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Wildstar: Cancelled

June 21st, 2014 by

I just cancelled my subscription to Wildstar, and this makes me sad. I’ve been looking forward to this game for so long, really anticipating it as one of the last big MMOS on the horizon. (Arguably, there is still Everquest Next out there and that might be ok. I have to say, though, that I hated EQ2.)

I was looking forward running around inside a world that looked as though it had been designed by Pixar, a world with a warped sense of humour. I wanted really unique mad-science quests, rocket ships, racing against time to prevent giant computers from blowing up the world (or trying to unbalance giant machines into destroying the world). I wanted it to be different. I, who am totally burned out on several years of Warcraft raiding, was even looking forward to the return of giant raids.

What did we get? “Kill ten rats” quests. An endgame focused entirely on raiding, and raids designed for the ADHD crowd. A long, convoluted attunement system for said raids. Doable? Yes, of course. Fun? It depends on your investment in raiding and the game.

I just wanted to have fun.

I’ve always been an MMO gamer. I love being a part of a vibrant, living world – aside from a good book, it’s the closest that I’ll ever get to finding that secret door into another realm. At the moment, though, I seem to not have a home and I miss it so very much.

 

This is why we can’t have nice things

June 16th, 2014 by

ArcheAgeLike everyone who is eagerly awaiting the NA/EU launch of ArcheAge, I’m not logging into the alpha as much as I used to, while simultaneously watching the forums and Reddit eagerly for any news of beta and/or launch. At level 40 already in alpha it seems silly to do those last levels to 50 – I’ve never put this much time into an alpha or beta version of a game before.

The most emotionally-charged issue on the forums is that of PvP vs. PvE balance. These threads go on for pages and pages, hundreds of responses all saying that any concessions to the “other side” will inevitably ruin the game and lead to failure. The pirate guilds want PvP all the time, everywhere. The PvEers just want to be able to take their trade packs to market without having some jerk strip them of all their hard work. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

I confess that I’m much more of a PvE type than a PvPer. I actually do a lot of PvP, but I want it on my terms, when I want it, when I have a hope of things being at least somewhat equal. And yes, sometimes I just want to pick flowers. :) This Massively article on alternative server rulesets had one of the best quotes that I’ve seen on gankers and griefers: “The fact is that most of us don’t want to be bothered with Little Johnny Rottentop’s attempts to work out his mommy issues and testosterone overflow after we’ve endured a 12 hour day in corporate hell.” Indeed – and that is the problem that I have with PvP in a nutshell.

I actually want really well-designed PvP in the games that I play. When I started reading about ArcheAge I imagined castle sieges and huge battles, some of them on ships at sea – how cool is that? What we actually got, though, is a mean-spirited playground for asshats to go around in groups and gank lower-level players. We got people who sit on the docks all day, waiting for traders to come in so that they can steal packs. We got zerg guilds that sweep through areas looking for players trying to quest. There is very little risk for gankers and massive risk for farmers and traders. Changes are being made to our version of the client to try to force people into PvP, which never, ever works. Those players will just quit, and then the game will indeed fail as a mainstream game. (I have no idea what the sub numbers on something like Darkfall are, but I would bet that it’s an extremely niche game with a small playerbase.)

Time and time again I’ve seen people on the forums say “This is a PvP game,” thus totally ignoring the fact that the biggest part of the game is actually PvE. It’s gorgeous, it’s fun, and the crafting, farming, husbandry and trading systems are both challenging and satisfying. Yet certain very vocal minorities in the game act as though someone at XLGames came to one of the dev meetings and said “I know we’re making a hardcore PvP game, but I had an idea that we could implement without too much work. What do you think about adding some farming and crafting, just for giggles?” This was an area of the game that they put an enormous amount of work and resources into. This was never a limited-scope PvP-only game, it was always meant to be a full sandbox with equal emphasis on crafting, housing, farming, gathering, exploration, questing and yes, PvP.

What is the solution? I don’t know, to be honest. How do you build a system where both types of player can enjoy themselves? Some of the obvious changes would be:

1. Same-faction PKers. There absolutely needs to be much stronger consequences for killing someone of your own faction. Eve has a system where people who have been too naughty actually cannot go into the higher-security areas without getting killed by NPCs. Something like this would be a start.

2. There has to be some risk to killing players and taking their trade packs – perhaps you can only sell them on the pirate isle, for instance. As it stands now, the trader has spent a lot of time, effort and money to try to get that pack to the other continent, and the other side needs to share some of that risk.

3. Trion really, really needs to begin policing chat and allowing reporting of players. Faction chat and trial chat are cesspits of racism, homophobia, rape threats, etc. Bots and goldsellers are unchecked. I know this is “just” alpha, but you are building a community even now…and the one that is being formed is an extremely nasty one.

4. Give people an incentive to participate in PvP. Right now I’m questing and levelling, and I don’t do it during wartime – I’ll go and do something else, or log out. There simply isn’t any point to trying to quest while getting repeatedly ganked by roving groups of bored 50s. Make the rewards more valuable, though, and I might think about it.

I suppose what I’m really saying, when you get down to it, is I love this game. I want to live here for quite a while – don’t ruin it. After all…this is why we can’t have nice things. :)

Wildstar: Headstart

June 3rd, 2014 by

Yeah, yeah, I know…I continue to mistreat and neglect my poor blog, and it’s been ages since I posted. I’ve just been so fried, so very tired that making words (much less trying to combine them into coherent sentences) is very hard.

Anyway, Wildstar finally launched, and we’ve been having fun playing with both real life and online friends. I’m slightly ambivalent about Wildstar at this point, which has affected both my levelling and my impatience to play. After semi-hardcore raiding in Warcraft for several years I totally burned out on that type of time committment. When Wildstar made the announcements about the game having a raid endgame emphasis and also that their raids were going to be Even! More! Hardcore! I confess to being a bit meh. That’s affected my enjoyment of the game, since I know that there is an end to all the fun waiting (at least for me).

In any event, here is my oddly-dressed, but still badass Medic. I like her.

 

Wildstar Medic

Important Things

May 19th, 2014 by

 

Phil and I have been married for twelve years today, which seems impossible. Didn’t we just meet a few years ago?

redshoesThe song above was the one that we’d chosen to be sung at our wedding. We got married in a park, underneath an enormous tree, by a justice of the peace who arrived riding a Harley. I wore an antique lace dress with a pair of sparkly ruby slippers and our family and friends were there to share the day with us. Our friends Steve and Ellie sang a bluesy rock version of the Trisha Yearwood song “Down On My Knees” (I so don’t do country!) and it was perfect.

Why was this song important? It has to do with remembering what is important in life.

Everyone has a sin and if you know yourself at all, you know damn well what that sin is. Mine are Pride and Anger. I have my father’s temper, that bloody dark-red haze that descends to fill the mind. that berserker rage. In me it is paired with Pride for a truly devastating combination: if I feel that I have been hurt I can destroy my entire life, the people that I love and everything that I have built up, just to watch it all burn. I’ve done it to relationships and careers and the regret on the day after can’t fix it and can’t undo it – but lord does it feel good at the time.

The song is also about realising what is unimportant; we all get caught up in work and plans and all the things that seem to be important until you look around and realise that while you were on that daily treadmill you lost the things that really mattered to you. Without the people that you love, what are you really working towards?

So that was the promise that I wanted to make. I’ll never forget you, I’ll always put you first. If I am angry I’ll try to keep it under control and remember that we are the most important thing. Getting down on my knees isn’t easy for me, but I will let that pride go and do anything that I can to keep things right between us.

 

I learned to be strong a long time ago
And I can face any wind no matter how hard it blows
But I’d have to be stronger than I want to be
If I had to live without you loving me

kiss

Random

May 14th, 2014 by

Random

 

What is this? I can’t even…I mean, what? I can’t stop looking at it.

I’ve been working through what was threatening to become a backlog of covers again, so I haven’t had time for much of anything. Too much work, which is both a good and a bad thing. No time for writing, for one thing.

I’ve been playing some Archeage and am very much looking forward to launch. Come on already! I managed (I think) to reserve my name for Wildstar despite their site having shit the bed.

Regarding that last line, that expression is one of my favourites for some reason. I have no idea why, I’m a California girl and that is (to my knowledge) from the East Coast/New England. I think I first read it in a Stephen King book. I just can’t help loving some really descriptive profanity, being such a foul-mouthed wench and all. Being from a very proper family, I had to learn to cuss and I try to do it with as much verve and enthusiasm as I can.

Anyway, this is just kind of a “not dead” (yet) post. Plus that horse…that freaky horse.

Initial Impressions of ArcheAge

May 1st, 2014 by

ArcheAge Landscape

 

Last week Phil and I, after much discussion, decided to spring for the ArcheAge founders packs and have been playing the alpha ever since. My initial impression was that I was having a lot more fun than I anticipated and my second thought was “Dear lord, this game is going to be SO addictive.” I’ve been playing MMOs since vanilla WoW and have played most of the main titles with the exception of Elder Scrolls Online and I have to say…it’s been a very long time since I’ve been antsy waiting for the day to end so that I could play. ArcheAge makes me feel that way.

ArcheAge CharacterCharacter Creation

To begin with, character creation has a lot of options for creating unique faces. There are age options that mean you can look as old as you want, which is a massive relief after the teenage doll-like prettiness of games like Guild Wars 2. The aged options actually look good, unlike other games where all faces were young except for the one cronelike and ugly skin that no one ever chose. Although there are no dark skin options, which I find disappointing as that is what I normally play, everything else is highly configurable and there are some very nice hairstyles.

Body options are strangely missing, but I hope they are added at a later date. It would be odd to have so many options to customise a face and no height sliders or body sliders.

Classes

Similar to the system in FFXIV, there are an enormous amount of class combinations that you can choose and build on. Also like FFXIV you have to level up the skill trees separately, so even though one character can learn everything eventually, you’ll find that it is probably easier to level up alts so that you have quests to help you level.

I tried a mage archetype when I started and it was okay. Healer I hated, although perhaps it gets better later on. It just seemed like so much work to kill anything. Warrior was a blast and was highly effective along with being very survivable. In the end I fell in love with Archery as a basic class, pairing it with Shadowplay, and will probably finish off with Sorcery.

Crafting

Here is where you get into the really addictive part of the game. Now I’m someone who tends to sneer at people who play casual/social games such as Farmville. I’m a real gamer, damn it. But gods help me if I don’t find myself logging in to this game in the morning and at lunch to manage my damned farm. I raise animals and crops, harvest and slaughter, and yearn for more space to do it in.

It dawned on me that Trion could make a lot of money by developing an mobile app for Patron players only (people who actually sub to the game) that would allow them to log and manage their farms. Here you go, a gift from me to you, Trion, because I’ve always liked and respected you and because Rift has such a good cash shop. Here is an app that will print money for the company, and you’re welcome to it. :D

Things I Love

ArcheAgeThere is so much that I love about this game and some of it is difficult to put into words. Blizzard has always acknowledged that there was an indefinable something about Warcraft that made it special, and they were quite wary about making the type of changes that would negatively impact that. I think ArcheAge has the potential to have that something that makes it enjoyable just to be in their world, no matter what you happen to be doing.

The game is beautiful, although the graphics are a little less stunning than I’d anticipated from screenshots and video that I’d seen. Characters are incredibly detailed in character creation, but a bit flatter and smoother in game. Hopefully this is something that will change, but if not it is still very beautiful.

Boats, ships and combat on the high seas are something that I’ll write about at a later time – but both Phil and I are very much looking forward to this element of the game.

One of the things that I love most is that it isn’t a raid endgame type of MMO, and thank all the gods for that! No rushing to level cap to keep a raid spot, no pressure to race to the end. Just having fun doing everything because the emphasis is on the journey, not the destination. That, more than anything, is what I’m happiest about. Yeah, I’ve turned into a big ol’ casual. So sue me. :)

Concerns

My main concerns at this point all have to do with the community. Open world pvp can be a lot of fun, if you’re into that type of thing, or it can be horrible if you’re being griefed by a higher-level player, corpse camped, etc. Sometimes I just want to dink around and do quests and not be bothered. It all depends on the community…and this one is worrisome.

We’ve wondered how so many kids came up with the $150 for alpha access. They’re obiviously kids, or at least incredibly immature in that 12-14 year old CoD way. I still have faction chat on (although Phil has turned his off) and there are so many nasty little shits calling people gay or faggot, or talking about raping people. Trion really, really needs to have a report function even at this stage because it is incredibly unpleasant and will turn people off the game. One wonders why they aren’t playing LoL or something like Darkfall, where not only can you kill other players and strip them of their stuff, you can also do really unpleasant things like slaughter their mounts. I suppose they prefer easily targets in games such as this where a lot of pve-types are just trying to enjoy themselves.

I think that this is one of those games where having the right guild will be imperative. Not only will there be a lot of things that you will only be able to experience with a guild, having friends at your back will mean the difference between having fun and having some prepubescent asshat ruin your night.

All in all, I’m really loving this game. Bring on launch!

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