The Hybrid Journal - Mersault

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New Game Masters

So everybody* was really excited to see what Amazon Game Studios would “unbox” at their unboxing event that happened yesterday. After recruiting several devs from MMO companies like ArenaNet, the chances of AGS creating an MMORPG were high. We couldn’t admit to that, certainly, since by now it should be clear to everyone that MMORPGs created by devs in the western hemisphere are in trouble. New Triple-A releases were not in sight, and those triple-A-games that kinda, sorta were MMOs were carefully avoiding calling their games MMOs.

So here comes Amazon and announces New World, a game set in 17th century, supernatural america. And it’s a Sandbox with emergent gameplay and stuff. Read more

A word on crown crates

First: my own opinion, put shortly: I don’t like lockboxes, I don’t buy them and I wish nobody would. As we know by now, Elder Scrolls Online is going to begin selling what they call “Crown Crates” in their cash shop- turning one of my most liked business models/ingame shops into one of many.

Personally, I feel buy-/free-to-play brought a few niceties to us. However, I’m starting to realize there’s more to it than that and I’m starting to get fed up with cash shops, because they take away from the games we play. I’ll probably go over this discussion at another time, but the reason for this post is that I’d like to share the most recent episode of “Tales of Tamriel“. I was happy to see Isaari joining for this topic, particularly because of points he made before in regards to playing WoW and his will to grind for mounts, pets and hats. I can’t find it anymore, probably because it was a tweet- but I knew him to be very opinionated on mmonetization as he’s written about it a couple of times.

Now, this is a podcast dedicated to Elder Scrolls Online, but the discussion points are valid throughout the genre- it’s very interesting to listen to and if you’d like some insight/differing opinions or agreement on stuff like “it’s just cosmetic”, “but they have to earn money” and so on, I’d suggest watching this. It’s also very from the beginning that these fans of Elder Scrolls Online- themselves content creators in regards to this game for a long while and in all kinds of manners- are really upset about the introduction of lockboxes into their game and would like to talk about that topic from the first second.

The monetization stuff begins around minute 30, have fun.

Travel Log: to the Broken Isles

I won’t spoil anything story-wise for those of you who haven’t been logging into Legion by now, just giving a few quick impressions.

First of all, of course I didn’t make it to 100 with one of my “normal” characters and had to learn how to play a Retribution Paladin- which isn’t my class at all. Shaman, Druid, Priest- I could live with those. But I boosted a Paladin (rightfully) thinking that I wouldn’t play one through the rest of the game, so here I was, playing Lizah the Paladin for the second time, a boosted character in an MMO I haven’t seriously touched in about 10 years.

Thankfully, there aren’t many abilities to learn. I don’t know if I made a mistake, but my main bar isn’t even full- I placed normal fighting abilities there, with buffs/debuffs populating different action bars. Something feels off, though, as Lizah feels a bit low on the damage dealing side for sporting a damage spec.

As I’ve been absent for quite some time, I don’t know when World of Warcraft became so good in storytelling- I didn’t remember it that way and when I returned, the old zones didn’t feel particularly different. But at least on the way up to Legion lands, it’s great, it’s varied and it’s presented in a way that actually made me want to experience the story- that of Legion as well as what came before.

I have a new's supposed to be important.

I have a new sword…it’s supposed to be important.

It took some time, though- 3 hours to reach Stormheim, the zone I decided to start out with. The scenario bugged out once, so I needed to repeat it. Other than that, I visited my class order halls and became very important for the Paladins of Azeroth (don’t they know I boosted?).

Anyhow, it’s beautiful, it’s new, it’s somewhat fun, albeit a bit confusing for someone returning after a long absence, and I’m not only talking about the story. It’s nice being able to do current content with all the others, it’s a feeling I didn’t have in ages. But somehow, I get the feeling that for all that I’m gaining- actually playing the content of the current expansion, that is- I’m also losing out on something else- namely, the experience that comes with playing characters from 1 to 100, and maybe even content droughts. It might actually be that downtime I’d need to close the gap a bit.

I’ll share a couple of screenshots, hopefully without spoilers.

We’re not in Telara anymore

Huh. I finally went to see the invasions, thinking that I could maybe use them to level another character up, as it was said that doing Rifts Invasions was a good way to do so.

I used my level 12 (Feral) Druid to visit my first one. Invasions are basically Rift’s Rifts. Open grouping, open tagging, stages of completion. I mean, it’s nice to see World of Warcraft stepping into this decade- and I don’t mean that in a bad way; it speaks for the game’s engine that it is so versatile.

I don’t know if it’s a good way to level- I gained one level from one Invasion. I guess at level 12 it doesn’t make a lot of a difference to simply questing or going into a dungeon. Maybe it’ll change later on. If I was level 25 and gained one level by one Invasion, it’d be nice.


It took a bit of traveling and I hopped on the wrong boat once. The key-takeaway for me is that i don’t like the Druid right now. It feels as if its four specs are actually narrowing the options to play a Druid.

Scaling the content to your level, though? Stroke of genius, but that warrants an own post.


5 years ago, my mom died. We didn’t get along very well, unfortunately, because, well…i didn’t understand her and she didn’t really understand me. We were very different kinds of people, at least i felt as much. In the end, knowing what i do know now, we’re actually very similar to each others and if there are two things i regret in my life, it’s that we couldn’t really connect when she was still there and now can’t connect anymore because she’s not.

Here’s the thing: my mom was the best person on the planet. Not objectively, not in a general sense and for sure not in day-to-day dealings between her and myself. But she was the best person for me.

My parents divorced when i was five years old- since then, i’ve rarely seen my father. He came by to congratulate me for a couple of birthdays and christmasses, but then, he kind of disappeared. I know that’s probably not only his fault and that my mother probably had a hand in it, but the fact remains: i grew up without a father.

My mom…well, she didn’t take his money. Not for herself, that is. He had to pay aliments for me, but that didn’t amount to much. My mom fought. My entire life, up until the thirties, i knew what it was like to be…well, not poor, we’ve never been really poor, but struggling. Of course, i was the child, so i didn’t do no struggling, except not being able to buy as many toys as i would’ve liked. My mom struggled.

To find a job where she could financially support both of us while keeping enough time to be around me when i returned from kindergarten/primary school. Cleaning jobs at first, later adding being a secretary into the mix. When i was a teenager, she became a full-time secretary. She was unemployed a couple of times and worried beyond measure, i’m sure. I didn’t get to see much of that, though; she tried to be positive around me- she didn’t succeed all of the time, but she tried. Another struggle.

Her greatest achievement that really made her proud was buying me a digital camera for a birthday, i think back in 1999 or 2000, when they weren’t in everyone’s hands here yet. I was the first in my circle of friends who had one and it made my mother incredibly proud- and rightly so- to being able to give this to me. Years later she would still recount that tale as one of her great successes. It’s a symbol of her struggles for and with me, for the fight she fought for me.

With her jobs, we were able to spend the entire summer holidays in Italy when i was aged between 6 and 13. So i’ve been to the same village in Italy for almost a year in my life- i learned the italian language as well as the culture. I got to make friends in Italy who looked forward to meeting us again the next year. I had a great time there and even nowadays, i always try to convince my wife to visit that village again. 6 years ago, i succeeded and in we went.  Imagine the look on our friends’ faces when i, never giving them advanced notice, gave them a phone call telling them i’m close and would want to visit them…after 20 years. Yeah, it has been great.

Fortunately, i was able to show my mom these photos. Fortunately, she was still alive when i visited China for the first time. I kept a blog up, mainly for her, describing my adventures and impressions. We returned. Two weeks later, she died of cancer being only 58 years old.

58 years. Believe me, more often than not, i think about my contribution in this. She had to fight for us, for me, to be able to provide me with something, anything really. I wasn’t a good boy from age 16 on and gave her lots of trouble, i guess up until almost in my thirties, when it got better between us.

While cancer got her in the end, sometimes i think that she also had no fighting power left in her. She gave it all.

Now there is our son, and i would so like him to meet her- i’d so like her to hold him, take care of him, see him walk and grow. I don’t think there’s anything i’d wish more for right now, and it’s one thing i can’t have.

I saw my father shortly after my mother died- he attended the funeral; many attendees found that to be offensive; not me- i thought it to be a nice move, but i told him he couldn’t expect me to contact him right away. After our son was born, i thought it was time- i wanted my son to have family in germany, and my father is all that’s left. So we went and met him.

There’s a picture of him holding our son. It’s a nice photo, but it’s also the reason i found myself unable to stay in contact with him afterwards. Because all i could think of was: “why him? Why does he get to hold his grandson while my mother, the person who literally gave everything for me doesn’t?”. He didn’t do anything wrong. Instead of happiness, this gave me pain. Then we moved, and there is the possibility i’m really hard on my dad; that he wants to see his grandson and i’m denying both of them the joy of being a family.

So where am i going with this? Well, first of all, remember this: there is literally no-one in this world who is as capable and willing to love you, fight for you and give everything they’ve got like your mothers. Sure, fathers do a lot as well, and we’re getting better at it, too, but in my experience (small wonder, eh?), it’s the mothers you can count on.

Then: be nice. Try to be. Stay in contact. I’ve never in my life felt so uprooted as i did when my mom died. I lost my home and have never found it back. There’s no reason for me to be in germany; when it comes to family, we- and especially our son- would be better off in China. Anyway, all these boring christmas-days or thanksgiving or whatever you celebrate in the circle of your loved ones and “endure” them? I’d give everything to experience that again- with our son and my mom.

Maybe i should take my own advice and call my father.

I’m not religious, but at funerals, i tend to say something to the deceased. To my mother i said- and i’ll repeat that now, 5 years after her death:

I’m sorry, mom- and thank you!

Travel Log: 10 starter planets in No man’s sky

Yeah, who would’ve thought- i caved and bought the most recent hype-machine. Haven’t played yet, but took screenshots of 10 starter planets in No Man’s Sky. Enjoy- i’ll be off starting on planet 11.

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Games i’d like to see the end of

That isn’t asking for a close-down, to the contrary, actually.

Part of being a dirty time-casual is that there are way more gaming options out there than could possibly fit in the schedule. This is both in relation to games in general and in terms of MMORPGs. I’ll take a look at the latter here. Even when I was very happy to stay in Elder Scrolls Online for the first half of the year as well as with my choice for the second half, there are quite a few MMORPGs I’d like to see through to the end.

Lord of the Rings Online: If I were able to stick with it, i’d be playing it right now. Lotro is beautiful, especially the landscapes. Turbine did their very best to recreate one of the most iconic fantasy worlds out there- and succeeded, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I think its time comes to an end (not official! just gut-feeling) in the coming year, due to licensing. I’m sure they’d keep the lights on as long as possible- but when they aren’t allowed anymore? Who knows. Could WB save it or simply not care to shut it down? Possible, I don’t know. But we do know the license is up in 2017.

Still, I could play it whenever the mood strikes- and I possibly will at some point, but whenever i think about the need to see this recreation of middle-earth, I remember Moria and a sigh escapes my mouth. Honestly, not even Gandalf wanted to go there. Could Lotro still be a subscription game if they had chosen overland zones for their first expansion?

Maybe i’ll get past that, at one point. I hope so.


The Secret World: No problems with this game whatsoever, just difficulty to put it into my rotation. Sure, it only has missions as content, but it has one of the most engaging storylines in the genre.

Blade and Soul: There aren’t many MMORPGs that have an eastern setting and flavor of story while being a triple-A product and quite fun to play. Blade and Soul is one of them.

Wildstar: Look, revenue is increasing…but it’s still at $2 million a quarter. That’s really not all that much. I still feel this is undeserved- it is a solid MMORPG maybe released at a time when many were tired of that old formula and Wildstar maybe didn’t do enough to shake it up. I have to confess that here, i wouldn’t be in it for the game, the zones, the story, the atmosphere, but the housing. In Wildstar, housing would be my endgame; unfortunately, I feel it starts too slow despite being introduced at an early level.

Games and content

Here I* am, still thinking about whether or not to preorder No Man’s Sky for its PC release on friday. The game sounds interesting enough, even if I’d say it lends itself better to the couch and tv in the living room than the PC at the desk. I’m fine with everything I’ve read so far and didn’t expect anything else, maybe because I didn’t care much for the hype beforehand. It’s released now and it seems to be a single player game, but I didn’t take a longer look at the game before it was released. Insofar, I’m glad the PS4 version released a couple of days before the PC version; that way, I still have about 48 hours to make up my mind.

The thing is, to me, the game loses value as soon as it is released. Strange as it might sound, I actually do want to name species, planets and stuff. So as soon as others go about doing that, the chances of me being able to call something “Strangebird” or “Legolas” become slimmer every day. And the game would lose some of its attraction for me.

Interesting, though, is to see how much the devs seem to skirt around that multiplayer thing- my guess is that if it was clearly labelled as singleplayer game, Massively wouldn’t have covered it.

Another thing popping up in my head is the lack of content in NMS- yes, i said it! 18 bazillion planets don’t really mean a thing to me if

  • I can’t build a base (apparently an upcoming feature)
  • there is no civilization- and I’m not talking about a strange building here and there, but cities, skyscrapers, sentient species moving on planets (don’t really know if NMS has something like this)
  • I can earn spacebucks, but don’t really have a way to spend them (possibly ship and multitool upgrades)
  • what am I gathering resources for?

I mean, even if it is great for exploring, for sure, it could still feel empty. Ah well, but I’m the guy who plays Civilization games on an Earth map, if possible, because I don’t find randomly generated worlds to be plausible. Maybe I lack fantasy.

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Housing wishlist for Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online will get housing in its Q1 2017 update- we know this already. We probably also know that it’s semi-instanced. I’m very much looking forward to housing in ESO – but i do have a few wishes.


I hope housing will be accessible very early in the game and not be a max-level thing. It should also be somewhat attractive by default- players who like housing are a creative and loyal bunch, if housing is done right. However, housing players will only “suffer” through so much gameplay they don’t enjoy to get something for the part of the game they do. Leveling to 50 would be a bit long. Of course housing should scale very well and accompany players throughout their characters’ lives. At any point from level 10 onwards, i’d like to be able to see and do something about my house.

Not a byproduct

I hinted at that wish above, but i think this bears repeating: don’t make me run 10 dungeons to – maybe- get some housing item i’d like. Don’t simply attach housing stuff to achievements. Sure, do housing drops, they’re nice loot. Ideally, housing would be a different path to take in the game, maybe even accompanied by a new crafting profession or new recipes for existing crafting professions.


I hope we’ll be able to share our spaces, let visitors come in. A player owned house would be great for guild meetings. It would be even better if we were able to visit houses of strangers (if they set the appropriate permissions).


There are great housing systems out there- Wildstar’s and Rift’s housing systems are both very accessible and very complete- however, in both cases i had trouble to connect them to the virtual world they should be in. It’s not a lore- or immersion problem, per se, as the teleporting and locations fit into both games, but in both cases, i couldn’t shake the feeling of disconnect. In ESO, we already seem to know that the houses are part of the zones, so this wish seems to be granted.

Gold sink

It is very important for an MMORPG to have means of spending earned gold. The last couple of years brought us more and more alternative currencies in other games, often different ones for different activities (questing, dungeons, pvp etc.). You’d get some kind of token that you can then spend at some NPC for items. It’s an…ok system to have, but as with bound-on-acquire gear, i think of it as a band-aid that’s hurting the economy. You really only need one currency- gold. Elder Scrolls Online thankfully features gold as a currency mostly, to my knowledge. While i am always broke in this game (and think this is a good thing), i’ve heard others state that they didn’t know what to do with their gold- housing is a good way to get them to spend it.

Light on cash shop

Of course we know housing is going to be monetized in the cash shop- there’ll be exclusive items, possibly even houses, and i have no problem with that. As with everything, though, it’s important to keep a balance. I think it would be a shame, for instance, if crafters couldn’t create anything for the houses, in-game means would be quite limited and everything else would go into the cash shop. Housing items should be attainable through as many means as possible, including but not focussing on the cash shop.


Some time, i guess this month when i’ll be looking for inspiration, i’ll tell you the tale on how i got interested in MMORPGs. The short version is: i wanted to become a baker. Nowadays, i’d like to become a tavern owner. Sure, setting up one’s home is nice and all, but in the end, that’s kind of limited in scope- let us build taverns, bakeries, shops, barracks, hiding spots, casinos and more underground stuff. This ties into the wish of housing being shareable, as well- as a tavern owner, for instance, some visitors would be nice.

So that’s basically it- i guess i’d like it to be as close as possible to EQ2’s housing with a hint of Wildstar’s to add flavor.

A feature Online games need to have

So is looking for writers and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. If you’re willing, see if you’re able, too. I love how mmogames tends to recruit bloggers, many of which i’m reading on a regular basis. Bloggers make for a very different tone in their articles, and it shows. I’ve said it before, and i’ll do it again: mmogames is a rising star in the mmo site business- i don’t know about money, but quality-wise and as a “collection of blog posts”, it’s great. Now, i’m not looking for a job, but i found their writing prompt interesting:

500 words on 1 feature all multiplayer games need

Here’s mine.

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