Monday, January 19, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Time away

Where most of my time has been spent in game.

The last two weeks I haven't played World of Warcraft or any MMO much.  As is usually the case, it isn't so much the game as it is not knowing what I want to do and real life getting in the way. 

For most of the last week I have been visiting my parents and they don't have internet access.  I visited Chik-fil-a one day to use their free wifi in order to do my garrison runs on my 5 characters that have a garrison and make sure none of the mail I send between characters gets deleted but I have managed to do without.  It has been good to spend time with my parents and let them get to know my youngest daughter better.

Prior to that, I still wasn't playing much.  I raised Kanter's (my Hunter) iLevel to over 635 with a nice upgrade from a garrison quest and I have plenty of parts for everything I want except for my gun upgrades for Kanter.  I finally raised my x to level two for my priest, Kantra, so she can have a tank as a companion.  It does make questing and gathering a lot easier on her and I now plan to do the same for my mage.  I don't think it would make much of a difference for Kanter since he hasn't had issues anything he has done, but for a cloth not pet class, I can see it as a big help.

This should have encouraged me to level my priest since it'll be easier and it will give me access to the Savage Blood from her barn needed for the gun upgrade mentioned above but I just haven't allocated the time to do it.  I also still have four Heroic Dungeon quests that I would like to get done with Kanter but I really don't like queueing for anything in WoW.  Part of my reluctance is that since I don't play that much I don't know the fights and I don't have confidence in my ability to contribute.  Also, I'd rather use my limited play time in an environment where I know I won't run across bad attitudes.


Since I started this blog, I wanted to be able to enjoy an MMO where I only spent one night playing it in a dedicated way.  That was the origin of this blog's name.  Right now, I am squeezing in time to do my garrison activities and, while I enjoy that, too, I don't have time where I am making real progress and once I get back home, I will try to set aside a night to do that.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year: 2014 Data and 2015 Thoughts


2015 is here!  Happy New Year!

I have been reading a lot of end of year summaries and I decided there is value in being able to look at a post and see a review of the previous year and thoughts on the year to come for myself.  Hopefully others will enjoy it as well.

This Blog

Blog posts total:  66 (not counting this one)
Blog posts in 2014: 28
Blog posts in 2013: 24
Blog posts in 2012: 14 (My first year blogging)

Eventually I'd like to post once a week but I'm fine with just over every other week and I'm glad I made a few more posts this year than last.  It shows that I'm not losing interest.  This is a casual gaming blog and it wouldn't be casual if I was posting every day.

Games Played

As of 12/31/2014, Raptor shows my game time as:

Dungeon Defenders

6.5 hrs
Hearthstone

1 hr
Civilization V
1 day
2 hrs
Mass Effect

2 hrs
Minecraft

1.25 hrs
World of Warcraft
43 days
4 hrs
Cook, Serve, Delicious

2.75 hrs
Dust  

1.25 hrs
Total
44 days
19.25 hrs

I didn't record these hours last year, so I don't know what was from 2013.  Not surprisingly, World of Warcraft dominated my time (96% of my time recorded by Raptor).  As you can see I sampled several other games but other than Civilization V and possibly Dungeon Defenders I didn't really get involved in them.

Other games played:
Final Fantasy XIV
Don't Starve Together
Plant's vs Zombies (phone and Kindle)
The Tribez (phone)

I'd estimate I played a few hours each of Final Fantasy XIV and Don't Starve Together (Beta).  I have set up tracking for Don't Starve since I expect to be playing it more with my daughter.  I'm not counting casual games like Sudoku or 2048 (my blog, my rules).

Other 2014 events

Gamersgate was a big event in 2014.  I hope we have confronted the ugly side of gaming and that it didn't just become a chance for many people to talk to those that agree with them and entrench their positions.  If enough people condemn the treatment of women within some games and by many in the game community it will change, even if it won't go away all at once.  Even though I don't play as much as many others, I still consider myself a gamer and that we shouldn't let some people usurp that label with actions I and most others who play games won't accept.

Looking forward to in 2015

I'll be interested to see how long I keep playing Warlords of Draenor.  I have exceeded 630 iLevel so I could raid with my guild, but I'm not sure I want to.

The only new MMO I think I might play is Shroud of the Avatar.  It is possible I will go back and play Star Wars the Old Republic.  I have two characters there and since it's free to play it would be pretty easy to try it out again.

Once my activity in WoW settles down it may be a chance for me to enjoy some single player games or games with my daughters again.  We played Dungeon Defenders and Minecraft some (two of my daughters now play Minecraft, but I've never played it much myself). I have 24 games on my Steam wish list but even though many just went on sale, I didn't think I'd be playing them soon, so I decided to wait.  As of today, the most likely one for me to get is Banished but if I get in a strategy mood and don't want to play Civilization, I might play Age of Wonders 3 once the price goes down to $10 or less.  I played a lot of the first two versions.  I would be surprised if I pay much more than $10 for any single player game (I paid more than that for Don't Starve, but I received two copies, so I still paid less than $10 per copy).

I enjoy gaming and I expect it to remain a part of my life, but I have learned to adapt it to the other things happening around it in my life, rather than the other way around.  Whatever 2015 holds, I am sure it won't be something I expect, but that is one of the pleasures of life.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Trials

Not really related, but I did try out the (a?) glider in Nagrand with my Talbuk
I hope everyone reading had a Merry Christmas and has a Happy New Year!  I did quite a bit these last two weeks.  I hope this doesn't just come off as a list.

Followers:
I have my 20 Followers on Kanter and can't decide if I want to level my Barracks or replace it with another building so it stays at level 1 for now.   My Salvage Yard finally coughed up some armor for my followers so now I have 3 iLevel 630 followers and they give me better quests including some for more follower gear.  The iLevel 630 quests also give iLevel 640 (?) gear for my character so that's been a nice boost for him.

Alts:
My first two characters, my hunter and priest were pretty well set.  I knew I was going to use my Druid, Kantree, to instant level to 90 since he had two professions none of my other 90 toons had (leatherwork and skinning).  Once I used the instant level, I had to try out the intro quest and once he had the Garrison, he needed to be able to use the Barn and by that point, it made sense to get him to 92 for the Mine.

By the time Kanter hit 100, I was starting to accumulate a lot of things to be Disenchanted by my enchanter, Kantrina, so I thought I should get him a Garrison, too so I could use the materials and since she is also an Engineer, it only made sense to get the level 2 Garrison so she could start producing the Engineering dailies as well.  Once you have the level 2 garrison, you might as well get to level 92 so you can get the Mine again, right?

At this point my enchanter had used up most of her supplies on the dailies and work orders and I had a surplus of ore to use.  Someone suggested that I could use the ore with a Blacksmith to get more enchanting supplies, so I started leveling my Blacksmith Warrior, Kantro.  Once he had the Forge I could have stopped, but it didn't seem right that my only miner didn't have a mine, so today he reached level 92.  This is what leads to having  five toons with Mines.  I have gone back to leveling my priest who was stuck at level 94 and I'm looking forward to having a level 3 Barn and to try out the Inn with her (assuming I ever learn how to heal).  Right now I'm happy with where my other toons are, but I suspect there will be something that encourages me to do more than the work orders, crafting dailies, mining, and follower missions.  It does take some time just to do that.

Stables:
I spoke about the stables in my last post and at this point have 7 of the 8 mounts you can get from them (and the Mountain o' Mounts achievement).  I am glad I had vacation because it did take a little while to bring all 6 mounts each day to their next battle.  The battles were not difficult for my hunter though it was odd not having a pet.  Each mount takes between 7 and 12 battles but the way I did them (maybe it's how it always works out), there were always two on the same battle each day so I would have three places to visit each day and the respawns were pretty quick.  If you have a specific item in your pack when you defeat the last of these battles, you also get one more mount, a pretty cool armored pig, so I got that as well.  There is an 8th mount available for completing these battles with another more difficult item in your pack, but I'm in no rush to get it.

Trials:
I knew if I wanted to go on Heroic Dungeons or raids I would need to complete the Silver Proving grounds achievement, so I started working on it a couple weeks ago.  Leveling a hunter is very easy (after leveling the priest, druid, mage and warrior, I know this well), so I wasn't very well prepared for it.  I first had to figure out the best way to get AOE damage (I needed to put Barrage on my bar and I learned that using multishot causes my pet to do AOE damage, too).  Then it was more a matter of practice.  Learning to move and shoot again.  Learning to interrupt when needed.  Learning to more quickly switch targets.  I play on a laptop and for questing it's fine, but for this I had to move to where I had larger monitor and a mouse rather than just a track pad.  I did eventually get the Silver achievement and went on my first (and only so far) heroic random dungeon.  I thought the trials were pretty effective and I'm sure I'll do better DPS (particularly for AOE) and I'll be more likely to hit interrupts because of it.

Molten Core:
I thought that I would work on the Legendary ring quests this weekend, but one night a few people in my guild said they'd be going to Molten Core so I went along.  I've heard nightmare stories about some of these runs, but this went pretty well.  We did have one point where someone added a second hound pack in the middle of when we were fighting the first and they kept regenerating until someone manufactured a wipe.  Otherwise I think there may have been one other wipe, but after my experiences in Vanilla, this was trivally easy and it was fun to see it again on level.  Yes, I am now a proud owner of a Core Hound Mount more than a week before it'll be done!

It's been a busy week (and yes, I played more than one night this last week ;)).  I still don't have a definite direction.  I would like to work on the Ring quest with Kanter but would rather go with someone in my guild if I can.  I would like to try a Normal raid with the guild as well thought I'm not interested in being good enough to do Heroic or Mythic and I don't want to get in the way.  I'll be interested in leveling my Priest to 100 and then trying the Healing proving grounds.  I mentioned before I had finished Bronze during Pandaria.  Once I get that done, I would like to try to do the daily Inn quests on her, but that means dealing with random groups and I'm not sure how that will go.  I'm still doing the fishing dailies and I'm about half way to getting my level 3 Fishing Shack which will lead to another series of tasks for Nat Pagle.  There is also the Pet Menagerie just sitting there with an available quest and Syl kindly provided a guide for a newbie like me (I think my highest level pet is level 4 and I only did that because my daughter wanted to try it).

I have plenty to keep me busy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Level 100


Kanter flying on a flight path since no flying otherwise in Draenor

Recently Kanter reached the new max level,100, in World of Warcraft.  As is the case these days, this isn't as much a sign of completion as an ability to start many other things.

Before I go into the future, I want to talk about questing.  I liked the Yrel story as much as I've seen it.  I've done all the quest achievements except for Nagrand and I have no desire to do the 'Bonus Objectives,' areas where you kill so many of different kinds of mobs for a reward.  That said, I liked the Pandaria quests better.  I seem to be in the minority, but I liked the stranger in a strange land setting and I think the time travel is something of a cop out, though I understand why they did it.  More on that in another post if I ever get to it.

The Garrison has a lot to keep me busy, maybe too much.  I feel compelled to get all my herbs and ore every day, along with the daily crafting activities.  Kanter is doing the Alchemy dailies, Kantra, the Tailor and Jewelcrafting ones, and Kantree has just started the Leatherworking ones.  Note that they mostly aren't daily quests just daily activities at the garrison station and daily cooldowns for core crafting components.  That is an improvement from Pandaria:  you don't feel overwhelmed with dozens of dailies once you reach max level.

Kanter picked the Lumber Mill  as his first middle size plot item and harvesting has been happening pretty naturally along with quests.  It does seem to keep my garrison stocked with the supplies I need.  I've only had to wait overnight once to build or expand on a plot.  I'm also looking forward to getting the Follower who works in the Lumber Mill.

When I improved my garrison to level 3, I received three new plots and got the Stables, Trading Post, and Salvage Yard.  I really like that the Stables displays a random set of my mounts every day.  I also like the quests to raise more mounts, but it's becoming too much now with four mounts I'm working on at the same time.  I'd rather they would have serialized them.  You don't have to take all the quests but it'll be difficult for me to not work on all of them and with six to work on, that will be a lot.  The ability to gather while mounted is very helpful and with it and the speed buff at level 3, I don't think I'll ever get rid of it (particularly since I can play with the other buildings on my alts).

The Trading Post has been neutral.  As of now it's just a way to turn gathered ingredients into garrison provisions.  I like the Lumber Yard better for that, but I may eventually not want to wander around and I can get the components her from the Herb Garden and Mine located in the garrison.  The Auction House would be nice to have, but it looks like it won't be easy to get it.

So far, the Salvage Yard has been a bust.  Only some of the garrison quests yield salvage and I haven't gotten anything interesting from it.

I'm also not very happy with the Garrison quests.  I've only tried to solo quest and it seemed too crowded and took too long.  The second time wasn't as bad because there were fewer people, but I still don't like it.  I had the option for a similar quest with the same 800 Apexis Crystal reward at Socretar's Rise but when I completed my quests there, I was only 18% done and couldn't be bothered to grind the rest.

I've always found Fishing to be a relaxing diversion in WoW even though I don't like it in real life.  I'm using the dailies to get my 100 fish of six different types for Draenor Fisherman achievement.  After that, I can work on getting Nat Pagel as a follower.

When I started, I thought I would probably advance my Hunter and Priest close together, but I've been focusing on my Hunter, Kanter, so far, probably a sign that I'm not that interested in group quests.  I would like to have my Mage, Kantrina, have access to the Enchanting and Engineering plots, but I don't have any incentive yet to bring my Warrior since mining isn't an issue with the Garrison mines and nothing is compelling me to get Blacksmithing at this time.

In summary, I'm enjoying Warlords of Draenor, but I'm not sure I'll do much group content.  The Garrison works well integrating a base into the game and the quests have pulled me along, but so far I can't be bothered to gear up for the normal end game content.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Embracing being Casual in Warlords of Draenor

Newly groomed Kanter and Iorek enjoying his Level 2 Garrison

So after some contemplation, I decided 1 week after the release of the Warlords of Draenor (WoD) expansion for World of Warcraft was a reasonable time to wait until I bought it.  I knew I couldn't keep up with others, so buying it early or on the first day seemed to not be acknowledging how I am playing the game.  By waiting a week, I not only missed the issues people were having the first few days (although I did have a queue one time trying to farm) but it let me avoid the rush mentality.  Thanks to Erinys for commenting on my earlier post and letting me know I'm not the only blogger who doesn't have to start on the first day.

At this point I have brought three characters into Draenor.  My Hunter, Kanter, pictured above, was always my first character to do anything and still is the most comfortable character to solo.  He is now level 92, has completed the quest achievement in Shadowmoon Valley, has a level 2 Garrison and is ready to go to Gorgrond.

As I had mentioned previously, I leveled my Druid, Kantree, to 60 so I could use my instant 90 on him and also get a max level (pre-WoD) leatherworker and skinner.  I wanted to see how that worked and let two of my daughters watch as I went through the intro series of quests on him.  My daughters like the new armor, but it was pretty much all replaced during those first few quests.  Also, even though I had reasonable size bags they were all replaced and the content ended up in my mail.  This was a good thing since I didn't need most of it.  One observation, my BoP bags were no longer bound, so I could use them on another character if I wanted to.

When I first took him to Draenor he had the same set of quests as Kanter, but he only started with three abilities.  As we went through the quests, abilities were added three or four at a time.  I didn't see much benefit to this for me and it was rather annoying to only have travel form when the quest chain was almost over.  There was no explanation on how to use the skills at all.  Kantree has his level 1 Garrison with a Leatherworking building and hasn't done much other than send Followers on missions since then.

This does bring up one thing I wish I knew before I started WoD.  After doing the initial quests, I tried to find the profession trainers, even flying back to Stormwind to see if they were there.  It turns out you get the max level gathering (skinning, herbalism, and mining), archaeology, and fishing skills by using them.  For me, they happened within the first few times I used them (certainly it was not more than 5).  The archaeology one came with the first time I built an artifact.  All the other professions (First Aid, Cooking and the other primary profession) came from drops before I hit level 91.

Finally, I've always wanted to try a healer in groups though I've only ever done a few dungeons.  Still, I have started leveling my priest, Kantra, as well and she also has her level 2 garrison with her Tailoring and Jewelcrafting buildings.  Once she hits level 92, she'll go directly to Gorgrond and I'll plan to alter completing zones between the two of them.

I've been having fun with all the new content.  Yrel (a Draenei NPC) is a good conduit to seeing someone stand and grow in response to the Iron Horde and I liked the plot of Shadowmoon Valley.  I don't love the whole time-travel aspect of it (that will probably be another post) but you don't really see any of that as you are playing.  I have been caught up in the garrison mini-game, putting all my followers on missions each time I play.  It has taken my management playtime, so I stopped playing The Tribez that I mentioned in my last post.

I hope all of you who have chosen to play WoD are having fun.  For those of you who aren't, hopefully this gives a little view of what the first few days were like for this casual player.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Other Games While Waiting

Definitely not an MMO
While waiting for Warlords of Draenor to come out and trying to decide when I'll actually buy it, I've been playing other games more.  Now, on the day it has arrived, I figure I'll post about it.

About two months ago, as my time in World of Warcraft was becoming less, I started playing Civilization V again.  I played the original game and Civilization 2 a lot but have only played the others sparingly because each game takes so much time.  I at least finished two games, but it may take too much time for me to really get into it.

I was looking for a game for my cell phone that is more involved than 2048 or Sudoku and Tobald mention The Tribez as an aside in one of his posts, so I decided to try it.  As a typically city builder, there are built in delays on how often you can do things, so it works as a two to three times a day game and has a minor plot and quests to keep you working on goals.  However, like many of these games, the time increases as your cities grow and the goals take longer to reach.  I'm still playing, but as some point soon I might decide that it is more of a chore than fun.  The free to play model is very fair.  I've thought about paying to speed up some things, but never have and don't feel any real need to do it.

I downloaded Plants vs Zombies soon after I got my original Kindle Fire and eventually played through 'Doctor Zomboss' and stopped.  My youngest daughter discovered it and youtube 'Let's Play' videos about it and it got me interested again.  A relatively basic tower defense game where most of the levels are not too difficult but they throw in ones where you can only use the plants they provide which can sometimes be impossible based on what you get first.  Still, it is enough fun that I've played through it again, on my second, more difficult fight against Doctor Zomboss and playing with the mini-games.

Finally, I picked up 'Cook, Serve, Delicious' on a recent Steam sale for $5.  I had read some blog posts about it (I wish I could find them) where people were having fun playing it together.  It requires you to press specific buttons in a sequence to cook food and perform other tasks like cleaning the dishes.  During 'Rush Hour' it's fast enough that I can't get them all done correctly, but it's amazing how the muscle memory forms.  I haven't played it that much yet, but it has a real 'just one more turn' hook and was a game I stayed up too long one night playing which is a recommendation in my book.

For all of you playing Warlords of Draenor, have fun!  I'm still behind on reading my news feed but I'll be interested to hear your impressions and will be there eventually.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Expansion Malaise

The bank and bags were almost full 2 seconds earlier!
The time just before an expansion should be exciting.  All that new content just around the corner when there have been so few changes for so long.  For me, that hasn't been the case since Burning Crusade.  In fact, for every World of Warcraft expansion since then, I took a break at the beginning of the expansions before burning through the content rather than afterwards.

As a casual gamer, I know I can't keep up with the people who quickly level their characters so they can get to the max level content.  I'm fine with that.  I remember joking with someone that it took me three weeks to level my first character while it took him three days in Burning Crusade.  However, even though I am OK with the amount of time I have to play computer games most of the time, it is difficult not to get caught up in the excitement when an expansion comes out.

This is why I took a break just before Wrath of the Lich King came out.  I knew I had been playing more than I should and I knew I'd just want to play more if I got the expansion.  I was able to enjoy that break and bought the expansion when the price came down and enjoyed it without experiencing much of the end game content.  When Cataclysm came out, I thought I had developed the right balance and bought the expansion right away, but almost immediately unsubscribed when I wanted to play more than I could.  That led to my decision with Mists of Pandaria to look for a more casual friendly game and then to wait again until the price came down and enjoy the leveling and other parts of the game like professions.

A month ago I was of the opinion that with the new Flex raids, I would get the expansion at the start, go through my normal casual leveling pace, and still enjoy a weekly casual raid with my guild.  Now that the pre-patch is out, I'm finding I don't want to play and really have very mixed feelings about getting the expansion at the beginning.

This malaise has caused me to play very little and not post for almost three weeks.  I've also almost stopped reading blog posts as well, something that I normally really enjoy.  I played through the pre-patch quests on one character, looked at all the new models (I'm fine with my Dwarfs, Humans, Night Elves and Draenei, but I had to change my gnome and still wish I could find one as cute as she was pre-patch), and found the magic of larger stacks and the resource tab button that creates huge amounts of bag and bank space.

Ironically this makes it easier for me to quit, because as a pack rat, I normally have many mails being sent between characters containing all the food and crafting materials I don't have a need for but can't bring myself to sell.  Now with the guild bank space in my new personal guild and all the extra bag and bank space, I've already retrieved most of my mails and it'll be easy to get the rest without having to make any hard decisions about what to sell.

As a non-MMO player, my wife would like to get me the expansion as a Christmas present, and thinks it would be something fun to look forward to.  As an MMO player, I know that'll mean several weeks getting even further behind other players and, more importantly, missing out on the excitement of the first few days and weeks.  With the way I'm feeling now, I'm not sure that it won't be more frustrating than enjoyable if I get the expansion and that therefore it would be better to wait.  I'm sure there will be a lot of casual players who will get the expansion as Christmas presents, so why shouldn't I do that as well.

I don't know what I'll decide to do, but this is why I started this blog:  to talk through the conflicts of being a casual player who is still very interested in computer games, particularly MMORPGs.