hopefully this new patch will remedy that.  I’m not quite sure when the patch is going live, but they did say it would require you to uninstall the old client and download a new one due to changes in the patching system. Head on over to their site later to see if the patch has gone live. Enjoy!

P.S. Here are a few posts I’ve written about Mythos if you want to check them out.

Here is it straight from them:

Massive Mythos Update October 15!
By MaxSchaefer on 2007-10-10 12:00 AM

Greetings Mythos Testers! We are pleased to announce that a huge new update is scheduled to go live this Monday. This “Zone 2” update will nearly double the available content, adding a new city, new levels, new monsters, new quests, new items, new skills, and lots of polish and tweaks throughout the game. The new zone is dubbed Bloodbristle Heath, and the new city, Tulin’s Hope. Many more details are forthcoming!

A couple notes: There will be a character wipe prior to the update. Additionally, due to changes in the patching system, you will be required to uninstall Mythos and download it again after we publish the update. Woohoo! It’s great to be back in action!

~Kanthalos

WAR Shutting Down Beta Until December

Here’s something I found a little bit ago:

Warhammer Beta Update
By: James Nichols
08 Oct 2007 18:40:47 EST
Greetings all!

Recently, all WAR Beta participants received a letter stating our plan to end this phase of the closed beta test this Wednesday, October 10th. We periodically close Beta, our last closure being in March of this year, to focus on major improvements and polish. The next phase of Beta will reopen in early December with plenty of new and improved content, art and systems for our beta-testers.

We are very proud to have reached this point in development. Beta has been going very well and the testing community is extremely active. Excitement around the game continues to grow and the team is looking forward to enhancing many features already in the game as well as continuing to add new features to an already great game.

Based on player feedback, our own observations and our current schedule, we have set the following major development goals:

* Improve open field skirmishes and battlefield objectives with major enhancements.
* Provide players with even more options to customize their character both through their abilities and visual appearance.
* Continue to enhance Public Quests and the PQ System.
* Prepare the elves for their release into the world!

When the beta reopens, we look forward to welcoming back all of our current testers, as well as many new faces. Shortly after re-opening the doors, we will be inviting the first wave of guilds into the beta to really get things rolling.

Thank you!
– The Warhammer: Age of Reckoning Team

 

I think this is exactly what they and any other company in their situation needs to do for two reasons. First, there is no sense in wasting bandwidth letting players run around when what they find won’t even be taken into account anyways. The developers have made their decisions on what they want to focus on that’s all they should concern themselves with for the time being and see how that changes things once they’ve implemented them. The second reason is that you don’t have to string the players along, letting them hope for a patch every day giving them no indication on when to expect one for months on end while you make a massive number of changes to your game (yes, I’m referring to another beta, perhaps you know which one.) Then they won’t have to check the forums every single day to find dead boards and no sign of a patch.

Anyways, props to you, EA Mythic. You did the right thing, and hopefully others will follow your lead in the future. While I’ve never really shown any signs of excitement for this game it’s been building slowly, and it’s release can’t come soon enough 🙂

~Kanthalos

Questing Quandries

As you know I decided to resub to World of Warcraft, and also that I wanted to check out the new starting areas of the blood elves and the draenei, so that’s exactly what I did.  I took a draenei paladin through level 12 and a blood elf priest through level 7.  I’ll get into more details later about getting back into WoW, but for now I’m going to focus on the quests.  I decided that I should really read through all of the quests as I came to them.  I was actually quite surprised by how well done most of them were.  They were pretty interesting and well worth the read.  I also found myself more inclined to complete all of the quests because I knew the story behind them.  That said, we all know the downfall of questing, being fed-ex and kill ten rats quests.  Sure, there are tons of excellent quests out there, but we all know that these two quest types make up a good 70-80% of all quests.  I’m obviously not a programmer, but it doesn’t seem like it would be all that difficult to do a little extra programming and snazz things up a bit, though.

I’ll be a little more specific about one quest that comes to mind now.  It’s not the best or the worst, but the basic rundown is a dwarf whose father told him about some ancient relics in a naga camp that he’s been wanting, so he hires me to go and get them.  When I got there, I found that they were simply orbs sitting on pedestals spread out throughout the camp, and you had to collect something like 6 or 10 of them.  Rather than make this a simple fetch-and-delivery quest, they could have had some relics (that actually looked neat) being guarded by three or four nagas.  There are hundreds upon hundreds of possibilities of how to do this.  Maybe you have to go talk to someone the dwarf knows who has a collection of smoke bombs, so you go and get one.  You go to the nagas and use the bomb like an aoe spell that you select the location.  The smoke effect last for 10 seconds, stunning them, and it takes three seconds to pick up the relics.  Once you have them you have seven seconds to run out of there as fast as you can.  Once the nagas come to, they call out to everyone around them and they all start chasing you down.  The less naga you initially attract by running out of there means the less damage you are going to take during your escape, so some skill would be involved as well.  This doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to implement, and it would be much more exciting, and like I said, this is just one of many, many different options.

When reading through these quests, I have little doubt in the creativity of the writers to come up with more interesting scenarios, which leaves me thinking that it has to do with the capabilities and time restraints of the game designers.  Like I said before, I have little to no idea what goes into programming a quest like that, and I don’t want to look like an idiot, but if this is too much to ask for for the majority of quests, most of them are still well worth reading and very interesting, I’m just hoping that soon enough more emphasis will be put on fading these two types of quests out of our games for those that are more original and entertaining.

~Kanthalos

One small step for man, one big check for Richard Garriott

According to a Reuters article, Richard Garriott is shipping out into space next year on a trip to the moon. The price tag? $30 million. I for one had no idea he had that sort of money. While that seems unbelievably expensive, I do think it would be pretty cool. I think I’ll wait another 30-40 years and if it’s within my budget by that point or our planet is about to explode resulting in a mass exodus, then maybe I’ll have my shot at going into space 🙂

~Kanthalos

Yay For Allowance

I was given an allowance or sorts by my parents (as I’m a broke college student) so I think it’s time to hop on in to Azeroth.  It’s been driving me crazy these last few days not being able to, but I think now is the time.  I really have no idea exactly what it is that I want from this, but I do know that I want to take this chance to at least get through the draenei and BE starting areas, and if I’m still enjoying myself, who knows.  Wish me luck.

~Kanthalos

Are MMO’s Worth It?

I decided that for my creative non-fiction class this semeter my topic that I would pursue would be MMO’s since I’ve never really sat down and considered the near decade I’ve spent with this genre, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that. I’ve never really written any CNF before, so this is all new to me, but I think this piece is pretty decent so I decided I’d share it with you. It’s a little short due to requirements for the course, but I think it gets pretty much everything I want to say across, just maybe with slightly less detail. Anyways, here it is — hope you like it.

Are MMO’s Worth It?

A question I have often found myself asking is whether it has been worth it to play MMO’s over the past eight years, or whether I would have been better off entirely if I had never become involved with them. There are so many ways to go about answering this question, and yet there are also many things that are intangible – simply impossible to describe, though equally as valid as anything else. Things like that rush of adrenaline the first time I went on a 40-man raid, or the first time I fought against another player, or the relationships I built. I can’t put a price on these things, but I can wonder how different my life would have been if I had been reading a book or playing baseball instead.

Back in 1999, I had no idea what to expect when I picked up Asheron’s Call. How could I? I didn’t even realize it was anything other than an ordinary PC game. I had no idea that I would pour one tenth of my life throughout the past eight years into Asheron’s Call and World of Warcraft. If someone had told me that, I would have avoided them like the plague. That said, does that change the way I feel now about these amazing games? Not really. Can I still question what could have happened had I steered that passion in another direction? Of course I can. If you consider what you could do with a year of your time, the possibilities are endless. You could either teach yourself every intricacy of Photoshop, or how to build a car, or you could simply sit on your ass watching Law and Order marathons.

So what have I gained by spending all of this time in virtual worlds? Well, there are the relationships I have formed with players, both that I still maintain, being two, and those have faded over time, which are dozens. Stemming from that is the improvement in my social skills which I think is due in no small part to these games. I’ve also improved my leadership and teamwork skills as a direct result of MMO’s. Then there are the intangibles like the sense of accomplishment, the late nights spent goofing around in an instance with friends, the discovery of a new zone, and all those other things that can’t be measured.

I consciously made a choice, and that was to devote a good part of my life to this game genre. Whether I made the best choice or not, I would have a hard time giving up those memories and the friendships to be replaced by something else, even if it was more impressive or useful or honorable. Some might think of this as nothing more than another form of entertainment, but I disagree, and hopefully will continue to do so in the years to come.

~Kanthalos

MMOADD = Not Real

I was just reading through the comments on Cuppy’s page, and The Hiram Key thought that the reason lots of us bloggers constantly fall in and out of love with EQ2 was due to the fact that we all have MMOADD. Bildo countered this by saying that there was some intangible flaw with EQ2 that doesn’t quite grab us the way that WoW and other games might. I’m more inclined to side with Bildo here, not just for the relation to EQ2, but any MMO in which we find ourselves losing our desire to play. I believe that one of the most important things that makes an MMO what it is is this idea of loyalty. Every MMO out there is striving to gain your undivided time and money. They don’t want you jumping around spending half your time with one and half your time with another.

Remember when AC and EQ were THE MMO’s on the scene, and how loyal each gamer was to whichever they chose? You hardly ever saw one playing the other. The problem is that now that there are many different MMO’s to test, when we see flaws in the one we play, we try something else out to fill that void. Ultimately, if we found one we were content with, we would stick with that for a couple years or so before we moved on to something else, not flopping around like a fish out of water.

I played Asheron’s Call for four years, and it was my full intention to find another MMO after I tired of it that held me that long again. Granted, it was like the first time with everything, you are always seeking that same gratification, and you aren’t going to find it, but I always intended for MMO’s that followed to be long-term games that I played. I found that with WoW, which I have played on and off (mostly on) since release, but since then I simply haven’t found something I wanted to dive into with the same passion as the first two. Honestly, I don’t know that I will in the near future, with the possible exception of three games (Spellborn, Warhammer, and Stargate Worlds.)

I’m starting to get a little side-tracked, though. The point is that I, and I believe most other MMO gamers, have no intention to spread themselves out over three or four games (unless it is somewhat journalistic in nature) but would much rather be completely happy and content with one game that satisfied all of their wants and needs in an MMO.

~Kanthalos

The WOW in WoW

Ok, so I’ve been brooding about this for several weeks now and I decided it’s finally time to hunker down and get to the heart of this (or what I think the heart of it is.) It has been nearly six months since I last played WoW and I left on a very sour note. I’d just left my guild of six months due to some major drama stemming from Karazhan mostly. I joined a new guild, but decided that I just didn’t have my heart in it anymore so I decided to quit. I didn’t look back until about a month ago when the siren began attempting to lure me back once again. I currently have one 70, two 60’s, a 43, and a 24. I’ve done and seen it all, minus a couple end-game instances. I’ve done it A LOT, actually. There are two exceptions to this, however, which are the Draenei and Blood Elf starting areas. This is basically what I would be going back to the game for if I decided to return to WoW. I realize that this would only keep me occupied for something like a month, and I might even get bored before that. Even then, everything looks PRETTY much the same, and I’ve played all of the classes except a paladin, so why do I feel this intense desire to jump back in? Here it is:

COHESION

Everything in WoW fits. The art style, the zones, the classes, the creatures, the UI, the combat, and everything else just seem to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle with every piece accounted for and in the right place. While there have been bits and pieces of this that I’ve found in several other games, World of Warcraft simply did it right, in almost every way imaginable. In every other game, there is either something I find lacking severely (many things actually) or it just seems like things were tacked on or forced together when they just don’t mesh. No, WoW didn’t push the boundaries much, but everything they did worked. It might not have been what every single person wanted, but it was flawless for the people who did enjoy it. I’m not even talking about polish per say, I’m not talking about lack of bugs or class balance or anything like that, I’m talking about the way the game FEELS. I feel like it’s a real world when I jump into Azeroth, like my character is tapping his foot, sighing while waiting for me to return.  I feel like I’m in the rainforest in Un’Goro Crater, like I’m in a desert in Silithus. In EQ2 (at least right now) I feel like I have to push myself to even approach this feeling of immersion and seamlessness, like I’m watching a moving painting or something. A game can look incredibly beautiful, but if nothing fits together, it’s not going to work. I don’t mean to pick on EQ2, it’s like this with a lot of other MMO’s I’ve tried, EQ2 is just the one I happen to be playing currently.

All that said, I’m not sure that I will be coming back to WoW real soon. I might, and if I do, I realize it will probably be short lived, but I’m just itching to set foot in Azeroth again.

~Kanthalos

My Current View of EQ2

I’m going to preface this by saying I still enjoy playing EQ2 and I will continue to play it for a while to come most likely, but I think it’s worth writing about. Also, I think some of it is my own fault, but I’ll talk about that later. So here are some of my problems so far:

  • I don’t feel like I’m involved in EQ2, but rather a spectator who gets to jump in from time to time. I don’t feel like I’m a part of it, or that anything I do matters.
  • I don’t enjoy the zones — I think they are too large, and nothing is really connected, it’s all just thrown in to work for quests or to look like it’s getting used. Maybe this gets better as you get further in the game, and perhaps I’m alone in this feeling, but it’s with me nonetheless. I don’t even have a problem with zoning and immersion, it’s just the zones themselves (the three zones I’m referring to so far are Antonica, Thundering Steppes, and Butcherblock Mountains.)
  • I can’t seem to get any help with quests when I ask. People seem friendly enough when I talk to them, but when I ask for a little help with something, I never get a response from anyone, which seem odd to me.
  • I feel like with a decent PC, everything looks close to really good, but not quite, so everything just looks kind of messed up. While it still looks pretty good, I would almost rather play something that wasn’t trying to look so good, but looked crisp and smooth by doing that.
  • I’m not part of a guild yet, and I should be, I just wanted to wait a while before I jumped into some random guild I knew nothing about. Maybe that’s where I should start and if I don’t like the people, I could just look for another one. This makes me feel completely alone in the game, and while I do prefer soloing most of the time, I still enjoy talking to people while I do that. I also want a guild where I can help others and they can help me in return.

Through all of these problems I still want to play this game, because I think it has a lot to offer, and I think once I get in with a good guild and meet some friends, a lot of this will go away, but for now I’m a bit frustrated, and I feel like I have to force myself to like it right now. I really hope this changes, because you should never have to do this with a game in my opinion, and I never have with an MMO, but I feel like with as much as it has to offer, it’s worth trying for a bit longer.

~Kanthalos