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Tastes Gamey

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

Author: neschria

My (MMO) 2007 [WAY TOO LONG]

Posted by neschria Saturday December 29 2007 at 3:27PM
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In 2007, I subscribed to EQ2, EQ1 (twice!), and Lineage 2. I ran through the LoTRO trial.

EverQuest 2 is a good game in many ways. I like playing it. It falls down in the same way that LoTRO seems to fail for me-- it's just not compelling enough. When I pick up a novel, I want it to be a pageturner. I want the same thing from my MMORPGs. I want to log in excited to see what happens next to my character. Lately, a lot of games make me feel like I am working my way through a To-Do list of quests. It's not so much about what's happening to my character and more about how many more orc ears I need to collect. I realize that the heavy emphasis on questing is a good feature for a lot of people, but to me, it takes all the adventure out of the adventuring. I end up logging in to finish three more quests, not to see what kind of trouble I can get into. Where's the fun in that? (I am sure there's a ton of fun in that for other people, but for me, not so much.)

I played EverQuest 1 at the beginning of the year and again in October. There's still a lot to do in Norrath. Even if you started at The Serpent's Spine and did only new content since then, you'd have plenty to keep you busy. After years of playing shadow knights, I enjoyed my October experiment as a wizard. I think one of the things that EQ1 does right is that every class has a specific feel to it that gives the game a different feel when you switch classes. And, for better or worse, in terms of advancing your character, it's a grinding game more than a questing game (even with the staggering number of available quests), so you don't have to follow the same path of advancement when you start a new character. This gives it better replayability for me (as I am easily bored when I find myself repeating quests).  Nonetheless, I'm moving on for good now. After playing other games, the pacing of EQ fights is too slow, and having been at the high end of the game once upon a time, I can't help but feel that the climb from being a level 1 newb to a level 80 badass is too steep for a really casual and time-challenged player like me, even with hotzones, corpse summoning, out-of-combat regen bonuses and possibly vet rewards. In fact, the climb from a weak-to-mediocre level 73 to level 80 badass looks too steep for me.

I liked Lineage 2. I realize that it is a game that's all about the high end and the sieges or whatever, but I had fun just purely working on my character in my corner of the world. It was a back-to-basics experience for me. While I know the climb to the top is just as steep (or steeper!) than EQ1, I didn't feel the hardship of that. I only know that I am further along one day than I was the last, and that's good enough for me. I got PKed twice during my 2 months playing and I enjoyed that too, strangely enough. I have recently reinstalled it, but my husband asked me not to subscribe, so the icon is sitting there on my desktop, looking all lonely and forlorn...

(Ok, it isn't all that lonely. It's nestled in comfortably between Age of Empires 2 and Fable. The former is still our LAN game of choice and the latter is something my son brought when he moved out here. I've been playing Fable a lot over the last couple of days. But that L2 icon keeps calling me. It wants me to join the PvP party.)

I played way too many free games in 2007. (I'll try not to do that in 2008. Really! I mean it.)

I played Archlord briefly. It made me decide that I really wanted to play Lineage 2. As free Asian-style games go, it is probably one of the better ones, if you don't like the cute anime look.

Of the Asian crop, the only one that really stands out for me at all was Fiesta Online (the Outspark version), with the combination of Kingdom Quests and titles to get. Kingdom Quests are scheduled, timed instances. They can be hard to get into, but I thought they were fun when I did get into them. The ability to press a couple of keys to hide all other players was a nice feature in highly congested areas. There were some annoying things too-- spamming in the local ("say") channel by goldsellers (conveniently, an annoyance that disappears when you hide other players) and some community problems like inappropriate conversation in broadcast channels (some really racist and sexist things being said-- a profanity filter can't filter out sheer obnoxiousness). Who was the genius with the brilliant idea to reward a title for talking continously in broadcast channels?! Overall, just being a game that I played for more than 20 minutes and actually remember playing puts it above some of the other games I played.

My younger kids (in the 10 year old range)  loved NosTale. It's cute. They liked taming new pets and running through the missions constantly. The community didn't seem as obnoxious as they get in free games, but it didn't really matter, since my kids basically played it as if it were single player. They don't read chat or talk to people.

I downloaded and played Shadow of  Legend before the open beta started just a couple of weeks ago. It seemed, in the few minutes I had to play it, as old school as I had guessed from looking at screenshots. Unfortunately, open beta required a fresh download and install, and I haven't gotten it downloaded again to explore it more thoroughly. (Dear Game Companies:  When moving between stages of beta and from beta to release, please let the launcher do the updating, rather than making us download again, k? thx.) I thought downloading the torrent would be faster than the direct download, but either way, I am getting download speeds I haven't seen since dial-up. I'd blame my DSL if I hadn't downloaded files at acceptable speeds with it just before this...ANYWAY.... Back to the year in review!

Outside of the Asian games, I also played Shadowbane for a while. Despite the frequent complaints of many who have tried it, I don't think the controls are all that hard to master (no harder than FFXI, IMO), but I didn't really meet anyone or get a chance to talk to anyone, and that was what ultimately drove me away. For a free game, it's not half bad, and it is a good alternative to some of the other junk out there, especially among low system requirement games. I think it would even be fun in a guild situation.

In 2008, I am looking forward to finally getting a less ancient computer. I have a cautious interest in Warhammer Online and Aion. I am not personally interested in Age of Conan, but as a spectator of the whole field of MMORPGs, I am interested to see how it fares in the market. Whether new launches fly or flop, I am hoping to have a year that's more about the quality of my game time rather than the quantity of games that cross my harddrive.

I should give Anarchy Online a go. I haven't played that game in ages (since back before it had expansions). I will have to put that one on my list for 2008. It was good enough to pay for before. I can still play the base game for free, right? I'll have to take it out for a spin. It can be my "waiting for other games" game.

((EDIT: Sheesh... I don't think I am quite done fixing typos and mistakes in this one yet. My brain is STILL fried from the Christmas we had. Let's see... 300 mile drive each way. My mom fighting with my brothers the whole time we were there. My husband's 86 year old grandmother falling down the stairs. Moving my son from there to here... Oh, yeah, it was one for the books.))

MMO New Year Resolutions 2008

Posted by neschria Saturday December 29 2007 at 2:02PM
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I am making some MMO resolutions for 2008:

1. I will play only one subscription game and one character at a time so that I can see more of the game with the time I spend on it. This should keep me from being intimately familiar with every nook and cranny of the newbie area while being completely ignorant about what happens after level 25. That's the idea, anyway.

2. I won't try more than 1 free game a week. I admit it. I am a game hopper, especially among the free/item mall games. Some of them have features that keep me around for a little bit, but I am in a bad habit of downloading 3-5 games a week, installing them, playing them for 20 minutes, and then uninstalling them so that I have room for the next 3-5. I could say that I do this on the grounds that I want to bring you people news and reviews from out there, but I download a lot of grinders that I can look at from a mile away and say, "Oh... Another hack'n'slash grinder. It's just like the other 80000 of those I've already played this month."

3. I will not give in to nostalgia and resubscribe to EQ again. Other people may still enjoy EverQuest (1), but for me, it is time to let it go for good.

4. I won't say anything negative about WoW.  It's just pissing into the wind, as my dad would say. 

5. I will temper my glee when companies do stupid things and bring themselves to ruin.  After all, people lose their jobs that way, and it isn't the fault of the guy making the grass textures that management ran their boat ashore. It has happened before, and you know it is going to happen again. Watching the MMO part of the game industry is my favorite spectator sport, but it is good to remember sometimes that there are real people involved.

6. Play something else now and then. There are still good single and not-so-massively multiplayer games out there. I want to have some fun by myself, on the LAN, or face-to-face at a table once in a while.

Those shouldn't be too hard. I could probably think of a few more related to how much time I spend in front of a screen or how many other things I should accomplish in a day before I start playing, but I think my non-MMO resolutions will take care of that sort of thing.

Happy New Year, MMORPG.comsters!

Still Alive

Posted by neschria Monday December 17 2007 at 5:46PM
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My son just called me to tell me that he finished Portal and heard the song I had mentioned to him.

It's been a while since I threw a YouTube link in here. I bet you thought I'd been replaced by a random blog generator without a random YouTube link option.

I look at a lot of different gaming forums. Some have an older poster base and some are dominated by younger people. Some are filled with the postings of a thousand monkeys at a thousand keyboards trying to produce the complete works of Shakespeare (but still falling somewhat short of Dean Koontz). This brings me to...

The Peeve of the Day!

Some people on other boards, elsewhere in the Netosphere, seem to think that Lineage 2 is "LineAge 2", and even go as far as abbreviating it LA2. I'm sorry, folks, but "lineage" is not a 50-cent word. I don't think I'd pay more than $0.06US for that word. I mean, you might not get to use it on a daily basis, but it isn't a brainbruiser.

WTF does "line age" mean anyway?

Ok. I've got that out of my system. I made a really interesting apple custard for dessert. I am going to go have some now. And later, I might sort through my "LineAge 2" screenshots to post here some other time so that you know for sure that it is really me, still alive.

 ((EDIT: In the spirit of people who put a capital letter in the middle of "Lineage", I've decided to go with a new spelling for "Runescape" (as spelled on the game list here; "RuneScape" on their own site). From now on, I'll just call it "Run!Escape!" ))

Hunting around for my NWN disks...

Posted by neschria Sunday December 16 2007 at 6:51PM
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I am getting the itch to make a NWN module. I don't have NWN2, just NWN1 and the expansions. I haven't ever made anything I've done available to the public, but I have made a couple of modules, alone and in collaboration with my son. It's harmless and cheap entertainment for a good couple of months.

Our LoTRO trials ran out. We let the last few days slip by without playing together. I played once in those last days without my husband for a little while. I am not sure if it wasn't quite compelling enough to keep us logging in or if it was the impending end of the trial that caused us to quit playing. For me, it was probably a combination of the two. For my husband, it may have been the latter, or the frustration of playing with me. He's all about doing things as efficiently as possible while I like to wander and explore a lot. I imagine I am very frus... hey, is that coffee over there? I'm going to go get some of that.

That is to say, if you're trying to do things in a straight line and as efficiently as possible, you probably don't want to invite me. If they were to release a Neschria doll, "Short Attention Span Neschria" would certainly be one of the available models.

My son, my oldest child, the one mentioned in paragraph 1, called me today. He's recovering from falling off the hood of a friend's car at 30mph. Remarkably, he walked away from this incident. I don't know if I am happy or not to hear that alcohol was NOT involved. He's a good kid, but sometimes his head isn't screwed on totally straight.

A neighbor who is parking in our parking lot came in to talk for a while, and he mentioned he'd made a few hundred bucks shoveling snow out of driveways in the upscale neighborhoods. When he left, I said that my son, who is moving here soon, might want to give that a try if he doesn't get a job right away. Upon further reflection, I realized that if he did have that extra cash around, he'd likely wake up the next day broke, but with a hangover and wicked new tattoo.  Or he'd spend the next 3 months coccooned in his apartment with his XBOX 360 and all the fun new games he bought with his shoveling money.

I think I am going to give Shadow of Legend a try when the open beta starts on Tuesday. It looks pretty old school, and I don't expect much from it, but I am intrigued by the idea of a game that can be played on mobile devices, even if I don't own such a thing.

|| pause ||

Well, my husband says he was having fun playing LoTRO, so maybe we'll get back to that after the holidays. It must have been the winding down of the trial. I know I don't much feel like playing a game when I know my account is about to expire, so that was probably it for my husband too.

 I am having a foolish urge to play Lineage 2 again. That isn't everyone's cup of tea, for sure, but I enjoyed my time in that game, and the new update has a new race in it... I am a total sucker for a new race, but not quite enough of a sucker to pay up for the EQ2 expansion.

Well, it looks like we're closing shop, so I am going to post this and go home.  TTYL.

(P.S. from home: The folks over at theMMORPGMaker forums are working on a collaborative NWN2 thing... I don't have NWN2, and I only lurk there a little from time to time, or I might jump on their bandwagon. // On a completely unrelated note, I am finding that "Come play with me because I've already killed everyone else" ad for L2 that's over there >>> right at this moment pretty amusing. Better than the Age of Conan "Heads will roll" ad, anyway, and better than the "Sauron is watching your every (*yawn*) move"  LoTRO ad. )

A few lines on a Friday

Posted by neschria Friday December 14 2007 at 3:18PM
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I tried to write this entry yesterday, and I even had a couple of interesting links. Alas, I accidentally closed the browser window it was in while trying to declutter my desktop. One of the links was to a blog about what deep integration of MMOGs and social networking might look like (something I had brought up before, but I think I tripped over my words a little) and another from about this time last year about boutique mmorpgs.

I don't feel like searching for the links now. I may have bookmarked them, but that would have been on the laptop which I left down in the shop.

So... I am not even going to try to rewrite the entry as it was yesterday. Instead, I want to mention a couple of MMO-related thoughts I've had today.

I really enjoyed Frostfell (the Christmas holiday event) in EQ2 last year. I enjoy holiday decorations and events in games, especially if there are a variety of events that allow for even the newbiest newb to participate. It's a nice little way for the virtual world to share in the real world festivities.

I think it would be interesting to see more virtual worlds have their own internal cycles of events like festivals and such. It might give some sense of time passing.

I've had a lot of MMO-related thoughts lately, mainly around the economics of a hypothetical game. (That's the sort of thing I think about in the shower.) I'm just not up to posting about it yet. I've been thinking about a game focused on the economy, with a limited amount of currency kept in circulation by consumable items. New raw materials come in, and crafted items go out... Eh... Yeah, it's a pretty complicated thought, and it's not quite ready for prime time yet.  

(EDIT: I'm mildly depressed by the holidays IRL this year and I've got a lot of travel coming up, so I guess I'll be back in January, just in time for my birthday. Oh, joy. )

LoTRO, Fruitcake & Coffee.

Posted by neschria Saturday December 8 2007 at 1:56PM
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I played LoTRO in closed beta and thought it looked like it was shaping up to be a fine game. We talked about buying it on release, but then we didn't, which was just as well, since our lives have changed greatly since then. It would have been a waste of money while we were fixing up our old house, selling it, moving, fixing up the new house, looking for new jobs and working on getting the doors of our new family business open.

Things are still pretty crazy, but we now have a little recreational time in the evenings, so I thought it would be a good time to ask my husband if he wanted to give the trial a good run for a week. He hasn't played it before in any form, so he agreed to give it a try.

We're having fun. I think it has some of the plusses of World of Warcraft, in terms of being able to do something in short play sessions, plus having a lot of small achievements along the way so that you always feel like you've made some sort of progress, whether it is finishing deeds or quests or whatever. What I don't know, from playing now or from playing before, is whether or not it still plays the same later in the game. Most of the people we've met so far have been friendly and helpful, so I'd give the community on Brandywine server a thumbs up, at least at the low levels where I've been. I like the Middle Earth setting, myself.

I am seriously thinking about getting the game as our Christmas present to each other. The special holiday pricing ($9.99 if you subscribe for 3 months at a time) seems like a good deal, anyway, and I can see myself playing this for a while.

Of course, we got each other WoW for Christmas when it was released, and that only lasted 6 months. Who knows?

I am about to go play some more. He's down in the shop and nothing is going on down there right now. I'm at home with kids. It seems like a good time.

I am snacking on Hostess Holiday Fruitcake with strong, bitter coffee. I don't know anyone else who eats fruitcake on purpose. I love the bitter and sweet contrast though, like this, or one of those overly sweet doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts along with their coffee sans sugar.

(And now for the obvious joke: "You are what you eat...")