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You ain't got no alibi.

Author: LadyAlibi

Back in the saddle

Posted by LadyAlibi Tuesday June 4 2013 at 6:14PM
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Hello, MMORPG.COM! Long time, no see! 

I haven't really been around the site for a long time because I stopped playing MMOs a couple of years ago. It wasn't some kind of conscious decision to avoid MMO games. I just had a lot of changes going on in my life that didn't leave a lot of time for playing any kind of games, nor reading about them, and certainly not for writing about them.  I have a little more time on my hands for the next couple of months, so here I am, playing, reading, and writing. 


I am playing Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. I am having a good time in the game. It has been a good place to step back into playing MMOs for me. I am playing free-to-play at the moment, but I am seriously considering subscribing for the next couple of months to support a game that I am having fun in.


I am downloading/reinstalling EverQuest even as I type this. I have some notion in my head about running a new character up over the next couple of months.  Sometimes starting over is less frustrating than trying to step back into your old shoes when you haven't played a game in a long time.


I have this urge to install and try a whole bunch of different games, but I will only be playing until school starts again, so I'd rather concentrate on one or two games, to try to have as full an experience as I can, instead of doing a lot of game hopping. I am a full-time college student, a single mom, and I work too, so playing games just doesn't fit into my regular schedule. This is just a summer fling.



Neurotic Nattering

Posted by LadyAlibi Monday January 24 2011 at 10:08PM
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I can't decide if I want to pre-order Rift or not. Or if I am even going to play at launch or not. Do I like Rift, from what I've seen in the beta events? Yes, I do. But is it something I am going to want to play for more than a couple of months once I can play it all the time? I don't know. I am getting cold feet, fearing that its similarity to WoW and other 'modern' MMOs means that it won't be worth the purchase price when I quit 2 months later and never look back.


I do know that I liked WoW when I got a glimpse of it during some pre-release stress testing. I thought it was going to be a really great game and a huge hit. I didn't buy it right at release, but about a month later, for Christmas. Six months later, I finally cancelled my subscription because I realized that I was paying a subscription for a game I wasn't playing. My highest level character was 33 or 34. Even then, 6 months to get to the low 30's was ridiculously, unbelievably slow, but that's what  happens when you find yourself avoiding a game.


That, by the way, is not WoW-bashing. I have friends who are still begging me to come play WoW with them, and I really want to play a game with them, but every return is the same. It's not the game. It's me. The game is great, but for me, it feels like an unbearable drag. When you keep finding new chores to do around the house instead of logging in, you know a game isn't for you.


I have joined a guild in Rift for beta, and they are really nice folks. I wouldn't mind playing with them some more.  Finding people to play with can make a game a lot more fun, and keep it fun longer. But I have fallen behind everyone else in level already, and I don't like the feeling of being the noob in the guild. 


Maybe WoW would be more fun with people I know to play with. Perhaps I should give it another try with the people asking me to play. I am not all that keen on starting 6 years late. If I hate feeling like a noob because I am a few levels behind, how would I feel being years and years behind?


I can answer that based on my experience subscribing to EQ2 very late for a couple of months-- it sucks being years late to a party. I didn't know the abbreviations or where different zones were, or what was what in terms of gear. I felt stupid. I didn't like it.  But the people asking me to play WoW are already my friends, so, in theory, they are more likely to help me along, right?


So... ANYWAY... To Rift or not to Rift? I think I'll keep doing what I am doing for a few more weeks-- dropping in for the beta events and playing a boatload of free-to-plays in between, giving myself time to work out what's worth parting with my money for.

Happy Holidays... Even Happier Post-Holidays

Posted by LadyAlibi Tuesday November 23 2010 at 7:51PM
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Happy Thanksgiving, all ye denizens from the US!


I have been getting a flurry of emails about upcoming holiday events in different games I have played. Many of those things start this week/weekend. My L2 account is even being reactivated until Dec. 7. I just wish I'd be around to check all this goodness out. I'll be traveling for Thanksgiving tomorrow and won't return until Monday, just in time to dive head first into the chaos that is December. 


Holiday magic doesn't happen by accident. If you have a really great homemade cookie or go to a holiday party that's a lot of fun this December, someone worked hard on that. (And in our family, with my aging mother not quite up to it these days, that someone is me.)


 Luckily, I live in a place where we're likely to be snowed in a lot starting in January. Midwinter is my season of MMO playing. Really, there's nowhere else to go and not a lot else going on.  That's the time of year I am looking forward to, when the holiday stress and work is over and the games begin!


Your Combat Isn't My Combat, But Your Combat Is Okay.

Posted by LadyAlibi Monday November 22 2010 at 9:55AM
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There seem to be an increasing number of titles coming into the MMO market that have combat based more on player skill rather than on character skill. This probably makes a lot of gamers really happy, since they enjoy that sort of twitch-based gameplay, but that sort of thing is an immediate turn-off for me. I play MMORPGs more for the RP part than for the G part. I want my character's performance to be based on their skills, not on mine. I am not the crazy ninja that I might be playing in the game. 


I don't play 'shooter' games.  I just don't have the coordination or the reflexes for it, so I am just bad at them. After I've played for a while, my skill seems to improve only a little bit, and I end up relying entirely on cheesy ambush tactics. Anyway, it's not fun to play a game that you're bad at and can't get significantly better at. Considering the number of physically and/or neurologically disabled players I've played with in MMORPGs over the years, I don't think I am the only one who would steer clear of more 'player skill' or twitch oriented games for that reason. 


There's nothing wrong with that more player-skill oriented gameplay, of course, for people who enjoy playing that way, and for them, these new games are long overdue. Right now, there aren't really very many of those games. My fear is that these will eventually become the majority of the games, shutting out the RP players in favor of the G players.


I will not deny that the current 'auto-attack' style of combat could be improved in many games. Unfortunately, there seem to be quite a few games (or some classes in some games) where it is possible to play by just randomly mashing hotkeys til the monster or opponent is dead.  That's just poor design.  


Some games seem to ask more of the player in terms of paying attention and using the right skills at the right time. Sometimes this is an explicit mechanic of the game, as in the case of games with 'combos' or 'chains'. Sometimes it is more subtle, as in games where skills might have effects that can be good at some times and bad at others. This is a different kind of player skill, and I would agree that we need to see more of that. 


I would also like to see more alternatives to combat. Some games have tried to put in alternate activities and progression, but those options have been pretty awful thus far. But that is probably a subject for another blog entry, another time.

A Little Random Comment

Posted by LadyAlibi Thursday September 30 2010 at 9:55AM
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So, in the previous installment, I mentioned a quest in Jade Dynasty where you get sent to meet with a character named Shaw Danon in a zone called Southern Border. Here's the punchline to that anecdote: he's not there. He's been moved to the Divine Realm (home of the Athan race) and all that's left in Southern Border to finish that quest is a pop-up box when you walk over a certain spot.


This is a tiny peeve of mine. I am slightly annoyed when things change in a game, but they don't follow through and change all the things that were related. I get annoyed when a quest tells me to do one thing, but due to changes, I have to do something else, and the only way to find out that something else is to stumble on it accidentally or hit the forums. I hate when there are quests in a game that can't be done because they've changed it or were never finished in the first place. I also hate finding out I've held onto quest items that no longer have an associated quest or were intended for a quest that never made it into the game.


That last bit is less of an issue now, since most modern games don't treat quest items as actual items, it seems. But still, there's the underlying principle of it, which you still see in games. It's just shoddy craftsmanship.


In fact, my peeve extends to all instances where the craftsmanship leaves something to be desired. I am willing to overlook rough edges and bugs galore when it is coming from an indie studio that's really just two guys in a garage. When you're talking about a game that's tens of millions of dollars in the making by a studio full of professionals, I am somewhat less forgiving. I just want them to take the time and the care to tie up loose ends and keep the edges from getting frayed. 

Too much time on my hands... My week in F2P

Posted by LadyAlibi Saturday July 10 2010 at 4:12PM
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I have recently returned to Jade Dynasty after a couple of months off. I had played a character to 103 pretty quickly and burned out, and then stepped back into that character and busted out 103 and 104 so that I could get to 105 and get out of Incense Valley at last.

So today I hit 105 and went trekking to do the "mandatory" quest.  For all those previous levels, you're one step behind Shaw Danon, the main character in the storyline. Half the NPCs are girls that love him,  and the other half say, "Oh, he was just here."  After a sidetrip into a story about a conspiracy in Incense Valley, you're actually sent to talk to the man himself. The quest goes something like this:

Enu (the quest guy): Go talk to Shaw Danon

Me: Wut?!

Enu: Oh, yeah. He's in Southern Border. We've known that all along.

Me: Wut?!

Enu: lulz


(That's paraphrasing... a lot. And I just imagined Enu laughing at me. But you get the idea.)

I don't usually care about story in games, but for some reason, the soap opera quality of this particular story got my attention a little bit. That's something, since I usually just click through to the how much of what to kill part. I don't think it's a game for everyone or that the story is really THAT good. This is more of a simple self-observation on my part.

***In other news...

I have also been playing Aika quite a bit lately. I am still really low level because I only play on nights that I work in our shop, and I've missed a few lately for  various reasons. Still, I am plugging along on my now level 18 cleric. I have done Zantorian Citadel a few times, normal and hard, and I've made some friends doing that. I am pretty good as a healer, and I am not going to deny that it makes me smile when I hear it from other people. 

I've been randomly PK'd a couple of times playing on PvP and I've been splattered a few times in the Arena thing, but that doesn't hurt my feelings. This is probably why I enjoyed the old days in UO and L2, while people around me were bailing left and right. If you can't take a fair death, there are some games you just shouldn't play.

What else?

I installed Flyff, drawn in by the cute little (temporary) pets given away on this site this week. I had played Flyff at one point before, I guess a  few years ago now. I have to say, for something with such low sys reqs, the lag in town was off the charts. A pet that collects things that drop is pretty cool in a game where stuff hits the ground, so at least I wasn't totally disappointed with that. I don't think I'll really play, though. I might leave it on my computer for the kids.


I downloaded Shaiya, which was recommended to me somewhere at some point. I haven't played much yet. I went for the Union of Fury and created an oracle. So far, so good. Haven't played enough to have an opinion yet.


I am trying out a subscription game called Vendetta Online. It's a space game. It has a Linux client, as well as Windows and Mac. That's how it got my attention. An hour or so in, I remember why it is that I don't play EVE or other space games-- I suck at them. Hardcore suckage, right here.  I can't hit things I am shooting at. I only seem capable of hitting things I don't want to shoot.  The game might appeal to someone looking for a very low sys reqs space shooter, or to someone looking for a sci-fi MMO for Linux. 


I downloaded FairyStory Online because I got an email inviting me to come play. It doesn't seem to have anything really original or special going for it so far. Not only are all the characters cute, but they are all kids. If you like the burly men or the curvy ladies to look at while you play, this is not your game. I've played a lot of games with really bad Engrish (as they say), and this is one of those. If you are like me and just click to the end of quests anyway, or if you find poor translations absolutely hilarious, you could check it out, I guess. As for me, I think it's going to the recycle bin. There are too many (relatively) good games out to play ones that aren't so great.


My 11-year-old daughter is addicted to Battle of the Immortals. I was playing that with her a bit, but she left me in the dust. She says she likes the fast pace.

... And suddenly I am having the urge to start a weekly feature here, presenting gaming advice from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl.

Hey, she's not the worst person to take advice from. My mother's gaming advice would be to stop doing it and go do something productive with your free time. This just makes me want to ask if it still counts as "free time" if it has to be productive, but that's not a can of worms I am prepared to get into.


Oh, an update to that last entry, where I was ranting about my husband buying me parts of a computer:

I was sent two motherboards because one was questionable. I put it all together with the first motherboard and other spare parts and it  worked, but was soon giving me the problems I'd been warned about, so I decided to quit messing with it for a while and to switch to the other motherboard later. This wasn't quick enough for my husband, who decided he'd do it himself... and broke the processor while trying to force the heatsink fan on. Brute force FAIL. So I am back to my old computer, which is running like a champ with a good cleaning and a fresh Windows install.




Personal and Rantish. You have been warned.

Posted by LadyAlibi Thursday June 10 2010 at 3:31PM
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The first part of this is personal rant, but it is related to the second part, which is actually MMO stuff. There's just no good place to post this sort of thing, but I want to get it off my chest anyway...

I have a policy of not doing business with friends or family. I don't lend to them, I don't borrow from them, I don't sell to them, and I don't buy from them. I've had enough of that drama already. You can imagine how happy I was when my husband agreed to buy a bunch of computer parts for me from an acquaintance, a friend of my son. I think we know him well enough at this point for him to fall in the friends category-- he's stayed here with our son a couple of times for a couple of weeks at a time.

It's been two months and we're still waiting for the parts to be shipped. He says he gave them to his father last week for shipping, but they aren't here, so I don't know what's going on with that. All I know is that I am really annoyed.

I might mention that these parts in no way constitute an entire system-- he's supposed to be sending a motherboard, CPU, RAM, and video card.  I can probably recycle an old case, but I will still need a hard drive, probably some sort of ROM drive (DVD, CD, whatever) and an operating system to turn it into something useful. I actually had plans to buy a new computer and had plans for my old one, so this whole plan doesn't suit me.

Did I mention that none of these parts are new? They are all out of computers the kid upgraded. He estimated prices based on Newegg... If he was going to do that, why didn't we just skip the middle man and buy new parts from Newegg?

Gentlemen, consult your ladies before you make plans for hardware, especially if it is supposed to be their hardware.

With all that said, right now, the best system I have access to (i.e. that isn't entirely my husband's) is a laptop. It's pretty new and has let me get my feet wet in a bunch of games that my old computer couldn't handle, but it leaves something to be desired. The video doesn't work for everything, and a laptop means a laptop keyboard, which isn't my favorite thing. 

It doesn't work with Age of Conan, for instance-- it's playable if you don't mind everyone being naked and partially invisible.  My character didn't have a face-- just eyeballs and teeth. That was a little creepy. Oh, and the terrain would occasionally disappear. I'd like to give that game another chance, once I can play it and have a face at the same time.

I was also able to finally try Vanguard. I had to disable the sound  to get it to work, which apparently was a problem other people had and that had supposedly been patched. It did run without sound, though, and I often turn off game sound anyway, so that wasn't a huge deal.  The performance was ok, but a little slow in places. I'd like to give that game another try at some point on a somewhat better system, and maybe even with sound, preferably when my husband and I can play together. It didn't really grab me, but I also feel like I didn't really give it a fair shake.

So, anyway, I hope to have a really nice system before the next round of major new releases. I am afraid to hope for too much, but it would be nice to get into a game at the beginning for a change. I hate to admit it, but I do like fantasy games, so there should be a large crop to pick from. There are always more fantasy games coming. 

Although I never did get into FFXI on the couple of occasions that I tried it long after release, I am interested in FFXIV. I hope that the UI is more PC-friendly and that I can get more quickly involved in the in-game community if I start close to release. (Yes, I know that FFXI could be "fixed" with configuration and macros, but it certainly wasn't friendly out of the box.) The videos look pretty good to me, really, and what I've heard sounds like it might be something I'd like.

Another game-in-development that I am at least somewhat interested in is Rift: Planes of Telara. I am not yet convinced that it will really be that much more than a standard fantasy game, but it looks interesting to me anyway. I guess we'll know more about it over time.

I used to follow MMO news very closely, but I haven't in a couple of years, due to having an older system and having other things going on in my life. Are there any outstanding games that I should try now? Is there anything coming out in the next couple of years I should be watching?

Right now I am bouncing between f2p games. I am having a little fun, but I actually like having a game that's compelling enough to keep my attention for more than a few weeks.  I prefer PvE, but I am not afraid of PvP, especially if it is guild or faction based. I just want to find a good community of people where I can be useful in game and maybe make some friends along the way.  (Sometimes you can get an idea what sort of people a game is attracting even before it is released, just by looking at the forums.) That's what I am looking for.

Success and Failure

Posted by LadyAlibi Saturday May 29 2010 at 12:14PM
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I have seen a number of mentions in the forums on this site about the "failure" of free-to-play games in the North American (or, more broadly, the "Western") market. This has me thinking about how we define success and failure in the MMO marketplace.

Some successes are clear-cut and obvious. Nobody can argue whether or not World of Warcraft was a huge hit. It clearly was. And, being a subscription game, there is an exact number to be had to tell you exactly how many people have paid accounts at any given time.

Maplestory, on the free-to-play-unless-you-want-this-sparkly-doodad side, has been successful enough to make the news and to spawn spin-offs like a collectible card game. It is pretty clear that Nexon is raking in the cash. That would seem to be a huge success, yet it seems that the predictable forum-rat response would be that it isn't a "AAA" game, that it is a "crap" game, and can't really be compared to "real" games. What can be said about that? Nexon is laughing all the way to the bank.

And they clearly aren't the only ones. Look at the growth of Perfect World Entertainment since bringing Perfect World to the international market. They've got to be making some kind of money somewhere.

I think a lot of item mall games are doing very well. They have more players than people might think, though numbers are hard to pin down, since accounts are active and inactive at will. (I know that I come and go and then return and leave again all the time from f2p games.)  But if you have 15 people willing to pay $100 a month, that's still the equivalent of 100 players paying $15 a month, in pure revenue terms, and it turns out that a lot of free-to-play players will shell out more for their game than they ever would for a subscription. The people who don't pay still provide entertainment, social opportunities, and sometimes opponents for the people who do pay, becoming part of the product. (Look at it this way-- your friends on Facebook are part of that product too. There's not really much of any interest there if you don't have any friends. You can play games, sure, but how much will be locked because you don't have "neighbors"? )

They might not be WoW, and you might hate them with a passion, but free-to-play games are hardly a huge failure in the Western market. The fact that you don't play and neither do any of your friends doesn't make them less of a success. People are playing them, and some of those people are paying too.