Nostalgia Wins

Of all the topics I thought I would be blogging about, it is pretty safe to assume this is the last one I ever expected to be writing.  However over the last couple of weeks I have been giving in to my nostalgia, and I feel like I need to come clean about it.  About a week before my birthday, I found my way onto the guild mumble, in the guise of helping a long time friend test their mumble connection.  It was not long before a few others showed up, and we had a lively little discussion going.

When you get a bunch of old friends together, sooner or later they are going to start talking about the “good ole days”.  While none of us were actively playing it, those cherished times were all raids in World of Warcraft.  Over the last year and a half, since leaving the game, it has pretty much been my regular whipping boy.  I’ve said so much, and blamed so many things on the game and its players, but at the end of the day we really did have some amazing times there.  It wasn’t long before I found myself accepting a Scroll of Resurrection, and reactivating my account.

Sealing the Rift

2011-03-15_062142 (1)I expected that much like reactivating Rift, this was going to be one of my short lived whims.  I had a good deal of fun wandering around Telara for about a week, before the same feeling from before had set in.  Rift is without a doubt technically superior to every game on the market.  It has every feature I could ever possibly want in an MMO.  The problem is that once again I find myself not really caring about the world of Telara and its two warring factions. 

What hooked me on MMOs all those years ago, was this always on and deeply intricate fantasy world to explore.  Norrath will always be my first love, with its interesting races, brooding gods, and vast landscapes.  I can remember spending hours, reading quests, trying to gather up every little tidbit of this rich world.  Years later I developed the same connection to the land of Azeroth.  The setting was already familiar to me, and knowing a little bit about it already, made World of Warcraft and its lore all the more addictive.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, I just can’t seem to develop the same connection with the races and world of Telara.  The game does everything right, and has every bells and whistles I could ever want in an MMO, especially now that they are adding mentoring.  At the end of the day however, I just don’t really care about my characters the same way I normally do in these games. 

Home is never the same

WoWScrnShot_061412_232732So in a fit of nostalgia I have been playing WoW once more, and I have to say I am enjoying myself quite a bit.  I think it is a testament to just how good a game it is, that I can return after almost 2 years, and a ton of frustration and bad feelings towards Blizzard, and be able to have fun.  I honestly had the intention of never playing the game again.  I had mixed emotions about trying to “return home”, and the ramifications that it might mean.

So much has changed, the guild I spent seven years building up is very similar, but it is definitely not the same guild I left.  Little things have changed, gone are a good number of the people I cherished the most, and with them some of the easy banter that used to go on in guild chat each night.  However, there are moments, especially on raid nights when some of the veterans show up, that things return back to “normal” for a bit, or at least the normal I remember.

In addition to folks that have moved on like I did, there are tons of new names and faces that I don’t know.  I used to pride myself on trying to know everyone in “my” guild, but truth is from the moment I passed on the hat that guild stopped existing anywhere other than my mind.  I think this is all the more noticeable by the fact that Argent Dawn once again is going through the pre-expansion doldrums.  The guild is still a great group of people, just not as outwardly friendly as it once was.

Normal is a moving target

WoWScrnShot_061712_000107I’ve hit on this multiple times, but the truth is while it feels like the guild has changed, it might simply be because I myself have changed.  When I was last wearing the green and black of House Stalwart, I was a burnt out Guild and Raid leader, unable to stand the thought of playing the game anymore.  I have realized that a good bit of that frustration that built up was because my reality was changing around me. 

When I built up House Stalwart into what it was, I was a relatively unhappy code monkey, working under a boss with a penchant for passive aggressive micro-management.  Nothing I did was ever good enough, and I felt like I had no control over my work world.  At the same time there was a good deal of turmoil in my personal life.  During a five year stretch, we lost something like 15 family members.  The first and worst of these was the suicide of my nephew.

Everything simply felt wrong, and out of control.   I think in a way I built up House Stalwart to be this stable, safe environment to hide out in.  Over time my life started to shift back into normality, I didn’t need my support structure as much as I once did.  I changed jobs leaving the constant stress, feelings of inadequacy and that horrible boss behind.  The problem is, I had built a guild full of great people who had come to need me that I did not want to let down.

The more responsibility I had thrust upon me in the real world, the less I wanted to deal with it in the game world.  So when I moved jobs, to one I had more of a direct role contributing to, I pushed back against being the main tank.  When I had a coworker leave, and have to pick up the slack and essentially do two jobs at the same time, I pushed back against raid leadership.  As I picked up some management responsibilities, I pushed back against guild leadership eventually left the game.  So it seems impossible to separate the frustrations I had with the game, from the changes I was going through outside of it.

Am I really back?

WoWScrnShot_061612_233953So over the last week I have been getting adjusted to the game again.  I find myself actually looking forward to going home and playing at night.  More than anything that is something that has been missing for awhile.  While I have found enjoyment in whatever I was playing, the actual drive to log in and play has been gone.  Now I think ahead about what I might accomplish each evening, and it is refreshing.

There is a question my friends keep asking that I don’t have an honest answer for yet.  I am not sure if I am really back, or honestly what being back even means.  I figure if I am actually playing a month from now, then chances are I will be playing for awhile.  I am enjoying this present trip down memory lane in the meantime.  Last night I soloed most of AQ40 and AQ20, then later duoed a good chunk of the Black Temple.  I am enjoying the experience of rediscovering this game I used to love so much, with no expectations.

I am having a blast playing my Deathknight, probably more than I have since originally leaving the game.  I am not really sure how to quantify it, but World of Warcraft does melee right.  I’ve played melee characters in roughly a dozen games since leaving wow, and in every case they didn’t quite feel right.  They either were too simplistic, too slow paced, or somehow didn’t truly capture the fun nature of swinging a weapon at a monster.  I have to think that it is all the attention to detail and smooth animations that make playing a melee just feel correct.

Future uncertain

Right now I am not sure what my gaming future will bring.  There are so many big games on the horizon, and I am sure I will play several of them. I am not sure if WoW will stick, or if I will just float along to the next big thing.  Currently I have access to WoW, Pandaria Beta, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Diablo 3, Rift and Everquest II.  So far however, the only two I am actually logging into are WoW and EQ2.  In each case, those are the two universes I am most nostalgic about.  I guess that no matter what I say or do, I will always love Norrath and Azeroth.  It has been just as shocking to myself, as it has been to my friends that I am back in WoW.

A Quiet Evening in Norrath

I have to say, it has been a fairly crazy week.  At work I have been dealing with a “brand marketing” company, as we try and stand up a brand new promotional website.  On the blog, the Newbie Blogger Initiative has kinda kicked me in the ass, and made me start trying to post some useful stuff on a regular basis.  In game, as I mentioned yesterday I picked up TERA on a whim, so I have added it to my rotation of SWTOR and EQ2.

Checking In On The Republic

Screenshot_2012-04-12_22_57_20_558931After spending the weekend in the Guild Wars 2 beta, and a good chunk of the week playing TERA, I felt like I needed to spend last night in SWTOR since the troops were getting restless.  Leading a guild in Star Wars has been an interesting transition.  I lead a very active guild in World of Warcraft for a little over seven years, so since the Star Wars guild is a combination of the same people, one would think I would be used to it. 

I have to say however, it has been an interesting experience.  I’ve talked about it before, but I really am not the same player that my friends knew and loved form WoW.  After being committed to raiding 3-4 times a week, I find myself having trouble even committing to running a dungeon as a group.  I’ve developed this resentment towards anything that ties me down, or forces other players to depend on me.

The Reluctant Guildmaster

Screenshot_2012-03-21_22_16_22_840230After several nights of piddling around in other games and a weekend of soloing while testing, coming back to SWTOR last night was a bit jarring.  I logged into a sea of tells, similar to like I used to get on a nightly basis in WoW.  Each person that contacted me, had been waiting patiently for me to show up again, because they had some real need of my attention.  But I have to say, it almost invoked a fight or flee instinct in me.  Instead of actually going out and trying to get into my new Chiss Smuggler, I wound up simply logging in my 4 characters all night and running slicing missions. 

I can happily report however, that the last patch did in fact seem to fix the slicing bugs.  I was able to make a meager profit from running high end slicing boxes.  When 1.2 came out, I ended up blowing through around 300,000 credits, trying to figure out a mix of lockboxes that actually was able to at least break even.  Our guild crafters really relied on getting materials from those slicing missions, so it will be nice to be able to provide them once more.

I’ve hit a wall right now in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I have 3 characters at 50, each of them geared at least in purple mods in moldable gear.  All that is missing from my stable is a smuggler.  I made a push to do dailies on all three of my max level characters, and farmed up the 1.5 million credits to unlock the Chiss race I was wanting.  Problem is, I just can’t seem to push forward anymore.  At almost legacy 30, there really is nothing left for me in the system that does not involve prodigious amounts of credit grinding.

Norrath Calling

EQ2_000047After last night feeling very much like returning to a job after a vacation, and knowing that tomorrow would be spent on the road, I decided tonight I would relax over in Norrath.  Everquest 2 is one of those games I can always return to, and always find something interesting to do.  I seriously think there is more content in that game than I will ever be able to complete. 

I have a level 90 ShadowKnight, with around 300 AAs, so I could be off doing the new 90-92 content.  Problem being that I don’t really feel like doing anything that serious.  The rest of my guild seems to be moving happily through the content, and from all accounts it seems like the Withering Lands and Skyshrine are extremely awesome.  For whatever reason though, I just have more of a desire to play my level 80 Dark Elf Dirge, and my level 20 Froglok Paladin.

Belglorian of Marr

EQ2_000059Tonight I decided to log into my little frogadin, and take a trip to Stormhold.  Over the years this has been one of my favorite dungeons.  I love the way Norrathian dungeons are laid out, and anytime you give me one filled with tons of undead I am a happy camper.  Other games have pretty dungeons, but for whatever reason they don’t feel like something the mobs would actually use.  EQ2 dungeons are replete with kitchens, store rooms, audience chambers, and are populated with everything from the butler to the chef.  I honestly think this was why I liked Karazhan so much.  It was the only wow dungeon that felt like someone could actually inhabit it.

I’ve completely stacked the deck on my Belglorian, my paladin.  I picked him up one of Fippy Darkpaw’s swords during the chronoportal event.  In addition I have crafted some nice armor, including the level 20 reactant “of authority” chest piece.  Essentially my gameplay is to keep him locked at 100% AA at level 20 until I can get at least 100 AA levels.  Right now I am sitting at 45, and each AA makes life a little easier.  There are so many good level 20ish spots, and I find running around killing random stuff in Everquest 2 really relaxing.

I had a bad pull deep down inside of Stormhold, wound up getting two bosses and wiped.  I took a quick break to come over her and write something up, but I can hear the soft crackling of the braziers near the entrance in the background as I right.  It is softly calling me back, to come bash heads again.  I hope you all have a great weekend, mine will be busy chaperoning a college trip with my educator wife.  As a result not sure how much playtime I will actually get other than tonight, so I am planning on savoring it.