Beardly Dedication

Press NDA Lifted

There has been a lot of confusion in the last 24 hours as Zenimax has lifted the NDA just far enough to allow a bunch of press outlets to post stories.  Massively crafted a really poorly worded tweet stating that the ESO NDA Had lifted.  Even though they followed up almost immediately with a correction stating that it only applies to the press and media beta…  it has caused massive amounts of confusion.  As a result there are so many video leaks going on right now, a good number of them seem to have an axe to grind with the game in general.  I am still very firmly under a gag order but I feel that is a bit of a disservice to the game as a whole.

Most of the albeit scathing reviews of the game seem to be missing the general point.  I feel like right now a lot of people are going into this game with the expectation of it being something that it is not.  This is the problem of a broad game like The Elder Scrolls.  Every player has a certain way that they want to play the game, and if their chosen game play isn’t supported then obviously it is a horrible game.  Apparently there are players out there who legitimately do nothing but steal stuff from stores, or players who do nothing but kill quest giver NPCs.  These are just a few of the fringe game play styles that I have seen mentioned on the more public forums that certain fragments of the population are up in arms over.

Thing is… the game seems to be selling extremely well.  The game has firmly been on the top 10 best sellers list on Amazon.com since releasing.  So lots of people still have interest in the game despite the sour grapes reviews that are coming out.  At this point I feel like Zenimax needs to open the flood gates and let the actual fans who have been sticking by the title speak for it.  This is not an insignificant number of players mind you, but each of us is bound by the same NDA gag order, and unable to say a single thing in defense of the title.  Keeping the NDA in place, and stating that there will not be a fully open beta before release… only serves to give the public the impression that the game has something to hide.  The game has absolutely nothing to hide, and I look forward to the day when I can talk about it without hedging everything I say in grand generalizations.  The video I linked above is my favorite of the batch of “reviews” and Dan Bull seems to “get it”.

Forest Temple that Isn’t

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I have still been plugging away on building my “Forest Temple” and posted some photos the other day yesterday on the EQ Next Reddit.  Turns out my name is a bit controversial.  I am building a temple in a deeply forested region of the Pingo island, so to me that is a Forest Temple.  But apparently to a lot of people that has a specific meaning, which is the Forest Temple from Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.  I am just too old for this to have a significant meaning  to me I guess.  Ocarina of Time came out when I was in college, and while I played it and enjoyed it… it really didn’t imprint on me as being anything more than a fun game.  A Link to the Past is my Zelda game and the one I hold up as the pinnacle above all others.  For me the Zelda franchise is best in its 2D form.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-07 01-16-57-89 So to clariify… I will try and come up with a better name for my place, because I don’t want to give the impression that I am trying to build “The Forest Temple”.  At this point I have massive amounts of resource farming to complete the temple.  I want to do one more floor and a ramparts area at the top, as well as build out the undercroft more fully.  Right now I am planning on moving the craft machines from the porch area to the undercroft.  I hope I can unlock the paint tool because I think with that I can help to age the temple with little bits of mossy grass on the stone.  I also want to do some work to make things more intricate, but i figure over time I can work out the fine details. I posted an album of pictures of my most recent progress.

Beardly Dedication

This is one that my wife suggested so I am running with it.  Early my Sophomore year in High School I started growing a beard, and unlike my friends who were cursed with the inability to do so… I was able to grow one rather successfully.  From that point until today I have only been clean shaven twice… and both of those times were horrible mistakes.  Granted I vacillate back and forth between a full beard and a moustache/goatee combination… but for the majority of 22 years I have been proudly dedicated to beardom.  Basically my beard started as a way to make me look older, because I suffer from a baby face.  If I were to shave right now at age 37… I would look like I was about fourteen.  Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is not a good thing to say the least.

The first time I shaved my beard was during my Junior year.  I was completely smitten with a girl who barely knew I existed.  I asked her out to the prom and she accepted, but she really pressured me to shave off my goatee at the time.  I should have stuck to my guns, because quite honestly nothing about that night was worth the pricetag of shaving my beard.  I did not realize I was mired quite so deeply in the friend zone as I actually was, and at least if I had my beard I could have stroked it while pondering the situation as she danced with someone else the majority of the night.  Beard stroking apparently is a legitimate thing, and it actually spurs on mental activity.

The second time I shaved it… I did it mostly by accident.  I took off a little too much from one side while trying to even out my beard.  Rather than shaving down to a goatee, I decided that my wife had never actually seen me clean shaven.  At that point we had been together five or six years, and she was polite about it… but told me to grow it back as soon as I could and to never do it again.  Apparently the beard suits me, either that or she couldn’t handle the fact that she looked like she was married to a teenager.  I figure at some point when I do actually want to look younger I can instantly loose 20 years by shaving, or at least this is my planned exit strategy.  The actual secret to my beard is more akin to the fact that I simply hate shaving and will do whatever I can to avoid doing so.  At one point this year I was sporting a beard that would make the guys of duck dynasty take notice…  but that was more a test of just how long I could let it go than anything else.

Budgie Week Fiasco

Another Friday, Moar Fodder

Well another week has passed and it is once again time for Friday Forum Fodder.  I have admittedly not been following the discussion around the interwebs as closely as I usually do during the week.  I have a massive backlog of unread blog posts in my reader as spending the first half of the week sick and the second half desperately trying to play catch-up has left me with less lollygagging time.  I did stumble across a couple of things that I found interesting so the topics are primed and ready to go.

WoW Up to 7.8 Million Subscribers

http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/3741-WoW-Up-to-7-8-Million-Subscribers

Apparently yesterday Blizzard had their Q4 2013 earnings call, and announced that they were currently sitting at 7.8 Million subscribers, which surprisingly is a 200k subscriber bump over the 7.6 announced in the Q3 2013 earnings call.  Of course we all know that Blizzcon happened between those two calls, and that we had the announcement of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  However 200,000 players seems like an awful lot to simply account for the “Blizzcon Bump”.  On Argent Dawn I have said before that we have been experiencing a bit of a renaissance with a large number of players coming back that I have not seen since Wrath, and some of them not even since Burning Crusade.  This feels like something more substantial than just interest in the new and shiny bauble called Warlords.

With the release of Rift, something happened in the populace, a fracturing of sorts.  That was the very first time I saw people leave WoW in a semi-permanent fashion.  Always before when a new product released, players would drift away from the game only to return a month or two later.  Something was different with the release of Cataclysm that broke the inertia of players to stay in one place.  I myself was gone for a little over two years, and during most of that time I never saw myself seriously returning.  For whatever reason I think a lot of us are resigned to the fact that the “wow-killer” simply will never exist.  All of this effort spent trying to find a better experience than World of Warcraft just wound up leading us right back to the original.

I personally have come to realize that what WoW provides just does not exist in the same quantity or quality elsewhere.  Sure various games do various components of the total WoW experience better, but no one game hits as many high points as Blizzard does.  I have reached a point where I am mostly okay with the games flaws… and while I wish that it did certain things better, I can accept the fact that what it does is for the benefit of the many not the few.  There are niche games out there that will scratch the various itches I have that WoW simply cannot.  So while I am back in WoW I am also still very much playing Rift, TSW, Everquest Next Landmark and will be adding Elder Scrolls Online to that lineup.  I have reached a point where I am okay with playing multiple games at the same time.

The beauty of World of Warcraft is that it is the game of consensus.  It is that game that everyone plays when they can’t get anyone to agree on any other game.  People play WoW because people play WoW.  More than anything the large community that comes part and parcel with playing the game was the thing I had been missing since leaving it.  When you play wow, you are instantly a member of something larger than yourself, and that is just an experience that is lacking with any of the other games.  Don’t get me wrong, the other game communities are great, especially the fledgling Everquest Next community bolstered by SOE’s new sense of transparency.  However it is still lacking in sheer size and volume of players.  The Blizzard gaming community is big enough to support everyone, and that is a really rare and special thing.

Budgie Week Fiasco

http://forums.riftgame.com/general-discussions/general-discussion/412505-budgie-week-guide.html

Firstly I want to say, this is less about the specific thread but more about the Budgie Week event.  I latched onto the guide threat by Seatin mostly because it was the only really active thread out there that coalesced all of the viewpoints in one place, whether or not he actually intended that to happen.  Seatin does a great job of supporting the community with his guides and videos, so nothing I say should be held as a reflection on that.  Additionally I love the folks at Trion, especially the team that is presently working on Trove.  That is such a great game and the open process is so refreshing, including the use of Reddit as their primary forums.  Additionally when Rift went free to play, I considered it to be one of the more just and equitable models.  However some of the things they have been doing with the cash shop are feeling more than a little shifty.

Awhile back some of my friends were frustrated over the Squirrel mount that was released, in that they missed the ridiculously short window it was available for purchase outright in the game.  This was really the beginning of a new trend, offering a cool mount for a very short time, and then putting a similar mount in a cash shop lootbox as the primary means of obtaining it.  This was the case for the Squirrel mount, the Mech mount, and now looks to be the same basic thing going on with the Budgie mount.  The shifty part this time is that they introduced a world event to make it seem as though you can actually acquire the mount that way. Problem is… with this being only a 7 day event it is simply impossible to gain enough of the “bird seed” currency doing these quests alone.

According to Seatin’s guide, if you got in on the first day of the event there is a maximum of 210 bird seed that you can obtain.  The mount costs 850 bird seed on the vendor, meaning there is simply no way to obtain it without somehow augmenting your seed count.  It turns out right now they are offering a limited time cash box that has a chance of dropping a different colored budgie mount, and you are guaranteed between 6 and 10 birdseed per box.  The average seems to be 8 per trove, so in theory you need roughly 80 of these cash shop boxes to be able to purchase the bird.  Granted you have a chance from each to get the OTHER budgie mount, but we aren’t even taking this into account.  Essentially even doing your quests religiously every day, you would have to spend roughly $300 on the cash shop to be certain you get this mount while it is available.

Now Daglar has posted on the forums that this is a promo event, and they intend to run it several times a year, and by participating in all of them you should be able to get the mount.  Even saying that… it still feels extremely bad seeing this unfold.  This is the same kind of crap that I see over in SWTOR with making most of the truly unique looking mounts only available through the random chance of a cash shop box.  The difference there is that you can actually post the items once you have gotten them on the auction house… whereas the cash shop loot in Rift is either soul bound or bound to your account.  This whole event just leaves me feeling a little dirty for having supported their shirt to free to play so actively.  I still think Rift is a great game, and I still think more or less it is a good value… they are just doing a few unsavory things that make me a little sad inside.

Bel Goes to Nasa

This mornings factoid digs pretty deep into the annals of time.  Once upon a time I wanted to grow up to be a Scientist.  I am not really sure what happened along the way to change that life ambition.  If I had to guess it was probably the fact that AP Chemistry ate my lunch, but I managed to get out of it with a B, which seemed pretty damned good at the time.  All that aside, I did really and truly want to be a Scientist, so I took the yearly ritual of the science fair extremely seriously.  Through boy scouts I had gotten into model rocketry, so when it came time to pick a project I thought it would be interesting to do something related to that.  With copious help from my father, we constructed a wind tunnel that ran on a shop vac, and proceeded to test the effects of airflow based on various model rocket fin shapes.

I think the key to winning a science fair is to have something cool to look at in your booth.  I am sure there were many students that had more scientifically sound studies than I did, but I had cool photos of the pattern each of the fins had made.  We tied string to each of the fins so that we could watch the pattern the thread made based on the airflow.  The contrails that were created gave a clear picture of how each shape varied and was something nice and concrete that the judges to latch onto.  I won the local level science fair and managed to move up to regional’s, but this was not something really new to me, because my pantograph had done the same my six grade year.  In all honesty repeating a victory at the local level would have been more than enough for me.

When I got to regional’s however I was shocked at just how excited the judges seemed to be about my exhibit.  So when it came down to time to present the awards, I don’t really remember what place I got in the main competition, because it was quickly overshadowed by the “special” award that I won.  I got a trip for me, my family and my science teacher to NASA’s Johnson Space center.  I have to say it was one of the cooler things I have experienced.  A lot of the trip is a haze at this point, but I remember walking through a prototype of what would eventually become the international space station.  I also remember getting to play around in the shuttle flight simulator, and meeting actual astronauts.  All of which were pretty heady things for my little wannabe scientist seventh grader mind.  But of course, High School happened… and I discovered computers and programming… and I jettisoned the thoughts of being a scientist out the airlock and moved on.

Rocky Horror Rejection

Of Large Templates

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-05 22-30-24-99 After piddling a bit in Rift and running Onyxia on the three character that can easily solo her, I settled into Everquest Next Landmark and attempted to recreate my forest temple.  I had managed to successfully template the entire structure and suck back up all of the material night before last, so my hope was that it would in fact be as simple as plunking down the template and moving on.  The problem is, large templates are extremely hard to work with.  After spending an hour placing and undoing the template trying to get it just right, I finally said screw it and started from scratch again.  The above shot shows a rare moment when my claim is flooded in sunlight.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-05 21-01-38-14 The biggest problem I have noticed with templates is that they seem to align to the smallest block size instead of whatever block size you happen to have set as your tool.  When you are trying to move a template that takes up your entire claim… it becomes extremely hard to determine when exactly it is in the right spot.  I managed to get it pretty damned close at times, but never quite perfect.  In the above image I had run out of stone while working on the flooring, but I have since fixed that and finished the first floor for now.  Eventually I will build a staircase up to the second floor, but until I have enough stone to make a second floor that point is moot.  The temple as it is right now has taken roughly 200,000 stone.

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The last thing I was working on last night before logging was building out the front porch area.  There is a ramp leading up now that I smoothed out and a stone railing of sorts.  My plan is to keep all of my crafting machines out here so that anyone who happens to be moving past my claim can use them.  That has been one of the really cool things about Landmark is that all of these player towns have sprung up.  It reminds me quite a bit of Horizons, in that a little crafting community is starting to spring up here and there.  It would be really cool if they added some large scale public works type projects that they players can work on.  I remember guarding crafters as they carried loads of ore and stone to the various bridge projects in Horizons.  While there were so many flaws in that game, it really was innovative in its social crafting systems.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 20-28-19-62 Right now my chief mission is to gather enough gold and burled wood to be able to craft the Golden Axe.  I have heard you can gather wood much faster using it, and I am really hoping that it will also allow me to fell the largest of trees.  I know it is possible to take them down, because I watched someone doing it the other night.  Essentially to truly complete the first floor I will need lots and lots of trees.  I want to put wood braces to support the second floor and have them jut out slightly from the sides of the building.  I have always liked that look but to be able to do them I need a ton of wood.  Additionally while searching for the gold ore needed… I hope to gather enough stone to begin construction on the second floor.  Finally there are a few machines that I am missing from my porch, so I want to gather up the bits to make the one that can finish marble especially.

Rocky Horror Rejection

For anyone who has ever been to a live performance of the rocky horror picture show, you know that it is a really raucous occasion.  Would you believe that I managed to get kicked out of a showing?  While I was in High School the local performing arts theater thought they would be edgy and host a showing of the movie.  For starters it was a far more sedate version of the Rocky Horror Picture show.  There was no live group dressed as the characters and performing all of the scenes, and no virgin sacrifices.  Everyone however did show up with a bag of items needed to do the various tributes to the scenes.  Even in its lesser form it was still pretty fun, albeit greatly sanitized.

Things went south when we got to “Over at the Frankenstein Place”.  This is the point where everyone in the audience raises their lighters into the air swaying back and forth slowly to simulate the “there’s a light” portion.  Not being a smoker, I didn’t have a bic lighter on me… so I decided to improvise.  Gathering up a bunch of news paper we had to protect ourselves from the water guns… I decided to craft a torch.  I bound the newspaper together tightly and lit that bad boy.  This was a classic bad move, because I did not expect it to flame up quite so brightly… and quickly.  It was only a few seconds before we realize this was not going to be a good idea in any fashion so we stomped it out.

Moments later a security guard showed up and in his remarkable intellect muttered “all right who did that?”.  We gave him our best confused look, and then one of my group pointed down to the rows below us and told him that it was someone down there.  The thing you need to know is that we are in a huge concert hall style performing arts theater.  We sat roughly midway up the main seating, and everyone else in the theater were bunched together down by the stage.  There were a good 25 rows of empty space between us and the next person.  The security guard proceeded to go row by row, searching the entire space for the hidden arsonist.  All of this time we were absolutely rolling, but trying to keep it down just enough to not tip our hand.  Fifteen minutes later the winded guard came back to our row and proclaimed “Very Funny… You are all out of here.”

So the bulk of us all got punted from the show unceremoniously.  Looking back now, I could have theoretically started a theater fire, but at the time it sounded like a great idea.  No one really seemed to mind getting forced out of the proceedings, since it really was a watered down version of the “real thing”.  We wound up driving around for awhile and finally ended up milling around in a park for a while before taking our dates home for the evening.  We probably had far more fun loitering than we would have had attending the rest of the show, so I guess in the grand scheme of things everything worked out okay.  I just find it funny now because I can state that I got kicked out of the Rocky Horror Picture show.

Belghast: Wedding Photographer

Belghast: Wedding Photographer

Most kids growing up end up working food service of one form or another, but I somehow lucked out and missed that experience during my formative years.  Honestly I had a pretty good string of jobs throughout High School but probably the most bizarre would be that of Wedding Photographer… or more so the Photographers Assistant.  My father was a machinist by day and professional portrait photographer by night and weekend.  Essentially I grew up in the darkroom and was extremely comfortable around photographic equipment before most kids had learned to ride a bicycle.  As I got older and needed an allowance, I often got drafted into helping out with the “family business”.

This was not as glamorous as it might sound.  Essentially it usually meant sticking me up in a balcony somewhere during the service with a zoom lens and getting the nifty overhead shots that my father could not get from the ground.  By my teen years I could name all the basic parts of a wedding, and could spot little variations coming before they actually happened.  This whole experience has caused me to loathe weddings.  Being the wedding photographer is a really uncomfortable experience, for a few hours you become part of the family and have to figure out how to wrangle your way through getting the shots taken.  Thanks to tradition no one wants to take the photos before the wedding… and then after the ceremony it becomes a sheer struggle of wills to keep everyone in their clothing and willing to line up in the various shot arrangements that the bride and groom will want.  Everyone wants to mingle with family because they go away…  and while the photos don’t seem that important on the day of the event…  they will certainly catch the fact that you didn’t get a photo of them with uncle bob afterwards.

This summer I had to reprise my role of Wedding photographer as I got asked by the same neighbor who cleaned up my blood mess to photograph her wedding.  I mean seriously… how could I say no?  So I gave it the good ole college try and I think overall the photos turned out pretty well.  Within a few minutes of the ceremony ending I remembered all the reasons why I hated doing this in the first place however.  We couldn’t keep the groomsmen from changing out of their clothing into shorts.  This was an outdoor wedding in the middle of a August Oklahoma heatwave.  I feel like I got the workout of my life trying to wrangle a bunch of people who did not want to stand still for photos.  All in all however it was pretty successful and over time I managed to get everyone together.  It did not help to improve my hatred of weddings however.

Giving Up, For Now

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-53-33-00 For the time being I am going to give up on building anything in Landmark.  This is the fourth time in recent days that the servers have gone down and I have logged back into my claim being fully reset.  I could clear it fast enough again with the select tool, but it feels absolutely futile since I know I will likely be logging back in again to nothing.  Dave Georgeson posted this tweet last night which I seems positive… but we have had some optimism in the past as well.

I ended up clearing a little bit this morning so if things are still clear by the time I get home this evening I will consider that a positive sign and maybe just maybe start building again.  Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as though if you use ctl+v instead of delete when you have a large area selected… it appears that you harvest the materials contained within that area.  I made the mistake of clearing the last time with the delete key, meaning I likely lost all of my props permanently.  Honestly right now I wish I could figure out how to make torches, that is really the only prop I need to be able to craft a whole bunch of.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-48-19-47 Another huge plus is that I managed to figure out the lightstone.  Essentially unlike Everquest, it must be equipped in a slot.  Since the slots are not marked at all, you just have to keep dragging them into each slot one by one until it finally fits there.  You can see in the above picture the light radius that it gives off, which is more than enough to be able to see what you are doing.  Really that is all I was wanting since my claim is mostly cast in shadow all the time.  I like that aspect of it, and once I actually get my temple ruins built it should look really cool.  Before I can really do that however I need to figure out how to make torches.  I realize at this point I only have two crafting machines and based on what I saw yesterday there are like half a dozen or so that someone had out on their claim for people to use.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-04 05-59-09-46 Since I can’t really craft I have been working on upgrading my tools.  This morning I managed to craft the Heavy Silversteel Pick shown above.  I am not sure if it is always a legendary item, or if I just lucked out in the randomizer.  Previously I had been using the starter pick to clear any tier 1 material away from what I was actually wanting to harvest since the Pick/Axe combo was so much faster than any of the upgraded picks I had gotten.  However this one seems to finally be roughly the same speed.  Now that I can harvest another tier higher of material I am hoping I can craft the next set of crafting machines, and maybe even the next tool which I think is terrain paint, but I am not really sure.  At this point mostly I am looking forward to the voxel database stabilizing enough for me to start building again.

Belghast and the Severe Asthma

Bel is a Sick Little Monkey

Right now I am feeling like a failure, for several reasons.  For starters Steampowered Sunday never happened yesterday, because I kept waiting on the Everquest Landmark servers to stabilize enough to get in and record some gameplay.  I thought it was going to be a cool idea to do SPS over a brand new alpha game that lots of folks were interested in.  More so than that… I completely forgot that I had a raid last night, so I owe a lot of apologies to my raid group.  I was feeling pretty shitty Friday night during the raid, and over the course of the weekend I just got to feeling worse.  Yesterday was a bit of a haze and since the snow came down and my wife’s school was cancelled… I guess the day was lacking the normal sense of pressure that a Sunday has.

By the time I got drug down to our neighbors super bowl party, I had lost touch on what day it actually was.  Sweet mother of god the food there… so much of it and so tasty.  She had made these little bacon wrapped smoked sausages caramelized with brown sugar.  I could have seriously made a meal on that alone.  Like always she cooked for an army, and there were only 7 or 8 of us there.  We left around halftime because we walked down and didn’t want to slip and fall on the way home through our poorly lit sidewalks.  The food coma that set in just left me in a bit of a stupor.  As a result I literally could not remember that I was supposed to tank a raid that night.

I am really hoping they had enough to pull the raid together but since the other regular tank was also slotted to be gone… I am seriously doubting they were.  So I am posting it here, and I will post it elsewhere and say it in person…  I am sorry I flaked on you guys.  This is out of character for me, but it quite literally slipped my mind.  I didn’t even realize I had done it until I got up this morning.  Today I plan on trying to sleep as much as I can, because sleep heals.  As a result I got up at 5:30 and emailed my boss saying that I would not be in and then slept until 10:30.  I will be taking dayquil and breathing treatments to try and break the gunk up so that I can breathe again.  I really need to be viable for work tomorrow.  We are supposed to be getting a lot more snow and ice tomorrow, so we will see what exactly that means.

Belghast and the Severe Asthma

Since I am sick right now, I kinda wanted a factoid that blended with that.  I have touched on this a few times but it is worthy of factoidization.  I have extremely severe asthma, it has gotten slightly better over the years but there are times where my body still completely breaks down on me.  I have a number of triggers ranging from weather changes, to strong perfumes and smells, and the worst of all is smoke both second hand and smoke from fires.  This has been a thing that I have struggled with my entire life.  My very first asthma attack happened before the age of one, when my mother heard me wheezing in my basinet at the end of the bed.  My father had been an extremely severe asthmatic growing up and spent many a night under an oxygen tent… which was the 1950s treatment for such things.  I don’t think I was officially diagnosed however until after age one, because the pediatrician kept saying “babies don’t have asthma”.

To make things even worse I have what they call a “primary immune system deficiency”  which basically means I have a lazy immune system.  So I tend to catch everything that is going around and it takes significantly longer for my immune system to wake up and realize there is something bad inside of me that it should be fighting.  So this complicates the first thing significantly, as I almost always have some sort of a cold.  If they drag on long enough there is a moment where it wakens the beast and my lungs start shutting down on me.  This weekend is one of those times where a “nameless crud” has finally lingered long enough to trigger my asthma.  Most of the time I can take a bunch of breathing treatments and be just fine.  Every now and then it triggers a downward spiral that requires much more severe intervention.

Probably the worst of these was the 2005 Thanksgiving Holiday, over which I spent five days hospitalized.  I know I mentioned this event in the little letter I wrote a few weeks back to some smokers in my building, but this is the worst case scenario that I am always worried about in the back of my head.  Of course this was created by an unlikely chain of events.  One of our friends had a house fire, and I went down to the house long enough to be handed prescriptions to take to Walgreens to fill.  That was enough to trigger a negative reaction that lead to me going to the Emergency Room.  They hooked me up to a BIPAP machine that would help me breathe, or at least force air into my lungs, and since my lungs were so swollen shut… it caused me to respirate insanely fast.  So fast that they were scared I might have a heart attach that night, since my pulse was racing.

Eventually they were able to get things under control but it was five days before my blood oxygen levels came up enough for me to be able to go home.  By day two I was absolutely stir-crazy in the hospital.  All I really wanted was someone to bring me a laptop.  This whole event has made me super aware and conscious of irritants in my area, and before this happening I probably never would have had to courage to tell the smokers what they were doing to me.  With my large amount of weight loss, it has improved my asthma quite a bit.  However there are still moments where something triggers that chain reaction and I go down for the count.  I think this current situation is an accumulation of weeks of breathing colder than normal air mixed with some bug that is going around.  But there you have it… a relevant factoid for a day when I am pretty sick.

Liberation Pingo

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 19-53-24-37 This post has already gone on pretty long at this point, but I didn’t feel like I could truly make another post without at least mentioning EQN Landmark.  Friday evening late the Alpha keys went out to all of the founders, but I personally did not get it launched until Saturday morning after I made my blog post.  At that point it was extremely hard to find a plot of land that was claimable.  So I wound up in the middle of nowhere on the Liberation server and the tier 3 Pingo island.  I feel like this may be a positive thing in the long run as there seem to be more than enough tier 3 resources to be had there.  However this has involved a lot of my bouncing to other areas to pick things up.  Right now I am building cautiously as during one of the server resets this weekend we lost all progress and I lost my crafting machines in the process.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 22-13-44-02 The important thing to note… that if your tolerance for bugs is low.  Save your money and wait until this enters beta.  The game is very much an alpha product, but what is here is extremely fun.  Essentially at this point it is much like the early days of minecraft.  You wander around a very pretty world looking for resources that you can then take back to your claim and craft with.  The area my claim is in rests deep in a forested valley and as a result very little natural light reaches it… so all of the pictures on my claim tend to be cast in shadow.  Hopefully I can craft enough torches to fix that problem over time.  The key progress I have made is I have been able to upgrade to the Iron Pick allowing me to harvest some higher end stuff, and I have been able to craft the selection tool as well as replacement crafting machines.

EverQuestNextLandmark64 2014-02-02 13-38-34-12 Right now the only frustration really is the long queues.  At one point yesterday I waited for two hours in a queue, only to have the game crash out at 50% as it was loading.  However as the evening went on this improved drastically.  I just want to thank the EQN Landmark team because they really went above and beyond with this launch.  I am pretty sure Dave Georgeson for example was up almost 48 hours straight working on the problem along with the rest of the team.  So I have to say kudos for the work well done.  I am already enamored with the game, enough that I have upgraded from Explorer to Trailblazer.  There are a lot of systems simply missing right now, like it seems you can send a friend request… but the other party cannot respond nor is there a friend list.  As a result we are using server channels so I have created a house stalwart one.  Typing “/join stalwart” should get you in, and everyone that is friendly is more than welcome.

Me and My Tentacle

I Hate the NDA

Trove 2014-02-01 09-26-43-06I know you are thinking, “of course you hate them, you are a blogger” and to some extent yes that is the source of my frustration.  However more than that I feel like in the internet age they are defeatist.  We are in an age when people are actively ready to hand you their cash to participate in a pretty buggy experience.  Look at how popular the Steam Early access process has been to date, and just how many people are actively playing games that are not close to being launched yet.  I started playing Minecraft during really early beta and it was roughly two years before the game “officially” launched… all the while there was so much enjoyment to be had in the process of the alpha.  Each step of the way it was the constant stream of videos that got people pumped to be playing it.

At any given time I am in a number of alpha and beta testing processes for video games.  It has been a thing that I have done for years, and it seems like the more you test the more you get to test.  In the case of two of those I am amped and ready to be gushing about those games and posting cool info about them.  The problem is both of those are under pretty strict NDA processes.  They moment they lift however I will be off to the races with information in hand ready to post.  What the NDA seems to cause right now is an era of disinformation.  Folks who you assume are in testing can make comments like “I wouldn’t get your hopes up” here and there… without actually touching their NDA guidelines and cause a negative buzz for the game before it even launches.

The Open Model

The negative seems to stick with us more than the positive, and it seems like everyone knows someone who knows someone who doesn’t like this game or that game and is more than willing to give you their laundry list of reasons in private.  This I guess is why Trove has been so unbelievably refreshing.  The official forums are Reddit, and from day one we have been able to post whatever the hell we wanted about the game.  They know it is alpha, but they also are super transparent about the information.  Yesterday they released the Gunslinger class seen above, and sure it is buggy but it is damned cool seeing the first additional class in the game come to fruition.

Thing is… we’ve known this was coming for some time.  They have talked about it in the live streams, on reddit… posted various tidbits of information.  So the community that has sprung up around this game was ready and waiting with open arms to see this new class and the new batch of player created weapons that would spring out of it.  What this open model does is general some serious evangelism for your game, which is a good thing.  People what to play games that other people are having fun playing.  The above video is the entire reason why I started playing Minecraft.

Were it not for the X’s Adventures in Minecraft series of videos, I probably never would have gotten onto the Minecraft bandwagon at least not until EVERYONE was playing it.  There was something so simple about the game play I saw and infectious but only because the person doing the lets play videos was so open and engaging about what he was doing.  Games can really benefit from this simple grass roots support, and I feel like this is going to play a larger and larger role in getting folks into new games over time.  I am sure we are also entering the era of the video casting shill…  and we have seen a certain measure of that in the media recently with the payola scandal going on within the xbox one videocasters.  All of this said… I just feel like right now the NDA does more harm than good.  When a new game comes out, people crave information about it… and if the game company themselves won’t provide it, this is a great niche for the evangelists to fill.

Me and My Tentacle

Wow-64 2014-01-29 23-06-53-81 I admit it… I just wanted a reason to name this post something goofy.  Over in WoW I have spent a lot of time soloing old content for fun and profit.  Namely I have been seeking the pets and mounts that drop in older content.  I believe i spoke about my surprise that I could actually solo the Twin Emperors finally in AQ40 which had been the only road block from regularly soloing this instance.  When I took down C’Thun I got one of those items I had always wanted to get back when we were raiding.  The Vanquished Tentacle of C’Thun is a trinket that on use summons a Tentacle of C’Thun to come fight by your side for 30 seconds.  Even back in the day this was mostly a novelty item… since it was stationary and as a result really not that useful unless you were fighting a mob that stood completely still.  However how freakin cool is it to summon a tentacle on demand?

Another bit of madness I have engaged upon recently is trying to work my way through the Argent Tournament.  Look I know you are all saying… why did you not do that in Wrath?  Well I am bad at doing daily quest grinds…  I always have a million other things I would rather be doing than dailies.  So I piddled at them from time to time… but mostly I just hated the jousting mechanic.  Now however it seems like that mechanic can be cheesed by the fact that I am a well geared level 90.  Luckily I think I only have Gnomeregan and Darnasas left before I can get the tabard, which it is cool to have a port to Northrend.  However this is something I am doing mostly for the large number of pets and mounts you can get.  Not sure how super seriously I will take this, I doubt it will become a daily ritual like the Netherwing grind did.  Right now I have a lot of different games that I ant to be playing, but this is my next faction “goal”.

Friday Forum Fodder

Bring on the Fodder

For awhile now I have had a forum segment kicking around in my head.  The idea is that I use Fridays as a day to reflect on things that have been brewing out on the various games forums.  My friends have thought this was madness, as it would likely devolve into flame based insanity.  I however think that I can make it work, since so many topics start on the forums anyways.  However based on recent events, especially relating to one of the topics I have chosen this morning… it still very much can get out of hand.  Anyways…. if I don’t start this thing I won’t get it done in time.

Stop..ramming..pvp…down…my…throat!!!

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/11422312838

Yup that’s right… I have opted to leave the original forum post title intact for most of these unless it is offensive.  Abusive use of ellipses aside there is nothing terribly offensive so here goes.  This thread spawned a really interesting response from Bashiok stating hinting that in Warlords of Draenor a more permanent PVP toggle would be on it’s way.  Now this has already been discussed by @AlternativeChat and @Qelric but I don’t really want to respond on what they have said… since the whole idea behind this is for me to respond to the subject matter contained within the forum post.  I know this involves a bunch of semantics and blinders and whatnot… but it is a thing I am striving to do.

I have to admit my first reaction was “It’s about damned time”, as well as my second and third and fourth reaction.  I have a love/hate relationship with PVP in general, in that I tend to love to hate on it.  I am a massive Carebear at heart and get really excited about collaboration and community in online games and not so much about conflict and competitiveness.  Please understand that this is coming from someone who tanked my servers first alliance Reins of the Black War Bear raid.  Additionally I was a proud supporter of the South Shore vs Tarren Mill madness from vanilla and got to meet most of my servers hardcore PVPers during that time.  However that is the root of it… I want to PVP when I want to PVP, and no other time.  The problem lies that there are so many ways that you can get accidentally flagged without ever really intending it.

One of the things I do semi regularly is run around the Timeless Isle farming the named mobs.  Generally speaking be it on the Timeless Isle or Darkmoon Faire I am a pretty welcome commodity since there never seems to be any tanks out there willing to tank the mini-bosses.  The problem is as a Deathknight sometimes my diseases end up getting on flagged players and in turn flag me.  Honestly I don’t know what it is, but I assumed it was the disease/bloodboil that I am constantly doing because I will end up flagged pretty much every time I do this public service.  Granted the horde generally have the self preservation to wait until I have tanked the boss for them before killing me…  but moments after downing the boss I am generally laying dead on the floor.

You might be thinking this means I rally support and start an epic land war?  Nope… this means I do one of two things.  Either I walk away for a bit and wait for my flag to clear before resurrecting, or I simply log out of the game and play something else for awhile.  I seriously want zero part in PVP on a day to day basis and see it as an imposition on my play time.  Ultimately that is what it is about for me, PVP is a gross inconvenience upon my time and forces me to somehow direct my attention to something other than my current goals.  It is very much not a welcome distraction, and since I tend to play tanks… very few of the pvp skills have any meaning within the game I tend to play.  PVP tanking was a thing I loved, but sadly that only really existed in a functional way in Warhammer Online.

Rift has had this PVP toggle for awhile now and it works extremely well.  They brought it in during the much larger “faction as fiction” patch which is something I would love to see Blizzard do as well.  Factions are meaningless things to me, and ultimately boil down as red vs blue in my eyes.  I generally do not have much faction pride one way or the other… just like I have no sports team alignments.  In an MMO the only “faction” I generally care about is my guild and its members.  I tend to see the “Faction walls” as un-needed barriers that keep me from playing with half of the other players on the server.  I started playing MMOs before these things really existed in Everquest, and have never really seen the benefit of them on the whole.  Faction should be something that is character specific, that may limit where you can go in the world…. but not limit who you can associate with.

To summarize…  “hell yeah” to the prospect of a more permanent PVP toggle.  There have been a lot of people speculating how this might work, with faction cities etc.  They can honestly take a pretty good queue from Rift in that when you are flagged as “No PVP” you can still be attacked by NPCs of that opposing faction.  Thing is… you just cannot attack them back without turning off your anti-pvp flag.  So this means that NPCs are more than willing to beat you into a pulp for being the pacifist you are.  Players however… cannot.  Running around in anti-war mode should have its limits, and this seems to be a pretty good way of handling them.

Why reforging removal is a mistake

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/11551045075

There are many versions of this thread out on the Battle.net forums, but this was one of the longest running sitting presently at three pages.  Generally speaking I think a lot of these devolve into flames and get deleted before becoming truly “epic” threads.  To summarize the original posters point…  the believes that reforging was put in place to balance the classes and break the tyranny of having over powered classes.  This opinion to me only seems to reinforce why reforging needs to go to be honest.  I watched the blizzcon coverage the year they announced Reforging, and it was generally sold to the player base as a way of having MORE choice not having less.  The problem is, like everything we the players have ruined it.  I truly believe the intent, just like the intent of the current talent situation… was to allow us to have a bit more flavor in our characters.  So that we could put our own spin on on the current spec and tweak the gear to perform the way we wanted it to perform.

The reality however is that we have systemized this and anyone who does not use Ask Mr Robot to reforge their gear to an “optimal” state is immediately “ doing it wrong”.  Essentially… this is why we can’t have nice things.  I personally ignore Mr Robot in favor of my own flavor on my spec, but I am sure I am a horrible person for doing this.  Essentially just like the way the previous talent system was… we have an “illusion of choice” in that everyone is expected to change their gear stats towards the same ultimate ideal scenario.  If this is a thing that every single player is doing, it means to me that the design of the system was inherently flawed in the first place.  I applaud Blizzard for taking chances on building new systems, and I also applaud them for reversing that decision when it looks like it simply is another “non choice”.

If you have not gotten the impression already, I applaud them for deciding to remove reforging.  While it was a really cool idea, it never quite worked out as well as I would have personally liked.  The way it worked always seemed extremely limiting.  I think we all envisioned a system where we could throw away useless stats from our gear in favor of the one that we really wanted in the first place.  However the reality was dictated by some pretty rigid rules and only actually allowed us to change the secondary and tertiary stats, instead of getting more of the thing we generally want… our primary class stat.  Additionally there is the issue of… if you are constantly reforging away a specific stat then the gear is simply itemized poorly.

Again I feel like this is another case where World of Warcraft can take a queue from Rift.  Generally speaking the stats that I find myself personally reforging away are hit and expertise.  This is because these stats can appear on every single piece of gear…  however they are only useful in limited quantities until you hit the soft cap for every class.  As a result you are lining up to remove them once you reach the higher tiers of raiding.  How Rift has “fixed” this problem is certain stats only appear on certain pieces of gear.  So you have a limited number of ways to gain that stat, so each and every piece them becomes important.  Granted the hit/expertise issue is no longer going to be an issue at all… since they decided to simply remove the stat entirely.

Ultimately those are two completely different game design approaches.  In the case of Rift they decided to make it work, by rationing the stats that players didn’t need as often.  In the case of wow they kind just applied a general mallet to the approach and are now designing around the need for those stats in the first place.  Both are completely valid approaches, and as always Blizzard seems to line up on the side of simplification rather than intricacy.  If Blizzard were a toy it would likely be something made by Fischer Price and not some intricate model kit imported from Japan.  There are places for both kinds of games and ultimately why I play more than just WoW.  Currently it seems like the decisions they are making for Warlords of Draenor are really good ones, given the present state of the game….  however I am sure 2 years from launch we will be applauding them for undoing various things they did.  World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving game, and I think as a whole this is a really good thing.

More Fodder Next Week

Mostly I am curious if this concept worked for you and if you actually enjoyed it?  I am still evolving in my head what I want this to be.  Generally speaking when I blog, I respond based on what I have heard said in the blogosphere without really going back to the original forum source… if a forum did in fact spawn the discussion.  With this I am trying to essentially write what I would have written as a forum response… but instead in very long form blog format.  Let me know if this works, or if it doesn’t how you would like to see it changed.   Also remember tomorrow begins another experiment of mine…  Factoid February.  I still am not 100% certain what I will write… but I expect to devote one section a day to whatever the current “Fact” is.

Free To Play Budget

The Arrival

Well yesterday was the day that The Elder Scrolls online officially announced its pricing and opened up the preorders.  This honestly has been a day I have waiting for anxiously for some time.  I realize that lately there has been a lot of hostility towards the Elder Scrolls because it is trying to be a traditional subscription model game in a market gone completely gaga over the “free” in free to play.  I personally do not mind paying for a box and then later paying a subscription fee for a game, especially not this one.  Unfortunately my NDA is firmly in place so there is not a whole lot more I can say about the reasons why I am so into this game.  I am anxious for it to fall so I can properly gush over it.  Honestly at this point I am shocked that it is still in place, considering the April launch date.  Hopefully the coming weeks will see that change.

I love the preorder launch trailer above, because it takes place seconds after the original cinematic launch trailer.  Whereas the first trailer focused on the player versus player conflicts being set up in the world, this one is more focused on the other conflict.  You know the one where a giant Daedric Prince is trying to take over Tamriel.  Since I am not PVP centric, this is the conflict I am most interested in and the cinematic like always does not miss a detail of showing this tension.  If you have not already seen the original cinematic… you should really watch it first to get the full effect.  I would love to see them release one that edits the two together into one seamless sequence.

The Pricing

ESO_ImperialEdition The above image is the shot across the bow that started the madness.  It seems that ahead of time Amazon staged the image and it got leaked.  From that point it was off to the races with speculation and complaint about the benefits or lack thereof.  Honestly when I look for a Collector’s Edition all I care about is access to in-game goodies, a soundtrack and the traditional head start weekend.  As far as in game stuff, I generally expect some form of an in game boost item that becomes meaningless by about level 10, and some sort of an in-game mount…  since having a mount becomes so insanely important in these games.  So by those criteria this CE is lacking the soundtrack, but instead making up with an additional playable race… The Imperial.  More than likely Belghast will be an Imperial, because that is fitting his character.

The real benefit however is not even mentioned here in the image that started it all.  Apparently if you preorder before launch you get an additional set of bonuses called the “Explorers Pack”, that will allow you to create a character of any race in any faction.  That right there is pretty huge.  Imagine if you could have an Alliance Tauren, or a Horde Dwarf?  I would have totally done that many times in my time playing various faction centric games.  So far only Rift has really allowed me to create faction bending characters, and even then it is only through the use of race swaps.  You also get an additional pet, but next to the rest of that pack it seems meaningless.  All of this comes for the relatively reasonable prices of $50 for digital, $60 for physical, $70 for digital CE, and $100 for physical CE with the statue and book and all the miscellany that you see above.

Yesterday we were absolutely shocked at how reasonable the box was to be truthful.  Based on recent examples a collectors edition I was honestly expecting this to be another one of those $150 Star Wars: The Old Republic style boxed sets.  So while I find it pretty reasonable… there are a lot of folks who are chafing under the pricing.  To be truthful were I outside of the United States I would too.  For starters it seems like Zenimax simply changed the currency symbol rather than setting a realistic price point.  That means for all my British friends, these prices end up being $80, $96, $112, and $160 respectively.  Eighty bucks is a bit too much to ask someone to pay for a brand new non-super happy magical edition of a game.  Granted by the time I post this, those prices will likely change as I just did them based on a quick google of converting dollars to pounds…  but still they are more than a little out of whack.  The end result is a lot of my euro friends simply saying “nope”, and quite honestly if I had to pay those prices… even as much as I love the game I might also be in that boat.

Free to Play Budget

ESO_Aldcroft  Remember the other day me talking about how our perspective matters.  This is yet another case of this happening.  Had the free to play explosion not degraded what we are willing to pay for an MMO… then this is another launch that would have gone off without a question as to the price to value.  At this point however so many MMOs are either outright free, or some sort of a “buy the box” model.  Elder Scrolls Online, Wildstar and World of Warcraft remain the last bastions of the “pay for the software and pay for the game” era.  So we can quickly rush to bashing them for this decision… but the problem is they were built for a era that may or may not be over.  These games were started in a time when the reality was that players would happily plunk down their $60 for the client software and just as happily plunk down $15 a month for the maintenance fee.  I mean this model works in the IT world, since damned near every big money software package comes chained to a maintenance agreement.

What has changed is that players now have an option.  Similar to the open source movement, folks can now say “Nope” and opt to avoid playing the new and shiny games and instead retrench in games like Rift that have a much lower barrier of entry.  As much as I want to play Elder Scrolls, I can’t necessarily say that they are wrong.  I am pretty intimately connected to the success of this title, so I was going to play it long before they announced the pricing.  I knew from the moment it was announced that I would be leading a branch of House Stalwart in this game, and having a lot of fun along the way.  For me buying Elder Scrolls Online was a foregone conclusion, but I can completely see especially with the really poor currency conversion skills… why folks would opt not to buy into this franchise.  Granted this games success really doesn’t lay within the MMO community…  frankly I don’t think they “need” us.  This game will be a test of whether or not the console player has an appetite for a large scale multiplayer version of a game they have bought tens of millions of copies already.

Sneaky McSneakybits

Persistent Stuff

Trove 2014-01-29 06-10-34-60 It has been quite a while since I last talked about Trove on my blog.  For a bit I had been recording regular segments of me exploring the world, then after roughly six of them I just stopped.  Namely this coincides with me getting super into World of Warcraft raiding for a bit.  I however have continued to explore the game each time they add a new build.  At this point it is hard to remember exactly what the state of the game was when I last talked about it.  Currently we have fully persistent cornerstones, and you can see mine on the right-hand side of the image above.  It is still very much a work in progress, but essentially I was trying to maximize the space available and still look like something I could pick out at a distance as “mine”.

Currently there are four levels above ground and two below ground, the first of which below has my workbench and block transmuter thingy.  One of the cool things that they added in within the last few patches is the ability for your crafting inventory to survive between server resets.  This means I finally have a real reason to mass harvest materials for use later, since I am not constantly losing everything each time a patch goes in.  My biggest wish however is that we could craft some weapons to replace the starter crap.  Each time the server resets I rush around trying to get decent enough weapons to leave the first tier zones.  In this present patch it feels like maybe they nerfed the drop rates a bit, as I slaughter a few dozen ladybugs and bees this morning and have gotten nothing at all but cubits… the crafting currency.

Another cool thing they are doing is replacing the in game weapon drops with ones created by players.  When you get an item, it now says who the weapon was created by.  It was pretty cool the other night when I got a nifty rapier drop and noticed it was created by a friend of mine CaptainCursor.  Since the community is relatively small at present, this adds a whole new level to the game since you are constantly running into things created by names you recognize.  You can check out the latest patch notes over on the Trove reddit.

Sneaky McSneakybits

rift 2014-01-29 06-31-43-93 Yeah I have no clue why I named this subsection and the blog post this…  brain does things sometimes.  Last night my most important mission was to finish leveling my rogue to 60, and consume all of the various loot boxes I had gathered up along the way.  At some point they made it so that you are guaranteed a lockbox of some sort from your weekly patron gift.  Since my warrior Belghast is already fairly well geared, or at least well enough to begin raiding…  I figured I would stockpile them to give my rogue a quick gear boost upon dinging.  Turns out it worked pretty well at doing just that.  Between the lockboxes and about 50 plat in select purchases I was able to get well past the 300 hit requirement for expert dungeons.  I did not however get to run one as we spent a good chunk of the evening out and about last night.

In theory the queue should go pretty fast since I am equally comfortable Barding it up as support or going dps as either my Marksman spec or my Nightblade primary dps one.  Going back and playing rift has made me realize just how much I love the Rift Rogue and truly dislike playing a WoW Rogue.  While I got Gloam to 90, and I am extremely happy I did so that I could do the living steel transmutes I needed to craft my Sky Golem…  I really don’t think he is going to get much play.  Quite simply put…  Belgarou my feral druid is a better rogue than my rogue is…  or is at least a more interesting one.   I have just come to realize I don’t really like the way rogues in wow play.  Not sure what it is about the play style but it just isn’t for me anymore, especially now that I feel other classes like Retribution Paladin do the rogue combo point thing better.

Ultimately my key frustration with WoW rogues is that combo points are built in the target instead of a buff that stacks on the rogue itself.  Warhammer Online got this right initially with the Witchhunter class, which was by all purposes a “better” rogue.  I realize at this point the combo points on target thing is tradition, but it simply does not work that well.  While saying the Rift rogue is better, is a bit disingenuous since it is essentially a wow rogue, hunter, druid, and a few other classes that don’t exist in wow rolled into one.  I think the main reason why it “works” better is that the combo point mechanism is on the rogue, not the mob.  This adds a bunch of interesting gameplay elements like building your combo points on the boss, and then using your combo dump to execute weaker encounters.  It is just at this point that the WoW rogue seems so much less interesting than the other “Rogue like” combo point classes.

Onyxia Mount Patrol

Wow-64 2014-01-29 06-49-55-23 After the time in Trove and Rift, I settled in for a little bit of Tuesday raid reset madness over in World of Warcraft.  For better or worse, there are several raids that I solo each week on multiple characters for an attempt at the various pets, tansmoggy bits, and every elusive mounts.  The start of each week tends to be me making the trek out to Dustwallow Marsh to beat up on Onyxia.  First off I have to bitch a little bit, because post Cataclysm they have made it a royal pain in the ass to get to Onyxia for Alliance players.  The fastest route I have figured out is fly straight south out of Stormwind, hop the boat at Booty Bay, and then fly to Dustwallow from there.  All of that involves flying across several zones and hoping that you happen to arrive at Booty Bay just in time to land on the boat.

Of course like normal she didn’t drop me a mount, or anything else of interest for that matter but at this point I can easily solo her as Retribution Paladin and Frost Deathknight, so I do this little interchange twice a week.  I need to cycle through some of my other characters and see if I can build a spec for them that can bring her out of the air in phase two.  I might be able to gather up enough timeless isle gear to make a passable Boomkin spec on my druid, and I think in theory I could probably do it on as Enhancement Shaman.  I do not think however that my Rogue or Warrior will be of much use in my quest for her mount.  I need to check with my friend Rylacus and see if he has any master tips for dropping her out of the air.  The one time I tried to do the fight as a Blood DK it literally took 30 minutes for my diseases/icy touch/deathcoil to do enough damage to get her back on the ground.

The highlight of the evening in WoW however was me flying over to Ahn’Qiraj on a whim.  Turns out that I now have enough physical damage to solo the Twin Emperors fight.  This had long been a stumbling block for me when it came to soloing AQ40.  The other big hurdle was viscidious, however since I dual wield frost… I simply switched my razorice enchanted one-hander to my main hand and that seemed to do the trick for shattering him.  Past that howling blast was more than enough frost damage to freeze the big blob.  I am still missing two pets from this place, so I can see adding it to the weekly faff farming rotation.  I did not really have time to do my BWL run on my paladin, I am still missing a few pieces of judgement… so I am sure over the next few days I will be getting that in.  Since the eggs are a pain in the ass on anyone other than my Deathknight, I generally grab a random person from the guild who needs transmoggy bits before venturing into the dungeon.  My hope is to find a time when Scarybooster can be online, and drag his butt through with them.

Kickstarting Regrets

Patron Buffs

rift 2014-01-28 06-04-39-64 Last night I just was not feeling the raid thing.  Monday nights are traditionally the open flex night in House Stalwart, but that night has always been an optional evening since it is not really attached to any specific raid group.  As such I decided to mill around over in Rift and work on my rogue.  Earlier in the day I had complained about how slow the 56-60 game was.  To be truthful Storm Legion as a whole is much more sluggish and prodding than the old world content, and by the time you reach 56 it slows down again.  Thankfully @gamer_lady came to the rescue by reminding me that there are patron buffs.

I think I began the night around halfway into 58 and wound up ending the night 15% away from 60.  The buffs make a massive difference in the speed at which you level, especially with quest turn-ins.  I hit a sequence in Argent Domain with tons of quest turn-ins and saw my xp just skyrocket.  Tonight if I get back into Rift I will likely finish off the push to 60, and hopefully be able to open all the various lockboxes I have saved up for his ding.  Additionally I am pretty close to finishing off runecrafting, so here is hoping the greens I currently have in my bags are enough to carry me over that finish line.  I think runecrafting was the last of the trade skills that I had no maxed out, or at least I vaguely remember finishing off artificer the last time I played seriously.

Kickstarting Regrets

pantheon-cqa-epl-116 The theme that I keep seeing repeated out on kickstarter is that designers are using it as a way to work through their past regrets.  Each time a game fails to grab market share there are a myriad of reasons why it happens.  However in the case of recent kickstarter campaigns it feels like each designer has their own internal reason why they feel a project failed.  In the case of Camelot Unchained, it seems like Mark Jacobs feels that Warhammer online failed because it simply was not pvp enough.  So as a result Unchained is being designed to be this love letter to PVP in all its glory.  I am sure there is a niche that wants to do nothing but pvp, but in my experience the only aspect of Warhammer I really liked at all…. was the PVE content.  So I wish Jacobs luck on his journey because he is building a game I simply am not interested in.

Similarly in the past weeks Brad McQuaid started his kickstarter for Pantheon: The Fallen.  The pitch so far seems eerily familiar to the one I can remember hearing for Vanguard.  Hardcore game with mandatory group centric game play, and some really complex systems to add depth to the world.  It seems like McQuaid’s regret is that Vanguard was not hardcore enough, and definitely in the post Sigil games era it became much more casual and solo friendly.  The thing is… the Vanguard he proposed really failed to get serious market approval, and SOE watered it down to try and find a market for it.  I realize this might be “too soon” since SOE just announced they were cutting Vanguard from their lineup… and honestly that depresses me quite a bit…  but it is very obvious that McQuaid has a very different reason in his head for why that game didn’t meet expectations.

Wish Them Well

camelotunchained This is not to say that I don’t think both Pantheon and Camelot Unchained will not be modest successes.  In both cases they are feeding to a relatively underserved sub-demographic of gamers.  The problem is… that really is a niche within a niche within a niche and I feel has some pretty slim market potential.  As romantic as I feel the vision of Pantheon is, I know personally I simply cannot play that sort of a game.  I need a game where I can find a group quickly and one that I can also have meaningful solo game play and progression.  Gone are the days when I could sit for five hours in the plane of hate camping an epic mob with friends. 

My blocks of time are more in half hours and hours at a time these days, and at any given time I might need to be pulled away from the screen.  As a result I have to play games that do not penalize me for this.  So while I am nostalgic for the days of sitting outside Karnor’s Castle and forming groups…  I also remember the hours upon hours I sat around doing absolutely nothing because I did not have said group.  Granted this is me projecting a lot of my own thoughts on these games, and very little information is really available about them.  However the pitch just does not sound like something I can really participate in. 

Ultimately I hope all of these new MMOs succeed, and even though games like Wildstar are strictly in the “not for me” column…  we need more MMO success than failure if we hope to keep our favorite genre alive.  Additionally there needs to be a great adjustment for what exactly “success” means.  If 100,000 players keeps the game running and turns a minor profit… then man that sounds like success to me.  World of Warcraft skewed our reality, and just with my opinions of the community… it is time for a reset.  No game has been as successful as WoW has been, so it is clearly an outlier and not the mold by which all games need to measure up.  Until that sort of baseline adjustment happens… all new games will end up being judged as failures.