The End…a new beginning

Why, hello there! Still in your feeds? That’s great, thanks for that. There’s a new year to look forward to and an old one to look back at. So let’s do this.

2016

In the latter half of the year, I’ve been in a slump with MMORPGs- far enough that I heard me say that I’m practically done with them to a friend. There were a lot of reasons and even a draft for a post on this blog here looking at them. In the end, it came down to time: MMORPGs are time-intensive things and I was having more fun playing session-oriented games like Rocket League or Overwatch- or slower paced singleplayer games like Planet Coaster, Cities:Skylines or Euro Truck Simulator. All of them share the feature of being able to begin and stop playing whenever I want, with no bad conscience for paying a sub, having to progress timely for an expansion to release and so on. It’s pressure-free gaming I enjoyed, even while I am mildly successful in keeping my MMORPG playing pressure-free.

There were real-life issues, as well. Nothing personal, mind you, until late in the year, but to be honest, I had to struggle with the results in the american election. Now, we’ll see where the US are headed and I’ll keep further discussion and my personal opinion on that aside- it has been an election, after all- but in the grander scheme of things, what happened in the US was a display of what’s going on, politically, on the whole world. More than worrying about the US (which I do), they made me worry about Europe and Germany- elections are coming up in France and Germany this year, and depending on the results, they could do a lot of harm to the european idea. So I’ve kept myself busy learning stuff- why this might be happening, what could be done about it and so on.

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I also got acquainted with the appeal of Twitch streaming- I haven’t streamed yet (planning to, though), but a friend of mine does, so I joined him when he was streaming and found it…interesting. I still don’t fully understand why streaming and watching streams is a thing, but I’m getting there.

Last month it also became apparent that we’re expecting our second child. Now that’s a way to end the year!

Strangely, the news of a second child rekindled my interest in MMORPGs to a degree, as did my personal interpretation of Twitch streaming (I’ll get to that in a minute).

The One

Elder Scrolls Online has been my MMORPG of 2016. I’ve tried many, as usual- Blade and Soul, Black Desert, tried getting back into Rift, WoW, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, but there’s an anchor in ESO: our small guild that’s not-so-small anymore. We’re 15 people now, growing slowly, but steadily- and recently, a couple of members created a Minecraft-server for us to enjoy.

So, while I didn’t really play MMORPGs very enthusiastically in the latter half of 2016, I’ve kept regular events going in our guild, and my main character hit level 50 and, by now, 70 Champion points simply by attending those- there was a huge push with the Halloween-event, where doing anchors granted huge amounts of experience (I also threw in some experience potions), and now I’m max-level. The last time I touched questing content was when the character was level 38, so there’s a huge amount of content left for me to discover.

Last year’s resolutions

You can find the long post on my old blog. Here’s what I wanted to get out of 2016:

  • Embrace PvP. I haven’t avoided Cyrodiil, but a deep dive seemed unnecessary as neither Camelot Unchained nor Crowfall reached a state where they were playable for me.
  • Keeping a budget….hahahaha. Oh well, that escalated quickly. I guess my “budget” didn’t last more than 5 months.
  • Prioritize MMO gaming- I guess that one went well. I still spent too much money on them, but in the end, I’ve been pretty consistent in playing ESO as my main MMO.
  • More time in good games- well, outside of MMOs, that was. I guess this one was mildly successful, as I did play different games in the second half of 2016.
  • Spend more time with people and grow the guild. Full success. Last year, I stated that I’d like the community to have 10 people, we are at 15 now. I have appointed a co-leader, so I’m not alone in doing stuff anymore and we’ve played ESO together for a year now.
  • Blog more regularly than in 2015. Nope. Went AWOL for quite a while there.

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2017

So here we are, in 2017. Resolutions? The same, basically:

spend less money, waste none

I bought the newest Rift expansion and haven’t set a foot inside yet, probably never will. Fear of missing out, dear reader, is a strong marketing tool. They got me with that stuff you’d get by preordering and logging in. Rift has one feature I really like: their housing system is great and reading this great post from Nouvae about finding inspiration for dimensions makes me wish I could get into Rift.

This year, one trap is already looming: Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, preorder opening in the end of the month. I just know I’ll be considering buying it on day one, knowing full well that I haven’t even touched Heavensward content yet. So here’s a resolution: either I’m not buying anything I can’t play (duh!) or if I do, I’ll see that I get there.

Get a grip on MMO hopping

Hopping around isn’t the issue for me anymore. I’m fine with that now. There are a couple of MMOs I like very much, and I’ll play each of them from time to time. What needs changing, though, is starting fresh every time. So no more character hopping. I’ll start fresh (or already have) once more, but continue playing this new batch of characters.

Grow our guild

The guild is in a good shape, our main game is in a great shape and getting better with each update. Let’s put a number on this – by the end of 2017, I’d like us to be a community consisting of 20-25 players, which would mean almost reaching our goal of 20-30 players.

Creating Content

In 2016, there was one thing I was somewhat unhappy to see: quite a few fellow MMO bloggers called it quits and stopped writing about and/or even playing them. Ironweakness and Murf, to name two. Liore went somewhat silent, as well. My friend, the streamer, doesn’t seem to get blogging, makes fun of our guild using forums to communicate and my guild’s poking fun at me for creating textwalls in forums and guild meetings. I don’t think blogging is dead, but maybe it needs some…freshness. So in 2017, I’d not only like to write more consistently – not necessarily more, but not in bursts of posts and stretches of silence, either, but also try that streaming thing and maybe even video stuff.

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More German

There’s a pendulum- sometimes, I think international servers are better, english clients are more enjoyable and original and the community bigger, and then, the pendulum swings back to a state where I prefer “simple” to “original”. My new batch of characters will be created on german servers, the clients set to german, at least to try them out, and I’ll create german content- if and when I stream, it will be in german. I might even get a german blog going, but we’ll see about that.

Games in 2017

I’m not going to fool myself- I will keep buying games, maybe even MMOs (Crowfall, Revelation Online?), but there are three games I plan to make a dent in this year:

  • Elder Scrolls Online, obviously. Housing is incoming and another big content update (Vvardenfell?) might be coming this year, as well. ESO’s going strong and I’ll join it on its way.
  • Final Fantasy XIV. Another very healthy MMO, and one with meaningful crafting and an auction house, as well. It’s also quite simple in its business model: sub or don’t play. There’s no annoying shop interface, no “updates” coming for the item shop only- it’s just so relaxing to play an MMO that doesn’t have a hand in your wallet at all times.
  • Lord of the Rings Online. Standing Stone Games are independent and Daybreak’s the publisher now. Licensing issues are non-existent, so in my book, this change is all-around positive. Lotro has been my “go-back-to” MMORPG for quite a while (at least from release to 2012) and I love the design of the landscapes.

In addition, a few of the released games I’d like to play in 2017 without pressing the matter:

  • The Secret World
  • Guild Wars 2
  • The Division
  • The Crew

All in all, I feel far from done with the genre and/or writing about it. There’s a bit of a course-correction this year, but I’m actually excited to go ahead with it, especially the multimedia-thing with streaming. After researching and thinking about ways to do it in the last couple of days/weeks, I feel like Twitch streaming and blogging are actually quite similar to each other. I guess that’s a different post, though.

Happy New Year everyone!

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.

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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.

/Saved: Black Desert, Cash shops, thinking in MMOs and goodbyes

There’s a lot to share this week, as we can take a closer look at Black Desert Online and The Division. There are also some opinion pieces on cash shops in general or Black Desert’s offerings in particular. There’s talk about unnecessary game systems as well as thinking in MMORPGs- and a goodbye-post, as well.

General Chat

Did MMORPGs make their players think more in their earlier incarnations? That’s a discussion i followed when it was started- at least in my Feedly, by Bhaguss, who feels that things like “local knowledge” and combat behaviour are made too easy or are missing in modern MMOs. There is a polite answer by Jeromai, who is of the opinion that games still require putting thought into it and that this is where “skill” comes from. He’s writing that it takes time and the will from the part of the players to put this thought in and that you could put thought into combat even in action combat games before/after a fight. I guess this is where Telwyn’s post comes in, stating that in faster combat, thoughts have to be made up faster, as well, and this would put a gap between players. Telwyn therefore prefers slower combat titles. My opinion in short form: i think “local knowledge” is still there, in games like Elder Scrolls and Black Desert, and while i do prefer slower combat, right now i don’t have any hotbar-combat-MMOs in my rotation- but i think ESO, for instance, has a very good combat pace to also make thought possible in fights. I do agree, however, that there are MMOs where combat feels…well, like a time-waster, actually. I could name one hotbar-combat-game and one action-combat-game where i find the combat to be utterly boring- but i won’t.

Sometimes i save up posts much later than they were written- i don’t know why, but Roger Edwards “farewell” to Lord of the Rings Online slipped into this week. I find it sad, actually, when a game you used to play and like suddenly- or slowly- changes in ways you don’t approve or maybe it’s not only the game that changed but you, as well. In the end it doesn’t matter, saying goodbye has to be tough. On the other hand it can also be liberating- this time last year, i was following news from a lot of games- from Lotro to Rift, Wildstar and WoW over to ArcheAge, FF14 and SWTOR. And everytime there was a new patch i was tempted to join back in. This year, not so much. I’ve pretty much closed the files on all of them and, while i’m still not a “one MMO” type of player and will probably never be one- i feel i can handle the current roster.

I followed Aywren’s journey to becoming a mentor in FF14. I think she was aiming to become a mentor from the moment the program was announced. It’s basically a program where experienced players help newbies out. Most people who opt into such a program do so because they love the game, they love the community and they want to “give something back”. I saw this in Fallen Earth, where a chat channel is maintained just for helping new players out. As with many things, becoming a mentor in FF14 is a huge time-sink (it’s a subscription game, after all), but luckily, for Aywren, there was a way to become mentor by way of crafting instead of doing a few hundred dungeon runs. So she went that route- only to find out that she couldn’t mentor, after all, because she needs to do ALL THE DUNGEONS. Now i don’t know the inner workings here, but to me, that’s simply not right.

Meanwhile, Syp wrote about the AEGIS system in TSW’s Tokyo– well that and similar systems, and Rowan Blaze agrees. It seems so do many others, linked in the second post. I am not far enough into TSW to offer my opinion on that, specifically, but i have to say that it is the one thing i’d be very unhappy to have to go through when reaching Tokyo. Just like ESO’s “silver/gold campaigns” where you have to play the other factions’ content as well, this is something that makes me not wanting to reach that point in the game. I also dislike systems that are used for one expansion cycle only and replaced later on.

Cash shops, generally and in BDO

Liore has to be mentioned first with her great post on how she’s fed up with cash shops. And i totally agree- they’ve reached a point where they’re simply annoying, and it’s not only because the things that are monetized. For me, i’m getting tired of trying to figure out the stuff i “need” to buy. You can play SWTOR as a preferred player, buy a few unlocks and you’ll be pretty much free to enjoy the game without a subscription. Trying to figure out what it takes, though, is boring. When cash shops offer a lot of virtual goods, i find that i’m unlikely to browse through it all and buy something- i like them clean like Elder Scrolls Online’s shop is, for instance.

Weighing in on Black Desert’s cash shop, Ironweakness writes that instead of being angry at the prices for costumes in BDO, he’ll simply refrain from buying them. Isaari takes a look at how the playerbase plays down pay-to-win elements in BDO.

Black Desert Online

Here’s a nice guide on trading in Black Desert Online, written by Scopique on Levelcapped. It gives a basic idea on how all this stuff works.

http://www.levelcapped.com/2016/02/26/black-desert-online-interstate-commerce/

Syl takes a look at whether you should play BDO as a PvE-player. She thinks it’s worth it, mentioning that player killing gives huge karma penalties and that ganking should be a rare occurence.

Prettylittlesith puts away the Dark Side of the Force and shares her opinion on the Black Desert Online Beta.

The Division

Continuing from before, we still have a few impression pieces of The Division’s Open Beta, generally very positive in their nature, so i’ll give a simple list.

The Division Beta

Updated: The Division BETA Thoughts

Cheating on WoW: The Division Beta