Fixing Everquest 2

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Tale of Two Games

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Last week we had the somewhat bittersweet news that Everquest Next was officially being cancelled.  For those who were utterly confused about what Landmark,  Next and the rest of the EQ games actually are… here is a quick rundown.  Everquest of course is the granddaddy of the big hit MMOs.  Then mere days before the launch of World of Warcraft…. Everquest II came out as an attempt at rebooting the world.  Everything in that setting happened after a huge calamity that saw Luclin the moon shattering and sending shards to earth.  The world was changed, the land fractured, and in many ways it allowed for a much larger scale game world than the original.  Everquest Next was the concept for what was ultimately going to be the third Everquest MMO… so in truth you can just think of it as Everquest III.  Landmark on the other hand is ultimately the tool that they were using to build the world of Everquest Next.  After playing around with it the folks decided that this was actually a really fun thing to play with in itself, in the Minecraft style.  Landmark was really never a fully fleshed out game, but more of a sandbox toy that players could fiddle with.  Since its launch they have made it more “game-like” but it still is missing a lot of the core features folks expect in an MMO.

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Now in the above paragraph I mentioned a key fact… that Everquest II launched on November 8th of 2004… and then was completely overshadowed by the launch of World of Warcraft on November 24th of that same year.  The two games took significantly different paths, and produced really different results.  Everquest II was this rich tapestry of cultures and game systems that provided a really deep game play experience that worked on so many levels.  World of Warcraft was a much more streamlined experience that asked less of the player, but ultimately became easier to pick up and play without an excessive amount of research.  We all know how the tales goes… that WoW becomes the juggernaut of MMO gaming and EQ2 becomes this sheltered garden with an excellent community and lots of great content…  but always treated as a second tier experience.  Right now Everquest II feels extremely dated, like an artifact of a different era whereas World of Warcraft feels somewhat evergreen.  The major difference there is that each time WoW releases an expansion they do significant systems overhauls that cause some sweeping changes to not only the fidelity of the game client itself, but also the back end systems.  Everquest II on the other hand has been this “Weasley House” of MMOs with content constantly being tacked on top of the older foundation.  The new content feels like modern content, but you experience a sort of whiplash as you shift between the different layers of the content and see just how drastic and inequitable the improvements have been.

Renovation Is Due

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The above image has been floating around for a few weeks now and represents some work that the Everquest II team is doing to update the orc model.  It seems that the newest expansion content that they are working on heavily focus on orcs, and as a result they are just updating the base model to bring them up to modern standards.  Seeing this however made me realize just how bad the old models look.  I mean it has always been one of those things in the back of my mind, but when you see what the team is capable of producing today… placed against something that has existed since 2004 it is staggering.  Now that Everquest Next is no longer a thing… I would love to see them pour some of those resources into producing a graphical upgrade to Everquest II.  The big problem with the game are just how dated the models and the animations look, and going back there is always an adjustment period and largely just hand waving off a bunch of details that get under my skin because the content itself is so amazingly rich.  I realize this is a massive undertaking, and it is the sort of thing that could be rolled in over time.  If you remember the original Everquest went through the same problems and with the release of Luclin they released new and updated character models.  Unfortunately in the case of EQ2… we need a lot more than just characters.  I would love to see this great game get a second life, because for so many of my friends that I have tried to get to play this game…  the ugliness of the assets was a barrier they simply could not get past.

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Now fixing the graphics isn’t going to fix the game entirely… but it would go a long way into making it feel more playable.  Next up however we really need to talk about the user interface, that has always felt a bit cludgy.  I’ve not played the game in the last decade without first installing some sort of third party addon user interface.  For years I played with Fetish Nightfall, and within the last six years or so I switched over to being a Drums UI guy.  With these UI extensions the game becomes rather good, but the whole process of acquiring a UI and keeping it updated… feels needlessly arcane in a manner I have not experience in any other game save for maybe Dark Age of Camelot where they had no official support for addons.  So the entire User Interface could use a bit of a facelift.  Finally we have to talk about the way combat works in this game.  I feel like this is the step that would actually cause rioting in the streets by diehard Everquest II fans…  but I also feel like it is the point that is the most needed.  The game really really needs to simplify combat in a way that does not require me to use 30+ abilities in a combat rotation.  The above picture is of my Shadowknight, and at least 30 of this abilities are ones that I pretty much used in every single round of combat.  It was even worse on my Dirge and I had these super complex patterns memorized… that even today I can sit down at the keyboard and automatically cycle through them.

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The problem is…  it doesn’t really feel fun.  I feel like I am playing some sort of a musical instrument instead of actually experience reactive combat in a video game.  Now I am not saying water it down to the level that single hotbar games have done… or simplify it to the point of an action MMO.  I just would love to be able to have one primary hotbar of abilities that get used every round… and then a bunch of optional abilities that throw in for flavor or when special conditions are met.  The cooldown of EQ2 abilities is so long that you need something… anything… to fill in the gaps so you quite often are simply mashing the next button that is off cool down.  Please understand that I am a huge fan of Everquest II… but every time I leave it is the cludgy combat system that eventually drives me away.  For several months I can overlook it and just blend back into the rich and vast game world… but I always reach this point where I need to play combat that simply “works better”.  I think maybe this is a ship that has already sailed, and after doing several combat passes early in the game…  I am not sure if they have the intestinal fortitude to attempt another.  All of this aid… simply making the game look better would go a long way into making this a more attractive experience to new players, but in doing this post I am talking about all of the things that I wish were different.  Combat will always be a huge part of that.

Bad News Day

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Goodbye Everquest Next

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Yesterday the MMORPG industry received a couple of really bad bits of news.  Firstly Daybreak Games has officially announced that Everquest Next is no more, and that they would be rushing Landmark into “launched” status this spring.  Firstly it really should not come as any surprise that this is happening because in truth we have not had any substantive news about “Next” since SOE Live 2014.  So when Storybricks parted company in February 2015 and SOE was sold to the holding company that renamed it to Daybreak… I fully expected we would never see anything further from Next. Storybricks was going to be the guts of this new approach at how to create an MMO and allow it o almost center around procedural interactions with he various factions and NPCs in the game.  With that core gone… I could not reason how the game would function, and deliver even half of the lofty promises it had made.  The other huge concern was the fact that Daybreak now seemed like a company desperately trying to survive under the yolk of evil overlords.  When a company known for grooming technology for sale purchases a game company…  it seems like creative freedom and the broad daydreaming that got SOE where it is today would be the firs thing to go.

The concerns I have is that it feels like Landmark is getting foisted upon us, in an unfinished state.  It had been a couple of years since I last played the game and I popped in last night to see just how different it is.  In truth it still feels like the prototype game that it has always felt like.  I roamed around and collected items and then logged back out because I wasn’t really drawn to stay. The thing I love about Landmark is the community, and I am just hoping that through all of this transition they can manage to keep that intact.  The problem I have with Landmark is that it is a fun sandbox that lets you build really interesting structures…. but I still wouldn’t really call it a game but instead more of a toybox.  Sure you have the trappings of combat now, but while wandering around in the zone the game dumped me in…. there was actually nothing to fight.  Maybe I need to dig down to find that, but the only thing I actually encountered that was potentially damaging were some exploding shrooms.  I am hoping that in the few months left before the official launch that they can somehow pull together some of the ideas from Next and make Landmark a proper game experience.

Wildstar Falters

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The other concerning news from yesterday is that roughly sixty employees were laid off in a “restructuring” within Carbine.  This has honestly been a topic among some of my friends for awhile now, but we were dreading some form of action to be taken.  Wildstar has not been performing amazingly well… in fact they are performing far worse right now than with City of Heroes was shut down by NC Soft.  As a company goes they are notoriously brutal when it comes to closing titles that they deem are not operating as well as they expected.  Wildstar is a significantly better game today than it was at launch, and the Free to Play conversion was more than just a payment model change, but an entire reworking and re-tuning of some of the game concepts.  The game felt fresh and new and was exciting…  for a period of time.  The problem is, that Wildstar is just not my game.  I have good friends who love it above all others, and for them it hurts a lot to see the company struggling.  Every now and then there is just a game that does not for whatever reason “click”, and that was this game for me.  On paper it sounds and looks like everything I could have wanted in a game, and I still think it has one of the best implementations of player housing I have ever seen.  Unfortunately I just don’t ever have the desire to play it, and always seemed to prioritize playing something else over it.

The scariest statement about the whole press release is this line. “These cuts are directly tied to WildStar’s evolution from a product in development to a live title“.  That right there seems to be signalling the end of active development on Wildstar and shifting the title into maintenance mode.  An MMORPG cannot thrive without fresh dose of new content, and while you can do things like add new quests and script events without a lot of active development….  you can’t do things like roll out new zones and raids.  Admittedly the game is getting fresh content with the release of Arcterra, and hopefully this will not effect that.  The other worrying statement is that apparently there were statements floating around that the employees were told to expect more layoffs in the future.  So much happens when layoffs are announced, and there is an internet dog piling of bad blood towards a game.  I have nothing but love for Wildstar and its community and I want it to weather this storm and somehow bounce back stronger.  I am clinging to hope because I know a lot of people who really need this game to succeed and thrive.  All of that said… the cynic an realist in me still keeps saying that this is not going to end well.

 

 

Developer Appreciation Week 2015 – Part 3

Over the last several days I have been rattling off a series of studios and game teams that I appreciate.  Today will mark my final day of this process, but I am hoping that it has inspired some of you out there to make your own posts about the developers you appreciate.  The person I really appreciate is Scarybooster for getting this thing started back in I believe 2010?  Scary has a way of coming up with these great ideas, like he is the person who decided the Alliance of Awesome needed to happen as well.  Unfortunately he no longer updates his blogs, and has deleted more of them in the past than I can count.  So if you know Scary tell him he needs to stop doing that shit and keep coming up with interesting and awesome ideas.

Blizzard – Heroes of the Storm Team

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2014-12-02 22-35-45-233 I talked about League of Legends yesterday, and there is no denying it’s market domination in the MOBA arena.  The problem is League is far more complicated of a game than I care to play.  I get frustrated trying to figure out what I should build when, and then Blizzard comes along and creates an MOBA for someone like me.  This game does what Blizzard does best, boil a genre down to its most basic essence and polish it until it shines.  This is precisely how I feel about HoTS and its impact on the MOBA genre.  Through a series of quick this or that choices you can build out your character and get right back into the action without constantly being afraid that you built the wrong thing.  While friends have pointed out that this greatly limits what you can do with any given champion…  I am fine with this and in fact welcome it.  As much as I enjoy a “Tanky Darius” I would rather just have some clear messaging on what the intent of every champion was, and Heroes of the Storm gives this to me.  On top of this the map design is awesome, and each one feels equally enjoyable with its own specific mechanics.  I think the entire world is tired of playing Summoner’s Rift.

SOE/Daybreak – Landmark Team

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-14 06-10-23-64 Every time I talk about the company formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, I do so with a little bit of heartbreak.  Daybreak is not the same company, but I feel like the people that are still there are trying their damnedest to make this situation work.  There is a lot of negative press that I could be talking about on my blog, about the poor decisions of the company managing Daybreak but for the most part I have tried not to.  I feel like there is plenty of negativity out there already on this subject, and that the people who are still there need our support now more than ever.  With that said this post goes out to everyone who has ever been a part of the Landmark game.  While I am not playing it right now, I still think it is an extremely cool concept and I keep meaning on jumping right back in.  Landmark is essentially the ultimate building game in every possible way, and the amount of stuff that the community has been able to create because of the excellent toolset developed by this team is phenomenal.  This game blew me away, and I am still constantly amazed by the sort of things I am seeing built.  So bravo to the folks who are no longer with the team, and bravo to the folks still there fighting to keep the ship going forward.

Undead Labs – All of the Them

StateOfDecay 2013-09-28 21-17-40-13 For most of these I have singled out an entire team to talk about, but this time I am breaking that trend and instead talking about an entire studio.  I love Undead Labs.  I love their spirit, and I love their dedication…  and quite honestly I love the way they interact with the public.  I remember when State of Decay was about to release on the XBox 360 I was completely pumped for it.  I went home that night played the game for several hours and then wrote a pretty gushy blog post the very next day.  Within moments of posting the blog I had it being retweeted by Annie Strain the wife of Undead Labs Founder Jeff Strain, who then proceeded to engage with me in a back and forth about my blog post and the game in general.  That sort of genuine interaction is just so damned refreshing, and it seems to extend to every single team member.  I was lucky enough to get to hang out and talk to several of them during Pax South, and they all had this infectious joy over the games they had created and were creating.  While I still desperately want a multiplayer version of State of Decay, I have faith that sooner or later the team will give me something akin to that experience.  In the meantime they just seem like a really damned cool studio, and I look forward to watching as their latest game Moonrise progresses to launch.  Additionally I feel like I am probably buying yet another copy of State of Decay as the special Year One edition should be landing shortly.

Motiga – Gigantic Team

GiganticScreenshot-TheMargrave This is another tale of me just really liking a game studio.  I went to Pax South knowing next to nothing about this game other than the fact that it existed, had a cartoony art style and used a teal and orange color scheme it all of its marketing.  I walked away from Pax South being both a fan of the game and of the team behind it.  I was lucky enough to participate in several plays of the game, and got some time to talk to several members of the development and community staff.  They all seem just as amped about this game as the players did, and it was awesome to be coached by the folks who built the game…  or have them marvel when I apparently found a bug that nobody had actually found yet.  The game is just really damned fun, and that seems to be the focus on making sure the various champion interactions are enjoyable.  I have no clue what the timeframe for this games launch is but I look forward to it anxiously.  Playing it with two other members of the AggroChat crew against a minor YouTube celebrity, and defeating him…  was pretty much the highlight of my Pax South experience.  So keep up the awesome work and I look forward to playing this game with my friends when it releases.

Every Single Game Developer

While I have singled out a handful of individuals for specific games that I really love playing…  I feel like for this final day of my #DAW2015 love fest…  I want to change things up a bit.  Basically this goes out to every single game developer out there, regardless of what you are working on or for what company.  You guys are living the dream of so many of us who did not  choose to chase it.  While there are absolutely days I’m thankful I am not in that industry, especially as another studio decimates its staff to realign for this or that reason, there are other days where I pine over the path not taken.  You folks are my rockstars, and even if you are making a game that no one will ever play…  you are being awesome.  Games bring me so much joy, and there is a cast of often nameless and faceless people who struggled through crunch time to get that product into my hands.  As I talk about the games I talk about, I try my best to always be aware of the folks behind the scenes that made it happen.  So to all the game developers out there…  keep making awesome stuff and I will keep playing it.  Thank you all.

Disconnected Dragoon

Missing a Raid

WoWScrnShot_031815_063013 Yesterday was one of those days when I felt like I was moving through molasses the entire day.  In part it was the whole staying up late and babysitting servers bit, but also we had so much stuff going on during the day connected to the two outages.  It turns out that after much research they were not actually related.  I knew I was not exactly in “fighting shape” so I let my raid leader know that I would not be attending the WoW Raid that night.  This is in part a good thing because they were apparently talking about having to do a paired down raid due to limited healers, and it is probably a good thing to rotate folks a bit.  At this point I would never mind having to sit out for a night because I have so much other stuff going on that I could be doing.  When I got home I took a nap and that helped quite a bit, or at least made me feel something vaguely human.

I asked my wife not to let me sleep more than an hour, since I generally struggle with the concept of napping.  If I take a nap, it means I am not likely to get a good nights sleep.  My body plays this game with me, where it only wants to get five to six hours of sleep a night.  When I nap, it means I am going to have this massive bout of insomnia that night.  Thankfully the short nap managed to do what it needed to do and I was still able to sleep fairly well as a result.  I spent most of the night hanging out on the couch catching up on Better Call Saul.  The irony of be getting into this series is the fact that I have never actually watched Breaking Bad.  I mean I have watched the first episode, but since my wife showed some interest in the show I didn’t really want to start it on my own without her watching along.  Otherwise there would come a point where I would have to start back from scratch and watch everything over again.  I managed to catch up through episode seven, and that show is just  becoming more interesting as it goes.

Disconnected Dragoon

ffxiv 2015-03-04 19-29-18-85 When it came to actual gaming last night, I was a bit more distracted.  I spent some time logged into Final Fantasy XIV because our Free Company is just insanely vibrant, but I really didn’t do all that much gaming.  I ran a few roulettes, and managed to get yet another piece of 130 gear thanks to another carbontwine, but mostly I just spent a lot of time hanging out at the free company house when I got up from my nap.  It really is surreal to see the number of people online… and at some point I need to catch up with my whole guild census project and record all the new people in our spreadsheet.  One of the problems with FFXIV is that there is no good guild notes functionality so we are having to keep an external list of which character belongs to which personality.  Its tedious but for whatever reason I struggle to relate in game names back to twitter and blogger names.  I spend a lot of time thinking “I think  that is this person” but never fully committing because my memory is extremely fallible.  That is my deep dark secret, that in other games I remember everyone… because I can check the officer notes.

I am not sure how I really made it through the sequence of Labyrinth of the Ancients, Syrcus Tower and World of Darkness… but I am guessing at this point I can just do those on auto pilot.  I am hoping I was not “that dragoon” in most of the instances, because I managed to get several commendations.  Generally speaking if I go in, and manage not to die… I get commendations.  I should have spent the night working on botany, but instead I mostly stood around a lot staring blankly at the screen.  I feel like over the last several nights I have been particularly antisocial.  Largely when I am watching something on Television I stay off voice chat, and go for large periods of time without reading free company chat either.  I know at some point Arkenor asked for a group, but it was not until it had actually formed that I noticed.  I have been a less than stellar “Bel” lately, and I am hoping tonight I will be feeling back to my normal self.  I feel like I have missed a lot of what is going on, and I am hoping to remedy that.

Time to Landmark

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-17 17-36-42-66 It has been well over a year since I last played Landmark in any fashion.  That game has evolved in such a way that if you are not playing constantly you fall behind in the number of changes.  At this point I simply feel behind the curve and it has been a real barrier from me jumping back into the game.  This morning I read something interesting however, that Landmark plans to have one more major character wipe before opening its doors to the public.  My theory is that this might be precisely the ideal time to pop my head back in and see how the game has progressed.  Right now this wipe is slotted for sometime around April 29th.  So my hope is that I can pop in and experience all of the new content fresh and not be so entirely out of touch with it.  Honestly the most enjoyment I had in the game was the process of “leveling up” which was completing a series of arbitrary goals to keep moving up through the different types of picks and tools you can create.  Once I had access to everything the game quickly became stale for me.

For reference when I last played the game… the Caves system was not yet patched in.  So this means I have that and all of the player combat to experience fresh.  The problem is I am torn on the whole Daybreak thing.  I am still rather pissed about the layoffs, but at the same time the folks who are still on staff there are struggling to make this whole thing work.  My Landmark account is a sunk cost as I purchased it so long ago.  I might as well get some use out of it, and see what this game has become in the months since I let my claim get repossessed.  There was a point where I realized I was only logging in just long enough to mine copper to pay the upkeep on my claim.  This is one of the things I don’t like about upkeep systems.  If you are only playing the game to pay upkeep, are you really playing the game at all?  I am actually looking forward to the character wipe now and hopefully I will be able to reignite the spark I once had for this game.

Doubling Down

Still Frustrated

EQ2_000006 Yesterday I broke my self appointed rules and made two posts because I felt the news warranted it.  I said my peace but the problem is… I am still frustrated this morning.  At the time of posting yesterdays blog piece I really only knew about a few of the people who were let go.  As last night wound its way onwards, more names trickled out and at this point I am absolutely shocked by the scope.  While I am not sure about the numbers, it feels like roughly half of the folks I was aware of over there were let go.  Granted the actual numbers could be anywhere, but I am basing it simply on the faces that have shown up on twitter saying they were no longer Daybreak employees, versus the ones that have said they still are.  In any case this will be a massive blow to Everquest, Everquest II, Everquest Landmark and whether or not we will ever actually get Everquest Next.  For awhile on Aggrochat we have joked about Next being vaporware, and that we would only ever get Landmark…  but now I am starting to really wonder if that is closer to the truth.

Everquest will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first footsteps into the MMO world.  Similarly I am drawn to Everquest II in ways that I cannot quite understand, and while I go for large swaths of time without playing, I often return to it was the gaming equivalent of “comfort food”.  It is this strange mix of a world that I am absolutely in love with, and a combat system that I hate beyond words.  If I had to create a list of “favorite games that I am not playing” I would put Everquest II at the top of that list…  so I guess I ultimately am part of the problem.  I love this world but I am not inhabiting it on a nightly basis, and as such not giving it money to grow.  I’ve bought into Landmark and H1Z1 but I am not really playing those either.  I remember feeling the same way when City of Heroes closed its doors, that I had so many fond memories… but that I had also ultimately moved past that game as well.  I guess we want the things we once loved and enjoyed to stay protected in a bubble forever, never to change…  but when we move on are we not also ultimately to blame?

Doubling Down

Gw2 2015-02-05 19-08-06-25 Before the events of yesterday I had a topic kicking around in my head about the worlds that we play.  I am not sure how the events of yesterday feed into the narrative, but I am going with it in any case.  I feel as though the era of the “new mmorpg” is all but over.  There will of course be new games that identify with the “mmo” ideals, but they won’t be quite the same as the worlds we have had had in the past.  I feel like we are going to see a lot more games like Destiny, that is “mmo-lite” or another genre with mmo features.  I feel like the worlds that were crafted during the golden age of massively multiplayer online role-playing game launches, are the worlds we will have to live with for better or worse.  When Blizzard cancelled Project Titan, we can look at that in so many different ways.  We could say that it was a sign that MMOs were dying, and that they no longer believed in the genre.  We could however take that as a sign that they believed that the worlds we had already were worth saving.

So many of the games that we love are not broken toys, at least not yet.  Each of them if given the devotion and the development resources could be transformed into a truly magical place.  I am looking at the transformation of Final Fantasy XIV from 1.0 awkwardness to 2.0 and beyond splendor as proof that a game can change for the better.  I’ve played each of the major MMOs for some length of time, and have experienced that each have exactly the same problem.  How do they keep the player engaged on a daily basis, rather than in bursts of activity each time new content is released?  I feel the problem is that games right now are mired in the construct of expansion releases, pooling up major features until they can sell another box of the game.  This means the best features tend to either get bottled up for years time, or never actually make it into the game at all.

The episodic construct is a bit better, but you have to be careful that you are not adding “expiring” content into your game, making players feel rushed to somehow grind through it all before the next patch hits.  The problem I had with the Living Story in Guild Wars 2 was that when I fell behind, I didn’t feel like there was a point to actually try and catch up… since I had missed so much already.  The fact that the content was expiring made it feel less “real” to me… that they weren’t permanently improving the game, but instead running a series of limited time events.  I feel like the shift needs to be moved away from both of these constructs and instead the focus placed on fleshing out the world.  Do you know how frustrating it is to me in World of Warcraft that there are five portals below Wyrmrest Temple but only two of them go anywhere?  Each world we play is littered with these forgotten expansion ideas, and all I really want is for a game world to quit teasing us and start living up to its full potential.  Now is the time for these companies to double down on the content they have, fix the issues with their game systems… and try and make their games worth our copious time and devotion.

A Simple Night

ffxiv 2015-02-11 19-54-39-33 Because of the news yesterday, and because of other events leading me to question myself and my connection to other people… I was not in the best of places emotionally last night when I got home.  I have to say my mood was improved by hanging out with my extremely awesome free company in Final Fantasy XIV.  For a few nights I had promised to help my friend Solaria work on knocking out some stuff, since she was fairly new to 50 and in doing so also spent a good deal of time running dungeons with Thalen and Asha.  I have not had a night where we tore through multiple dungeons in a night, and I have to say it was good for the soul.  Granted I felt a bit wobbly, since I have not really tanked much of anything other than our raids, and dungeon tanking ends up so drastically different.  That said we managed to unlock a few dungeons for both Thalen and Solaria, and in the process get some Tomestones of Soldiery and Poetics.

I’ve missed logging in, getting pulled into a group and then spending the rest of the night tromping through dungeons.  It is like connecting with my most basic instincts of trying to make sure everything in the dungeon hates me equally.  I really enjoy the pace of Final Fantasy XIV, and its particular brand of tanking.  The Warrior just “feels” right, and I am hoping I will be equally at home with the Dark Knight.  If nothing else I will always have the Warrior to fall back on if the Dark Knight ends up not being the class I have wanted all along.  I know Thalen has several more dungeons yet to unlock to qualify for high level roulette, so I am going to try and force myself to build groups more often.  I get stuck in my own little world, and spend most of my time soloing… but I know when I do group content I feel so much better at the end of the night.  While last night did not cure me completely… it did make me feel significantly better.

Maintenance Gaming

A Conundrum

Wow-64 2015-01-08 06-06-47-06 A few days ago I posted a tweet saying that at this point I am far less bored with World of Warcraft than I have been during other expansions.  There are a myriad of reasons behind this, not the least of which is that I actually like the leveling arc in Draenor.  I am working my way through level 100 number three and I am not really bored with the content yet.  Granted I don’t really seem to have the burning desire to get through it like I have in the past, I am more comfortable to take a “will get there when I get there” approach to my leveling.  I feel like maybe this is a more sustainable thing than my normal “burn three characters to max and quit” mentality that I seem to have.  Hopefully by the end of the weekend my hunter will be 100, and I will likely start pushing more seriously my Enhancement Shaman.

I think there are a few reasons why this is happening.  Firstly I really do like the Garrison now that it is finished, especially on my warrior.  It gives me a place of peace and sanity before I venture out into the chaos of the world.  I can bank, transmog, and hopefully at some point auction without having to worry with mailbox dancers or folks standing on vendors with their corehound mount.  It was when I ventured out of my of my garrison on Christmas to go pick up my presents that I realized I really didn’t miss the people from my “daily” chores.  Someone had taken it upon themselves to coat all of the packages with a layer of savage feasts making it a pain in the ass to click the actual presents… and my immediate thought was “and this is why I don’t leave my garrison”.  That is maybe the problem however… that no one actually leaves their garrison.

Maintenance Gaming

rift 2014-10-27 06-17-35-954

Initially I was surprised when the response to my original statement about not being bored with World of Warcraft was that so many of my friends absolutely were bored.  The common thread went something like this “Right now I am only logging in to run Garrisons, so I am probably going to cancel”.  I’ve reached this point many times myself when a game has a gimmick that wants you to log in every so often to trigger. With the launch of Nightmare Tides, Rift introduced the Minions system where you could send these mini-pets out on missions to go fetch things.  There was a period of time I was logging in twice a day… when I got up in the morning and when I got home at night to swap out my minion missions.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I was only logging in to flip these switching and faded away from that game again.

The exact same thing happened for me with the Dragon Coins mobile game, and to some extent Landmark in that I was only logging in to pay my upkeep on my claim.  When you realize you are only fiddling with something out of a sense of obligation, it is almost always time to leave.  I think the problem with what I am terming “Maintenance Gaming” is that it  can very much slow down the burnout of a player by giving them things to fiddle with to distract them from burning through the objectives.  The problem is it can also serve to reanimate an already dead corpse allowing players to keep logging in ONLY to do the maintenance activity and never actually playing the game.  So the folks that are logging in “ONLY” to play the garrison, are essentially the walking dead and will eventually quit.

The Glue in Gaming

ffxiv 2015-01-05 22-00-18-02 I feel like the glue that keeps gamers attached to a game is progression in one form or another.  Right now I am actively raiding in Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft and progressing in both of them.  I care deeply about both games because that is my anchor… the fact that I am raiding.  When all the other minutiae bores me… there is a functional core there of the raid that draws me back in.  For others it is the people you play with, but that can only go so far… because eventually you will have done everything you want to do with said people.  PVP can act as an anchor for some folks, but then again you have to be building towards some long term goal to make the PVP seem like anything other than mindless grinding.  While “maintenance gaming” is definitely now a trend… it isn’t enough of a thing to actually keep someone glued to a game it seems.

Minions in Rift were fun for a few weeks, and so was building aimlessly in Landmark… but when I realized I was only logging in to mine exactly enough copper to pay my upkeep…  I was more than willing to let my claim get repossessed.  I have a feeling that before long we are going to start folks reaching that point with ArcheAge where they are willing to let their claim disappear because they are tired of logging in only to pay the upkeep.  The “glue” is a deeply personal thing, and is going to be slightly different for each player…  but ultimately you have to find whatever it is that connects you to the game and makes you care about it.  I think for me at least this is what has been missing… a sense of building towards something more important than what I happen to be doing this day.  The longest stretches I have spent playing any game… are the ones where I have been raiding.  So I feel like I need to raid to keep caring about the game world, and I need that game world to be interesting…  to keep caring about raiding.

Play What You Love

AggroChat Episode 18

This week on AggroChat I am joined by regular hosts Rae, Ashgar and Tam which means we are unfortunately without a Kodra this weekend.  He is off enjoying the sights, sounds and gaming opportunities of GenCon.  I swear one of these years I want to go to this, because it has been like the pinnacle of all gaming shows in my head since I was a youngin reading Dragon magazine.  I realize that in reality it is a fair bit smaller than likely even PaxSouth that I will be going to in January, but there is just something extra epic about GenCon.  In honor of this convention we talk at length about the latest rendition of Dungeons and Dragons…  the fabled Fifth Edition and why you should be excited for it.  Wizards of the Coast at this point pretty much knows that they made some serious mistakes with fourth edition, allowing for the meteoric rise of Pathfinder.  In 5th Edition it feels like they are trying to pay for the sins of the past with awesome.

In addition to D&D 5th, it was a pretty significant week in gaming in that GamesCom, the Blizzard Warlords announcement and SOE Live were going as well as an event for EVE and SWTOR.  I talk about the things that really stuck out to me from the GamesCom feed, including the PS4 Shareplay system and the controversy over Tomb Raider exclusivity.  We talk about the World of Warcraft Warlords launch announcement and the subsequent trailer, and the general feeling of “blah” we seem to have towards it.  Finally we talk about Everquest Next and that it does in fact seem to be a game they are actually working on and not just vaporware.  Additionally we talk about the upcoming changes in Landmark, and how it is a step in the right direction but not enough to get Ashgar interested again.  It is a pretty packed show so hopefully you will tune in.

Play What You Love

ffxiv 2014-08-13 22-38-20-747 Since coming back to Final Fantasy XIV and the release of the 14 day trial program, I have had a number of friends give it a shot.  A good number of them have gone ahead purchasing and subscribing to the game and this is awesome.  However for a handful of players it just didn’t click for whatever reason and they sent me heartfelt apologies for not being able to get into the game.  This is perfectly natural, not all games are for all people… and in the current gaming climate we are in there is more diversity than ever, so there really is no excuse to play something you don’t enjoy.  So I feel like each of us owes it to ourselves to play whatever it is that we love, and never apologize for doing it.  Life is too short to spend time playing something you just don’t enjoy for some reason.

Right now I am enjoying the hell out of Final Fantasy XIV, and I feel like this is a game I could settle down in.  However if I reach a point where I am not enjoying it any longer, you can bet I will move on to whatever seems to “feel good” to play at the time.  If you stick around and play a game you just aren’t enjoying it only really leads to you either getting completely burnt out, or extremely bitter about the fact that your friends are forcing you to play something you hate.  If you allow yourself to glide along through a whole bunch of different fun experiences…  I feel like we all end up happier as a result.  So please if you try this game or any other and you really don’t enjoy it…  go play something else.  All you ever have to tell me is that it just “wasn’t for you” and I will completely understand.

Blaugust Prompts

I have been rather slack with a lot of the Blaugust related things, but the biggest of these is my original intent to collect a bunch of writing prompts. While the threat on the forum has a ton of these already I still need to add a bunch more.  So today here goes a few related to this weeks podcast and this weekend post.

  • What game do you love that none of your friends seem to enjoy?  Is there a game that you keep returning to but wish your friends were playing along with you?
  • For me GenCon is this fabled event, what is yours?  What is the event that you would love to attend but have never had the opportunity to do so for whatever reason.
  • What makes a good community?  What aspects of a game or social community do you enjoy, and what aspects detract from it?

I am extremely proud of all the bloggers who are participating daily in the Blaugust event.  Thanks for making this a truly awesome month.

#FFXIV #AggroChat #Blaugust

Uniblade Get

Scrounging for Copper

Landmark64 2014-06-03 19-20-49-284 The above picture pretty much accurately represents the last several times I have played Landmark.  Generally speaking it is on a Tuesday evening when I realize that my claim upkeep will be running out shortly.  So I log in and make a mad dash around the area surrounding my claim to scrounge up enough copper to pay the upkeep for another week.  Generally speaking I only spend just enough time in game to gather the 4800 copper I believe that is required to unlock another 8 days of upkeep.  It really wasn’t until last night that this process started to grate on my nerves, and I began to question what exactly I am trying to protect.  In theory I could get my claim repossessed and be free of this burden…  but as of yet I have not wanted to give up my “prime real estate” next to the spires.

Landmark64 2014-06-04 06-14-48-975 I guess the thing is I haven’t been super into the game since the end of Alpha and the wipe that lead into Closed Beta.  My previous claim I was extremely happy with, this one I am not sure quite what to do with it.  It is this hulking monstrosity that I have zero desire to decorate further.  I have reached a point where Landmark just isn’t that fun for me right now, or more so there just isn’t enough “game” there yet.  What they have is this great rules driven building game, but after a point building stuff becomes stale.  I look at all the harvest time I would have to sink in to be able to build the things that I would want to build… and I simply am unwilling to devote the time.  I feel like maybe once combat goes in, that the game might be more tangible for me, that it might feel like there is a purpose to what I am doing.  It was amazing just how strong of an incentive “protecting against monster attacks” was to spur on my building sprees in Minecraft.  For the time being however I am seriously considering harvesting up all of the stone and other resources used on my claim and just letting it get repossessed this week.  That way I could mark one game off my list until it becomes interesting again.

No More Loot Boxes

rift 2014-05-08 06-09-17-50 Another decision I have made is to drop my Rift patron status.  I’ve subscribed to this game for pretty much all of the time it has been out on the market save for about three months.  There is so much that I still like about Rift, but at the same time I just have no drive to play it.  I have a ritual of logging in every Wednesday to collect the weekly patron gift, opening it… seeing if I get any cool armor and then logging right back out.  Since I have geared both my Warrior and my Rogue in this fashion… and I have faltered at leveling my Cleric, I just can’t justify keeping up the patron status for a game I really have not played much at all in the last year.  I have 90 days left of patron status, so I might in that time change my mind, but presently I just don’t have enough people to play the game with to make it worth my while.

One of the things that worked out differently than I had hoped with Patron status is the way that loyalty and cash shop currency accrued.  That first year when I picked up a year long subscription, I had a massive amount of loyalty and a ton of cash shop currency to blow through as part of the free to play conversion.  I made the mistake of assuming that the same thing would happen when I picked up this past years patron status.  One of the things I expect out of a free to play “subscription” plan is a month allotment of cash shop currency.  Since this isn’t a thing in Rift, I really don’t see much benefit in keeping up the Patron status.  Additionally I expected another huge boost to my loyalty level from subbing for another year, and that didn’t happen either.  For the time being I will simply play the game like a free to play player does until they give me reason to subscribe again.

Uniblade Get

WildStar64 2014-06-03 22-27-28-614 The last several days in Wildstar have been about one thing and one thing only…  trying to get to level 15 and trying to accumulate enough currency to buy a mount when I ding.  As a result I have completely ignored the crafting system and sold everything I could possibly sell in an attempt to buy my precious mount.  Was it worth the effort?  Well the jury is still out on that one, but I do like the looks of my Uniblade.  I figured this was the obvious choice for a Chua Engineer, especially since the “Hamster Ball” mount just did not feel dignified.  Right now the mount feels a little lackluster since it is only a 15% boost.  However it is cool that you can still sprint on a mount and that feels awesome as your engine revs up and such when you do it.  The physics of the Uniblade are a little weird, and I have to say I would have honestly rather had the Exiles Grinder mount instead… but all in all I am happy.  One bug I encountered is that apparently in order to buy the mount you have to have enough currency to cover the undiscounted price.  This means instead of the 1 gold 15 silver price listed you actually have to have something like 1 gold 65 silver to be able to cover the full price…  even though it will still only charge you the 1 gold 15 silver.

WildStar64 2014-06-03 22-49-08-220 Now that I have obtained my goal, I am going to be far more interested in random grouping.  I kind of wanted to meet up with people last night and group, but I was so focused on grinding out my level and trying to get as many saleable items as possible.  This meant doing much lower content than I should have been doing, since it rewards less experience but I was more likely to accumulate a lot of saleable items in the process.  One of the interesting things about Wildstar is that unlike World of Warcraft, you only seem to gain guild experience while grouped with other guildies.  This means that in order to unlock all of the perks like the guild bank, we are going to have to group together and go do content.  Now that I have level 15 I am really looking forward to trying the first dungeon… and I am imagining that it rewards a ton of guild experience.  My next goal is to find a decent weapon, as I am still using some random drop green.  My hope is that whatever dungeon quests exist I will maybe get a blue weapon from them.  I also need to do some research into which tanking abilities I need to do a dungeon.

Wildstar Groupage

Since we are taking the night off from Elder Scrolls Online my goal tonight is to get some Wildstar grouping going.  The goal is to resume the Cyrodil nights next Wednesday, and I hope to play quite a bit over the weekend as well.  I still want to see so much in Elder Scrolls, but face it… this is launch week for a new game, and for the most part folks are going to be playing it.  Tonight I want to focus on getting a group going with some Alliance of Awesome guildies and trying to gain lots of guild currency.  Zero clue what we will actually be doing, but here is hoping we can find another world boss like we did the other night.  If we have enough people it would be awesome to pop our heads into a dungeon.

#Landmark #Rift #Wildstar

Too Many Games

I’m a Cheater

Once again I am doing what I consider cheating… which is writing up a post at night that I intend to post in the morning.  Basically tomorrow is another one of those “ride in together” days, because directly after work we have a big end of school cookout thing to go to.  So I simply won’t have much time to do my faff about verbally thing tomorrow morning.  As such I am staging a post tonight, and doing the same thing everyone else… but for whatever reason I feel like I am somehow betraying the ritual by doing.  Today’s topic I have been kicking around for awhile, so I figure this is as good of a time to spring it on my adoring readers…  look I like to pretend I have adoring readers okay.

Too Many Games

Right now things have reached a sort of critical mass with me, and there are entirely too damned many games right now that I want to be playing.  This could not have hit at a worse time considering how busy the tail end of school is combined with the fact that we have weddings and graduations and such to attend.  Normally I feel like I can reasonably juggle three to four games at a time bouncing back and forth between them.  The other day I posted saying that multi-gaming was even an awesome thing to do… considering it kept you from getting bogged down in the decisions a game company makes that you don’t necessarily agree with.  However for me, I am spreading myself super thin with a ton of different activities that I want to be doing.  So today I am going out outline each of the games that I am playing and lament the things I would love to have time to do in them.

Elder Scrolls Online

eso 2014-05-23 19-34-45-037 Right now I still consider Elder Scrolls Online my primary game.  At roughly two months since headstart I am still very much loving this game.  It has some problems, namely with difficulty of grouping, but as far as the game itself goes I dig it massively.  I’m working my way through Auridon and slowly creeping up on Veteran Rank 2.  I have so much that I still want to do in this game, but lately my schedule has limited my time in it.  This is the type of game that I can only really play if I am fully focused on it, and this is doubly so with the veteran content.  Shit can go wrong in a heartbeat if you are not doing all the right things, so it means on the nights I am not feeling all that… I end up playing something else.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2014-05-14 17-55-10-794 This game is the new hotness it seems and it launches tomorrow, at least for the headstart folks.  I mostly preordered this game in case I decided I was in love with it, and I wanted to make sure I secured the preorder bonuses.  I really dig the pre-order house, and I did not care for anything in the Collectors Edition pack… so I went with the normal.  I am still so up in the air about this game… there are things I like and things I don’t like.  Right now I am simply not sure who is going to win out, however since everyone is playing it, and it scratches the same itch that World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic do… going to give it a good college try.

ArcheAge

archeage 2014-05-13 21-43-39-052 Speaking of games I am conflicted about…  welcome to ArcheAge.  I find so much about this game intriguing and repulsive at the same time.  It is this fusion of one of the most interesting games system wise and class wise… combined with one of the worst communities I have experienced.  This game has invented new ways for you to grief your fellow players… and this is the sort of thing I have zero interest in.  That alone would be enough to make me go running and screaming into the night… but the class system is so damned interesting to me.  I love the concept of “Rift without Restrictions” and that is pretty much what the open class system seems like.  It reminds me so much of the way the class system for Horizon worked… and that is a great thing.

Heroes of the Storm

Play 2014-03-14 07-51-05-19 I want so badly to be playing this game right now… but I also want so badly to not be playing this game with strangers.  The MOBA thing is one of those things that I really only enjoy if I am queuing with people I know.  That said supposedly the queue times are greatly improved with the new client.  If you are in the HoTS alpha… please let me know!  I need more people to queue with, and I feel horrible for being in this game when so many people want in… and not playing it much.

Defiance

Defiance 2014-05-29 06-30-42-873 The last few nights I have been playing this game again and really enjoying myself.  The whole shift in how I approach it has really helped quite a bit.  I would love to see more people playing it because I think it would be far more enjoyable to run around as a group.  I still have yet to really scratch the surface of any of the story content, and feel like I should do that.  Really enjoyed the first season of the television show, and would love to get caught up on the in game content before the next season starts.

Final Fantasy 5

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-56-13-507 At this point I am behind my friends in this game, and quite honestly I am struggling to get the oomph to play it.  That said I feel like I should really finish this game as part of the FF5 draft thing we did.  I feel like I would be a horrible person if I didn’t finish it.  That said I also know I am going to get talked into doing the Four Job Fiesta in a month…  so not sure if I will finish before then either.

Trove

Trove 2013-11-25 16-57-34-42 There is something about this game that makes my inner child squeal with glee.  Things are just so damned much fun, and the mob design is amazing.  That said I have been out so long and so much is changing on what seems to be a near weekly basis that I feel hopelessly lost.  At some point I need to resort to reading through all of the patch notes starting around the time I last played in the hopes of understanding how things have changed.  The combat in this game is just enjoyable, I only wish I could play it with a controller.  I guess in theory I could use one of the keypad mappers but I have been lazy.

Landmark

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-04-40-22 Oh Landmark… how I love you and am completely bored with you at the exact same time.  Right now it is less a game and more a toybox for you to build in, with a ruleset wrapped around it.  This was really fun while I had giant things to build… and while I was progressing through the ranks of collecting the next best mining pick.  Now that I have topped out, and have fleshed out most of what I wanted to build… I log in pretty much only to mine copper and pay my upkeep.  What I need to make me care about this game is the combat system.  Here is hoping I will fall back in love with it when I can run around the world killing things.

Diablo 3

Diablo III 2014-03-29 19-54-54-44 I still don’t have a character to 70, and I feel like I have somehow failed for not doing this.  Basically this released way too close to the launch of Elder Scrolls Online… and I never gave the game the attention it deserves.  At some point soon I really want to work on leveling my crusader, since I have technically beaten the game on my Monk.  I am struggling with the desire to simply grind the last two levels to ding 70.  I figure at some point I will have a renaissance of caring about d3… but it might be awhile before I cycle around to it again.

Rift

rift 2014-05-08 06-09-17-50 The new souls were released and I have yet to even check them out.  I really would like to level my cleric to 60 before the 3.0 patch hits, but I have no clue how long that is.  Right now I am logging in on a weekly basis to get my patron gifts and that is about it.  I thought it would be really cool to do a streaming series where I try and remember how to tank, and do a public service of tanking elites.  I’ve heard the queue times are absolutely insane, and I know personally I have waited over two hours without getting a DPS queue.  I still love this game, but at the same time don’t really know what I want to do in it.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

swtor 2014-05-05 22-32-57-22 A few weeks back I was playing the hell out of SWTOR and enjoying myself.  While I have let my subscription lapse again… I would love to pick back up on my Sith Juggernaut and see what happens after Balmorra.  I have never actually made it off this planet imperial side, but I was really damned close to doing this when I was last playing.  The real challenge will be if I can manage to play the game without subscribing… or will I re-up again only to cancel a few weeks later.

World of Warcraft

Wow-64 2014-03-25 07-16-07-71 Finally there is good ole World of Warcraft.  Once upon a time I had a grand idea of getting everyone to 90 before the expansion.  I have failed miserably at keeping up with this ambition, but who knows if I will actually do this or not.  Right now all I have left are the Priest, Monk and Warlock… all of which are over 60 at the least.  The Warlock and Priest are both in Pandaria content, but at the very beginning.  I might get a wild urge to play again and push these guys across the finish line.  Either that or I might completely abandon this until the release of Warlords of Draenor.  In any case the account is still active, because I pop in periodically to dink around with stuff for the guild.

Nothing at All!

Tonight I will be playing…. nothing more than likely.  We have an end of school cookout and by the time we get done there… we will likely crash, or walk… or walk then crash.  If anything I launch Wildstar and create my characters.  Right now I am planning on having my Chua Engineer and an Exile Warrior of some sort… just not sure if that will be Human or Granok.  In any case I have nothing exciting to report about my master plan for the evening other than hanging out in the real world and eating some good food.

A Path Not Taken

A Question Answered

I am getting a super late start today, or more so I am sitting down to write my blog post this morning later.  I dropped the dry cleaning off yesterday morning, and then shortly after decided I felt entirely too bad to exist in the real world.  So I went home and took breathing treatments throughout the day, in an attempt to convince my lungs to stop being assholes.  It has mostly worked, but this meant that I needed to get up relatively early this morning and go pick up the dry cleaning so we would have it for Monday morning.  I still have plenty of shirts in the closet to cycle through, but my wife had reached the limits of her wardrobe.

It seems like at least once a year a new social media technology is released, and the internet zeitgeist all flocks to it.  I generally sign up for these the moment they happen in an attempt to stake my claim flag and then they sit dormant for years until I finally decide that I want to start using it.  One of these is Anook, and I asked a very simple question last night on twitter.

image While I was expecting someone like Maeka who has been posting on the site for a good deal of time to chime in, I did not expect to be drawn into a length conversation with the Community Lead.  As you can see, we talked a lot and I started to buy into the vision.  The problem that they see it is that there are all these services, that you load up with content once… and then forget about.  Facebook is this way for me, I have a profile because I know that certain people would rather be notified of my content through that vehicle… but I don’t actually USE facebook.  I hate the service, I hate the way it feels, so I feel bad each time someone sees the content that somehow got set up to syndicate from twitter… and thinks I am actually using that as a means of communication.

I know going into this that Anook is not what I have been longing for.   I would love to have a gamer focused site that acts as a social glue for everything else I have content on.  A single point of syndication for G+, Twitter, Steam, Raptr, Battle.net, Glyph, Playstation Network, Xbox LIve…  whatever services I happen to have accounts on including my own blog and podcast.  I think this is a niche that if someone fills it, will be amazing.  What Anook is instead is trying to focus on creating a community with the ability to talk about disparate topics.  I see this as trying to be a social network, but almost from a guild website type of approach.  In the short time I am going to start populating it with my content, be it youtube vids, the podcast or my daily blog posts.

In the long term I could see maybe starting to try and use this for some of our other ventures like Stalwart Gaming or the Alliance of Awesome.  When I first signed up for the site at launch, it felt fairly primitive, and I really did not grasp the concept.  It just felt like Raptr or Steam without the nifty automation and game tracking functionality.  Now I can see what it is trying to be, and while I may not be 100% sold on it, I definitely appreciate their goals.  More than that I appreciate the kind of specialized attention this Community Lead gave me in trying to win me over to their vision.  Hell that along is going to make me loyal to the cause more than anything.  I will always reward amazing service with my patronage.

A Path Not Taken

This morning is going to be a bit “gaming lite” again, but with the hustle and bustle of the Newbie Blogger Initiative I’ve sat on a tale for a few days.  I wanted to make sure I got the posting underway proper before taking a lot of screen real estate for something personal.  My wife is a teacher, and this year her schedule aligned just right to allow her to attend the junior assembly.  This is one of those deals where someone inspiration comes and talks to the kids about the dangers of the world.  This is the sort of thing I as a teenager used to ignore, taking a sketch pad and doodling up in the bleachers instead of actually listening.  I am sure for some of the kids there this will definitely be the case.

As the speaker was introduced, my wife thought the name sounded familiar but shrugged it off.  Then he started talking about living in a town of 3500 in Northeastern Oklahoma.  At that point she started to wonder if maybe he lived in her hometown.  Finally when he started talking about his son… it hit her like a sack of bricks.  Growing up I was best friends with two other guys, and for the most part we were inseparable.  The man on the stage telling his story was one of those two boys father.  He had been almost a surrogate parent to me, as much time as I had spent over at their house throughout Middle School and most of High School.  When we first got together in College I was still telling stories about him and his son with fondness.

The thing is something changed along the way, and his son was getting into some pretty bad stuff.  Alcohol changed to Marijuana changed to Cocaine binges… and eventually I had heard he was even dabbling in Heroine… not that you can actually dabble in that.  Two things happened my junior year, one I started distancing myself from him… and two I got really sick.  The combination of the two ended up with me picking up some new friends, ones better for my well being… and while we had no falling out or anything… we just faded apart.  At some point after graduation we had managed to get back in contact.  He was running a record label out of Ohio, and prided himself in sending me lots of indie recordings of the bands he was working with.

Every so often he would call and we’d end up talking for a few hours.  When he moved back to town he got married, had a couple of kids and settled down as the director of an area Arts festival.  I thought that things were going pretty well for him, or at least on the surface he seemed to have gotten his shit together.  I visited him at least once at his office, and we went out to lunch, and then at our ten year reunion we of course hung out.  So it was with complete shock that a few years later I hear that he was not okay at all.  At some point the drugs had returned, and one day while driving home at lunch to get a fix he hit a special needs kid who had been riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare.  The report is that my friend didn’t even stop the car, and the cops followed him to his house an arrested him on the spot.

They say he was going fast enough when he hit the kid, he practically exploded.  They had to cremate him because there simply was not enough to bury.  So as my friends father was retelling this tale, my wife is sitting there in shock because she knows the other side of a lot of the tales he is telling.  She has this cold realization that had I not made a change and distanced myself… that it could have very well been me.  I hung in the same circles, but there was just a point where their behavior was getting a bit too risky for my tastes.  My friend deserves his fate, he did not get there over night, but over a course of multiple years of bad decisions.  However I feel horrible for his parents, because as parents go… they were awesome.  They were always so good to me, and treated me like another member of their family.

Once the assembly was over, my wife rushed up to the stage and introduced herself to his father, and apparently he just gave her a huge hug.  Then asked how I was doing and how things were in our lives.  He really was like another parent, and I feel like I need to get a hold of him.  He lost his son, in ways that he will never get him back, but maybe I can reach out and be a little closer to him and his wife.  They were always so good to me, that I want to be there for them however I can be.  So what makes the whole situation that much more odd, is that I was one of those kids who didn’t pay attention to this sort of thing.  I ignored more than my fair share of drug assembly, and ditched them whenever I could.  However I am living proof that changing the path you are going down can make all the difference in the world.  I could have easily been my friend, and that alone is pretty sobering.

Bangkorai is Huge

Screenshot_20140430_212918 Last night I spent most of the night streaming some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay.  Bangkorai is freakin huge.  Each time I feel like I might be nearing the end of the zone, I keep finding a pocket of stuff that I have missed. At this point I am extremely overleveled for the content at level 45, and the highest mob I have found at all has been 43.  This is a thing that keeps happening to me, I seem to move extremely slowly through content.  My whole general approach to Elder Scrolls Online is to kill every single thing in my way.  This means I probably kill far more badguys than the average gamer.  I have watched my friends play through content, and they go out of their way to skip combat.  This game gives you really good ways to skip combat in the form of “disguises”, however I NEVER use them.  The only time you will actually see me wearing one is when the quest literally cannot be completed without one.

A good chunk of the night was spent working on a series of quests in an occupied town.  I could have skipped almost all of the combat entirely by wearing the disguise.  However I ignored the fact that it was in my inventory and proceeded to lay waste to everything with a red diamond on it.  Which is a big funny considering my character is racially imperial… but apparently I like killing my own kin?  I am still enjoying the hell out of the game, and while I am super interest in ArcheAge I keep telling myself… to wait until I reach a point in Elder Scrolls Online where I am not quite so in love with it.  The game keeps giving me sufficient reason to log in every night and play, so until it stops doing that I will keep playing it.  ArcheAge will always be there when things start to get dull and I want to do some full on sandbox… however as time consuming as it seems based on the few streams I have watched…  maybe I am better off with Themebox or Sandpark.

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Toward the end of the night Rae pulled me over into Landmark.  She has been working on the big contest that they have going on and wanted some feedback on her building.  So far I think it looks pretty great, but this has been where she has spent all of her effort of late.  Personally I still have so much to do on my temple complex that I am almost mired in a building funk because of it.  Towards the end of the video I end up traipsing back into my own claim.   I am not really sure where I am as far as the game is concerned.  I like the game so much, but right now there is not something about it making me to want to log in regularly.  I think maybe once there is combat or something other than “Lego mode” I might feel more strongly about the game.  Quite truthfully lately I have enjoyed Trove more… and it is far more primitive.  The reason behind that seems to be that there is more to “do” in trove.  Definitely going to be active in the Landmark community, but right now past the initial rush of wanting to build something… there just isn’t much “stickyness” to the community.

#PathNotTaken #ANook #Landmark #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO