Thursday, March 31, 2011

Intermission: traffic appreciation post

Last night, after reading a couple of emails we've been tossing to and fro with Larísa from the closed Pink Pigtail Inn I got this devastating urge to install Planescape: Torment on my computer. While I was hunting for a way to actually do that (as the four disk installer wouldn't even start the install) I began to think. That alone is pretty amazing, but this time the thought bubbled from the fact that I know where this blog's traffic comes from pretty decently and quite a lot of it has been coming from the same blog for some while now.

So I decided to break my normal policy of not discussing the blog statistics at all. Only because the major contribution of the linked traffic still comes through the forementioned Pink Pigtail Inn.

Werit has been quite a good contributor, too, even though I haven't had a single WAR related post, ever. There is this steady flow of readers from that blog, as well as odd few from the following, excellent blogs.

Stylish Corpse
Tank Like A Girl
Chappo's Opinion
Kill Ten Rats

Those are not in any particular order, and there are some I have seen in the logs (Kiasa, weflyspitfires, oakstout and so on), but haven't been there for the last few weeks for a reason or another.

The biggest single burst of traffic came from Tobold's post about his 'not a blogroll' in which this blog is presented among the greats of the gaming blogosphere, a honor I will not easily forget. The same blogs are in my roll, too, which was kind of nice to notice. Please use the blogroll, use the links and make the network work!

In the time of globalization and internet, the whereabouts of the traffic are not important. Sure I could break the linked traffic into countries and the 147 subscribers my FeedBurner informs this blog having, but what would be the value of that information. More important are the connections which are keeping the traffic up, showing the networking and the routes people come in (and go out).

Knowing that no man blog is an island and seeing that be true is a revelation in itself. To see a waterfall to close into a dribble and disappear on that island feels uncomfortable, but not totally disheartening. It only means that you have to go out there and make the connections even stronger and open up the dams to form another stream to burst.

It may happen, or it may not. Without trying you'll never know.

Oh, and the Planescape: Torment problem? In case the installation doesn't start on Win7, 64bit especially, you have to restart the computer in Safe Mode, make the installation and return the computer to the normal mode. This is done by Start -> Accessories -> Command Prompt and write msconfig in there (press enter). Select tab Boot and check the Boot Options "Safe Boot" checkbox, apply, ok, restart as prompted and install PS:T. Return the computer to the original state by removing the tab in the Safe Boot checkbox. And after that, go through this list of added value. You won't regret it!

And one thing which most certainly interests me in the most used search words I've seen lately is do people not explore anymore? I mean, if the most of the incoming search engine traffic comes by "Where is Talon Stand" or "Talon Stand", then the player has to be extremely lazy and effective...

That's all for now, thank you readers for making this feel worth while!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On the way to Stonetalon Mountains

Gnomore pictorial 26-27

Last time, in the short update, Gnomore was left again in Darnassus, with his AH bulging with stuff and things to sell. Needless to say, half of that stuff got sold over the week and the current balances are not too flattering. Then again, for a character which has never killed a single target granting honor or experience (ha!), having over 2000g at level 26 is nice. It's much more than needed at this point of the game and it will easily carry for a long time. Plus he has nice goggles and a Haunt.

Then again, Gnomore is about to enter the mining and herbalism skill range, where the gathering skills can - and will - generate some real money. The next range after iron-mithril-truesilver is the herbalism range of Outlands.

To our story of the day: Gnomore let the archeological survey decide the way to proceed. This time the choice was Ashenvale, and the southern outpost to be exact. After running around that small spot for digging, Gnomore remembered that he had some gnomes to save from a wagon. Too bad you had to kill the driver of that wagon, so the only thing Gnomore could do was to bid goodbye to the guys and be sorry.

 The next spot was in the Zoram Strand, where the outpost people had some nice quests to run while digging.

The whole roundabout proved a serious reason for the lack of Night Elven Engineering in the game. They simply do not have the knack.

Like I could have told you they are locked and all...

Note, he needed ten statuettes to come to the conclusion that they all have a hidden compartment and that hidden compartment was locked...

The going about along the archeological sites took Gnomore to Forest Song again, to pick some rotten wood for some night elf and to seek out a goblet. Too simple for this resourceful little gnome, so he had to check what was behind door number two. I mean, before the portal at the end of the road.

Not only a huge army of dracolisk guardians, but two dragons guarding the portal. I still wonder where the portals would lead if they hadn't been made defunct...

Along the way, Gnomore ran into Gnarl, who had another nice quest to do: collect the assorted bits and pieces of his cousins and relatives, whom the orcs had sawed into lumber. Nice distraction from the actual aim of the day, which was fully realized after this quest was done.

What little did that little gnome know... because on the way there, he ran into the encampment of orcs and goblins, with their huge machines of destruction, and even bigger balls bomb for which Gnomore had to die for.

Can you imagine? The Night Elven commander at the outpost didn't even believe this little gnome. See for yourself!

Then it was time to move on, anyhow. Off to Stonetalon, to higher gains and glory.

Eww... I really shouldn't be here...
In the end, after serious doubts about the sense of being at challenging area, Gnomore found a place to rest.

All I can say at this point is that the rest came on purpose, because the next time Gnomore was out, he got even deeper into areas where he shouldn't have been.

But that's a story for another time!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AH gamble

I have been asked how I got to the 250k in this time, so I thought it would be nice to write a short wrap up on how I did it. Mind you, short is being very subjective as most of the readers know.

The short, condensed version is this:

Obsidium Shuffle with alchemy and jewelcrafting, glyphs, some enchants and a couple of check ups daily.

Longer version will be split in sections mentioned in the short one.

One note before starting anything: everything starts with a full scan of AH with Auctioneer.

Obsidium Shuffle
Those who do not know, the term (ore) shuffle was used already in Wrath of the Lich King describing the way one could buy Saronite from AH, prospect it and sell the uncommon gems for profit. It worked well, especially when combined with the transmutations to rare gems and then cut rare gems. At times it was possible to make enough profit from one cut rare gem to purchase several stacks of Saronite for prospecting, making this an endless money grinder.

Shuffle is a grind, don't forget that: there is no 'Prospect All' button, as there isn't any 'Mill All' button. In this sense the gathering professions have the long end of the shaft, as all the rest of the professions have a Do It! button at their disposal.

Anyhow, the gritty little bits on how I did it. I set a certain price under which I purchased the Obsidium from the AH. My latest threshold was (is if need be) at 3g a piece, making the stack price maximum of 60g. When I started this, the stack prices were much higher and I had the threshold at 4g a piece (80g a stack).

Now when you prospect Obsidium, you get 4-6 uncommon gems and 1-2 rares. It's pretty safe to calculate this being 5 uncommons and 1 rare (there are more accurate calculations out there based on vast volumes of prospected ore). Now if you cut the uncommons and sell them to a vendor, you get 9g a piece... Yes, the raw floor base of the stack of ore is 45g (5 times 9g, forgetting the rare).

However, you can sell most of the uncommons for much higher price than that, especially during the days when the Jewelcrafting daily requires three cut uncommons: the price for a gem can easily go as high as 30-40g a piece. Then again, Carnelite and Nightstone are usually at around 30g in the AH, so just by getting them sold raw you have most probably made some profit.

Great help in calculating what you should do is an addon called OreCrusher, even though it sometimes calculates the values a bit differently than I could by hand. OreCrusher gives you a general idea on how much you can make profit out of the amount of stacks at the price you have paid for them (you give these values to the addon, all else it takes from the Auctioneer data), and how you can get the maximum profit out of the stuff: be it selling the gems raw, cut and vendored, transmuted into rares or crafted and disenchanted.

So, now we have prospected the ore and have a handful of gems: time to see what else we can do.

If you can prospect, then you are a jewelcrafter, right?

First things first: the most important thing of a jewelcrafter is to keep his stock of them most important rares and Shadowspirit gems up. The first thing I always did after the prospects was to create the jewelcrafter Fiery Gem, which 'opens up' to a random set of rares. The three gems of each uncommon usually pays itself back just for the cut rare prices.

You see, there are very few uncommon gem cuts which actually sell at all: people tend to go for the best cuts available, causing the situation in which almost all rare cuts which sell are red (Inferno Ruby) or orange (Ember Topaz). The uncommon cuts just sit in the AH until I sell them to a vendor.

OreCrusher tells you if you can make profit from cutting and vendoring the uncommon ones. The most prominent candidates for this treatment are Alicite and Zephyrite, latter of which cannot be used for any jewelry at all. For Zephyrite the route is either cut/vendor or AH during the days it's required for the jc daily.

What really pays for a jewelcrafter are the rare and meta cuts, and one should always have a good stock of the most important (best selling coloured) gems available. For me the best ones were Inferno Rubies, which sell constantly at profitable prices.

OreCrusher tells you also which gems you could craft into jewelry and have disenchanted, the enchanting materials to be sold for profit. This requires you to have access to an enchanter capable of disenchanting Alicite Pendant, Jasper Ring, Hessonite Band and Carnelian Spikes. OreCrusher is pretty accurate on this, but you should always check if it's better for you to have the Alicite turned into Hypnotic Dust or cut/vendored. If you have an enchanter, the disenchanting way ought to be better.

You should remember one thing with the jewelry: once in a while you get the rare version of the Jasper Ring, Alicite Pendant and Hessonite Band, which should be sold as such. Their price is around 100g for the ring and pendant and as high as 300g for the band, but that's very much server dependant.

How I do it? I have automated the crafting so that I automatically send the crafted stuff either to my enchanter or my auctioneer, and so I can craft some hundreds of them easily while doing something else. For this end I use Trade Skill Master addon's Auto-Mail feature. Now the question is, how is this possible, as there are several of the different enchants the rings, pendants and bands can have.

The answer is easy: TSM handles the uncommon and rare ring/pendant/band by it's item number instead of the name, and when you set it to sell one of the rares to one and one of the uncommons to another toon, it just knows to send them all the same way! Talk about 'Craft All' button here.

Carnelian Spikes is a special case, as it competes with the next part for the Carnelians: first of all, you need to be at an anvil to craft the Spikes and so you cannot automate the crafting the way the rest of the craftables, which you can make at the mailbox. Second, the profit is quite seldom better than from cutting the rares done via transmutations, which is next.

The best way to keep your jewelcrafter in good supply of rares is to check the OreCrusher Transmutations subpage: it tells you which transmutes are profitable as such, and it doesn't take into account the further cuts. And the best part is the fact that the rare gem transmutes are not on cooldown, so you can craft as many of them as you have the gems and accompanying herb to produce.

The first transmute I always do is the Shadowspirit gem transmutes, and I do them right after the Fiery Gem. This leaves me less raw uncommons to process, but gives me also a good set of meta gems to sell raw and sell as cut.

Best transmutes seem to be the Inferno Rubies, Demonseyes and Ember Topazes, all of which sell well both as raw and as certain cut ones.

Now that was the shuffle. It's not for the faint hearted and most certainly it requires work and dedication to make it work.

Inscription and glyphs
My scribe is only at level 67, and he was below 60 when I started. Glyphs were profitable already then, as there are several glyphs which sell decently from the very beginning of the Inscription profession. The main aspect of making money with glyphs is consistency and persistence. The more you can cancel and repost the glyphs at peak times, the more you sell, sadly.

I automated as much as possible of this, as I knew I couldn't commit a lot of time to the whole business. So I set up TSM in a way that I posted the glyphs for 48 hours, with decent undercuts and in two different sets at all times, posted every other day. So I had one set reposted every day.

The hardest part of the inscription is to come up with the herbs and inks, and for that my scribe is both herbalist and scribe. I can mill the herbs myself, and so I have at least one level of more control over the actual ink prices.

Glyphs are not as good in money making with little time to devote to playing, and the best profit comes from concentrating on the best selling glyphs, leaving the less popular ones out. Then again, working with the whole set gives you wider range to tap into.

However, by far the best business I have had with inscription have been both tomes and cards. I have currently a couple of all tomes in AH, and they sell one or two a day, still! I have also crafted all special inks into all sorts of cards. At this level my scribe can't access to the highest tier of Faire cards, so I'm out of the real business, but the lower tier ones - except the Northrend ones - sell still decently due to the reputation achievements.

While I've been disenchanting the jewelry from the Shuffle, I haven't given the proper love to my enchanting at all. There are few 'new' best sellers here (Avalanche and Mending at the forefront) which could easily multiply the profits of the Shuffle, I've been lazy and sold the enchanting materials as raw. Of course I've done some enchants to level up the skill and Enchanting has been generating some stable income, too. It could be much better if done properly.

All in all, that is all I have done. I have three characters (JC/Alchemy, Enchant/Tailoring, Herb/Inscription) which have been running the show. Twice a day I've checked the mail and reposted, once a day I've taken the time to do some shuffling and crafting, all in all it's taken 2-3 hours a day to run the business, including a random or a couple of dailies or something fun in between the crafting and toil.

If you are really interested in AH gamble, I would suggest you go to the Consortium Forum, where you can find the most accurate information about the prospecting results, spreadsheets on maximizing your profits and great information about making money in AH in general. When you do so, please mention Copra as your referrer, just for the sake of it.

Gold making in AH is like anything in WoW: it just takes time, preparation and long hours of working towards your goal. If I can make 250k in a couple of months, ANYONE CAN!

Go for it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm done with it (yawp)

In addition to that, my first character made it to the lackluster 85, being my shadowpriest Pupunen. After a couple of Halls of Origination PUGs (and failed Tol'Vir and some other) it dawned to me that either spriest is very much overpowered or I play my ilevel319 mix-match spec pretty well or the PUGs are just littered with people who really do not how to play (says a lot about the people PUGging). Why?, you may ask. Because I was all the time in the first or the second place, and the ones passing me obviously had quite a lot higher ilevel. I checked the ilevel occasionally and the best/worst case was that one warlock who pulled about half of my dps with ilevel of 345 or something: considerably better than my gear, gemmed and enchanted (tell tale signs of shining and twinking gear...), while mine was not even gem slots and without enchants (as I haven't bothered yet).

So two goals reached almost simultaneously.

Gnomore got just one level and moved on to Stonetalon. Knowing how crappy that place is in travel wise, I think he'll turn to the Eastern Kingdoms for a while, say, next 5 levels. If not more but to gain some other archeological finds than Night Elf stuff.

While I'm at it, I may as well analyze the current motivation. With the burden of having promised the 250k cap, I have next to no motivation to play WoW. I remember this same feeling from springs of earlier years, too, and I put it into the amount of sun/daylight. The more daylight there is, the less I want to sit inside and play. It seems that the same thing is happening all around the blogosphere, creating the summertime blues.

However... Rift is still there, something I haven't tabbed for a while. Still need that one Iron Tombs run to get the quests done and then it's up to the Stonefields and new 'quest' areas for rifts and monsters. Kind of waiting for that to be able to play for my pleasure rather than just to show it can be done.

What my gaming will consist from now on in WoW is Gnomore (naturally) and the Three Stooges. Nothing more I want to put my time into, even though there are multiple time sinks to waste it all to: reputation sinks, cooking and fishing dailies, overall dailies and collecting stuff. Sorry, Blizzard, did that in Wrath of the Lich King, why do it again?

I'm done with it. How about you?


Friday, March 25, 2011

Asaad day

There they were: the foolish three who had once failed to conquer the Vortex Pinnacle. Facing the portal, feeling confident and willing to die for... the sake of dying.

Fast forward, with subtitles:
"If you just sap that one and I pull the rest... Oh, it can't be sapped, and omgwtf LET ME AT IT!"
"Could you use Fade or something, so I can keep the aggro?"
"Um, well, it might be better for my mana if I stopped doing damage to them, right?"
"Ok, I'll go and strangle that one, silencing it? Ah, for crying out loud, you pulled it already..."

The groups of different sizes of winds and clouds came and went, and the majority of the time my screen was like this:

Happily smashing away, from one pull to another. Ok, save the one time an exploding cloud warrior pushed me over the edge of the Pinnacle, but otherwise the trash mobs were pretty uneventful, as if someone had tweaked them - again! - to some lower level of challenge. This time the Grand Vizier left another man standing, and it wasn't the tank...

Bloody priest! He should keep the tank up rather than the rogue, as it was the tank who bit the dust first again.

No reason to cry over the spilled milk, though.

Jump to the next, the mid-boss Altairus was a nice, fast and simple fight, right after the fellowship thought out to use the wind to their benefit. Old hunter adage was proven correct: always stand downwind...

Finally it was time to face Asaad. The trash mobs of the Tol'Vir after the Grand Vizier were a sort of nice change to the pace, as our rogue could sap and control the excessive healers. Otherwise it was - like I commented in Twitter - "sap one, tank on rest, kill the second, wham-bang-slam-smash."

Now Asaad. That is one bugger of a boss. The stars around pounding extra damage to us all, with no way of putting them out of their misery, having to run from one Containment Field to another while tossing things to the Lord of Wind and Fury himself, the fight was actually very interesting. Thrice we fell, until...

The perfect performance.

In the end, all we could conclude was...

After which we searched for new challenges. I wonder if this is good enough?

Oh, by Golly!

The first fights in the Lost City of Tol'Vir were intense, interesting and way better than all the fights so far in Cataclysm, with several aspects to take into account. It is indicative that we didn't get the first boss - General Hasam -  down on the first run we were there, yet everyone of us felt that we were doing our best, with little to improve in our playing.

So off to the questing it is. Mind you that we cleared Vortex Pinnacle with tank and healer being at lv84 and 'just' the rogue at 85, and the healer dinged to cap while in the Lost City of Tol'Vir. More or less, it's down to gearing up from now.

It seems that the game just turned interesting, if the quality of the instances grows this rate from now on...


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Short update in Ashenvale

Gnomore ran around Ashenvale, met another rare never seen before, did an unbelievable amount of quests not involving mandatory killing and ended up in the same place he started from.

That was all in short. Longer version in the pictorial. Go there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cap is closing (yawp)

What do you know? I was planning on playing a good dose of Rift, but ended up playing my Shadow Priest Pupunen through Uldum. Still just a bit short of dinging level 85 she's in the middle of the Harrison Jones quest chains, just bested that obnoxious Schnottz.

On the AH side I'm also closing on with the former cap - and my own goal. I'm sitting on 222 327g on my three main money crafting characters, of whom the jewelcrafter/alchemist is currently making the most of the profit. I was about to toss my gloves out of the ring earlier this week, when the Obsidium Shuffle suddenly seemed to get borked by few factors: excessive and cheap ore and incredibly low enchant mat prices, combined with just barely above cut and vendor prices of the cuts. The shuffle was for a short moment a balancing act between work and profit, until I noticed that the rare cuts had started to move. And the way they moved... Both cut and uncut rares are going now faster than I can restock them in the AH, most probably because I don't want to put too many in at a time. 5 at a time is enough for me, and over the weekend this has proved to be a good way because the prices have increased after each posing cycle.

About those Uldum quests. I have earlier read very excited posts about the smash the pygmies or gnomebliteration quests and quite honestly speaking, they were stupid and pointless. That's my opinion, though, but I do not see anything funny in smashing those pygmies with a huge mace or rolling over gnomes in a fusion reaction ball. Maybe I've lost my sense of WoW humour.

The other point I noticed was within the Harrison Jones quests. The first part was great, just the right spirit after you had killed the ten foozles and collected the rare kahookie. But the second one... IMO it just proves that Blizzard isn't concerned over the original basic fantasy status of WoW: instead they want to mix and mash everything in (like the goblin starter area, yuch) and basically break the whole setting they have been staging for the last six years. The Schnottz army wasn't any generic fantasy anymore, it was pulp fiction era fantasy. And as such it is way out of place in generic fantasy setting. Nazies shooting with smg's... Fo'hickles' sake!

Though I have to admit that some of the references to the Indiana Jones movies were pretty well done and some a bit too obviously 'overacted', the story flowed decently on rails. Never the less, I enjoyed the Ramkahen storyline more, with the way the designers have used their tools to the max, making a real 'you are the hero to save us' feel in the game. But is this the MMO way to do it? Or single player way?

Gnomore got some love, too, and I was really, honestly and genuinely surprised how many non-violent quests there are in Ashenvale! Not even through with all of them yet, and I managed to get two levels on him. He is a bit of a show off nowadays, but more of that later on.

All in all, quite a weekend. On the other side, the weekend game time will get less after this: spring is advancing, dogs have to get some exercise (I have to get some exercise, too!) and family issues pending.

Real life first. To the cap.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Again three did the job of five

It's been a month since the Three Stooges (or Three Dunces) rode together. Calculating the /played over that time on these characters, the time is around half an hour a character.

No wonder the game felt clunky and jittery, as we soon found out...

The first set of characters was - in lack of better word - a mess. Of the five, three were running wild, one was being pounded by our 'overlevelled' rogue (Förgelös, 85) and the last one was being handled by our healing dps machine (Bishopgeorge, 84). So what the heck was the tank (Laiskajaakko, 84) doing?

Trying to get a hang of the buttons and binds. Removed from this set of skills and keybinds, succumbed to Rift with another set, had had it's cost on efficiency. Really, during the whole run I was fumbling with the buttons and at no point did I feel that the character was working as intended. Also, compared to the response and speed of Rift (or my spriest, for the matter), the response and cooldown time was absolutely horribly sluggish! I know I have mentioned it earlier how the queuing system for skills killed the responsiveness for me, but I never, ever thought it was really THIS bad. Push a button, once a second. The need for the skill passes by faster, so there is nothing you can do but to hope that you can still counter the attack by the skill needed. Oh, it passed and I launched a useless reflect, nice.

And so on.

Never the less, everyone of the three wondered if something had happened to the game, as the encounters seemed to last longer and the whole gameplay felt slow.

The mobs
We passed the trash in the traditional mess we like to do them. The tunnel between Corborus and Slabhide was amazing, as the annoying rock spider thingies just kept on spawning after a spawn. The flood of them was constant, not like the last times, obviously meant to keep us going. Otherwise the 'trash' was uneventfull till the end.

The bosses
Corborus, you dear ground worm you. How lackluster you are on the umpteenth time. One thing which has happened over the last month is that the DBM updates have made it impossible to miss the crystal barrage even on a team mate way over where.

This old, wary dragon just doesn't hold the magic anymore. The fight is furious and fun in it's own way ("Are you out of mana, yet?" - "Not just quite yet" - "HEAL!" - "Sorry, out of mana, try to hang on" - "YOU JUST SAID YOU WERE FINE" - "Sorry, can't help it" - "AAAARGHH!!!"), but still it's like wiping the stains off the window. No, not the way that they still are there after a while, but the way that it's easy to make the stains to go away. Really.

Ozruk, our earlier nemesis because the tank (that bugger) didn't understand the finesses of the fight. Well, didn't remember them the first time around this time, either. So yes, we wiped, gloriously, but the second run was flawless. Hit, bash, maim, mutilate - oh, ground smash - splash, boom, bang - oh, shatter RUN! - kill maim KILL!! In a way, I like this encounter for it's simplicity but still requiring solid concentration.

High Priestess Azil
Grande biatch of the highest order. We came, were cautious and ... wiped. The void zones just kept spawning so that the second or third wave of the adds just didn't catch them. So we had two dozens of those pesky worshippers pounding on us, add a few criticals from them and down we went. But the second time over was lovely. Bishopgeorge learned to dance the tune, Förgelös just kept on hopping and jumping from the voids and I... I tried my darnest to keep the adds from Bishop and in the voids.

Down she went and all we got was this lousy achievement.

"What shall we do next?" -
"Conquer the World! Let's try Vortex Pinnacle?"
"Isn't that supposed to be extremely hard?"
"Aren't they all?"
"Ah, ok, let's go."

So off we went to Uldum and Vortex Pinnacle, first visiting some sort of repair shop. The overall monetary stuff on Laiskajaakko ended being negative, repairs costing more than the quests and loot could make. I guess that's because Laiskajaakko is in his early 84s, as Förgelös (that overlevelled bastard rogue) claimed to have made over 250g over the night...

Anyhow, the night was turning late when we started. The first group of five mobs proved to be a challenge: not a huge one, but a challenge for a change. The Wild Winds seem to be the buggers of this place, annoying casters who shake the stuns off of them in record time.

And they cannot be sapped, which crippled our secret weapon!

Another problematic trash mob was the Cloud Princes, as they summon immediately and uninterruptably three Wind Gusts or something. So a nice trash group of two mobs turns into a foray of six, all hitting at an unimaginable rate.

Still, long story short.

Grand Vizier Ertan.

On our first visit, on our first try.

That was just the halfway spot, but still. Three did the job of five.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

What everyone wants in games

Pure and simple thing, right?

To have fun passtime in which you feel accomplishments, gain successes and go through feelings which may or may not connect to you through the story.

It's the interpretation of fun, accomplishments, successes and feelings you as a player want to experience which separate you from the player of another character, the slacker from moron, the elite from the newbie.

We all want the same things.

It's simple as that.

How hard is it to accept, though?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's the way you use it

This is kind of a response to the discussion resulted from yesterday's post.

I admit that I measure my performance in WoW. Be it Gnomore with his no-kills policy (binary measurement: kill/no-kill), my spriests performance in random instances (DPS), my AH adventures (GPH or total gold gained) or my tanking with the Three Stooges (did we get it or was it another wipe). I also resort to some comparative measuring during the last one, due to the fact that we three are in it together and if any of us spots any way to improve the overall performance, its a gain for all of us.

It comes down to the fact that I use the numbers and measurements for myself, to improve my personal gameplay, performance and/or evaluate my success in gaining my goals.

I admit that I did pose the thought in a somewhat provocative manner, condemning the whole measuring as bad, evil or originating from poor self-esteem.

As Hirvox mentioned, minmaxing can be fun, and for some it is the only fun part of the game. At the same time we should accept the fact that not all are interested in minmaxing at all, even though the game itself imposes this on us. I still think that if the game is played so that you must seek additional information from off game sources to be able to play it at any level, there is something wrong with the game itself. And that measuring performance is way out of the way of reasonable if your gearing and/or performance is used as a measure of yourself as a player.

In Rift there are no actual performance meters (dps or threat meter), the only metrics there is is in fact the rift/invasion group roster, which can only be accessed while the event is on: after the event is over the roster disappears and there is no way of telling who performed the best or who worst. I think Rift is going to avoid the measurement issue WoW is already suffering because of the fact that there are so many ways to set the souls up and even though the archetypical soul/role composition changes, the general class bonuses in the gear still apply: the gearing is much more straightforward in it's own simplified way.

Main point today is this: it's not wrong or a bad thing to have measurements or measuring in the game. What makes it wrong or right is the way you use the information. To use the information to improve ones own performance is more than applicable, but to rank people according to some arbitrage numbers - usually taken out of context - is just sheer dumb. (Note: I'm not talking about improving raid performance, that is similar to what we do as Three Stooges. But if that information taken from separate fights are used to put people down, I really doubt the motivation of the raid leader.)

The question for today is: is it really necessary to measure the performance to the last decimal (or hexadecimal, or even binary sequence)? Like I said about Rift, there is no need for it, and the game is overall deemed seriously fun, where as in WoW where everything is measured by addons the game is funnily serious.

At least that's the way I see it: measurements, when used 'wrong', alienate the player base and creates a separation to those who minmax and those who couldn't care less. Both groups will suffer if there is no middle ground or mutual acceptance.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bane of measuring

I spent last weekend on my primary hobby, that being dog sports. Lure-coursing, to be exact. While I was working in the event, I got the time to study the dog owners and their ways once again, and despite of this being the first event of the season (next one due in May...), I saw the same symptoms as over the last season.

In short, it's all fun and games until someone starts to evaluate and measure the performance. Some want to win at all costs and are very agitated in the event, the closer the start comes, the more agitated they are. If they do not win - or rank as high as they think they ought to - they leave from the event and start bashing the organizers, judges and the personnel in the event because their dog didn't get the results...

It was so easy to draw the parallels to the issues in MMOs, WoW especially. I think that these things just have condensed in WoW because of it's age: the player base has had time to tweak stuff to the optimal max and are thus breaking the numbers as far as possible. The same can be seen in the event I participated: the ones with the most competitive spirit are the most eager to restrict the rights of the others with not-so-strong need to win.

In fact, the discussions about competitivity, performance, the elite and noobs and so on can be read from both groups, with similar intensity, with similar hate.

All in all, it's all human, and while it is so, it's very hard for me to understand it being so. Sure, a hobby is something you want to excel, be the best you can. But does it have to come out of the fun of others? The performance is as important to the high end winner/elite as it is to the person playing for fun or coming into the event for the first time.

I have never understood the impression how people who see themselves as being at the top of the chain look down on the rest. Even less I understand people who at the top have the need to put others down to enhance their sense of being at the top.

That is the way I see 'raiders' do when they mock and call the other group in names. In a way it's the same the other way around, when the 'non-raiders' call the other group as no-lifers.

Because WoW has been dissected down to the min-max paradise, forgetting the roleplaying game aspect and seeing only something to beat, crush and win, it has lost the soul of an adventure. More or less it is the same if it was a browser based game with some neat animations in the mix, where you could min-max your character on a text/number based interface. What's the difference? The amount of moving pixels?

The bane of this all is our inherent need to measure, dissect and best everything we touch. I think I get enough of this in my work and thus look for something completely different from a MMO passtime I have than the average gamer at the age range of 18-33. It doesn't mean I don't want to perform better within the game, but it means that I have enough of min-maxing in real to bother with it in the game. If the game doesn't provide the information freely from within the game itself, I can't be arsed to seek for the information from off game sources, really: the character couldn't do it, so why should I do it?

I'm very happy with Rift, still, but I fear the moment they start breaking down the stats and start measuring the dps. That will state the beginning of the end of the community for sure.

The bane of measuring performance.

Monday, March 14, 2011

No news better... (yawp)

Due to real life things like the dog sports event I was working in over the weekend (over 12 hours of fresh outdoor life a day), I didn't catch any playtimer over the weekend. Except the few short moments of checking and reposting the AH, which currently shows a decent 204 360 gold at my disposal. I've set myself a limit of 250k gold after which I'll purchase the mammoth for the Three Stooges and sell my stockpile off.

Then WoW will become something I play for Gnomore and Three Stooges, limiting my playtime for about two sessions a week for these. The rest? I suppose I'll be digging deeper into the Rift.

That's all for now, folks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

How will you be remembered?

Every contact you have over your life has an effect on you. Be the contact long or short, fast fleeting moment or a long term relationship, everything matters. Of course it depends on you yourself how much these contacts will affect you.

To conclude this weeks theme of playing the social game, there is one aspect left unexplored. 

How will you, your character or your personality be remembered by those you play with?

The longer the contact, the deeper the effect. That's quite reasonable to understand. But in a case of a negative encounter - say, someone ganking you unexpectedly - the effect of that player may well be the straw that broke the camel's back. Short, sharp shock with long term effect.

During the age of anonymity and everything goes, the clear faulty of the virtual world design is exactly the anonymity. You are not accountable for what you do in a MMO, really, because you can ditch that toon, change name, gender, class, role and race by paying some money. Or by just creating a new one.

It doesn't matter what you do to the other player characters in any way.

As it seems to be customary, there is no need to commit to anything anymore. It's the same in real life relationships as in virtual worlds: there is no commitment to the better and for worse. There is commitment to the instant gratification, my own personal pleasure and enjoyment, and everything contra that is to be removed from the experience.

However, the best experiences in life and MMOs come out of the long term effort. Long term effort which pushes you through the mud, rain, slick and sleet, which refine your persona and build your character. The prizes through effort have that sweet taste of victory, which cannot be taken away from you.

A player who has left a strong mark on me said once, that in the internet the only thing with any value is your name. I have taken it so far that for me the only thing with any value in any MMO I play is the name and conduct of my character. Even my own personality is a bit on the sidelines there due to my strong RP background. The character takes charge from time to time, Gnomore being an excellent example of that.

But currently there is no such commitment nor such high regard on personal integrity in the MMOs. Nor in blogosphere, if you think of it. People change the names of the blogs out of whim, switch their characters just for the heck of it and do stupid things on characters which are not their main.

As we all have an effect on the other players we are in contact with, are we ever really thinking how we really affect the people around us?

Have you ever thought what kind of character your character - and in a way yourself - will be remembered?

And bloggers, have you ever thought how you are going to be remembered after you shut the lights and close the door?

What will read in your characters' or blog's obituary? How will you be remembered? 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You will be missed

The most recent evacuations from the WoW blogosphere have gotten me to think about the people who have been a renowned part of the community for some years and suddenly disappear. Some years in the life cycle of WoW, for example, is a lifetime, though.

There are people who have been so renowned and revered by the community, that they have even gotten their named gear or regalia into the game. There are those who have given whole new names into the game, both in and outside it.

What became of those people after they left the blogosphere?

One thing which incited this train of thought was that about a week ago I saw a character who's name was familiar to me from my first real Internet family. One of the Clan, in which I learned all I know about the most important tenets of the internet: honor, integrity and pride. And that your name is the only thing worth anything in the 'net, something you really do not want to spoil or mess around with.

But there it was, a name from the past. And my heart jumped. Just like it had jumped time and again when I had seen the nicknames from that past group of dedicated players on a messy, old school text based browser game.

And I started to wonder, what has happened to the people after I last was in contact with them. Has that one troublemaker stayed out of jail since that first visit? How had the business been for the one who started his during the time? Where has the most aggressively acting, but soft mannered player gone after his graduation?

I know of only one for sure, but even though I thought the whole group to be my good friends back in the day, people I would have sacrificed a lot for, I have no contact with them anymore.

And it bubbled down to the issue which Larísa had with her guild. And what Tobold asked about playing with friends. And to some comments in those posts.

Those friendships over the net change you, definitely, as do every contact with another human being. I would even go further stating that they change you as every contact with a living creature does: you get what you give, but only as much as the other is willing to give in return. But those friendships are not true in the sense that you never know the person on the other side for real, you only see the avatar, the nick, the blabber of the chat channel or voip. Not the person, the body language, not the nervousness of the introvert or flamboyance of the extrovert.

You always get the filtered personality, a mask.

I wonder how many would even notice if I just disappeared from the internet. Or Larísa. Or Gordon. Or Tobold, even. Of course some people would notice the actual disappearance, but how long would people be interested about the reason or the whereabouts of any of us.

You will be missed may well mean "you will be missed for the next week... oh, look, shiny!", a kind of epitaph of the current culture.

Its always good to remember that latin proverb, Memento Mori.

Today I will ask myself, what would happen if I just disappeared. Was it worth it?

Would there be an obituary to the blog, stating "you will be missed"?

Would anyone even notice?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ease of killing the joy

This seems to be the family introductions week.

My other son, coming 13 this year, is an avid gamer. His bread and butter are games. No special genre required, just games. He has a knack for them, especially the action games. FPS, platform jumpers, puzzles, you name it.

He also has a character in WoW, which he played for a while. But he didn't like the questing and grouping.

Quite the opposite from our youngest.

This son plays a lot of shooters, Crossfire mostly for it being a free to play and lightweight enough to run on their computer. He is good in it: not brilliant, but good. Good enough to be kicked from the matches for being a bot, using hacks or cheating.

The bad part of it: He doesn't cheat. He hates botting, cheating, hacking and using any additional tools in the shooters. He hates them, he hates people using them. "If they are not good enough to play, they should learn to play and not cheat", he says.

I couldn't agree more.

Because he understands the basic idea of a shooter - shoot and get shot at - he doesn't mind getting fragged every now and then. He knows he gets better all the time by following the frag count and his position in the final leaderboard. The more he plays, the more he gets to know the names of similar players and is able to make an educated guess on which side to join to get a good match (or an easy way to fulfill the daily mission...).

All this without resorting to addons or hacks.

I know it's an age old debate over the use of addons, whether they are cheating or not, but after playing Rift for a while it seems quite reasonable to say that the use of multiple addons in WoW has even more dumbed down the content and has caused the situation in which the Blizzard designers have been forced to come up with extreme gear and simon-says hurdles for the players to feel challenging.

The discussion kind of bugged me the other day, when a player/person/blogger I appreciate very much said that Rift would benefit from a threat meter, which would make it easier to spot if you are about to steal the aggro from the tank. I - playing a pure dps mage - do not want to see a threat meter just because I want to learn to play the game with the tools present in the game. My humble opinion, based on the WoW and Rift experiences, is that the more we have bells and whistles, measuring and gauges, the less we actually enjoy the illusion of the virtual world. Thus the less we really have things to measure in the game, the less we pay attention to the mathematics behind the illusion.

Oh, and the aggro stealing: even though I blast out my Pyro/Ele/Archon on full force, I can't steal aggro from a tank spec warrior or cleric. That's my experience so far, and I have a feeling that there are signs in the game telling when you are agitating the boss too much. I haven't been able to verify that feeling, though, but I will do my best to see if the boss/mob starts to give me the eye before they charge on me next time.

If that ever comes again.

Back to the topic, though. The easiest way to kill the joy in a multiple-player game, be it PvP or PvE is to either allow or use cheating. Be it hack, bot or clitching, its just the same: it will spoil the fun from the other parties not using them. The same goes IMO with the addons: the ones using certain utility addons have the advantage over the ones not using the same ones, and the solution can't be to 'get the addon, noob' in any sensible way.

In the end, these are games we want to enjoy. Be it by levelling, questing, crafting or raiding, we are entitled to feel equal in our game, not feeling put down because we do not succumb to the same level as the cheaters or for not having the same addons as the other guy.

I wonder what happened to the experiment to level and raid without any addons in WoW? I know there was someone trying to do that...

I'll get me coat.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Change of pace: Gnomore on the dig site

Oh, the glorious day. Every time I 'get the chance' to login to Gnomore feels like a celebration. I definitely have to put that certain part in quotes because I could log in Gnomore much more often, but decide against it. The reason is the additional work it creates: launch Fraps, clean the folder, login, screenshot, log off, run Infran and punch the pictures to Picasa. Instead I lazily login to my AH toons and do some idle crafting, perhaps run a random or two.

Everytime I play on Gnomore is planned session, and that separates it from the 'normal' playtime. Of course, I start and run amok in the game, with no plan on what to do, where to go and how did I get there, but the time is set for Gnomore.

This time it all began from Ratchet, where our hero was having a very long drink with his new goblinish friends. As it happens, they had quite a lot to discuss about marketing, market shares and profit, which ended when Gnomore checked his mail.

Oh, just made a half of my money worth profit, how's that for a start of a day? The sales were around 450g, mainly from the ores and herbs posted: finally the bars crafted a while ago had sold.

Then it was off to roam around the Northern Barrens. Someone might ask why would a tiny little gnome run around a horde infested area, but I think the next picture explains that part a bit...

I can see these huge... tracts of land and gatherable stuff! This in mind, Gnomore set to find the fame, fortune and ways to improve the skills in herbalism and mining. How little did I know at that point how this session would turn out to be...

First there are the small pools from which you can fish something pretty tasty.

And then there are some great views to look at.

And some crying over lost 'friends' and vendors (up where the Wailing Caverns vendors used to be).

Of course, in the end the whole trekking lead to ... Ashenvale.

After running a couple of nice quests, I remembered that Gnomore is trained Archeologist and lo and behold! There were three of the Archeology dig sites in Ashenvale and the fourth was at the Nazj'vel, the place Gnomore hated even before the next visit.

The quests Gnomore ran broke the achievement for 100 quests done: have there been so many non-violent quests so far in the game?!

And the game again shoved the big middle finger to me as a player by showing yet another rare I don't remember seeing...

And as I came back from Nazj'vel to the Zoram Strand flight point I had to giggle a bit. You see, there is this weapon merchant in that outpost (don't remember the name of it, a new Alliance outpost), whose name is Varas. Varas means thief in Finnish... quite a proper name for a MERCHANT!

Upon returning to Ashenvale my surprise was quite a big one, when I noticed that there were still two Archeology dig sites in the map: one in Forest Song, which is a Night Elven outpost at the eastern part of the area, and the other being The Ruins of Stardust at the southern part of the area. Both of which have a flight point right besides them!

Of course I noticed the latter flight point after running to The Ruins of Stardust two times from the night elf village.. but the curious part was the fact that these two dig sites repeated at least four time!

I noticed in the end of the session that my playstyle with Gnomore had changed considerably from running from a gathering node to another to running from dig site to dig site. The best part of this is the fact that you can do the Archeology Surveying at the same time as you are being pounded by a group of mobs, even! Something you cannot do with gathering, as the 'channeling' is interrupted: great injustice, don't you agree!?

After all this it was back to home, that being still Darnassus. On the travels I had met one wonderful player character, a human shadowpriest called Bernhardt, who buffed Gnomore, responded to my emotes and all in all acted like a good fellow player. I later sent him a single Mageroyal as a token of appreciation and got a very nice single liner thanking for the thought. Very nice.

What was not so nice was a druid who challenged Gnomore to a duel, which I had to decline. I said to this character, that I am a non-violent gnome, who has not killed anyone in the game, I'm a pacifist. The response was stunning. "U noob" after which this character hearthed out. I had to take this further and asked in /2 Trade that what kind of player tells me I'm a noob when I tell him after declining the duel that I'm a pacifist. The impromptu set of responses was immediate. "noob", "stupid", "noob" and a whisper pointing at certain nationality.

To conclude this session, I got a response to my query about the kill statistict from a GM. Sadly they cannot meddle with the statistics at all, but the overall tone of the response was nice.

Archeology has changed the way I'm playing Gnomore. If the dig sites are located as conveniently as they were in Ashenvale, the levelling will be very, very dull run from a site to another. To be correct, it will be dull flying after the easy - and safe - experience and finds. I think I have to combine more gathering to the digging, and try to find an area where the gathering is progressing the skills, too.

In short, Gnomore has to have more challenge and less Archeology in easy places. Mental note made.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Grouping away (yawp)

I was sitting on 187.208 gold on my four alliance characters in WoW this morning. That's just a bit over 25k profit over the week, which is not shabby by any means, considering how little I pay attention to the detail and profit in general. I may well craft a dozen glyphs to sell at 30g, but end up selling them at 8g, below costs. Mostly out of spite, because no-one else will sell at that time, either.

What has brought this up is simply the obsidium shuffle and the way the cut rares have started to roll out. The Shadowspirit diamonds (the meta gems) are going steadily, but the price range for them is fluctuating quite a lot. The prices may easily go from 168g on one day to 327g on another, and so far I haven't been able to pinpoint the pattern. Perhaps it is connected to the raid days, but I'm not totally sure.

Gnomore got some love over the weekend, a couple of levels up and a very, very interesting encounter with the Archeological dig sites: He ran from one end of an area to another between two sites which kept popping up in sequence. This has changed the way I play Gnomore considerably, hunting for the dig sites rather than gathering nodes. But in the end, this results less deaths, which is nice.

Rift. I've spent some very interesting time in Rift, not only because it is a new game, or because it's beautiful. Mainly because of the guild I got into and the people in there. Also the people within the game - if you shut the general chat off - are very nice and co-operative, something you do not find in WoW in the levelling areas anymore.

The most interesting aspect I encountered was the ease of grouping meaningfully. I was just doing quests and gathering (this follows me from Gnomore for sure...) and I came to the quests leading to the Iron Fort, a big fortress from which the big bad evil warlord was originally from. The quests are quite doable as solo, and there is no need for grouping, but the kill 10 of these, 12 of those and 8 of them quests mount up to some serious killing. So... I grouped with one cleric on the same quests. Soon another player character joined and before I noticed, there were eight of us doing the same quests, running from one tower to another, from tower to altars around the fort and so on.

And it was bleeding fun. Everyone was working towards their own, but at the same time common, aims and ends, chatting about the progress of the quest and having slight RP on the side.

In the end, everyone thanked for the group before splitting and about an hour had passed: it was like an open mini-instance in WoW.

The additional reward for doing the quests in group? Nothing, except getting them done faster than alone, and with style.

I think this one instance shows how a small thought on the social availability of grouping can change the experience quite considerably, and as the players realize more the possibilities of this open grouping, Rift play experience may well change to something we've never seen before. Social design at work, really.

All in all, a fun weekend with the games. With a lot to write about over the week, too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

First of Three

Congratulations Förgelös for hitting the Cataclysm level cap!

Förgelös is the first of the Three Stooges to gain the revered level 85. I'm pretty sure Bishopgeorge will follow him soon enough, leaving Laiskajaakko last, where the order in WotLK was quite the other way around.

Supposedly this will help the Three Stooges to clear the rest of the 5 mans undermanned and unmannered.

As always, dying can be glorious.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tale of two princes

After writing the yesterday's post about my son's way of playing and how jaded and serious we gamers in general are, I have been thinking the whole thing over and over again. The comments on that post have been very eye opening in many ways and especially the one Hirvox posted was a kind of a revelation to me.

In a way everything in this train of thought can be condensed into a story I've heard time and again, a story about two princes. The story can be interpreted in many ways and can be thought of depicting various issues in life as well as in gaming.

The Two Princes

Long time ago in a land very, very far away, there was a lovely kingdom. This being a fairy tale, the kingdom naturally had dragons, witches, damsels in distress and beautiful heroes to save them, but they are not important for this tale.

The kingdom had a King, who was loved by the people, and a Queen who was wise and admired, even by his hudband. After years of loving and trying to have a heir, they got lucky and the twin princes were born. Right from the birth it was clear that the princes, though born at the same time, were completely different. One was dark and gloomy, while the other was blond and joyful. Regardless of this difference, the King and the Queen - as well as the whole kingdom - loved the princes very much.

As years rolled by, the difference between the princes became more noticeable. The dark one always saw doom and gloom in everything, and there was nothing which could have cheered him up. On the other hand, the other was all joy and enthusiasm, finding only positive things from all things that happened in his life.

After watching the differences of the princes for six long years the King and the Queen decided to do something about this disparity. They decided to put their plan into action on the seventh birthday of the princes.

The morning rose on the princes' birthday, bright and warm as it always does in the fairy tale kingdoms. The King and the Queen had decided to woke the dark prince first to cheer him up even more, as he would be the first to get his birthday present. 

The prince woke up, and was lead to a shining new door at a new extension of the castle. Looking all sad and desperate, the prince was told that everything found behind the door would be his birthday present, his alone and no one else's. Warily the prince pushed the door open and saw a huge room full of  shelfs upon shelfs full of new and shining toys of all sorts.

"There, son! All that is your birthday present, each and everyone of them belongs to you", said the King, proudly presenting the present to his son.

Much to the King's, Queen's and the Royal court's surprise, the prince dropped on his knees and burst into tears. As they finally got their son calmed down enough to ask the reason to this, the prince said: "All these new toys are going to break down. I can't touch them for I may break them and there is no-one to repair them at the rate they will break and the repairs will cost a fortune and the kingdom will go bankrupt."

Shaking their head in amazement and desperation, the King and the Queen left their weeping son to the care of his valet and went to wake up their other son.

The joyful son jumped out of the bed immediately and started looking for his present. The King and the Queen took this prince to the backyard of the stables and showed him a huge pile of manure.

"Son, this is your birthday present on your seventh birthday. Happy birthday, son!", said the King, trying to hide his amusement of the situation.

The young prince stood still for a second and dashed back to the castle. The King and the Queen and the Royal court were amazed: What on earth was going on and where had the prince gone?!

After a few moments the prince ran back with a shovel and started to dig the immense mount of manure. The King asked what he was doing.

"If there is this much manure, the sparkling pony must be somewhere here", responded the prince.

First I thought that the two princes could picture the different kind of bloggers: one sees the doom, gloom and broken things even in a new sparkling game, while the other takes the time to dig the sparkling diamond out of the apparently broken game. (There was a third brother, too, but he died of asphyxiation and ecstasy right after birth seeing only the sparkling diamonds in a sparkling game which was sparkling before it even saw daylight.)

The other approach was to think the princes as the WoW players of now: one sees the game as broken and bent and keeps wailing over it, while the other still sees some good in it - even though recognizes it is broken -  and keeps digging the pile in search of the diamond (or next purple gear).

The question really is about the interpretation. How do you relate yourself to the story as a blogger or as a gamer?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Joy of being newbie

I recently read a post in Pink Pigtail Inn, where Larísa shows and tells an application her guild has gotten. The applicant - according to the application - was a 14 year old kid, with a level 82 deathknight, and the guild is pretty much a hardcore - at least serious - 25 man raiding guild.

Now the comments range from the typical evaluation of "fail" to Gevlon's mention of "M&S proper" to adoring mentions of cuteness of the applicant.

I told this in the comments, but I'll expand a bit.

My son, coming 10 years this May, plays a DK, too. Level 63, Unholy for dps and geared only from questing. My son loves to spend gold on trivial and unnecessary shinies: sure sign of M&S conduct by Gevlon's rules. He also likes to bash mobs, to a such an extent that he signs in PUGs every time he gets to play (because he's so young, he has this character on my account, under my supervision).

I have selected his spec, talents, skills and help with the gearing questions among other things. But that's it: I have never taught him on how to play the class, nor how to min-max the rotation. Never even occurred to me to do such a thing.

Taking into account that he's so young and English isn't his native language (in fact he's just started to learn it in school), he still gets into the PUGs. As it happens, he likes to play in group content: so much so that he automatically pops the LFD tool on when ever he gets the privilege to play. Yes, that is earned around our house.

To make this really strange - or in some others words showing the state of the levelling players - he scores to the top of the damage meters every time. Not necessarily the top, but in the top two usually.

And he has never - not a single time - been kicked out of a group. He's the epitaph of the current WoW thinking in group content: "shut up and deliver".

As I monitor how he plays and what he does, I'm constantly amazed how he finds the things I take for granted or have already trivialized to myself extremely interesting or amazing. The childish glee on everything new, strange and surprising is still there. He's loving the game for being as fluffy, cute and amazing as it is. He's enjoying the game, being the newbie he still is.

Now that wasn't the reason why I brought my son into the blog. The reason is that it's quite brutal how the 'jaded veterans' treat the newcomers, newbies, kid learning the ropes and each other in the game. The level of cruelness tells quite a lot about the state of the game itself. The only people worth the while are only those who make the min-max-game their main hobby, who know their class by heart (and the accompanying stats and bonuses) and play the abstract gameplay system regardless of the shiny graphics involved.

The elite who are not to be called elite, because the raid content is at everyones - and their cousins - reach. Provided that you fulfill the forementioned requirements of the gameplay mechanics.

Is this really the way the game, which we all started to play for fun, has turned to?

What have we lost when the game could be easily turned into a number crunching simulation with a few Simon Says scotch-hopping?

Is it the same game anymore?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I doubt that's a good idea

This is not a Gnomore post. Gnomore is on vacation for this week due to Rift head start weekend.

This is a Rift post. Due to Gnomore being on vacation because of the Rift head start weekend.


So far I've been playing only one character, Kelari Mage called Copraf (ingenious naming, don't you agree?). The term "glass cannon" is an over estimation of Rift Mages survival abilities, but at least at the low levels the damage I can deal is quite enough to keep single mobs a couple of levels higher at bay. Even as much as to get them down before they can even hit me.

What can I say? Argent, the RP server I'm located with this character, is a very helpful and nice community. There have been no queues as far as I've seen, and the overall attitude is the we are in this together. The most bothersome thing about the game is its namesake, the rifts: it seems to me that there are invasions and rift events going on constantly when I'm online, making it nearly impossible to level up by the normal questing way. I'm overlevelling the content here, people!

As the explorer me, I had to take a breath of fresh air in Sunday and I ventured off the beaten path of Freemarch (the level 5-20 area). Strolling around in Droughtlands (level 22+) and later in Shimmersand (at least lv33+!) with a level 14 character was a stressful, exhilarating and very much refreshing experience! As every step had to be thought out in advance to stay alive, the intensity of that session was very, very high. And I really mean that you had to plan your steps ahead, because the nearest resurrection point was always at the other end of the map if you were lucky: the corpse run wasn't as nice as it may sound.

Anyhow, seeing the depth of detail put into these areas and the love in the graphics has convinced me even more that there is no hurry to level up. There is quite enough to explore on the way up, and the lore and legends which I encountered on those travels are quite promising. Like the separation of two Cyclops tribes after they were freed from the ilk of the evil Eth, who had brought them through dimensions by magic to serve as slaves and gladiators... How the heck has all that happened and what is going on in the cave there?!

In Shimmersand there are some nice triggered events which left me giggle: I won't go any deeper into this, because they are somewhat a surprise and I would surely spoil the fun from someone entering them for the first time. Needles to say, I'm waiting to come back with a proper level character and see how the events proceed then.

I have only one thing to complain about in the Rift events and public groups. There seem to be no interest to heal in them. As a pure dps I have no way to keep my health up, while the dps from Druid persuasion toss a self heal every now and then and keep pounding. The elite invader as much as breathes to my general direction and I'm gasping for a potion to stay in the foray.

Sad to say, but this was to be expected: everyone wants to beat the baddies, and as the system rates everyones personal performance, healing isn't going to be rated too high by the players. It's a war out there, anyhow, no time for losers! (I should have rolled a pure healing cleric and level only by quests and healing... no, too much Gnomore!)

The best part was yesterday: guild fun in Iron Tombs.

First of all, the game is gorgeous. But the instance itself rises the bar even higher: it is dumbfounding. The atmosphere, lighting and sounds are just magnificent and just ... right in its grand meaning. Can't wait to run the instance again, even though the initial amazement has vaned.

The structure and flow of the run is well thought. Like I said during the run, Trion has truly delivered the fun they promised to include in the game. Even though our rag tag group had one 'overlevelled' character, the rest at level 18 and my meager lv15 had quite enough to do and the challenge was to plan the pulls and kills after the first - and only - wipe after a specialist pull gone somewhat awry. Or how can you rate a pull for three mobs which ends up pulling thirteen, among which at least one mini-boss? Expert job, I say. Something I capped by stating the next proposed pull with "I doubt that's such a good idea".

The fun part of the run was that I really learned more about my Mage than I had learned before questing and rifting. I also found out later, when I was going through the run, the reason why it was so fun in many ways.

The main thing was the fact that there was no feeling of having to be the min-maxed super performer of the class. There was no need to show and tell how my class is played properly. And there was no expectations on anyone in the group that a certain class should perform at a certain level.

Here comes the only comparison to WoW in this post: in WoW I don't like the instances anymore because I have to be the best there is only to stay out of the name calling ring. Be it tank, healer or any dps, it is the same. The damage meters and the sour community does have its toll on the fun, really. Instead of going into an instance I have to think whether I have the gear to do it, the right spec to be accepted, the buffs I'm supposed to have. There is the feeling that the game and the rest of the group are expecting more than you can deliver.

Sure, there are players who don't give a damn about it and just go and get the bashing. But as a tank or a healer in WoW you are bound to get the shaft even if you perform well if someone decides the failure was your fault. Seen that on both my tank and my healer, and that's the major reason I don't want to tank in PUGs anymore.

It is not fun anymore, it's a chore.

Granted, the run in Rift was a guild run, but in a way it was a PUG: I'm a newcomer to the guild, the composition of the group came on the fly and we were just having a look into the instance. It had more common with a server PUG than a real planned guild run, really.

But the most fun came out of the fact that no-one really knew the instance, everyone was a gamer and had played quite a bit of MMOs and everyone was in to have FUN.

Anyhow, Rift is what I have earlier stated many times: WoW on steroids, Trion doing splendidly what Blizzard did way back when they launched WoW. It's new, familiar, simple to get a hang on, a new car with some new gadgets and better stuff under the hood.

For me the head start weekend - even though it was the worst gaming weekend I've ever had - was a great success on Rift point of view.

How about you? Have you tried Rift, will you give it a try or will you just pass it for something more shiny?

Or are you content enough with WoW?