Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Real life first

Of course, I have to bid my farewell to Big Red Kitty aka BRK who has announced that he's taking a leave from WoW and blogging. Dechion just posted a great post about the same incident, much better than I could ever think of writing.

I got to know BRK quite short while ago. Sure I had seen links and references toward his blog, but as being a hunter isn't much like me, I had avoided that track. But knowing how well known character BRK is, it hadn't slipped by. It's a loss for a while, but surely BRK has built up such a momentum in hunter and WoW blogging that someone will come up and continue from there. Like it was with Phaelia's announcement, the mourning lasted for a while, and the blogging continued.

As a matter of fact, I'm writing because it's quite frightening to think of the similarities of these two prominent bloggers to 'take a leave': personal reasons, neglecting family/spouse, real life. Dechion put it very nicely in the last two phrases of his post:
The forest grew darker still as the bonfire went out, but the home fires burned all the brighter. In the end that is what matters.
That should be what matters: home, family, the community we're really living. Not the virtual reality, fantasy world.

It saddens me enormously to read that -however prominent and respected member of this geekish MMO community ever- has finally noticed how s/he has neglected the real life, the one that really matters.

Like I posted earlier , everyone of us, who is playing WoW, War, EQ, EQ2 with any fervour is a hardcore player: How hardcore depends on the definition. If you take the time which you use in game or in game related activities and turn that into any other hobby, I bet you could be master of anything. Just think of all the time spent in MMO turned into practising singing, playing a guitar or a piano, riding, skating... Anything.

That's a lot.

And if you think of someone spending similar, or even less time in a hobby, you most certainly think of that person as being some sort of fanatic or too involved in the hobby.

Time to think again.

Like I commented in Saresa's Destructive Reach that my wake up call came when my kids were asked where I was better than other daddies. The youngest, 7 years old, responded: My daddy is best in playing WoW. Mind you, I am not raiding, don't have a single level capped toon and I'm not spending most of my time by the computer. Though my family sees it that way.

I wish all the best to BRK and Phaelia and may the balance between life and hobbies be reached for the rest of us.

My thoughts on roleplaying

This is the second post in the series responding to Azariel's questions, defining my view on role-playing in MMO's and in games in general. First one dealt with definitions, this on my thoughts about roleplaying in games.

Total Immersion

The most memorable gaming experiences, both in pen and paper and in computer games, for me have been the ones I can only describe as total immersion to the game. Taking up the story so personally that you really take the place of the avatar/character on screen. This comes up from several factors, but for me the most important is that I'm interacting with the world as the character, not as the player through the character. Thus there should be better tools to interact with the world in character rather than using the game as a social interface tool.

Chance of making change

Another important issue is the possibility of the single character to make difference in the world. It's the small things that make it, like scribbling your signature on the toilet wall... not that I'm encouraging it in real, but the tangible 'mark' you/your character makes to the world. In MMO's currently the issue is relevant because of the fact that the NPC you have to kill will spawn back in few minutes only to be killed again later by another player, the quest giver will be handing out the same bundle of notes to be delivered right after you have acquired yours and so on. 

If the character kill a boss or a quest mob, this mob should be done with: no more encounter, and rest of the game should reflect that.

Which leads to the next one.

Character impact in the world

The standard heroic high fantasy story tells about the stable boy who gets to be the hero saving the world. Naturally the sandbox world would make this harder to acquire, as the stories would rely so much more on the shoulders of the character interactions and the world. However, in a story and quest driven surroundings of EQ2 and WoW, the main storyline, even though coming together from several quests, should be possible and even encouraged. I myself have gotten frustrated over the lost questlines in WoW, namely the Sillithids (the 'chapters' are spread across and without a growing storyline), Burning Hand (the storyline dies too soon, just when the starting Horde character starts to get interested) and so on.

The stories could come up with a story for the character, where this characters actions really make the difference, have an impact in the world as whole. It doesn't matter if this is just an illusion, but it would be very real and personal experience for the player. In WoW the new Phasing technology seems to be capable of creating the illusion that your character is making the difference: My bet is that this will be the main focus of the Blizzards secret MMO project.

All actions have consequences

In the real world you can be an asshole, but the world will treat you like one, too. If you steal, you'll be facing the consequences. Why on earth isn't this viable in the fantasy world? In WoW you are encouraged to kill NPC's not following the consensus, you are asked to steal and murder without any consequences.

However, in single player games like Fable2 and Oblivion your every decision effects the way NPC's tied to certain factions interact with you. Cheat one, and the others will not trust you. Kill someone, and you'll have the guards chasing you. How hard could this be to implement in a MMO? Darkfall has something along the lines, though if the scale goes from -100 to +100 as Syncaine reported, it makes is possible that you kill baddies till you are at +100 and then some of your own without any consequences as far as you don't drop below 0.

Tools of the trade

The current MMO's are more like social playgrounds for the gamers instead of the worlds in which the characters live: the tools of interaction are very limited at best and the game aspect is way too profound. However, you cannot win a MMO, as there are no real winning conditions.

Like I have earlier stated, the social tools should be upgraded. In role-playing side the upgrade should be made so that the interface itself reflects the in character and out of character interactions, making the player-to-player interactions more character-to-character based, and thus creating more immersive surroundings.

If you think of WoW, the role-playing tools are very inadequate and to really role-play your character you have to work the system around to make it work. Instead, IMO it should be the other way around: to be able to interact only out of character should be the harder part.


Even the earlier single player games have had the technology to make each playing of a game different through the effect of what you as a player decided to do. The persistent world however breaks this illusion by forcing the same experience to every player, regardless of the decisions they make.

I'm not saying that these things are viable for execution with the current technology, but they could be worked towards the end of total immersion.

The reward should be satisfying, immersive experience, in which the decisions you make as a character make the difference in the world. And in the story of the character.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scarp-tastic Me-Me..

Well, look at that.


“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

Honest Scrap... Clearly discarded stuff, mean't for recycling. That's what Softthistle from A Little WoW For Me thinks I'm worth. To be honest, this meme has been going around in ever speeding cycles only because of the requirement to find 7 blogs to recommend.

We'll see about that...

Because of the rules of engagement, all I can say is that I'll do my best to recycle other bloggers thoughts with my own little twist in them. And by saying that, I have to best them all. Well, not maybe Tobold or Syncaine, but most everyone else.

The Rules are thus:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

I'm so bleeding meticulous in following the rules, I'm going to do whatever the doctor prescribed. Seven bloggers that have helped me to become the blogger I am. And hopefully are not tagged earlier...

  1. Hudson from Hudson's Hideout. His outbursts and downright up to the point posts come in decent doses, never failing to tickle my fancy. Keep them coming, bro!
  2. SaraPickell from Symptom of a Greater Cure. In her own words "witty and at least mildly sarcastic", though the last few posts have been in a bit more stronger tones. Great read, not least because she's brilliant writer.
  3. Dechion from Dechion's Place (genius naming, eh?): not the shortest posts ever, but the ones I read word for word. Great thinking, great deliberation and great execution. Top notch!
  4. These memes wouldn't be anythign without Heartless_. Doubt that he will respond, but Heartless_Gamer treats everyone with similar (dis)respect, regardless of game. Honest to the core.
  5. Pete from Dragonchasers: so broad view on games with so much passion. Worth every post.
  6. Somehow these economist blogs have slipped past this, so I'm going to favour Marcko over Gevlon this time: both are experts in gold making and AH in WoW, but Marcko gets the award for his Just My 2
  7. My list wouldn't be complete without Ysharros and Stylish Corpse.
The next part... Ten facts about me... This is the part I hate.

  1. I'm an early riser. On weekdays, I'm up at 5 am, weekends... 7 am. Rest of the family snores till 11 am, so I have plenty of time to check AH, do a couple of quests and take the dogs out.
  2. I have 4 kids. Three of them play WoW under my account. My eldest, our daughter, doesn't anymore, because at the age of 14 (almost 15), boys who play WoW are more interesting. She could beat them on PvP anyday, though.
  3. As of the kids wasn't enough, I have 4 Irish Wolfhounds. Talk about 'peace and quiet' around our house.
  4. I love to read and write. However, I have seldom time for either.
  5. I have a long drive to and from work.
  6. I have started practising Shorinji Kempo just this spring. I'm on bruises and sore almost every day of the week. Loving it.
  7. I formed a Guild in WoW for me and my brothers to hang around. We still have 14 others in the Guild regardless of the fact that we are mainly neglecting them.
  8. I started WoW on US server only to notice that the time difference made playing a nightmare. Playing on EU servers isn't much better due to the population.
  9. I hate spring... or actually, the end of winter: muddy, wet and messy.
  10. My BMI was 30.6 in the beginning of this year. Now its 29.4, and my fat % has decreased more than that figure suggests.
Oh, and one extra tidbit: I'm going to attend to a half marathon on May and I haven't ran within the last few months due to the weather. No running at all. I'm going to die.

There you have it. Hope you like what you see and even more so, I hope the ones tagged will notice this crappy thing.

C out.

Definitions of Role-Playing

This is the first post inspired by the comment made by Azariel in How about roleplaying? and I'm trying to define my views on roleplaying and more importantly, roleplaying in computer games and MMO's. Granted right away, that I've not played in RP server except in EQ2, but that didn't result a single roleplaying experience within the short time I was playing in there.

The issue is such that it requires definitions, even to the people who are playing. If nothing else but to have a common basis and nomenclature from which to discuss. Here we go.
What is roleplaying? What is RPG?

Roleplaying refers to the changing of one's behavior to assume a role, either unconsciously to fill a social role, or consciously to act out an adopted role.
while roleplaying games are defined as:
A role-playing game is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create stories. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, they may improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the games.
In addition, roleplaying games are:
role-playing game (RPG; often roleplaying game) is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters.
And further more, computer rpgs:

computer role-playing game (CRPG) is a broad video game genre originally developed for personal computers and other home computers. ... The earliest CRPGs were inspired by early role-playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, and attempted to provide a similar play experience.

Despite a spectrum of features and game styles, there are some elements common to the CRPG genre. Perhaps the most salient is that of the avatar, with its quantized characteristics that typically evolve over the course of the game, and take the place of the gamer's own skill in determining game outcomes. Another common element in CRPGs is a well-developed fictional setting.

Whole lot of definitions.

My personal view of roleplaying games, be it pen and paper rpg, computer/console rpg or MMORPG is that the character depiction, avatar, should be considered as a person in the fantasy world with it's particular rules and laws. Thus I'm very much in favor of the original definition of the Roleplaying.

While I play, I think firstly from the point of view of the character, then from the point of view of my personal greed for power and advancement. And for me there are no winners nor bragging rights in RPG's except from the character point of view. Claiming ownage in pen and paper games is pretty much impossible as the interpretation of the world and rules differs from group to group: thus it was unnecessary point of the game. However, the current MMO's tend to put the emphasis on the GAME rather than the ROLE-PLAYING, making the playfield completely different.

Skin crawl or taking the class

However, the definition of MMORPG is somewhat more detailed and more gamelike. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia states pretty clearly about roleplaying in MMORPG's, that:

Some MMORPGs also may expect players to roleplay their characters – that is, to speak and act in the way their character would act, even if it means shying away from other goals such as wealth or experience. However, as this behavior is far from being the norm, most MMORPG players never actually play the roles of their characters. Still, MMORPGs may offer "RP-only" servers for those who wish to immerse themselves in the game in this way.
So for the roleplaying servers the game should be more on the Roleplaying than on the gear grind and theorycrafting. WoW is more -from this point of view- for taking the class and learning the role of the class than roleplaying the character. That, however, has become the norm of the MMO's from early on, and there doesn't seem to be any difference in the game rulesets (levels, skill based) at all.

Would there be interest for a MMO in which the world -and the ruleset- forces the player to take on the character and do the skin crawl?

Roleplaying vs. Ruleplaying/Power playing

Where theorycrafting rules and gear and levelling is more important than growing the character as such, the power playing rules. In WoW this has been made easier and easier over the life of the game, speeding up the levelling and making the over-levelling of instances and quests a norm. In a sense the game is a vague shadow of the vast content it has, because currently the new players are fast forwarded through the content that really is the Fantastic Journey of the new created character to the Herodom. Purely by roleplaying you gimp your character, as you make your weapon, gear and buff choices based on the character's perception, not to min-max the stats. I have that on my protection warrior: instead of having two-handed sword, which is vastly better for levelling purposes, he has taken dual wielding instead: sticking purely on swords, the human weapon, instead of the axes and such. Min-maxing favours ruleplaying, and WoW -and majority of the concurrent MMO's- clearly encourages this.

Gear and ownage

Like I stated earlier, in pen and paper games claiming ownage is more or less impossible due to the fact that the rulesets, worlds and gearsets differ vastly from a group to another. However, in MMO's the persistance of the world imposes same rulesets, gear and interpretation to all. This massive multiplayer surrounding does however make unique gear less unique due to the fact that it's impossible to have loot tables which would take the uniqueness into consideration. Also 'unique' quest rewards become norm as more or less all the characters finish the same quests. Thus there are no bragging rights with gear anymore, as every content is grindable to the point that eventually everything is available to the one with most persistance.

Which leads to the fact in current MMO's: is the most succesfull player the one who has most time to put into the game, or the one having the most fun in the game with much less?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Random Thought #3: Same old, same old

Caught myself 'reading' 237 blog entries through my reader. Learned a lesson, which dmosbon politely told me after I had Tweeted that I lost my appetite to write anything to this blog of mine after reading other blog entries. The lesson is: write before reading your reader.

Point taken.

The blogosphere seems to be full of the same old: PTR news and discussion, why WoW is so good/bad/better than game X, why game X is better/worse than WoW and so on. What's new?

Actually Tobold posted a nice wall of text about why Age of Conan, Warhammer and Darkfall didn't succeed in being the WoW killer. While he's making it pretty provocative, I cannot but think in similar veins. WoW just did everything better than the competitors and has being improving over time, regardless of us vocal minority who report the problems in the game.

For me it's simple: I have my brothers in WoW, and they are not willing to switch to some new, unknown game. So I stay. And I don't have the time to start a game in which the social tools might be better, the challenge is bigger and the options more varied simply because it takes enormous amount of time to get into the social circles, grow the character and learn the game.

Dumbed down it may be, but WoW is the best there is around for the real casual player me. It could be easily better, if the level distribution wasn't so screwed and up heavy, so the world would seem more alive. And the social contacts were there. 

But that's another story.

I wish you a good weekend, where ever you may roam, what ever you may do.

Don't hurt yourself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hellfire Citadel revisited

Call to Arms was voiced over the electronic void to join the Battle of Darrowshire. However, the impromptu responses resulted The Three Stooges reunion in Terokkar Forrest, after which the troupe impossible decided to enter the Hellfire Citadel: Ramparts.

As it happens, our earlier entry to the Ramparts was anything short of a disaster. We only cleared the first boss -Watchkeeper Gargolmar- and called it a night. Every mob was a struggle.

Not this time. After one bad pull we more or less cleared the Gargolmar in the corridor. At which time the Stooges' troupe got an unexpected guest: Solaire, the deathar... Death Knight of the Order of the Fist joined us and on we went. Omor the Unscarred -and everything preceding it- was cleared in a breeze. Even Vazruden was easy, but Nazan, Vazruden's Nether Drake proved to be too much in the run: wiped once due to tank's poor handling (shame on me) of the flame breath the drake uses against the grounded opponents... Somehow it just slipped, so sue me.

The second encounter was a breeze. Sadly the boss loot this time was all Shammy gear, so off to the disenchants they went.

As we were enjoying the company and the performance, we decided to take on the Blood Furnace after the repairs.

All well in the run, wiped three times, two of which were on the second boss, Broggog, whose poison AoE caught us by a surprise. Deaths were plenty, but considering the fact that I had done the instance only once, Bishop maybe twice, Förgelös never and Solaire a couple of times, we did great. Earned Förgelös the Achievement and some nice drops. Oh, and grats to Förgelös and Bishop for dinging in the instances!

Impromptu guild run wins random PUG anytime. It was a pleasure to run with people who wanted to do things right, together and in common pace.

Azariel, the player behind Solaire, posted a nice set of questions in his recent response to the "How about roleplaying?" post I posted yesterday. I will answer those questions in separate posts, as they are worth plunging deeper into. However, to answer properly may take some time, so I'm not promising the posts starting tomorrow: perhaps over next few weeks would be more appropriate. Thank you, friend!

How about roleplaying?

Ysharros over at Stylish Corpse posted some days ago a thought provoking post about roleplaying in MMO's, mainly from the point of view if the MMO's are rpg's at all. Somehow the post connected to my thoughts about roleplaying in MMO's and spurred some age old ideas from the days I was very strongly into the pen and paper roleplaying.

What could make the MMO's more roleplayable rather than gearing and levelling game? Of course one thing would be that the worlds should be less static, and the actions of the character should have profound effect on the world as whole. I can see that the phasing technology Blizzard used in Wrath of the Lich King can create a game in which the character's actions seem to have an effect on the surrounding world. I could be so bold, even, to say that this tech will be the backbone of their future 'secret' project.

The other thing making roleplaying more prominent would be a system in which your actions as a character would really make the difference in the perception of NPC's and other players. In DarkFall the system ranks your player kills on honor scale from -100 to 100, rating you as free kill on the negative side of the scale, also making it impossible to trade or enter cities of that faction. In WoW the reputation system tries to simulate that, but it's used only for the reputation grind based gear and recipes: a great system stronly abused. I say that because the same system is in use as Honor in battlegrounds: the difference is negligible and has no real effect in the world and your character's interactions with it.

In the original D&D and AD&D there was the Alignment, much discussed and very much explained system of rating the characters view of the world. This system could pretty easily replace that of honor or reputation, as it would impose the moral views on the character, and it could easily be flexible stat. Evil deeds taint the mind, good deeds purify it.

These are just few things that could help the MMORPG's become more RP than G's. Like jedioftheshire so well stated that: "It’s not a Virtual World anymore, it’s just a game. The people that play MMOs are gamers first and RPers second because intuitively we know this. MMOs aren’t designed to be rich RP environments, and they’re successful at what they do, so the trend may be to continue to shy away from RP-friendly design."

Which kind of summarises the problem with MMO's: they are 'just' games, not really roleplaying games from which they have evolved. The best theorycrafter has the edge, not the one best versed in the world.

What would be your ideas to improve the roleplayability of the current MMO's?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Best PUG guide, ever

'nuff said. Best served cold, especially to the 'levelled-to-cap-know-it-all's and newcomers alike. 

What was left out of that is the fact that there are tanks, dps and healers alike, who have no knowledge of the instance being PUGged.

Like me on Laiskajaakko or Pupunen. 

But being the clever me, I tell that to everyone. And get kicked out of groups from time to time.

I'm not quitting and I'm gonna do my darnest to learn and perform.

Read this guide. Now.

Everyone is hardcore... almost

I noticed one thing about WoW and hardcore gaming during the weekend. There are some players that are online almost all the time, at least everytime I login, be it morning, day or night. Naturally, they are hardcore gamers who are tackling (currently farming) the raid content of the game, who couldn't care less about this kind of blog.

But there are very few level capped players who take the game less seriously.

In short form, I think everyone who has played the game to the level cap is hardcore. I have been playing the game for about 2 years and I haven't capped yet. I'm as casual as casual can be, and most likely I will never experience the raiding as it's supposed to be. Most probably I'll resort to the Greedy Goblin way and purchase myself a raid when the time comes to visit the raid dungeons.

There are the old raiders, who have plunged through the Vanilla dungeons, Outlands raiding and are now bored to death with Sarth+3. Then there are the ones, who have started when The Burning Crusade hit the shelves and ran through Karazhan and Mt. Hyjal to the max, killing Kil'Jaeden before moving on to Wrath of the Lich King. And then there are the newcomer achievers, who have started to play when Wrath of the Lich King opened Northrend and DeathKnights for all to use and abuse.

All of these groups are playing the levelling game at speed which tells me at least that the quest are just ran through and next to no interest is put on the stories themselves.

And to me, everyone falling into one or another of these categories is hardcore.

All players who have time to form and upkeep guilds, raiding schedules and preparing for raiding are hardcore: WoW is their hobby or extremely large part of their life.

May sound strange, but I'm happy that I'm not one of them.

But avast!, this extends to all MMO's eventually! As the discussion is raging about "WoW Tourists" trying to bend and evaluate all games -DarkFall in this case- in terms of WoW, one thing comes obvious: in games like EVE Online and DarkFall, which are skill based, the gaming hardcore is the ruling class. We casuals cannot even join a guild before we'd be ganked million times and quit. And if we got into guilds, we wouldn't be able to 'train our skills' up to the standards of the guild, thus making us dispensable.

All this time I really wanted to try the deep end of the pool and subscribe for DarkFall when it opens the doors for the less hardcores to enter. Now I know I do not have time and this game is not for the casuals (in the context I can talk about being casual, that is).

This can be evaluated easily, though. Compare your /played to the time you have been playing in Real Time (tm). How may hours a day that would count to?

My time ingame per day is negligible.

How about yours?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Complete nonsense

The weekend -gaming wise- was complete nonsense: nothing seemed to work. The Avool's Sword of Jin didn't sell even vastly below the market price and competition, so I might as well take it to the Neutral AH and sell it for loss. Our test in Stratholme in Prot Warrior Tank and DK failed miserably: what the heck is Cadaver Worms disease?! 10 minute, 150 damage / 10 sec and -100% hp recovery?! Kills food, bandages and HoT's effectively, that one. Otherwise we would have wiped the whole instance in a breeze. Really.

Then we failed a simple quest with Förgelös, my brother's rogue, in Outlands. If there are 12 blood elf casters in a channelling for an artifact and you have to access the artifact, the why on Azeroth are they connected to each other? Aggro one, and you get three on you, which naturally are runners!! 

Then again, I completed four quests with Laiskajaakko, getting closer to close the Eastern/Western Plaguelands quests alltogether and I finally managed to get the best vanilla quest chain to the climax: Battle of Darrowshire!

I'm putting my guild in Call to Arms and we'll going to kick some Scourge butt!

For the Alliance! For Argent Dawn! 

Erm... Laiskajaakko hit honored with Argent Dawn. Not a long way to go to Exalted, that is!

And the positive challenge continues. Everything went wrong, but we had fun. And that's what counts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trade channel comments

Another fine day in the AH world in two separate servers. In Thunderhorn the money keeps slowly rolling in: 'only' 120g profit yesterday, mostly from commodities. No vendorable deals as usual, which tells that the people on the server know the value of items. Trade channel was full of purples, mostly crafted and few which there are thirteen in a dozen. No surprises there. Half of the income went to resale purchases, though, so the AH keeps rolling money in. And it's the slowest time of the week...

I love it.

On the other server, however, situation is quite different: the prices live like there was no tomorrow! The epics seem to be at a way higher value range, so my measly 200-300g cannot even scratch the market. Then again, I made similar profits from the earlier day, with much lower priced trade items than I have in Thunderhorn. I could say that the lowlie trade goods are in good demand on this server, still. Also the conversion trade works, whereas the price levels on Thunderhorn don't provide such opportunities.

Which actually was a subject of discussion in the trade channel on this server: someone started ranting how the prices of Crystallized Fire had dropped dramatically overnight and how the prices of Eternal Fire seemed to be incredibly low. As you might know, you can split one Eternal to 10 Crystallized ones, this being known as conversion if you make profit from doing this split. And as far as I know, the Eternals are pretty useless in professions, whereas Crystallized ones are used in several recipes.

However, this certain person couldn't take the fact that the demand and supply are the main things that generate the price ranges in AH. Instead he proposed that there should be set limits to the prices of goods in AH, so that the high end prices wouldn't become outrageous and the low level prices would stay 'reasonable'. Now I know that Gevlon could say something great and intelligent on this subject, but as I'm not as economics savvy all I can say is that this thinking is faulty and stupid.

My only comment was that if the prices of certain goods were too low for comfort and demand, make the market accept a new price range. I did that on Linen Cloth, Tigerseye and Wool Cloth the other day, and rose the price to double it was when I started. With minimal money, as the price ranges were very, very low.

The main argument was that the epics prices are too high and in some cases quite outrageous: prices of 10k in Allakhazam were unthinkable. Then again, the Nobles Deck, which is the source of 'incredibly op trinket' (according to one player), was selling like Coca Cola on this server at price range of 6000-8000g... Which tells something about the state of crafting in this server. And no-one thought that this price was too high...

Strange how illogical people sometimes are.

However, I made several mental notes out of this:
1) as the market is still emerging, even the low level trade goods are good money
2) because the raiding is not so fully working on this server, there might be some nice catches coming later on: eyes open on epics and rares
3) the crafting is way behind the level composition of the server, so everything needed for meaningfull crafted items is in dire need
4) You can dominate the AH easily on this server with well placed purchases and pricing.

Ah, I love the smell of napalm... erm... I love the AH in the morning, when the people have mispriced their precious loot.

Oh, yes, and I made 5g 78c from vendoring stuff directly from AH. This server is easy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Different breeds

Inspite of what the topic suggests, this time I'm not talking about players nor classes. Instead I'm plunging my head into the swamp of different servers and especially their AH economies. Being avid reader of Gevlon, WoWEconomics and MMOAuctioneer, and a long time Auctioneer user on the server I'm residing, I have decided to take a challenge on another server, too. Quite new and only low population server which is on the suggested list still. As a matter of fact, when the opportunity came for free transfers, I transferred my kids toons to this server along with one of my horde side toons. A priest, as it happens.

With just 9g with her, this priest was activated only on weekend. Like I have posted earlier, I have a mild case of burnout to the levelling grind and overlevelling the content. So I decided to start the minigame of auctioneering, flipping and making steals in the marketplace.

Boy what an experience that was! Whereas in Thunderhorn, first generation server with majority of the toons level capped and alts, you really have a huge competition and most of the niches have been covered, in this server everything is open for (ab)use. Within few hours I had built my wealth to 50g only by flipping low priced commodities (linen cloth, Tigerseye and such) and had even found stuff below vendor values in the AH! On Thunderhorn that's something I can only dream about.

Overnight my wealth tripled from the stuff I had left for sale, and most of the outrageous bids I had made came through: the trading community isn't too awakened, that's for sure.

I checked this toon yesterday, and it seems that I'm making more money on this newer server than in the old school Thunderhorn. All I can say is that I really admire sociopathic Gevlon and realistic tyson for their ability to build such vast wealths on any server they choose: I'm having trouble on my main server to break the 10k mark while questing with two toons and trading with one. On the other hand, a half an hour in the newer server generates better income than the same time on Thunderhorn.

It seems that the bread and butter is coming from Conversion trade and the excess wins from the lucky shots in recipes and blues. That's the rule on both of them, but the results vary.

Curiously different breeds these server economies are.


Quite nice thing to have a site counter to see where people are coming to the blog. Recently there has been a distinct trend that the comments that I post to other, more esteemed, blogs create a decent amount of visitors. As it happens, it seems to do so in growing numbers, as I remember my comments causing only one or two visitors from those comments. Now I can count ten to twelve visitors from a single comment... Peculiar.

Another 'everlasting' search word that brings visitors to the blog is Maraudon. Obviously people are looking for information on how, why, when and what is that much neglected but extremely beautifull instance. Oh, yes, it's long, time consuming trap, but IMO it's worth every minute of it. Once you've run through it, though, you will not do it again unless you must.

I'm getting steady few hits a day, doubling everytime I post. Or comment in someone's blog. I wish to see some growth as I will start blogging with positive mindframe. Positivity breeds success.

Anyhow, thank you for visiting and I wish you a nice rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Positive week challenge!

I tweeted last week on Friday, that I challenge all, each and every tweeter and blogger following me to post and tweet only positive things this week. I'm going to do my best at that, because it is a challenge for me: I'm Mr. Negative in my thinking, seeing ghosts and goblins behind every corner. People at the office know me best by my daily quote: "Pessimist will not disappoint", so go figure.

Weekend was fa-bu-lous. I pruned the guild, dropping some 10 or so toons out of the roster: none of them had logged in within the last two months, and I hate the idea of MY guild being an alt garage. Now we're down in the member count, but at least these members are active, up-and-running and available at least occasionally. 

Based on the quick tweet-poll, a social guild cannot be active without an active GM. Social guilds need their town fool to run the show, arrange activities and keep the things running smoothly. Kind of taking the burden off of the shoulders of the players themselves.

I can live with that: I'm on slow fuel, so the guild can take that, too.

On the other hand, I levelled three toons during the weekend: priest, druid and warrior. Boy what a different experience each was to another! Now I understand that you can switch the build but not necessarily master all of them as well: I was so lost of the keybindings of my Warrior after the two casters at first. But soon enough I was killing things some levels above my level, so no real problems in there.

AH was a HUGE success: I bought Slime Stream Bands for 1500g (biggest purchase ever for me) and sold them within minutes for 2800g, making nice 1100g profit (excluding the AH fees and such). What was especially rewarding in this was the fact that I was being 'forced' to accept that the Bands were worth 'just' 2000g in direct trade. Now I'm having Avool's Sword of Jin to sell, which I bought for 1400g: it's easily worth 2500-3000g, now I just have to find the raider who is in dire need of enhancing DPS.  Considering the profit I made earlier, I'm very much on the safe side with this purchase and will be making some neat profit.

All the while, the smaller, bread and butter trades are going on. I've found that the Converter function in Auctioneer is a real money maker, and it's pretty incredible how much money you can make just by scanning the products sold below Vendor prices... my last count was a bit over 12 g in two days, so go figure!

All in all, I enjoyed my weekend in the games. What a change: I just took myself from the grind and enjoyed the minigame of AH.

What a strange and postive thing world is.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Individual community

There was an interesting editorial in the local newspaper today. And quite surprisingly I started thinking the editorial in terms of WoW guilds and social surroundings.

Because the editorial discussed the current trend of individual benefit over the benefit of the community. Mainly the editor was viewing this western phenomenon from the viewpoint of nationalism, governments and the individual in these contexts. Overall, the editorial was very well written and pointed out the problems arising from the instant gratification culture which emphasizes the individuality over the communality.

I hope I'm making sense, as the language barrier is bothering be at the moment.

The more people are taught that their personal happiness, gain and individuality matters more than the general good of the many, the more the societies split and splinter, causing even more hardships to the government because how do you satisfy the needs of several splintered groups having different needs and demands? The democratic power of the majority gets split into quarreling sub-groups and thus the democratic decision making gets jeopardized alltogether.

This goes extremely well into MMO's, WoW being excellent example of this.

As the personal benefit -soloability, loot- becomes the main motivator, even the easy content becomes hard in the end as the group effort needed for raiding becomes secondary to the personal gain: the 'strong' will survive, but the community suffers. The guild system in WoW doesn't encourage people to support the guild, the guild hopping is an excellent example of that. This guild cannot offer me anything more, so I'll move to the next one.

It's a question of what the guild can offer to me, rather than what can I give to the guild to make it succeed.

Instead, the guild system should encourage the people to do more for the guild and advance as guild. If we're thinking about the Middle-Ages, that was the reason for the guilds and orders in the first place: to advance their common good instead of the good of the one artisan or knight.

The splintered communality has shown it's ugly face twice in a couple of days: the Alabama shooting and the Germany's school shootings prove that the individuality can go too far for the human animal to cope with. 

The Vulcan saying is considered a joke nowadays, but I think it would be good to start valuing that. "The needs of the many outweight the needs of one." Well, maybe not in as strong context, but it would be high time for the Western civilization to realize the Zen-kind of thinking that even though everything starts from the individual, everything is connected and effects everyone.

Community is not a bogey to be shunned from. If we consider the games being one way of educating the young about the proper code of conduct, the developers are in a pretty influential position in this sense.

This is a very messed up post. I hope you get something out of it. At least it made sense to me.

EDIT: As it happens, Tobold wrote about the games and the learning from them. Same issue, different approach.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

End Game as in End of game?

Stropp posted a great post the other day. In a way, his thoughts are very much similar to mine. Dualistically thinking, why bother with the journey, if all you care is the destination. On the other hand, why bother with the finale if the journey is worth the trouble.

I'm definitely an explorer gamer myself, and I've been enjoying the journey in WoW way too much to rush to the end. As a matter of fact -as you can read from my former posts- I'm a bit frustrated over the fact that people are rushing to the famed End Game to grind the same mobs night after night. Then again, the levelling game gets stale after the second or third levelled toon, as the mid-game content is stable and not evolving at the same rate as the end game content.

As it happens, Crucifer commented my "Too easily soloable?"-post nicely. To put it short, Azeroth is a timesink up to level cap, each expansion measured in 10 days cycles: in full month of played even the slowest gamer would reach the cap and start grinding raid instances. On the other hand, raid instances are available from lv 60 onwards, but no-one is taking the challenge at that point: instead, it's more "efficient" to rush through the solo content to the level cap, avoiding grouping on the way. There are only few instances that you really want to visit on your way up there.

Azeroth is full of lame quests, too few long and involving quest chains and the continuity of the "chapters" -or storytelling quests- is non-existing. For example, I wanted to get into a chain which would have lead me from starting areas to Eastern Plaguelands, suitable for my alliance priest. Not available, only bits and pieces you really have to seek to find the route there. And the speeded overlevelling takes the challenge off of this endeavour. On my horde toon I tried to find continuity in the Silithid-storyline, but that too is split into incontinuing series of quests, which you really have to seek to make any sense of it. The lore is not used to the max in here. 

Like Crucifer said in his comment: the game isn't episodic, it's not growing the continuity or the epic stories started from the newborn hero-in-training.

But as WoW isn't great in storytelling, it's lacking in the social aspects, it's not a sandbox to do as you please and it's unchallenging as a game, what is it except a platform for the raiding population to bang their pixels against 'the only challenge in the game'?

I think it's eye candy entertainment: panem et circensis for the people.

What if, this is just speculation, someone in Blizzard got to her/his head that to make their cash cow timesink even more so by changing the original quests into chains leading the character from heroic deed to another, providing speedy and interesting levelling experience? Some might say that this is more railroading, but then again, if the levelling told you a story, wouldn't you be interested to read it through at least once? And as Azeroth has such a huge amount of those bits and pieces to connect with a message from a NPC or a connecting quest from another, the levelling experience would be easily different each time.

The other thing completely is the fact that WoW isn't sandbox enough, as it has already railroaded the way people play the game: from mob to another, quest to the next and from area to area to get the exp needed to level. It's not open enough to make the game interesting anymore.

The platform for great storytelling is there: the World of Warcraft -Azeroth- is beautiful, intriquing and involving place filled with lame excuses for quests and utterly stupid pixel mobs. How hard would it be to change it bit by bit in the next content patches? I mean, EQ and EQ2 do it constantly with less fuzz.

Blizzard, its time to wake up. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have reported my son's endeavours wrong in the recent post. His toon isn't lv38, but lv36. The Hunter he duelled down was lv39.

Yesterday he told me that he's downing lv42 mobs in Tanaris without breaking a sweat. I'm amazed and in awe: I've yet to see that myself, because I've never been able to do that. Six levels higher mobs?

What can I say. My kid has bested me.

I'm bloody pwnd.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Too easily soloable?

By tweaking the experience gains time and again, Blizzard has made WoW even more soloable than before. The only problem is that WoW is a massive-multiplayer online roleplaying game, aka MMORPG. And no MMO is rival to a good single player game, ever, when measured in single player content.

However, WoW's bread and butter, the levelling game consisting currently of the original 'Vanilla-WoW', Outlands and Northrend seems to be trying to compete with single player games. The levelling game is so much tweaked to make the player over level the content as s/he plays, so that the dungeon instances are being neglected alltogether. I've recently noticed that it's next to impossible to get instance groups to the original lv60 end game instances, but now it seems that the Outlands instances are experiencing the same. As the Deathknight wave has passed the Outlands, the instances are void and empty of players. The content is full of quest mobs to kill and because of this the game is even 'faster' to level up... and the killing seems even more a chore or grind than ever.

My honest opinion is that Blizzard should have given the opportunity to the level capped players to express level their secondary toons after they had levelled their main to the cap, instead of speeding up the levelling process throughout the lower level content in the first place. Why? Because now the original content is overlevelled and the current newcomers are only seeing a fast forward version of the magnificient content in the Old Azeroth. Even I'm getting extremely frustrated over the fact that I'm overlevelling the Outlands content which I'm experiencing for the first time round, let alone my brother who's just entered the Outlands: instead of trying to level up his toon just entered to the Outlands he's started another one to experience the Old World content from another view instead!

Sure, WoW is made to be easily soloable, but it's not single player game. Currently it feels like it's one, though, and that is really a shame.

If the End Game is all that matters, why on Azeroth do we have to plunge through the levelling content in the first place?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blind min-maxing

This is actually an addenum or continuation to the previous Ruleplayers and Roleplayers post in a sense, because it was initiated by my son last evening. He came to tell me about another hunter, two levels higher than my son's hunter (lv 39 I think), who challenged my son to a duel. By inspecting the challenger my son concluded that the other guy was similar to his friend: the gear was up to the level blues and even some purples, the pet was trained to the player level and everything seemed like a sure failure.

However, this is where the part of which I'm proud of comes, my son took the challenge because he knows he can play his character. And like I have stated earlier, he plays very well both solo and in groups.

He couldn't help laughing when he told about the duel: the other was down before he had lost 1/3 of his health.

What good is that min-maxing and lore breaking rule playing, if you cannot use the skills, gear and information you gain from the stuff you read and learn?

Oh, by the way: my son took a two levels higher paladin down earlier, too. Same thing: know it all who was looking for an easy fight.

And to make it known: my son's hunter is mainly Marksman, but with some talents from other trees, too. He has made his talents based on his play style, not the other way around, to which I'm guilty of.

All I can say to him is...


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm Spellborn

I downloaded The Chronicles of Spellborn as it happens to have free play for the first 7 levels. And because I remembered some nice reviews from Tipa and others who have tried and reported about the game way back when.

And I was hooked.

The introduction to the actual game was great: having a few cut scenes really made the beginning interesting. The UI is a spitting image of that from EQ2, so I'm bound to describe it EQ2 Lite.

Ok, granted, the character graphics are awful, the toons are downright ugly, but then again, you don't have to look at your avatar. What really pleased me was the ability to colour the gear the way you want to. 

Me being the sucker for content, surroundings and lore, the game delivered the weird sense of wonder. Many times over during the initial session of few hours, when I levelled my first warrior to level 5 I experienced the 'Whoa!' and  'WTF?!'-moments. The initial area is generally an introduction area, and the tutorial works extremely well except for the combat. Which in turn is a gem on its own.

My honest opinion is that this gem of game is being neglected for no real reason. The comments I saw ingame from people who came to test it -originating mainly from WoW- was that it was too complex and too different from what they had gotten used to. For me that was exactly the point which made the game so compelling and intriguing: you learned new things on every combat, every quest and every encounter. Your range of choices broadened while your character evolved instead of min-maxing like in WoW: your gear really doesn't matter, but the way you use your skills. All the weapons you start with -with any of the three initial classes- deal the same basic damage: the skills and their combinations in combat do the rest.

If I had to choose one thing from the game to the ultimate MMO, I'd choose the PeP system: Personal Experience Points. The basic idea is that you gain both generic experience -Fame- and PeP from each combat you win. They both have their own gauge and own levels. But if you happen to die, PeP is reset, and you lose all the benefits the PeP levels grant you. So you learn to flee from combat very early on, if you really want to keep your speed and damage buffs on!

And this incited the idea of real Achievements in WoW: gain level 20, 40, 60, 80 without dying one single time. Why not? Gain level 80 without dying in the selected raid dungeons. And so on.

Then again, WoW is the watered down MMO for the people looking for few hours a week entertainment with appropriate reset button at the end of the session. Much like TV series nowadays: continuity from reset to reset and the past has very little influence to the present.

People are lazy, gamers even more so. The Chronicles of Spellborn is too strange, difficult and different for the current WoW addict. Sadly so, because it's a full package for the one who wants to change the pace.

Besides, the world looks great even at the low end 'puter.

My Hero

Thanks to Pete, I just had to do this. Here is My Hero from The Hero Factory. Now, shoo and make your own. I'm not gonna make this a meme and tag anyone.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Holiday's over

I'm back from a short vacation: it was a winter break in here, so I had the chance to spend some quality time with the family. Time well spent.

We will resume the normal program soon enough.