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Tastes Gamey

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

Author: neschria

Friends: Easier for chatty folks?

Posted by neschria Wednesday November 28 2007 at 10:14AM
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NetSapiens wrote what seemed like a genuine, heartfelt blog entry (here) .

((EDIT: Removing my own sniping toward some of his early comments, in order to do my part for a kinder, gentler Internet.))

With regard to what was in that entry, I've actually made some friends online that have translated to real life.  Some of them might not live very close, but we've called each other in the middle of the night about real life issues, and we'd get together more often if distance weren't a factor. I hear from these formerly-online-only friends more often than I hear from a lot of my blood relatives, and I'd certainly call my friends before I'd call my cousins, even though I played with those cousins daily when I was a kid.

Maybe this is an "older" woman thing, though. We tend to talk about our lives, our husbands, and our kids, even when we're playing games, so we have more to take offline than people who only talk about their new sword and the raid coming up on Saturday.

And this is where the "I play games to escape real life!" faction attacks...

Has anybody seen my squig?

Posted by neschria Sunday November 25 2007 at 5:26PM
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I really didn't want to find myself looking forward to any games in development. My son has totally ruined that for me. His enthusiasm for the prospect of being a goblin squig herder in Warhammer Online has won me over. He's apparently had the same effect on about 6 of his friends. We're going to be a mad mob of goblins, it would seem. 

How am I supposed to be jaded and cynical now? He's ruined EVERYTHING!

I might point out that he was a fan of Warhammer before this and he respects Mythic, so he's got enthusiasm to spare. I, on the other hand, know absolutely nothing about Warhammer except for having seen the miniatures in shops (including ours, as of this past week).  I had been ignoring the game, and then I saw the elf videos on this site some time ago, and it planted the seed of interest, but I was determined not to care about any game that hasn't been released yet.

Having investigated the tiniest bit, though, I think he's picked the right race and class for me, so if he wants a goblin squad, I'm in. He's fun to play with, anyway.

And now we wait.

Walking the thin line between Funny and Freak (Not Game Related)

Posted by neschria Tuesday November 20 2007 at 1:20PM
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Yesterday morning, I was working on my NaNoWriMo novel... novella... thing. All I can say about it so far is that if I was intending to write comedy, it's not working. It's not funny. But if I were trying to write a serious novel, it's comedy. It's laughable, in fact. That's ok, though. The whole thing is an exercise in exorcising my personal writing demons-- fear and lack of commitment being the worst of my devils.

Maybe I'll stop trying to be funny and write smut instead. I've already got a love triangle going on. Smut would burn up some word count for sure! Have I mentioned that I am way behind on my word count?

As I may or may not have mentioned before, my husband and I recently opened a retail store, mostly selling TCGs. (My husband is crazy about games. I'm just in the business to be his counterbalance and the voice of reason.) The first few days were slow and we didn't have in stock what the few potential customers we saw wanted, so we were a little down, but things have picked up a little over the last few days. We did about $300 in sales yesterday. Turning that back over will nicely increase our stock, and we can get some of the Pokemon cards that neighborhood kids keep asking for.

My oldest kid and his girlfriend will be moving into our upstairs apartment at the end of December when the lease on their current apartment runs out. I don't know if they are really ready for a 300 mile move. I guess we'll see. I guess we also need to get our stuff out of the apartment and maybe get them a fridge, since we moved the refrigerator out of that apartment and into the shop to hold sodas. The stove up there that came with the place when we bought it is pretty questionable too, but the range works ok and the oven does light eventually, so it might do for now.

Son #2, currently visiting, grumbled, "Where am I going to stay if I move out here?" upon hearing that news. He and his sister (Child #3, Daughter #1) have been staying up there since they arrived on Saturday. They've cleaned it up nicely, too. Those two are 15 and soon-to-be -17, so having their own apartment, even for a week, is a really big deal. They feel all grown up, even if they still have to come downstairs for dinner.

Son #2 has been doing really well in school since he moved in with his father (or, perhaps more to the point, moved away from his girlfriend), so he should probably stay where he's at until he graduates, anyway. I love his company, but he seems to be getting his act together, and that's what's important now.

But, anyway, it looks like we're going to have company living upstairs, so we need to get our DSL and Direct TV moved down to the first floor apartment and stop occupying both apartments.

Just  when you think things have gotten just about as complicated as they could possibly get, someone has to up the ante. Which reminds me, I saw a website recently where that phrase was rendered "up the annie", which made me cringe and laugh at the same time... Ah, here it is... This is the same site that recommends a diet of Diet Coke (in plastic bottles only!) and McD's Double Quarter Pounders with cheese. It also offers you the chance to attend a workshop to visit Earth Prime in the 5th dimension for a mere $20,000,000.00 USD. I discovered this site as a link while surfing Wikipedia.

I know I say some ludicrous things from time to time, and I have been known to post some silly things on the Internet (most recently a hymn to Mouse, "the secret god of home and family")... But sometimes there's a thin line between humor and freakishness. That particular site is hilarious, but I have this feeling that it wasn't supposed to be. If it is supposed to be funny, it is. If it isn't, it crosses over into freak territory. I try not to judge people and their (stupid) beliefs, but sometimes I have to shake my head a little at the things people are willing to say in public.

Not that I have room to talk. Sometimes I try to be funny and end up on the freak side of the fence anyway. See paragraph #1. ;)

I have some screenshots to post, but they are upstairs in the other apartment on my other computer. I may get around to posting them here soon. Or not. There is a holiday this week, after all.

Which reminds me, I need to go buy some sherry to see if baby portabello and shiitake mushrooms can be used as a substitute for seafood in a Newburg-style sauce. This will either be delicious or a disaster.

Here are my good wishes in advance: Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans! Happy Christmas-In-A-Month, fellow people who celebrate Christmas!  Merry Last Quarter of November!

Out of things to say.

Posted by neschria Saturday November 17 2007 at 1:48PM
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I have nothing left to say about MMORPGs.

I am still playing a few small games. Mostly, I am playing Fiesta Online, even though my character has clones everywhere she goes. (Not a lot of avatar customization in that one!) I take it that normal people get to level 20 in the first couple of days they play, but being slow to level as always, I've gotten to level 18 since I started playing, even though I've only played the one character. Mostly I work solo on whatever is in my quest log and get into Kingdom Quests as I can. (Kingdom Quests are scheduled, timed instances. There are quests you can get that can only be completed within Kingdom Quests. My timing sucks, though-- I either miss the start times, or I am out in the field and unprepared when the recruiting time starts.)

I have several other games in the same general category installed, but I really only play one online game at a time, no matter how simple the game in question is.  I just don't have time to play more than one. I might not even have time to play that one, really. I am down to an hour at a time, and not every day. As I've mentioned before, I'm cheap, and I won't pay $15 a month if I am not getting $15 worth of entertainment. I'd rather spend the $15 on something else.

Two of my teenagers will be arriving on a train this evening. I am trying to get ready for them to be here for a week. It should be fun. It won't be a whole week, though, since I'll be driving them and the rest of the kids "back home" for Thanksgiving.

Back to cooking and cleaning. Back to my old blogs, to write about other things that occupy my mind when I am not thinking about MMORPGs-- religion, languages, and cooking, mainly.

Gnomes Are For Punting!

Posted by neschria Friday November 16 2007 at 9:19PM
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I missed the EQ dev chat last night. I was having quality family time when 7pm EST rolled around, so I blew it off. I read the log today. I don't really have any comments on it... So, that's that for that topic.

I enjoyed reading MMOPlaya's entry on "Putting the RP back into MMORPG". I've had similar thoughts myself. It's that sort of thing that brings out the armchair designer in me.

I am going to say something kind of heretical here: I played some P&P RPGs back in the day (i.e. back when I was in high school in the 80's) and... I didn't like it. I didn't relate to my characters at all-- they were just numbers, and combat was just rolling dice... It didn't work for me.At the same time, I have always liked dressing up and playing pretend. I wouldn't call it LARPing, in my case-- more like free-form, improvisational drama. (I did a number of creative drama projects back in the day too.)

I think that's why I don't find it too difficult to RP in a lot of the current games, as long as I understand the world and my character's motivations in that world. The more combat-focused the game, the harder it is and the less fun it is for me. It's as if our characters have nothing better to do than murder orcs because they are there, waiting to be killed. I like fighting in games. That's why I play melee classes-- I have to be in the fight. But what about a vacation plan? Sometimes, even a warrior needs a day off to go fishing.

In EQ1, when gnomes were first allowed to be shadow knights, I played one, and she was a murderous, self-hating gnome-- I had a second home in Neriak, so I'd go to Ak'anon to kill gnomes. It served no purpose in terms of progress in the game, since almost nothing I killed there gave any experience to speak of at the point when I went on my anti-gnome crusade, but I enjoyed it, and it was totally in keeping with my character's personality. (What kind of people have a clockwork king, anyway? Those gnomes were ASKING FOR IT!) Ironically, that's the first character I ever had that reached level cap and had some decent gear for the era. Apparently the playing the game and playing the character weren't mutually exclusive. It helped that she was indiscriminately bloodthirsty... Well, except for those gnomes. That was pure discrimination there.

Gnomes are for punting! Or for sandwiches. OR for punting first and then as a tasty sandwich spread when you've worn them out.

Rehashing old themes: veteran apathy and the divide between player types.

Posted by neschria Thursday November 15 2007 at 4:09PM
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There's an EQ dev chat tonight. I think I might try to show up for that. I think I might even have some questions for them. They asked for feedback on the forums about ideas for a possible special ruleset server, and also about ideas for encouraging people to take newbies under their wings. The obvious question is whether they are actually planning to act on either of those issues any time soon.

I still have an active EQ account until Saturday, but I don't have the game installed anymore. It was kind of fun, but it wasn't quite enough to keep me. It's not that I got pulled away by another game. It was fun, but it wasn't fun enough.

Part of it was being a veteran, which gave me a really clear perspective on exactly how far away the end game was from where I was-- even my level 73 character was weak on both AAs and gear. Level cap is just the bottom of another ladder in EQ, and when I was playing a brand new character, I couldn't help but feel at level 1 that I was 74 levels and a thousand AAs behind where I needed to be "viable", even before thinking about gear. It's hard to have an adventure and enjoy where you're at in the game when you have that thought in the back of your mind, and I couldn't quite banish the thought.

It's easy to contrast this to other games that I've played in the last year or so-- I started Lineage 2 from April to June this year, and even though I was really far behind, I didn't feel like it. I was able to just enjoy what I was doing, and getting to my first class change at level 20 was a big deal to me. It felt like an accomplishment, even though I am sure that veterans of that game wouldn't feel that way about it, any more than I'd think getting a surname at level 20 in EQ was a big deal.

Both EQ1 and L2 are games where people say that the "real" game is the end game.

It's pure veteran fatigue that kept me from really enjoying my last venture into EQ1. Having been there and done that, I had a hard time seeing the world with the eyes of a real newbie. It was all just "catching up" to me. I couldn't help but feel like everything I was doing was trivial. It's the same feeling that makes some people say, "big deal!" when another person is excited about achieving something relatively small. (That's a pet peeve of mine, by the way. I can't stand it when someone has to make a newbie feel dumb for being happy about doing something "everybody has done a thousand times" or looting "junk" that may be a huge upgrade for the newbie in question. Just call me "Neschria, Defender of Newbs". )

It's the same thing that makes people who have played and played all these different MMORPGs feel like the new games are just more of the same.

(...because they are!)

In other news, my NaNoWriMo is coming along. My word count isn't quite where it should be halfway through the month, but I'm ok with that. I am not sure that it is really all that readable, but I am having fun doing it.

And this brings me to another MMORPG point. There are certain vocal people who are either critical of the whole NaNoWriMo idea or specifically people who write crappy novels, knowing full well that they are writing crap, because writing is Serious Business, not for amateurs and hacks. I can't help but see a parallel between those people and those who play MMORPGs seriously and are annoyed by other people just screwing around for fun. It's as if both groups feel like their own hardcore skillz are cheapened by other people who don't take it as seriously as they do. These are the kind of people who feel the need to tell you that you don't know what the game is all about if you aren't all about leveling up, getting gear, and reaching the end game. These are the people who approach roleplayers and scold them for wrecking their game by roleplaying among themselves. (I've seen it happen!)

But most major pay-to-play MMORPGs are ultimately neutral platforms. Meaningful play is what makes you happy. They provide a virtual world and a game structure. Just because a player chooses to "beat the game" and another chooses to pretend to be a dashing elf knight doesn't make either of them wrong.

I say "most major pay-to-play MMORPGs" because those are often the only places where the world has enough depth to be a good platform for exploration or roleplaying. A bare grinder in a linear world where every area is a box with the same monsters in different colors isn't as exploration/roleplay friendly as the bigger, more fleshed out worlds, in my opinion. I am sure someone could argue that IRC is a perfectly good RP platform, so anything with graphics and even the thinnest lore to work from has to be better, but I am not sure that IRC isn't a better platform than a straight grind game.

Someone might also think that bananas make good shampoo. I'm not going to argue with them either, especially if I am not willing to mash bananas on my own head.

(Baking soda does work for washing hair, btw, if you are greasy, desperate, and shampooless. That was my experience-- I read it online and had to try it out because I am weird like that and it seemed harmless enough.)

Gaia Battle: Website up...

Posted by neschria Monday November 12 2007 at 1:32PM
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I had previously mentioned that Gaia Online was working on some sort of MMORPG. It has a website now: http://battle.gaiaonline.com/ ... It looks like it is going to be browser based, which will turn some people off immediately, and if you hate either the Gaia Online community or cute anime things, you'll certainly hate this too.

One of the more interesting things about this game is what they've posted about gameplay: http://battle.gaiaonline.com/battle-gameplay.shtml -- the rings sound like an interesting system, but a lot of things sound interesting on paper. I'm not a huge fan of Gaia Online, but I may check this thing out when it is available.

(EDIT: I might mention that I check a lot of things out, even when I am pretty sure I am going to hate them. Someone, somewhere, ought to be paying me for my pain and suffering for having downloaded some of the stinkers out there, but I do it all in the name of curiosity.)