Monday Quick Notes: All about EVE

Learning lessons

Commitment. It’s about making a choice and sticking to it. When i was still looking for that game, i thought it meant to force myself to play one or two MMOs only, but that’s not what it is about- it’s more about giving a particular game a fair shot both in session length and time spent in game in any given month and allow the game to get me hooked. These days, for the first time since my WoW days, i find myself enjoying the game worlds i play in outside of the respective games.

EVE Online

With EVE, i’m not there yet, but i realize that i’m on my way to becoming attached to EVE. I didn’t play much since i last wrote about it, but i was reading. All those very fun to read articles about the current war and a book about past ones, as well. And i want to get in there. Really, EVE online will be rememberred, far more than, say, SWTOR, because its players shaped the game’s history and one of the few games to be an “MMORPG” from the bottom to the top. I feel that, right now, we’re on the brink of another important phase in the game. I don’t know if World War Bee is still going, if The Imperium has won or lost, but from what i can see, i think it’s very realistic to assume that the Mercenary Coalition isn’t really interested in keeping all that space. So there might be a power vacuum coming to Nullsec, and it will be interesting to see where this is going.

Reading Empires of EVE also introduced me to the idea of a “free port” in Nullsec- basically, there used to be an alliance that opened up its Nullsec space for all EVE pilots and strived to make it a safe place. That’s an interesting idea- imagine being able to carebear around in Nullsec- that would be great. Alas, i don’t think such an alliance still exists.

So what i’m planning with EVE is the following: i’m going to commit. I want to be in there, become whatever small part i am able to be in that (ingame) community. For now, that simply means continuing doing career agent missions, then the Sisters of EVE storyline. When i’m done with that, i think i’ll have an inkling about the game and how i am going to approach it. I know this, however: moreso than Elder Scrolls Online, getting into EVE takes an effort- i can’t really expect it to pull me in in the first two hours of gameplay. I’ll also look into finding a corporation sooner or later, EVE is meant to be played with others, after all.

Elder Scrolls Online

In addition to playing three characters right now- my main, the tank and the Nightblade Leech healer for the guild group, there’s one question on my mind right now regarding ESO: how can i earn more gold? So i’ll try and take a look at the following content:

  • fishing
  • stealing
  • crafting

Possibly the best way to earn some gold is by joining trading guilds- but in all honesty, i’m not a big fan of those. If they were combined with a large social levelling guild that requires no commitment at all (i’m committed to my guild, after all), it would be fine. But the trading guilds i experienced are silent groups of strangers using the guild as auction house only. That’s not even what i’d have in mind when thinking how to create a trading guild, it’s just a band-aid fix to get auction house functionality.

Hero shooters and may

What march was for MMOs and MMO-likes, may might become the same for single-/multiplayer. There are three titles i’m very much looking forward to: Battleborn (may 3rd), Stellaris (may 9th) and Overwatch (may 24th). Well, actually i’m a bit indifferent towards Battleborn- there are three reasons i bought it: i’d like to play one of those hero shooters soon and Battleborn releases earlier than Overwatch. It also offers PvE content, so that’s an advantage. And with Greenmangaming’s always-on 20% discount, i could buy it cheaper than the 50‚ā¨ standard price.

In Stellaris, i’ll be creating the space empire i’m never going to build in EVE, and i’m really looking forward to see that space 4X game from the developers of Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings.

Overwatch will be the most fitting to my gameplay style of using singleplayer games (or multiplayer lobby titles, for that matter) as a distraction for short sessions and fun gameplay. I’m in the mood to play a shooter right now and Overwatch might just fit the bill. I’m hoping for an arcade feel like the Unreal Tournament games or Quake 3 used to have.

How could ESO improve trading?

Elder Scrolls Online has employed a unique way of doing player trading. As we all know, there are no global auction houses. What’s more is that materials used in crafting have no or quite low value when selling them to NPCs. Instead, there are trading guilds, guild merchants and merchants in Cyrodiil. Here’s a statement from Nick Konkle:

You don’t necessarily want to do a global auction house for a game with one giant server because that generally leads to all the best gear being available at very, very cheap prices, a lot of times that can trivialize the game. You cannot have a healthy economy when there are no restrictions on getting the best stuff in the game.

I’ve read another statement somewhere that the way ESO does player trading is the closest they can get to simulating regional pricing for goods in a game where fast travel is a thing.

I respect both of these explanations and find it quite refreshing that a developer leaves out a “standard feature” of MMORPGs in favour of game design. However, this approach isn’t working out for me- and possibly a few other players out there, if i were to assume i’m not the only one having some trouble in using either chat or trading guilds as market places.

As i’m also playing EVE these days, i began to think about ways Elder Scrolls Online could add public market places into the game without breaking aforementioned guidelines.

Add a guild finder

I think ZOS has plans to introduce a guild finder in the game. While it’s not too difficult to find guilds who are advertising on the official forums etc., having an ingame interface would make things easier. After seeing EVE’s corp search tool, i’d wish for ESO’s to be more elaborate. In my opinion, there’s a few key factors when looking for a good fit and i think all of this should be considered when designing the guild finder:

  • Play time. Either give a few options to enter your average weekly time you spend in the game or give the option to enter time of day for your activities.
  • Gameplay focus: Questing, Dungeons, Raiding, Crafting, Trade, Thieving, Fishing, Roleplaying and PvP are already in game, with “killing” coming soon. Provide checkboxes to select the content you’re interested in.
  • Target Group: Hardcore, Casual, Social, 18+, family-friendly and more
  • Language

 

EVE's corp search is great.
EVE’s corp search is great.

When you present the results, be sure to add ways to join that guild- provide a button to text with a recruitment officer and/or a simple “apply” button with an optional text message just like they already have with friend requests.

Create regional markets

The market places / merchants would need to be located in the game world. No fancy interface, just a house in a city- let’s say one per zone. I’d also prefer it if the prices weren’t scannable by addons which could be making it easy for players to figure out where to buy/sell stuff.

Taxes

To get regionally different prices, there needs to be a way to control these prices. As you can’t rely on players to do that themselves, as you can indeed fast travel through the world, there’d need to be taxes. Luckily, Elder Scrolls Online already has something that denotes the origin of the item: the crafting motifs. So they could put different taxes on items in different regions.

Let’s say you craft an armor in breton style but want to sell it in Auridon- you could do that, but it would be heavily taxed because the Bretons aren’t even in the same alliance. I think Auridon is also Altmer territory while Grahtwood is Bosmer- you could set taxes accordingly. They’d be lower than the Breton style taxes, but still different.

Of course, there are additional styles that might not be as easy to locate in the geography of Tamriel. I don’t know enough about them to make suggestions, but i’m sure one could figure out a way.

Limit trade

Of course, you’d be able to buy on each market you visit, but selling would be restricted in some ways – otherwise, players would simply teleport around Tamriel to avoid mentioned taxes. I could think of two ways to do that:

  • limit selling for one character/account to one location. If you sell stuff on the Daggerfall market, you can’t sell anything in Wayrest, for instance.
  • limit selling by taxes, again- raise taxes for each location an account wants to sell stuff in and make it hurt, at least when the number of markets per account reach 3

Of course, one thing would happen: we’d have trade hubs in Elder Scrolls Online. But this still wouldn’t be a global market as there’d be incentives to sell in other regions (to pay lower crafting style taxes or get higher profits) and it would actually be believable.

Market Halls with player shops / guild traders

While i can understand that ZOS doesn’t want to litter the landscape with guild traders/merchants, i think there are too few of them right now to make them really interesting. It’s a nice feature, of course, if you are a member of a successful trading guild, but it’s a bit of a hassle to find one of these. If they’re not willing or able to develop easily available player trading for individuals through NPCs, they could create “market halls” in cities where a guild or individuals could open shops. Let’s say you have a building and room in there for 20 merchants- add some costs (without making them absurdly high) and allow guilds or individuals to open a shop for, say, 60 minutes. The merchant they hired will then sell their stuff for 60 minutes before the contract needs to be renewed. You could also raise the costs for each successive hire and differentiate between locations.

Create a variety of different trading guilds

ZOS could also create more than one NPC trading guild- let’s say 10 or even more. Each account has to join one and can only buy/sell stuff in this NPC guild (well, and in player guilds, obviously).

Armchair much?

Yes ūüôā But there are two things that do bother me with trade in ESO right now: first, to be able to trade, you have to find and join trading guilds. That’s an active part you have to play and you have to do this outside of the game. The second one is that one-to-many player trade isn’t part of the game system design but part of the guild system design. I get that in Elder Scrolls Lore, guilds are important, but there has to be a merchant/trading guild somewhere in the lore.

Thinking about it, improving player trade could be bolstered up to become a stand-alone DLC.

Why i am excited for Dark Brotherhood

Yesterday the first news regarding the Dark Brotherhood DLC for Elder Scrolls Online were published, and i’m pretty excited for the changes as well as the content that come with it. I’m nowhere near to needing new content, however, after seeing what the previous PvE-centric DLC looked like, i’m pretty sure this one’s going to be a blast, too. But it’s not only the content i’m looking forward to.

Crafting Bags

Inventory management is a big part of Elder Scrolls Online, and it is by design, at least to some extent. As the developers told us, we don’t have to hoard everything- we can and should sell our stuff, to NPCs or players alike. The trading system of Elder Scrolls Online is unique in a way that seems almost old-school, as there are no auction halls, global or regional, so if you want to profit from trade, you’ll have to be part of a trading guild. There are two points of view i have on this: first, i like it, because on the surface, this system fosters socializing- you need to join other players actively to be able to trade. The downside, however, is that you have to join other players actively if you want to trade with them. That’s like having mandatory dungeon runs without a group finder tool- it’s just a hassle. However, the trading system of ESO is not today’s topic- and there’ll come a solution with the DLC.

Now, where did i put this?
Now, where did i put this?

The crafting bags for subscribers. They’ll be endless and hold crafting materials- great! I can see inventory problems simply going away with that addition alone- although it is entirely possible that one simply keeps other trash in the inventory. We’ll see, but as it stands, they’re already the reason for me to be and remain subbed to Elder Scrolls Online, because the moment i heard they’ll be coming, i subscribed, as i knew i would do that whenever they’ll drop. Until then, there’s no need for me to buy DLC and i accumulate some crowns for the ingame shop to spend on fluff. As for the crafting bags- if they’re account-wide, i’m game.

The downside, however, is two-fold. It will allow us to keep all the mats. If you think about it, normally, the need to prioritize would be a good thing- if there was a good trading system. Interdependancy is a good system to have in your MMO, and making players prioritize on which mats to keep and which to sell could improve the ingame player market.

The other one is that maybe, guild banks are in for a rough time then. Right now, our small guild bank holds 180 different stacks of items already, and it has only been open for a week. Clearly, we aren’t talking about generosity alone- putting stuff in the guild bank is one way of easing your own inventory stress. When the crafting bags come, it might take a more deliberate will of sharing stuff with others to fill the guild bank. Thinking about it, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Removal of Veteran Ranks

I’m actually kind of sad. I’ve bought the game at release and played it for a month or two. I returned for a short time when it went buy-to-play. I haven’t played much and didn’t fall in love with the game until i discovered Laeloria. But that one took me in- of course this isn’t the only reason for me liking the game so much, but it is the reason for why i feel a strange “connection” with the Daedra Azura and might make her symbol part of our guild’s heraldry. However, my main character is level 34 right now and i don’t expect her to reach her 50s before Dark Brotherhood hits, so i’ll probably never see Veteran Ranks in action.

Here's Nuria in 2014.
Here’s Nuria in 2014.

It will be interesting to see how progression works, then, and how it’ll be different. As far as i know, champion points are the new veteran ranks, so it might just be that there’ll not be much of a difference- although i believe the CPs to be better suited as they come quicker.

Character slots

I don’t need them- i’ve deleted some of my characters and stand at 3 characters now, possibly 5 in the close future. But Elder Scrolls Online has so many different ways to build your character- at the most basic view, you can create all classes with a magicka or stamina focus. Doing that would put you to occupy all currently available character slots. You could also play every class in every role- then, you’d need 12 slots. There are lots of ways to build your characters and, in my opinion, despite being a linear affair (though with all the DLC it isn’t so bad anymore), there’s lots of replay value in the game.

So i really like the addition of character slots to the crown store.

The actual DLC

Oh yes, there’s a DLC involved, too. After seeing how great being a thief works in the game and how much fun it is, this might be the first time i’m excited about being able to sneak around and eliminate targets in the game. While i haven’t seen much of the Thieves Guild yet, i can already see that playing the DLC is a change of pace and very interesting gameplay. Also, Isarii likes it- and when it comes to MMO design, i have a high regard of his opinion since he wrote that great post about shooting ourselves in the foot by joining multigaming guilds. While forming an opinion on his alone wouldn’t make sense, i think reading about his enjoyment adds in nicely with my own impressions.

Azura statue in Laeloria
Azura statue in Laeloria

So here i am, looking forward to sneaky content. Who would have thought? But by now, nothing’s surprising me anymore- i wouldn’t have thought to find MMO homes in Elder Scrolls Online (2 years old) and EVE online (ancient), and yet, here i am.

Information about the next DLC

This might sound strange regarding the paragraph above, but i actually look forward to when we can file both Thieves Guild and The Dark Brotherhood into the “released” folder, because i am highly curious about what’s to come. I do hope for non-combat content and/or improvements to trade (no global auction house, though) or maybe even a new class, i don’t know and i have no idea. But i’m sure i’ll play it.

Travel Log: Cyrodiil fun

Yesterday evening marked the beginning of our guild-activity series. The poll decided that we’ll go with Cyrodiil PvE first- that means going in there, unlocking skyshards, finish delves and dolmen, explore places and so on. Questing might be part of it, but it’s a sidenote. As we aren’t into PvP, we’ll begin in Aldmeri Dominion territory and simply hope for the best. The best being no enemy players around, all the more as we couldn’t join the non-veteran campaign due to one of us being in their veteran ranks. I’d have thought they get scaled down, but apparently, this campaign is for <50 players, stat.

Suspense is other people

Of course, there’s still tension. After all, enemy players can be anywhere in the landscape, in delves and as you are able to see dolmen/anchors from far away, there’s enemies to be expected. First of all, i’ve got to say that i love this. I wouldn’t want it all the time, but when traveling through Cyrodiil (or mining in a 0.4 sec system in EVE), i’m always on the lookout for others and there are things to be considered as soon as you see enemy players.

So it happened when we met others- a small group of maybe two or three players in one of the delves we ventured in- the Pothole Caverns. I couldn’t make out how many there were, because they went into stealth as soon as they saw us. And that’s when it became really interesting- this group was in a delve, after all, so it was entirely possible that they didn’t want to seek out fights, but so aren’t we and we still fight enemy players when we see them (we don’t hunt them, though). They could also be hiding and sneaking around to attack us. We were hidden by that time, as well, and i don’t know enough about the stealth mechanics in pvp to know how we’d be able to see them. I sneaked around a bit, then i decided to come out of my cover- maybe lure the enemies into attacking us.

On the lookout
On the lookout

Nothing happened. Still, can’t be sure, right? So the next thing i considered was that they were waiting for us to get engaged in a fight with the mobs around- so i started a fight. Again, we were not attacked. We relaxed a bit, but when it came to the delve boss, i became cautious once again- they could be lurking out there, waiting for us to clear the way and then “steal” the bossfight from under our feet. But they weren’t. I don’t know where they went, but we never fought them- at least not in this place.

After some time, we travelled to Vlastarus for a skyshard. Vlastarus is in Aldmeri Dominion territory, if the map is in its initial state. Yesterday, it was at the border to the Daggerfall Covenant, so all kinds of stuff happened- there were DC guards and three enemy players. This time, we got into a fight. While we were first just looking at one enemy and still considering whether and how to attack them, they took their chances when a guard attacked us. And there were some friend, as well. It was a very interesting, not too short fight with some players and npcs- and it was a lot of fun. Made even sweeter by our victory.

When we went to tackle an anchor, i advised our group to avoid standing too close to each other, because i didn’t want enemy players to hit all of us with one AoE attack. Surprisingly, nothing pvp-related happened there, though.

Then, we called it a night. But “calling it a night” in Cyrodiil means trying something new and exciting. So we decided to attack a mine owned by the Covenant close to one of our castles or towers- to teleport to the southwest and then use the wayshrine to get out of Cyrodiil. This was a very difficult fight. I’m not sure if we would have been able to defeat the NPCs- probably not, but it would have been a close call, but they weren’t alone, as some players came by to defend the mine. Then it was over quickly.

Cyrodiil fun

This suspense- or tension, coupled with the open and vast zone design of Cyrodiil, really good loot, resource nodes and so on, are what i love about Cyrodiil. Of course, it wouldn’t have been half as much fun without the company, so there’s that. The funny thing is, the way the players in our guild are, we’re new to many of the things we do together. Many of us play Elder Scrolls Online because they like the IP. They played solo mostly and kept to themselves. So while we have veteran rank players in our midst, many of them haven’t seen a dungeon from the inside, and Cyrodiil, with its pvp nature? It’s new to all of us. So we’re basically noobs, but we’re having some great times together.

 

Monday Quick Notes: Dual Wielding LFG, new chars in Elder Scrolls Online

Dual Wielding LFG edition

This was so much fun. I love writing in coop-mode with Ironweakness, so having three others join us made this whole thing even more fun. Of course, reading my own entry now feels as if i…overshot a bit. The others kept their posts shorter and more on point, while my mind wandered- as it tends to do. I feel like i still didn’t mention everything this topic has to offer so maybe there’ll be follow-ups.

I really hope we’ll do that again- maybe with others, the same people or even simply more, but we’ll see. This exercise alone made me think about the possibilities of multi-blogger sites and/or a Discord channel for bloggers. This connection to others is what makes blogging so great at times- and it’s one reason for me not to blog in my native tongue.

I actually tried to find german bloggers writing in german, but all i found were quite old entries. This is strange, though, because i think germany is the biggest MMO market in europe. The only “private blogger” i know of is a new guildie, but i haven’t given up yet. So if you’re reading this and maintain a german mmo blog, tell me about it in the comments, please.

Elder Scrolls Online

Tempest Island

We formed a guild group for a random dungeon again. Thankfully it didn’t take the dungeon finder tool 40 minutes to get it started and we were lucky to find us in Tempest Island, the group dungeon of Malabal Tor- so actually not one of the more sophisticated. I wasn’t tanking this time, so things went a lot better than in our first run. We were still having some trouble and i really have to improve my skills in dungeon-delving, because more often than not, it was me lying in the dirt.

Nuria needed a drink after this.
Nuria needed a drink after this.

Tempest Island centers around the Maomer once again trying to summon storms and bring chaos into Aldmeri Dominion lands. The dungeon design in ESO is impressive- they’re vast, many times contain indoor areas as well as the outdoors, and they’re atmospherically dense. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.

It became clear, however, that i need to look into my Templar build- something’s not working there. I’ll probably develop Nuria into a full-blown Magicka Templar.

More characters

I have quite a few characters in the pipeline:

  • Nightblade Blood Mage / Leech Healer – i love the idea of leech healing. Or healing by doing damage- it’s the ultimate dps/heal hybrid. I need one for our guild’s leveling group in the Daggerfall Covenant and i’ll probably create another one for me
  • Dragon Knight Tank – i don’t like tanking, but if we’re going to do dungeons in our guild, i’d like to be able to provide us with a tank
  • another Templar – depending on how i change Nuria

In the end, i’d like to have one character for each armor class, be able to tank, dps and heal, do all the crafts and have lots of combat variety (stamina/magicka/melee/ranged etc.). I still have the goal of getting the Dragon Knight to 15 this month- it’s not too late to achieve that. Other than that, my DC Nightblade needs to go to level 8 in the next two weeks.

The Guild

Weekly update here, as i’ve seen there’s some interest. Granted, i don’t do the topic of guild management much justice by always making it part of my Monday’s posts only, and i’d like to do more, but not as much has changed regarding our current goals compare to what wrote last time.

What’s changing, though, is that activity is picking up within the guild. We were joined by three new people in april, with all three looking to be very good fits. I’m especially happy that we were joined by Everskies, who even picked up blogging again. Our planned activities of doing Cyrodiil PvE achievements and leveling characters in DC will start in the next couple of weeks, attendance of events and of simply “being online” at night is rising and we now also have secured access to the guild bank- which means, even if we seperate ways with “inactives”, we’ll be more than 10 accounts in the guild.

So, it’s an exciting time- the guild project is picking up steam and getting shaped now.

Dual Wielding LFG edition: fostering communities

Dual Wielding: LFG Edition‚ÄĒ sometimes a topic is just too big for a couple of bloggers on their own. That‚Äôs when we send out the call, and see who steps up to help us with the challenge. This week, in a special LFG edition of Dual Wielding, we‚Äôve put together a four person team to tackle the question, ‚Äúwhat can developers do to foster community”?

Make sure to read the other posts, too:

Intro

Let me just state how happy i am about the LFG special edition of the coop blogging post. Thank you so much to Wolfyseyes and Syl for joining Ironweakness and me today. I’m sure it’s going to be fun!

So how did it get started? By a Twitter discussion between Ironweakness, Wolfyseyes and Syl about “confusing” design decisions in Black Desert Online or Tree of Savior, for instance. It’s actually quite difficult to get one Tweet that shows it all, but here’s where one big question showed up.

So, if a game is more complicated- does it foster its ingame community to become closer? And what are other ways of encouraging social behaviour in MMORPGs? Forced grouping and the trinity would be more intentional ways to get players to interact with each others. In the course of this discussion, it became clear that this is quite a complex topic- so we chose it for this month’s Dual Wielding and asked Wolfy and Syl to join us.

Intentional vs. coincidental

In that discussion, there’s an interesting point in differentiating ways to foster community in intentional and coincidental design choices- is a good community in games like Black Desert Online and Tree of Savior a byproduct of the complexity of the game? Is offering or forcing your players to do group content and role management working as a pillar for community building? Is there anything game developers can do to improve their ingame communities? Let’s take a look at examples first.

No negative interaction

Guild Wars 2 employs a “no griefing” approach- in GW2, there’s almost nothing another player can do to lower your enjoyment of the game. When you meet others, you won’t sigh or hope you’ll make it first to the resource node, because everything regarding ingame progress is there just for you. You get as much experience, loot, resources when being in a group as if you were alone. Of course, that makes grouping beneficial, as you can kill mobs faster, tackle more difficult encounters and so on.

gw031

Does it work, though? I’d say no. To be sure, GW2’s community is more on the friendly side of things, but the interaction outside of WvW, sPvP and maybe world bosses is very limited. Yes, you play with others, but they might just as well be displaced with NPCs. Sure, you could say hello and get to talk to others, but the on-the-fly grouping makes pick up groups come and go so quickly that there’s actually no need. The Guild Wars 2 game design is one of the best examples of “alone together” design- i mean, that’s better than being solo all the time, but it’s not meaningful interaction.

Another example of this way of game design would be Rift, where PUGs happen organically all the time- when closing Rifts, preventing Invasions, doing Instant Adventures and so on.

With both examples, i think a good way to improve on that design might be to make the content more difficult or meaningful.

Forced Grouping

As seen in Final Fantasy XIV, for example. In FFXIV, you’ll come to a point where the main story questline asks you to do group content- and that’s putting it nicely. As progress in terms of game features is tied to your progress in the main story, you have no choice. You’ll have to do group content to be able to trade your goods, get a mount and open many more options in the game. And the first time it asks you to dungeon delve? It’s not one, but three dungeons.

ffxiv_duty

Again, Final Fantasy XIV is an example of a very nice and friendly community, but i don’t think the forced grouping really helps in fostering it outside of guilds, possibly. For those, the forced grouping coupled with level scaling is a boon, as there’s always someone you can help, content you can do together and get to know each others. For players outside of guilds, this presents a challenge- on one hand, you have to go find a group in that dreaded LFG tool. On the other hand, but this is of more importance to casual players like me, you are stopped in your progress with a wall of “dedicated game time” in front of you. These three dungeons have been the reason for cancelling my sub/not playing the game two of three times- because i’d need to set the time aside and make sure that i wouldn’t be interrupted while in the dungeon. In the one case where it didn’t lead to me unsubbing, it took me two weeks to get through these three dungeons.

Socialising, though? Didn’t happen- it was a PUG, after all, and the pick-up groups for forced grouped content are basically the same as the pugs for optional dungeons in WoW, for example. There was a higher percentage of players saying “hello”, but that was it.

Another example could be Elder Scrolls Online. Now, there you aren’t forced into doing group PvE content, but for trade, you have to join trading guilds. I’m member of one with over 300 members- the chat is more silent than the guild chat of our small guild where 3-5 people are online in the evenings.

So no, in my opinion forced grouping doesn’t work.

Complex gaming mechanics

I’ll use Black Desert Online, EVE online and Fallen Earth as examples here. Black Desert Online has the reputation of not introducing players very well into the features of the game. Exploration is a big part of BDO, as well, and other players telling you where to find a horse to tame or certain plants and whatever are a thing there. EVE Online has the infamous learning curve. And Fallen Earth, while unfortunately being almost forgotten, was a Sandpark before Sandparks became a thing. These three games have one thing in common, albeit to varying degrees: you are actually dependant on out-of-game resources and help from others inside the game.

2016-03-04_1490972650

It’s been a few days since i last played BDO, so i won’t comment on its community. EVE and Fallen Earth, though? In my opinion, those are the games with the best communities out there. Sure, especially EVE has lots of shadow in its light, too, but it’s here where things like EVE University exists. EVE and Fallen Earth offer a newbie help channel that’s actually helpful and maintained by friendly players.

As EVE is one of my two current games, i can tell you that when you begin to dive a bit deeper into the EVE community, it’s almost like a parallel universe. I could easily double my MMO related feed reading if i were to follow all those EVE blogs out there. Of those 98 game-specific podcasts listed by Justin on Massively Overpowered, 13 are EVE podcasts, World of Warcraft has 15.

EVE has one thing up on the other two, though: interdependancy and different means to interact with other players.

The odd ones

There are two games with great communities i haven’t mentioned above, because it’s more difficult to pin down the reasons for why these games have such great communities- Lord of the Rings Online and The Secret World. But thinking about it now, there is a connection: out-of-game engagement and assets. As with BDO and EVE, these games are not self-contained. Lotro makes use of one of the biggest IPs we have in the gaming world and The Secret World…well, it makes use of conspiracy theories as well as lots and lots of modern tale storytelling like Zombies, Vampires and other themes that have a connection to the real world.

The other thing here is- and maybe that is tied to the out-of-game resources, that they’re both very roleplaying friendly.

What fosters a good community?

I think fostering and maintaining a good community is not about removing or creating obstacles within the game- it is about providing more than “just” a game, invoke emotions in the player base and feel them connected to the game, its world and its players. It is about creating the opportunity to have meaningful interaction with these elements both within and outside of the game.

Make it more than a game

The games don’t carry themselves- they need to be accompanied by out-of-game resources and interactions. For interactions, as i haven’t touched on them above, a developer needs to employ a very open conversation channel with all of their players- offer popular builds on your website, introduce guilds and talk about planned features and what you’re working on as well as your intentions in changes to the game. Hold community meet-ups. Know your bloggers. Stay- or get- in touch.

tales_of_tamriel

If the game in question is set in a widely known IP, they are halfway there, but even then, developers need to offer resources outside of the game or encourage players to create them- for instance with a design philosophy of “systems over features” (that can make a post on its own). In my experience, if a game offers a connection to the “real world”, either by links to IPs of books, movies, real world legends or even other games (as is the case with WoW and FFXIV), when it is able to make use of connections between the game and real-world experiences of players, it has a leg up in terms of building community.

Create and maintain interdependancy of players

Self-sufficiency is nice and all, but if it is offered, even as a hard-to-reach goal (like leveling all crafting professions in FFXIV), nowadays players will try to achieve it. It’s easier than to try and make connections to other players. Picture interdependancy as the “system” version of the “feature” forced grouping. It’s easy to do in crafting- just don’t let anyone craft everything by themselves (ideally not even by making use of alternative characters) to “enforce” player trading- but don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be. Also, let things break to maintain this interdependancy. Or allow certain crafters to repair stuff / create repair tools.

It can be done in PvE, too, if we think about Entertainers in Star Wars Galaxies who were able to remove debuffs from players in cantinas. The trinity is not enough, combat-wise, there have to be more roles on offer- like debuffing enemies, buffing players, support roles and so on. Another thing to note: being grouped up with other players should always be beneficial.

There should be an inherent need for having other players around and it should span more than the odd dungeon or world boss.

Allow interaction on different levels

Most of us have noticed that MMORPG players have changed. There isn’t a big influx of young gamers into the genre- they play specialized games, and the genre fans have been getting older. That means having less time to play and less will to dedicate huge chunks of time to gaming. I think many of us are still in this genre for the other players we can meet and interact with, but at the same time, we are less willing and able to put lots of time into this.

One of my favourite articles (really, go read it) introduced the idea of asynchronuous interaction- it is what makes Twitter, Facebook and E-Mail work so great- all of them enable their users to communicate even when the other one isn’t there. MMORPGs haven’t toyed much with that idea, though. For most of the things we can do together, we’d both need to be online (auction houses being the excemption).

Trading is the obvious one here- i can offer something for sale while you’re offline and you can buy it when you log in. But this is faceless interaction; it is needed for the general community of a game, but it doesn’t offer the individual the satisfaction of doing something with others. There is one feature, however, that makes this possible: housing. If i can own a housing plot and allow others to help me build it, we can create something together even if we’re not online at the same time. I think this could be expanded- for example by allowing us to create contracts or quests in game for PvE or crafting content. Now, these systems often end up being exploited, but that’s not my problem today ūüėČ

And then….let it scale up. Offer something for two players to do together while they’re both online, or not. Offer the same for groups of 5, 10, 20, 50 or 100 players and you have a solid base for building communities of all sizes.

Have a vision and make it last

This one is hard to grasp, but i think if we’re looking into the examples i mentioned above, they all have in common that the games in question have a vision. They want to offer something special and they stick to their guns. Be it TSW’s creepyness, Lotro’s world-creation, FFXIV’s compelling themeparking, EVE’s cutthroat philosophy and so on. Even World of Warcraft with all its changes has stuck to one vision: creating and maintaining an accessible MMORPG.

internet_spaceships

Others have changed focus, hunting for new/more players instead of keeping their current customers happy or miscommunicated their vision before launch. Some of them do well, money-wise, some don’t. Some still have good communities, but really, would you say that the Star Wars community isn’t capable of doing much more than what happens around SWTOR? Yeah, me neither.

Whodoesit?

What game does it best? In my opinion, even before returning to it, i’d say and would have said EVE Online. They have the fanfest, blogging events, the whole ingame economy is player-based, even the lore and history is. EVE started in the game and was only that. But players were enabled to take ingame events and such to the outside. We’re talking about a game with concurrency numbers in the 30-40k area, but the community has created so many assets, from tools, to websites, blogs, videos, even books and history, that EVE is much more than just the game now.Ingame, there are huge advantages to flying in a fleet without debuffs, xp bonus or some other “artificial” benefit, but because of the game’s inherent systems.

Monday Quick Notes: ESO, EVE and the guild

Elder Scrolls Online

Last week saw me seriously returning to The Elder Scrolls Online in a normal manner- by that i mean questing through Greenshade instead of just doing random things on guild night. And it pulled me right back in with the expertly crafted questing experience. I’ve also made good progress taking Nuria from Level 28 to almost 32 in a week. The birthday cake helped, of course. I could have progressed even further if i would have played on friday night instead of having a guild meeting. The downside is that i’m outleveling Greenshade and maybe even Malabal Tor a bit, seeing that it starts with level 32 and i’m not done with Greenshade by any means. I guess i’ll be 35 by the time i’m ready to move on.

I still need to refocus on Nuria’s crafting abilities, though- she’s deconstructing items and researching traits all the time, but i don’t think she created armor or weaponry since…forever. Crafting in ESO is quite complex- my guess is that, to create something really useful, you would have to create the armor/weapon with a good trait and a good enchantment. Enchanting, however, is one frustrating craft to level, as you usually don’t find that third type of artifact. But i’ll look into doing more crafting with her soon.

Elder Scrolls Online really needs to add downleveling to zones as the game is quite easy by now, anyway, and being of a higher level than the quests you’re doing just adds to that. I continue to be very happy with the game, in fact, i feel it’s a rabbit hole i’m diving into deeper and deeper. Elder Scrolls Online is the first MMORPG since WoW where i want to add something external to my gameplay experience, ranging from podcasts, maybe even books¬†and finally, i want to know more and have found a way to get what i want- the really great Lore series by Shoddycast¬†i discovered via¬†HeadBurro Antfarm. I’ve watched the first two episodes yesterday and learned a lot about Daedra and Aedra.

Jita is quite busy.
Jita is quite busy.

EVE Online

Speaking of crafting- EVE online was a surprise. It wasn’t on my radar at all when news began to heat up about World War Bee. I haven’t played since i wrote last, but i got the additional 30 days for 10‚ā¨. As i’ve mentioned, for now, i’d like to do some trading, but my first shy steps into this area have been confusing. EVE’s economy is vast- with hundreds or thousands of different items to trade and thousands of places to trade them in. Even with using online resources, i had trouble finding out what and where to trade.

I feel like trade might be one of those things where knowledge of the game’s inherent systems might be a good thing. So i’ll continue to try and have trade as a primary focus (as you don’t need to know how stuff works to buy low and sell high- it’s simply more difficult to find out what to trade where), but will take sideway-looks into other areas like producing stuff (ships, maybe?) and maybe even combat via missions to get a better understanding of the game.

As is usually the case, i find EVE to be utterly impressive. One commenter on Massively Overpowered wrote that EVE is the one game¬†where the devs took the concept of MMOs and ran with it. This is the game that has everything- if only it were a fantasy MMORPG, maybe with a bit more restrictive pvp (not much, though) and a company that doesn’t let their community loose on each others, this would be¬†that game for me. BDO isn’t EVE in Tolkienland, though, so there’s still only EVE being¬†EVE and i haven’t decided yet if my space travels will continue after those 30 days.

thead4

The Guild

On friday, we had our monthly guild meeting. I wasn’t surprised to see poor attendance, with only three people turning up- including myself. On the other hand, i know one had something come up on short notice and one fell asleep (that happens to me from time to time, too), so we could have been five. Still, it’s this i’d like to change- and there’s only one way to do it, in my opinion: positivity. Create and share awesome experiences and our love for the game. Continue to offer stuff and make the guild be and feel alive.

So we talked a bit- i don’t want to get into too much detail, but in the end, this were the results:

  • we ditch Teamspeak and move to Discord as Chat & Voice client
  • we’ll have three guild activities running, all on different rhythms
    • as i said, we need more continuity on guild night, so we chose to vote on the activity we want to tackle first and see it finished before switching to something else. This will occur on a weekly/biweekly basis
    • level characters together- everyone in the guild who’s interested is invited to join us as we level characters together through the game. This will occur when everybody who mentioned an interest has time
    • dungeon nights will probably occure more often than the leveling of characters, we’ll look for groups in our forums and it will happen when/if four people are available/signed up. I’m still thinking about making this another regular event, but honestly, i’m at my limit when doing one thing a week.

That’s mostly it- well, i want to work on the homepage a bit to make it more attractive- the decision on whether to stay with Enjin or move on our own site has been postponed for now.

I’m also happy to say that we grew by one new recruit, bringing our ingame guild to 10 players. Ingame, we are reaching our critical mass now, with 5¬†of us playing quite regularly the chances that you’ll log in and find yourself the only one being online are slim now, the goal being about 10-15 active players. Yesterday evening, we were four…and i’m still expecting another application soon.

So, all in all, with patience, a focus on positivity and creating good experiences while sharing them in the forums/homepage, i am very confident that our guild will become active and alive some time this year.

Milestones: Nuria’s 30

First goal reached! Nuria Solstrum, Nord Templar of the Aldmeri Dominion professing a strange combination of skills & armor, is now level 30 in Elder Scrolls Online. And it only took about two months to get from 25 to 30.

So i’m in this dreaded mid-level range now- it’s rare for me to see the end of the leveling process in MMOs, mainly because i think the mid-game is so terrible in most of them that i’d rather start a new character- and¬†the mid-level range sucks the fun out of my experience , so i take a break, only to return and not remember anything, and take that as an excuse to create a new character.

This time, it feels different, though, as i think i’m enjoying the game more and more- sure, there’s some dedication needed on my part to keep going- i’d say this resembles the connection you have to an acquaintance- you’re not friends yet, but you might be at some point- but stop calling or meeting up and you’ll stay acquaintances.

The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth

Nuria didn’t need to do much to go from level 28 to 30 in two sessions- all she had to do was to get the birthday cake, go to Silatar, navigate a labyrinth, make Aranias the new Wilderqueen and pick two flowers on the way, track a thief in Marbruk,¬†go to Woodhearth and catch/kill a bee. All in all, not too much- and again, very interesting. I wanted to take a determined look at that, but i think there’s actually very few “kill x of y” quests in Elder Scrolls Online. I think there are some, but mostly, killing stuff is just what you do to reach other goals.

I liked the “Artisan” quest- you have to catch a thief, after all. Unfortunately, the correct answer has a pointer over his or her head, so you could stumble upon the solution by accident (it’s not marked on the map though), but what you have to do is gather a few clues about the identity of this thief by asking citizens what they know, deduct the thief’s¬†identity and then confront him or her. It’s a nice little riddle, although the clues paint a quite clear picture with only one hint being slightly misleading. It’s not The Secret World level of thought you’ll need here, but it’s a nice touch, nonetheless.

The story told in this book has similarities to Aranias' story
The story told in this book has similarities to Aranias’ story

The labyrinth / maze was also very nice- what you get here is the story of the Wilderking by way of a stone being named Sumiril. He’s got a book there, probably telling the story of its creation, but he isn’t sure if he wants to know what’s written in the book. So you take the book, and read it passage after passage. The passages are unlocked by way of traversing the labyrinth. Again, unfortunately, there is a pointer- you “follow the words” (kind of like that creepy tune you follow in TSW’s kingsmouth) which is essentially a glow leading the way. You’ll reach platforms and a new passage in the book will become readable. Afterwards, you know how both Sumiril and the Wilderking came into being.

Right before transforming to the Wilderqueen
Right before transforming to the Wilderqueen

Aranias, meanwhile, goes for the Wilderking. Turns out she’s actually destined to become his successor and she feels that. Unfortunately, her companion wants to kill both her and the Wilderking. So Nuria killed him, of course. Aranias will then be a bit afraid to turn into the Wilderqueen, but with the support and encouragement of her friend Nuria, she’ll do it. I also liked that the story we were experiencing on Silatar seemed to be a almost forgotten but still present memory in her mind.

Aranias, the Wilderqueen
Aranias, the Wilderqueen

The travel to Woodhearth and the killing of the bee were standard affairs- although one has to crouch to follow the bee to its hiding place. But that’s just so little of a touch that, with this game, it doesn’t really deserve mention.

I am very optimistic that the next five levels won’t take her two months.

 

It feels good to come home

With the troubles in the past 4-6 weeks, mainly consisting of sickness¬†in the family and our china visit, it has been quite some time since i visited Elder Scrolls Online in a normal way- that is to say logging into my main character and continue questing where i left off. Even when i logged in, i wasn’t able to do much because of short sessions, the longer ones have been reserved for guild evenings.

There’s something that became very apparent in this time: MMORPGs need some commitment to enjoy them in their full capacity. At least for me, when i lose momentum in a game, others become more alluring. Lately, i’ve found myself wanting to play The Secret World or Lord of the Rings Online- i’m not counting EVE in here, because that came as a surprise and i do think two MMORPGs work very well together. Nonetheless, yesterday i decided to spend the night in Tamriel and i’m really glad i did.

Birthday cake

My first mission was to get the birthday cake, although i don’t need it much- i’m outleveling content anyway, so there’s actually no need to get that 100% bonus. But on the other hand- why fret about it? It’s only going for a week and a boost is fine- after all, it doesn’t say “you have to skip content if you use it” in the item description- i can still go for those zone achievements i want to clear before moving on. As a matter of fact, i’ve only now set my first steps into Greenshade, so there’s still a lot of zone to cover.

Getting the birthday cake is quite easy- you’ll get ingame mail, a voucher for one of these. You’ll need to seek out Chef Donolon at the docks of Vulkhel Guard, who¬†will tell you to get a few bananas, honey and…rye, i think, which you can buy from an NPC nearby or loot from the usual places like baskets etc. When you return with those ingredients, he’ll make the cake for you and it goes straight into your collections tab. I’m not sure if one has to use it to get the experience bonus, but i did it, just to make sure. After that, i could go out and seek adventure again.

Screenshot_20160405_230605

Silatar

It took about five minutes to make me fall back in love with ESO again, as its storytelling is really good. All i really did yesterday was one quest- The Witch of Silatar. I lost track of the storyline, but i guess this is about the Wilderking wanting me to get to know the assassin sent by the Veiled Heritance, Aranias, sent to Greenshade to kill the Wilderking.

But it doesn’t do this in a direct way, no. The quest NPC, Spinner Maruin, wants to tell me a story- a story i can take a part in. I would visit Aranias on the island of Silatar (which she created, by the way) to relive some part of her past as her friend- a friend she never had in her real past. She had to go through this all by herself.

After i asked nicely, Maruin told me to sit by the fire- a few lines of dialogue later, and i’m on Silatar, which is strikingly beautiful. This is enhanced by the fact that the first thing i do with Aranias is racing to a lighthouse- this seems so innocent, so beautiful, at first, but takes a bit of a darker shade when she roots me as soon as i might come close to her.

Still, it was this moment where i thought, again, how great the experience in Elder Scrolls Online is- this is a crafted story, not a thrown-in quest. The island of Silatar, for instance, is only visited for this quest. While it’s not big, i guess it tells us something about storytelling in a game when the developers create a zone of about the size of a city just for one quest.

Screenshot_20160405_232347

The story goes on and it’s mainly about Aranias, a young Altmer with incredible powers- after all, she created the island we’re standing on during this quest in a day.¬†The¬†motives for her behaviour are loneliness as well as a will to “earn” her parents’ love who really don’t like seeing her daughter creating islands or lifting ships from the sea. Her parents then leave for the Summerset Isles to get help for her daughter and return with High Kinlady Estre from the Veiled Heritance who makes Aranias kill a bosmer woman. In the story Maruin tells, we are able to help, so this is not what happens in our quest, but what happened in reality. I don’t want to get too deep into the details here because spoilers, but this is an interesting quest and i’m very much looking forward to playing it again on another character and take more screenshots of Silatar.

This love for detail and good storytelling is what makes stand Elder Scrolls Online stand apart from and above many other MMORPGs- there are others, of course, who have great storytelling- Lord of the Rings, FFXIV, SWTOR and TSW to name a few, but while Elder Scrolls Online might not be able to have the storytelling greatness of The Secret World, it’s actually the phasing that makes the quests more interesting- when you complete a quest, the zone changes, so¬†you can see an impact. The game then doesn’t turn into a singleplayer experience because of its megaserver technology- there are still many players who have their map- or the part of the map you’re in in the same state as you have. That’s just so much better than the instanced storytelling of SWTOR, for instance.

Just like Laeloria, Silatar and the story of Aranias (which will continue in the questlines of Greenshade) will stay with me and became one of the reasons for my liking of Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve reconnected with the game yesterday and it feels good.

Guild Update: activity and recruitment need to go up, more continuity on guild nights

Yesterday evening saw the first login to Elder Scrolls Online, or any MMO, for that matter, since we’ve returned from China.

Zharyon

That’s the name of our guild- yesterday, a commenter here made the connection between this blog and that guild, so i think i can tell now. I would have done it soon, anyway. Why we’d use such an unusual name? Well, it’s kind of a long story that i’ll probably tell when/if i make an official introduction post here, but to make it short- google it. We wanted a unique name that wasn’t descriptive like “Order of Light” or something- we wanted a name that wasn’t taken but still somewhat good on eyes and ears and we came up with that. It has been used a couple of times, but i think 800 results on Google is ok in terms of uniqueness.

That fear i expressed when i was sick and had to cancel guild events the last time i got sick? Well, turns out that two weeks of going to China might have made it true. We were only two players logging in, with a third one patching up on a night where i had planned to venture into a dungeon (to be fair, i scheduled that event more or less as a trial for organizing dungeon runs without consulting anybody else first).

We need bodies

The thing is: casual, social, tight-knit or not- we need to up the game a bit. We need more life in our community- or at least i do. 3 of us more or less only log in when we have a scheduled activity, i haven’t seen two recruits in quite some time, so in the end, our roster is at about 3-4 players who log in from day to day (but usually not daily). That’s not enough. We’re spreading ourselves to thin there. So i was beginning to think how we can gain a bit more traction without, you know, either disbanding, looking at another direction and/or recruit every Joe or Jane Doe¬†that comes along.

I think the homepage might be one good way- disregarding whether we’d move to selfhosting and/or wordpress or not, it needs a bit more work to look attractive and show off who and what we are a bit better (if someone reading this wants to offer their feedback on what makes a good guild website or knows of some examples, i’d be happy for pointers). There’s one advantage in WordPress: it shows content much better than Enjin does. Let’s say other members would be interested in contributing to a “guild blog”, WordPress would be much better in handling this than Enjin is.

Of course that’s just a dream- in my experience guild members don’t like to contribute in this way. But still, it would also be a pretty good excuse for myself to sometimes post in german if i’d like (although, of course the activity would still be much lower than here). Still, it’s nice to dream- i love coop-blogging¬†and multi-blogger sites¬†and maybe, one day, some kind of project will come out of this.

Another thing i was thinking about was to simply cross voice chat off the list- now i know what you’re thinking, but with germans? “No Voicechat” guilds are actually quite popular- there are several¬†communities that have this as their sole USP. We don’t use our server anyway and with Enjin only 5 slots come with the basic paid version of the website. So in the end, i guess it’s either moving to Discord or crossing it off. When i was looking for something like this in some english community, i drew a blank. Don’t know if this was about the game or maybe there’s just no market for these kinds of communities in the english speaking community.

We need continuity in our guild evenings

Another thing that propped up was that up until now, we’ve been dabbling in everything on guild night- we were in Cyrodiil, ran a dungeon, went to Wrothgar, the Thieves Guild and so on. What i’d like to do starting with the next guild evening in about two weeks is giving it a bit more structure- select something, then take it from the beginning up to the end. For instance, if we chose to start with Wrothgar, we’d stay there until we’ve finished all the content. Judging by the fact that Orsinium is supposed to have 20 hours of storyline content, that would probably take us ~15 weeks. Still, better quality, more continuity- i think that’s where we need to go.

Happy with what we have, but still have a way to go

We’ll have a chat about all this in our coming guild meeting (friday), i’m eager to see the results of this discussion and take some of that to action. See, i’m happy with what we have- we’re basically six semi-active to active players who like each other and share a very relaxed view on things like progress, wiping, online times and such. There’s no need to change that, it’s actually the opposite: we’ll try everything to keep it that way. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand still- we need to evolve, improve, gain some numbers in order to actually be more than a part of a good filled friendlist.

Goals for April in Gaming and Meta

Hey, if it works for others, it might be helpful to me, as well. Unfortunately, i’m still recovering a bit from jetlag, so i haven’t played anything since our return from China. I can’t remember jetlag being so bad in the past, but this time, it really got me. Our son, as well. Anyways, i’d like to put some gaming goals for april in writing- i’m very eager to jump back into Elder Scrolls Online, sort out the website a bit and have a few thoughts about our guild i’d like to put in motion this month.

 

ESO_logo-black

Elder Scrolls Online

First of all, i’m very glad that i chose to go the subscription route with this game. Because those cosmetic items, mounts and pets coming this month? I like them very much. Going with a subscription means i don’t have to keep a keen eye on my crowns and am free to spend them for fluff. And that’s without going for the assistants.

A¬†few words on their pricing. Yes, they’re quite expensive, coming in at 5000 crowns each. But i actually like that for a few reasons. First of all, inventory management is part of the game,¬†albeit an annoying one, the game was designed with us having to sort out mats we don’t need, connect to other players to sell them etc. The assistants are actually something that, while it doesn’t come close to being “pay-to-win”, they’re giving buyers a lot of convenience. I can’t imagine many players will spend that much real money on the assistants- so i view them more as being some kind of subscriber reward. And if a few players decide to spend those 30$ each, all the better for the game from a financial point of view.

Here’s what i’d like to achieve in april:

Nuria Solstrum, Templar

  • reach level 30 (28 at the moment, so yes, i’m aiming low)
  • craft some kind of set for her

Naria Leotra, Dragon Knight

Last time on guild evening, we decided to tackle a dungeon, the Banished Cells. We were four, but we lacked a real¬†tank, so i decided i’d try and tank with my magicka templar. As you might imagine, this didn’t work out so well. We finished the dungeon, but it took quite a few wipes, most of them on bosses, and i wasn’t really able to hold the mobs attention- at all. So i decided i’d roll a tank, which is a sign on how much i like the guild- usually, i avoid being the tank at all costs- tanks have to lead and they have a huge responsibility for their group. Doing that with strangers, i would be screamed at very quickly. With our guild, i have no troubles- they don’t care if they die 10 or 100 times in a dungeon.

  • figure out a way to skill her as tank/dps, stamina-based, of course
  • reach level 15 to be able to go into dungeons and use two weapons

Others

There are still three characters i’d like to build: a “cleric” type Templar that resembles a Paladin in terms of being able to take a hit as well as provide some healing, a leech healer Nightblade and perhaps even a dedicated healer. Don’t know if they’ll take of this month, but it might happen.

Other games

I’d also like to visit other games at least one or two times this month.¬†Black Desert Online is all the rage these months, and i do want to go out and explore more of its world and features. The Secret World remains my favourite game i never seem to play- i’d love to see all it has to offer, but somehow, i never really play it.

Our guild

We’re still doing fine, thank you. Our growth came a bit to a stop, mainly because we didn’t advertise much and the new recruits seem to have lost interest either in the game or the community. At least they’re not vocal in our forums. So we might have to say goodbye to some of them. But that’s really just par for the course- when creating a guild, you’ll always have people losing interest in the game or the guild; it’s very important to keep sorting them out if your goal is to build a small, tight-knit community.

With the guild, i’d like to:

  • have a guild meeting
  • tackle another dungeon or two
  • have a social event (i’d like to do a crafter’s market but i’m still figuring out the best way to do it)
  • see if we can decide for a short-term and middle-term course in terms of growth and our homepage

Wait, what? Yes, while being in China my thoughts ventured out into thinking about whether Enjin does meet our needs. It’s a similar thought process i had with my old blog- the longer we stay with Enjin, the harder it will be to move. And it’s not like it looks very good- the design seems a bit outdated and it’s not responsive- you’ll get the “normal” website when visiting from smartphone/tablet. Also, it comes in at 8$ per month. Compare that to the 0.50‚ā¨ per month to get a domain.

discord

And then there’s Discord, where i finally understood what it is thanks to a post from Belghast¬†on gamer social media. It’s a free voice chat app with added text chat and mobile as well as desktop apps. I can totally see a homepage working on the basis of wordpress, a forum plugin and Discord working much better for us- especially in terms of recruiting players.¬†It could look better and provide more opportunities to socialize and put us on display on our homepage.

The blog and Meta

Blog

There’s a few things i still need to work out here- i think, this time i’ve settled for a theme- but i’d like to make use of its “magazine home page” as well as add a menu to seperate MMO and real life/other media stuff a bit more. I’d also like to give out the opportunity for feed-subscribers as well as normal readers here to make a choice of what they’re interested in. I really don’t think everyone who’s reading my MMO ramblings is really interested in what i watch or the latest China pictures. Speaking of which, i need to draft these posts i planned to write about it quickly, before i forget half the things that happened there and impressions blur a bit.

 

anook

Meta

Again, thanks to Belghast, i’d like to make some effort into going to Anook. I like the idea of a social network for gamers, especially as i’m making more and more connections with other bloggers and players. Discord is another thing. Well, i’ve added both contact information to the group up page, so feel free to add me to your friendslist or some such (really need to take a better look at Anook).

And i’d like to up my commenting on other blogs.

Final words: i was really surprised by the positive reaction on yesterday’s post. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, kind words and well…being generally simply nice people!

 

Quick Notes: Hew’s Bane, EQ Next & Wildstar

Hew’s Bane and Abah’s Landing

Yesterday’s guild evening began shortly after the news of Everquest Next’s cancellation broke, and i’m happy to report that we’ve been four players with two “regulars” missing- one sick, the other one surely on some other task, otherwise i know she would have been there. So my fears didn’t come true and we’re not out of our rhythm. The entry into the Thieves Guild DLC proved to be so exciting that i didn’t think of taking screenshots, so i can’t do a “Travel Log” yet. But as someone who hasn’t stolen one thing since it became illegal in Elder Scrolls Online and someone who avoids playing rogue-type characters at all costs, i can tell you it was huge fun. Sneaking into houses and stealing stuff in Elder Scrolls Online reminds me very much at The Secret World’s sabotage missions- only, it’s better, because your steps make sounds people can hear and i feel the reactions of the NPCs are more…realistic, somewhat. In the few sabotage missions i did in TSW i felt as if i was trying to avoid MMO mechanics- aggro range, for instance. In ESO, it feels much more like sneaking around. There’s also always the price at the end and, of course, whatever you care to steal on your way.

Great that you'll earn a costume by completing the first quest
Great that you’ll earn a costume by completing the first quest

Of course, being four people doing these missions, we were often seen and we haven’t managed to do even one mission without killing someone, but it was fun anyway and i’m happy to see this DLC being one i’ll be eager to play as soon as i’ll return from china.

I’ll probably write more about that, but i’d like to take a quick stab at why i think ESO will still be my number one MMO come april, regardless of how i feel about BDO: it’s because of me. I tried to cover that in my earlier post– if i were the same person i was four or five years ago, it would be Black Desert all the way. And i can understand the many, many positive impressions people have- i’m the same. But despite it offering almost everything, there’s something missing that i’m still finding in ESO- i guess it is about “connection”, or attachement. In ESO, i feel a connection to my character and the world and i miss that in Black Desert. Maybe that will change, maybe i should pay more attention to that black spirit thing, but right now, this is how i feel. I can still see BDO playing a huge role in my game rotation this year.

Everquest Next’s cancellation & Wildstar layoffs

I’m going to be brief here, because two months ago, when Ironweakness and i were planning our continuation of the Dual Wielding-thing, we set up two topics: negativity in the MMORPG community and the second one, to be posted on tuesday, about the future of the genre. Obviously, the cancellation of Everquest Next and the layoffs at Carbine will make an impression in that post. Suffice to say, i wasn’t really surprised, we kind of expected exactly the cancellation of the game to be the next thing we heard about it, as the silence before was deafening. So, remember my old blog, Party Business? I fired it up with the coming reveal of EQ Next, and i started it up with the intention to topically cover my search for a new MMO home i expected to find either in EQ Next, the Repopulation or ArcheAge. Great. One is now cancelled, the second one needs to move to a new engine and the third one was killed by its publisher and developer.

Gallows

For the Carbine layoffs, i feel sorry for the people affected and do hope they’ll find new jobs soon. But it’s also not really unexpected. The revenue numbers weren’t very good, even shortly after the transition to f2p and they’ll probably go down from there. I really kind of expect Wildstar to be the next big shutdown, maybe even as soon as this year. I think one reason for why it hasn’t already happened is that NC Soft knows full well that its popularity suffered under the closures of Tabula Rasa and City of Heroes. They don’t want to shut this one down, but in the end, they will. But this is just my guess.

So the genre? Commenters on Massively Overpowered seem to think it’s entering its grimdark times now. I both agree and (strongly) disagree- more on that on tuesday.

The Division

I can’t tell you much about that one yet- as said, i had a quiet week¬†and have only reached my base of operations. I like it, but i was shocked to see that my pc doesn’t seem to fulfill the requirements. I can play, but i have to turn down the graphics by quite some degree. I’m not used to that- my pc is four years old and i started to notice that i just can’t put everything on “highest” since about a year or so, but having to put it on “low to medium” hurts.¬†Still, it’s fun and oviously great to launch up and play a mission or two. It will also be the game i’ll be looking forward to see when i buy a new PC.

Personal notes and plans

For me, the following games are of interest right now:

  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Black Desert Online
  • The Division
  • The Secret World
  • Blade & Soul

ESO will be the constant, Black Desert Online will be the “second choice”, everything else will be launched when the mood strikes me. Tomorrow evening, i plan to run a dungeon in ESO and i invited guild members to be there if they’d like to do one, as well.

Then there’s the now so timely post in the Dual Wielding edition on tuesday, and that will be it for march, gaming-wise, as we’ll be leaving for china on tuesday. From there, i might be able to post something (i think wordpress.com is blocked there, but not homepages run on the blogging software), but i doubt it will be gaming stuff.