Plans for august

In august, i’ll slowly phase out the summer break i’m on since the end of june. In real life, we moved houses, but by now we’ve almost settled in. Of course, there’s still stuff to do, but there’s no need to rush and no hectic anymore. There’s not going to be a holiday, either, at least not one that takes weeks, as we’ve already been to China this year and with the recent move, we’re not going to go on vacation now.

So i’ll be playing a bit. I call off the MMO Wanderlust i had, because it took me to weird places. The MMO line-up for the rest of the year is set: Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. I’m not going to say that i won’t play any other MMO, because i probably will, but these should be the major ones, with ESO returning to the front-and-center while FFXIV and WoW will play support roles.

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Gaming goals for may

First one: make this post about quantifiable goals and more bullet-pointy than the last one.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO_logo-blackReviewing april’s goals

  • level my main to 30 – done. She’s 35 right now
  • craft an armor/weapon set – still to do
  • figure out a way to skill my Dragon Knight – not done
  • level the Dragon Knight to 15 – not done

Goals for may

  • level my main to 50. Yes, that’s a stretch- but i feel i could do it if i concentrate on it- would be nice to reach 50 before the veteran ranks go the way of the dodo.

Other games

April’s goals

Not quantifiable, but i haven’t reached any of these. I didn’t play Black Desert and/or The Secret World. Instead, i resubbed to EVE Online and dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online.

Goals for may

EVE Online

  • keep at it!
  • finish the career agent missions

Battleborn, Stellaris, Overwatch

  • no real goals but to actually play each of them

Our guild

Reviewing april’s goals

  • have a guild meeting – done.
  • tackle another dungeon or two – done.
  • have a social event (crafter’s market) – still open.
  • short and middle term strategies for homepage and growth – possibly done.

I feel we’ve overachieved here. Last month, i was worried that my absence damaged the community a bit- this was either totally unfounded or has been corrected during the month of april. We’re now in peak times regarding activity- we visit Cyrodiil regularly, we’ll level characters together in the Daggerfall Covenant, we continue to do dungeons from time to time and a member stepped up to invite us into Imperial City.

Goals for may

  • have a guild meeting
  • begin levelling our DC characters
  • continue in Cyrodiil
  • tackle a dungeon or two
  • write a “How to get involved” post on the forums

Blog & Meta

April’s goals

  • seperate Real Life  and gaming stuff – not done. In fact, i’m back to the “normal” blog layout with whole posts on the home page.
  • write more China posts. No, i don’t think this’ll happen. Somehow i feel MMORPG, RL and movie/book blogging don’t mix very well
  • Still need to look more into Anook
  • Still need to get better at commenting

Goals for may

  • have a bigger range in content length. Everything i write is about 1000 words long. I need to be able to keep it short, as well, making the blog more fun and easy to read and maybe get more posts up
  • figure out how i want the site to look and feel. Work on the navigation.
  • provide “deeper” content. I can’t really do guides, because i’m inexperienced, but i’d like to try and offer more value.

EVE: drowning in space

My everchanging priorities, goals and ways to achieve those goals in EVE are testament to the complexity of the game in question. As you can imagine, i’m still trying to figure it all out.

Mining attempt

Yesterday i decided to sell off all my mined ore- it’s more profit than reprocessing and i can get the later materials cheaper if i simply buy them whenever i want to produce something. Since the ore hangar of my mining frigate wasn’t full, i decided to take it for another spin (quite literally) in an asteroid belt. Mining in EVE is what i’d call relaxing- mostly, it’s just your mining ship orbiting an asteroid. When you have a mining frigate with an ore hangar, but still only use one mining laser of the second-lowest quality, it can take some time to fill it up.

But i can’t just go out and mine without weapons. While possibly every other player who wanted to could blow me up in an instant, there’s always NPC pirates to be considered- they turn up in the asteroid fields from time to time. In the regions i’m mining in, they’re not really dangerous, but without weapons, i couldn’t fight them off. I guess there might be ways to fit my ship so it would effectively take no damage from those, but i’m not there yet. In fact, ship fitting is a rabbit hole i haven’t even glanced into beyond the obvious (i don’t need a wiki to understand what a cargohold expansion does). My mistake: i didn’t check ammo. So when those npc pirates came, i quickly ran out and had to leave the asteroid belt, travelled to a space station where prices were high and earned about 750,000 ISK. Yay me!

Standings

As i need to be in good standing with someone to get player-owned-structures or manufacturing in general to a profitable activity, i looked for an agent from the npc faction i have the best standing with and found one. Doing that involved returning to my “home”, changing ships, and travel to that agent and begin missions. It was then when i understood people calling those missions a grind. The rewards for completing a mission were around 50k ISK and 25 “loyalty points” – i had to look what they’re for. Turns out that every NPC faction does not only track your standing with it but also those loyalty points, usable in the corresponding loyalty store of the corporation. Looking at one, i saw the cheapest item going for almost 400 loyalty points (and some ISK)…so, about 15 missions just to get the cheapest item. I decided, again, that i need to take a step back.

Career agents

EVE is like a big sea of possibilities and ways to get there. I’ve established that the old tutorials are gone, but what i was doing before my mining trip was actually the next best step- doing missions for the career agents. Those are the ones that pay well. I’ve also learned that now, skill books are mainly sold on the market – last time i played you were able to get the most basic ones from missions- and while i think that is still the case to an extent, it’s not many you’ll get there. I think skill books can also drop from npc pirates, but i don’t know that yet. So i bought a few skill books off the regional market- they are seeded in by CCP in “school” stations, so prices are ok, i guess, although it’s possible players sell them for less in Jita. So that’s where i am right now, doing career agent missions- i’ll do them all to get some ISK, free ships, equipment and some skill books.

Opportunities

Opportunities are the new tutorial in EVE online. They’re achievements, basically, fulfilled by the most basic actions like traveling from system to system, docking or even chatting with people. I had a look at my opportunities map and saw that one of them asked me to use the corp recruitment interface. There, i could look for player corporations of interest to me. I checked the activities i’m most interested in (mining, manufacturing, trading) and took a look around. See, names matter to me in MMORPGs, they are a first hint at how the player(s) behind the characters or guilds tick. EVE corporations seem to have terrible names- well, they might fit into the dystopian universe of the game, but i found them terrible. There were a few corporations, however, that seemed kind of interesting.

Joining a corp

Now i’m really on the fence of joining other players in EVE, but i don’t know if it’s going to be an international or a german corp. I made contact with one of those corporations who are active in World War Bee and welcoming of newbies- i might join them if the answer i’ll be getting is a positive one. Or i might go with a german high-sec corp. I have to say, though, that a high-sec only corp seems to be…well, quite limited in their activity and ability to grow. I don’t know why; i have no real desire to leave high-sec anytime soon myself, but somehow, i expect corporations of some experience to be active at least in low-sec, as well. Right now, i feel as if i’m drowning in the deep sea that EVE provides, i’m feeling as if i’m making regress instead of progress. Other players might be able to help.

Opportunities only cover very basic actions for now- there are supposed to be opportunities you have to unlock by doing others and they are of some help to a very new player, but most of what is covered there, i know already. And they’re not really helping with finding my way to the shore, take some steps in the direction i want to go.

Certificates

Certificates do that. At least in terms of skill progression. Certificates are collections of skills you have to learn in order to become better able to do some of the stuff. Nothing is holding you back from starting to trade on day one, but it gets easier when you have learned the skill necessary to place buy orders in stations you’re not currently in. To get the “Production Manager” certificate, for instance, you’d have to train the industry, mass production and production efficiency skills to level 3. Certificates are what i am looking at right now to find out which skills to train.

Happy place

So- activity-wise, i’m going with career agent missions for now. To put some roots down, maybe, and get more direct help, i’m thinking about joining a player corporation and as far as skill progression goes, i’m looking at certificates. See how that has changed from wanting to trade, manufacture or mine? Seems i was getting ahead of myself. At some point, though, i’m bound to touch base. It’s an exciting time and i’m enjoying it very much. I had to force myself to stop playing yesterday because it was past midnight when i logged out.

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€. 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.

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€ 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.

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.

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.

ESO_logo-black

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)

Growing a small social guild

Since we’ve founded our fledgling community/guild, i’ve been wondering whether it is possible to build up one of those 10 years plus communities in this day and age. I know there are many great guilds out there, but i do feel the climate has changed and creating a long-lasting guild where bonds between members only grow with time is harder now than it used to be when the MMORPG community had about 3 very different MMORPGs to choose from. Today, not only do we have a billion MMOs to choose from, but the games themselves also allow players to be part of multiple guilds. Players change games more often, and when they try a new game they might seek out another, already established guild in their new game instead of trying to grow the guild they’re in or taking guildmates with them.

I’d like our guild and community to grow, in connections as well as numbers and possibly even games later on and i’ve been thinking about ways to reach the goal to be “that guild” at some time- where people would say things like “this weekend a few guildies and i are trying out game xy together”.

It’s a journey

A longlasting guild can’t be built up in a year, and we all know that. What i’ve seen though, and struggle with myself is that it’s kind of hard to be patient. It’s looking hard right now- we’re seven people playing Elder Scrolls Online right now and attracting members is difficult- i feel it’s because of size, related ingame-features- we’re too small to even have a guild bank, after all and the fact that we openly describe ourselves as being casual players who don’t play every day. If you were to join our guild, chances to build a dungeon group spontaneously on the fly while you’re logged in are about zero. If you were to ask in our forums, though, i’d bet you’d get a group of players willing to join you in the next couple of days, depending on the availability of our members.

Of course, this isn’t something we’re used to nowadays- and in the end, it’s easier to simply use the group finder to tackle a dungeon. When i played WoW, building a group with the guild was the easier way to go (no lfg tool then), it’s the other way around now and with us. In the end, we all have to be patient- the guild leaders have to be while still trying to offer “more” in terms of trying to grow the community, and the members themselves, because right now, we’re almost more a friends list than a guild where you meet someone everyday. With our 7 players, it’s still entirely possible to log in and be the only player online in the guild. Normally, i’d say that 10 online players in the evenings is a good number.

 

Shortly after release, growing fast isn't hard to do.
Shortly after release, growing fast isn’t very difficult.

It’s very easy to grow in new games – in my experience you’ll reach a critical mass quickly if you recruit for games that aren’t released yet. I’ve seen the foundation of about half a dozen guilds before a game was released- at that time, it’s mostly the guild-type that attracts new players, not the current state of the guild. You can start recruiting for a game soon to be released while having only two people in your roster- if you do it in a timely fashion, you’ll have 20 to 50 members as soon as the game releases. Because nobody cares if you’re only two when there is no game to begin with.

In a game like Elder Scrolls Online, it’s harder, because the players want their guild to offer something- a guild bank, players to group with at all times and a guild trader would be nice, as well. There aren’t as many non-guilded or new players, as well, since the game has been out for a while.

In addition to the ingame-features, the community has to grow, as well- we’ve changed things up a couple of times, already. If you’re four people who know each other well, there’s no need to have many rules and regulations. I think a good guild needs to adapt- have its vision set, but alter the ways to get there. There’s a bit of trial and error involved here.

And lastly, “that guild” you’ve played with for five or ten years has to last that long to become just that. You can’t have this done in a year, per definitionem.

Recruitment

All guild advice you can read will tell you how important recruitment is. I’d say it’s depending on what type of guild you want to create. In a game like ESO, building a simple, big social guild doesn’t really require anything outside of the game- you take in who’s interested and weed out inactives and troublemakers. If you want to stay somewhat small and prefer to build up connections with your guildmates, however, recruitment gets difficult, even in small social guilds. Because not being a troublemaker is not enough- the personality of a recruit has to fit into the group, and because this won’t be the case every time, you mustn’t be afraid to decline people. Which is even harder to do in a social guild- “it’s not personal” doesn’t work here, because it is.

 

group
You can have fun in small numbers, as well.

This is why i like Enjin so much right now- because applications aren’t public. We set up a form with a few questions (“What MMOs have you played recently?”, “How much time do you spend in MMOs a week?”, “Do you prefer voice or guild chat?”, “What are your ingame goals?”). The officers can then review an application, ask the applicant some questions and hopefully get answers without anyone knowing what’s going on. For us, we’ll take in everyone who understands what we are and is aware of differences between us and their preferred play-style. For instance, if you’d apply and check “Raids” as an interest, i’d possibly tell you that this is something we’ll probably not do anytime soon, if at all. If you check the box for playing more than 30 hours a week, i’d tell you that this is much more than the rest of us are playing. If the applicant is ok with everything, we’ll try and see if the glove fits. If there’s no reaction three days after i’ve asked some questions, i’ll simply reject the application- mostly without giving an extra reason (i feel that has been given by the questions asked), but sometimes i’ll even go into the official forums and suggest an alternative guild that might be a better fit. So far, it’s 50/50 – i accepted three applications and rejected three, as well.

I do that because i’ve seen guilds with a similar vision failing to decline applicants, growing too fast and therefore building no connections between the guild and the respective players. The communities might have 300 members, but that doesn’t mean anything if the forums are used only by 30 and the whole community discourages their leader from creating an ingame guild because it would be inactive after a month anyway (yes, i’ve seen that happening).

Stability and Perseverance

I think it’s also very important to show stability and perseverance in building the community. OK, so maybe a monthly guild meeting for four players who meet each friday anyway is a waste of time- maybe it will be for seven members, as well. But thinking “i’ll do stuff like this when it matters” sends the wrong signal to the members of the community- it tells them “we’re not real, yet”, so the culture you want to see your guild having needs to be built in from the ground up. Try, and if nobody shows up, try again. Maybe change things up a bit. This is a clear sign that you’re serious and in it for the long haul. I’m also a huge proponent of telling the guildies what the next steps are in growing or strengthening the guild- while i’m almost always somewhat disappointed when asking for feedback (you’ll probably not get any), i think members appreciate it when their leadership shares its plans on following through with the vision.

And because we’re lucky in how MMORPGs are designed nowadays, it’s always important to see if you can find something worth doing in terms of ingame-goals for your whole guild. For instance, tomorrow we’ll be going to Rkindaleft, one of two public dungeons in Wrothgar. We might be able to do it, or maybe not, but it’s nice that we can do something worthwhile together despite being in the level range of 11 to VR10, with 7 players.

 

Before i go, though- what’s your opinion on this? Is it easier or harder to form a small guild with strong bonds nowadays? How would you go about it- any tipps to share?

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.
orsinium_taverne

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.