Thursday, December 29, 2011

Official Tanking post

I got lured to tanking again. This time with full plate, tower shield and a huge weapon spewing death and destruction beyond sight.

My sons got me into World of Tanks.

Luckily I was able to take some advantage of the Holiday bonus, so I kind of skipped the training sessions in the starter fights by gaining enough experience to research tier III tank in a blitz (pun intended), even though I went for the Soviet tanks with the famous T-34 in my mind. It's iconic tank in Finland, in a way The Tank for everyone who has ever gotten into WWII over here.

My initial notes about the game are covered with sugar crust, which is slowly starting to crack. It is very easy to get in, you just download the game, create an account and join a random battle with any of the three tier I tanks you are given. You will gain experience and money out of every battle, experience to research better modules for your tanks and opening new, improved tanks and money to pay for the repairs and ammunition.

Simple, eh? I dare you to try it, for WoT has cleverly induced an addictive element not too far from the kind you get from old coin-ops, Tetris or Bejeweled: I can do better in the next match. I. Can. Do. Better. Next time. Just can be done. I will.

The only gripes so far I have with the sudden increase in the price of the modules and module research. All is fine in the first three tiers, the research costs reasonably for the amount of experience you get from a battle, but then - as you try to go from tier III to tier IV - you hit this incredible increase which rises the cost from 1250 points to 5600 for one single module. And it gets worse in the IV to V, where the highest module research goes above 20k.

The module in question is the final of the research before you get to the next tier tank, which makes it extremely frustrating: you are not getting more experience from a battle, you just have to grind more. On the other hand, you will learn to use that particular tank better, but in most cases so far this has proven to be in vain as the next tier tank usually performs completely differently from the previous one, even though they might have similar function on the battlefield.

Now I'm progressing in two branches of the tech tree for the Soviet tanks: one to go for a fast and agile scout (T-50 at tier IV), another for the forementioned T-34 (nickname Sotka) for some fighting action. But as I'm sitting at tier III on both sides, it's frustrating as hell to have that one experience hurdle in front of me while I get about 250-300 exp for a fight. And experience is not transferable from one tank to another...

Anyhow, were I a bit better with my scouting and shooting, I might make more. Then again, the game is so addicting and so much fun when played with my sons in platoons that I may even forget that. Note on platoons: in free to play you can pair with your friend (form a platoon), but only with one. You have to purchase a premium account to be able to form bigger platoons, and the cheapster in me is not willing to do that. We will just switch our platoons as fit and have helluva time on the battlefield.

World of Tanks is fun, suitable for quick battle every now and then, but can you really restrict to that one or two randoms at a time?

I can't.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Playing, gaming...

We've had some nice discussions with my son over the Christmas. This is the oldest one of them, at the tender age of 16. He's pretty clever - I know, I'm his father - and a pretty avid player of games of all sorts. A bit too avid would his mother say, to which I can only add my last words in any such discussion. Being "Yes, dear".

Anyhow, we've been discussing about the current games and how people play them. In fact, he brought up how he's being sick and bored of the people complaining about how MMO's are this and that and how they dig and tweak their characters to a point where they can take on any boss they like. In his words "that's not playing the game, that's playing for winning the game!" To which I can only add that it's the way you play any game to see the 'Game Over' screen and take heed on the signs to continue life.

The most recent incident of the sorts I have encountered comes from the new favorite of the MMO world. Yup, guessed right, it's SW:TOR with it's shining...whatever (yes, haven't played it and most probably won't in a while). I was kind of shocked to learn that people are getting anxious about the end game already, as they have capped their characters already. Come again? The game has been out about two weeks, has eight archetype based advancement lines and accompanying stories to go through?

And people have already 'won the game', gotten all out of it there is to have?

This is the thing with all MMO's out there, thanks to the competitive nature of current day people. Instead of taking the time to enjoy the game/life/hedonistic pleas, we take for granted that we always have to win. In MMO's there is nothing to win except the enjoyment of playing the game. Not gaming the living daylights out of it!

In a way, I would say to the designers of MMO's only this: make the content during the levelling the best content in the game, with fluff and extra doing for the people who enjoy it. They will stick with your game no matter what as long as there is new crafting skills to cover, new discoveries to make, new anything to gain or experience. Let the players blasting through the levelling up to the cap be disappointed, because they are the ones who get bored first and leave your game at the first sign of not being 'challenging' anymore.

Hecklers! In any MMO (I wish I could add the RPG in there, too...) the character who gets to the top of the levelling curve should be a revered hero and ought to retire. Instead, s/he will be living in eternal middle age crisis, trying to prove her/his worth to anyone who wants to listen.

Which isn't many, except the lot of similar failures out there.

Like I've said, I love to play the games for their content: 'end game' content is artificial and there should be the GAME OVER sign above the end bosses lair. But when I want to play a game for winning, I choose something else than a MMO to do it.

I'm more in favor of playing than gaming anyhow. What's your choice?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Update on... well, games

Skyrim. Oh Tamriel, you harsh mistress. 100 hours played, many more to come even just by completing the quests and storylines. So much to do and quite honestly, no other game feels or looks the same anymore.

WoW. Yesterday I logged in to find my mailbox empty. Even on my banker/AH toon. Own fault, it had been over a month since I had logged in last time. Lost about 300k worth of stuff, some of which were recipes and schematics not found in the game anymore. The funniest part? I didn't even feel sorry. My guess is that Cataclysm was the final expansion for me. Now I'm trying to log in weekly for the Three Stooges/Dunces evenings on our second team, every time more astonished how much the game has been nerfed down since the last time we were going through Outlands (soon Northrend).

Otherwise. I haven't been playing anything except Skyrim for the last month or so. And I don't even feel any pull of any other game at all. If Skyrim killed my will to play anything else, so be it: it has been the best game I've ever laid my fingers on.

If only it wasn't so predictable... But then again, everyone is free to tweak the game they want!

Oh, shiny!

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's dead, Jim

First of all, I'm not dead. Nor is this blog. It's this.

Yes, I'm participating and I'm already couple of thousand words short of the aim I'm supposed to be at.

I think it's WoW that is dead for me. I got somewhat pepped up last week when we had the ongoing Three Stooges evening with our second team (paladin, shaman, rogue) and logged in with my - little played - Unholy Deathknight, tender at level 82. Ran some idle quests while queuing for a random and got into the Vortex Pinnacle.

I fully agree that I'm not up to the gear nor anything, but I also must state that I was the only one not stacked with heirlooms and top enchants. I am still running around with my lowbie quest gear, with one or two blues in the mix. And due to this, I was severely lacking in the dps I may have been supposed to deliver. Considering this, I wasn't the one standing in the fire. I was not the one disconnecting repeatedly. I was not the one constantly pulling unnecessary aggro and definitely not the one pulling stuff off from the pally-tank. I even mentioned this and got mentioned for being ok in these regards.

Still I was kicked before the wind dragon boss. The only thing I saw was a note from the warlock who was repeatedly disconnecting and stalling our progress stating "Just kick him" before I was ushered back to the world.

No mention of doing something differently. No mention of getting better or asking if I knew things.

Not. A. Thing.

Sure, where the others were stacking incredible 11k dps at that level (heck, Förgelös barely can make that on a good day on our lv85 trio!!!), I was doing 'merely' 3.5k. Maybe that was the reason, not the overall performance.

So WoW is dead for me except for the Brotherly Thursdays. The community and the players currently suck and are obnoxiously stupid.

I rather spend my time in Rift or Champions Online. At least I'm not judged by an arbitrary number in either, yet, but by my performance and behaviour.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Messing my brain in free to play

Human brain craves for novelty. It thrives on new things, learning new skills, seeing new things. This is why a new MMO is so interesting and this is also why there is a honeymoon after the launch before you can really say anything about the actual game.

But what comes of the brain which is succumbed to repetition and same mechanics for a prolonged period of time? Lazy and confined, like an animal in a zoo, which has been confined to a too small cage. If set free, it will continue the compulsive behavior without even understanding that the cage has been removed.

I've been going through MMOs which have turned from subscription based to free to play, and I can say that I'm pretty much full of the whole genre. I had confined my brain in WoW for too long to even recognize the lack of freedom the game is built with. The jump to EVE was obviously too big a paradigm change, because the freedom and solitude was too much to endure.

Now as I have grown both as gamer, MMO player and human being, I have viewed the games I have tried from quite a different perspective than earlier. Over the last few weeks I have meddled with Rift (ok, I have a sub in there), City of Heroes, Champions Online, Guild Wars and Fallen Earth, last of which came to me as a surprise that it had went F2P.

And boy are they different and strange learning experiences!

First of all, I have learned that I'm more into eye candy than I wanted to believe. City of Heroes, despite the upgrades to the starting story and all, is clunky and the graphics are appalling to me. It underlines the problem I have had with Lotro for example by having the character graphics at different depth or shade than the surrounding area. I would have expected that this 'graphic novel' style would have suited to a superhero game, but it just makes the character look like a sticky note on a report: an added feature. This is where WoW still excels the rest of the AAA games: the graphics are seamlessly in the same style and depth and belong together.

Champions was the next and change from CoH to Champions was like reinventing the superhero MMO! The graphics work like in a cartoon, the over exaggerated hues just bring out the graphic novel style stories and the starter zone flows like a cartoon: from one scene to another. But there is something lacking in the heart of the game, which comes apparent later on. Something I just cannot put my finger on, but it's not calling me to go any further.

Including GW, none of these have even tried to change the MMO in any particular way. Champions has been closest with some pretty nifty ways it handles the skill use and provides just enough choice in the character development to make the character feel own without overwhelming the player. A huge plus is also the fact that I have played Hero Games' pen and paper superhero game, so the basic concepts are very familiar to me... :D

Enter Fallen Earth.

I could rant, but the honeymoon has only begun. I can see some shortcomings in the system, but I regret that this game was not developed by a daring big studio. But then again, it would have never been this rough gem it is. The mere concept of shooter kind of MMO pushed me away when the game launched, where as it should have been the point to really go and try it. The basic "Aftermath"-type postapocalyptic MMO should have been one of the genres I should have tried right away (been a sucker for this genre since the first try of Gamma World way back when).

The game is in the right direction to be honest. Spinks just asked about how we are coping with the coming winter in MMOs and I responded that the MMOs have to evolve for the new spring to come. Fallen Earth has done that in a way I can see evolving the genre. It has a quest driven storyline in it. It has sandbox freedom which enables you to develop your character in a meaningful way even by crafting (guess who is progressing this way... ) and it has graphics which are not too clunky. And the economy, fully player driven, so almost everything above basic materials and guides have to be manufactured by someone.

What strikes me the most is the discussion and questions in the [Help] channel. It really shows how far we have gone from the adventure games of old where you really had to think and do and explore to even get along. These players wouldn't stand a chance playing any of the first four Ultima series' games! And still Fallen Earth is being gentle with players by showing resource nodes, merchants, enemies and all in the minimap and having the NPC telling you whatever you need to know to survive.

The best part of FE for me is the fact that I can pop in for a few minutes to start crafting, do some gathering or scavenging and log off, knowing that everything I just did progresses my character in a meaningful way. And while logging off in a town you can be sure that you have basic resources near by, you can get into the 'chores' right away.

Like I said, I'm still in the blissful honeymoon stage with the game, but my brain is really enjoying the novelty, the new thinking it has to come up with and the possibilities this game might hold in the future.

But today it's Three Dunces/Stooges again in WoW. I can live with that.

If not taking into account SWTOR and GW2, what game is satisfying your brain's craving for novelty?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fool me around, dear

Level cap killed my fun in WoW. Several times over, especially the most recent 'grind rep till you really drop dead and quit' Firelands stunt.

Like I've said time and again, I like levelling up. I like the stories, sometimes even the feeling of being the hero of the day. But when I hit the cap, I really feel that this was it: the stories are told, there is nothing more to go for - especially storywise.

Raiding is no story. Raiding is a passtime for those who play the MMO to win. It's the cornerstone of competitive edge in the genre. Forget the RPG part of MMO's alltogether, as that has been forgotten way back when.

I had a lengthy post written in my head about all this, but the frustration got the better of it. I had clever statements in the lines of comparing the new MMO character's growth - or evolution - to the full blown hero and how that doesn't come anywhere near the concept of Universal Hero which Joseph Conrad coined and George Lucas (among others) later utilized succesfully. There is no such evolution of character in MMO's because everyone is as much a hero as the next player character!

I had also clever reasoning why raiding per se is outdated and faulty design, as it came to be from game mechanics present in Everquest. You had this huge, next-to-unbeatable monster for which you needed really huge amounts of people to beat. The mechanics stated that no single character could have ever fallen those monsters. It was part of the game. Then came the instanced dungeons and raids and it was taken as a norm that the 'final' monsters reside in instanced 'dungeons' with their ever breeding minions.

And the game was over for the heroic evolution on the player character.

Why? Because everything started to evolve around the gear required by game design to fell the beast. No amount of character development was needed, only hitting the cap and gearing up.

Take the quest system to it and you can easily see the current state of levelling: the speediest method wins by far. In Rift, which I currently play most, you get the 'veteran reward potion' which grants you 100% more experience for 2 hours. Clever way to give the players the choice either to level up fast or to take the scenic route. In WoW the 1-60 content has been watered down so much that when you earlier had trouble with world elites of your own level, you can now take down one 2-3 levels higher without breaking a sweat. And you level up the questing zones so fast that you cannot even complete the quest chains in one area without the quests in that chain going grey. 

In short, the story of a young farmer's helper growing into a world saving hero is not there. It cannot be unless the structure of the games is either changed or... we just move back to the single player games.

Bring back the world bosses, which are not contained in the instanced containment fields. Different ways to gain recognition, prestige and power.

And please, please... stop calling 'reputation quests' content. I mean, if you can show me one heroic fiction story in which the hero must do simple, menial tasks time and again to gain favour or influence only to be able to purchase that one shiny piece of gear for his next challenge, then I may accept this. Otherwise it's really just the game developers deliberately wasting the players time because they just couldn't come up with any better.

Content should be something that entices you, lures you deeper into the story or game, makes you feel emotions and grants eventually the sense of accomplishment. The best quest chains do that time and again, even if you know them by heart already.

Senseless reputation grind doesn't. Except for the feeling of accomplishment, which is usually described as being a relief.

How many times you have to be fooled before you see the vanity of it all and say that it's enough?

(Discussion in my Google+ )

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Many faces of content

I've been kind of catching a trend in discussion around the blogosphere and I know I'm a bit late on this. To be honest, I haven't even read my blog reader over the summer, so I really don't know what is going on.

Who cares?

In MMOs we so much love and love-to-hate there has to be some reason why we keep on coming back to this form of 'interactive entertainment'. Yes, let's be honest about it. MMOs are not games because there are no set winning conditions. No "Game Over" screen. No cake.

No. Wait. That was another game.

In the loveliest sense the MMO world would be a virtual life, virtual, boundless world to explore and exploit. However, that would mean also that the 'gameplay' of the sandbox would fall into the hands of the player alone, which in turn makes it too much like 'real life'.

Some say that the content in a MMO is that which is scripted in as quests: menial tasks leading to another and so on. If the quests are just those menial tasks to kill ten (insert a critter name here), then they are not content. They are a filler. A soap opera episode without any ties to the story arc of the season. The episode with big red reset button at the end. You know what I mean.

The best quests, however, are those which lead you to an evolving plot. In WoW there are some must see quest chains which do this, most prominently the Wrathgate-chain and the Mount Hyjal opening. Come to think of it, the whole Cataclysm expansion is one big evolving plot stuff, each area having their own storyline down there somewhere. Shattered by menial tasks, making it next to impossible to follow the actual story among the clutter of clues and sidetracks.

In WoW, there is no way of telling which quest leads to a bigger story.

As I've been playing Rift lately, there is this clever 'story quest' system in: the quests which carry a grand storyline are on a golden background. There are other stories which slowly lead you to these, but the general point is that you know immediately that these stories mean something. I would say that these are the grand story arcs of your favorite tv-series, and you know that you must see the next chapter. And fast.

But quests are not content alone. Nor is the totally open sandbox world. The content comes from the combination of the two, if and only when you add a bunch of players into the play.

You see, I think most of the content is what we create by ourselves while doing those menial tasks to find the story arc lines among other players of the play.

We players are the content. Without us the grand sandboxes and themeparks would be nothing.

PS. As of now, the comments and discussion can be continued in Google+.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blog 3 years

I'm having pretty much going on in the home front, so I'll only mention that the blog is today 3 years old, this being 450th post in total. 150 posts a year, not too shabby amount of text to waste into the internet, eh?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Irrelevant post

This is actually a test.

You have been warned.
--- --- ---

The mist was thicker than usual: all the shades of brown, swirling and turning by unseen draft, drawing strange figures in the air. This fog had been there as long as anyone remembered, even though the elders said they remembered time with clear skies. But even they didn't remember time without the Tree. It had always been there, even before people came through the stars and set their foot on this land.

Shirrus snapped out of these thoughts. He hadn't been thinking anything about the legends of past since he was a wee boy, and he was a bit disturbed why they came to haunt him now, just when he should have concentrated on his job. Here he was, embracing the Tree with his climbing clamps, trying to find the next soft spot to pull himself up.

And he was concerned about the mist, how thick it seemed to be tonight.

Shirrus eased the clamp on his hand and gently lifted it up above his head. He could just barely see Brang above him, guiding their way to the forgotten platform he claimed he found on one solo climb earlier. Every climber knew you never went out alone, let alone on the softest areas where they were just now. The soft skin of the Tree wasn't safe and most of the climbers who had disappeared had told going on the soft.

Again Shirrus found himself in thoughts instead of the moment. His thoughts should have been on releasing clamp, finding a crease, securing the clamp and pulling himself up. He was getting angry on himself. And on the mist which was starting to bother his vision, sticking into his goggles and getting hard on his gown.

--- --- ---

The question remains, whether I should continue this?

This concludes the test. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Autumn blues

Summer is over and the first rainy Autumn days are here.

Contrary to the belief, I am not dead. Nor the blog. In fact, over the summer I encountered several interesting and mindboggling things in WoW that I haven't been able to start writing again. Most probably it will result that I just forget what I experienced over the summer and focus on the current endeavours.

Which may be a reason for some to take this blog off of their reader, as it seems that the only thing I'm doing in WoW at the moment is playing once a week with my brothers, occasionally with my son. And with my brothers we are levelling up a second team in which we do not even have a warrior. Welcome the second team of the Three Dunces: Paladin (former Förgelös), Rogue (former Bishopgeorge) and Shaman (former Laiskajaakko aka me). Plus the occasional visitor, my son with his Warlock.

I tried to get interested in playing on a PvP server and working on a twink rogue. He's now twinked up to max without any Heirlooms, which is gimping him somewhat, but still he's pretty balanced to play, especially as I'm maxing myself as harasser and pain in the behind. My banker on that server has amassed over 12k gold in 2 days of played time, while providing the twink with appropriate enchants and all, so AH gamble doesn't hold any interest to me at all. Sufficient to say, there are enough players who have no idea of how valuable some things are and there are few enough of us who can pinpoint the profitable stuff.

Maybe the lack of guild and group in the PvP server serves as one reason why it doesn't feel good. Granted that a rogue is a lone wolf by nature, but as rogues have lost all their characterizing abilities over the years (or more specifically, the abilities are there but there is no reason in gameplay for disarm traps or lockpicking) they have become a commodity. Like all classes, really. It would be more honest towards all that the classes were reset to Tank, Ranged DPS, Melee DPS and Healer.

The other reason to sign me off of your reader is that I have decided to give Rift a new run. Started a new warrior-archetype on Estrael, US and will see how far I can play that game this time. The time difference will be the problem, as always when playing overseas, but I'm a loner anyhow and all contact with guildies will be a bonus. I think I gave up Rift too soon and in a way let Insult to Injury down by doing that. Sorry folks.

Blogging schedule may become more scarce, but I try to post twice a week from now on. The blog list will stay as it is, maybe a bit pruning is needed but otherwise it will stay. I'm reading only one or two blogs currently anyhow, but that is another story.

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summertime schedule

Ah, summer.

It means two things. First, the schools are out and the Wold of Azeroth is constantly full of students on leave. Material prizes fluctuate more than over the rest of the year, you can score great deals both buying and selling and generally the population is more on the jerk side.

Secondly, the summer vacation of the blogger. As a working dad and all, the summer weather poses serious hazard to the game time, even though there are a few projects I've taken to keep myself occupied over the furious outdoors living.

I - the one who resents PvP in all forms and functions - have started new toons on a PvP server. And I've locked already a rogue to lv 19. My baby warlock is about to be locked at 14, just to accommodate a more casual bracket. So the big, big project will be to level up that DK who will provide materials and money to these two. I'm now contemplating over the professions for the DK to a) generate nice nest money, b) to help the twinks gearing and enchanting and c) create a nice income to accommodate more toons in different brackets.

The second project is to level up an enhancement shaman along with my son, who's warlock is going to join the Three Stooges on their scheme of world domination. As soon as that addition to our team is geared up, the Three Stooges and Son will take on heroics and Wrath raids (stay tuned for more spectacular failures!).

Of course there is always my pet, Gnomore. I've played him once or twice now, without an update, but rest assured, when I need to slow down my pace in killing things and ... bigger things, I will return to him.

As a recap, summertime causes some delays in the posting schedule. Despite of this, the toons are going strong and my banker is now sitting on 280k (again!!!) with over 250 stacks of Cataclysm herbs in his mailbox, waiting to be milled.

Wishing you a warm and relaxing summer.

C out

Monday, June 13, 2011

A lost soul

I recently started a new toon, a dwarven shaman, who is now badly geared and seeking his way in the world. At level 25 he's Enhancement specced with high portion of gear of +Sta and +Int contrary to the current +Agi gearing.

The answer to the Why? part is that this toon is accompanying my son's dwarven warlock and helping him to level up to the group of Three Stooges. Then it will be Three Stooges (or Dunces) and son, for sure!

Now we levelled to the cap of trial, which is 20 (with 10g money cap which annoys my son immensely!) in less than two couple hours sessions. The starter area of dwarves at least till Wetlands is so streamlined that it's impossible to keep up with the exhilarating speed the story proceeds. As it happens, you overlevel the quests way too fast for the questing itself being meaningful except for the storylines present. Doubly so, if you do as we did, went for LFD right at level 15 when it all comes possible.

Only because my son kept dinging earlier than me - and got to 20 around the time I got to 18! - I had to try the warlock way of doing it. So I rolled a troll warlock on another server to see how it goes.

And it goes. Like wham-bang and so on.

Warlock is a killing machine.

But it didn't explain the difference in experience we saw, so the only explanation is professions. You see, my son had mining in his professions, while I had skinning/leathercrafting.

Note to self (and others): if you only want to level up a character in WoW, do pick Herbalism and Mining to go by. You increase the rate of gaining experience right away = shorten the time spent levelling.

By this experiment I learned two things about the game.

First of all, WoW has lost it's soul. The thing that made it special in the beginning. It has lost the questing and adventuring part which made it loved and special, as the quest content is overlevelled by design. This has resulted the fact that the LFD groups are worse and worse, as people are trying to level as fast as possible by killing the mobs in instances as fast as possible and not taking anything else into account. A simple boss with any other action than tank and spank is considered a poor boss, unless it can be downed in few seconds/minute.

The game actually forces the speed levelling on player. If you want to enjoy the quests and their 'challenge' at appropriate level, you have to freeze your experience. That is completely against the idea of level based RPG thinking and thus is out of the question for players. You cannot enjoy the easy mode way the Old World is crammed into your throat, even if you loved the story and quests. It's too darn easy and too darn fast to overlevel.

Secondly, I just like levelling more than doing the same old dailies in the level cap. Even though the quests get over levelled, even though the elites met along the way are too easy at equal levels, even though the greens just keep pouring in from each loot. The quests and the stories are worth it to me.

Beats reading a bad novel any - rainy - day.

But I'm not talking about sunny days anymore.

WoW has lost it's soul of questing in favor of speedy levelling to level cap.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Innovation in a bottle

Just a couple of days ago I downloaded Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar and DOSBox to run it. As it happens, this is one of the games which really did it for me on the computer games, even though my early experience of games had been more or less the same arcade games as for anyone else. To be honest, first RPG I played was Ultima III, in which we just were all oohs and aahs how a computer game could be so like our tabletop RPG's. (Tells a bit about our early gaming group, really.)

As I started the game, I realized that it is exactly like I have been saying time and again in this blog, in some commentary on other blogs and in Twitter: the more the games get eye candy, the less depth and meaning they convey. Take Ultima 4 for example. The quest to fulfill the eight virtues is the game. Still the virtues, being so basic human ones, are pretty hard to come by. In a way, pushing the player through the virtues in the virtual world Richard Garriot - who wrote and designed the game - pushes the player to think about the virtues themself. Even if the player doesn't think them actively, the mere ideals are planted in the player.

It's a bit like what they say in Inception.

In a way, Ultima 4 put the quest for good into the games for a short while. Before - and after - the quest has been to kill the bad to save the world. More or less, of course there are exceptions. And yes, you know who you are, to whom this is pointed at. And in many ways Ultima 4 was a sort of turning point in many ways in RPGs as whole.

What happened next in Ultima series is history, too, which culminates into the conception of Ultima Online. Now I got so interested in Ultima series that I read through the whole history of it (in Wikipedia, but anyhow) and what struck me seriously was the fact that they had all these neat things already prepared which they took off the game because the players broke them. Like the Artificial Life Engine:
Starr Long, the game's associate producer, explained in 1996:

Nearly everything in the world, from grass to goblins, has a purpose, and not just as cannon fodder either. The 'virtual ecology' affects nearly every aspect of the game world, from the very small to the very large. If the rabbit population suddenly drops (because some gung-ho adventurer was trying out his new mace) then wolves may have to find different food sources (e.g., deer). When the deer population drops as a result, the local dragon, unable to find the food he’s accustomed to, may head into a local village and attack. Since all of this happens automatically, it generates numerous adventure possibilities.
Which they had to take away, because the players ended up killing everything faster than they could spawn back, thus voiding the neat AI behind it all. So - in words of Garriot - they had to rip it out of the game.

As the years have gone by, MMO's have evolved in many ways. Still the main quest of the hero-to-be is to kill the big bad ugly meanie, who is trying to destroy the world. This is theme is repeated ad nauseatum in all major MMOs out there, fantasy especially and even doubly so.

It's time for a MMO with quest for good. With intelligent, living world, for intelligent players.

Rift, with it's dynamic world events, is still doing the same old in a bit different package. It's doing it well, though and with variation, but there is still raiding in the end of the levelling tunnel, it still has gear dependent advancement and there is still bad meanie to kill to save the world. But Rift has shown that the 800lb gorilla isn't the only solution anymore, and that there are other possibilities to go about. If its possible to come to the same turf and challenge the giant - not saying that they won or anything - then it's more than possible to come outside of the field and do something quite differently. And win.

Now to the title. This is all what if and what might be.

As it happens, all the MMOs are based on the fact that people play the games through the internet. You don't actually pay for the game box nor the game client as such anymore, but for the privilege to use the game content which is actually on the game publisher's servers. The content is what is valuable, not the game the player has on the hard drive.

This means simply that there is no actual need to purchase the game as such, but only the right to use the game content. Yes, many free to play games use this already, and as it happens, most of the big MMOs, too.

Lets start from small. Take Minecraft for example: no box sales, the game is in beta and it's still generating good revenue from the beta sales. What if this was a homebrew MMO with a good, solid idea which worked? Like Artificial Life Engine to take care of the environment, challenging the players to begin with? A game in which the character would challenge the world in search to become better, to fill the virtues, to champion for the good?

I wonder what are the reasons that the nasty people in fantasy very seldom go about and kill everyone, like they tend to do in MMO's with open PvP. Maybe they don't want to work for their bread, tend their gear by themself or dig for their precious alone? Why aren't the games already such that the way of a ganker is the lonely, shunned and depressive way, not the glorified and revered they currently are? This could be worked out that by fulfilling the quest for good you actually get to see the "Game Over - You Win!" for the character. Why not?

What if the game also spawned the players randomly into the cities and towns around the world, much like people are born, but with the tools to become a hero? This would greatly lessen the impact of thousands of people entering the game in waves. Thus the environment might survive to a point where the players started to take note of how the villager who was first offering money for wolf pelts would ask them to get rid of the rabbits pestering the fields, later to paying for deer meat as the village is suffering from famine due to rabbits which had eaten all the grain?

The big problem with the publishing - both print and online - is that everything has to be now. Even then the games are opened in 'beta' stage, which is in fact a powerful marketing tool instead of actual beta. So what if the opening of the gates to this game was a trickle of alpha, beta, open beta and ongoing beta stage with constant improvements as the economy permitted?

I'm sure there would be room for a game with good idea, innovation and drive, without the huge marketing machinery around. But only as long as the idea is good, the base game works and people like what they see.

Minecraft wouldn't be what it is if any of these parts were lacking. Why couldn't this be achieved by a MMO, too?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One you remember, the other you don't

I've been lately playing on my banker/AH toon, that being resto/balance druid. On and off through the AH blast and all, I somehow got into the healing business and made it the chore of my choice. All in all, I blasted through Northrend by dailies, just a few quest chains to keep things interesting and PUGs.

Of the quest chains I have to say that I'm very, very disappointed by the fact how the Wrathgate episode ends. It's very much the same lackluster anti-climax which is so familiar from the Cataclysm areas final quests. The chains just... end. In Wrathgate the end comes by Alexastra whispering the character to come to her, but then there is nothing. Only a kind of separate text blurb without anything relevant and the worst part is the fact that this happens every time you come close enough to the Wrathgate area, where Alexastra and her consort stay, like keeping guard for the dead.

What a stupid conclusion.

No more raiding into Undercity, no more feeling epic with the faction leader, no more being belittled by the big bad Forsaken.

Also what is evident is the fact that the content has been nerfed otherwise, too. You see, I soloed at about appropriate level some group content which I had hard time to complete as my protection warrior in this druid's restoration spec... with no problem at all!

Anyhow, the title of the post claims that you remember one but not the other. By this I mean that as I was PUGging through the Northrend normal instances, I noticed that I would remember that bad tank from the first time I ran with him, but not the good ones with whom I ran even some instances in a row. And how do I rank a bad tank in levelling instances? How's this: imagine the Oculus start. The deathknight tank runs off to the mobs along the route, running to the farthest one in each group and just pulling this one and hoping that the D&D area would pull the rest. He reaches the final mob guarding the portal to the platform before the rest of the group has been able to finish the leftovers even from the first mob. Oh, yes, he also has this uncanny way of getting enormous amounts of damage in within very short time.

How about this: the same deathknight tank runs through Gundrak in the speedy manner, through mobs without checking even his chat window. There comes a quiet moment and as I have ran out of mana, I announce it in party and general. As I sit down to drink, the tank picks up his pace again and almost, just almost dies before I come to save the day.

As I mention to this tank that he should at least wait for the healer to be around when he starts, the response is mind numbing.

"Why do you slack then?"

At least four runs with this Griseflax (see, I remember the name even) and I still cannot understand the creep.

Sadly, there have been a couple of excellent deathknight tanks along the way, whose names totally elude me. Thank you, dear anonymous tanks, for saving my day and playing the game as it should be played.

As a concentrated group effort, by taking everyone into account and making the best of the group. Rather than being better than the rest.

Thank you good tanks. Sorry I don't remember your names.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Failure is not an option

Ah. Here again.

The latest adventures of the three dunces/stooges are unreported. There will still be one report missing after this one is done, and more to come on Thursday. We'll see when that report gets written, though...

Anyhow. After success in the Halls of Origination, the three -stupid- Stooges took up on the old nemesis. The Lost City of Tol'Vir. Remember the visit, eh? (Sidenote: it seems that this has been hinted a couple of times, but never really reported. Sorry folks, I'm only sub-human.)

It started as a nice retaliation with a vengeance on those mobs.

And our earlier nemesis, that General Husaam, was our puppy this time. "Look mom, no deaths still!"

Then we got to Lockmaw, and with the dps we can muster, it started to feel like a job. But...

Sleep thee well, Lockmaw!

On and on, till we downed...

but Siamat left untouched. "Can't touch this" was so right. The storm is strong in that one...

Back to Stormwind with the three of us, singing...

"We shall overcome"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gnomore: You really shouldn't be here

Gnomore pictorial 31

Now you may wonder why only one - the same as before - level in this update. The reason is simply that Blizzard really doesn't want to reward exploration and to be even more precise, those who do not take the beaten path but trek their own winding paths around the world. In short, it's Blizzard's way of saying what the guy said to me in Rift beta: You shouldn't even be here at that level.

Let us begin, so you can tell yourself. It all began in Ironforge, by the bank, where Gnomore was checking his mail. Money as usual, nothing more.

All sales, no challenge. (sidenote: Gnomore broke 4k the other day, but that's on the next update)

So, off we went. The first thought: go to Gnomeregan to finish a quest. Naturally the quest was inside the Gnomeregan instance, even though the minimap showed the question mark outside it. But hey, who doesn't like to enter the shining whirly-thingies from time to time?!

Too bad the continuing mission was to kill ten something, so off we went. As Dun Morogh was still not totally 'explored', Gnomore took the dark passage to the Dwarven starter area - Coldridge Valley - to get things done.

Oh those nasties. Or as Brann Bronzebeard says: "Troggs... Why does it have to be Troggs..." in Halls of Origination.

Do you know what the frustrating part of this exploration was? To notice that the only place needed for the achievement is off bounds till Gnomore gains wings, as it is the Ironforge Airfield. Yes, it would be reachable if Gnomore would kill some nasties and took the plane to continue the quest chain, but as you know it's quite impossible at the moment.

On the way, though, there were some nicer quests available in the Quarry, though, and it was the first place Gnomore felt he was doing something good for the people.

And the exit was quite typical for Gnomore, too.

Disappointed by the game mechanics yet again, I decided to take on a challenge. As the game is more or less ruined for us off the beaten path types by the phasing (you do know they took the Undercity part away from the Wrathgate quest chain, now did you?), we decided to go and see how far we really could go...

Does that ring a bell? Of course, the gathering skills at Gnomore's level - even though they have already outlevelled the actual character levels - are useless out there.

First it was the easy one.

As usual, the door was open, but Gnomore was not let in. How rude can the game get? How obnoxiously elitistic the system really is? Why not open all the instances to all character levels and just let the mobs do the darn selection of the fittest?

Just think of it: how cool would it be to rampage in a vastly over levelled instance with 20 similarly levelled toons? Of course there should be safeguards to keep the boosting at minimum, but still. That's only technicality.

But what I really loved was...

Even though the mobs just needed to look at my general direction to get Gnomore killed. Really put my fancy stealth skills to new perspective!

The other thing is the fact that when Gnomore finally (?!) reached the first settlement on the road, the Flight Master coldly informed him that there are no flightpoints to connect with this particular point!

That was the only sensible conclusion, and after that it was easy to make the decision. It was either to hearth out, or continue trekking down the path which wasn't there.

Guess what Gnomore chose?


After which it was time to take drastic measures (ok, he died twice before that, after the last photo) and to change area. After hearthing out, there was a lovely sight in Darnassus waiting for Gnomore.

As customary with Gnomore, it would have been too easy to just fly there. Instead, he went through Ashenvale

Stonetalon Peaks (where another pair of rares were showed on his face!)

 until he finally reached his destination in Southern Barrens.

This is where the story rests, and as you can see, this part was done before patch 4.1. came in. There are a few things which occurred to me on my next session which came in with the patch, making life easier but less interesting if you want to view it that way.

Conlusion: exploration itself doesn't pay in the game. Gnomore went through pain and desperation and didn't even gain a level over the four-six hours of play due to the fact that he went on exploring in an area which is vastly above his level. That is a shame, as it lowers the levelling by gathering and exploration to a mining node-herbalism node-archeology-grind in the end. We'll see when the boredom overcomes the excitement of bare evasions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Outdated update

Oh, joy.

This post was supposed to be posted about a week ago, but alas, blogger was down. Still bugged in some parts it seems (at least I'm having trouble to comment on blogs with Blogger comment section), but mainly working.

Anyhow, a week ago three brothers took up on a sword and rode into the Halls of Origination, where they were beaten severely on their former try. Guess how it went now...?

That should give you a slight hint...

There is one particular set of mobs which caused us some grey hair, and that was the one after Temple Guardian Anhuur on the way to Brann Bronzebeard. The one with one big baddie and three other ones. Tricky if you do not sap the infuriating caster type and kill the other one as soon as possible.

After coming to terms with the kill order, that mob was easy. Surprisingly so.

To our misguided amazement we found ourselves in the Hall of Lights or whatever the place is, and proceeded to dismantle the safeguards: the four elementals and a bunch of troggs. Long story short (as one picture equals some hundreds of words, like they say):

As you can see from the sequence, we had problems with only one of the elementals, that being the water one. The bubble, coming on the healer at the right moment, is a bugger, and really caused some hilarious moments. On the other hand, our main theme of the evening was that the healer lives, everyone else dies, even though in the last picture it's the rogue alive. He - on the other hand - used his vanish on each and every occasion things started getting hairy, getting the tank aka me killed more than I really deserved.

We skipped most of the 'unnecessary' parts and finally took the fight to the main boss, fiery Rajh. We had some negative pepping going on when the fight started, and the trash guarding the boss was really a pain: in randoms this would cause several groups to disappear into thin air if the end boss wasn't in sight.

 What a warm and loving fight that was. Heated debate, streaming solar flares, burning embers raining from the sky. What more can a man desire?

In the end, it was one mob standing. That being the three unbeatable, who again did the job of five, which so many random groups still fail to do (in heroics).


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time to ride again

If a group of 10 or 25 is a raid, isn't a group of 3 doing the content for 5 a ride?

Anyhow, it's time for the three to do the job of five again, this time all at the cap. The only thing I'm nervous about is not to waste any Justice Points on vanities and to find as good upgrades before the round up as possible. Now where are the easy solutions when you are in a hurry, eh?


Friday, May 6, 2011

You really need a kick

Been absent. For several reasons.

Real life infection, meaning that the garden calls for duty as the spring is advancing.
Extended weekends due to national holidays of Easter and 1st of May.
Lack of interest to play.

No, wait. The last one is faulty, as I have been playing. Lack of interest to play at the cap is more appropriate, because I've been playing my druid banker herbalist scribe, and gotten him to level 76. My aim was to get him to lv75 and then level inscription up to the cap, but for some reason I started to work for the Kaluak reputation for the spiffy fishing rod.

Making gold in WoW has never been so easy as it is after capping the Inscription. Really.

All things are somehow connected, and yesterday I read Tobolds post which lead to the Pete Michaud's Achievement Porn post. Accompanied with the Meaningful Work post and there I stopped. To do some meaningful work, that is.

In nutshell, the quote which Tobold referred also hit a spot.
Any achievement in a video game is a “fake achievement.”
But there was more in the essay which struck a chord in my mind. Am I really playing to avoid achieving something in real life? Am I playing to relieve the stress or feeling of not being able to achieve or feel achievement in my real life?

In short, yes. In longer terms, yes, because during the summer my real life activities and hobbies take care of that need. Whether its our dogs running or working in a dog event it's all the same, I'm getting higher kicks from them than from gaming anytime.

Even though the essays pinpointed some issues of my life to me, the message had to be hammered into my head with an extreme blow.

Our first Irish Wolfhound, our beloved Ness (European Champion in Lure-Coursing 2008), was put to sleep later the same day. Spleen tumor which was bleeding caused a total collapse and it was best for him to not extend the suffering.

Had I been enough with him over the six short years? Have I neglected him for the fake achievements I got in the games I play?

Could I have been there more to enjoy his short life?

Sad to say, but the answer to the last question can not be anything else than yes.

It seems to be human to appreciate things only after you lose them permanently.

This doesn't mean I will stop playing games. It seems I will be stuck with WoW, playing less but for the entertainment value with my brothers and spending more time with my family and three dogs who will depart us sooner or later.

It's never too late to take action. It's always too late to regret thing you didn't do when you had the chance.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Light days, bright future (yawp)

Weekend passed by doing some gardening, feeding kids and dogs and ... well, that was more or less it. Not much gaming, some moments of WoW with some moment of supervising the youngest son playing WoW. He had deserved his couple of hours of overpowered DK in Zangarmarsh by being a real superman in the garden, singlehandedly cutting a huge shrubbery down.

No elderberries. No NI!

What struck me over the one heroic I ran (and another I tried to run...) with my spriest is that the heroics are way more demanding than the normals. So much so that the gearing progression isn't too simple by any means. I know I have stated it earlier in WotLK that there wasn't any real road plan, but that was for the raiding through the heroics. Now the bar is set lower, making the progression not so linear from the normals up.

So either the heroics are too hard or the normals are too easy: there doesn't seem to be a middle ground, which makes the instance grind not so welcome anymore.

Then again, I'm closing the 250k gold again, without the daily stress of updating the sales or anything. I've been updating the AH every other day after the 48 hour limit expires, and I'm still pumping some nice income out of the system.

The big news in Finland was the general election held on Sunday, in which the Nationalist True Finnish party came out as the winner. It shares all the characteristics of all the Nationalist parties in history, being populistic, conservative, right-wing group of people. Add the confusion caused by this to the current problems of EU economics and you can see a nice and warming springtime for everyone. Light days and bright future. What ever the outcome from this is, the initial responses of people threatening to move out of the country due this vote is something I do not condone. Instead, I agree with this blog post linked here that it's time to stay, support the sanity and make sure this doesn't happen again.

Gnomore didn't get any time due to the nice weather, but I have something in store for this feller.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Three on two occasions

Previously on Three Stooges:
After seriously banging their head on the Lost City of Tol'Vir without seeing a single glimpse of hope on General Husam and later Lockmaw, the worrisome threesome decided to tackle on an old nemesis of theirs. The reason to give up the Lost City of Tol'Vir was due to the fact that even though General Husam was put to rest, the fight felt like sheer effort on luck, with no effect based on the way the three were performing. Lockmaw even more so, and the collective intellect suggested that the main reason to this is the lack of survivability of the lowest common denominator, the Tank.

The old nemesis was... Mr. Sunshine himself, The Lich King in Hall of Reflections, into which the three plunged themselves like vaseline to... well, slided in like... /snap Ouch. Entered the instance like a brave group of - undermanned but severely overgeared - adventures.

For the first time ever the instance felt like it had felt in full group at the glory days of WotLK, when the tank was overgearing the content and AoE ruled the world.

Needles to say, the instance was a breeze and the trio decided to fulfill the one instance needed for the Rogue's Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement: the Halls of Stone, in which he was lacking the Maiden of Grief.

In short, the three went wham-bang through these two instances, gained Guild achievement on one of them and lived happily ever after.

Yesterday, current time (check the timestamp, please)
Instead of taking on the Lost City of Tol'Vir, the three decided to go for the Halls of Origination. Wider selection of nice bosses and sidetracking, the instance 'felt' like a good second choice for the undermanned group.

The trash from the beginning, the menace of an unsuspecting PUG even, was just about the right challenge for the three, so much so that it felt like home after the Lost City of Tol'Vir experience. Even though the Temple Guardian Anhuur requires the flick of a switch - two in fact - it was clear from the first try that this boss was doable. The three stated almost in unison after the first wipe that this one is doable, when they were not in unison with the General Husam earlier, which tells quite a lot.

Temple Guardian Anhuur taught the Healer the first usable spot for the Leap of Faith (or HealGrip): as the Tank had flicked both of the switches, the Healer pulled him up with the Leap of Faith and the slaughter would commence. The point was that this provided the Healer a few moments to heal the Tank up before the damage started raining in and get his stuff on the roll before the snakes came into the show.

After four or five tries it was the Healer who got the honors in letting Temple Guardian Anhuur to rest: the Rogue and the Tank came to the conclusion that the Healer had let them die deliberately to get all the honor and recognition to himself. He even made the point to dance on the dead, mutilated bodies of his companions before resurrecting them. The disgrace!

Instead of taking the scenic route to the end, the threesome decided to take the long route instead and started their way to Earthrager Ptah. The road to good intentions - especially in Egyptian themed instance - is always paved with Scarabs, though.

But the way to Earthrager Ptah - the twin brother of ICC's Marrowgar - was easy enough to clear and fun to run around with the camels provided (tell me there isn't a grande reason to have them rideable over there, please!), and as much as we tried we couldn't make this boss feel as ominous as it should have felt.

Boy were we taken. By the hand, by the feet, by the platter and everything that hurts. The encounter is fun and furious, and it's sad how people just 'ignore' this encounter and go through only the mandatory ones.

It took the threesome around fifteen (15) tries, where in the middle of them the Tank had to go to Stormwind and replenish the potions and flasks, after which he learned a lesson, too. Somehow the Tank had missed the memo stating that the cooldown of a potion starts only after the combat ends, and thus he ended up being potionless in the end because he had popped a Earthly Potion (or whatever) in the beginning.

That resolved, the Earthrager Ptah went down on the third try after this revelation. This time the term 'close call' got a whole new meaning, even closer than the one experienced on Tempel Guardian Anhuur. You see, the damage over time effects left on Earthrager Ptah by the Tank and the Rogue killed the boss at the same second the Healer died. The tank followed the dropping health down from 80k to zero from the ground zero, telling the others the status of the boss as they were too busy in (I hoped to say killing the boss) staying alive.

But hey! Earthrager Ptah was put down by merciless effort and good spirits.

Now the question is why would the Threesome bother to take on so many wipes on this one, but gave up on the Lost City of Tol'Vir. The reason is simple: the Tol'Vir combats didn't show even a promise that something was changing from one wipe to another, while the Halls of Origination encounters showed clearly the difference in changed tactics. The effort - reward - ratio was right, and the encounters really responded to changed tactics.

By far this Earthrager Ptah fight has been the most fun I've had with my pants on in Cataclysm. Temple Guard Anhuur felt like a victory with capital v, but Ptah proved that we can change, adapt and persist.

What the Three Stooges wouldn't do for a few deserved - and poorly documented - deaths?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Some thoughts on heroics

I've run a couple of heroics with my shadowpriest, and quite honestly it's been a shock to see how much harder they really are from the normals. Add to that the fact that I've been running in PUGs rather than guild runs (only one guild run), the statement that "pugs are the new heroic mode" really shines.

What I have noticed, though, is the tolerance to failure has changed from the Wrath. PUGs in which I have been have been extremely tolerable towards failure and first timer failures. Not saying that I have been faulty of them, but neither saying I haven't. The only kicks from the pugs I've seen so far have been due to someone disconnecting or going afk without a notice.

The difficulty made me think about the Three Stooges and our possibilities to go further on our quest to die undermanned in unimaginable ways in the dungeons where normal pugs go laughing. In Wrath we were in a blissful situation because our tank - which happens to be me - had geared up to raid level gear before we started on the ICC5 man instances. I was overgearing the content on regular basis and my survivability was above the norm back then, even though the rest of the holy trinity - healer and rogue - were not up to the same level.

Now the situation is already the other way around. The tank is the only one who hasn't gotten to level cap, and I sure as can be have no will to start pugging the instances to get geared up. So we go along and seem to have already struck the glass ceiling in the tanks survivability in the Lost City of Tol'Vir. I know there would be an easy remedy to that.

PUG as a tank.

In Wrath I did at least the daily PUG and one or two heroics a day. The instances were quick and - after the first run - passable in a PUG, let alone in a guild group. In Cataclysm... I do not even want to tank in a PUG, knowing how much love tanks get when something goes awry. Like Tobold posted sometime ago, the most stressful positions in a dungeon party are the tank and healer, who have to move and act while the ranged dps just stands in one select position throughout the combat.

How true it is, even in heroics.

The fact that a heroic takes almost double the time of a normal instance (not discussing about the threesome) makes the PUGging even less attractive, even with the additional bag of loot from Call to Arms. The stupid grind for reputation based gear enchantments makes the whole issue even more depressing, making me ask why the Wrath enchantments couldn't have been like heirloom, upgrading along with the level.

There would have been quite a few apparent gold sinks if Blizzard had utilized the upgrading enchantments a bit more. I would much rather fly through Northrend than kill bazillion monsters for a new reputation to be honest.

We'll see when the tank hits the cap. I guess it's time to start digging up those gearing guides.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good, old remake

Spent last night with a browser game. Sadly it's done more to the remake than the original. I mean of course the Battlestar: Galactica game, which runs on Unity engine.

And quite honestly, I was impressed in a way. Even though the game is a pretty shallow space shooter kind of game, it works nicely, the story progresses nicely and you can go against overwhelming odds against the other faction and make a difference from the beginning. Though of course it's better to go the quest way to gain as much power as possible, but that didn't hinder me at all.

Went in the starter ship into a full out PvP combat over a solar system. Helped down at least one opposing faction frigate and another smaller ship before my meager starter ship was blown to smithereens.

While the game works nice and the improvements on the ships and skills really matter, what surprised me the most was the fact that after I got shot down I received another similar ship with all the improvements and stuff in the hold intact! If this is the case later on in the game, this game may have all the elements of a successful browser shooter MMO.

Then again... the characters were clunky, I couldn't take the cylon from the original series even though as human you could get the original series helmet, uniform and viper... Crap...

But it was fun couple of hours I was supposed to be working on the latest Gnomore episode, which was just an interlude of Gnomore having a mind of his own. That being the explorer one...


Monday, April 11, 2011

Weather takes it's toll (yawp)

Weekend was as uneventful as possible only because of the weather. The sun was shining all the time. And because I ran through all the episodes of The Event which is quite promising both in stories as in building the suspense. Then again, the way it portrays the President and his cohorts is very much the typical paranoid US type, which is quite decently confronted by the pacifistic - but brutal when needed - survivors of the vehicle crash. Not to give any spoilers, that is presented as such: my humble opinion is that you watch the show and try to get past the first three - four chaotic and prolonged episodes. The story starts to open way beyond that point and gives new promising ideas the further the story goes.

On the gameside I've been trying to survive in the Blight of the Immortals, a slow moving but extremely rewarding/annoying/frustrating/infuriating browser RTS, in which zombies are trying to conquer a fantasy continent and players are trying to fight the Blight off. In some settings even each other, but as a support player I've stuck with the co-op play. Lovely little game which shows that a good idea with even a decent presentation leads to a great experience.

I have more or less lost the zest over WoW, now even more than ever. After completing my own goals in the game I'm now only playing (and paying) it for Gnomore and The Three Stooges. I tried to run and have fun with my Shadow Priest, but noticed that its not so fun anymore. The only thing that matters - game wise - is the item level of the gear, and even though you might find a green which is better than you are wearing as blue, the item level of the green is so low that it blocks your progress. Stupid thing is that it's enough to have the higher level gear in your backpack to make your scores high enough.

Also the disparity of the normals versus heroic is daunting. Whereas I was easily in the high end of the damage meters, I'm now at the lowest ones even though I generate more points in dps than earlier. Sure, I'm competing with the people in raid level gear in blues and greens, but that is not the point: this disparity causes the group to force kicks even though I might know the encounter, not stand in the bad and keep on delivering, but not being able to break the magic m&s wall of not exceeding tank dps.

Gnomore project also got a hit in my interest as someone linked a forum post in the US general forums where someone stated that they had levelled a NE druid from naught to cap without killing anything nor doing any quests. All I can say is that the only requirement is to have time and will to sit by the computer, as in everything you can do in WoW. And that druid is the easiest one to go pacifist with, taking into the account the possibility to sneak and gather stuff in travel forms.

But I did get Gnomore into a place where he really shouldn't have gone. More of that later this week.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gnomore, Hinterlands Explorer

Gnomore pictorial 29-31

Deeprun tram to Ironforge and a flight to Dun Morogh for a quest. For some reason or another the griffon takes the turn at the right spot and gives me a chance to take another nice shot of a spot that came pretty familiar to Gnomore in the beginning of his career.

The quest was to find a lost pilot: everyone and their cousins - provided you have ever played a gnome or a dwarf, naturally - knows the location of this miserable wreck. Anyhow, it's just a jump from the questgiver and a stroll down the hill. But why is it so that you are always stealing from the dead?

Another nice thing the game teaches you.

My great big idea was to run to an area where the mining and herbalism could be improved. The initial thought was to run to Arathi Highlands to do the gathering, but on my way I noticed that I have an Archeology site in Dun Morogh area. Off we went, Gnomore on the lead, to the familiar spot.

Here I learned an important lesson about Archeology. You see, the last time I was here, digging for fame and fortune, I couldn't get the third excavation done. Those pesky troggs were at too close a level and caused some real trouble, you see. However, this time I got to dug that one spot only.

Lesson learned: if you leave that one excavation undone, you will have to come and finish it, it doesn't "get old" and reset.

Stupid thing.

You may have noticed that I have a slight problem with Gnomore: he tends to run the way he wants to. Especially when there are possibilities to explore, see new sights and - usually because of the former two - die. So it was this time, too, and only because of this view:

Yes. Uldaman. Badlands.

And there we went, even though I wanted to steer the little gnome to Arathi. Granted, that wouldn't have been a bit safer, but at least a bit.

Long story short...

And off to Arathi it was. Where it became clear that Gnomore has a mind of his own. Instead of wanting to explore the are any further, there was this one nice spot and it's repercussions...

Oh, bugger. Machinery and tunnel. You know gnomes, right? One leads to another and then to another and...

Before you know, something completely unexpected happens.

Gnomore, the Hinterlands Explorer Magnifique. Quite a surprise after all that running around Jintha'Alor and picking bottles and feeding griffons and...

Ok. We didn't... no, I didn't expect to end up in here to begin with:

But in the end, Gnomore is again in Ironforge, on his way to Gnomeregan which is still outpaced and most probably he will be unable to return the quest he was given on the way there.

The phasing sucks, big time, just because you cannot pass the story designed. Why can't it just 'restructure' itself if you pass certain level range above the fundamental change?

Gnomore is at lv31, with a bit over 3k gold and he's already an Artisan in Herbalism. Mining is just a few points short of that. After those skills cap, he will be stuck to picking up grey ores and herbs, forcing me to guide him around the world in search of adventure, exploration and pretty sights to see.

Till next time!