Friday, July 3, 2015

Catching up

My Shipyard

June 2015 was the first time I have gone a month without a post in more than 2 1/2 years (October 2012, I checked).  The good news is that I haven't been idle even though I still don't have a huge motivation to play WoW or any other MMO.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there were a few things I'd like to get done, but wasn't really sure how many I would do.  Since my last post I have sold a few bags a quite a few stacks of food, but I still have hundreds (and for some over a thousand) of the crafting components and don't know what I will do with them.  I raised First Aid to maximum level just by making healing potions, which was the last of the secondary professions.  I also finished all the simple 'Gluttony' achievements, but I still have five left to do, one cooking and four for eating and drinking things.  They will require going back and buying a few items and doing a little bit of fishing from the Cataclysm zones.  This confirms that Cataclysm was the expansion where I was least motivated, but it should be pretty easy to finish them, so I'd like to do that.

The only one of the other activities I listed as possible that I may still do is build the Pet Menagerie.  I have one level 25 pet and another stone to level another, so it should be pretty easy, I'm just still not sure I have the motivation.

Not on my list, but since it is on the requirements for flying, I have started working on the Draenor explorer achievement.  I had one zone done and two others were trivial so I got those out of the way, leaving only three more zones to explore.  I also have the map for the treasures in Gorgond, so I'll try to do them at the same time (which will also help with another of the required achievements for flying).  However, I don't really care about flying that much, so I'm more likely to complete the achievements since I'll be close enough that it will become I nice goal.

I have my shipyard that came with 6.2 and have started completing the missions there.  Right now I have the Battleship and Submarine and I'm trying to level my ships to epic (? whatever purple is), so I'll be more likely to be successful on other missions.  Each ship gains one ability at rare and another at epic and missions require between 1 and 6 abilities, so I'll be much more likely to be able to complete missions successfully if they are epic.  It sounds like there are ways to collect and swap the abilities, but I don't think I can be bothered. I did enough of the dailies in Tanaan Jungle to finish one of my Shipyard quests but, like Timeless Isle, I don't really care for questing there much.  I believe there is a continuation of the Garrison campaign and I would like to do that.  It the end, 6.2 gave me a new set of things to do which has helped, so I consider it a success for me.

One other accomplish that I'd like to do now is level my Mage to 100 so she can craft the highest level gun for my hunter.  I consider every now and then trying to heal on my priest, but I doubt it'll happen at this point.  I just don't see the reward being worth the risk of random groups on either my hunter or my priest.

I made one purchase during the Steam Summer sale, Banished, when it went down to $5.  I had been playing Civilization V, but, even with the recent expansion purchase, I wasn't very motivated.  Banished is similar but nice because it has simpler goals.  I haven't looked up any help from the internet which I think was a wise decision.  I did see where some people were complaining it was too easy, but I am enjoying learning as I go along.  Hopefully I'll have more time to play it and say more about it soon.

Probably the biggest gains I've made in catching up is against my blog feed.  I've gone from hovering around 20 days behind to 6.  I'm hoping I can catch up and that'll encourage me to comment more since I won't feel like my comments are too dated.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

NBI Talkback Challenge - The Seven Gaming Sins

As I mentioned last week, I started this blog during the initial Newbie Blogger Initiative in 2012.  Three years later, I have said a lot of things that I have wanted to say, but I am still a Newbie in that I haven't fallen into a sustainable pattern.  I have followed up some on the others who participated in the original NBI.  This year, I finally caught up with the NBI during it's last week just in time to participate in the last Talkback challenge.  Joseph Skyrim offered the following questions.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?
The reason I am a casual gamer is that I don't have time to do otherwise.  I spoken often in my blog about my desire to keep gaming, but do it in a way that works with my obligations as a father with three children ages 6-12.  One way I am doing that is by not playing games that I wouldn't want my daughters to watch me play.  I don't think there is anything wrong with those games, it just makes it easier for me to integrate my gaming into my life if I don't feel like I should keep the two separate.
Gluttony – Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?
I don't have a ton of games.  My daughters just discovered my PS2 and I never bought that many games for it, but of those I have some you don't 'finish' (e.g. Midway Arcade Treasures) but I only properly finshed one (Baldur's Gate:  Dark Alliance) and that only on the easiest level.  One thing I decided is to not buy bundles though I often look at them.  I don't have much time for gaming so I'd rather spend a little more to get one game that I will enjoy and provide a little more money for the developer rather than get 10 games and only try out one or two.  I also like games that don't really have an ending like MMOs and the Civilization games, so I have plenty of those to keep me busy.
Greed – Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?
I usually decide not to do things because of time.  It does appeal to me quite a bit if I can accomplish multiple things at the same time, so if I have something I'm interested in doing and then they allow me to accomplish something else at the same time (whether it's an achievement or some more tangible reward) and more likely to do it.
Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?
I don't intentionally leach in a party, but since my play time is less than most others, I am always behind and often feel like I am not pulling my wait.  This is a big reason I don't group much any more other than in old content where I know I won't be slowing others down.
Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?
Never.  My play time is casual and if I'm not enjoying it, I'm going to walk away.  Also, since I don't do a lot of group activity and that is normally with my guild, I don't have a lot of opportunity.  I guess that's one benefit to being a casual player.
Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?
Yes, I sometimes try to figure out how to participate in end game content again, wish I could, but because of my limited playtime, I usually can't.  But it would never occur to me that others are cheating, just that they play more than I do, which is both a good and a bad thing.  
Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?
I feel like I already answered this question.  I'm casual and so I know I'll never be 'elite.'  Part of the reason I started my blog is because I felt like I had a different perspective from most gamers who blog.  A perspective of one who is a gamer who plays more casually than most and whose perspective is often overlooked my more serious gamers, though I think it is often considered by the game companies.  This questionnaire has again made me feel a little out of the norm, but not in a bad way.
It was nice to participate in this year's NBI, even if it's in a small way.  Good luck to all those who started new blogs.  I hope you enjoy them for a long time and others do as well!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: The Garrison Campaign

Kantra riding an Amperial Construct in front of her Nagrand portal in her Mage Tower

It has been a long time since I last posted.  I'm hoping to at least get back to a weekly post.  Thank you for those of you who are still reading!

Sometimes in a game when I get close to completing something, I stop and do something else.  It isn't a conscious decision, but I just don't want to do that last step.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I think part of my unconscious reasoning is that I'm enjoying it, I'm not sure what to focus on yet and it's easier if I just don't complete it.

This happened to me with the Garrison Campaign.  I have had one mission to complete for a few months now, but I finally completed it last weekend.  In a month where Blizzard has  taken some heat for losing 3 million subscribers and doing things wrong, I do think this was a good idea for casual players like myself.  In previous expansions, it felt like the only way to get the end game story was to participate in a raid or a long set of daily quests.  I do agree with others that it was advertised as well as it could have been, though I don't have a specific suggestion how they should have done it.

Almost simultaneously to completing the Garrison campaign, I also completed the Got My Mind on Draenor Money achievement which let me upgrade my Garrison Bank and have my own Traders for Transmogrification and Void Storage which is nice.  I have upgraded most of the buildings to level 3 now.  I may try to level the Trading Post since I have quite a few tokens that can help with the reputations.  I am not at all interested in PvP, so I'll never get the Gladiator's Sanctum.  The Inn is unlikely since I haven't been doing dungeons, but I guess there is still a chance I will do them with my priest who should be overpowered with Garrison gear.  The Mage Tower doesn't seem worth grinding all those Ogres and we'll have to see if I ever decide to build and upgrade the Pet Menagerie.  It's possible since it is a solo friendly activity.

Speaking of the Mage Tower, I did finally grind enough Ogres for one of the ports and chose the one in Nagrand since it's the most difficult to get to.  I was trying to figure out what the Amperial Construct was for and read that it allows you to port between two places in your Garrison.  I will definitely be using that to port to my Salvage Yard from my mail box since I do that everyday.

I will be sticking around to see WoW 6.2 and see what is in it, particularly since I can pay for it with game gold now, but I doubt I'll still be playing at the end of July.  Hopefully more about that in another post.

Since my last post a month ago, I reached my three year anniversary on 5/5, as part of the original Newbie Blogger Initiative.  The 2015 version will be done in a week, but you can still join at their web site.  Maybe I'll even take part in the last talk-back challenge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: My Two Day Cycle

Kanter with his upgraded gun and swirly belt

Since my last post, I accomplished two of my likely goals in World of Warcraft:  getting the Gun and Gloves for Kanter and getting Archaeology to 700.  Next on my list is what I am calling my 'Gluttony Achievement.'  I have a lot of food being passed around between different characters since it isn't worth much but I hate to sell it.  This will be a great way for me to get a little use out of it getting the food achievements and then I should feel better selling it.

I thought I'd talk a little about my daily ritual.  I am not playing much (part of the reason I want to quit), but I only think I've missed one or two days of these tasks in the last couple of months because they are pretty painless.  At one point I was trying to harvest the mine five characters and it just took took much time.

On the two level 100 characters (Kanter and Kantra) I do the following:
  • Complete missions
  • Visit the Salvage Yard.  The BoE items go to my Mage, Kantrina.
  • Upgrade followers from the items
  • Run the missions with the priority on the weekly raid item, then leveling followers, then gold or items to upgrade my followers
  • Harvest herbs (both are level 3)
  • Harvest ore (one level 3, one level 2 since I didn't want to spend the extra time harvesting the level 3 mine since I didn't need the ore)
  • Gather the built up crafting resources, do the daily crafting and replenishing the crafting resources (Alchemy on Kanter and Enchanting and Tailoring on Kantra)
  • Since Kanter only has one craft, I have a bank and deposit everything extra there.  Kantra has to go to Stormshield every week or so to put things in the bank.
In addition on Kanter I:
  • Visit the Dwarven Bunker.  My followers are pretty well equipped (670 iLvl+) at this point from the bunker, the salvage yard and missions.
  • Visit the Trading Post.  There is a different item that you turn in that builds garrison resources over time
  • Get my daily 'Savage Blood' transmute.  It requires the Alchemy resource and a potion made out of the standard fish, both of which I'm swimming in.

On Kantra I:

  • Gather the components from the Barn (if available).
  • Visit the Inn weekly to get a new follower.
I was gathering hides for tailoring but now I'd rather go to Nagrand for the elite hides that provide Savage Blood for crafting, but, as mentioned before, I can't solo it yet.

Every other day I do the following on my other three characters that have Garrisons:

  • Complete the missions
  • Start new missions
  • Gather the built up crafting resources, do the daily crafting and replenishing the crafting resources
This is pretty quick and so I can usually do everything in 45 minutes or less every day.  I also try to go through my BoE items that have accumulated on Kantrina weekly and auction, sell or disenchant them.  I don't sell a lot of them these days, but it can get a lot more gold than disenchanting them if I'm lucky enough to find a buyer.

There is so much more I could be doing even in addition to my wish list from last week, but I don't have the motivation.  I see that 6.2 is in the works.  I think I may stick around to see what's there before I take my next break.  I am looking forward to other games, maybe I'll say more about that next time.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Heading Downhill

Selfie at my Garrison with Iorek (no, I didn't use the tweet feature)
I haven't posted for a while because I haven't had a lot of motivation to play recently.  Once I reached level 100 on my priest I realized I don't want to do the group activities and I haven't had much else I wanted to do.  I did upgrade her garrison so I have a salvage yard in addition to the crafting building and that has been nice.  I made one unsuccessful to use the large traps with her in Shadow form along with her bodyguard.  I also went once with a guild mate which was nice and I may try as a Holy priest healing her bodyguard and see how that goes.

I have modified my Garrison pattern because it was taking too much time.  Now I only visit the garrison of my two level 100 characters and do all the daily tasks.  For the other three characters, I only go every other day and only perform the mission and craft tasks.  Mining takes too much time (to do it five times) and I'm satisfied with taking enough advantage of the crafting dailies every other day.

There are things that I want to do before I quit again, and others that I may do, and some I probably won't do.

Want to do:

  • Craft gun and, possibly, gloves for my hunter, Kanter.  I have a high level bow from a mission, but I always think Dwarves look better with a gun and I like using crafting.  The gloves are the last thing keeping me from getting the Epic achievement and are also significantly lower iLvl than the rest of my gear.  I need more Savage blood for this, but through the transmute and the ability to gather it through the Barn, I should be ok.  I could use some of my Primal Spirit for it if needed as well.
  • Use crafting and sell the proceeds.  Every expansion I always build up a lot of crafting items but usually don't use them.  With the Garrison dailies, I've had incentive to gather even more than usual.  This time I'd like to actually use them.  This should also get all my crafting professions to 700 except for Inscription (see below).
  • Finish the Garrison Campaign.  I have been on the last step for more than a month now and haven't bothered to finish those quests.
  • Use the Mage Tower in my Garrison.  I have tried all the buildings in the Garrison except the PvP specific Gladiator's Sanctum, the Mage Tower, and the Pet Menagerie (see below).  I have no desire to try out PvP but I'd like to at least see how the Mage Tower that allows fast travel around Draenor works.
  • Advance Secondary Professions to 700.  Fishing is already at 700. I have a lot of spare fish and meat so cooking should be trivial.  Archaeology will be a little more work, but I'm already over 600 and I'd like to get it done before I quit.
  • Build Level 3 Storagehouse.  I'm less than 250 gold from being able to build it, so it'll be nice to have void storage access even if I don't use it much.
  • Gluttony Achievements.  I have food in storage and being mailed back and forth between different toons.  It should be trivial for me to have Kanter have a gluttony day and eat everything he needs for several achievements.
May do:
  • Build the Pet Menagerie.  With 6.2 Blizzard provided a stone that allows each level 100 character to advance a pet to level 25 (the highest level).  With the two I have it should be a pretty easy task to finish the battles to build it.  However, since I don't see myself using it, I'm not sure I can be bothered.  The completionist in me may be motivated by being so close to having all the garrison buildings that I might actually get it done.
  • Level Bodyguard.  My priest has been using her bodyguard some but doesn't have much reputation with him.  I'm told there are places where it is easy to build the reputation.  If I'm going to quit anyway, I'm not sure it makes sense, but I could at least see how the reputation helps.
  • Achieve Silver on Healing Proving Grounds.  This is required for Heroics and I'd like to get it done, but since my motivation for both dungeons and raids is pretty low, I'm not sure it's worth the bother.
Probably won't do:
  • Build Level 3 Trading Post.  I only need to get one Draenor reputation to exalted and at least one is close, but I don't feel much need to do this.
  • Build Auction House access in Trading post.  This required 18 different parts from zones, dungeons, raids, invasions and other thing.  I have two so far, but I don't think I can be bothered with this.
  • Build Level 3 Pet Menagerie.  This would require quite a bit of pet battling and while I might do the little bit to build the building, I'd be very surprised if I did enough to level it.
  • Raid.  I have a decent iLvl on my hunter and could probably build it on my priest pretty quick, but I don't have much desire either for LFR or for trying to become a regular in my guilds raids.
  • Complete Legendary quests.  This would require both heroic dungeons and raids and I just don't think that's what I want to work on.
  • Level Death Knight, Kintri, to 90 and build Garrison.  She is level 80 and it probably wouldn't be that difficult, but I don't care much for the Cataclysm leveling and don't think I can be bothered.
  • Advance Inscription to 700.  I would probably need to level my Death Knight to do this.  It would be nice to have all professions at max level for the first time ever for me, but not enough to do the leveling (at least not today with the above priorities).
  • Complete Draenor starting area quests.  I have a Draenor Shaman sitting at level 17 or so that could pretty easily complete the remainder of the starting area.  However, there isn't any incentive outside of having done it, so I don't see it happening.
There are a lot of other things I probably won't do, but those are the most likely of the unlikely ones.  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MMO Game Journalism

Blizzard Watch Image

Massively Overpowered Image
Two new MMO gaming journalism sites replacing those of Joystiq
It has been a little over three weeks since there was an official announcement on Massively that it would be shutting down along with the other MMO site on Joystiq, World of Warcraft Insider.  Almost immediately many of the people from World of Warcraft Insider announced a new site, Blizzard Watch that would depend on Patreon for funding.  A few days later, the people from Massively announced a Kickstarter campaign for initial funding for Massively Overpowered.

Let me start by saying I admire the dedication of the staff of both sites for starting off on their own with little knowledge of whether the funding would work or not.  I admire the work they have done on both their old and new sites and I am grateful that they are funded.  There are a few gaming magazines still around but few sites focused on MMOs like these two are and there was really nothing to take their place.

However, since this is my site that takes a rather different view of MMOs, one of a person who spends much less time than the average MMO blogger playing or reading about MMOs, I want to express my own view of these actions as well.  I truly hope they both succeed long term and I know the games I enjoy playing will be less successful without them, but I've discovered again that these sites aren't for me.

As I started reading MMO blogs, it didn't take me long to find these two sites with a wealth of information about MMOs.  I subscribed to them in Google Reader but left them uncategorized because I didn't want to have to go through all their posts while reading the more person posts of the blogs I read.  There were times when I read the posts, even a one or two times when I caught up with all that they wrote, but, for the most part, they would sit in Reader, untouched while I read the other MMO posts.

When Blizzard Watch opened up, I immediately subscribed and for almost two weeks I kept up with their posts.  I was even excited about their success.  However, soon I found that there was too much information in those posts that I didn't really care about and the list of unread posts went from 10 to 20 and I came to the realization that, once again, this isn't for me.

Let me add that I believe we need game journalism and that both of the sites deserve to be called that.  People should be paid to get the news out and express informed decisions about MMOs.  I enjoy the writing on both these sites, it's just too much for the time it takes.  It's sort of like the five Garrisons I have in World of Warcraft.  For several weeks I kept up with all of them, but then, even though individually I enjoyed the activity, if I spend more than 30 minutes on them, it feels more like a chore than entertainment.

I do subscribe to MMORPG on my news feed (now Feedly).  I don't think they are better than these other sites, they are just better for me.  I find the writing more enjoyable on Massively (now MO) and World of Warcraft Insider (now Blizzard Watch), but MMORPG is good about have a short, 3 or 4 line intro that goes on the feed.  I can read this and pretty much get the information I want and, if it's a game I don't care about, I can just skip to the next post, having spent only a few seconds to determine whether I'm interested or not.  

I feel some guilt that I almost never visit MMORPG and so they aren't earning money from me directly that way.  I feel some guilt that I gain from Massively Overpowered and  Blizzard Watch, but don't fund them either.  However, I've decided that there are others who have more time to spend on these games for whom visiting these sites is a natural extension of that time.  I get to benefit from those who spend that time, and that's a good thing.  Just like those who play World of Warcraft for many more hours a week for the same $15, benefit from the fact that I'm a casual player of the game.  I can't keep tallies of how much I owe and whether I'm ahead or behind.  I don't really care (other than feeling some guilt if I might be behind in my investment).  Like many things in life, they are best enjoyed and, usually, in the long run, things work out.

I hope for success for all three sites.  I think they all provide a valuable service for those of us who play these games.  To all three I say:  Congratulations on your success so far and I hope you, and these games, are around for many years to come!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Daybreak Games Company (formerly known as SOE)

SOE Sign
Picture courtesy of Massively (somewhat ironically)
We had two significant changes in the MMO area over the last two weeks, both involving large companies who no longer want to play in that space.

Sony sold Sony Online Entertainment to a holding company and it became Daybreak Games Company.  This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.  It makes sense that they would like to go into both XBox and mobile gaming and neither works so well with Sony as their owner.  However, because this is a holding company and they typically want to see changes and profits quickly, the announcement was very quickly followed by the announcement of large and significant layoffs.

President John Smedley says that work on Everquest Next and their other projects continues, but I would expect one of two things to happen.  It is possible that the buyers see EQ Next as a large source of potential profits and the schedule gets accelerated.  As someone who works in software, I know that sometimes lower scope and delivering something more quickly is the right thing to do and that might happen here.  However, there is a high likelihood that the smaller scope alienates much of their fanbase and possibly the more likely outcome is that it gets cancelled.  

AAA MMOs are so expensive and complicated that most of them end up having disappointing releases.   If you look at the potential profits in mobile gaming and MOBAs compared to the cost, MMOs are a huge risk.  I'd expect to see something in the mobile arena pretty quickly.  Hopefully it won't just be a Hearthstone, League of Legends, or Clash of Clans clone, but those would be the most obvious choices.  A console game is also on the wish list.  They already produced Champions of Norrath but that was more than 10 years ago.  My personal feeling is that the prospects for Everquest Next have gotten worse.  It will either be rushed and not the revolution SOE proclaimed it to be or cancelled.

The other huge change was the closure of Joystiq, publishers of both Massively and WoW Insider by AOL.  I've decided to save that for another post.