Archive for World of Warcraft

What I’m Playing, Looking To Play, Keeping An Eye On, and Top 3 Best Free-to-Play MMORPGs out right now

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

Everyone loves lists. Here’s mine for top 3 best free-to-play MMORPGs currently out.

1. Duh! Runes of Magic: It’s more like a subscription based game than any other F2P out right now. It’s unique with some great features that I think all MMORPGs should have top being the aggregator which lets you make your armor look exactly how you wish, even detailing colors, but still retaining any stats from uber armor drops you’ve obtained. Housing, crafting, many mini-games, and a focus on more horizontal play while still offering traditional leveling and other vertical game play features make it my favorite.

2. Atlantica Online: I wrestled with putting this here as I think it’s better classified as a MMOSRPG(with less role playing). But great graphics and the difference in game play is what makes it stand out. It’s a lot of fun.

3. Shaiya: much like any of the other dozens of “Asian Grinders”, you progress the same. Kill kill, and kill a lot more. But Shaiya has great smooth running servers and terrific graphics. The massive PvP aspect is nice to pitting thousands of players simultaneously in faction wars across very large zone maps.

Right now I’m playing RoM(of course). I have 71 diamonds now. I’ve been perusing the auction house looking for alternative sources of fast money, but every thing’s closely balanced. I noticed essence crystals in Necropolis of Mirrors are making about 10K each, which is cool, but the drop rate is too low for me. My knight’s damage isn’t good, so it takes me a long time kill mobs. Other classes my level can kill the same mob in maybe 2-3 hits, when it literally takes me 30 seconds to a whole minute to down 1 mob(my sucky gear also plays a part). So I’m looking, but back to gathering in the meantime.

I’m also in the Alganon beta. My bad connection isn’t helping the already unstable server they have running, no doubt at peak population allowance. Don’t have too much to say about it yet. I’m level 6 now, and starting to study and buy into crafting. I am curious. I guess so far, the world looks nice. It’s stylized a bit more detailed than WoW but with a similar look in the larger textures.

Finally I am sort of trying out Dungeons and Dragons Online Eberron Unlimited(such a long title). Graphics and movement seem good, but I’ve only played a few hours total so far. I need more time on it before making any kind of decision or review.

I’m looking to play a lot longterm. I downloaded Battleforge but can’t play it until I have a dedicated connection. I don’t really hold any hopes for it. It’s a hybrid Trading Card Game/Realtime Strategy MMO. It uses advanced graphic technology and is different, so I want to try it.

I tried downloading Chronicles of Spellborn but proceeded to get a file error while installing. I’ll try DL’ing it again soon.

I’m downloading the Allods Beta client. I’m mostly interested in it for an immersion factor. It looks like it could offer a lot more immersion than any other F2P game I’ve tried. They mention crafting mini-games which has me cringing but still curious too. Why? mainly because all existing F2P games are all outside worlds. There’s always a lack of buildings, and even the buildings they do have are solid. You can’t go in them. That somehow breaks immersion for me on multiple levels. Allods looks like it could have quite a large world, and much larger cities with many districts and many buildings in each district that would really set it apart from any F2P out right now(if you really can go in them all or most of them-which it looks like you can). The graphics also look nice to me.

For pay MMORPGs?(the above so far have all been F2P games).

World of Warcraft has me a bit frustrated. I was offline 3 months, but always had a 2 month time card for WoW collecting dust. Now that I’m back online, almost full time, I wanted to get my account ready for a return. It was around this time that they were recently stating about the account mergers to battle.net, but it was before the deadline.

I totally forgot my username and pass(only having vague ideas of the dozen different combos it could be). I went to the forgot pass page, but no matter what I typed in I got “This account has been merged with Battle.net, you need to handle it from there”. Ooookay so I went to battle.net, tried signing in(knowing I didn’t make an account there), and of course, they said I had to sign up. As a side note. I know what email I used to create my WoW account and used it for Battle.net thinking it would give me the same old “This email is already associated with an account”, but nope it let me sign up. So then I tried figuring things out to find that I had to do a merge process. But wait WoW said my character or account was already merged, didn’t it? So I try it anyway which asks me for my WoW account info, which I don’t have. So I click on can’t remember which shoots me back to the WoW page where I started!!! I’m stuck in this aggravating loop. So, I’m going to set some time aside soon to call and try to speak with a real CS person.

I also definitely want to play Vanguard. I know I do. I read extensively on the game and played the trial. I just am waiting to buy a new graphics card and pay for maybe a year subscription.

I also would really like to try EverQuest 2 out.

I’m looking at some games right now and haven’t decided yet if I want to try them, or if I’ll have fun with them.

Fallen Earth seems interesting, but like with some other games, I’m mostly curious about its crafting system.

I’m kinda curious about that new space MMO(Jumpgate Evolution(??)) that is down the road.

There was one final MMORPG that I was following but it seemed to fall off the news radar. I can’t remember the name but its big claim to fame was server side patching. It was supposed to be entirely operated on the server end allowing for live on the fly patching which in turn allowed for ease and quickness of implementing many changes often and live events. If you remember the name, please let me know, thanks.

What’s everyone else playing and looking forward to?

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Where Should the Best Loot Come From?

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

I don’t state this to try to add validity to an argument, just to let you know that I respect where the opinions are coming from.  I’d very much like to hear what others have to say.

Some of my friends, I used to play WoW with, I’ve known for a long time and have come to really respect their opinions on all sorts of subjects.  They are all very well educated, very well-rounded, and are intuitive as all get out.  So when we discussed where the best loot should come from in a game, and they agreed with me, it not only fed my lovely ego(which I do love, no matter how small it is), but I really focused my thought on the subject for a long time.

I’m of the belief that the best armor and weapon loot should come solely from crafting.  You can still have good crafting that people will partake in, as I would point to any existing crafting system as flawed yet obviously working.  But to have anything less than the best armor or weapons come from anywhere else undermines crafting and takes a way the one purely viable reason to have crafting in the first place.  Otherwise you don’t really have crafting, you just have the aucton house where people play online “economists”.

In the strictest sense, I would call all current crafting systems economy systems.  They solely feed into the economy.  That’s their highest and most valid priority.  Sure you are crafting “stuff” but what is the number one reason you are crafting it?  In WoW, you may find some alternative uses for crafting early on, but once you pass level thirty, the crafting system takes a nose dive off a thousand foot sheer cliff, and turns more into a money maker where most people stop after refining and don’t actually get to the crafting part.  They refine material to sell in the auction house.

There’s a place for this, but there’s also no tangible use for the fully crafted goods.  We call these crafting systems?

Are we undermining raids and battlegrounds, if we take away their gear drops?  I don’t think so.  It’s shifting responsiblities back into their proper places, and improving the game dramatically.  Can’t there be other uber drops in raids and battlegrounds?  I don’t see why not.

If players and/or developers feel that one area of the game ends up having to take priority over the other as far as where the best loot comes from, then I still see the logical conclusion that it should be crafting.  I personally don’t see it undermining raids or “end-game” content because there is plenty to achieve in doing raids, and players will still have a source to obtain the best gear to run more raids and gear up for battlegrounds.

I’m still a bit skeptical about the inner working of Alganon, that is now in beta.  But they mention this very aspect which made me smile knowing that others agreed with me.  We all love that.  But that’s not the only reason for me to push a subject like this.  I think it stands on it’s own two feet when it comes to what role different parts of a MMORPG should play.

World of Warcraft Cash Shop pets: My Two Cents

Posted in General, WoW with tags , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

Nobody else seemed to be using the cheesy title pun, so I will.

As for the issue…

Good for them.  The pets look nice, and ten bucks is, well ten bucks.

Will I buy one? No.  I like the panda, but I already have my cute little polar bear from the winter event, and that fulfills my cute bear needs.

P.S.

I wonder what the Common Sense Gamer has to say about this (elbows him in ribs and snickers).

Current Online Gaming Plans

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

As I am partially back online and gearing up to be back full-time, I am sharing my list of near future gaming plans.

Download DDO

I’m downloading Dungeons and Dragons Online.  What’s the proper short form for this anyway? DDOEU- Dungeons and Dragons Online Eberron Unlimited,  DDEU, DDOU, or just DDO?  Because of my current situation it may be a day or two before I can actually try it out.  Any opinions are welcome.

WoW

I’m having quite the headache with World of Warcraft.  I have forgotten my log in and only have vague memories of what my account name and password are.  So I go to try and get them to be told my account has been merged with battle.net.  But when I go to battle.net it says I have no merged WoW account and asks me to do it.  So I tell it to merge my account, where it asks me for my WoW account and password only to tell me it’s been merged and I need to go to my battle.net account.  An evil vicious loop.  I’ll plan a day to actually call and talk to a live person in hopes of sorting this out.

I was just going to wait for Cataclysm, but I figure on using the 2-month time card that has currently been collecting dust and figure by the time of the expansion, I’ll be able to afford more time cards or pay online.

RoM

I’ve successfuly updated my client and logged back into Runes of Magic.  I’ll be continuing my RoM Diary and what not for now.

My Blog and Writing

As for other online gaming related matters.  I need to get back in touch with some sites I had been writing for.  I can finally start emailing and staying in contact in a regular like fashion.  I’ve been writing that RoM “book”(fanfic if you prefer).  It’s fun but my creative prose needs a ton of work.

Learning to Learn World Lore

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , on August 13, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

This is a pre-emptive blog post.  I’m not officially back yet but I was just too excited at the prospect of being back in less than 2 weeks.

Many years ago, I learned a little reading tip that I’ve continued to use all my life and couldn’t live without.  It goes something like this:

When starting to read a book, do not start with the first page.  Explore the book, read and learn what it has to offer before you even open it.  Take time to look at the spine; see who the author and publishing company are; take a look at the back; read the synopses, look for significant praise from other authors or companies; read the inside cover flaps or scan over the first few publishing pages.  All of this can give you great insight into what the book is like; the author’s writing style, a clearer distinction of the audience it’s inteded for and whether it’s language appropriate.  Many things can be garnered from looking over the book, or any written work, before ever starting on page 1.

I’ve done this my whole life and most likely will never quit.  It sounds trite doesn’t it?  But after teaching myself this habit and using it for many years now, but I’d feel totally naked and ignorant if I didn’t do this.

I think I take this reading habit with me everywhere, and even into MMORPGs.  I try to look up many things on a games website.  I usually go straight for an “about” or “tutorial” page, then move onto media; screenshots, video, and maps, then depending what else they offer, move onto the forums to guage the community and glean anymore “feelings” about the game I can.

It’s served me well, I think.

It’s probably why I feel Runes of Magic has an abundance of World Lore, while the majority of the spoken community seems to feel it has very little(even for its young age).

It seems to be the trend within the wider F2P community.  I feel there’s a pretty large spectrum within F2P, but overall compared to subscriber based games, I think F2P’s do come out as thinner books.

Come to think about it, I haven’t done this yet with WoW, probably because I was rushed in by some friends.  It was hard enough keeping up with them in game without trying to spend my own time in even a few other places to learn about the games lore.

But my somewhat swiss cheese of a brain tells me that I never really garnered a lot of world lore from the majority of quests I did, and I’m now level 65 or so in W0W(give or take a few levels).

Regardless, I’m sure WoW has a healthy amount of world lore, it’s just delivered differently.

Even the graphical style of the game is, in its own way, part of the world lore.  It “tells” you what the world looks like.  It says “I’m like a ‘Knights of the Round Table fantasy’, or ‘I’m like Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter with a dash of Harry Potter’.  Seeing one land burnt out next to a caravan of armed troops is “story”.

I think It’s a good idea to scratch the surface if you want world lore.  We shouldn’t expect it all to be handed to us like an online book.  Look through the different pages of the site, pay attention to at least some of the quests, in short- look around.

Commentary on Massively Speaking #60

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , , , , on July 8, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

Massively Speaking is an MMORPG podcast that this week talks some about “redefining MMOs”, “Runes of Magic” as well as other current events.

Their “redefining MMOs” series is interesting, and I actually wrote a piece that hits on that subject, while pointing to a possible evolution of where MMORPGs may be headed in the future (see Gamebunny Article).

More directly to Massively’s first article on the terminology.  I feel the social terms that have developed naturally are still sufficient:

  • MMO
  • MMOFPS
  • MMORTS
  • MMORPG
  • Etc…

I think those are very adequate to describe online games.  I think the focus is on how the person uses those terms.  I always try to be careful in delineating between just MMO or MMORPG when I’m discussing games.

I think there may be changes in terminology and how we should be using it, but I think the heart of it is that the terms are being shaped by the small, recent evolutionary changes that many genre of MMOs are undergoing and players perceptions on how they are deriving fun from MMORPGs.

  • Casual based like Freerealms are becoming popular
  • MMORPGs are inserting more horizontal gameplay that resembles activities in other virtual worlds like Second Life.

The player base seems to slowly be evolving as they are changing how they get fun out of these games.  There’s still raiding and gear grinding, and will always be those focuses in a game.  But as a whole I think players are starting to explore more how they are having fun, out of a desire to want(or need) something new.

Games like Everquest, that’s been around for 10 years, may be around for another 10.  Players who want nothing but arena PvP and raiding for gear will always find joy in World of Warcraft.  The fact that WoW has the largest player base shows these player perceptions aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

On the other side though, games like Everquest have been slowly adding massive amounts of horizontal gameplay with player housing and crafting.  Freerealms is garnering much attention with their very casual atmosphere and mni-games.  Runes of Magic and EVE online have slowly but steadily been getting more players as time goes by and both these games offer a lot that isn’t directed toward reaching level cap, and raiding for gear.

It will be interesting to see where this progression takes MMORPGs and other MMOs in the next 10 years.

Runes of Magic Story Telling

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2009 by howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg

I was reading some of the winners of the writing contest, and thinking more about RoM’s world lore while listening to the No Prisoners, No mercy podcast.

Saylah was in no way bashing RoM when she described the game as being:

…part Everquest 2, part Lord of the Rings Online, and part World of Warcraft smooshed together into a generic fantasy world…

It’s quite a flattering comparison-description.  Yet that haunting word kept nipping at the back of my mind: generic.

I re-read all the flavortext on the different zones, and the world lore which is mainly back story of the worlds creation and previous “eras” leading up to the current one.  It all seemed to be back story- ancient history.

I then went back through my memory of taking my Twink through Sascilia Steppe’s world quests, up to level 15 quests.  I wanted to refresh myself on how much story was sprinkled through quests to compare with Sacilia’s more specific zone stories.

When you get your second class, at level 10, you also get two 60-minute cool down teleport skills:

  • To Logar in Howling Mtns.
  • To Reifort in Sascilia Steppes

You’ll teleport in to Reifort Camp which is not much more than an encampment of various sized tents.  There is however all the amenities:

  • Auctionhouse
  • House Maid
  • Crafting Stations
  • Daily Quest  Board

Reifort Camp is located at a crossroads.  The East road leads safely into Dust Devil Canyon where you’ll run straight into Obsidian Stronghold.  The South road winds down into different NPC encampments, through Dogamor and into Dragonfang Ridge.  Taking the North road leads up and turns westward taking you through a couple tiny caravans and into Ayren Caravan which lies outside of Khant.

The Ayren-Caravan has the best and strongest warriors amongst all the white-fur caravans, and after listening to Saylah speak of the vibrant life-like feel of RoM’s hubs filled with many NPC’s and players attracted to stay or hangout by having crafting stations and the like in every area, I really started to see how it did feed on my perceptions.  I found myself enjoying the experience much more than I would in the ghost-town-hubs of World of Warcraft.

Going back over these quests from memory and a little help from getbuffed.com’s database, I started piecing the quest’s flavor text together.

It slowly dawned on me how subtle and intricate the world quests work together with the current world lore and the player completing the quests.

It really is as the main RoM site says:

Now the time has come for you to explore Taborea and shape its future.

I think the cliche sound of it belittles the uniqueness and overall size of Runes of Magic’s world lore. As importantly as that, the quests almost too secretly slip in objectives- some with and some without accompanying text that has the player involved in the story while on the outset they think they’re just “killing ten rats”.

I noticed there are small quest chains that can be found in and around major areas where people genuinely want to be.  You have a community that you are part of more so than a place that just implements quests for the sake of having quests.  There’s no traveling out to the middle of nowhere to find a quest to kill ten rats where there’s no reason to.

These quest chains that can be from a single NPC before jumping to another NPC to do a few more quests lead you through little mini-chapters of the story that you are actively involved in.

Ayren Caravan has you start out killing 15 Blackhoof’s over and over to recover supplies for the Caravan, but through that you are actively involved in helping fight on the White-fur’s side after they made a hasty retreat from Khant.  You’ll learn a bit about the current situation and be led to other tiny quest chains that reveal major story players.  One major story element that you shape is about Pasper and his shrine.  You have to do the quests to learn the details of what lead Pasper down his “road” and by the end of all these quests you have a story.  One subtedly is the completion of a quest locating a ruin that once you locate and touch it a spirit will be released, that you quickly kill.  But the tiny things like what they say when you kill them is discovering some in-between flesh of the world lore that…fleshes out the world lore more.

A game like World of Warcraft has similar quests but I think the difference lies in pre-created world lore segments or player created world lore.

WoW has quests that inform you of evil spirits or bosses that came to power and you have to destroy them.  They are good quests that I find fun.  The story is told in a repeatable way, so whenever a new player gets the quest they can do it and are informed of the story surrounding that which fleshes out the world lore.

In Runes of Magic the story is not laid out “around” the quest objective(s).  It is laid out through the quests, where by the end of a quest or chain of quests have advanced the story beyond the world lore you’ll  currently find on the main RoM site.

Pre-created World Lore:

Another way to view it is that you(the character) are learning world lore through various NPC stories within a game like WoW. It may be a series of quests set up like this:

  • An NPC sets the scene
  • You’ll fight the enemy/collect stolen items/etc…
  • You’ll find out more how a boss or enemy group came to power which…
  • leads you to take a quest to kill a small boss
  • by the end you have the story

This is a fine way to tell a story, and you can create a lot of this in advance, but ultimately how much does it do to really affect or shape the world lore?

So I killed a band of pig-men and there leader.  Doesn’t really have a large effect on the world.

Player Created World Lore:

Runes of Magic has a similar set up but, I think, with some subtle differences that have a direct affect on the whole game world.

  • An NPC sets the scene
  • You’ll fight the enemy/collect stolen items/etc…
    • Through some of these you’ll release a ghost that’s a main NPC from the world lore or thwart the efforts of an major enemy, both that will have major concequences over the area or zone.
  • You’ll find out more how a boss or enemy group came to power which…
    • You’ll create a timespan where the quests you are involved in is the story to fill that Timeline.
  • leads you to take a quest to kill a small boss
  • by the end you know what the story is, not told to you in segments by the NPC’s so much as participating in the rise of power of an enemy or vice-versa.

Closing:

It’s hard to explain this as I obviously lack the lexicon to paint just the right picture, but let’s look at two other sample quests:

  • You need to collect a series of tools which leads to the balance of power shifting between 2 factions. You may also need to investigate a ruin, but upon investigating you advance a story element.  When combined with other quests or quest chains in the same zone, and combine those story advances that you created by repairing an altar or opening a portal, the story lies mainly in the game, or just as much in the game as in flavor text you look up on the website.  Later this could be added and the next chapter is again for you to create through playing.
  • Or you do a quest or series of quests where the flavor text is just handed to you and if fact could be pre-released in it’s entirety on the web site for players to read, and still let you “be a part of”.

So I think, yes: Runes of Magic really doesn’t have much World Lore for those interested in going to the website and reading, because the “other half” is in the game for you to be a part of in unique timelines that waits for you to continue it whereby when you are done with those quests you could write out and it coud fill many pages.

After going through those first 15 levels of quests with my Twink Abernacky, I started playing through the story of it in my mind.  I found that combined with a colorful imagination, and the background text of the zone, I could fill a standard sized book with a fantastic story that only revolved around one zone’s series of quests(or less).

There is just some small subtle mechanic that has a larger implication on how the player recieves the story wich is the world lore, and at the same time wouldn’t quite make sense to write that all out in advance.  I suspect it will be more evident as the game grows and ages resulting in more story telling mechanics.

I hope to improve my writing to the point where I can pinpoint these ideas to come back to this post and revise it.