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Casual Thoughts from a Semi-Retired Philosopher

I play MMOs as an alternative to TV. Sometimes it even turns into quality time with the wife and daughter. Most of the time it's a distraction from doing something productive or meaningful.

Author: Hluill

So I took a break from TSW to play GW2

Posted by Hluill Friday August 31 2012 at 9:11AM
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The girlfriend wasn't interested in The Secret World.  She listened to my stories of adventures there with interest, but not enough interest to join me.  She was busy anticipating the release of Guild Wars 2.  And I was to.  It looked interesting, to be certain.

So we bought the digital download and got into the prerelease.  We had to poach her office's really high-speed for four-hours of downloads.  And then we had to sit through a few more downloads.  Finding each other and grouping was a major pain in the ass, but we did eventually and stayed grouped even after logging out.

My first challenge: create my old favorites, Hluill and Leyek.  This was tough.  From my old EQ days Hluill is a barbarian rogue and Leyek is his half-elf daughter.  Leyek became human in EQ2 by means of a handy potion after I couldn't stand the skinny half-elf model anymore.  They both became human in TSW, but I am still wrestling with my faction choices there.

After a few rerolls, they became Norns in GW2.  I want to rant about the avatar models in GW2, but, in fairness, all MMOs have issues in this area and GW2's are no worse.  Getting the tough-chick look for Leyek was easier than the charming-rogue look for Hluill.  I am still a bit irked that the naming filter didn't like "Hluillsdottir", especially after seeing similar names in game.

So now Leyek is twenty-second level and I've been having fun.  The game is designed to be fun.  I am free to help other players without having to worry about loot or experience.  I can explore and quest at the same time.  Gathering earns experience and materials are deposited with a simple click.  Leyek has completed several dailies and finished a few maps.

Part of me wonders and worries: Is this it?  Are these five Greatsword-attacks all that I get for the next sixty levels?  Is crafting just going to be this mindless?  Is it always going to be this hard to "Join in" with my girlfriend's characters?

I can't help but harken to my days on old EQ.  Sure, some of my nostalgia is based on the newness of it, but a bigger portion is based on the friends I had there.  I would get up early just to play with friends in different time zones and different work scheduals.  Why did I have so many good friends there?  Because I needed them.  Old EQ was fifty-percent solo-able, at best.  In one form or another, a group made grinding experience easier and faster.  And during the mandatory pauses for mana and health regeneration, there was time to chat and get to know each other.

I made some friends in the the original EQ2 this way.  I haven't made any since.  As I look at current MMO design, I don't think I will.

The Secret World may be worth a Lifetime Sub.

Posted by Hluill Saturday August 18 2012 at 6:12PM
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If you've read my last two blogs you'd think I was less than excited about this game.  I am very critical of its inaccuracies.  Of course, I am the guy that almost walked out of "The Two Towers" during that ridiculous cavalry-charge scene.  I still bought the movie and watch it from time to time (and certain Jackson-ized scenes still really irk me).

I know the world is an imperfect place.  I think our imperfections are what makes us perfect.  But enough philosophizing.

I am enjoying this game.  It's hard to play.  There is no mindless grind.  Even green encounters can kick my ass.  It ain't just pull, kill, pull, kill, etc.  Some of the missions (I still want to call them quests) are taking me hours and several sessions to complete.  I get done with some of the encounters and I am feeling drained.  This game has made me sigh and shout and scream.  I like to be challenged.

I've spent hours angsting over how to spend my Ability Points.  When I play more level-oriented MMOs, leveling is cool, but many times meaningless.  A new level translates into more health and maybe a new attack.  In The Secret World, I am always plotting and saving and drooling over new abilities.  Should I continue to save for the Elite Ability?  Should I finish out lower parts of the wheel?  Do I need more damage?  Is that heal worth it?  How can I exploit the hinderences and impairments I've created?

Sure it's discouraging to save and save and save only to find out that fifty-point ability ain't as awesome as I thought.  And I had to waste over a hundred points on other useless abilities just to get to it.  But then I learn more, experiment some, and try out some funky builds.  Sometimes I get really desperate after getting my ass kicked a few times in a row and I try some really weird stuff.  Sometimes having "wasted" all those points on those "useless" abilities pays off.

Truth is, the animation of the attack is as important as the effectiveness.  And I am spending most of my tokens on molds.  A couple of my weapons are probably out of date, but I ain't givin' up my M4 for no one.  And my tank is still carrying her Taurus Pistols (though I miss her Sigs).

This game, with is limitless outfits is as much about appearence as anything.  I am cool with that.  I am playing it on a screen.  And while "Sarge's" uniform makes me want to puke, I'm still doing missions for him.

An Email to the Developers at TSW

Posted by Hluill Tuesday August 14 2012 at 4:32PM
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I wrote the following after finally working my way through the Savage Coast to the Blue Mountains.


Concerning The Secret World:

I knew I was going to have issues with the game.  I am an old soldier and a firearms instructor, so most modern-day media depicting firearms give me some issues.  Most of the time, I just grimace and move on.  The weapon-use animations in this game are mostly silly (like dual-wielding pistols, short-ranged ARs, hip shooting, etc.) but they are fun and I understand the context.  Then I started seeing some interesting weapon graphics...

I flinched at trading my Sigs in for Glocks, but then I hate Glocks.

I shake my head at how the grenade launchers are mounted on the ARs.

Then I see sniper rifles.  Then I see crew-served machine guns being carried like rifles.

Okay, so I try not to pay too close attention.

Then I travel to the Blue Mountains, to the Forward Operating Base by the southern entrance.  The scene is absolutely so ridiculous that I may quit the game.  I am embarrassed by how upset I am.  I am truly offended by the sheer ignorance  the scene displays.  With all the veterans running around, looking for work, no one thought to consult one for a little technical direction. 

I was debating on whether to renew my subscription or not.  Now it is seemly enough to make it not.  Apologies for my sensitivity.

Thanks for your time.


I have since reflected much about the scene and why it upset me so much.  And I still don't have an answer.  Part of me would love to dismiss it and keep playing.  Part of me wants to wait and see what kind of response I receive.  I received one quickly in game and it was cordial.  I do appreciate that.

I guess part of me is dissappointed.  Some much thought went into the lore of this game.  So the developers then display such blatant ignorance.  Well, I guess I am overly sensitive to such things...

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