Monday, September 1, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Catching up

It is nice having others playing, but can't you loot the corpses?

I haven't been posting much and I'm not sure why.  In any case, the good news (if you are me and want to write or if you want to read what I'm writing) is that I have three more posts in process.  I wonder if having more to read has meant less time to write.  In any case, in honor of the end of Blaugust (and Labor Day holidays), you get two posts in three days.  Congratulations to all those who participated!

Be the Cat

For the last few weeks my focus has been leveling my Druid, Kantree, in World of Warcraft to 60 so I use my instant 90 and have a max level Leatherworker (and Skinner) but only to do it when I am rested.  When I spoke about this last I had just started Feralas, which had been one of my favorite zones, and since then I've done the full Feralas, Thousand Needles, and Ungoro Crater zones and I'm about half way through Blasted Lands at level 58.

After being impressed with the changes in earlier zones, I was disappointed to see that the Sprite Darter quest series is gone in Feralas.  Overall, I guess there was more continuity to the zone, but that quest chain was one of my favorites and I like the old Feathermoon Island that is also no longer an Alliance town.  I spent many days fishing there in Vanilla and it's just not the same.  

Thousand Needles had probably the biggest change in any zone when the Cataclysm happened since it's flooded now.  However, I think the changes are good.  The earlier race track quests were amusing and I remember enjoying the griffin ones in the other area, but they were totally disconnected from each other and not very long.  The new set of quests gives you a boat to travel around in  (unfortuately, it only works in Thousand Needles) and I found it entertaining even if the quests were rather spread out.

The quests in Ungoro Crater seem very similar to what I remember when I leveled my warrior there during Burning Crusade.  That is probably a good thing, since they were fun then as well.  There is again a little more continuity and you get to turn into different creatures including a dinosaur (that someone used to kill one of the quest givers when I was trying to turn in a quest).  Fun zone!

I was amazed at how busy Blasted Lands were when I started questing there.  As a skinner, it was nice having all the extra skins to gather though it seemed like often times people wouldn't loot the corpses (as was the case in the screen shot above).  So far I've been enjoying it and I've been amazed it is so busy, but not so busy that it is difficult to complete the quests.  Anyone know why?  In any case, I'll reserve judgment until the end.   So far I've liked all the quest changes except for Feralas.

Death Knight Easy Mode

When I wanted to play and my rested buff hadn't built up on my Druid, I have been leveling my Death Knight, Kintri from 65 to 72.  I'd like to get her at least to 75 before Warlords of Draenor since she is my only character who has Inscription and I've built up many Inks and Herbs for her to use.  While I feel like I've learned my cat form while leveling up my druid, for my Frost Death Knight I just press one of three (now four) keys, which ever are available with an effort to hit them when they are lit up.  I guess I should look to see what they and others do, but things die so quickly with this method that there isn't any incentive to do it.

It says something that I don't remember most of the leveling I did from 65 to 70.  I did spend 68-70 leveling in Netherstorm since it is the only area in Outland that I haven't completed.  Now that I've switched to Borean Tundra in Northrend I am enjoying myself more.  I'll keep playing here until the quests or mobs turn green (less experience).  I'm not sure where I'll level except that I must do Sholazar Basin (once I get to the right level) since it is the only zone in Northrend where I don't have the quest achievement.

Next?

So I'm pretty close on my immediate goals of getting my Druid to 60 and my Death Knight to 75.  I'm not sure what I'll do next.  I might try to learn healing on my Priest, but that might be too much work.  I'm very close to having 100 mounts so that should be an obtainable goal.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Night in Final Fantasy XIV


Near one of the 'portals' in Final Fantasy XIV
Initially when I start this blog, I spent a day playing several games trying to figure out if they were right for me.  I spent some  time playing Lord of the Rings Online before returning to World of Warcraft and playing it since then.  However, I still want to try out new games in my casual style.  I did it recently with Wildstar and when Final Fantasy XIV (FF XIV) offered two weeks to play for free, I decided to try it for a night and see what it was like.  Belghast was an influence since he's been talking about the game a lot recently.

Typically when I do this, it is a day or two after I played, but I became sick the day after I played the game and now, three weeks later I'm coming to write my post (and it was four weeks until I actually finished it).  I apologize in advance that it will be my impressions vague than I'd like them to be.

Some background first:  For someone who has played video and computer games since the 70s and has played a lot of RPGs, it is somewhat surprising I've never played any of the Final Fantasy games.  I have watched others play them briefly, but I wasn't ever really a console gamer so they weren't really an option for me until recently.

Character creation

I created two characters.  The first was a Hyur, the 'human' option.  The second was a Miqo'te (don't ask me how that is pronounced), the 'cat-girl' option for my daughter.  In both cases, there were two branches that had slightly different appearance choices and quite a lot of options.  There were a few options that changed your appearance significantly like hairstyle, but others seemed to be very similar.

There was a 'magic' and 'not magic' option for class and then under those were a lot of options.  Some classes didn't seem to be very different.  I just picked a melee DPS class for my first character since that is usually the easiest option.

Gameplay

I picked Limsa Lominsa to start in.  There was a little intro video with a fellow traveller that tells you something about the game.  It was better than just be thrown into the game but not very exciting.  When I started my second character with my daughter in Gridania, the same traveller was there giving me information about the new location.

There was no question about what you were expected to do.  At first there were a lot of non-combat quests that allowed you to familiarize yourself with the controls and the city (which was rather large) before you got combat quests outside the city.  Even in the very first locations there were 'FATEs'.  FATEs are FF XIV version of dynamic events.  I participated in two of them, but they just seemed like a way to focus grinding.  I guess if you don't like the quests they are better than just grinding on your own, but I preferred questing.  Combat was responsive and I never felt like the controls or performance got in the way.

Performance


When I wrote my other reviews, I had an older desktop and performance was a definite concern.  Now I have a gaming laptop and while it isn't bleeding edge, it doesn't seem to be an issue for most games.  In any case, I had no issues with performance in FF XIV.  Along with the quests and the combat, everything ran smoothly, indicative of a well optimized game, not something that could always be assumed for MMOs.

Overall impressions

I enjoyed my time, but didn't think it was the game for me.  I was impressed with how polished the game seemed to be.  I wasn't able to get into the secondary aspects of the game like crafting that I enjoy, but if the main gameplay doesn't grab me, those won't be enough to keep me playing.  The art style, though beautiful, isn't my favorite.  I prefer more the cartoon-like characters in World of Warcraft of Wildstar.  If you played many of the Final Fantasy games, I could see how it could be nice to revisit some of the common tropes of those games, but I didn't have that incentive and I don't see myself picking it up again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Year 10 Questions


The Godmother on ALT:ernative Chat, in preparation for the 10 year anniversary of World of Warcraft, has asked people to answer the following questions about World of Warcraft.  As usual, I'm a little bit behind, but my answers are below.  You can find other responses at this link from ALT:ernative Chat.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I have been playing computer role playing games since the 80s and had read about Ultima Online and Everquest, but never decided to play them.  After reading about World of Warcraft in Computer Gaming World, I decided I like to try it out (this was still during the beta test).  I found a guild (I think on a Blizzard forum, but I'm not sure), joined the guild and the beta.  I even went to my local Gamestop and picked it up at midnight rushed back and help my guildmaster create the guild.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

My first character (from beta) and still my main character is a dwarven hunter, Kanter.  I had decided I like playing dwarves in Warlords and I couldn't pass up the chance to have an animal fight by my side.  I also still primarily fight with my bear companion, Iorek, I picked up at level 10.3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
Since I wanted to be a dwarf, I didn't have a choice.  Also the guild I joined was primarily playing on the Alliance side.4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
As a casual player, I'm not sure I have a favorite moment.  One of my few end game raiding experiences was in AQ40.  We spent a lot of time gathering nature resistant gear for Princess Huhuran and I remember clearing working in our semi-circle (to minimize splash damage) until she finally fell.  She had the best Hunter weapon at the time (Huhuran's Stinger, which I still have) and it is the one thing someone whispered me to ask me about.5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
I like being able to do a variety of activities.  I like the lore.  I like professions.  I like questing.  I don't like doing LFD or LFR, but I do enjoy group activities with my guild and I'm hoping I can do it again with WoD.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

I enjoyed exploring in Feralas and I completed the Sprite Darter Hatchling quest chain on four different characters there.  Sadly, the quest doesn't exist any more (though the Hatchling does).  I also remember running to Feathermoon Island as an underlevel character because it was where the only max level Alchemy trainer was.  When I got there, I was too low level to learn it, but it was a fun adventure and at least I had the flight point.
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I have 125 days on my main character but I also have 3 other level 90 characters I haven't used the instant level 90 yet, so let's just say it's significantly more than that.  I have taken breaks of several months in all the expansions since BC (so three breaks).
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I usually read the quest text, but not always.  Right now I'm trying to level a druid to 60 and sometimes I just want to get on with it.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

There was a time, particularly during Burning Crusade, when I played too much and it interfered with my homelife (see below).
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Particularly during Burning Crusade, but also during Vanilla, I was playing too much and it interfered with my family responsibilities.  I took several long breaks so it I wouldn't get too involved and I think I have found a balance now.  This blog (MMO One Night a Week) was part of trying to find a way to play an MMO without letting it take too much time.


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Week in an MMO: Exploring Azeroth again

Kentrei helping the Stillpine on Azuremyst Isle
I have started three posts since my last one, but I couldn't seem to get the motivation to actually write any of them, so you'll just get another summary of what I've been doing, primarily in World of Warcraft.

Rediscovering Cataclysm

I leveled four characters to 60 before Cataclysm and didn't have much incentive to revisit the zones afterwards.  The idea of the druid always appealed to me, but I like my hunter and I'd rather heal as a priest, so it never became a priority to level him.  However, since I plan to get Warlords of Draenor and I'd rather get the max level leatherworking profession with the included Instant Level 90 character offer, I've decided to level my druid to 60 and finally see some of the Cataclysm zones.

I'd like to see entire zones if possible, but I'd also like to take advantage of rested experience.  From my experience finishing up Stonetalon mountains and Desolace and starting on Feralas, that'll mean starting at level and becoming too high until you end up skipping a zone.  I enjoyed both new zones and Desolace seemed like a huge improvement from how it was originally.  After all this time I still distinctly remember looking at the quests where I could gain favor with one of the centaur groups but lose favor with the other.  Now the quests have been overhauled to unite the groups, leading to a much more satisfying experience for me at least.

Rediscovering Burning Crusade

I don't remember when, it might have been towards the end of Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King, I decided to create a Draenae Shaman so I could experience the starting zone and the class (since I hadn't done anything significant on the Horde side).  I probably got about half way through Ambermyst Isle when she just became another bank and game mail location where I could send things without losing them.

Finally this month I have finished Ambermyst Isle and am now progressing through Bloodmyst Isle.  I was a little surprise to see there wasn't an achievement for Ambermyst Isle, though I'm doing it more for the experience and the lore than for the achievement.  I've said several times I don't see myself getting the Loremaster achievement, though I guess that could change.  It has been interesting finishing off these different zones together because it is easier to contrast them.  I think it is improved from the original starting zones, but I didn't find it nearly as involving as the Pandaria or Cataclysm zones.

Finishing off zones

As part of finding things to do, I went back and finished a few zones.  Kanter had been fewer than 10 quests from finishing both Blades End Mountain and Nagrand so I finished those off.  The WoW Pro leveling add made it easy to find the quests that I missed and generally it was fun revisiting that world I spent so much time in years ago.  I did run into one dilemma in Nagrand.  I had finished what I thought was all of the quests, but didn't have the achievement.  Eventually I figured out that it was because I hadn't done the Ring of Blood series of quests.  

For those who don't know, this is a series of progressively more difficult fights designed for 5 people that ended with what was at the time a good weapon.  Now it is trivial for a level 90, but when I showed up a level 64 player was already battling.  I had the decision to make whether or not I should help.  I asking the player, but it was a Horde character, and though they responded back, I couldn't read what they said.  I started to watch but once I saw the character have less health than the NPC they were fighting, I decided to help.  I can remember fighting on Timeless Isle and having people stand around as I died when the mob I was fighting had a sliver of health left.  I think it was the better decision given what I know, but others could have fairly acted differently.  After the fight they emoted a 'No' to me, so I think they would have rather tested themselves and it's unfortunate that they probably won't have that chance again with that character.  Certainly if someone asks you not to help them, you shouldn't, but in this case I had to act on the information I had.

Finally, during Wrath I had decided to complete the Icecrown quests with my priest.  She did many of them, but there were a set that required a group and I wasn't able to get a group together (being very late doing the content like I normally am).  Now I was finally able to complete those quests to get the 'Icecrown:  The Final Goal' achievement. I only have 'Into the Basin' to finish the Loremaster of Northrend achievement, so I'll probably get that done with my Death Knight.  I was very pleased with how the Pandaria Loremaster achievement was pretty easily done with two leveling characters and it will be nice to have Northrend done as well.  There really is a big cinematic change from Burning Crusade to Wrath, particularly in the quests.  It was a nice contrast to see them so close together and, again, I think it was an improvement.


I had to create a crest, right?
Introducing the Den of Iorek

For years I've thought about creating a guild to help with my pack rat mentality (yes, selling things would be a better way, but I'm not there).  Finally this last month I received help from my guild mates creating a personal guild, the Den of Iorek.  My favorite pet has always been the first bear that I tamed with the hunter quest around level ten about 10 and a half years ago.  I thought about putting Kanter in the name, but decided I would much rather honor his faithful companion and the character he's named after.  The guild bank seems huge and though it took me a little time to understand how it worked, I have two characters in the guild and the ability to add a whole lot of space for a lot cheaper than the cost of Royal Satchels.

I Can't Heal

About the time Kanter, my hunter, hit level 60 in the original game and I saw the number of hunters in my guild, I thought I'd like to level a priest and heal.  Kantra was born soon after and did some healing in the original dungeons, and even a little in Cataclysm, but never went on any raids.  I was thinking I might try to raid with her in Warlords of Draenor and keep thinking how I might want to prepare for that.  I don't want to do LFR and, even though I started the Legendary Cape quest line, I'd rather play with people I know.  I kept thinking I would try her in the Proving Grounds and finally got to it this month.  

I know Bronze is supposed to be easy, but as someone who has almost never healed and not in years, it was a learning experience.  For those who haven't done it, you travel to the Temple of the White Tiger and talk to an NPC who queues you for a solo scenario.  Once there, you have a series of fights with a five person group and you in the role of Tank, DPS, or Healer.  The first fights start out easy, but they get progressively harder and by the last (5th) fight I was always running out of mana. I think putting down the Lightwell put me over the top.  I guess it should have been obvious, but I've done so few dungeons or raids since the Lightwell was introduced, that I wasn't used to seeing it even.  

At least I was able to do Bronze and it might be enough to let me heal some dungeons or raids.  I would like to go back and try to get the Silver achievement, but I'm not sure I want to work that hard.

What's next

Besides finishing up getting my druid to level 60 and Bloodmyst Isle, I'm not sure what I want to do.  I am close to 100 mounts, so that is certainly achievable.  A day at a time I am producing Jard's Peculiar Energy Source so I should soon have my Sky Golem and Pierre to go with Jeeves.  I'm interested in trying out a monk and that could be a good third character for the Den of Iorek.  Maybe I'll try out my healing in groups and see if that's really something I want to do.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Four at 90

Kantrina on her new chopper!
Over the last two weeks I have leveled my fourth character to 90, my mage, Kantrina.  I probably wouldn't have done it, or at least not so soon, except that I needed to level my Alliance Vanguard reputation for the chopper pictured above and the easiest way to do that was with Heroic WotLK dungeons at level 90.  Once I hit level 90 I had two priorities:

  • Build my farm so I could farm Spirit of Harmony for Engineering recipes 
  • Farm WotLK heroic dungeons for reputation

Both were done in four days.  For the reputation, I just visited the two heroic dungeons in Utgarde Keep right next to where I could buy the Chopper recipe.  At the same time I took my miner out to try to find some Titanium in Icecrown to supplement a few I found cheaply on the auction house.  Finally, all I needed was the three purchased items. However I read that it is possible to harvest them with Engineering off some of the Ulduar bosses and we happened to have a guild trip scheduled there for last Saturday.  I was able to take my Engineer to Ulduar and farm the bosses, but none of the Chopper ingredients dropped.  It was a fun trip anyway and right afterwards I went ahead and spent the several 1000 gold so I could finally build my chopper!

Another temptation over the last two weeks was the "Gaze of the Black Prince" buff which gave you extra reputation and drops for the Legendary cloak quest line.  I farmed the reputation while doing daily Klaxxi quests on my priest and managed to get to honored for the first quest series.  One of the runs netted me 25 Valor and more than 1300 Black Prince reputation, but most days most if not all of the quests weren't for Klaxxi and so wouldn't have earned me reputation.  I considered several times running LFR on her, but never actually did it.  I might still happen, who knows.

Once I had my chopper, I wanted to get started on my other engineering goals, but I needed Schematic: Chief Engineer Jard's Journal which is a random drop when your Engineering is at 600. I went to Timeless Isle so I could get some drops at the same time and after much dying, it finally dropped.  Right now, I'm focused on my daily Jard's Peculiar Energy Source and Living Steel so I can build some of the recipes:

Engineering goals:
Mekgineer's Chopper  Done, hooray!
Sky Golem - 30 of each
Pierre  - 15 of each
Rascal-Bot  - 15 of each
Advanced Refrigeration Unit  - 5 of each (only after the three above recipes)
Lord Blastington's Scope of Doom
Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling
Ghost Iron Dragonling
Geosynchronous World Spinner
Personal World Destroyer

I may not make all of them, but the first four only take time, so I'm pretty sure I'll make them.  I guess these daily profession tasks are a good way to keep people like me subscribed.

I need to figure out what I want to do next.  I guess I will start leveling my Druid, Kantree, in Kalimdor to get him to 60.  I haven't done most of those quests since Cataclysm went live and I'm interested to see how it goes, but I don't have a lot of motivation.  I also in theory would like to try out a druid and he'll probably be my instant 90 (with max skinning and leatherworking at level 60). We'll see if I get distracted with something else.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog reading backlog

Feedly has replaced Google reader, but the backlog is still there
Once again I find myself about a week behind on my blog reading.  After being a week behind two weeks ago, caught up the week after and a week behind again this week, I wonder if others have the same problem and how they deal with it.

I have used Feedly ever since Google Reader stopped working.  I still use the same generally method of categorizing my feeds:

  • Autism related feeds (not many of these currently)
  • General Gaming feeds - not too many of these so I can usually keep up with them
  • MMO feeds - this is the majority of my feeds and I probably get around 30 posts a day on week days.  
  • World of Warcraft specific feeds - I don't have many of these
  • Other feeds - I keep most of the large feeds that I can't keep up with here, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Wow Insider, and Massively.
I like keeping MMORPG in my MMO feed because they always have short header posts and I feel like I can keep up with the news this way and just mark the longer posts I want to read for follow up (though I hardly ever get to them, I feel better marking them).

I also like following many of the blog authors (and others) on Twitter, but I have an even harder time keeping up with it.  I've recently decided that if I try to go back more than 3 hours, I never catch up, so I've given up on those posts though I do wonder about what I've missed.  Here also there are often links I may want to follow up on and I save those to Pocket (and, again, I seldom get back to them).  I do follow Wow Insider, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Massively here and since I never keep up with their posts there is a chance I'll see a post here that I want to read and then I can save it to Pocket (where, I probably won't read them, but, again, it makes me feel better).

Do others have the same issue keeping up with posts?  I truly enjoy reading them and they often inspire me to write something, but I don't seem to have enough time to play, write posts, and read the posts I enjoy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vial of the Sands: Taking others for a ride

I'm not sure Iorek likes travelling with a dragon
Just a quick post to announce that finally, on my 15th Canopic Jar, the recipe for Vial of the Sands dropped. I can now turn into a dragon and give other players a ride on my back.  I'm sure it would have been faster to save up gold and buy it from the auction house, but it is nicer for me to have defeated the RNGer and I have an achievement to show for it.  Who knows, maybe sometime someone will buy the materials and want me to make one for them.