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Tastes Gamey

This blog is about stuff. Sometimes that stuff has to do with MMORPGs.

Author: neschria

Second Life: I Am Legend tie-in game (Just a quick informational post)

Posted by neschria Monday October 29 2007 at 8:23PM
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Second Life has a movie tie-in game going on-- I am Legend: Survival. The blurb on the website is:

I Am Legend: Survival is a multiplayer first-person shooter / RPG game playable in the 3D virtual world Second Life. The game transports players into an eerie replica of over 60 acres of New York City set in the chaotic year preceding the movie, I Am Legend.

The website is http://iamlegendsurvival.warnerbros.com/ . There's a game trailer there, if you're interested.

I've failed! I've failed you all!

Posted by neschria Sunday October 28 2007 at 5:24PM
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It's October 28, and it looks like Ralutan is just plain stuck at level 20. I am afraid that somewhere around Tuesday, I caught a horrible case of altitis, from which I have not yet recovered. Even this very moment, there's a tiny voice in the back of my mind saying, "You know, it's been a long time since you last played a shaman. You could give that a go..."

You might not want to stand too close to me, or you'll likely end up with a roster crammed full of characters competing for your time. They say altitis isn't contagious, but you can never be too safe.

The next couple of days will likely be a blur of preparations for Halloween, work-related...eh... work, and NaNoWriMo prewriting, so it seems safe to say that I won't be playing any EverQuest for a while. I think if I were going to play, I'd continue playing Ralutan on Stromm and let my other, older account lapse. It was interesting seeing my old characters again, but it just wasn't the same. But, since I am going to be busy, I am not going to pay for a subscription at all for November. The new expansion doesn't look all that interesting to me, and since I didn't get anywhere near level cap... I'll pass.

The EQ2 expansion looks good, but I think I am going to pass on that too. My computer just barely runs EQ2 on low settings. Low settings still look pretty good to me (compared to what I am used to, considering what my computer will actually run), but I am rather thinking that I'll put the $40 and the $15 a month into the pile of money I've been accumulating for the sake of buying a really decent rig in the spring.

It's not a literal "pile of money". It's in the bank. Just thought I'd clear that up before someone comes and breaks my windows looking for it.

I'd hoped to go ahead and buy one out of the money we made on the sale of our old house, but we're starting a business,  and the gas company wanted a ridiculous deposit on the grounds that our new home is technically a commercial building, etc, etc, so that plan got put on hold. Welcome to the suckness that they call "Adulthood". I spent my childhood wanting to grow up for THIS?!

November and December are going to be extremely busy. When you're a kid, the holidays are all wonder and magic. When you're an adult, you get the job of creating all that wonder and magic, and then cleaning up the wonderful, magical mess afterward. I'll be going to my mother's for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that's a side order of 300 miles of driving each way to go with all the magic and wonder, and a healthy sprinkle of inevitable family tension over everthing. Yay.

 

 

Too many MMORPGs, Not Enough Time; Sandboxland ; And Ralutan Dies Some More...

Posted by neschria Monday October 22 2007 at 12:17PM
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I am really and truly torn. I've been enjoying my EQ1 experience, despite my lack of real progress, but I've also been a little side-tracked by silly, cute FIM games-- the sort that would send Dan Fortier right over the edge into a mad, foaming-at-the-mouth murder spree. And I've been enjoying being sidetracked nearly as much as I've enjoyed the game that I am actually paying for. I find that mildly disturbing. 

Does anyone else almost feel obligated to play a game after they've paid a monthly fee, or is it just me? It might just be me. I am notoriously cheap. I hop in and out of free games without a second thought, but I've made a monetary commitment to EQ1 for the month, so I feel like it should get priority, whether I am enjoying it or not.

But it is almost November, and EQ2's new expansion, Rise of Kunark, is looking very tempting. And so does the upcoming update for Lineage 2, another game that I have enjoyed in the past. (Both feature new races-- I will 'fess up right now: I am a total sucker for new races or classes in an expansion/update.)  Should I stick in EQ1? Should I go back to EQ2 or L2? I also have some thought in the back of my mind that maybe I should try WoW again, or move on to LoTRO. Or maybe I should just give up paying for games while I am caught up in all the NaNoWriMo-Holiday-Starting-A-Business activity that is likely to consume my every waking moment between November 1 and January 2.

 I certainly can't play every game that looks like fun at the moment. There just aren't enough hours in the day. I mean, unless I want to give up eating, sleeping, and bathing. I might be a pathetic RPG nerd, but I am a clean, well-rested, well-fed and even occasionally exercised, pathetic RPG nerd.

And then, of course, 2008 rolls around, and there will be even more games to choose from. How unfair is that?!

~~~

Like many of the users of this site, I played UO back in the day, and SWG, too, before the dreaded NGE, and I thought Ryzom was a fun game, though I didn't actually subscribe to it. These are the sorts of games that people like to call "sandboxes". There seems to be some differing opinion on exactly what a "sandbox" is, but it may be fair to say that it is, broadly, a game that has skills you can choose to raise, allowing you to mix and match, rather than straight up classes and levels, and it might also include ways to interact with your environment and community in ways other than straight up grouping and killing. You might be able to have a house and run a shop, for instance, or spend your game time making armor for your friends. Suffice to say, it is a game that lets you choose your way in the world, rather than having a linear progression of levels, gear, and encounters as the main objectives. That's the sort of broad definition I am going to use here.

Like many other users of this site, I am also an armchair game designer. Luckily, I have a close friend who doesn't mind discussing MMORPG design with me as long as I am willing to discuss gardening and cats with her. Out of our discussion one day, we came up with an idea for a game that she and I could both play, if it existed.

Yeah. I know. Everyone has a game design idea. But not every hypothetical game design comes out of the collaboration of two housewives chatting while they are each doing laundry one day. ;)

Our hypothetical game (the "Sandboxland" in the title of this blog) takes place in a world where there are cities, nearby countryside, and some harsh, brutal wildlands further out. So far... so common. We agreed on having everyone start with the same stats, which change depending on how you use them. We thought that it would be good to have everyone either choose or be assigned to a "family", with certain starting attributes, factions, quests, chat channels, etc, being specific to that family. There would be plenty of time to go off to join other organizations later.

My friend would like to (surprise, surprise) have a garden and livestock. She'd rather stay close to town and tend her farm and make items, potions, dyes, foods, etc, with the products of her farming. And then she'd take them to the town square and set up a booth to sell and chat. I, of course, don't want to be encumbered with a house and all the trappings thereof. Give me a universal bank and a sword, and I'm off to fend off the goblin menace. (Or whatever is menacing the farmers and merchants of the world. "Goblins" means any given hostile creature, in this case.) 

We thought that player made cities, exerting their own civilizing influence out in the harsh wilds, would be a good thing. She was in favor of permadeath. I was...*ahem*... less enthusiastic about that, being the sort most likely to end up dead from a bad case of axe-in-skull.

We thought it would be great if there was some sort of religion that actually meant something. Random visitations from the gods, prayers that are answered once in a while, some benefit from actually visting and/or contributing to the local temple. (This was probably, in the end, the most important feature we both wanted.) We discussed language possibilities, but came to the conclusion it would just be a random barrier to communication, rather than an actual feature.

We both agreed, in the end,  that the most important thing was building a detailed and interesting virtual world and letting people do whatever they want within that environment. What about storylines? Everyone has one, in the end... We thought perhaps we'd have a backstory and immediate conflicts for people to deal with (taking land from the aforementioned goblin menace, figuring out where all the goblins keep coming from, etc.) with new conflicts arising over time, plus intercity politics and PvP... But neither of us was crazy about participating in a canned storyline.

Despite the sound of it, this isn't actually meant to be a standard Tolkienesque fantasy setting. No elves, no dwarves, no wizards throwing fireballs-- just humans, some imaginary gods, and a little low magic here and there, set in a strange world with some hostile influence that has to be discovered and overcome... until the next hostile influence comes along. I think, in the end, our Sandboxland would be a game of exploring, socializing, and staking out a claim in a dark, uncharted world.  

Despite all the talk about sandboxes and their relative merits and/or shortcomings, the other sort of game seems to be the favored format right now. UO is getting quite old, SWG has changed, and Ryzom is going under (again). I don't think this is a failure of the free-and-open game idea. I think we just haven't seen a polished and refined sandbox yet. It is a sub-genre still waiting for its WoW.

~~~

I should go to guild lobby and summon Ralutan's corpses in the hopes of getting a rez or two and recovering some lost experience. I've died too much lately, generally due to my own stupidity or the failure of Root to take hold. I haven't been summoning corpses. I've been decaying them after looting (rather than leaving poor Ralutan's corpse lying around on the ground as a monument to his untimely demise).

And then I should just go back to Crescent Reach and Blightfire Moors, where I was doing quite well before I got the urge to go play elsewhere. I've got a ton of quests in my log for Blightfire I could be working on, anyway, and I could use the armor if I can manage to scare up the silk and the patterns.

I wish my husband would come play with me. I know I get on his nerves a little, but he usually plays a mage, so I miss his pet... Ummm... And his sparkling conversation and sharp wit.Yeah. That's right. I miss his wit. That's what I'll say next time I bug him to come play. That might work better than "I need your dps so I can level faster before the end of the month."

Day 19... Quillmane, I choose YOU!

Posted by neschria Friday October 19 2007 at 11:22PM
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Ralutan decided to stretch his budding wizard abilities and gated himself to North Karana today, on his way to South Karana to check out the Aviaks there (and kill them). The bird people weren't so happy about his visit, and killed him back. So, he took a naked jog back to his corpse. On his way there, he saw the elusive Quillmane.

Here, I must interject that I have a level 64 mage on Xegony who needs two things to finish her epic 1.0-- the cloak from Quillmane and the crown from Sky. Quillmane has hidden from me much of the time, and when he does show up, he drops the $#%@#!! pants instead of the cloak. So, I have a special nook of my heart carved out just for Quill-expletive-mane.

I was inspired by seeing Quillmane, so I logged in my druid on Xegony and went a-tracking. Sure enough, there he was. A root, some DoTs, and a few nukes later...

PANTS! The freakin' pants AGAIN!

Ah, camping for particular rare drops or spawns! It's almost a defining trait of EQ, isn't it? At least, that's how it was back in the good old/bad old days.

Death and all, I am creeping up on 21. I haven't been playing much the last couple of days, though. I've been busy with my family.

I baked a really nice custard tonight. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Would that be a massively-multiplayer online cookbook, with all those users submitting and reviewing all those recipes? I was very pleased, in any case, to have made a nice, smooth custard. And I didn't even burn it!

Blathering on about nothing today.

Posted by neschria Thursday October 18 2007 at 11:37AM
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I got an e-mail from Game & Game about Fiesta Online, so I clicked on over to have a look and saw that there was a link there to a US/Canada release. I clicked over to that. Outspark has that game. I haven't checked out Fiesta or their other game, Secret of the Solstice, but I did want to give them a thumbs up on having a relatively uncluttered website. Some games, particularly free and/or item mall games [hereafter "FIMs", because I am too lazy to type "free and/or item mall games" more than once...er...twice], throw too much on their front page-- too much flashy, noisy junk, too much useless information, too much of everything.

Maybe I am just a no-nonsense kind of woman (which seems unlikely, since this blog contains a great deal of nonsense), but I like tidy web pages.

I see that RFOnline has gone free. I think Codemasters has made a good decision in making Archlord and RFOnline free-to-play. Neither is really a stand-out title for a subscription game, but they may both be better than average for FIMs. I played trials for each when they were still subscription games, and I concluded in each case that they were games that I'd be willing to play for free. I might even occasionally buy something from their item malls... I just don't think that either was really worth $15 a month, month in and month out, in light of other available games.

After playing that trial for Archlord, I decided to subscribe to Lineage 2 instead. I don't think that's the effect they intended when they decided to have a free trial. But when the game went free, I re-downloaded it, and I have it set up with Paypal to let me buy stuff. I haven't actually purchased any credits, but if I were to start playing it more regularly, I might consider a few of the items they have for sale.

I used to object to item malls on principle, but they do allow you to choose how much or how little you want to spend per month, if anything. I know some people go hogwild and spend more than the $15 a month they'd have spent on a subscription game, but a little self-control can keep your spending in line with what the game is actually worth to you. In the meantime, people who buy stuff support the game and all the non-paying players give the paying customers plenty of people to play with.

Or kill, depending on the game.

I decided to reactivate my old EQ account last night. I have a level 73 SK on Xegony. I logged her in and...

I was in West Karana with res effects and no spells memorized. It was definitely a WTF moment.

I remember now that we'd gone out for some necro's 1.5 or 2.0 fight there... or something... And that must have been the last time I played. I had a Conviction (HP/AC buff), so I ran her to NK, caught a ride to Nexus and hopped over to PoK>Guild Lobby>Guild Hall, where I logged out.

I reactivated the account because it has everything except TBS on it and I intend to do a little 2boxing. I hopped from Xegony to Stromm, where I had a bunch of low level characters, many of which were made before there was a tutorial, when the server first came up. I selected the "Tutorial" button from character select and went to start working on a druid named Geanie. Geanie and Ralutan... That doesn't really match. Oh, well.

Does this make me my own girlfriend? Or boyfriend? Whatever. I don't think that's something I am going to think about anymore. (LOL)

The guild application didn't seem to go anywhere, and now it tells me the name is taken so... if that's the case, and that account is still guild-free, I might reconsider what I want to do. I could reclaim A Feudal Gesture, the guild that my SK is in, now that I am using that account again. My husband's cleric is currently the leader, but that's something I can fix. Hmmm... Many are the possibilities. I will have to think them over. I am not above doing the silly and frivolous. (That is something I am sure you're aware of if you've been reading this blog. I am harmless, though.)

Part of me wants to form an all female dark elf PvP flagged guild on a PvE server. 100% in-house, probably 100% alts... Just to see how much progress can be made that way. I think I'd call it "Blue Girls" or "Innoruuk's Angels". Strange? Pointless? Way too difficult? Those things have never kept me from doing anything before.

Blue girls DO have more fun!

(I used to have a Lineage 2 themed myspace profile...)

WoW-NaNoWriMo connection

Posted by neschria Tuesday October 16 2007 at 5:56PM
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MMORPGs have gone mainstream. I've noticed as I move around websites that have nothing at all to do with gaming that an increasing number are including a sub-forum dedicated to MMORPGs. For instance, there's a sub-forum dedicated to "Virtual Worlds" (i.e. MMORPGs and the like) among the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) forums. There's one thread there that turns the connection around and takes this non-gaming event into Azeroth-- some folks have formed a NaNo Procrastinators guild in WoW.  If you feel inclined to write 50,000 words in November and you play World of Warcraft, you might want to check that out.

 

Ding. 20. And other things.

Posted by neschria Tuesday October 16 2007 at 4:15PM
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I got level 20 yesterday morning. I haven't decided on a surname yet. Today is laundry and housecleaning day. All this housework is preventing me from leveling!

But it isn't quite enough to keep me from blogging. The great thing about writing is that I can go AFK and come back to find that none of my buffs have worn off and my blog has barely been attacked at all while I was gone.

Last night was The Night Of The Cute Anime MMORPG. I went to try NosTale and Asda Story. I know, I know, more Asian grind wrapped in pink fluff. But, as I am certifiably insane, I sometimes like playing those. I played Scions of Fate for nearly two months before that particular episode of the galloping crazies was over. 

I played the UK release of NosTale, and I have to say that the tutorial bit was better than most. It was short, simple, and had pictures. Even I could figure out what they were getting at. But I didn't play for long, since that was the one I installed right before bedtime.

I've got a pet chicken in NosTale. For some reason, that makes me happy. See? I am totally lost in the depths of madness.

Earlier, before dinner, I ran around in Asda Story a bit.  I decided to give it a try because I saw ads for it on various sites after getting an email about it from Game & Game, where I already had an account. It was either Fate coaxing me to try it or an advertising blitz, but I was weak and gave in. It features a couple of interesting things that have some potential.

First, they have a "soul mate" system that allows you to pair up with another player. There are special "soul mate" skills and items, and you can log in as the other person's character, as I understand it. It lets you play each other's characters without exchanging log-in information. I haven't actually tried this feature out yet. I am still trying to convince my husband to come be my soul mate.

The other thing that I thought was interesting is that items are "empty shells" until you add "sowels" ("Soul + jewel") to them to give them their traits. This allows you to customize your items and gives you more control over what you look like, since your graphics are not tied to your stats. I've gotten a sowel and some armor off of monsters, but I haven't put them together yet.

Isn't Chronicles of Spellborn doing something along the lines of separating your look from your stats too? I think this is an idea with some potential. Being able to choose how you look and not have it interfere with how you perform sounds cool. It sounds like a fun feature.

On the other hand,  I know that there have been times when I've felt a little twinge of pride at wearing particular armor or weapons as a trophy because of unique graphics that make them easily recognizable (or that are different enough from other items that people look or ask about them). I am not really sure how well making look a matter of choice and not a matter of achievement will go over with the people whose Bartle types start with "A". Some people want to have to work to look cool, as odd as that sounds to others.

There's a fine line between work and fun in MMORPGs. Some people have no tolerance for anything that is even remotely tedious. Some people don't want to try anything difficult that they might fail at repeatedly. Some people thrive on that stuff and are bored quickly by games that give them too much reward without enough time or risk. I don't necessarily think that every game can or should try to cater to both crowds.

Despite the spectacular success of WoW and the crushing failure at launch of Vanguard, I think it is too early to say that there aren't enough "hardcore" players out there to support a not-so-casual Achiever-oriented game. I think it is fair to say that a game with lower system requirements that is polished and runs smoothly for most people will consistently beat the pants off of a rough game with high sys reqs and crappy performance. At the same time, any "hardcore" game that comes out now will really have to pour on the finesse-- even the most insanely dedicated player may not be willing to sit through a pure timesink that isn't cleverly disguised as something fun in the post-WoW world. (Believe me, though, a few will still do it, just to wave around the shiny bauble they got as a reward, chanting, "Ha! I am the most hardcore at sitting around waiting for a spawn!")

I don't think MMORPGs have even begun to reach their potential yet. WoW was both a step forward and a step back. It is undoubtedly a well-made game that shows a lot of thought on the part of the devs. On the other hand, the success of WoW has spawned a whole new generation of EQ-WoW clones.

I am not sure how the term "MMORPG" will stand up as an umbrella genre if or when the massively-multiplayer technology starts to stretch out into other possibilities. Already there have been forum wars over whether Guild Wars or Hellgate:London are MMORPGs, and people write off Second Life as "not really a game at all". There are MMOFPS and RTS games out there already. There's some merging of single-player and MMO games not only in Hellgate:London, but in Age of Conan as well, and the already-released-but-less-known Minions of Mirth. In another entry, I suggested that there might be a potential niche market  for marrying social networking with a 3D (serious) fantasy (or sci-fi) RPG. Done right, that might be more than just a niche game, but it also might stretch the definition of MMORPG into new dimensions.

The Internet has changed gaming completely. From the exchanges of Norns for the Creatures series over websites to MMORPGs to social sites featuring casual games to the forums where gamers beat each other over the head with their... ah... enormous knowledge of gaming mechanics... to NWN persistent worlds to the promised asynchronous populating of your Spore world with the creations of other players, games are not just you and your computer anymore. Right now, people can point to MMORPGs and say that they are this-and-this-and-this, persistent worlds and fighting monsters or whatever, but there may be a time when it is hard to tell one kind of game from another. And that time may be now.

((EDIT: Today is not my day for spelling or grammar. /sigh.))


Waiting for my turn on my own computer...

Posted by neschria Saturday October 13 2007 at 2:07PM
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I told a kid she could play The Sims 2 on my computer today, and thus banished myself to the wild wastes of Laptopland. For now. In another hour or so, I'll go kick her off.

I have two user accounts on my computer, one for me and one for the kids, to keep them out of my stuff. They'd been playing The Sims 2 on my account, but I have since banished them from my neighborhood to their own, available through them logging onto their own user account. They create nice families with normal looking people that they force to behave in relatively civilized ways.  They go to work. They come home. They watch TV. They sleep. They wake up and do it again.  It's a good thing, I guess. It is really boring to watch the kids play, though.

My neighborhood is full of freaks and their dysfunctional families, and I like being the director of my own dystopian improv soap opera. I've got people who are horrendously deformed, angry lesbian teenagers, and many married couples who didn't hear the "forsaking all others" part of their vows. Too often I cackle with evil glee as a married woman has a baby with someone else's husband, or a man electrocutes himself while trying to fix the stereo and then comes back to haunt his family.  I know that all the stories about the thoughts and motivations of the virtual people on the screen are all ones that I am making up in my head as I watch, but that is the best part of it.

If you play it as a game and not as a story machine, it must seem very boring, and the sucess of the Sims franchise must seem baffling.

While I've been exiled from my computer, I've been up to mischief on the web. I went to EQPlayers.com and put in a guild application to start a guild on Xegony called "Friends of Fippy". Why Xegony, when I basically said it sucked the other day? Because I have an unhealthy attachment to my old server, and I'd like to do something to make the lower end of the game more viable for new and returning players. The server didn't really need another guild... but I did say I was up to mischief, didn't I?

The first guild name I tried was "Return", but there's apparently a guild out there with that name already. I was pretty certain that "Friends of Fippy" would be taken too, but apparently not. Perhaps it will be rejected. I'll have to wait for the e-mail to see. Between "Return" and "Friends of Fippy", I considered some alternatives, including "Cult of the Mugwump" and "Scurvy Knaves". 

But I <3 Fippy. I <3 him very much. Bark! Bark!

Ok, now that I've ruined my own lands, what else can I do?

I looked into hosting for Ventrilo, for general use by my family and friends. (And maybe for Friends of Fippy, if that actually gets off the ground.) It's not really very expensive. It looks like TeamSpeak servers are cheaper, at least on the site I was looking at, but I like Vent better. (Not trying to start a debate. Just personal preference there.)

I dinged 18 last night and got the robe shown in last night's screenshots. It dropped in Crescent Reach. It's not too bad for newbie gear, statwise, and it is good to look like a caster, finally. EQ magic users (and those in other realms as well!) have a peculiar sense of style that they apparently stole from Hugh Hefner-- it's all about the silk jammies and the robe.

After the ding, I went to Xegony to play the twins. My erudite mages there are named Uliuna and Uliana, which another player told me was "very confusing". What can I say? Their parents were too busy researching new ways to rain fire down from the sky to think of better names.

Now, they both had selected Erudin as their home town, but upon leaving the tutorial, one was transported to Crescent Reach and the other to Plane of Knowledge. It was just a short jog and a click for the PoK twin to get home. It's a bit of a hike from Crescent Reach to the book in Blightfire Moors, so I took the Priest of Discord shortcut to PoK and then went on to use the Erudin stone, stopping by the Fellowship NPCs (in the house next to the Nexus stone) to see how all that works in practice.

What's the Priest of Discord shortcut, a person might ask. Here it is for ya:

The Priest of Discord is in the first room on the right on the first floor of the Inn in Crescent Reach. Say "wish to go" (or even just "wish go") to him. You will zone and appear in Dranik's Scar. (A warning to newbies here-- this zone is WAY over your heads, and sometimes people train the PoDs. Mostly it is empty and safe, though.)  Run over to a Priest of Discord there (over by the wall is probably the safest) and say "go home". This should take you to PoK.

Now, the first time I did this, I got sent back to Crescent Reach, but every time since then, it has worked, so perhaps it is important to go talk to a PoD other than the closest one when you appear. Clarification, anyone?

Appearing in Crescent Reach or PoK when you leave the tutorial appears to be unavoidable if you use the tutorial. Skipping the tutorial seems to be the only way to go directly to your hometown, if you have preselected one other than Crescent Reach. You miss out on the starter charm that way, but if you are hellbent on an old school experience, what do you care about the stupid charm?

The Alt.Games.EverQuest FAQ looks like it might be a good source of answers to some (...ugh, do I even have to say it?) Frequently Asked Questions, and it looks relatively up-to-date, particularly in comparison to some other aging FAQs about the game that are out there.

Time to go kick the kid off the computer.

Friday pics: Levtober Special

Posted by neschria Friday October 12 2007 at 8:10PM
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Don't get emo, little wizard:

Aw, don't be sad, little wizard!

A new dress seems to have improved his mood slightly:

I feel pretty! Oh so Pretty!

Ralutan's Mommy Dragon:

Momma!

Rats! Bats! You knew they had to be there somewhere:

ARRRGH! NOOOOOO!

Is bunny. I squish.

poor wittle wabbit

Day 11 Detour and Day 12 Plans. (EQ)

Posted by neschria Friday October 12 2007 at 10:24AM
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Yesterday, I logged in the wizard long enough to die twice, and then I got a notion to try something else. I made a second copy of my EQ directory and proceeded to play 2 characters at once.

The buddy key I had was for the original ("Classic") EverQuest only, so I had to go with original class/race combinations and a "classic" hometown. I made 2 erudite mages on Xegony. Since they've eliminated "spell levels" and spread the spells out, magicians get their first pet at level 2 instead of 4, which is pretty much right at the start, counting the tutorial. I held out for the level 3 fire pet, and proceeded to stomp butt all over the tutorial. I'd finished all the quests in the spider caves, including killing the Queen, by level 5, with just my duo.

Playing a magician feels like cheating.

My server report from Xegony, from the newbie point of view: during the slow hours, during the day (Eastern time), there was hardly anyone on. The maximum number of people I saw in the tutorial was 4, including my 2. There were stretches where my 2 were the only characters in there. Doing /who all 75 of various classes revealed that there just weren't that many people on at all. Most classes had fewer than 10 people showing online (who weren't roleplay or anon). When I logged in during the evening "prime time", there were 12 people in the tutorial, and the same /whos that I had done earlier showed too many to list. It is notable that during the evening hours, /who all 20 65 of various classes showed very, very few people in that level range.  All this isn't really a surprise for me, since I played on Xegony until this past January. It's top-heavy and the population is thinning, particularly in the off hours. It's probably not the best choice for a returning or new player, unless you are returning to a level 70+ character, or unless you bring your own group and want to have whole zones to yourselves.  (IMO, frequently proven to be wrong.)

In the evening, I created a second erudite duo, a necro/mage duo, on Stromm. I didn't get them both logged in at the same time before it was time for bed, though. I just took the necro out for a spin in the tutorial. That was fun.

Today, I'll go back to being a wizard. I guess I'd better get on that. Still level 17. Distractions, distractions! I'm just a few dings away from having a surname. I've been thinking about a surname all along. Perhaps Mysaphari or Mysapharian (after his parent dragon)? Maybe those are too long. I'll think about it some more.

Days 9 and 10

Posted by neschria Wednesday October 10 2007 at 9:56AM
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Yesterday, I dinged 17 before lunch. That's my entire Levtober update for the day. I haven't been sticking to the plan. I've been questing and tradeskilling and generally messing around. I don't think I have it in me to just grind and level.

After lunch, my husband drove me to the grocery store and when we came back, I fell into all the usual domesticity. Dishes were washed. Dinner was made. Homework was reviewed. We were going to have family movie night, but the kids opted to take the popcorn and play the PS2 version of The Sims 2 instead. 

I haven't really played the PS2 version, but I have watched it played a lot. I think I prefer the PC version. Half the fun for me is in seeing my sims get married, have kids, have grandkids, and die, leaving the new generations to carry on. It is one of the few things that has stayed on my harddrive for a long time. I don't even have a single expansion, and yet it holds my interest. I've considered getting Seasons, but the memory of expansions to The Sims (without the 2) changing the game and making the performance worse over time. As long as the game is still entertaining, I think I'll pass on changing it.

Expansions to MMORPGs aren't quite as optional as they are for single player games. You can refuse to get the expansion, but due to the very social nature of the games, you're often going to pay for that decision in lost opportunities to play with people who did buy the expansion. When an expansion includes new must-have skills or a rise in the level cap, you can hardly say no. I have ended up buying otherwise horrid expansions for just those sorts of reasons.

I have a cold coming on. I think I want to go put on my fuzzy slippers (not bunny, but comfy anyway), make myself some tea, and read a book. My toddler has a stuffy nose too, so maybe I'll put her in warm jammies and we'll get under a blanket on the couch while I read and she watches all the Dora and Diego she can stand.

It looks like I will still be level 17 tomorrow.

When not to post on the forums late at night...

Posted by neschria Monday October 8 2007 at 11:44PM
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I read the article here on the Secrets of Faydwer and started to post a comment written entirely as rhyming couplets, each about a different feature discussed. I thought better of it. If you get the urge to post rhyming couplets, just go to bed. The thought will pass and everything will be ok in the morning.

On the other hand, if someone is really getting on your nerves, you can sometimes make them shut up and go away with rhyming responses to everything they say.

Day... what is it now? 8?

Posted by neschria Monday October 8 2007 at 11:28PM
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In Norrath, it was a mostly unremarkable day of slaughtering the undead. Ding. 16. Most of the day, I was actually grouped, which was nice. I have found that I can solo pretty well as a newbie wizard, and I rather expected I'd be soloing for a long, long time, so actually getting into groups has been a bonus. I also joined a guild late last week. It was a somewhat random act, but they seem nice enough.  

I also chatted with yet another person drawn back into EQ1 by my blog. I swear, it isn't some nefarious plot on my part. I just wanted to go back to the game and do something different this time. But if it makes anyone feel better, I'll try to be wracked with insomnia-inducing guilt. I'm easy to get along with.

This weekend was tiring and rough. I felt a little bad because my son and his girlfriend, who were supposed to leave today, left last night. I know I'd gotten to the point of exhaustion where even conversation was an effort, and I wandered off to read a book of stories by Ursula K. LeGuin while they played with the young kids for a while. I think they may have left because I'd gotten boring. So, I do feel a little bad about that, and at the same time, I was a little relieved that the last of the guests had finally gone. It's going to take us a week to get back into routine after this weekend.

I woke up Saturday morning to find that my mom had changed my curtains. That was slightly annoying. I am 36 years old-- old enough that if I want to have bad taste in home decorating, that's up to me. It's our house, after all. But I tried to be gracious and said thank you. I ranted about it for quite a while after she left, though, until the ranting died down to mere grumbles.

Oh, and she brought me a cat, just in case we needed a spare. Now we have 2 cats. Hurray. This is one she'd taken in when its last owner couldn't keep it, but it didn't get along with the cat my brother left at her house or her dogs. It is a nice cat, I guess. I am just not sure we needed another furry little attention sponge. Both cats are extremely affectionate. That is to say, they demand to be petted all day long, and then they want to sleep on us too.

ARRRRGH. I need some cat-free, kid-free, visitor-free ME time!

A Short Note From Norrath.

Posted by neschria Friday October 5 2007 at 11:29AM
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I am playing right now. I've got a couple of seconds of downtime, so I thought I'd come over here and post a line or two about something that I am finding amusing. Female characters are flirting with me.  And if I stop to consider that there's a fair-to-middlin' chance that those characters are being played by guys, it is just hilarious. Guys pretending to be girls flirting with a girl pretending to be a guy? That's funny stuff right there.

I wish EQ1 had a spell queue so that I could pre-cast the next spell while I am waiting for one to finish its casting time. (Random comment du jour.)

Day 5... My Life is More Complicated Than I Thought

Posted by neschria Friday October 5 2007 at 8:43AM
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I finally got to play for a while between 10 and 11pm last night. I did the level 10 upgrade for my breath weapon. I gathered some other quests that involved killing things that I was killing anyway, and bought books for the new tradeskills (working tailoring a little bit-- more proof that I am a masochist, I suppose). And, at the end, I died and was disconnected while loading, so I just got up and went to bed.

I logged on for a few minutes when the servers came up at around 2:00 yesterday afternoon, but then I realized we hadn't had lunch, so I went to make food. By the time I was done with lunch for me, my husband, and our ever-so-picky toddler, it was creeping up on 3-- time to get kids from the bus stop. Then we had a couple of hours of homework and tears. (The 8-year-old threw a two hour fit because she doesn't like her new school and has decided that she hates the entire state of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, she hates every state that isn't Delaware, which is where we moved from. And then she got over her fit and the rest of the night was ok.) And then there was dinner. And dishes. And laundry. And bath time. And bed time. And... And... And... And then, at last, I got to play for an hour before it was time to collapse in bed so that I can do it all again today.

 ARRRRRRGH! No wonder I am The Perpetual Noob.

We've got guests coming this weekend. Tonight, my mom and stepdad are coming out and bringing two of my teenaged children who live with their father. They are staying until Sunday. Tomorrow, my 18-year-old son is coming out with his girlfriend. I think they are planning on going home on Monday. They are all staying with us. So, I need to clean house and work out some sleeping arrangements. My mom and stepdad will be sleeping in our bed, so we'll be in the kids' room. There's a sofa and a loveseat in the living room, and 2 sleeping bags in the other apartment, plus lots of blankets that can be turned into kid-nests on the floor.  Eh... Maybe we should /random for the beds. (/smirk... what? There's no /smirk? Well, there should be! Get on it, devs!)

I think I am going to go play this morning, after I start some laundry. I'll get as much work done as I can this afternoon, and when people get here... it is what it is. No matter what I do, my mom is going to re-clean my house tomorrow anyway. There's not going to be much time to play until Monday afternoon, so I might as well get it in while I can!

Days 3/4... Nothin'. Replies to comments and other thoughts

Posted by neschria Thursday October 4 2007 at 1:42PM
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I didn't play yesterday because we took an impromptu road trip. Today is patch day. So, I am decorating for Halloween. I put up a garland with purple bats on it and hung up some plastic skeletons. I am going to have to go up into the attic to get down the rest of the Halloween stuff. I just haven't gotten motivated to go up there. It's creepy up there. 

Re: Whether or not EQ has improved: This depends greatly on who you ask. Some people despise the "newbification" of the game. They complain about instant travel, bazaar trading, maps, corpse summoning, newbie items that are better than what was available at high levels early in the game, etc. There was a time when I felt the same way. I've come to appreciate the changes that have been made to modernize the game without making it into something else.

Re: Not being worth the time to read about EQ: Hey, it's only for a month. Come back next month and I'll be back to posting commentary on the weather and links to sites that have nothing to do with gaming. ;) 

Diet Pepsi Max is caffeinelicious. I started drinking it this morning when I stopped  drinking coffee. That was probably a mistake. My hands can't keep up with my thoughts.

Oh, yeah... I lied in the first paragraph. I logged a new character into Xegony to see if there was anyone on that I knew and saw that there was a GM-run drunken elf race about to happen in Kelethin, so I went to that. I fell to my death off the second bridge I tried to cross, and then respawned... About that time, I was watching Top Chef, so I got killed a second time by an orc centurion. Damn that reality-cooking attention trap!

Anyway, it wasn't playing applied to the goal at hand, so it wasn't playing. Not really.

A Few Brief Notes On Niches That Could Be Filled By Small Games:

1. Permadeath-- This is one of those things that some people can't stand the thought of, and others can't think of anything they'd like better. I can't say I have much faith in the longevity of such a game, but I am sure that the hardcore folks out there would probably prove me wrong.

2. Roleplaying Enforced-- I understand that there are some games where the RP servers have GM enforced roleplaying rules, but I am not talking about optional RP, but rather a small game without any non-RP option where the story develops according to what the players do. This would require intense involvement between the devs and the community, of course, and the inevitable politics in such a game would make for a fine line for the devs to walk to avoid favoritism. On the positive side, players of such a game would probably be pretty passionate about it.

3. Social Fantasy Game-- This is a concept that I can see in my head but haven't quite figured out how to describe it. Let's say that you've got a skill-based PvE fantasy MMORPG with fantastic avatar customization, player housing to decorate, customizable profiles that can be opened from inside the game, social spaces where you can play mini-games, serverwide "quests" that are essentially riddles or puzzles with some parts that require coordinated effort to finish, the option of fighting monsters and exploring dungeons for items to trade or use as well as trophies to show off, but other options for doing the same (spending time in a temple doing tasks to earn favor with your god, for instance). Gear would largely be ornamental. This game would be about interacting with the community, above all, and not so much about collecting XP and gear, and rewards for playing would have to reflect that. Sort of a WoW meets UO meets IMVU meets Gaia Online... I'm not describing this thought very well.

4. Unusual settings -- I think Ryzom fit to some extent-- it was sci-fi/fantasy in a pretty original world. But what about a "caveman" game? A game where everyone plays an animal in the jungle? Where's the Watership Down MMORPG? Any setting or situation that can be written about in story form can be made into a game.

5. Alternate means of advancement -- SEED tried the non-combat route. I played it in beta, and despite the bugs, I thought that they were onto something. Unfortunately, they ran out of money, so I guess we won't know if they could have gotten everything working. I am not so sure about a game that involves player politics without PvP, though. That, however, is a whole entry in itself.  There's got to be a way to advance and be better prepared for challenges in a game besides murdering goblins just because they are standing there being goblins.

6. Tournament Games-- Part of what people love about MMORPGs is that they never end, but what if one did? What if you played until someone was crowned king and then the game reset with a whole new set of quests and challenges for players to overcome on their way to the throne? What if it were a PvP game where the challenge was to control the whole world, with a reset when a guild held the whole map for a whole month? How about a game that is permanent, as they are now, but with frequent in-world tournaments (combat, games of skill, games of chance, or even crafting contests) that would yield titles and perks for as long as you keep winning?

Just a few thoughts... Not necessarily good ones, but they ARE thoughts.

Day 2... The Day of Very Little Progress (EQ)

Posted by neschria Tuesday October 2 2007 at 10:50PM
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Between questing, long AFKs and spending entirely too long messing with my UI, I didn't level as much as I would have liked. I am within spitting distance of 10, which stinks for being in my second day. I also wasted some time to make a little dark elf SK that I can drop extra newbie plate stuff on. (I swear, I won't actually play any alts this month. REALLY. I won't.)  On the other hand, I've picked up some stat gear and I'm getting back into the swing of it. And I think I've got a decent UI going now too. 

 Tomorrow should go better. I should have more time to play.

On the lighter side, I've died a four times so far, and every death was stupid:

Death #1: I sat down in the spider caves to med up before killing lurkers, and went AFK for a couple of minutes, only to be eaten by wandering spiders.

Death #2: Caught in my own AoE. Nuff said.

Death #3: Fell off the platform in the dragon grove while waiting for the elevator.

And what do you call it when a wizard uses the last of their mana to pull a yellow? Stupid Death #4, of course.

Also, I met  dancord26 in tells. (Hi there!) It's cool to actually get to talk to people in-game from other places on the net.

Perhaps we should have a serverwide.mmorpg channel.... serverwide.mmorpg:com? I am not sure that too much chat would go on in the channel, but it might be an avenue to build a community of folks from this site. Or give us a chance to argue in real time, in-game. (/giggle) It was just a thought. Not necessarily a good one, but I've already said it, so I might as well let it sink or swim.

In other news, things look dire for Ryzom. This is a shame. I liked that game. I kind of wish I'd subscribed after my time in the trial. I mean, I am not saying that my one subscription would have made a difference, but if everyone who saw the potential in the game had subscribed for a while, perhaps things would have been different. Maybe someone else will rescue it again. It doesn't seem likely, but maybe...

I always feel bad when I see a game go under when it didn't stink out loud. Those games tend to have a small but passionately committed community, and they also tend to be the ones that aren't exactly like every other game on the market.

 

Morning commentary about the EverQuest night before

Posted by neschria Tuesday October 2 2007 at 11:08AM
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First, I want to thank everyone who commented on my entry last night. I always appreciate the warm wishes, feedback, commentary, and questions.

I left the tutorial at level 6 last night to go do some quests in Crescent Reach. I didn't make very much experience after that except for quest experience. I am almost 7 anyway. And I've got a nifty belt, mask, and cape to show for it. I ended up quitting earlier than I intended last night.

A few comments on the experience so far:

  • I am having fun. The last time I played EQ, I found it frustrating. I think a fresh start was a good idea for me, personally.
  • The population in the tutorial seemed a little low (10-12 people in the zone each time I logged in), but it was consistent at that level, and it seemed like a relatively nice crowd-- no public channel taunting, they answered the one question I had, and people were offering drops they weren't going to use in the out-of-character channel. There were more people than that in Crescent Reach when I got there, many of whom were low levels like me.  The population seems healthy so far, from the limited parts of the server I've seen.
  • There were a couple of guilds that /ooc'd all level recruitment messages while I was in CR. I got an unsolicited drive-by SoW from a ranger, which was a nice thing. Bottomline, I am happy with my choice of server. Stromm seems newbie friendly.
  • I played a good amount of time scrolled out to third person, but then I tried playing first person for a while. When I'd been in Crescent Reach for a while, I started feeling nauseous, and it persisted even after I went back to third person (and for a couple of hours after). I am not sure if it was just exhaustion (from insomnia catching up with me, bad Chinese for dinner, or if it has been so long since I played a first-person perspective game that it was just gaming motion sickness (which I am very prone to having) from running around CR.

I haven't played in a while, so I have a lot of questions about features introduced with The Buried Sea. I am burning with curiosity about how a Fellowship works-- is it some half-step between a group and a guild or what? 

I will be playing this afternoon again. I've got work that I should be doing right now.

(P.S. Drakkins have some weird/bad animations... but I find them more funny than irritating. )

And so it begins... (My month long journey into EQ)

Posted by neschria Monday October 1 2007 at 7:49PM
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My husband made a pretty strong case this morning for buying The Anniversary Edition and using the free trial month for my month of craziness. Since he was buying and we were going to go to Circuit City for something else anyway, I decided to go with that plan. I am pleased to have all the retail bonus items from all the expansions, if I decide to use them. I was surprised to see that it came with a buddy key. I may yet use my wit and charm to persuade my husband to join me in my folly.

I had installed EQ recently from the Platinum pack (the one that had everything up to and including Depths of Darkhollow), but that still meant that I had to patch in three expansions plus all the other changes that have come down the pike. Unfortunately, since they started using the standard SOE launcher, it seems that you can't patch without a subscription, so I couldn't pre-patch. So, the first thing I did after lunch today was start patching. That took a couple of hours (a far shorter time than its original estimate of 7 hours). After kids got home from school and got settled down with homework, I finally logged in.

The first thing I had to do was pick a server. I had narrowed it down to Stromm, Bristlebane, Druzzil Ro, or Xegony (which got added back to my possibilities when I decided to go with a new account).  I decided to go with Stromm in the end, on the basis of the recommendations it seems to get frequently on the official forums.

Presented with an actual character creation screen, I was tempted to go off in a completely different direction, but I stuck with my original plan and created a drakkin wizard. I made my character male, also, since I'd said so often in this blog that I'd do that the next time around. His "parent dragon" is Mysophar the White, so his breath/debuff is Cold based.

As you can see from the picture, his name is Ralutan. I was eating Quaker 100% Natural granola in my yogurt this morning, and while I was looking at the box, I came up with this anagram of "natural" and decided to go with it. It would have been a better for a druid or ranger, I suppose, but I liked it. Who knows? Perhaps he's a natural when it comes to blowing things up.

I was thinking that I wanted to write this in a roleplay/backstory format, but what I really want to do is get back to playing now that dinner is over. I'm so close to 5 that I can hear the ding already.

EQ1 How-To: how to avoid the tutorial and start in your old school racial city

Posted by neschria Monday October 1 2007 at 7:21PM
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I've seen complaints in a couple of places from people who came back to EQ and couldn't figure out how to avoid the tutorial and starting in Crescent Reach. It is still possible to start "old school style" in your racial city.

For Starting City, there's a drop-down box on the Character Creation screen, and for the tutorial, there's a box that you need to un-select. When you've done both things, it should look like this:

The tutorial yields a decent starter charm (among other things), and Crescent Reach is stuffed full of newbie goodness, but if you want something more akin to the Classic experience, it is still possible to by-pass the default Tutorial>Crescent Reach path.

Monday Morning Giggles (Links to Selected comics at PartiallyClips.com)

Posted by neschria Monday October 1 2007 at 10:39AM
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I like reading webcomics. There are several that I check into now and then. I printed this one from PartiallyClips and hung it on my fridge for a few months. This was another personal favorite of mine. And another that someone in the MMORPG.com crowd might find funny:  Hobbit Toast ...

I don't know if those are the ones that you all would pick, but my husband is itching to leave, so that's what you're getting. ;)