Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Not everyone likes the Garrison, but it is good for Christmas decorations!

I hope everyone has had a very Merry Christmas!

My main Christmas MMO activity has been to gather the Christmas decorations for the Garrison.  It is a pretty painless daily activity to add the four Winter Vale dailies to get the Garrison decorations and a toy and now there are only the Savage Gifts for a chance for a Yeti mount.

I also leveled my mage, Kantrina, to 96 so she can start doing the Spires quests.  I'd like to finish the quests so she can get the Salvage yard and then I'll see how long it takes me to get to level 98 to move on.  I'm waiting to upgrade Kanter's gun until I can get her to level 100 so I can use her Engineering.  I certainly hope I can do this before too long (not that I really need it for what I'm doing).

Kanter has been gathering Elemental Runes through regular and naval missions and for Chapter 3 in the Legendary Ring quest line.  I should start running the Blackrock Foundry wings.  I'm over two-thirds of the way through the 900 required stones, but I can't seem to ever dedicate the time to it.

On other games, one of my daughters received her own Minecraft account for Christmas and we now have a Minecraft Realm so she can play with me, her sister, or her friends.  Now that the price went down to $7.99 a month with an automatic renewal I thought it was worth it, particularly since I'm hoping it is a way she can keep in touch with her cousin who lives far away and I don't really trust the shared servers.

Later this week will begin the new year.  I know I haven't been as active in gaming or in this blog but it'll still be interesting (to me) to summarize what I've done both in gaming and in blogging next week.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

There is No End Game

Often when people talk about MMOs, they mentioned that, to them, the end game is the game (well they often leave often the 'to them' part of that).  I have always enjoyed questing and leveling and have known that they are not speaking for me.

One reaction to this attitude has been to remove leveling from the game and make everything accessible to everyone.  I can understand this works for some people but it doesn't work well for me.  I like the experience of gaining skills and becoming more and more powerful over time.

My middle daughter is now interested in Dungeons and Dragons (she will be getting the starter set for Christmas, don't tell her!).  In Dungeons and Dragons, leveling slows down a lot and the idea of becoming max level is not something most people consider.  I was wondering if someone could make an MMO like that for people like me.

When World of Warcraft came out, the idea of having 'rested experience' so people who played less was an innovation.  Over time, people have become so focused on the end game that this is nothing but a slight speed bump, only slowing the 'end game' people from getting to the end game with each subsequent expansion by a minimal amount.  What if a company made an MMO where you couldn't ever get to the End Game?

My thought is that you would put a hard limit where you couldn't exceed 1 level a week.  You would start the game with some number levels, let's say 50, and by the time 50 weeks have gone, you would have content for the next 25 levels and at that point you'd have regular 6 month expansion cycle.

The game would need to have other content where people could explore and do things besides leveling, things like the pet games in World of Warcraft.  Another advantage of this is that there could always be content that would be tough.  If you kept areas with 5 extra levels around, people would always have areas they could explore that would be dangerous.  I imagine a system where mobs about 2 levels above you should pretty much always beat you if you are alone.  Mobs 5 levels above would be pretty much unable to be injured, so even with a group there would be areas that would be very dangerous to explore.

Has any company tried anything like this?  I am guessing this would be a nitch game, but I think most of the MMOs coming out now are.  Any thoughts or suggestions?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Wandering

Not a screenshot from World of Warcraft!
After reading about Heart of Thorns, particularly from Inventory Full and Kill Ten Rats, I decided to go ahead and download Guild Wars 2, particularly since the original game is free.  The download took a VERY long time (I ended up just letting it finish over night) and even after it finished it still had to patch again.  I only played through level 5 so I don't feel like it's enough even for a mini-review, but I don't feel like it's the game for me.  I will try to give it another chance, possibly over the holidays.

My middle daughter and I played Don't Starve Together again and I felt like we made more progress this time.  It is nice because my daughter knows more about what she is doing, so she can be in control and I can help her, particularly by gathering what she needs.  We still died from the hounds when they appeared, but we at least had spears to protect ourselves and have some gardens and clothes in preparation for winter.  We'll see how that goes the next time we play.

I am still playing World of Warcraft, but I haven't been doing much other than basic Garrison activities and auctioning enough to still buy the now more expensive Tokens to keep the game free.  I would expect the cost to keep going up until the expansion arrives when a influx of players will include those who don't want to wait to buy things.  It was hovering around 20,000 gold in the US after the release for several months but is now over 37,000.  In the EU it has always been more expensive and is now at 61,000 gold.

I was able to use the Garrison to gather the stones required for the second part of the Legendary quest.  I need to do two parts of LFR to complete it, but haven't been able to find the time and inclination to do it.  Again, maybe it'll be a holiday thing since I am so close.  It also should be pretty quick to level my Mage to 100 but she has been stuck at 95 for more than a month now because I just don't have the inclination to play.  I may let my subscription lapse in December and just wait until Legion comes out.

Since my last post Blizzcon happened and I'm generally pretty positive about what I have heard about the Legion expansion.  For someone who doesn't care about raiding, it is usually pretty easy to sell things early in an expansion so it should be easier to justify paying for it knowing that the subscription for it will probably be covered by Tokens.  However, the Demon Hunter doesn't appeal to me that much (I'll probably eventually play it like I did the Death Knight primarily to see the starting quests) and I don't even know how I would use the Level 100 character upgrade so there isn't a reason for me to buy it early.  I'll probably just purchase it a week before it comes out so I can be ready.

I really seem to be in a gaming lull.  It'll be interesting to see if something changes that.  All the talk about Fallout 4 has been fun, but, though I have been playing computer RPGs since the original Wizardry, the post-apocalyptic setting has never really appealed to me, so I'll probably wait until I can get it for $10 or so.  My daughters may spark some gaming as well, particularly if something takes off over the holidays.  I played a little Diablo III with my  middle daughter but it didn't seem to appeal to her.  I'll probably go ahead and buy myself a copy assuming it goes on sale for $10 again.  I really enjoyed the first two games, but I still feel it is rather dark to play in front of my daughters so I'd rather play other games where I am more comfortable playing with them, or at least with them watching me. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life - Happy Halloween

Halloween at the Garrison
Ever since I completed the prerequisites for flying in World of Warcraft, I haven't been very motivated to play.  I did go ahead and finish the first set of dungeons for the Legendary ring upgrade.  It was generally quiet, though I did get kicked once for forgetting to turn off growl.  I turned it off as soon as I was asked, but was still kicked.  I felt bad about it briefly, but it really didn't hurt to have to take an extra day.  I have started the second set of quests which will require some raids.  We'll see if I get them done or not.

I started doing the daily Halloween quests for the Garrison decorations.  I have the jack-o-lanterns and the pets so far and I figure I'll go ahead and capture the three pets (an undead rat, maggot, and spider) since I'm not sure how available they will be outside the holiday.

WoW tokens have gone up in price significantly, but I still have plenty of gold for them, so I don't mind continuing to subscribe and get a few things done in the game.  I still want to get my mage to level 100 in order to use her Engineering to upgrade Kanter's gun.

With all the talk about Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, I went ahead and downloaded the client since the original game is free.  I started up the game once, but then realized I need to pick a server.  I'd be interested in any suggestions, but I don't plan to play much.  I just want to get a better sense of how it plays.

Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays.  I did like the candy as a child, but I didn't like going up to (relative) strangers houses as a child and don't enjoy doing it with my children either (though it is fun to see their excitement for getting all the candy).  However, I have a vacation coming up next week and I always enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas and I know those will be here soon.  In any case, I hope you enjoy your Halloween!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Saberstalker Reputation achieved

Still not quite done with the Saberstalkers

I have done the weekly Saberstalker quest and joined a group each time and between the two I have made it to revered with them, leaving me one more revered reputation (Order of the Awakened) to earn before I get Draenor flying.  I mentioned in my last post that I find this grind annoying since it's behind a daily quest that required finding treasures or rares.  The good news is I only have to do it 4 more times.  The bad news is that I have already picked up almost of all of the obvious treasures, so I'll have to finish the quest more with Rare mobs.  Since, with the Saberstalker quest and totems, you can be guaranteed for 3 rare mobs weeks and usually 6 of the 10 tokens needed for the daily quest, I'll probably keep doing it weekly until I have the last revered reputation I need to fly.

Looking back at the goals I set for myself in March, I have done many of them, even some of those that seemed unlikely.  At this point, I am again at a lull.  It may be that I'd like to be able to fly since it'll help with leveling the other characters but I would rather not grind those last four quests.  I wish they had set up some other way to get reputation - the other two Tanaan Jungle reputations have that.  Even if this was the 'best' way, options are always helpful psychologically to have multiples ways of completion to make something seem like less of a grind.

In other gaming, I have been playing Minecraft and Terraria on our mobile devises with my daughters.  I finally made a house and mine that goes deep enough into the earth to mine red stone and diamonds.  I also started exploring over land, building three houses due south of the original spawn, but I haven't found anything particularly interesting and don't feel like going to the nether (though I have a diamond pickaxe and several good places to gathering Obsidian, something I haven't done in Minecraft before).  Terraria is probably the first game I've played with my daughters where they are noticeably better than I am.  I guess I need to get use to it.

I have bought a WoW Token but am holding off exchanging it for game time in case I decide I need a break.  I'm pretty sure I'll continue until more of my characters are max level.  I keep thinking that Kanter has a high enough iLvl that he should go ahead and do some of the dungeons and raids for the legendary ring, but I still can't be bothered.  I'd rather just be casual, which seems to be a theme in the blogosphere recently.  Maybe more on that later.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flying in Draenor

I'm spending more time in Lion's Watch and Tanaan Jungle again.
Flying was introduced in Draenor in World of Warcraft on September 2nd and I am still firmly on the ground.  I starting writing this post in early July around the time that Blizzard decided to allow people to jump through several hoops in order to be able to fly.  Before that time there was some comments from Blizzard employees that there might never be flying in Draenor and much consternation from some players because of it.

For me, it was what I expected.  There were a number of things to do in Draenor that were supposed to be a challenge because you were on the ground.  Even before Warlords of Draenor (WoD) was released, we were told that there wasn't a plan for flight.  It was fun to be able to finally be allowed to fly in Burning Crusade but WoW is a game and I am fine with the developers tweaking the rules to add new challenges.

That said, now that flying is here and I've started testing what it will take to get Revered reputation for the three factions, I'm pretty sure I'll complete them.  One of the factions, Hand of the Prophet (for Alliance) is part of the quest line that gets you the Shipyard and to the Tanaan Jungle, so it's pretty straightforward to get the reputation.  There are seven daily quests and you get to choose one of two every day.  After I had done the campaign quests and each of the dailies once, I believe I only needed to do 3 or 4 more to get to Revered.  Right now I'm only 100 reputation away and will just wait to do one more daily (they provide 500 reputation each).

The second is The Saberstalkers.  I visited once briefly by myself and then just joined a custom group twice and already half way through honored.  There is a weekly quest, Rumble in the Jungle, where you can use three totems that you buy with the claws that you gather as you kill Saberstalkers to challenge three elite Saberstalkers.  I will wait until I can get this quest next week (after the Tuesday reset) and join one more group which will probably put me at Revered.  You also get Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragment that can be used for the last reputation from the three elites.

The last reputation is the most annoying, Order of the Awakened.  There is primarily one daily quest that gets you this reputation and it requires gathering 10 Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragments.  These fragments come from treasures or rare mobs in Tanaan Jungle.  The combination of only being able to do this quest once a day and having to either search for treasures (I did buy the map for 600 gold) and hoping to find the rare mobs to kill.  It feels both too constricted (only once a day) and too random (finding the treasures and rares).  That said, I have made it about 25% into honored and have decided to purchase the Hunter's Seeking Crystal for 1000 gold that will teleport me to a nearby rare so I can complete it.  I still find it annoying as I did the Timeless Isle.

I enjoyed finishing most of the quests in WoD with my hunter and priest and I'd like to get some of the other toons to 100 so I can get all the crafting high level recipes that require a level 3 garrison but I wouldn't mind making that faster for them.  I figure it is worth getting flying and buying the Excess Potions of Accellerated Learning to speed getting the other three or four characters to level 100.  The potions cost 100 garrison resources and I am wasting most of my resources now since I don't have a use for them outside of the missions I do about once a week.

I would have been fine with them leaving everyone on the ground in Draenor but jumping through these hoops has probably kept me playing longer than I would have otherwise, so I guess it's a win for Blizzard this way and I am sure I will enjoy being able to fly from place to place once I have it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Tale in the Desert Telling 7

Definitely NOT my stuff

A Tale in the Desert is planning to start it 7th Telling on September 11th and the Beta that doesn't have a reset already started on August 28th.  I often hear people asking for more variety in their MMOs and have always heard of A Tale in the Desert (ATOTD) as an example.  There is no combat in ATOTD, it is built around crafting and working together to accomplish goals.

The game first appeared in 2003 and has had 6 approximately 18 month tellings since it's inception.  You can play the 6th Telling for free until the September 8th (when it ends) and I've probably played for 30 minutes in a couple of sessions, so I know very little about the game.  The game is subscription based with 24 free hours and then $11.95 a month (with discounts for buying more than one month at a time).

The two things I do the most in World of Warcraft is crafting and questing.  ATOTD would allow me to do both of those things without having to deal with killing things which sounds good in practice.  When I downloaded the game a week or so ago I thought I'd subscribe for a month or two and see how it works.  However, I don't think I'll be doing that now.

If you think about how games appeal to us as represented in the Bartle Test, there is no 'Killing' in this game, but there is also very limited Exploring.  I like the idea of learning the crafting game and I understand there are puzzles to be solved as part of it, which also appeals to me, but a lot of the pleasure I get out of playing has to do with wandering around different areas, particularly new ones. The graphics in ATOTD are very basic (as you can see above) and, though I didn't explore extensively, there doesn't seem to be a lot of variety (it is a Desert, after all).

I am glad this game exists and I am glad it is getting a little bit of press, but I'm not sure I'll play it again.  Sometimes it is better just to enjoy the idea than to actually participate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Pets and Flight

Pet Menagerie finally built.

Yes, I should probably be titling these 'A Month in an MMO Life' given how often I've been posting them, but I can always dream that I'll start posting more.

With the Pet Battling triple experience weekend a couple weeks ago in World of Warcraft, I finally built the Pet Menagerie.  I had done almost no Pet Battling, so I was starting from two Ultimate Battle-Training Stones from my two level 3 garrisons and a bunch of pets I had gathered through years of playing WoW.  I used the first comment on the Pet Versus Pests Wowhead entry (with 201 up votes at the time) as my guide.  From there I targetting getting a frog, a Dancing Water Skimmer, a fox, and a moth to at least level 20.

I used my Ultimate Battle-Training Stones to level my Terrible Turnip and Sprite Darter Hatchling to level 25.  The Terrible Turnip has a 'Weakening Blow' that will never kill a pet you are battling, so you can make sure you don't kill it before capturing it.  I took my mage (who both wasn't max level and had a port) to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to capture the Dancing Water Skimmer and Yellow-Bellied Bullfrog.  Battled there until I had two uncommon skimmers and a rare bullfrog and also leveled some of my moths at the same time.  From there is was a quick trip to Kun-Lai Summit to capture an Alpine Foxling Kit and was lucky enough to get a rare on one my first battle.

I was able to win the three pet battles needed to complete the Pet Versus Pests quest with just those pets, including two moths I had leveled, at level 20 or higher which allowed me to build my Menagerie.  Moving it to Level 2 was just a matter of some gold and garrison resources.  I completed one of the daily quests but at this point I have 15 pets at level 20 or higher and to try to build a full collection is daunting.  I'm not sure I want to spend the time doing it or finishing the 150 pet battles to get the Level 3 Menagerie.  At least I can say I've built all the Garrison buildings (except the PvP one).

I also was able to find the time to finish two of the last three achievements I need for the Draenor Pathfinder achievement that allows flying in Draenor.  Whenever I had some time, I would check to see if one of the Securing Draenor quests I hadn't finished was in my garrison and would run it.  Once I was down to four assaults, I just paid for them at my garrison with resources from my Garrison Quartermaster.

I also finished the Master Treasure Hunter achievement.  My missions had given me the Shadowmoon Valley and Gorgrond maps so I started with those.  Once I had done most of them I realized I'd need one more map to finish it, so I bought the one for Nagrand from Grakis in Stormshield.  I'm not sure this was the best one to pick because quite a few were difficult to get to.  Fortunately, I didn't need that many after having gathered most of the treasures from the previous two zones, so it was just a matter of looking for others if one was very difficult to get to.  I enjoyed the scavenger hunt aspect of this, but not as much as I thought I would.  It felt like they were generally reasonable in Shadowmoon Valley but in Nagrand you would often have to find an obscure path to the treasure.

So I only have one achievement left to earn Flying in Draenor, Tanaan Diplomat.  There are three reputations you need to level to Revered and while one of them is pretty straight forward, the other two are going to be quite a grind.  Once again, I'm not sure if it is worth it or not.  I didn't mind being grounded in Draenor.  I'll try to post more about that later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World of Warcraft Subscribers and Legion

New World of Warcraft expansion announced on 8/6
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion.  The new class, the Demon Hunter, doesn't appeal to me but I thought the initial class quests for the Death Knight were interesting and I'd like to see these as well.  I like the idea of having an artifact weapon that stays with you and advances.  The weapon has always been the item that most impacts the player's effectiveness and this should make it a little less subject to where your next best weapon is placed and the luck of the random number generator.  I have enjoyed the questing for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor more than Cataclysm and I expect more of the same and that is a good thing.

There have been a lot of negative talk about how Warlords of Draenor has effected the subscriber count.  Looking at the curve published on MMO Champion the 1.5 million subscriber drop is bigger than what would be expected, but it is only one quarter.  Mists of Pandaria (MoP) had a 1.3 million subscriber drop from between 3 and 6 months after release, so it is only slightly higher.  The decline of subscribers after MoP was not as steep I am sure Blizzard hopes the announcement will help stabilize it similarly.  

I agree with those who say this is a 10 year old game and there isn't a lot Blizzard can do to change the overall curve.  As more people leave there will be a higher peak with sightseers, but it is unlikely many of those returning to see the new content will stay to raid or do other end game content.  I would also think there will be a point where the decline will slow because there are also a lot of people who are committed to the game as long as Blizzard keeps supporting it.  Even if that is around 2 million people, Blizzard can make a lot of money keeping it a subscription game at that level.  I don't see them going Free-to-play but rather ending the game if it doesn't make the profit that makes them want to invest in it.  A recent Game Revolution article put the Final Fantasy XIV subscribers between .8 and 1.2 million, World of Warcraft probably still has five times the number of subscribers as the second most popular subscription MMO.

I take Blizzard at their word that they are trying to release content faster.  I expect a release in the first quarter of 2016, which would be about 6 months faster than the Warlords of Draenor release. If they can do that, they should get another peak from returning subscribers who are just sightseeing.  From there the curve will level out some, but it will be very interesting to see where that seems to happen.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Comments for Blaugust

Blaugust Begins today!

Blaugust begins today!  What is Blaugust, you may ask?  Belghast has been posting everyday now for more than 2 years and last year he decided to have an event to encourage others to post more regularly and Blaugust was born.  Post every day in the month of August and you win!  I know I am not going to post 31 times this month but I wanted to support it so I joined the Nook.  Once there I realized a great way to support those participating was to comment on their blogs, so I am going to have my own challenge to comment on at least one blog post every day this month.

Now that I've caught up on the blogs I follow in Feedly, I've decided I can follow a few more.  I've added a Blaugust 2015 category and I have added two participating blogs there so I can keep up with them.  I know it takes a little catching up, so I'll just try to add two more every week through August.

Good luck to all of those participating and please support our fellow gaming bloggers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

World of Warcraft Achievements

Achievements can show what you like and don't like to do
As I had mentioned previously, as the Warlords of Draenor expansion to World of Warcraft is winding down, I have focusing more on what I want to do.  Over the last several weeks I have done many of them and even though I'm not focused on achievements, they tend to show up there.

  • Finished all the cooking and eating and drinking achievements.  Since I had always kept up with cooking, it was really just a matter of fishing up a few fish, buying a few items from the Cataclysm expansion and cooking a few items.  It was nice to get the 'credit' for something I had pretty much already done (and use up a few of the cooked items I had been sending to my lower level toons just in case).
  • Finish the 6.2 extension (In Pursuit of Gul'dan) to the Garrison campaign.  I thought this was a really good addition to this expansion to give a max level character a way to experience some of the content without going to dungeons or raids.   The 6.2 quests went pretty quick and weren't quite as good as the earlier quests, but they were good as well.
  • Finish exploring the Warlords of Draenor zones.  I only had two areas in Gorgrond and Frostfire Ridge left to do.  You couldn't tell what areas were missing by looking at the Gorgrond map, so I had to look them up.  There were huge areas in Frostfire Ridge that I hadn't visited since it is primarily a Horde zone and so I just starting travelling those areas and when the last one showed up on the map, I had finished the achievements.
  • Raise the  Shipyard to Level 3.  I'm not sold on the Shipyard addition, but it wanted at least to give it a chance (hopefully I'll say more about it in another post).
Completing these gave me some other areas I'd like to focus on:
  • The Draenor explorer is one of the prerequisites for flying in a subsequent patch.  I had already done all the quests, but I had not done the 'Securing Draenor' achievement which focuses on a daily quest for Apexis crystals that I had decided weren't that interesting.  I figure it'll be ok to try them each once and since there is a Tanaan Juggle version of them that provided oil for my Shipyard and reputation, I figure I'll do each of them at least once as well.
  • Another prerequisite for flying will be finding 100 treasures.  I already have the maps for Gorgrond and Shadowmoon Valley and I picked up several of the Gorgrond ones when I was finishing the exploration there and I'll take a tour of Shadowmoon valley soon and then see how many I need and where I'd like to go from there.  I enjoy the scavenger hunt aspect of this.
  • I'd still like to get all my building on Kanter to level 3 (now that I've done the Shipyard).  The main one I have neglected is the Pet Menagerie, so I'll probably find a guide and it should be too difficult.
Looking at my achievements you can see some obvious patterns.  I've done most in the exploration, general and profession achievement sections.  Since I have all but one profession at max level, I'd really like to get the last one, but that means leveling up my Deathknight from 80 to 92.  It shouldn't be too bad, but I'll probably wait until the other activities are done.  Because of the tokens, I don't feel to bad keeping my subscription since it's pretty trivial for me to early the gold for the token.

In a unrelated achievement, I also caught up on the main blogs I follow.  For quite a while I had over 200 posts to read and that was somewhat disheartening, but I gradually chipped away and for the last week I've just been reading the previous days posts.  I am hoping this will encourage me to start responding to some of them as well, though I read them on my phone or tablet and I'd really always much rather type on my laptop.

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.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Gone Fishing

Fishing!  What MMOs are for, right?
This has been another couple of weeks without a lot of progress in World of Warcraft.  I'm not sure if this is a sign that I'm starting to enjoy the game less and it will be time for a break or I am just in a lull.

Kanter now has a iLvl over 640 without having been to any raids or more than 2 Heroic dungeons.  I keep thinking I will spend an evening getting some quests done in the Heroic dungeons but it doesn't happen.  The good news is that my iLvl is high enough that I shouldn't be a burden in them.  I still don't like random groups and that is probably part of the reason I have put them off.  

Kanter has been doing the Garrison Campaign quests and now only has three more left.  He was generally getting one a week but he skipped one week when I was out of town and I was able to get two done this last week.  I'm not sure if that's a coincidence or not.

I was able to take Kantra to Spires of Arak this last weekend, finished the quests for the Salvage Yard and got her to level 98 so I can do the quests in Nagrand now.  In theory once she is level 100 I will get the Silver Healing Proving Grounds achievement and start running dungeons with her using the Inn quests for extra rewards.  Given my almost complete unwillingness to go to dungeons as DPS, I don't know how willing I will be to do it with a healer but we'll see.  Questing with her is much easier with her Death Knight follower, but I did manage to kill him (and myself) just before I hit level 98 by pulling two groups accidentally.  Fortunately I was almost done with that quest and had to do just one more quest solo before I reach my goal of getting the level.

Because I have Garrisons with toons for all professions except for Inscription, I have been building up a lot of the daily components needed for crafting.  I am hoping with the follower, gather Savage Blood won't be too difficult with her once she hits level 100 and I can use those components more.

I also finally finished up some of my fishing goals.  The Level 3 Fishing Shack requires catching 700 enormous fish.  That was too big of a goal, so I decided to use the daily fishing quests to reach it, catching which ever of the 7 fish was specified and ignoring it if I had already reached the goal.  Once I got close on a specific fish, I decided to finish off the quest once I needed just one additional 5 minute lure that lets you catch a much higher percentage of the required fish (usually between 10 and 15 in a 5 minute period for me).  

Finally, I was down to three fish left.  I realized at this point I'd be ignoring most of the dailies, so I went ahead and caught all the fish I needed once I had the last two quests.  The final fish, the Sea Scorpions, have no daily quests, so it was just a matter of grinding them out and I finally did that and was able to upgrade my Fishing Shack.  Now to get Nat Pagle as a follower and decide if I want to grind my reputation up with him.  I made to to 'Good Friends' in Pandaria, so we'll see if I can take the last step to get to 'Best Friends' in Draenor.

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.