Lanzan Hunters

This is the second day in a row where I woke up on my own automagically.  I find it more than a little spooky, but it furthers my general theory that my body seems to want roughly six hours of sleep.  Going over causes me to get completely groggy, and going under the same result.  This morning I sat up in bed, and had roughly five minutes until the alarm, so I just walked over to the other side of the room and shut it off.  Essentially this is my failsafe to make sure I get up… otherwise I would likely just turn the stupid thing off or hit snooze all the time.

Lanzan Hunters

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Yesterday morning after the tips I had received I accepted the Guardian guild quest to close 100 experience bearing Rifts.  I had all intent of working on this when I got home.  Instead I logged in and a guild member, Tibuant asked if I could give him a boost into the Storm Legion content.  Essentially his account was hacked ages ago, and the hackers got it banned.  He went through the long and drawn out process of getting the account back and getting it unbanned.  Upon playing it he realized that they had deleted his cleric character, so he had to get that restored as well.

When they restored the character however they kind of just dumped some miscellaneous gear on him, which was not that amazing for leveling.  So I said sure… I can always use some time to farm more Lanzan as I like to keep a stock of 24 slot bags in the guild vault for various characters.  So I told him to meet me in Iron Pine Peaks, where we both took the port to Cape Jule.  We wandered from that Porticulum to Tulan and let him get that one… then finally on to our destination.

Tarne’s Perch is in the North Central area of the Cape Jule map and is pictured in the above screenshot.  So far this is the best place I have found for grinding out Lanzan cloth.  The area is loaded with Storm Legion troopers of various kinds, and each of them can drop between 2 and 4 Lanzan a piece.  The only negative is that it feels like roughly 1 in 3 troopers actually DOES drop the cloth.  So needless to say it involves a lot of slaughter.  They are spaced out far enough apart that it does not make the area an ideal AOE farm spot… but then again I have yet to find one of those.

Essentially by the time you work your way to the top… you can jump down to the bottom and the path will be fully respawned.  We did a few loops with Tib and I before I needed to afk for a bit and eat dinner.  When I returned Rae joined us, and the three of us wrecked the place several more times.  All in all we spent about an hour and a half farming.  I managed to get roughly 110 bolts of Lanzan in that time and crafted another 8 bags for the guild vault.  Additionally Tib managed to get from 48 to 50 and we were able to outfit him in some proper starting Storm Legion gear in the process.

Rift Wrecking

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Once we had dinged Tib, I spent a little time crafting him a set of level 50 gear… or at least the pieces I could actually make.  Eventually I swapped over to Belglaive with the intent of closing some rifts to help push us over the guild quest of 100 total.  By this time a mixture of guildies had managed to knock out roughly 50 of the 100 rifts.  Over mumble I mentioned what I was doing.. and before long we had a long list of people aiding in the cause.  We mentored down to 20 and took to Freemarch, thinking it was easiest to move between tears in that zone and there was always a higher likelihood of a zone invasion.

Fynralyl and Psynister made it back safely from their trip, and even after driving for either hours… they were on and willing to help out the cause.  Longtime Stalwarts Atonal and Tibuant also chimed in pretty much ready to wreck anything.  So we wandered around the zone wrecking shit together.  I would set a way point and we would all barrel towards it.  Earlier in the evening Vox Populi…  which is neither original nor after Bioshock Infinite really a faction I would aspire to be as a guild… was roaming around the zone opening Fire rifts and abandoning them if they were not the special Invasive Species Defiance crossover.  As a result much of the evening was simply running around cleaning up their Fire rifts.

Additionally when we found an unopened planar tear, we started letting Tib open them since he had the Fire Lure.  I figured we might as well maximize our potential for getting people Hellbug mounts.  Unfortunately while we closed several… and pretty much everyone completed the Ark Hunter title achievement..  we only managed to get a couple of the Red pets to drop.  About halfway through the grind a Water invasion started up, and the above image is of us taking down the final boss.  Pretty much during the course of the evening every single member of the group managed to get a ding.

Twisted Artifacts

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That is one of my favorite things about mentoring in Rift…  they have managed to make it worth while to both the person being mentored… and the mentor themselves.  Knowing everyone is going to get something from the activity really reinforces the benefit of dropping your level and running around en-mass, and then this also helps your lower level characters catch up.  By the time we had reached 87 rifts closed… we were all dragging a bit.  I was starting to do my sleepy talk thing where I jumble the words.  Additionally Fyn had driven eight hours that day and was just about beat.  We set our sights on hitting 90 and then calling it.

At that point I logged to go for my evening walk.  By the time I got back, I decided to go upstairs to cool off.  When I logged in they had finished out the last 10 rifts and were needing the quest turned in and the next one selected.  I grabbed the collect 100 artifacts quest, turned on Quantum Sight and decided to make a few looks of Stonefield.  I was online another thirty minutes or so, and in that time we had managed to collect roughly 50 artifacts.  When I logged in this morning, someone had stayed up and finished off the quest. 

Now unfortunately we have the win 20 Black Garden and 20 Codex quest… and I really do not see us completing that before the reset tomorrow.  Delevax was a juggernaut in grinding out the other one… but as a rule we are just not PVPers.  When I turned in the artifacts quest this morning it dinged the guild level 4, so I think that is pretty damned good for us only starting this branch of Stalwart last Thursday.  I did a count last night and we are a little over 20 actual people in the guild.  There are a few more people that I know will be joining us… but it feels awesome that everyone has gathered up so quickly.

Wrapping Up

I need to be wrapping this up.  Today is trash day, so I need to gather that, pack up the laptop and get on the road.  Last night was a complete blast and I hope we can pull that sort of thing together on a regular basis.  Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves as well, and based on the regular dings it seemed like everyone got benefit from it as well.  Additionally this last ding allowed us to purchase the ever nifty Cache Finder perk… that gives you bonus dungeon and rift currency.  Anyways… I hope you all have a great Tuesday and a great rest of the week.

A New Fire

This morning I am surprisingly awake for it to be a Monday.  I started waking up naturally around 4:30 and finally got up about 5:25 a few minutes ahead of my alarm clock going off.  Last night I was feeling pretty lousy so I begged off on our normal evening walk and just went to bed.  Apparently I was still able to get some extremely deep sleep.  Hopefully it will give me a decent start to the new week.  At the very least my boss is back this week so no more having to pretend to be him.

Guild Quests

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This weekend was very much still about getting things up and running in the House Stalwart guild on Faeblight.  One of the things I personally prioritized was trying to make sure we got our guild quests taken care of before the Wednesday reset.  The first quest I picked up was the kill 500 planar beings and close 50 rifts.  This one seemed like the easiest to me, and over the course of Friday night I managed to whittle down the vast majority of the quest.  Then I think it was Rae that finished the last rift, on her lowest level character to push us across the line.

The next quest I chose was the dungeon quest.  We needed to defeat the boss at the end of Iron Tombs 4 times.  I figured if nothing else I could just run in there on my level 60 and wreck the place to finish out the quest.  However by the time I got up Saturday morning… someone had apparently done just that and we were quest less again.  All that was left for us to do… was the dreaded PVP quest.  I want to say it was something like kill 500 players in pvp…  even though it was incorrectly worded as “kill guardians”.

I tried Sunday morning to make a dent in it… but I suck horrifically at PVP.  I was getting 10-16 kills per match, so I quickly lost heart and gave up on it.  I thought to myself…  2 quests per week will still level us relatively quickly.  Then last night…  Delevax became the guilds savior.  He single handedly whittled down that quest averaging around 40-50 kills per game.  I bow to his intestinal fortitude!  I figure eventually Thalen will get in the act because he actually mildly likes PVP, but for now at least Del gets the medal of honor for single handedly getting well over 400 kills in a night to push over the quest.

So now… days after forming the guild we sit at level 3 and are unable to progress again until Wednesday.  Though I am just finding out… that apparently you can send a Guardian into Sanctum to pick up the guardian flavor of all the quests for you.  If that is really true… we can do the planar and dungeon quests again easily for maybe a few more levels.  We already have full Tithe in effect as well as Mass Resurrection and Mass Summon.  Currently I am working on Blood Thirsty to give the folks pvping some extra healing.

A New Fire

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Any doubts I might have had about whether or not breaking out into our own guild was a good idea have long since disappeared.  Everyone seems so much happier now than when we were a part of someone else’s guild.  It has lit a fire under so many of us… giving us a purpose and focus to trying to make our new home an awesome place.  Rae of course continues to build amazing stuff in our guild hall.  The above image is this cool temple area she is working on at the top of the waterfall.  She changed the course of the path going up… and it now winds to the top of the mountain.  No screenshot really does it justice, but below is a picture from the trail leading up.

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I personally have been working on a lot of crafting.  Belglaive my renamed baby warrior that I started initially over on Faeblight has been turned into a pure harvester, and I have been working on catching up both butchering and foraging.  On Belghast I added yet another tradeskills, this time Artificer since we did not have one.  I have put a lot of resources into leveling that and at this point I am well into the Storm Legion levels.  However I had to take a break as I literally was running out of platinum.  Each ten levels ended up costing about 15 plat to push through.

I was able to craft some needed stuff for the guild hall.  In part I picked up Artificer because for whatever reason they ended up the tradeskill that can craft wooden items for dimensions.  Rae needed a large quantity of Wooden poles to use as posts and anchors so I purchased the pattern and have been turning those out as needed.  Additionally over night someone bumped up the number of slots in the guild hall again.  When I went to bed we were about 50 items away from the limit… but someone bumped it up to the third tier which grants over 1000 items.

About the People

No matter how much stuff you have… the guild is always going to be about the people and I have to say… we have an amazing collection of awesome people already.  It has been really cool hanging out with Rowan and Sctrz, and hopefully we have yet to scare them off with our antics.  Additionally I am looking forward to getting Psynister and Fynralyl into the guild now that they should be back from their vacation.  From the traditional Stalwart front, we’ve managed to meet up with Ryalcus and get at least one of his characters moved over as well as Valkkon and it has been awesome to see Qirii in game again on her ever unprounceable characters.

There are still a handful of people who have mentioned that they would be joining us, that we have not been able to meet up with as of yet.  However we have already gathered up around 20 amazing people under one banner.  I can only see that over time more folks will find their way here.  I feel like right now I have an endless list of things that I want to accomplish.  This time around the goal list is different, it is more focused on making an awesome home for my friends.  I guess I am going through a digital “nesting” phase.

I shift back and forth between various little goals.  Recently I have been trying to populate the guild vault with 24 slot bags for folks to use on their characters.  As a result we are also getting a decent artifact exchange going on, as each of us dumps the ones we are not needing in the vault.  At some point soon I am going to have to go back into daily mode so that I can gather up some cash to afford the push to 375 artificer and help afford the next guild vault upgrade.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap this up so I can get on to work.  The long and short of it is… we all seem to be having a blast together and enjoying our new home.  I am wishing I had done this ages ago, rather than trying to skirt the whole guild leader thing for two years.  Everything seems more enjoyable because we have a shared reason for doing it.  I guess today at lunch I will work on whittling down the Guardian guild quest I just accepted while writing this… Close 100 Rifts.  I hope you all have a great day, and that it is the start of an awesome week.

The Guild Grows

It is an amazingly dreary day here in Tulsaland.  As we were going for our evening walk last night the thunderheads were rolling in, and it quickened our pace a bit hoping to make the loop before getting rained on.  Throughout the course of the night there were some extreme bouts of house rattling thunder.  So other than braving the rain to go grab some breakfast… this is the perfect kind of day to stay inside and hide.

Bring July Showers

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As we slept apparently bad things were happening, and we awoke this morning to the sound of the bedroom window leaking again.  We thought this was past us… so it was a pretty major hit in the gut to hear it happening again.  Last year we put a new roof on the house after some “vandalism”… otherwise known as opportunists going up onto our roof and making hail damage.  After getting a reputable company to replace the roof the leak had stopped.  The thing is I think it has nothing to do with the roof.

We have a second floor deck, and I think somehow it is leaking in up there and running down the wall and finally finds its way in via the window.  This only seems to happen with particularly horizontal rains…  which sadly happens quite frequently in Oklahoma.  Ultimately we will need to call the roofers out… because while I don’t think they have anything to do with it… I also certainly have no clue how to fix it more permanently.  I figure the roofers are a good starting place.

So my solid sleep stopped about 5 am when after a really loud thunder boom we noticed the drip.  While we tried to ignore it… the drip drip drip permeated all attempts to sleep.  Eventually at one point I needed to run to the bathroom… and when I went to jiggle the handle my wife begged me not to.  Apparently the sound of the toilet running was greatly preferable to the sporadic dripping of the window.  Just add this to the long list of things that need to get taken care of soon.

The Guild Grows

Yesterday we added several more people to the ranks, and I have been amazed at just how smooth and organic the growth has been.  I think that is ultimately what killed the WoW Stalwart for me… the growth ceased to be organic… and with the changes in Cataclysm we diluted the overall culture of the guild too much by taking on far too many people.  I said the other day that our guild has a really strong culture, and with it a certain brand of ethics.  When we used to grow a person or two at a time… it was easy to keep these common shared values.

However when we enveloped all of the guilds that raided as a part of Duranub Raiding Company… we grew too large too fast.  I don’t necessarily feel like the size of a guild is what is critical… it is the rate of acquisition of new members that ends up causing problems.  If you double your size over night… you greatly damage your guilds common core.  So as we continue to grow I will have to be weary of this.  Always in the past I sought out like minded people and abducted them into my guild, and I think this method will work well going forward as well.

Simple Message

I think what also helps is that House Stalwart has a really simple message, and this is personified by our three simple rules.  It used to be two simple rules… but i added a third because I felt it added just the right flavor to the mix to help reinforce the shared values.

1 – To Be A Member, You Must Have a Member in Good Standing Vouch for You.

This is one of the most important tenants I think.  Essentially it assures that anyone that joins the guild is already grounded in the culture through at least one existing member.  Additionally it is explained that this is a two way street.  When you choose to sponsor someone, you are also putting your own reputation on the line.  If you do not feel like a person is a good fit for the guild, then simply do not invite them.  We have a social channel that is completely viable to let folks into without necessarily inviting them to the guild.

2 – Don’t Be A Dick

The universal rule of the internet… the Wheaton rule.  The phrasing is a little harsh but it is also fairly ubiquitous with internet culture.  Our interpretation covers pretty much everything.  Don’t be a dick anywhere at all.  Some guilds compartmentalize… so long as their members don’t start trouble in the guild they don’t care what they are doing in the greater gaming  community.  I care… I care deeply.  We expect our members to represent the guild well outside the bounds of guild chat.  It used to make my day when some random stranger would message me just to let me know how much they enjoyed grouping with a member of House Stalwart in a dungeon or out in the world.  The attitude of our members is the best recruitment poster we will ever have.

3 – Help Others, As Often As Possible

This is the newest rule but I feel it sets the tone for the shared values.  If someone needs help… help them if you can.  If a guild member is stuck on a quest, if a random stranger out in the world is about to die to a mob, if someone needs that one last widget to craft something epic…  help them out if you have the ability to do so.  This is not to say that you should bend over backwards and put yourself in harms way just so someone else can benefit from your pain.  But if it is in your power, and you have the ability to do so… lend a helping hand whenever you can.

Going Forward

The key is that wherever we are… my hope is that we continue to carry the same values.  The World of Warcraft guild has strayed a bit from the basic message, and it is in part because rule three never existed there.  So people are following rule 1 and 2 well, but without 3… and with me no longer tending the flock it felt like that shared ethic of helping others when they need it without thought of remuneration was lost.  My goal has always been to keep the rules super simple, because if you have to lift up the weight of your rule book in order to determine the correct course it means your rules will ultimately get discarded.

So far the Rift community has been pretty awesome, and the Rift guild feels like home with everyone pulling together for the greater good.  Here is hoping we can maintain this momentum and keep the three tenants in mind as we go forward.  I know we still have several people who have not been online since the move, and that we will be increasing our numbers slightly.  Additionally I am always open to awesome people joining our ranks.  I have always been one that cares far more about the character of the person… rather than the skill at performing some game related task.  I am completely fine if Stalwart is nothing but a social guild… but hopefully Rift provides us with more than enough group based activities that we can get together and hang out.

Wrapping Up

Well I didn’t really intend this to be a treatise on my guild believes… but it turned into that.  I have a grumpy cat trying hard to snuggle with me… but ending up moved regularly to type… so I am going to spend some time petting her after I wrap this up.  I hope you all have a good rest of the weekend… for me I am completely fine being “rainbound” of sorts… but i know we ultimately need to get out and go to the grocery store.  Here is hoping we have a break in the rain somewhere… and I have the “give a shit” to actually get up and around and go.

Home Decor

This morning has pretty much sucked.  Fairly late last night we found out that we were expected to be at my wife’s mothers at roughly 9 am this morning.  This is completely separate from a long list of errands we needed to run this morning.  As a result I am finally getting home and able to blog today… additionally as a result I am extremely grumpy from having my routine demolished so completely.  The most frustrating thing is… that we essentially spent 3 hours on the road for nothing at all.  The reason why we were going… could have been easily dealt with over the phone.  So now I am finally setting down to try and make a post that hopefully does not sound angry at the world.

As the Guild Turns

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As stated the other night, after the vote of Rift Stalwarts, we decided to break out into our own guild.  Since Thursday night we have gathered up about 15 members with more that I know will be joining that just have not logged in yet.  It is really starting to feel like a real guild again.  Last night guild chat was relatively active, and while things still feel a bit under construction we have managed to push through to level 2 already.  It will be a long ways from having all the nifty perks that we might have had in previous guilds, but we have unlocked more or less the most important ones like mass rez and the ability to plant rally banners.

It is awesome getting everyone together under one roof again.  I still am not sure what directions we will take, but it finally feels like home.  Silent Strike folk have been extremely awesome about the path we chose, and Saleny the leader offered a warm welcome both as a comment on the blog yesterday, and as an email.  I am hoping that we can find ways to do some joint stuff with the Strike folks.  Right now there are only two of us with high level characters, but it would be cool to go do a night of hunt rifts or something soon.

Home Decor

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As I said yesterday, I pretty much bankrupted myself personally to make sure the guild had a dimension and a vault.  Rae is a pretty amazing dimension decorator, and she has done some truly awesome things with her personal Moonshade pools instance.  When it came to our Stone Tavern Inn instance… I told her the sky was the limit… do whatever the hell she wanted.  She has delivered massively.  I spent most of the evening whittling away on the 500 planar mobs and 50 planar rifts guild quest.  Over the course of the two hours it took me to almost complete the quest… she had been completely quiet.

BPlLlqyCAAEWNJe

When I finally decided I needed to take a break and we were like 5 rifts away from finishing the quest… she just mentioned in passing over guild chat that she had done some work on the guild hall and that I should check it out.  So in the course of the hour or so time since i had last heard anything from her… she had completed this entire bar area from scratch.  I was completely floored… it looked amazing.  So much so that some of you may have seen it last night when I tweeted it.  Most of last night the dimension looked pretty much the same.. included this amazing bar and the start of a second story.

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When I just logged into the guild hall to see if any more progress had been done I was greeted with a lot of changes.  The first picture I posted in this section shows the amazing entrance you are greeted with when you first log in… including a dragonbone entrance with glowing green eyes.  The main floor of the inn appears to be mostly done and now there is a candelabra reaching down from the new upper story.  Some work has been done up there but it is still pretty Spartan… though I am sure she has plans for that space as well.

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Additionally she has done a lot of work to flesh out the market area.  Where before there was just the Greenscale balloon, now there are a bunch of tents and assorted goodies set up.  I walked around in this area for some time before realizing that there is now a secret path that goes up the waterfall with platforms up there.  I can’t wait to see what she has in store for that area.  Essentially she has taken what is a large but not expansive zone and made it feel much larger than it actually is.  It looks like someone also expanded the item limit for the guildhall by quite a bit, so she still has a ton of items left to play with.

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I am still just floored by her talent with dimensions.  I am probably going to get in trouble for showing all these pictures when the guild hall is still in progress, but I think it looks awesome.  Totally a place we will all be proud to call our own.  I believe she is going to enter her own dimension in the contest that is going on.  It really looks amazing, and she is applying that same talent to making ours look extremely cool.  If you are over on Faeblight definitely check out her houses… on the character Caithris.  Additionally swing by our guild hall and check out the progress.  I swear she likely did not sleep last night considering just how much work was done from the time I logged at 11 pm until now.

Wrapping Up

I am still in a rather sour mood… so I am going to go kill things in Rift.  Will look forward to finally having all our people under one roof, so trying to catch them as they log in to coordinate guild invites.  Right now I just want to chill out for a few hours after the frustrating morning.  Hopefully all of you out there have had a better day than mine… and additionally that you have a great weekend.

Big Changes

This morning was the fourth morning in a row that I slept fine without any middle of the night panic attacks… so I feel like the whole walk before bed thing has been vested at this point.  Additionally it gets in a bit of exercise which is always good.  The only real negative is that now I have to start watching the clock and about 10-10:30 I need to be detached from whatever I am doing and get ready for the walk.  This is shortening total available time to play… but the actually getting sleep thing is not too shabby.

Big Changes

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Over the last few weeks I have posted off and on about the dilemma my friends and I had with the guild we were in over on Deepwood.  Stalwart has a really strong guild identity and culture, and it has spanned multiple games without really diluting.  Over the years since I left WoW, we have tried to reside as part of another guild.  But each time we end up as a guild within a guild, and this always leads to a bit of discontent.  Essentially after nearly a decade of House Stalwart, we have all come to expect a specific set of guild norms… and when the guild we are in deviates from that…  folks feel uncomfortable.

Since leaving WoW I have pretty much harbor with various friends of mine that have guilds.  Then as the Stalwarts decide they want to join me in that game… I have tried to broker there way into that guild.  The problem is when a critical mass of players arrives there… we stop blending in.  As a result whether or not I intend to.. I fall back into the old “Guild Leader Bel” norms that they expect of me.  Regardless of if I am actually wearing the tin star or not…  I am treated as such by the Stalwarts.

The Outcast Misfits were extremely nice, but for none of the Stalwarts was that guild really home.  Part of this spawned from the fact that we were over on Deepwood… a non-rp server without the roleplaying culture we were used to.  When you are used to this more “evolved” culture you can only see “labiator” so many times before it breaks you… even worse when it was a member of your guild.  So after listening to grumblings for a bit, and the same thoughts going through my head… I decided to send out a question to the Stalwarts.

The Options

Yesterday I created a mailing list and BCC’d everyone that had been a member of House Stalwart that either was actively playing or showed interest in playing Rift.  In the email I explained the situation we were in and laid out three different options.  Essentially I did not want to force my friends down a path they did not want to go down.  Guild Leadership is not a democracy…  but I value the opinions of my friends and for a big change like this I wanted their full buy in if it was ever going to succeed.  I phrased the different paths as numbered options and asked for them to vote either by reply to the email or getting ahold of me some other way.  I used a Google spreadsheet to tabulate the results.

Option 1 – Stay With the Misfits

To be a fair question… we had to include essentially the control… the NO change option.  I didn’t really think anyone would want to go down this path, but essentially this option involved ignoring the things that bugged us and staying with the Misfits as is.  There were a lot of positives about this honestly.  They are an extremely active guild, and have regular raiding opportunities.  However the problem is that while they have a PG guild chat policy… they have no such thing for character names… and in their ranks there were more than a few offensive ones.

One of the Stalwarts plays with his son and daughter fairly regularly.  Another one is likely to let her daughter play now that the game is free to play.  None of them need to see names like “Vulvanatria”…  not that they would necessarily understand it.  Additionally it sticks in my craw a bit that the guild has a built in have and have-not’s setup.  There are raider ranks and non-raider ranks…  and while they never really treated the non-raiders as second class citizens it just bugs me that there is a division at all.  While they are extremely active… you pretty much have to be level 60 to join in any of the “reindeer games”.  The vast majority of the Stalwarts are far younger than that.

Option 2 – Move to Faeblight, Join Silent Strike

Faeblight is the defacto roleplaying server, so simply by hopping over to it we are changing to a lot of the social norms our guild expects.  Additionally it is likely the highest population server, and all the cross server channels reside there.  During Vanilla and Burning Crusade era World of Warcraft, House Stalwart was closely allied with the guild Silent Strike.  It was rare that we were running a raid or a dungeon without a decent mix of Strike folks in it.  In the course of my nomadic behavior over on Deepwood… I found out they had a pretty large and active contingency on Faeblight.

Elowynn/Saleny the leader of Silent Strike graciously offered us harbor in their guild, and quite honestly it would be a good home.  I have missed hanging out with the Silent Strike folks greatly over the years.  The guilds drifted apart when Stalwart became far more serious about raiding, but I have always tried to maintain a connection to Strike.  The only problem is that again… we would end up forming a guild within a guild like we always do.  Additionally merging as many people as we would be doing so… would put undue stress on their guild culture.  This was a good option but definitely had its issues as well.

Option 3 – Move to Faeblight, Form official House Stalwart

Moving to Faeblight gave us a lot of the cultural norms we were lacking over on Deepwood and the ability to actually report those heinous names.  Additionally most of the people that I know who are actively playing Rift… are doing so over on Faeblight.  So we have a built in community of shirt tail kin to draw from when we need to fill a group.  Elowynn was willing to introduce us to the HammerStrike folks and that would at least give us a foot in the door if members of Stalwart ended up wanting to raid eventually.  Finally we would actually have a home of our own after all these years of searching for one. 

I had been super reluctant to take this step after leaving World of Warcraft.  However recently I have come to the realization that it was never guild leadership that bothered me.  That is the part I am good at and enjoy, and did for almost a decade without issue.  It was the raid leadership part that killed me, caused me to burn out and almost quit the game.  I hate the herding cats aspect of raid leadership, and I simply never want to do that again.  Guild leadership… that is all the fun stuff, and mostly is just making sure people are feeling heard and help them when they have issues.

The Decision

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This all honestly happened far sooner than I had ever intended.  I expected to throw out the email and have no real consensus until later this weekend.  However after a few hours a major pattern emerged, one that was essentially undeniable.  I got a total of 19 votes either through email or through some other means.  18 of the votes were for Option 3… one of them was for Option 2.  So with that clear a mandate, last night I went through the motions to prepare for creating a guild charter over Faeblight.  Once the Stalwart server channel had enough people, we went ahead and set things up.

As of last night House Stalwart on Faeblight is born again.. and I bankrupted myself buying the Stone Tavern Inn guild hall and our first vault page.  By the end of the night we had several people in guild, and hopefully over the weekend we can grab the rest of them.  It will be a long road to level the guild up to the point at which we get a lot of the same perks we had previously…  but it will be our home finally and not just a timeshare with someone else.

I could not deny the statement I kept hearing over and over from people. “I think everyone will feel more at home in an actual HS guild.”  And it is true honestly… I already feel more at home.  Communication is cross server and easy.. and I can still keep in touch with the people I joined Outcast Misfits with.  But it feels good to actually set down some roots in a game again.  The last two years have been good for me… but also very spastic.  I feel like I am jumping games on a weekly basis, never really developing the same kind of network I had with House Stalwart.

After my “MMO Must Haves” series of posts… I realized that the only game that actually has all of those things is Rift.  So I knew all along I guess which game I should be playing as my primary.  Now that House Stalwart exists in that game.. it feels all the more like home.  Hopefully over the coming weeks we can get things set up proper.  Rae has already started adding things to the guild Dimension.. she donated her awesome Greenscale balloon that can be seen in the picture above.  Thalen also donated a number of nifty things, and spent a good chunk of last night whittling down the current kill 500 planar mobs guild quest.  I will take awhile to get all the goodies… but it is ours.

Wrapping Up

Well I have an early meeting this morning so I need to get out of the house and on to work.  Hopefully you all have a great Friday, and a great weekend as well.  So far each day this week there has been a new crisis, and yesterday was no different.  My hope is that I can make it through today without anything breaking, or any customer screaming too loud about something.

Goodbye Granite Falls

Last night was night three of good sleep after taking a quick walk before bed.  Additionally it has broken loose the log jam that was my weight loss plateau.  As of this morning I was down another three pounds since starting the walking.  The weird thing about the sleep however is that I am pretty much dead to the world.  I didn’t dream, I don’t remember sleeping… I just went to bed and woke up with the alarm and everything between is a void.  I seem to be getting rest because I am not absolutely dead tired in the morning… it is just an odd experience since I normally dream and remember the dreams.

Don’t Starve

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Over the last few nights one of my friends has been playing the hell out of this game, so last night I decided to fire it up and give it a shot as well.  It has been compared to turn of the century film version of Minecraft… but quite honestly I didn’t have that feeling at all.  Essentially “Minecraft” to me means taking raw materials and building something permanent.  So for me Terraria is a Minecraft game… but Cube World for example is not… regardless of how much it looks like it.

It took me awhile to adjust my expectations…  what we have here instead of a building game is a survival game.  Something I find far less interesting.  Essentially you have to gather resources during the day, and survive the night all while not going crazy or starving.  You gain sanity by standing near the fire each night, and as you get more insanity you start to see hallucinations everywhere.  I’ve heard that eventually the hallucinations will attack you if it gets bad enough.

I can’t say I really enjoyed myself massively…  but the gameplay instead fell into the mildly entertaining category.  I think at my core I am a base builder… and the lack of the ability to build a permanent basecamp to go adventuring from really harmed my enjoyment of the game.  I have seen screenshots that seem to suggest that later you are able to build fortifications to keep your camp safe.  Additionally at least at low levels, it seems like you are almost penalized by trying to keep returning to a central base.  Since in essence you can plunk down a fire anywhere you happen to be when night comes.

The other big problem I have with the game is a lack of permanence.  The goal of the game is to “beat” each world by solving some puzzle that allows you to progress to the next one.  So even if I could build some form of a base, I would be abandoning it every time I moved to the next tier in the game.  Even in Minecraft when I decided to venture out and build a new base camp… I know that I always have the previous ones to return to if I so choose.  Essentially it seems like the game has all the survival hassle of Minecraft, without the elements that make it fun for me… the wholesale world building.

The game is well designed, plays extremely smoothly and has a great retro look and feel that is immediately appealing.  If you really like the survival aspect of Minecraft and similar games than this might be just the thing for you.  I only managed to survive 3 nights on my first foray because I kept trying to engage in combat apparently too early.  So that throws another money wrench in my enjoyment… to be happy in a game I need to be killing something regularly.  My friend is having a blast with it, so it might very well be down your alley… however it goes in the “not really for me” bucket.

Goodbye Granite Falls

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Between the laptop lunch fun and the beginning of last night I managed to wrap up the last of Stonefield with Baby Bel over Faeblight.  The tail end of that zone is much more enjoyable than I remember.  I am sure it was equally epic when I ran it originally… but there have been some tweaks that seem to make it flow better.  Firstly I remember there being a gap where I was uncertain exactly where to go…  so the transition up to the camp near the Phoenix Gate seems to be messaged better.  Additionally the “rumble” with Guardian forces at the tail end of the zone… actually occurs in Stonefield now.  Previously it sent you across the bridge into Scarwood Reach… where it was extremely easy to get into mobs way too high for your level.

So major Kudos for them for fixing the flow of this tail end content.  Additionally the whole opening of the Phoenix gate felt far much more epic to me after having done the Rise of the Phoenix raid instance.  I guess I am in less of a rush this time through the game… and as a result find myself enjoying the content much more.  I still have problems with a few things… like Meridian and Sanctum still do not seem worthy of being capitol cities…  but there is enough good always to make up for the few frustrating spots.

Has the Must Haves

Essentially when I was working on my MMO must haves list… I came to the realization when a friend asked me… that Rift is the only game on the market that has almost every single bullet point I listed.  While I am looking forward to Elder Scrolls Online… it also seems like a vastly different kind of game… much like The Secret World is.  So as a result… I feel like even after that game launches… Rift will still be my traditional MMO crush.  I feel like I will always be playing rift at least some of the time.

There is just so much to like about the game, and so many different options for things to do.  Especially now with the gem store… you can expand your character in ways you never could before.  Recently for example I picked up Artifacing for Belghast over on Deepwood.  This adds to his already existing crafts of Armorsmithing, Weaponcrafting and the three harvests of Butchering, Mining and Foraging.  At this point it is just easier to add additionally tradeskills to that one character than to try and level up new harvesting abilities elsewhere.  The one thing I really wish however is that we had cross shard mail between our own characters.

Better Mentoring

One of the sore points right now is that mentoring should be a bit easier than it is.  I am not talking about lowering your own level… because that seriously could not be any easier.  What I am looking for is the ability to invite any 4 friends to a group… click a button… and have it queue us for a random dungeon to meet our level range.  Right now we essentially have to mentor manually to the lowest common denominator… sometimes it lets us queue for a dungeon… other times we have to remember where the hell the dungeon entrance is and run in manually.

One of the most powerful things about Rift is that it is functionally possible to group with your friends regardless of shard or level range.  Trion really needs to put some effort into ironing these tools out to make it a much simpler proposal.   I want to be able to group a bunch of people together and see a list essentially of things we can do… and then queue for something on that list without having to do much fiddling.  When we have done this manually there is usually a lot of trial and error until we get everyone in the right zone at the right time at the right level.  Streamlining this process would be a massive boon.

Wrapping Up

Well I have pissed away another morning rambling on about nothing much.  Now has come the time for me to gather up my now empty coffee cup, run it to the kitchen and get on with the day.  I hope you all have a great day, and I hope mine personally is far more uneventful.  While I was on vacation, nothing much happened.  But every day this week since I have been back… there has been a crisis.  Yesterday for example McAfee decided out of the blue to mark an FTP Server Daemon as a “Potentially Unwanted Program” and in the process quarantined it… taking down a number of automated processes with it.  I just want a nice calm day where I can actually remove items from my task list, instead of chasing down fires.

Rift Puzzles and Cairns by Level

One of the coolest things that Rift has is hidden puzzles, cairns and static spawn treasure chests scattered throughout the world.  Your instinct is to gather up the list and go after them as soon as you can…  but since each of them gives you a physical reward…  there is a bit of a trick to it.  Essentially each puzzle or lootable in the world has a fixed level range… and in order to give you the best possible reward it is always a good idea to wait until exactly the maximum level.

Since I have a large number of friends just starting the game, I figured I would take a few moments to compile a list of puzzles, cairns and lootables by level range.  This is in many ways a remix of the information found on KFGuides.com and I will be redirecting you there for the individual puzzle and cairn information.  They have done a ton of work organizing this information I am just presenting it in a checklist form, similar to my bonus level ranges post from SWTOR.

Level 30 Rewards

Lake of Solace / Freemarch

The lake of solace is a really unique case.  Not only does it have a puzzle deep within the lake, and a cairn, but it also has eight distinct lootables buried deep within the depths of the lake.  Each one will give you a potion that is worth 8 minutes of underwater breathing.  For location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, location for the cairn, and location for each of the 8 lootables please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Silverwood

Silverwood is the starter zone for the Guardians and offers both a puzzle and a cairn that can be found.  Unfortunately there are no lootables that I know of.  For location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and location for the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Level 35 Rewards

Stonefield

Stonefield is the second area for the Defiant and is connected to both Freemarch and Scarlet Gorge.  It has a puzzle and three separate Cairn locations.  For location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of all three cairns please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Gloamwood

Gloamwood is the second area for the Guardians and is connected to both Silverwood and Scarlet Gorge.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Scarlet Gorge

Scarlet Gorge is the beginning of the mixed faction zones. It is connected to both Gloamwood and Stonefield and acts as a bridge between the two faction starter areas.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Level 40 Rewards

Scarwood Reach

Scarwood Reach is a mixed faction zone and connects to both Scarlet Gorge and the high level zone Stillmoor.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Level 45 Rewards

Moonshade Highlands

Moonshade Highlands is a mixed faction zone and connects to Silverwood, Gloamwood, and the high level zone Iron Pine Peaks.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  Please note, the puzzle requires two players to click in a pattern in order to complete the puzzle.  I can be solo’d but is extremely difficult and requires perfect timing.  I would highly suggest bringing a friend along for the trip.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Droughtlands

Droughtlands is a mixed faction zone that connects to both Freemarch and the high level zone Shimmersand.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Level 50 Rewards

Iron Pine Peaks

Iron Pine Peaks is a high level zone and represents one of the three end game daily zones for the original game.  It touches Stillmoor, Scarwood Reach, Scarlet Gorge, Gloamwood and Moonshade Highlands.   It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Shimmersand

Shimmersand is a high level zone and represents one of the three end game daily zones for the original game.  It touches Droughtlands, Freemarch and Stonefield.  It has a puzzle and a single cairn location.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Stillmoor

Stillmoor is a high level zone and represents one of the three end game daily zones for the original game.  It touches Iron Pine Peaks and Scarwood Reach and has a puzzle and single cairn location.  For the location of the puzzle, tips for completing it, and the location of the cairn please check out the following guide at KFGuides.

Ember Isle

Ember Isle is a challenge zone that was released after the launch of the initial game.  It featured level 52 or higher mobs and was designed for extremely well geared players.  After the launch of Storm Legion they scaled back the mobs a bit to turn this into an alternate leveling zone.  Unfortunately KFGuides seems to have stopped following the game as a result we have to rely on alternate sources for information.  This zone has both a puzzle and  a decent guide to locating it and completing it can be found here.  Additionally if you prefer there are a number of youtube videos showing the process.  I have not found a really good guide for how to get to the Cairn but you can find the location coordinates here.  Additionally there are also a number of youtube videos showing the path.

Storm Legion Puzzles

In Storm Legion they seemed to shift the focus of these puzzles away from being an excellent source of gear, to being a way to collect various items for your dimension.  I still love the concept of in game puzzles so I myself will be tracking these down and completing them.  Previously I had only completed the original puzzles and did not even realize there was a puzzle on Ember Isle or that the tradition had continued into Storm Legion.

Essentially there are puzzles now in City Core, Kingsward, Moriban, Steppes of Infinity, Seratos, and Eastern Holdings.  The Stylish Radish of Better Homes and Dimensions has an awesome guide that outlines all the things you have to do to complete the puzzles of Storm Legion.  Many of them seem to have collection prerequisites, and essentially unlock new items for you to purchase on Omi the Mistress of Puzzles in Tempest Bay.

That’s All Folks

That is all I currently know about puzzles and other nifty things out in the world in Rift.  Hopefully compiling this will help someone out there.  Remember for the old world puzzles and cairns, wait until the level listed before completing them to assure the gear is the best possible you can get.

Crashing Castles

Good morning you happy people… and this time I actually mean it.  I am not sure what it was… the fact that I was completely exhausted by the end of the day, the hour or so I spent playing with friends… or the 15 minute walk I took before bedtime…  but something helped.  I went to bed around 9 pm and slept the entire night through without any panic attacks.  Probably some of the best sleep I have gotten in awhile.  So thank you all for the varied suggestions yesterday on the subject.

Crashing Castles

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One of the best side effects of the steam sale, is it is a great opportunity to get your friends hooked on amazing games when they get priced on the cheap.  I’ve been a huge fan of Castle Crashers for years, and used to play it with some friends on the Xbox 360.  When it was released on steam… I picked it up immediately because seriously…  it is worth buying on every platform you own.  Right now it is going for the absolutely bargain basement price of $4 as part of the daily sale… and should be up there for at least another 24 hours.

As a result I got recruited last night when Ashgar picked up multiple copies of the game and gifted it to anyone who didn’t already have one.  I have to say this was exactly the type of fun I had been needing.  For me, Ash and Tam it was much like coming back home to our side scrolling fighting game roots… and we all adapted pretty quickly.  Rae on the other hand, we could tell never really played that type of game… this compounded with the fact that she was playing with the keyboard…  made the evening frustrating for her.

On that note… I highly suggest you pick this title up especially if you hail from the era of Final Fight and Double Dragon.  But if you do so… I also highly suggest you have a gamepad to play it on.  This was designed to play with an Xbox 360 controller… and I feel it plays best when I use that.  It is completely playable on anything else however… but just remember all the tips and suggestions given in game… will be geared towards that specific controller.  It won’t say press heavy attack… it will say press Y.. so if you are using something else there had to be a bit of translation in your head.

Just as a note to anyone on my steam friends list.  I will almost never turn down an opportunity to play some castle crashers.  There is something about this game that is so pure and fun that it just takes me back to the days of feeding quarters to gauntlet or teenage mutant ninja turtles and playing with three other friends.  I really hope they create a sequel someday that is just as fun.  The only game that I might like more than this as far as side scrolling beatemups… is Guardian Heroes…  if it ever made its way to steam I would be immensely happy.  Speaking of which… I need to get some people together to play the D&D Shadows of Mystaria steam port.

Granite Falls

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Right now on my little warrior I am slowly making my way through the granite falls area.  Stonefield has always been one of my favorite areas in the zone, in part because it was the area shown in the original cinematic trailer for the game.  Additionally the town of Granite Falls is one of the prettiest in the game, and the falls themselves have always looked extremely epic.  Sooner or later I will end up having to buy the Granite Falls dimension so I can have my very own copy.

I am up to my favorite quest chain as well, involving the crypt near town.  Essentially giving me ANY quest chain involving undead and I will be happy.  I started working on this over lunch, and got about halfway through the sequence of quests before I got drafted for castle crashers last night.  My hope is that today I will push through the rest of Stonefield and move on to the Scarlet Gorge area.  I feel like this is an area that just does not get enough credit in the game.  I will have to play up another character when they have gone through with the redesign of the zone that is supposedly in the works.

Defying Reason

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Also over lunch yesterday I decided on a whim to boot up Defiance for a little bit.  I have an odd relationship with this game.  I like it mostly… but I just can’t seem to take playing it for very long.  I am happy to log in, kill a few rounds of mutants, maybe complete a quest… ride around in my dune buggy for a bit… and then log.  I figure it would be much more enjoyable if I was playing regularly with a large group of people, but solo I seem to have a very short attention span.

I guess overall I just don’t like shooters as much as I once did… and the whole behind the back shooter thing works well but feels just awkward enough to give me a low tolerance for it.  I really like the television show and the world, but so far I see little resemblance between the two other than having my very own “cat woman” telling me what to do.  I just wish that the story had been set in the St. Louis area that we are vaguely familiar with in the television show… instead of out in California.  Additionally since I am NOT from the California area and have never been… there just isn’t the same payoff as there is for other people.  I didn’t realize that Mount Tam was an actual place…  but I would have been able to pick up landmarks in Missouri.

Ultimately it is a good game… and it is pretty enjoyable…  but I have the same patience with it that I have for Borderlands 2.  I seem to be happiest when I play in spurts, unlike my friends that can literally play Borderlands 2 for hours and hours on end.  Defiance definitely scratches a similar itch for me…  and I finally found a weapon that I like.  Essentially it is a heavy energy machine gun thing… reminds me of shooting a BAR in the WW2 area shooters.  I can take down the baddies pretty successfully with it…  but I cringe at the thought of eventually out leveling it.  I have yet to find another weapon that I enjoy anywhere near as much as it.

I think this will continue to be one of those titles that I boot up every now and then… but never really dig too far below the surface.  Additionally the game feels very “un-social”, and very much single player.  I rarely if ever end up encountering other players when I play, and if I do they are usually buzzing around on their way to the next objective.  I am sure this changes as you get higher in the content, but I am still in the starter area essentially.  I could push through I am sure and get to the next area… but I figure why force myself when I seem to be enjoying little spurts of play here and there.

Wrapping Up

Well it is that time again… I need to wrap this up so I can get on with my morning and get into work.  Today is trash day, so I need to make sure that is out by the curb.  Additionally I really need to run some stuff by the cleaners.  If I don’t get a start on these things I will end up extremely late for work.  Right now I am essentially the boss, as mine is off on vacation… but it sets a bad example if I start slacking myself in the process.  I hope you all have a great day… and here is hoping that today will be relatively panic free.

Don’t Panic

Good morning you happy people… with the most forced cheeriness I can possibly muster.  I had a pretty lousy night last night… and was unable to get to sleep until well after 1:30 am.  I will get into the whys a bit later, but suffice to say… today is my first day back at work since the July 3rd.  To raise the ante a bit, my boss will be out of the office and as a result I will be filling in for him in all the meetings he attends.  This essentially is the equation for one of the most un-enjoyable weeks I’ve probably ever experienced.

Don’t Panic

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I’ve been experiencing what has been termed panic attacks of varied levels of severity for some time.  When I had my first ones… I literally thought I was having a heart attack… and as such was told to rush to the emergency room.  At which point they hooked me up to an EKG, did some blood work… and essentially told me that I had had a panic attack.  The problem is… were this a one time occasion I could take it in stride.  This ends up happening most nights when I go to lay down and start trying to pack away the thoughts from one day and prepare for the next.

Last night was another night where I was in the thrall of the panic rollercoaster, and as such just could not sleep.  The particular recipe last night was far less about a heart attack sensation…  and more about hyperventilating, a feeling of shortness of breath…  which is odd because I know the difference from being a life long asthmatic.  I literally tried everything I could think of to calm myself down.  I tried some deep breathing exercises and they worked exactly as long as I was doing them.  Once I stopped for a moment… my body went back into full freak out state.

Essentially from what I can tell this is all being caused by the very real anxiety I experience at work.  Essentially everything is in a state of turmoil.  We are a ship without a rudder right now, and without a strong force at the head of our department…  we are constantly shifting priorities based on which is thing is the most political advantageous.  As a result my work world is pure hell, and I have no stability at all.  This is something that I am finding out I guess my mind craves…  stability.

What is so frustrating… is I understand what is going on… but I seem to be completely helpless to stop it.  I had a pretty major freak out session during the day on Saturday… and at the suggestion of my wife I had a beer and seemed to calm down.  So last night I tried the same thing…  the last thing I want to end up doing is medicate with alcohol…  but I was desperate.  Unfortunately… that “fix” seemed to be a one time only thing… and in truth after I had finished my hard cider… everything seemed to get worse.

I essentially know it is work related because while we were in Albany… I had absolutely no panic attacks whatsoever.  It was only once we returned… and I started to dread this work week that they came back with a vengeance.  Ultimately I am going to have to see some form of medication to get me through these.  I’ve never been on any form of a mood altering medication… and I have avoided them like the plague.  However I am feeling like I need something, to help my body realize what my mind already does.

Elite Loyalty

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Last night I managed to push across the loyalty barrier for the next tier.  Upon completing the “purple” tier I got what is probably my favorite loyalty reward yet.  I now have the option to display the red thorned “elite” mob portrait ring on my own player portrait in the UI.  This is one of those little things that just feels cool.  While roaming the world that portrait ring is ubiquitous with danger… and being able to rock that appearance on all my characters is just slick.

Additionally I got the Loyal Helmed Murdantix mount for all of my characters, and you can see my baby warrior riding it.  It is extremely similar to the Ancient Murdantix mount that dropped in a raid instance, but it has the extra added bit of having a really cool helmet / blinder on it.  For whatever reason it feels so much cooler to me than the old one.  I’ve always loved the various “biped running on all fours” style mounts, but this is probably my favorite of them so far.  It feels like I am riding a troll or werewolf or something similar into battle.

Of late I have been splitting my time mostly between Belghast@Faeblight the little warrior shown above, and Belgrave@Deepwood my level 53 nightblade/riftstalker rogue.  I am still having a blast on both… especially the baby warrior.  Which I am sure seems a bit insane since I have a level 60 warrior already.  I find it interesting to play through the old content with fresh eyes.  I working with the Dark Thane prebuilt spec, and it has changed massively since I last played it.  I am enjoying the sense of discovery each time the game gives me a new ability to play with.  Essentially it lets me learn the spec an item at a time, rather than being deluged with everything it offers at once at level 60.

On Belgrave, I have just started Seratos and am making my way slowly to Necropolis.  I really love the dark bone woven zones of later Dusken… and they all seem to be carnage quest bonanzas.  I am a major junkie when it comes to those kill quests… I just wish the reward source stones were actually useful to Belgrave.  I have essentially purchased everything I can upgrade wise with them for awhile.  I still have yet to figure out what exactly to do with the excess ones.  If you guys know some cool use for them other than the gear upgrades… let me know.

As an indication for how much I am enjoying Rift… yesterday I took a break from my NDA bonanza just to get in some play time.  That is saying a lot… because I love beyond love the game I am playing that is still under NDA.  One of the interesting things about the free to play conversion is the daily and weekly gifts.  Which surprisingly got upgraded massively when I bumped up to this next tier of loyalty.  Instead of purple boxes… I started getting orange ones… and out of my weekly box I pulled a orange deeps box… which netted a really nice purple dps weapon for Belghast@Deepwood.

I find that the draw of knowing I have a new box every day keeps me logging in regardless of what else I am playing.  It is something extremely simple but for me… it is effective.  After logging in… I usually end up playing around and questing or crafting or even just hanging out in guild chat and talking.  I love that Trion chose to use the carrot and not the stick when it came to the free to play conversion model.  It seems to be working, because I am seeing lots of people online quite often.  Would be awesome if I could get more of a critical mass there so we could do bigger things.

Wrapping Up

Since I am thoroughly out of it… I need to get this morning thing underway.  I hope I survive the day with the small modicum of sleep that I was able to get.  I also hope that today ends up being far better than I have made it out to be in my mind.  I pray beyond reason that I can have a night off from the panic attack rollercoaster, because it is pretty much the opposite of fun.  At least I guess if it happens again I can continue building in Minecraft… which is what ultimately caused me to calm down enough to sleep.  I hope you all have a great day… and I hope it is stress free.

5 Biggest MMO Disappointments

This is one of those days I have zero clue what to write about… but as not to break the chain of constant posts I am going to push through and post something anyways.  In part this post about nothing has been brought to you today by the letters N, D and A.  So instead of a normal post about what I did last night, or what I want to do today…  I am going to make a post about my top five biggest MMO disappointments.  This is kind of the bookend to my post about my five favorite MMOs, so hopefully I can do this without coming off overly negative about each.

The Disclaimer

Some of my picks for this list will be rather controversial… but they are my picks nonetheless.  This list is not about what I consider to be the worst MMOs, or even bad MMOs at all.  In fact most of the ones included on this list are games I have played over and over again… and will likely play again in the future.  On the converse… these are the games I have been the most disappointed by over the years.  This could be due to lack of content, lack of depth, lack of features… or just simply lack of follow through.  This is by no means a death sentence for an MMO…  it wouldn’t be on the list at all if I didn’t care.  For example… I do not care at all for TERA or Aion… but I was not necessarily disappointed in either because I was not expecting to like them in the first place.

5 – World of Warcraft

World-of-Warcraft-Mists-of-Pandaria-Thunder-King-patch If you remember… I included World of Warcraft as number five on my five favorite MMOs list… and I think placing it in the number five spot on this list adequately represents the love/hate relationship I have with this game.  Without a doubt I have had some of the best times playing WoW, but I have also had some of my biggest disappointments in the path they have chosen to grow it.  It feels like an old high school friend… that you were extremely close to… but after years of being apart you grew in two completely different directions.  While you want really badly to be happy for it… you can see the potential that was there… and how it has been squandered.

World of Warcraft was a game that I expected not to like in the first place.  I remember my very first thought when I heard about it… was where the hell would they get their story.  Until Warcraft 3… every Blizzard game had essentially only had enough storyline to keep the game from completely falling on its face.  After experiencing the deep and rich world of Norrath… I did not think that Blizzard could pull off anything that engaging.  I was wrong… they wove together a world that was deep, rich, and filled with lore.  Additionally they incorporated the best features of every game that had come before it… and remixed it in a way that truly represented the absolute best of breed for the time.

However over the years… they have butchered the lore…  and instead of continuing to incorporated the best features on the market… have instead created half assed versions of them.  I have to keep coming back to the Transmogrification system… because it personifies this concept of the modern Blizzard approach.  They took something awesome… alternate appearance systems… and instead turned it into an extremely cludgy money sink.  The same thing happened over and over as they tried to incorporate features of popular mods… but the official version was never anywhere near as solid as the original mod that inspired it.

Then on the other side of the coin… the content was just lacking.  When new content was introduced… it was too little to late.  Like a quick appetizer that never quite turned into a meal.  Shortly after the release of Cataclysm… I started a brand new Worgen Druid… and managed to level it without much effort in under 5 days played time.  Additionally the raid content just felt more and more uninspired…  remixes of previous encounters.  So I will admit… at times I am one of those guys… that views the golden area of vanilla through rose colored lenses.

For certain players the new mix of content and the pacing works.  I have a ton of friends who are still knee deep in the thrall of this game… and more power to them.  I just reached a point where I could not view anything but the disappointment.  As a result I am not playing, and trying my best not to complain on a regular basis about the game.  But… additionally I do not feel this post would be honest if I did not include WoW in the mix.  I feel like it still has so much potential, and maybe if they changed to a content driven DLC style free to play model… they would have the endorsement to build content other than the raid ladder and dailies.

4 – Guild Wars 2

guild_wars_2_allotment This is another title I did not really expect to like when I first heard about it.  I was never a huge fan of Guild Wars 1 despite everyone telling me just how amazing a game it was.  I liked some of the concepts presented, like the Magic the Gathering style ability system and the ability to multi-class…  but everything else about that game I really despised.  If I do not like your games user interface or control scheme… no matter how awesome a game it is underneath  I just cannot bring myself to play it…  no matter how many times I try.  So all of this said I really had written off the concept of Guild Wars 2.

This all changed however when the folks at Arena.NET posted their Design Manifesto.  It basically said everything I thought I wanted to hear, and laid out a great vision for a new game.  So I was amped when I was able to get access to the testing program.  However I was immediately disappointed in the experience I had there, and lack of what honestly felt like a game.  I was disillusioned enough that I actually resigned from testing and wished them luck.  One of my friends remained in the test a little bit longer than I did…  and eventually bailed himself.  I hoped they would find some direction and turn the project around.

When it came time for open beta testing… I gave the game another shot.  The lowered expectations of expecting to dislike the game… caused me to view it through slightly different eyes.  I enjoyed the game enough that I picked it up when it came out.  The problem is… there just was not enough meat on the bones to hold my attention for long.  There are definitely some aspects of the game that I enjoyed, but the whole experience felt very disposable… more so than any game I had experienced. 

Additionally it did not feel like I was progressing my character at all.  By the time I reached level five, I had unlocked all 5 abilities for my primary weapon choices and the signets and other related abilities… just did not feel like they had enough weight to them to make them something worth striving towards.  The game set out to abolish the holy trinity of tank, healer and dps… but the problem is that it didn’t really replace it with anything in the process.  Group content felt like a chaotic mess, and I was extremely disappointed when I did my first dungeon and realized the zerging a boss down from a spawn point was totally a viable tactic.

In the Manifesto they proposed that – Shouldn’t Great MMOs be Great RPGs too?  The only problem is the key means for moving the story along in a role playing game is the questing construct…  but they sought to abolish that as well.  Once again… it is fine that they wanted to change the game… but they didn’t really replace it with anything meaningful in the process.  As a result I felt extremely disconnected to the world around me.  Things were going on around me… on scripted timers… but I didn’t really care about whether or not we won or lost.  I didn’t care about the people and place… and the lack of questing did this.

In the Manifesto they stated that it was time to make MMORPGS more social.  The only problem with that is that they introduced so much passive grouping, and took away any need for player roles…  that the end result is one of the least social games I have played.  When roaming around the world… you may be fighting along side other players, but you do not have to interact with them in any meaningful way.  Each player is a self sufficient independent state… and as a result has no real need for anyone other than themselves.  The game just feels like it is lacking reasons for players to actually be grouping together.

Let me reiterate, there is a lot to like about the game.  It runs amazingly well on low end hardware, and presents a very fluid gaming experience.  It has one of the prettiest worlds I have ever explored, and has a lot of things that incentivize exploration.  While it is presenting a ton of new content in the form of now bi-monthly updates… the problem is most of it is limited time only.  Instead of growing their world… they are creating disposable episodes that only serve to make the game play experience all the more disposable itself.

3 – Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic-screenshot I’ve loved Star Wars since before I could even fully verbalize it.  My parents tell stories about me seeing the movie when I was one… and then coming home and jabbering endlessly about “Darfa Bater”.  So if there was any game that has enough storied lore to hold my attention… it should have been SWTOR.  I was a huge fan of Knights of the Old Republic, and as a result I was completely committed to the genre they genre they chose to set the films in.  Additionally I love the Bioware style of storytelling, and am a pretty huge Dragon Age and Mass Effect junky.

All of these things should have made SWTOR be the next 8 year game for me.  The problem is… the experience while amazing… is overall disposable once you have made your way through the content.  So much care and feeding were placed on making sure the quests were just right… and the voice acting was flawless… that it greatly cut into the total amount of content available.  The three chapters that were available at launch… felt like an awesome introduction to the game…  but the main course never really arrived.

I hear the Makeb release is extremely nice… and the continuation of the storyline extremely successful.  The only problem is…  that content came a year too late to stave off the players leaving.  I feel like had they had more content in the pipeline and ready to release a month after launch, they would have been able to keep the majority of all the players that started playing.  We just burned through the content way faster than they had expected.  Additionally the fact that there was only one path per faction… and that essentially all the quests were the same minus the handful of class specific ones…  alting became extremely tedious.

Additionally when they chose to go free to play… they adopted one of the most blatantly abusive models I have seen.  Essentially with free to play, you can choose to take the carrot or the stick… and things like gear locks, pay walling what should be base features, and rolling out a never ending stream of unique lockbox gear just feel too much like being beat with the stick for me.  It has however been extremely lucrative for Bioware… and enabled the game to keep its doors open.  If it means they continue to release new content… then in the long run it could be good for the game as a whole.

I am still disappointed however at what could have been.  Had they been able to launch a continuation of the main storyline each month or so…  it would have kept me glued to the game.  The original storyline was amazing… and there is no taking that away from the game.  The Jedi Knight storyline is probably one of the most epic story arcs I have experienced in any game.  It was just over way too soon, leaving me nothing really left that I wanted to do.  The problem is… that content was extremely expensive to produce.  There was never a way that they ever could have kept up with the demand.

2 – Champions Online

champions_online_screen_4 One of my all time favorite pen and paper games is Heroes Unlimited by Palladium games.  I had early experiences with D&D and AD&D… but this was the game that really hooked me on the possibilities of role playing games.  What made the system so cool is that it had rules to create literally any type of super hero or super villain you could imagine.  Of course I created my share of Wolverine or Batman clones…  but the game system was this fertile group that through a series of roles I could create some unique characters as well.  What made the game so engaging was that the sky was literally the limit in the types of things you could create.

I was a huge fan of City of Heroes, because it gave me some of this same rich character building…  but did so in an easy to digest MMO form.  That game however had a lot of short comings… and when Champions Online was announced it looked to be addressing all of these base issues and creating this wild open ended super hero creation system.  You could mix and match power sets… creating your own custom mix for your character… and this was placed on top of a character generator that was even more robust than City of Heroes.  Everything sounded like the perfect super hero game… and I was hooked on it early.

The problem is… the power sets were grossly imbalanced.  This is the first game I had ever played where certain power sets were literally unplayable.  You could reach a point where you just simply could not progress any further due to the choices you had made.  On the other side of the coin… certain power sets were so grossly overpowered that they completely removed any challenge from the content at all.  You could steam roll over the top of anything, while your friend that chose one of the broken ones… could not even fight the lowest rank mobs.

The major disappointment is that they did a very poor job of mitigating the different power sets.  They would buff one…. but then another power set would become the broken one… making it a constant cycle of your favorite power set potentially becoming the unplayable one.  The game had all the potential in the world… and just became grossly mismanaged.  Instead of understanding that this  constant state of power flux and un-playability was what was driving their players away…  they instead decided to streamline the content.

I really do not remember the timing, but I believe this happened around the time of the free to play conversion.  Previously there had been a pretty interesting storyline that had multiple paths your characters could take.  The end result ended up with everything being a big jumbled mess.  The thing that ended up as the nail in the coffin however… is that coming back as a free to play character… I could not play any of my existing characters.  Each and every one included some costume bits that were not open to free players.  This should be a lesson to anyone… grandfather existing characters…  because holding players characters hostage behind a pay wall is never a good call.

1 – Warhammer Online

warhammer-online-1 I had to put this one at number one… because really this game turning out the way it did is one of my biggest gaming regrets.  I love Warhammer… have since I was in middle school and painting my very first citadel miniatures.  I love the world and the lore… and the sheer brutality of the chaos gods.  They took a failing IP and placed it in the hands of MMO veterans… Mythic games… who had brought the world Dark Age of Camelot.  It seemed like a no-fail proposal.  I thought they knew exactly what players wanted… and could borrow from the success they had with DAoC and all the nuts and bolts that make a game work.

Unfortunately Warhammer Online is really the tale of two games.  The one to twenty experience was amazing.  The PVE content rich, the new public questing construct extremely fun, and the early battlegrounds extremely inventive and enoyable to play.  I still think that the early experience in Warhammer Online ranks among some of my favorite leveling experiences.  The problem is that when you hit about 20-25 the bottom fell out… the PVE content ceased to be interesting… and became increasingly more sparse.  The game changed from this fun questing experience to this “go grind pvp to level” experience.

I feel like the game as a whole was a clash between these two seperate games… one of which I enjoyed immensely… the PVE experience… and one I really could care less about.. the PVP experience.  Had they given me a pure PVE warhammer game… I would probably still be playing it.  The game as a whole did so many innovative things, and there were so many mysteries around the world to unlock for your book of deeds.  Additionally it shipped with an Addon system that was on par with World of Warcraft, and presented some extremely interesting class and race choices.

If only they had focused on giving equal time to both the PVE and PVP experience.  The only problem is… I feel like the makers of this game have come to completely different conclusions about why it failed.  Mark Jacobs has gone on to create Camelot Unchained… which serves to be a purely PVP game completely casting aside any PVE aspects.  I feel like his take away was that it failed because it just was not PVP enough.  In truth not a single friend that was playing left because of lack of PVP.  We had a guild of around 40 players… and all of us left when the post 20 forced pvp experience began.  Harecore PVP players are a niche within a niche, and I just don’t feel that you can really build any game solely around them as your target audience.

This is probably the game I feel would beneift the most from a free to play conversion.  Awhile back I signed up for a new free trial account just to give the game a spin and see if it really is as good as I remembered.  Overall the starter experience is still extremely fun, even though they have dumbed down the richness quite a bit by funneling everyone into the empire lands.  I feel like a free to play version, might pump a bit more life into the title and allow it to survive.  The problem is… this has become the textbook example for MMO failure… and I doubt EA would spend a dime on it going forward.  As a result I will always be left with the thoughts of what might have been had the direction been a bit more sound.

Wrapping Up

This post ended up going a lot longer than expected.  I’ve been typing for around an hour and a half now, but finally have reached a point where I have said what I needed to say about each of them.  Hopefully none of them came off as too terribly ranty.  I hope you all have great weekends, I will mostly be trying to relax a bit before Monday.  I am already stressing out quite a bit, because I know going back I will be having to fill in for my boss as he is going out of town.