1,000 Things To Do Before You Log Off

Posted in 1000 things to do before you log off with tags , , on January 3, 2010 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

At the heart of this list is the adage “Stop and smell the roses”. We as MMORPG players have varying styles of game play. Through it all, many times life’s fun little moments can sweep right past us in a flurry of tiny digital leaves. MMORPGs give us giant open virtual worlds with guidelines and activities we can perform. A terrific thing about these games, regardless of these tasks and rules, is that they provide an opportunity for players to create the experience. Some of the most memorable and most enjoyable moments we can have come from running into a group of players dancing or having an in-game “party”, trying to take a great screen shot of a humorous situation, and countless other activities that weren’t prescribed or created by the game’s developers. With that in mind, I present a list of quirky, offbeat, and many times unconventional tasks to perform in your favorite MMORPG that will steer you away from what you are currently doing in-game, but more importantly may enrich your fun. This doesn’t mean you will necessarily enjoy the entire list. If something simply is not fun, no matter how hard you try, simply don’t do it. Remember, the point is to enjoy the game. Whether you do 1 or all the tasks on the list, It should at least provide an enjoyable read and change how you look at, think about, and play MMORPGs.

Create an Uber-Weapon Below Level 10

    To kick off this list, I present an opportunity that may get you a lot of jeers, nay-sayers, and laughing, but it will be fun. There’s always something fun about going against the crowd. This is one that definitely does that. No, you don’t have to give it the same name I did, but you should spend significant time creating a sword, club, hammer, bow, whatever. Pimp it out, but make sure it is under level 10. If the MMORPG you play doesn’t allow this, then just create the lowest level item you can, and make it as powerful as possible. Don’t let the structure of the game start to control how you make it. The idea is to go against the normal. Don’t hold back. You will start to feel a sense of glee from going against the norm, and whether days or weeks, you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Once done, don’t stop there. You’ll want to share this beastly weapon or item with the game community. Now post those screen shots in the forums and wait for all the head scratching responses. You’ll undoubtedly be strongly attached to this item, by the time you finish creating it, but if you are feeling extra daring, and want to take some more time with it, why not post it in the Auction House without telling anyone or posting it in the forums. You may get some interesting whispers or see lots of chatter start to develop in zone chat, as the item gets more views.

The Worst Thing About Free-To-Play MMORPGs Is That They Are Free-To-Play

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , on January 2, 2010 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

When F2P (Free-T0-Play) MMORPGs hit the scene, players were introduced to some really fun virtual worlds at no cost.  What quickly developed though was a not so fun implosion of Pandora’s Box.

Besides all the benefits of micro-transactions within these MMORPGs, The box that these games were contained in were opened wide to let in a floodgate of negative socio-economic aspects.  Now instead of excepting the nice hermetically sealed contents of the game, we have people from all walks of life and all walk of money able to alter their gaming experience in a similar way they can altar their lives.  The real world has impacted F2P MMORPGs like nothing else before.  If I want to speed up my progression, have an extra pet, or have a permanent mount, I can- if I have the money.

In a weird twist, if you take away the freedom that micro-transactions can provide, players will tend to be more accepting, because beyond what anyone can equally altar within the game, it’s the way the game is built.  It doesn’t mean players won’t complain.  Visit any game’s forum, especially World of Warcraft’s, and you’ll see plenty of people complaining about various ways the game operates.  It is the same, and then some, with F2P MMORPGs.  You’ll have all the regular criticisms and to exacerbate those, you have a whole new plane of complaints brought on about feelings over paying to get what you want.

Perhaps as an unfortunate downside to being free, these MMORPGs have to contend with players being able to bring their real life woes and negative feelings over money into the games.  When players start to look at their gaming experience as it relates to their socio-economic status, well, a lot of negativity can ensue.

From this perspective, how do you try to handle game development?  Or can you even affect it?  Do you even try?  Do any and all complaints that fall under Item Mall complaints get ignored outright?  Because how can anyone expect an MMORPG development team to try and altar game play experiences based on the players socio-economic status?  Some players work 40 hours a week to afford a minimum of in-game purshasable items, while others have near unlimited funds and free time.  Should anyone expect an MMORPG too cater to these diverse situations?  Most micro-transactions are already fairly small, per purchase.  Many games let you spend as little as 5 dollars per purchase to obtain a majority of items in-game.  Beyond that, what can a F2P MMORPG development team do?

I tend to be pretty strict with my opinions on some subjects, but I admit that my opinion(s) may not be the best.  It appears to me, that a micro-transaction based F2P MMORPG affords some fun features, being free to play not the least of them.  But they also shed a lot of responibility that is placed back into the hands of the players.  That, to me, opens up a whole new can of worms that I’m not going to even try to get into with this post.  But I felt it worth mentioning as food for thought.

Hardcore Casual

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , on December 15, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

(Haha, yes I swipe it and turn it into a titular blog post.)

I’ve been thinking about Hardcore Casual while reading a lot lately on raiding.

I may be wrong on different nuances here, please feel free to correct me.

Raiders(hardcore if you will) usually find an instance to farm, loot, gear up, and raid it again. It’s a cycle full of adrenaline junkies, I suppose. It’s fun. I found it fun, intense, and rewarding.

But what seems apparent to me is the ones that only do this, or subscribe heavily to the idea that all an MMORPG is made for, or the pinnacle that an MMORPG can provide, is for high level, end game raiding- even the unknowing player that hasn’t even realized until after 100 instance runs that they are in this cycle. Yes it comes with various forms of baggage. You’ll have elitism, etc… but at its core it’s a very simple pattern that easily excludes many other parts of an MMORPG. Socializing? I don’t think there’s much room for that. Not when you know you’re needing to run 20 raids in the next week and you have X hours to spare. It’s a min/max hardcore world right?

When I look at what these hardcore people are doing, I see something similar to what the majority of the gaming world would call casual.

Casual game play. All those little games on Facebook immediately come to mind. I have a sneaky suspicion that all you Mafia War fanatics tend to love Halo and MMORPG Raiding. And within just MMORPGs, you probably socialize little, just enough to not be overly selfish when that’s all you want to get to the top, because the top is where everyone has to be, right?

That’s almost exactly the definition of casual games. All the Bejeweleds and Peggles of the world, they provide a singular purpose, a cyclic repetition of increasingly harder levels, and expanding time doesn’t fit into the equation either. Reducing time is the only logical step. Getting to the top as quickly as possible is the efficient logical way. Even if fun does not equate to logic, people derive fun in many different ways.

So are you hardcore? or are you casual?

Runes of Magic Lore – Factions: The Eye of Wisdom

Posted in lore with tags , , , , on December 12, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

The Eye of Wisdom is a group dedicated to gathering wisdom about magic and artifacts from the Old Times.

On the old continent “Kolydia” they were on good terms with the emperor’s domicile and other political factions, which brought them significant influence.
When the Time of Discoveries about 100 years ago began, the Grandmaster decided to move the whole organization to the continent of Candara and focus their exploration on the relics of ancient times.

This time is also referred to as “Withdrawal of the Eye of Wisdom” since they broke most of their contacts with Kolydia back then. They gathered many magical artifacts, which helped them to develop powerful spells since the creation of Varanas. The meaning of “Withdrawal” may refer less to the withdrawal from political involvement but rather the establishment of an independent power. In the beginning everything seemed to progress nicely, until 20 years ago when the Grandmaster Ancalon and his elite of their organization disappeared without a trace. For a couple of years the Eye of Wisdom was nearly rendered incapable of acting. Only with the assumption of the post as Grandmaster by Yarandor, the leader of Rune Magic, they returned to activity.

But the influence within the city of Varanas had already been cut radically by the Council and their power and influence in the world was no longer as strong as previously.

The Eye of Wisdom has now overcome the alienation of the world and is anxious to help the people of Varanas. In addition they resurrected multiple research projects and recruit mages from all over the world to push their academic position back to the top.

My Mighty Steed

Posted in RoM Diary with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

It’s been 1 year since I stepped foot into the land of Taborea.  I’ve mined my heart out and continue to do so.  Braving the tundra of Ystra, climbing the Mtns and hills of Dragonfang Ridge, all to find the sparkly shiny ore that I long for.  Content to hike or rent a drab horse no longer, I have finally purchased a mighty(permanent) steed.  I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t really have too many issues one way or the other with how I spend my money.  I think RoM has a very nicely run Item Mall.  I find it well balanced and fair.  On top of that, I have fun in so many drastic, and sometimes weird, ways that spending $14 and some change(I’m on the international server set, requiring me to pay Euro to dollar conversion rates which makes things cost slightly higher than US Item Mall counterparts) on a mount is nothing to me.

This is a charity mount where part of the proceeds go to Save the Children.  I also did the equivalent in-game work to earn the diamonds before spending real money, so I really feel rewarded for the work I put in, and I know money I spent will go to help Save the Children.

If you see Mobly jumping around spazzmatically through zones for inordinate amounts of time, you’ll know why.

P2P and F2P Communities

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

Are they fundamentally different? or fundamentally the same?

I started playing MMORPGs over 2 years ago with F2P.  My first impressions of MMORPGs in gerneral could only be based on the F2P variety.  At their core F2P have not only been similar to each other, but identical.  For the most part, it’s why they get the name “Asian Grinder”.  They’ve primarily been much smaller MMORPGs imported from the Far East, using a micro-transaction business model, with killing mobs in a non-situational environment as the main mode for leveling.

Do players weened on F2P develop differently?  Do they have a different mind set?  and Is the core group of F2P players fundamentally different than subscription based MMORPG communities?  We know that F2P MMORPGs tend to be smaller and thus have smaller communitites.  We also know there will be overlap between many different types of players.  To some extent or another, you’ll have ex-WoW’ers, crafters, raiders, sandboxers, casual, longterm, etc… touching on F2P.  Lately I have been considering the idea that the majority core group of F2P communities are different.  To be more specific, I think F2P games in the past, have lacked communities at all.  I think once the game is turned off, no one cares.  There seems to be a huge void that isn’t explained by the communities just being smaller.  I believe we may find that the majority and core group of F2P players, that are also the majority bouncing from one new F2P to the next, are primarily tech savvy min/maxers with tendencies toward raiding.

In F2P games, mechanics-wise you have a system where there isn’t a whole lot in the way of options in-game.  The light shines brighter on level cap because there is no crafting and in many cases no auction house, to name a couple reasons.  So people are clicking away and upgrading gear using random tables and drops, plus EXP and other potions purchased with real money via micro-transaction.  Sure you can chat and have other forms of fun.  I played an older F2P for almost a year and had a great guild where we had loads of fun, but it was through us creating that fun.  The game left us with just kill at our level, and chat.  This limit of options leaves the focus on upgrading and becoming as strong as possible.  I believe this either cultivates or attracts a significant number of min/maxers to F2P MMORPGs.

You also have a smaller game in general, that tends to have a quicker gameplay.  It’s not an argument to say “But you have to grind forever, so it’s not quicker”, because they add the grind to try to slow down the experience.  If all you did in WoW was quest and nothing else, you could reach level cap in probably a week or two(depending on your play time).  But there is also so many more options, that just as many players(if not more) take much longer to reach level cap.  In F2P games, you may have PvP, server war, or another similar option, but the only thing keeping you from it is level, so the majority of players spend all their game time doing that one thing-leveling.  In response, F2P games have been “plugging” in systems that consist of smaller bite-sized chunks of fast game play elements.

Another significant filter, that I think determines the personality of the player, is actually how you access the game.  Accessibility and approachability.  Out of over 30 F2P MMORPGs I have had only one of them that had a perfectly smooth process.  I was able to download, install, update, and register on the website without a hitch, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the case for everyone playing that game.

We end up with smaller core groups of players.  Within those smaller groups, a higher percentage of min/maxers/raiders based on the core design of F2P MMORPGs.  The games can cultivate the mentality that the most important thing that provides the most fun, is to reach level cap and that is only obtained by min/maxing and getting more drops quicker.  In some respects when players move to a game that actually has more to do, they may simply ignore it, because they’ve never known anything else.  On top of that, the games are a lot quicker.  These players reach level cap and try all the content very fast and then want more, exacerbating the mentality that these games have an end, at which point the player needs to move on to another game.  All of this usually happens in quicker bite-sized chunks which has players tending to get overly annoyed when moving to WoW, EQ2 or other MMORPGs where they need to devote more time in different in-game systems.

All of this translates to an out of game “community” that, to me, looks very similar to online forums where players discuss single-player console games.   It’s primarily asking how to do something, where do I get more of X, and how can I get it faster,  some guild recruitments, and the rest is how the game sucks because players didn’t have 100% success rate in one part of the game or another.  The game is free, and quicker to jump in and out of in lieu of other new F2P MMORPGs.

Am I wrong? Do I see a skewed side of some imaginary numbers?  I wonder?

As a side note: This conclusion I’ve come to will be interesting in light of two F2P games that break the F2P mold.  Runes of Magic, and Allods are very western style games, that are breaking F2P molds.  I already believe that this F2P core group have hit a brick wall that is confusing to them, when they delved into Runes of Magic.  There has been a lot of complaining over the past year in the forums, followed by how the game is just another Asian Grinder.  Which anyone would tell you anywhere online that it breaks that mold in different ways.  Yet, I don’t think I’m only seeing a minority.  I think I’m seeing a segment of this core group that has only known the F2P animal, and is trying to find how something new to them equates to what they know.

Runes of Magic: Tiering Guide

Posted in RoM guides with tags , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

Tiering your gear is an important aspect of Runes of Magic.  For each tier, you gain stat boosts.  I’ve been playing the game a year and have only tiered a couple items.  I planned on doing more later, but never got around to it…yet.

This is a small guide to help you understand and start tiering your equipment, be it boots, swords, etc…

  • For every tier you add to a piece of equipment, you raise that equipments base damage, or defense by 10%.  Taking a hammer, sword, bow, etc… from tier 1 to tier 4 will grant a 30% increase in damage, over base damage.
  • To actually change the tier of a piece of equipment, you’ll need to use the Arcane Transmuter that every player gains access to at level 10.  You find it by opening your bag, and selecting the corresponding button below your item slots(It’s near the button that looks like a gift).  You’ll also need to prepare mana stones and fusion stones to complete the process of tiering.  Fusion stones can be bought in-game or through the Item Mall.  In-game you will find vendors selling fusion stones, and the Item Mall sells Purified Fusion Stones.  The only way to gain a mana stone is by creating it yourself from fusion stones or buying one in the auction house.  No in-game vendors sell mana stones.
  • The difference between in-game fusion stones, and the Item Mall’s purified fusion stones:

Fusion Stones: All Fusion Stones come with at least one predetermined low level stat and two random stats determined after purchase (note: the two random stats may end up being blank, giving you a Fusion Stone with only one bad stat), so anytime you create a Mana Stone with a Fusion Stone, the best you can end up with is a Mana Stone that has one bad stat in addition to whatever unique stats were on the piece of equipment that you chose to transmute with your Fusion Stone.
Fusion Stones with only one bad stat, meaning your two randoms turned out to be blank, are fairly uncommon, and you will typically end up with a stone that has three bad stats attributed to it.You can imagine that after creating three Mana Stones via the more common Fusion Stones, you could be left with a pool of stats that has nine unique bad stats. This means that regardless of the good stats available in the pool, your equipment will end up with six of the nine bad stats.
The trick here is to make sure that the bad stats are all duplicates of each other, which means that all three Fusion Stones used in creating Mana Stones must have the exact same three bad stats.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy Fusion Stones from vendors that come with the same three specific bad stats; at best, one stat will always be random, and you won’t know what it will be until after you buy it. The best thing you can do is either buy three matching Fusion Stones from the Auction House, or buy a few from the vendor and then try to hunt down two more matching ones from the Auction House. Remember, the stats must be identical in type and tier for them to be considered duplicates of each other; a Stamina I, Stamina II, and Stamina III will not be considered duplicates, and can all be transmuted onto a single piece of equipment.

Purified Fusion Stones: Purified Fusion Stones solve this bad stat problem, by allowing you to create a Mana Stone with only the stats that you want it to have, i.e. those stats on the equipment that you transmute the Purified Fusion Stone with to make the Mana Stone. This way, you can create a pool of stats that only has six great unique stats to draw from, which ultimately gives you a piece of equipment with six great stats.

so you buy the stones one way or the other. You are now ready to create a mana stone. What was all that business about 3 mana stones?  Well When you want to increase the tier of a mana stone which in turn will increase the tier of your equipment, and continue to maintain the stats that you want, you’ll need to do things in 3’s.  Because in order to increase tiers of a manastone to say tier 4, you will need three teir 3 mana stones, and you want them to have all the same stats, so that’s why we talked about using three fusion stones with identical stats.

Let’s say you make your very first mana stone.  You’ll need a piece of equipment, which you will lose, and then you need a fusion stone.  put these two items into the Arcane Transmuter.  You will need to spend charges that you can buy using Phirius Tokens, or bought from the Item Mall.  Phirius Tokens are tokens, same with charges.  No difference in what a charge is whether you buy it in-game or from the Item Mall.  Phirius Tokens are, of course, an in-game currency you get from mainly doing daily quests.

You hit transmute and you get 1 mana stone with the tier that the equipment, you used, was.  You also get the stats from the fusion stone.

If I want to take my tier 3 sword to tier 4, I could use a combination of buying fusion stones from AH and from a vendor to get 3 identical fusion stones(to ensure My finished sword will have the stats I want and expect).  I then can buy any old piece of equipment regardless of what it is.  It could be cloth, plate, boot, belt, etc… The important thing is what tier it is.  I can buy tier 3 items so I will need 3 of them.  I buy them from a vendor, and put on piece of equipment in the AT with one fusion stone, and create a mana stone.  I do this two more times with the other fusion stones and pieces of equipment I don’t want(but have the tier I want), and then I end up with 3 identical mana stones all of tier 3.  That’s why I wanted tier 3 equipment.  The mana stones used that tier.  So now I have 3 tier three mana stone that I put into the AT and create 1(one) teir 4 mana stone.

To finish, NOW I can use the good sword that I don’t want destroyed, and likewise I want the new tier as well as the new stats.  I put the tier 4 mana stone and my good sword into the AT and create a new sword that has gone from tier 3 to tier 4 and has the stats I want.

This process is the same regardless of tiers.  If I want to go from tier 9 to tier 10, I go through this process.  Unfortunately what you will discover, is that you can’t simply by junk equipment that is tier 9, from any vendors in game.  I believe the highest tier is 3, sold by vendors, so anything above that requires creating equipment a tier higher(that will be your junk equipment you’ll lose).  This whole system can become increasingly expensive with all the fusion stones, equipment pieces, and charges you’ll need to make a higher tiered good piece of equipment you want to keep.

Here is a simple item cost for taking what you will need to take an item from tier 3 to tier 1o

To create one tier 10 item(from tier 3):
Requires 6561 fusion stones (~13,122,000 gold)
Requires 6561 pieces of tier 3 equipment (~10,386,063 gold)
Requires 9841 Arcane Transmutor charges (19,700 diamonds or 2,953 days of dailies)

Don’t let this table scare you too much.  Yes if you do the calculations of how much diamonds cost in real world dollars, it can be frightening.  However, I personally have had guild mates who’ve never spent a real world dime, and have achieved tier 10 equipment in around 1-2 months.  There are many finer subtleties to the game than just transmuting, and it’s hard to accurately place value and determine a static value-x-time chart for every player to do this.  Simply, there is just too wide a window of variables to accurately nail this down as to what it will cost you in time, fun, play time, and money(whether real or in-game gold).

As you probably are wondering now, yes, there is a lot of factors that come into play when you consider all the different types of stats in the game that are possible to add to fusion stones.  There are rules to what can and cannot be added.  You can’t have identical stats, for one thing.  I will save the details on stats for another time though.

The number of tiers is also expected to be unlimited.  I say expected because to date(a year after the game started), the first server has just made the first tier 11 piece of equipment.  I don’t even think anyone of my server has tier 11 yet.

I know I went through a lot of repetition and over explaining with this guide, but I feel it is important when trying to grasp the concept and rules for the first time.  Many people have woes about the process, and it can be confusing when trying to get help from multiple sources and reason it on your own.