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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

Black Desert Online ruined me...

Posted by Hluill Thursday September 6 2018 at 7:45PM
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Hello. my name is Hluill, and I am an MMO Addict.

I've always paid attention to my gaming time.  I gamed by a simple rule: Real Life before Digital Life.

The other day a buddy asked me if I wanted to get together.  My first thought was to say no.  I had been running marathon sessions in BDO.  I was glued to the game.

Why?  I hated the game.  Sure it was pretty.  And who doesn't like big, jiggly breasts?

The rest of it sucked:  unnecessarily complicated combat combos when a single tap of my right and left mouse-buttons finished the fight, nothing but kill and fetch quests, a really complicated crafting system that made nothing, and a story that was both bland and silly.  And perhaps my biggest gripe: stiletto-heeled sabatons.

And here I was playing this game like a heroin junkie.

As soon as I realized that I was sacrificing real face-time for game time, as soon as the thought to lie to a friend so I could play more entered my head, I knew I was done.  

You know you're an alcoholic when you're binge-drinking mouthwash.

So, I've uninstalled BDO, ESO, SotA, EQ2, TSW, and LotRO.  I've cancelled my subscriptions.  I am abandoning my cherished form of entertainment for decades.  

Wish me luck.

Bored, bored, bored and bored

Posted by Hluill Thursday January 5 2017 at 10:39AM
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So the holidays are ending.  It is the last day of Christmas.  This means I get to return to my normal routines, one of which is to log in and play for a few hours every morning.  


But which game to play?

Elder Scrolls' upscaling killed my playstyle.  Guild Wars 2 is too spammy.  Blade and Soul has none for me.  Everquest 2 seems like nothing but loading bars.  Star Wars is all about a storyline that really doesn't hold my interest.  Lord of the Rings seems to be all happening at twenty levels above me.  And it us hard to replay stories in The Secret World, no matter hwo cool they are.

So, what to play?  Well, I could get some chores done, or write friends or do something else, meaningfull or productive.  Or I could shop for a new MMORPG.  I really wish Gloria Victis was PvP centric...

Isn't it a shame that I can't find the PERFECT MMO.  Some get so close...


Basic Game Concepts: The Roll of the Die

Posted by Hluill Thursday October 20 2016 at 9:27AM
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I've thinking about doing a whole series of these.  There are some basic gaming concepts that seem to be neglected in the modern MMO design.

The first one is the Random-Number Generator.  The standard is flat.  It's a simple one through whatever with every outcome of equal probability.  Or it's just the math of damage minus protection and the only random is the chance of critical effect.  Basically, all the rolls made in MMOs are made with one die that has a hundred sides or whose number of sides change.  Some games seem not to roll dice at all and every swing hits for the same damage.


While certain outcomes should be standard and average, there should always be chances for outrageous results as well.  The lumberjack that saved his saw but lost his truck.  The invisible turtle that causes the fumble that causes the attack to hit an ally instead of an enemy.  The one arrow that finds the missing scale and takes down the dragon.

These should not be common occurrences.  But they should have a chance of occurring.  Maybe MMOs should use the I.C.E. Arms Law tables.  Maybe they should use several types of dice where certain outcomes always mean certain things.  It would be interesting to see just "to hit" rolls come back...


What is Wrong With Me

Posted by Hluill Thursday September 22 2016 at 5:42PM
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My last entry actually received a few responses!  Pretty cool.  I appreciate people taking the time to share their thoughts.

Most of them took exception to my claim that a two-handed weapon is faster than a one-handed one.  So I grabbed my Landesknecht Katzbalger and did a few forearm drills and windmills.  Then I did the same with its matching pikebreaker, which is a bit too big and heavy for me.  I then tried my Cinqedea, Lacona and my Gladius Hispanicus.  Then I did the same with my greatswords from the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.  I performed the same actions again with my wakizashi and then my dachi.

Yeah, I must've been high, but I am pretty certain that the two-handers, even that freaking huge pikebreaker, move faster, and with much more power than my one-handers...

I am a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress issues, so I am used to feeling a bit abnormal most of the time.  I am fine with that.  But it is interesting that something so basic can create such alien perceptions and opinions.

This initiated further exploration of my frustration of popular game theory.

Instead of spending hours grinding dungeons for the best gear, instead of spending hours shuffling slots in vaults and bags, instead of spending time grinding levels and health points, maybe games could focus on other things.  

Okay, I've already admitted that I am weird, but I think it's more fun to have to choose what gear to carry, just like some games make us choose amongst various skills.  A 'balanced' game (I use the term with trepidation) allows for everything to have advantages and drawbacks.  Heavy Armor and weapon is a great combo for open field combat, or close assault.  It absolutely sucks for sneaking and swimming.  A single dagger, or heavy knife, or small short-sword is great for tight places and sentry takedowns.  All you dual-wielders would rock your buff coats, rapiers and off hands in street fights.  

If I was planning to take down a boss, we might have to mix it up a bit.  I might need some friends with bows to distract the boss from my assault and to control adds.  I might need some smart and/or big guys to breach doors and walls and windows.  I might need a few guys in extra-heavy kit to go through those breaches.  There are an infinite number of variables.  And it really gets fun when we have to make do with the less-than-optimal load out.

But yeah, I am weird.  I enjoyed raids with a ranger as a tank, or a pair of rogues. I enjoyed taking down a boss without a healer (and with some creative bandage and potion use).  

My biggest mantra about MMO design is give us players as many options as possible: housing, crafting, class hybridization.  While some games seem to make progress in one area, like TSW and ESO skill systems, they regress in other places, crafting and housing and character customization.

It just seems like the MMOs are narrowing their focus to the gear-grinders.

If I Ran an MMO Company...

Posted by Hluill Sunday September 18 2016 at 7:14PM
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It has been a long time since a posted here, since February!

In that time I completely burned out on Blade and Soul and started playing Elder Scrolls Online.  And I still venture back to Lord of the Rings, Everquest 2, Star Wars and Secret World.

But I can't help but be aggravated: a definite sign that I've been playing too much and need to do something constructive and tangible!

But I can't stop obsessing that the owners of these companies need to make their developers and artists do the same.  These guys need to go out into the world and experience some of the things they are drawing and coding.  Sure, these are fictional game worlds, but I am tired of goofy stuff.

It interests me that many Hollywood producers pay for their actors to go through "boot camps" to learn some depth to their roles.  More frequently I am seeing actors that actually know how to hold a weapon and wear the gear.  I want game producers to do the same for their "actors" -- their artists and designers.

A couple things they may learn: 

Armor is heavy, and it works or else no one would wear it.

Two-handed weapons are generally faster and more accurate than one-handed ones.

Dual-wielding anything reduces effectiveness, especially full-sized weapons.

Maps need to be less detailed and show information pertinent to the guy on the ground, like obstacles!

Armor is not flattering either.  Breasts and pecs and abs are not visible through it.

Real Adventuring requires a lot of time spent deciding which gear to carry, because one cannot carry it all in a back pack.

And my immortal favorite: Anybody can kill anybody.  No skill or gear will free anyone from being defeated in combat.

Enough of a drooling rant for now.



Spending WAY too much time playing Blade & Soul

Posted by Hluill Wednesday February 17 2016 at 9:50AM
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I know when I've been spending way too much time in an MMO: I become overwhelmed with a need to rant!  

So much of the game I am really enjoying, but it's starting to get on my nerves.

Sure, I am a dirty old-man.  I enjoy breast physics as much as anybody, maybe more than most.  Not a play session goes by that I don't make my toon turn or jump just to watch her boobs jiggle.  Even with the slider to the minimum size, these girls have an abundance of jiggle. 

But, so far, I've only found one outfit for my female toons that doesn't look like lingere or a cocktail dress.  Kinda kills the immersion when going into combat wearing a corset and garters.

This becomes more of an issue when I invite female friends, like my wife and daughter, to play.

So far, I haven't seen equivalent outfits for the male avatars.  There's no slider for crotch size or outfits that celebrate it.  The boys seem to have better choices for "practical-looking" outfits as well.

I am realizing that I am not the biggest fan of "japanimation".  I have no love for chibis.  I respect the Shinto legends from which they are born, but I just can't take the Lyn characters seriously.  Their child-like voices and appearence sometimes even disturbs me.  I am a dirty-old man, but I am not a pedophile.  Child-like avatars in lingere are down right creepy to me.

I miss /say

Posted by Hluill Thursday November 12 2015 at 10:20AM
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Lord of the Rings Online now has a general chat channel.  In all the MMos that I play I have the general chat go to its own window labeled "Blather".  It can be fun to watch.  Sometimes I join in and have some great conversations.  Sometimes I just watch the conversation and wince.

How rare it is now, in any of the games I play, to see any activity in the chat window I've dedicated to /say and /emote.  Sometimes there's an exchange of /bow or /wave.  But few seem to be chatting "toon to toon".

My biggest irritant with the lack of /say use is grouping.  Blind invites seem to be the way of the games now.  No /bow, no /say, just a random interruption that blocks most of my screen.  Sometimes I am in the middle of a fight.  Sometimes I cannot even see the character that sent the invite.  Sometimes I sigh and join, but my instinct is still to ignore.  Why would i want to group with someone who doesn't want to talk to me?

I have even received blind invites to guilds!  I guess I am getting old-fashioned.

I am so tired of "Click and Wait" Crafting!

Posted by Hluill Friday October 23 2015 at 9:48AM
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So this rant in inspired by SWtOR's recent mega-update and expansion.  They updated the crafting system.

In SWtOR they call crafting "Crew Skills" because the player sends NPC companions away to gather and craft.  The new update tries to streamline this system and fails at it.

For some reason, game designers decided to introduce new, intermediate components.  So, instead of it being a "click and log out" crafting system, SWtOR is now a "Click and Wait" crafting system.


Having played Vanguard and EQ2, having learned that crafting can be fun and dynamic, this popular mechanic depresses me.  I know it's all button mashing, but it's fun to be more involved in crafting than just click and wait.

Why can't crafting be as complicated as killing in these games?



Breast Physics

Posted by Hluill Monday December 1 2014 at 10:18AM
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Browsing through my daughter's gaming magazines, I read an interesting article concerning Archeage: "Open-World Sandbox."

Huh, well now, don't that sound nifty?

I do some internet searches.  Most are fairly positive about the game.  I am at my wife's house with better internet, so I begin the six-hour download.

I ended up sacrificing Black Friday and Sad Saturday to play the game.

Some positives: Breast Physics!  Giant, jiggly boobies.  

I also enjoyed being able to mix their professions.  I like being able to develope skills to match my playstyle.  

The combat is dynamic and fun to watch.

Negatives:  Okay, the crafting sucks: Labor Points, high-level requirements, gear-gating.  Forget just being a crafter.

Queues and server crashes and lagstorms really suck.  Sorry, but standing in line for a Video Game?  Nah, too old for that crap.  

Sandbox?  Really?  I guess the definition has changed a bit since Ultima Online.  It's just as linear as any other Themepark out there.  I guess when one hits max level and has accrued enough labor points and materials they can build a house, if they can find the land.  

Have we not been paying attention to the whole Gamer Gate?  Not only do all the female avatars have giant, jiggling breasts, but most of the clothes for them are all skimpy.  My toon's starting outfit was a short, leather skirt.  No pants until you hit level eleven, sweety!  Now bend over and do some more gathering.  

In fairness, the male avatars all look like effeminate dancers, but they're mostly clothed and not sporting giant, flapping cod-pieces.

I am not thinking that I'll talk the wife into trying this one...

Good Bye Guild Wars and Hello Everquest 2

Posted by Hluill Wednesday July 30 2014 at 9:55AM
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I've never played World of Warcraft.  And I never really wanted to.

I played Everquest right after the addition of the sexy barbarians and the Plane of Knowledge.  I played for a few years and then my friends there talked me into switching to Everquest 2 a few months after its release.  It's gone through a lot of changed since then.  

But it's still the best all around game out there.  And, more importantly, it's the only game out there that my girlfriend wants to play.  I've gotten her to play LotRO, GW2, SWTOR for a extended periods.  I've let her try a myriad of others.  But she keeps coming back to EQ2.

It has housing.  Housing that can be decorated.  Decor that can be crafted.  

So we've re-installed EQ2 onto our computers.

And I am enjoying it.

The User Interface is so modifiable that it's almost overwhelming.  

Crafting is fun: it involves more than just clicking a craft button.  Though I grimace every time I cook with dirt.

Gathering is fun: because there are plenty of nodes and it's a fun way to burn a few minutes.  And Trapping provides elephant meat!

Combat is okay.  There's a wonky controversy between skill attacks and auto-attack.  Some of the movements are really bothersome.  The two-handed sword stance is really a twisted mess.

Having played a score of MMOs, I realize that they all have their immersion-breaking quirks.  Everquest 2 at least gives me the most choices.