A quiet week

This week should have been big- really big. The Elder Scrolls’ Thieves Guild DLC launched, The Division launched and it is only week 2 of Black Desert Online. So there were three games i really like that needed my attention. And then…i decided to let it all pass me by.

It was a voluntary decision only in parts. I had planned a nice and fun guild activity for sunday evening and was looking forward to playing ESO with our small-but-still-growing community, when i woke up on sunday morning only to vomit six times in a row. I don’t know why i did, maybe i ate something icky, but i know it knocked me out. The rest of the day went by in a blur, i basically slept the whole day, got sick a few more times, tried to read some stories to our son and subsequently fell asleep doing that. At one point i managed to get up and post a message on the guild’s forum that i couldn’t make it- a message of two sentences, which is very unusual for me, and went back to bed. While i did get better on monday, i still didn’t feel too well and chose to go to bed early. This continued throughout the week- i did take a look at The Division but i’ve only managed to get to the base of operations by now. In this hugely exciting week i chose to take a break from gaming, and get good night’s sleep and rest. Today, on friday, i feel good. Just in time- tonight we’ll be taking a look at Hew’s Bane in Elder Scrolls Online. If someone turns up, that is.

The Guilt

One thing that has been a constant throughout the several attempts at creating and starting a guild up is that i love scheduled activities. When i log into a game, i’m usually not a very group-friendly player, because i need a few days to be in the right state of mind and in the right environment to set aside a fixed amount of time for being in a game. I love socializing in MMOs, but i do it in an “organized” manner by submitting an idea to the guild, setting a date and time, plan a bit and then make it happen. Usually, these events are received very positively by other guild members and frankly, i think they are what holds such a community together. The problem is this: in almost all cases, i’m the only one organizing these events and this fact leads to me feeling a lot of pressure. I’ll try and set these things up weekly/biweekly, but when something happens and i can’t make it, there’s a lot of silence. And when i need to cancel something, i feel like it sends a message to the other guildmembers, namely that “this isn’t important”. While it is true that i don’t really care if three, four or eight people turn up for a night of gaming, when people receive that message, it will at some point happen that no one turns up- or only one other person. Often, i haven’t been able to “bounce back” after such an event.

thieves_guild

So that’s what worries me right now- that, after i got sick just before the last two events – on the first occasion, i did turn up but had to shorten it quite a bit, tonight only few people will turn up. With our family going to China for two weeks on tuesday, this low attendance event might be followed by two weeks of silence. I’ll have to see how to pick things up again when i’m back. Or maybe i’m wrong, as i can also totally see 4-6 people logging on tonight. We’ll have to wait and see tonight.

After returning from China, i set up a dungeon running night- and that’s a strange one for me, because usually i plan these nights for all levels and all numbers of participants- and i can’t do that with dungeons, because the group size is four. But with the new grouping tools Elder Scrolls Online now supports, i think it is time to start the dungeon-delving.

Other than that, things are going great in the community- we took two recruits in as members and recruited two more players into our ranks- we are now just one player short of the guild bank. In terms of speed and amount of growth, it is turning out just as we hoped it would, which is nice.

Black Desert Online and the missing need for a saviour

For years- it must be six now- i’ve been looking for that “one” MMORPG experience. Some times, i thought i had found it- in Guild Wars 2 and ArcheAge, for example. That was pre-release, of course, as games are often perfect on paper and rarely on screen. What i was looking for is simple- an MMORPG that gives reason to living in the world, offers the opportunity to simply being a crafter or trader, removes instanced content completely and has regionally different pricing of goods as well as item decay. Were i still in that exact spot in my life both real and virtual, i would rejoice right now and welcome Black Desert Online as my new MMO home. I don’t, though, and it’s not the fault of the game. I’m still early in this (~7 hours /played) and my current situation is still the same Syl describes, but i have to say if that itch was still itching, BDO might just have made it stop.

Of course i’m wary- i was before release and still am. What if all these systems are actually quite shallow, as i’ve read somewhere (of course)? What if the cash shop gets worse? Actually, that’s not a question of possibility but time, in my opinion. As far as i know, all cash shops get “worse” over time. I can’t think of any example where a cash shop that started decent held this position forever. Elder Scrolls Online comes close, but in the end of march, it will introduce assistants- a banker and a merchant you can buy in the cash shop that will come out in the wild for you. In a game where inventory management still is a huge part of the gameplay experience, this is, of course, convenient and not pay-to-win, but it still signals a parting from only selling cosmetic stuff. But i’m not worried about all that- i don’t play any game competitively, so i don’t care if you need to buy stuff from the cash shop to be in the top 1%. But still, it might happen.

Before release, i didn’t really look into Black Desert Online. First it was because it was only announced in Korea and i didn’t want to put my hopes up like i did with ArcheAge and wait 3 years for the game to be released. Then, when it was clear it would come in the forseeable future, it was because i didn’t want another ArcheAge. It seems BDO avoids the mistakes that made ArcheAge sour for me: hacking, landgrabbing, cheating. I didn’t care for the business model, not even for the pay-to-win stuff that was available shortly after launch- what killed any desire in me to play it was the fact that, in the end, i was paying a sub to being able to craft and own land without the possibility to do so, because other players were cheating.

In BDO, housing is instanced and hacks don’t seem to play such a huge role. I also don’t need to subscribe to be able to craft or own houses. So by my accounts, it’s fine.

Not looking for the saviour anymore

What it comes down to is this: my expectations are different now. I don’t expect MMORPGs to provide that whole virtual world experience anymore. Sure, i prefer it, but it can come in so many varieties nowadays that i can’t point a finger on something and say: THAT’S IT! Take Elder Scrolls Online, for example- it’s not a sandbox by any means, but compare it to my feature-wishlist, it’s only really lacking in the non-combat-department. Instead, it offers interesting stories while questing, the ability to build the character in almost any way i want, not an open world, but very open zones and an interesting crafting system. It also encourages social activity by removing global auction houses.

And i'd love to play The Secret World, as well.
And i’d love to play The Secret World, as well.

It was surprising to me, but i’m happy in Elder Scrolls Online and like the experience it provides very much- this is a game that i like better on screen than on paper. I think this is key in the whole “manage your expectations”-theme: if you read something, you’ll inject your own ideas into vague marketing/hype statements. In your mind, you’ll make it seem even better than what the devs actually tell you (this goes the other way, too- if you dislike something about an announcement, you’ll make it seem worse than it is). ESO fits into everything- my available time to play, my playstyle, my favourite pacing.

This week, when i was able to play, i had to make the difficult decision on whether to play Elder Scrolls or Black Desert Online. I’ve played multiple MMORPGs at the same time pretty much since free-to-play became a thing, but sometimes it was feeling more like the choice of a lesser evil- i’m exaggerating, of course, after all nobody forces me to play MMORPGs, or games. This time, it feels different, because i want to play both (and more, but to a lesser degree- looking at TSW and Blade&Soul here) at the same time. It’s different than last year- last year, i switched games because i was unhappy/not having fun with one for a longer period. This year, it seems there are too many choices where i do have fun.

My view on MMORPGs has pretty much shifted to me perceiving them as normal games instead of the special entity they used to be for me in the years past. And i think this is a compliment for the devs- at least a partial one. I’ve never found an MMORPGs gameplay very enticing- it sold its whole package to me. But with games like ESO and BDO- and soon even The Division- i think fun made an appearance in the genre (Guild Wars 2 and Blade&Soul also do fine in this regard).

All i’m saying is: i’m not looking for that saviour anymore- the game i’ll play exclusively in the coming 5 years, because i value diversity in the genre now. If i was, though, i think Black Desert Online would come close- on paper as well as what i see on screen right now.

Black Desert Online – earliest impressions

I can’t even do an “early impressions” post yet. Others are better in doing that, anyway. A few things i noted in my time with BDO so far:

  • the game doesn’t do a very good job in introducing you to its systems- for instance, i do know i can talk (it’s a conversation minigame, by the way) to NPCs, but i don’t really know why i should bother
  • this encourages exploration and wonder, so actually, i love that it doesn’t make everything so clear
  • the quests you do at around level 12-15 will offer a slow introduction to crafting
  • you can’t dry stuff when it’s night or cloudy – this game is highly immersive
  • there’s no fast travel- but there’s autorun; it’s the combination of these two elements that make this work
  • The night is dark and full of terrors (mobs are stronger and more aggressive in the night)
  • combat is fun- even with the Witch. Can’t wait to create my Valkyrie
  • you need to switch on all quest types in your Questlog (standard key: o ), elsewise the game will only mark NPCs with kill quests
  • inventory management. I carry all available tools with me- not a good strategy because i only have like 5 free inventory spaces when i venture out
  • it’s a beautiful game and a beautiful world that’s fully worth exploring

Conclusion? Right now, i love Black Desert Online and hate it for this love at the same time. As soon as possible, i’ll hook up with Massively Overpowered’s guild- my guess is that will improve the experience even further.

And next week, there’ll be The Division. Oh my…

Travel Log: Entering Greenshade

Last week i started venturing into Greenshade, but only entered Marbruk and did some guild quests there. Then Black Desert Online happened, so i gave it two nights to play around a bit. Yesterday and today, i wanted to venture out in Greenshade. It turned out that i didn’t get to quest at all yesterday because of a very active guild chat (we have two new recruits, raising our count to 9), so it had to be today. I did a main quest and then set forth to explore Greenshade a bit. After the amazing wood-zone of Grahtwood, the more open design in the beginning of Greenshade is a welcome change. Just like all the other zones, Greenshade seems to be beautifully designed. I like how the zones in Elder Scrolls Online are open and “realistic” while still being breathtaking almost all-around.

I have the task to bring these Bosmer clans here under the umbrella of the Aldmeri Dominion, so i went out to the first village and see what they wanted. They wanted me to drive an orc clan away. Difficulty is ramping up here- i wasn’t in any trouble, not by any means, but that orc clan area was quite full of orcs- don’t pay attention and you just might pull too many of them. I think it’s funny that Belghast did the same thing a few days ago and wrote about it yesterday, although i think he’s doing it in Veteran Ranks. Then i went and talked to that Wilderking of theirs. He’s strangely curious about someone who’s coming to kill him.

So for today i’ll leave you with a few screenshots of the area.

Monday quick notes: what does a Black Desert look like, anyway?

Black Desert Online

Anticipation for BDO rose to an all-time high for me this week. Granted, almost everything i read that also contained an opinion was mixed, to say the least, and i didn’t participate long enough in the beta to form an opinion on my own. What got me was the impression that here’s a game you can actually play in many different ways. Beginning with the different “currencies” and skills up to the fact that the only thing granting leveling xp will be the mobs- suddenly i saw myself riding off into a world to explore on my own. And i think this will have to be it, as the developer-created content seems quite thin. But i have another game for that and i was actually really looking forward to beginning my journey in BDO.

So i did- i wish i could tell you more, but at this point, i’m trying to make sense of all the game’s offerings myself. I followed the questline as long as it took to leave Olvia behind, but still feel i missed something back there because i haven’t gained even one contribution point while the quests there seem to have dried up. This leaves three possibilities: either i haven’t found all the quests, the quests in the next town count toward Olvia, as well or it is highly recommended to run multiple characters through Olvia. Right now, i need contribution points for two things: connecting nodes and buying a house, although i’ll put that last part off a bit until i know what i need the house for.

Introducing Nuria Mersault, Witch. I chose something different than this smile- unfortunately, now she's running around with her eyes closed.
Introducing Nuria Mersault, Witch. I chose something different than this smile- unfortunately, now she’s running around with her eyes closed.

So far, there’s one thing that game managed very well: giving the impression of being in a vast world. I began gathering resources and soon found myself with a full inventory- thankfully, there’s a warehouse in Olvia- here’s the thing with that, though: as far as i know, those warehouses store items locally, so i can’t actually access them in the next town. If you take this into account as well as the fact that there’s no fast travel in this game, it’s obvious that at some point down the line, you’ll set up a “home” or base of operations. For me and right now, this is Olvia and i need to figure out how to get more contribution to unlock two nodes- thereby allowing me to sell a “trade material” (that’s basically expensive “junk” you can sell to certain npcs for bigger amounts of silver) at 100% of its value- that would be around 10000 Silver (current balance: 3500 Silver)- without those two nodes, the npc will only pay 30%.

The giant in the background keeps your stuff safe in the warehouse.
The giant in the background keeps your stuff safe in the warehouse.

I haven’t touched crafting yet, because i don’t have any idea how to do it- but gathering is interesting: if you kill a fox, for instance, you have three options: to get fluids from its corpse, to skin it or to get the meat- that’s one mob giving you three options to utilize it for crafting material depending on the tool you equip.

The game itself doesn’t tell you much- or maybe it is slower in telling than i’d like it to be- because i saw there are video tutorials for gathering and crafting, but i haven’t reached the point where the game lets me watch these yet. Grinding mobs is hugely satisfying- although i have to say the respawn rate is quite high right now. Wolves, for instance (they attack) spawn so quick that i can’t even harvest the resources from those i killed before. I’m level 10 now and this game is still a big question mark in my book- but that’s really nice, because now, i’m eager to go back in and explore further. My feeling is that in this game, the player will have to utilize intricate knowledge of the game system to his or her advantage.

As a last note- i haven’t had any troubles playing on a NA-server from europe. Seems to be working fine.

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Elder Scrolls Online

I began questing in Greenshade with Nuria Solstrum and tackled the two guild-quests that sent me there. I got to see the Earth Forge.

I don't like lava zones but i can take one instanced cave. It's very atmospheric.
I don’t like lava zones but i can take one instanced cave. It’s very atmospheric.

I also played a part in a “theater piece” written by Sheogorath, the Daedric prince of Madness. Somehow i think that the content of the play will become true down the line- it was about the three alliances turning against the mages guild because they refuse to pick a side.

All in all, i have to say: with Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert Online and The Division upcoming, MMO-wise i’m in a very happy place right now. And there’s also The Secret World in my rotation. Since the beginning of the year, it was so easy to simply ignore news coming from all the other titles, i’m not tempted in the slightest. It’s a great place to be in and i expect this to continue throughout this year.

Others

Rocket League’s newest DLC release will be the Batmobile. For 2€, i think i’m in.

Rocket League still takes up about half of my available gaming time, i’m so happy i bought it. Sometimes i play with two friends and that’s when the fun really starts. I’ve paid 13€ and played 100 hours- i think i can put another 2€ in for a cool looking car.

Goals for this week

  • further exploring in Black Desert Online
  • creating that guild with Ironweakness and Aywren in BDO (maybe we’ll start as a clan? A clan is free, a guild costs 100000 Silver) and hope we’ll be joined by more folks
  • continuing my Templar in Elder Scrolls Online, maybe even reaching level 30 (don’t think i will)

Travel Log: wrapping up Grahtwood

Yesterday i finally had/took the time to wrap up Grahtwood, the level 16-24 area for Aldmeri Dominion in Elder Scrolls Online. Nuria has been in Grahtwood, well, for almost 2 years, i suppose, as it was one of the characters i created back when the game launched. I can’t tell you how many hours of /played it took to finish it, but what i am able to tell you is that it was a memorable experience.

I do remember when i first got there. Not in too much detail, but i remember how difficult i found it to be. It’s not often that you’ll find standard open-world content difficult in MMORPGs- here, coming to Grahtwood with a fresh level 16 character, it was as much an unwelcoming place as the quest lore made it out to be. It was grim, and i’ve found some quest very confusing- i can’t remember which one, anymore, but somehow, something put me to a stop in the game. I know i loathed the inventory minigame even more back then, because ESO was still asking for a subscription at that time and i felt it was one of those time-wasters designed to make you sub longer. Around that time, i decided to discontinue playing the game.

When i returned a couple of times to check the game out again, i did what i always do: create a new character to play because i had forgotten about the old one. So i didn’t see the Grahtwood anymore, until our guild decided to side with the Aldmeri Dominion and i was looking at either continuing Nuria or create another new character. As i have been playing the game in our premade group up to level 8, i felt i could tackle a level 19 character of the same class- after all, there had been a skill reset in the meantime and i had a general idea on what to do with the character.

Laeloria

It wasn’t easy, though. I still had to struggle through getting to know the character and the situation she found herself in. And, after all that time and despite really liking the Daggerfall Covenant zones and quest-related stories, it’s Grahtwood where i fell in love with the game again. And it was a quest.

The watcher in the Treehouse, again.
The watcher in the Treehouse, again.

Laeloria. I don’t know what it was about this quest- i guess it was all a happy coincidence. First, i saw the building you can see in the background of the screenshot above. I made a mental note to take a look later. While travelling around, at some point i saw a Treehouse and decided to climb it, as i knew it would offer some kind of view. Arriving there, i received the quest- freeing some captured soul from Coldharbour- and the Watcher told me more. How someone already ventured in to free that soul, how she told him to watch the beacon and pay attention if/when it turned to a red light. I was enthralled, because i wondered if it would, indeed, turn red and thereby ending the century-long wait for that Watcher. So now Laeloria was more than a building i wanted to explore at some point- it was encased in the lore of the Watcher and the liberation of not one, but two individuals and finally even in the mystery of the beacon. That’s a normal side-quest, mind you. It’s not even a very uncommon theme here- freeing people from a dangerous place often is the motivation for the player character to venture in, after all. But for some reason, all these elements clicked for me. Better yet, that wasn’t even all there is to Laeloria.

Statue of Azura in Laeloria.
Statue of Azura in Laeloria.

Azura, a Daedra that’s not even viewed as being as evil as the others, is in this whole scheme, as well. As is a demon, but i didn’t like that one very much. It’s this quest that will me- or my character, at least- have a “special” connection to Azura from then on. Now, i don’t know anything much about the lore of Elder Scrolls games and Elder Scrolls Online in particular- it’s a gap i plan to fill at some point, also because of this quest and Azura.

Exploring Laeloria was very satisfying and i wasn’t disappointed, of course. After all that tension building up around this place it did deliver on it, after all. Did the beacon turn red? Well, you’ll have to take a look yourself.

Grahtwood

The zone has to offer much more and it’s actually quite diverse, even though the theme never changes from being a wood. There are Bosmer villages made of trees and acorns, i guess. There are Altmer villages, ruins and embassies, there are open spaces as well as dark woods/rough terrain. It’s not easy to navigate while still being open enough to not make it an annoyance.

There’s a dungeon, of course- Elder Hollows, and it is nice to look at, indeed. The main storyline in Grahtwood revolves around preventing a revolution in Bosmer ranks and getting Ayrenn to do some kind of ceremony to prove she truly is a fitting leader for the Dominion. There’s a bit of betrayal, drama and magic mystery involved, as well as a funny twist on vegetarism- Bosmer don’t eat plants and you’ll be reminded of that several times – i really liked getting through the questing in Grahtwood.

I’ve seen strange places like that “Garden of Flesh” in the Reliquary of Stars and followed gruesome tales of unreturned love. Memorable, i guess, is the right word. In the end, after getting that quest achievement, there were 2 delves, 3 Skyshards and one “eye” left to explore- that’s what i did last night.

In retrospective, with a zone as large as the Grahtwood is, the slow leveling in Elder Scrolls Online and all the real-time involved here- even if i were only counting the time since i returned to that character- it truly feels like an epic experience, a journey. So now, i’m off to Greenshade- looking forward to explore that place. I’ll leave you with some shots i took during my travels.

 

What is grind?

I’ve read an opinion piece about some grind not being a bad thing on Tentonhammer and it made me think: first and foremost, the first example mentioned in the article- Wildstar’s early attunement process for raids – that’s not a grind, and if/when you became attuned, you haven’t accomplished anything- what you did was unlocking a game feature.

Locking game features behind “grind” or another lengthy process of doing stuff in game is not a good idea in a genre whose audience gets older fast. See, we might want to raid, and we want to do it as soon as possible- making us play 200 hours before allowing us to do what we deem fun is not good game design. “Being able to access raids” is not an ingame goal- “being ready to tackle raids” might be- and for the last one, it can take a couple of hours.

Black Desert Online will release in little more than a week- and i’ll be able to log in in a week’s time. “The Grind” seems to be something a portion of the playerbase is worried about- and that’s the part where i agree with the opinion piece linked above- “Grind” is not a thing that has me worried- see, if i’m having fun killing and skinning wolves, for example, i will at some point in my career kill 1000 of them to get the 100 wolf furs i need to make the beige blanket for that giant in the hill to gain reputation with him to be able to buy his recipe for a fast-growth-elixir. It can also provide a goal to aim for. Sure, sometimes the amount needed to achieve something seems to be high and can suck the fun out of a game, but in my experience, this is mostly because one of the following reasons:

  1. this is your current goal and the only one you follow. Therefore, it get’s highly repetetive and annoying
  2. all of the goals are achieved in a similar manner
  3. there are no other similar goals provided
Using ArcheAge screens here as i have none from BDO yet
These fields used to be planted by identical trees at some point- everyone who had a farming spot would grow them to achieve the same goal as their neighbour. (AA screens, as i have none from BDO yet)

I’ve found that, in general, the pacing of a game is a huge factor in determining my own enjoyment- i need to be able to take it slow and take in the world, or maybe even simply hang out; i need to be able and ramp things up and maybe run a group dungeon and so on. If a game offers one pace only- Wildstar would be one example for that, and Lotro & FF14 might be examples of the slow extreme- it gets boring quickly. Lotro is the one game i refer to as a “quest grinder”- there’s not much else to do than quest. It’s entirely possible that this is just my subjective way of looking at things in Lotro- but i’ve always felt this game is just a very long chain of quests. So if Black Desert doesn’t provide (much) quest xp, we know this is not really an issue because you can gain contribution points to spend on houses and the like. Likewise, simply grinding out mobs will give you “knowledge”. So, to me, it seems as if there’s something provided for different paces of gameplay. Without fast travel, i’m pretty sure exploration will also be a big part of the game, and then there’s crafting, trading, fishing and so on- all providing different gameplay mechanics and speeds.

MMOs nowadays also have to provide goals to set out for in different dimensions: i need to get something noteworthy done in 30 minutes, 2 hours, a day, a week, a month and if the designers are ambitious, even in a year. So maybe that giant could also take handkerchiefs made out of 2 wolf furs you could reasonably get by killing 20 wolves to raise reputation accordingly. Maybe a boat doesn’t have to be built at once, but by combining 4-5 parts that you can – or have to- create before assembling them to one. Here’s also where the usual mention of sandboxes not being for casuals comes from- what serves some players as a goal for a week, it serves others as a goal for a session. For instance, this week i’d like to finally finish off Grahtwood in Elder Scrolls Online- there are a few Skyshards and Delves left and i want to explore a place that was pointed out on a map i’ve found on a mob. This might take, all in all, one session of maybe 3-4 hours, and i’m sure someone would be able to do it in an hour. When each session gets shorter- maybe i’ll do only one skyshard and one delve in each, this could take even longer. But i can still achieve something in 30 minutes (one delve or one skyshard) and will feel as if i had accomplished something in that session. I really don’t care if it’ll take me a year to construct a boat- if i can work towards it in short sessions, as well.

If we're all doing the same anyway, there's no need for a game to be an MMO.
If we’re all doing the same anyway, there’s no need for a game to be an MMO.

I don’t really know how good or bad Black Desert does in this regard, but i do hope they had something like this in mind when creating the game, but since i’ve read somewhere that setting things up this way is basically MMORPG creation 101, i’m sure they did. Then again- why do so many games still get it wrong?

As a sidenote: i think both of these points are what makes me so happy with ESO right now- disregarding the inventory management minigame that takes away at least 15 minutes of each of my sessions, i can set a pace and goals for each session, hour and week (i don’t have the insight into the game for even longer term goals yet) that fits in my playstyle and current mood.

Travel Log: Rkindaleft

We’ve finished Rkindaleft tonight. All in all it was a nice, if not very challenging, experience. But i have to say- i love public dungeons. The whole experience reminded me a lot of public dungeons in Everquest 2, a part of that game i really like. Granted, you won’t get lost in there- its design is too linear for that- but it’s big, it took us about 90 minutes to finish, it’s beautiful, offers an interesting storyline and a few boss fights. Here are a few impressions of the dungeon.

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Friday Quick Notes

This Blog

I think that i’ve found the right Theme to go with on this blog, so i’m going to start building up the “features” here. Overall, i’d like to:

  • make the Home Page more appealing and more magazine-like. I’ve begun doing this, but right now it seems a bit pointless, of course, as i’ve only published 6 posts for now. With more posts being online, there will come more customization- i’ll simply have to figure it out on the fly
  • publish, publish and publish. I’m not going to import my posts from the old blog- i’ll just leave it as it is and start building up here. Therefore, i’d like to write and publish more to build a solid base of posts.
  • build a character page instead of the current Group Up – page
  • build a separate contact page
  • create a real menu to allow easy navigation through the page
  • venture into different topics: books, movies, tv-series, maybe even life. This site isn’t just about MMORPGs anymore. I’ll see if i can figure out a way for readers to opt in (or out) of certain topics; maybe by providing categorized feeds. Right now, there’s not much happening on that front- while i’m watching and reading something, i’ll have to wait to write something about it.

Gaming

ESO_logo-black

Elder Scrolls Online

I still need to “finish” Grahtwood. The Quest Achievement is done, now i’ll go and look for Caves, Skyshards and maybe Bosses. Tonight we’ll be heading to Rkindaleft, one of two open-world shared dungeons in Wrothgar.

There are also plans for two additional characters (maybe three): i’d like to try and build a Templar that is mainly DPS, but also somewhat capable of tanking and healing- a true hybrid reminiscient of the gameplay-feeling i had playing a Druid <level 30 in early WoW. This idea was inspired by Xannziee’s post about her favourite character. The other one i’m trying to create is a leech healer, possibly a Nightblade. I’m still trying to figure out the details- do i change things up a bit by laying them in another alliance since grouping between alliances will become easier in Thieves Guild? Or do i go all-in for the Aldmeri Dominion; to be able to enter Cyrodiil at will with my guildies?

The third character will be a Dragonknight- i’m still trying to figure out what kind of build i’d like- the only thing i really know is that i want to have one character in each armor type- light, medium, heavy. I guess my Templar “Battle Priest” / “Cleric” will become Heavy, advisable or not- the Leech Healer / Blood Mage will wear Light Armor and the Dragonknight will come in Medium Armor.

And why would i want more characters? Mostly because of the crafting, to be honest. I think that 2 or 3 crafting professions per character are a good amount for casual players, to avoid crafting slowing me down even more, but also because i’d like to experiment a bit and see what the other classes can do. In the end, i’ll also want to create a Sorcerer, but deciding for a direction there is even harder.

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The Secret World

Speaking of Leech Healers- i’ll build one in TSW, too. I think one of my characters has begun to take that direction anyway, and she’s early in the game. I’ve tried it two more times, but i can’t seem to get into my former main anymore- it’s been so long that i feel lost whenever i log her in. But i’d like to play TSW again, mainly as a solo venture, and i’ve found it frustrating to try and find my way with the main. I’ll take a casual approach here, but i do want TSW to become a regular game i play.

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Black Desert Online

The CBT2 is underway and i was able to create a character and log into one of the channels and see the very first steps in the game. It’s too early to form an opinion, of course. For now, i was surprised that there are “channels” to choose from- what do i have to do in order to find the friends i’d like to play it with? Do we have to choose one channel or are players able to interact regardless?

Cities: Skylines – Snowfall

The best city-builder out there has just released a new expansion- Snowfall. There’s new weather effects in old map types (rain, fog), there are Trams now and there are “winter zones”. All in all, it looks like a good update and i’ll buy in as soon as i get the urge to build a city again.

Other Media

A quick overview about things i’m watching/reading right now:

  • picked up watching The Walking Dead again- i think we haven’t watched since our son was born, so we’re way back in Season 4 right now. I like it so far, but i’ve found some slower episode in the middle of the season quite boring, actually. I’ll write up more about that when we’ve finished the season.
  • watched Mad Max: Fury Road and actually don’t want to waste too much time on it to write a review- i’d rate it 6/10…maybe. I did like the action…somewhat, but it all seemed a bit shallow for my taste.
  • i’m currently reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and like it very much. Thing is, i don’t get much reading-time in nowadays, especially if it’s a real-paper-book, so it’s slow going. Here’s the blurb: “The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.”
  • i find much more time listening to stuff. I finished listening to The three-body problem by Liu Cixin – it’s chinese sci-fi where humans find out that another civilization is on its way to conquer earth- but it’ll take them 400 years to get here. I’d give this a general 7/10 and a genre-related 9/10, it was interesting to listen to and i’m very much looking forward to listen to The Dark Forest as soon as i can.

Why i am excited for Thieves Guild

Stealth is not something i like a lot when playing games- i usually don’t roll rogue-type characters and even in other genres (FPS), i don’t like the stealthy ones. Since the justice system went live in Elder Scrolls Online, i haven’t stolen anything, mainly because i don’t really understand the risk i’d take and the system behind it in general. Of all zone types, the desert is one of the least interesting environments to me, topped only by “lava” zones. Still, as time moves on, i find myself increasingly excited for the Thieves Guild DLC that’ll come to ESO in march- and here’s why.

World Design

I love the world design in Elder Scrolls Online. The maps are plausible, the zones offer beautiful sights and it’s interesting to go out and explore in ESO. After seeing the design for Orsinium, where the designers managed to pull off one of the most interesting snow zones i’ve seen in MMORPGs, i’m very confident that they’ll also do the desert zone in a good way- not too void of things and not too full to make it implausible. The environment in ESO is always nice to look at, i’m sure lore fanatics will find many additional things in buildings that are, for instance, regionally different or relate to the race living in that respective area.

Orsinium also catches the spirit of entering a zone and go out exploring. Since everything is Level-synched, you can enter Wrothgar and walk off in any direction you’d like. While Hew’s Bane is smaller than Wrothgar, i’m confident it will be a blast to explore.

More options for our guild

Our guild is small and we span a huge level-range. We have some members in their early teens and some members already in the Veteran Ranks. It’s not very easy to find something in terms of PvE or PvP content we all enjoy that also feels rewarding and challenging for everyone. Right now, there’s mostly Cyrodiil and/or Orsinium. With the Thieves Guild DLC, we’ll have another option.
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More options for gameplay-style

If there’s one critizism i have for ESO at the moment, it would be the combat-focus. Sure, crafting is also very rewarding, but it’s not something you can do exclusively. Maybe fishing is a bit more on the non-combat side, but i haven’t tried that yet, so i can’t tell. Chances are that you’ll encounter mobs on your fishing trip, as well. While i am sure Hew’s Bane will include lots of combat as well, there will be content like the Heists that will revolve around stealth and thievery. This will provide another twist to the PvE-formula that’ll play out differently than what we are used to- maybe a bit more like the sabotage missions from The Secret World.

Content for old zones

The Thieves Guild will send you out to do something in the old zones, as well. It seems Hew’s Bane, as a map, will be kind of small and limited in scope, but ZOS are reusing the older zones for new content- and i think it’s a great idea. It’s cheaper for them and we get to see all those zones again- they will feel alive and thriving because of the players travelling all through Tamriel.

The personal one

Directly relating to my own feelings regarding The Elder Scrolls Online right now, this will be the first DLC i get to see released as an active player of Elder Scrolls Online. ESO wasn’t on my shortlist of MMORPGs i could see myself getting invested in for the long term, but as it happens, i feel good there. So more content being released is a good sign on the health of the game- especially as it’s not only zones or new content done in the same way as the old one that gets released, but ZOS clearly doesn’t think of ESO as being systems- and feature-complete. It’s still a long way to go, but i’m actually beginning to look forward to being “maxlevel” and seeing a lot of those other systems like Champion Points and such and being able to play the game with even more freedom- although the Q2 DLC will probably take care of some of that, as well.

/Saved – week 6-2016

One thing i used to do on my old space and stopped later for some reason was highlighting a few posts i enjoyed reading during a week- i’d like to take that up again here on my new site.

My new blogging home is still far from being set up in the way i’d like and it’s going to be a work-in-progress for some time, still. As far as i can tell, importing the old posts won’t be done quickly- there’s still a workaround i’m going to try and if it works, i’ll have my old posts here, as well, but if it doesn’t work i might settle on getting a few posts i like over here.

While browsing through available Themes for this blog i found the one i’m using right now and instantly liked it- i couldn’t put my finger on it, because it misses a few features i’d like a Theme to have (nice, big pictures on individual post pages, for instance) when it hit me- this seems to be the Theme Massively Overpowered uses. I’m still debating whether i should keep it, because it doesn’t feel so good using the same Theme- but on the other hand, it’s not as if i’d be competition for them or that i’d do something illegal here- it’s a free Theme, after all (with optional purchase, which i’m sure they opted in for).

Anyways, on to the posts i /saved in my Feedly this week.

/Saved Posts

The Secret World

I like it when “old faces” return- this year, a blog resurfaced that i used to read before the author stopped writing- DocHoliday’s MMO Saloon has now returned as Doc’s MMO journey. He plans to cover a bit more than MMO’s this time, but spends his time in The Secret World again. Here’s his take on the new subscriber benefits in The Secret World.

Ironweakness gives insight into his state of mind which he’s monicked “Zone Fatigue“- basically, it’s the feeling you get when you just want to leave one zone for the next one. Especially if you want to complete everything a zone has to offer, you’ll often run into trouble such as Overlevelling content or simply that a zone feels a bit like a drag.

Blade & Soul

Blade&Soul’s reception is surprisingly good. After most posts i read about the early impressions gave the vibe of a nice, albeit not very special game, it seems to grow on those who stick with it a bit longer. Bhagpuss more or less stumbled into the game, but seems to enjoy it even more the longer he’s playing. And surprisingly, it’s neither the combat nor the story, but a combination of good (world-)design choices, a connection to the character as well as its pet and scenery/setting at large in Blade&Soul.

On Guilds

Interestingly, guilds- or guild management, to be more precise, is not a topic you can often read about in blogs. Maybe it’s because it’s difficult to do these kind of posts without offending anyone, especially if the guildies know about your blog. Navimie touches on the subject of guild management quite regularly on The Daily Frostwolf, this time it’s about Sunshine Patriots and Winter Soldiers. I like what she (?) is doing here, because it’s hands-on and down-to-earth experience, opinion and advice.

Podcasts

This week, i discovered the Tales of Tamriel podcast. Listening to them saying they gained like a few hundred listeners in the last few months makes me think most of those who are interested in ESO-specific podcasts already know about them, but i’d still like to point it out. It’s a great mix of news, opinion and gameplay experience with a bit of banter and lots of information regarding Elder Scrolls Online. I can’t believe they can talk about one game for 90 minutes and it’s interesting to listen to the whole time.

They also do it live and on youtube, as well, so you can actually look and see stuff.

Regarding Podcasts, Justin from Massively Overpowered put together a great list of game specific podcasts, take a look if you need more podcasts in your life.

Travel log: Orsinium sights

Tonight, our guild group has been to Wrothgar, again. I have to say, i love how we can simply set off out of the city and go exploring. We tried to follow quests, but were soon distracted by stuff we saw in the landscape- and also, because Edu is one difficult boss to kill.

On our travels we saw a museum, fought and were killed by Edu, maybe a Goblin boss, i don’t know, because we didn’t see him for all the ogres he sent our way, an arena where Orc clans settled their war, a giant statue of Malacath and Coldperch Cavern, a delve in Wrothgar. And also, a lot of beautiful sights.

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