Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Liebster Award (continued)

First I wanted to mention that the Newbie Blogger Initiative for 2014 is scheduled to begin on May 1st, but you can already get started either helping out or preparing for writing a new blog!
In my last post I recognized Yanet and Neri for kindly recognizing me with a Liebster award.  Now for your questions, finally (the first question is pretty much the same, so I only answered it once):
Neri's questions:
  1. What inspired you to start blogging? / What made you decide to start blogging?
    • Eloise (aka Ysharra) was a member of the only guild I have ever been in and at some point she posted on the guild forums about her no longer active blog.  I very much enjoyed reading it and it lead me to Syp's blog (this was about the time the Warhammer went live) and that led me to many other blogs.  At some point later, I decided I still wanted to play MMOs but didn't know how best to balance it with my family time and I thought writing a blog would help me do that and that there were probably others in a similar situation.  At the time I was thinking this, Syp announced the "Newbie Blogger Initiative" and I went ahead and made the commitment to write knowing it would only be about once a week.
  2. If you won a free ticket to Blizzcon, what panels would you be most excited about seeing?
    • I would be more interested in meeting some of the people who's blogs I read in person, but the 'What's next' panel would be exciting (though I guess there won't be one this year).
  3. How do you balance time in-game with your ‘RL’ commitments?
    • As mentioned above, the first way I do it is to write this blog!  More generally, I don't over-commit to participate in raids and I generally at most plan to have "One Night a Week" where I spend a significant amount playing.  I also bought a gaming laptop when my previous desktop stopped working and that has made it a lot easier to play while still being able to pay attention to my three daughters.
  4. If World of Warcraft shut down its servers tomorrow (Or you aren’t currently playing), what would you be playing instead?
    • I would probably wait for Wildstar to come out and then give that a try.
  5. Are there any bloggers out there who you aspire to be like? What is it about them that you love?
    • Ocho and Stubborn are probably the two I admire closest to my style, and I always find them thought provoking.  Syp and Godmother are both so conversational and entertaining in their posts that I am always glad when they come up on my feed.  Finally, I also look forward to Belghast's daily posts and admire his ability to write something I want to read every day.
  6. Are you brave enough to show us your gaming set up?
    • I technically have a set up in my 'computer room' but I haven't played in their in months.  Here is my current setup (I tried to take a picture, but since it is only a laptop, I thought I'd just use a commercial picture).
  7. At what age would you let your children (Real or hypothetical) start playing video games?
    • I have three children and I've let them play on tablets when they showed an interest.  I think you need to be careful about what children play and how much time they spend playing on electronics, but I don't think there is a starting age.
  8. You have a weekend of interruption free gaming ahead of you. What essential supplies do you stock up on to get you through it?
    • That is beyond my imagination right now!  I have starting using Clif and Kind bars as less sugary not messy snacks for work, so I'd like them for a gaming weekend as well.  By power of suggestion, I'm going to have one now!
  9. If you could pick any job in the gaming industry, what would it be?
    • I have been a programmer and designer of business software as my job, so I have periodically imagined myself doing that.  I am glad my current position is much less stressful that it is to be a game programmer or designer.
  10. Have you ever done any gaming cosplay?
    • No and I can't imagine myself doing it!  However, I do have a great amount of respect for the amazing cosplays I have seen.
  11. What is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen done in an MMO or multi-player game?
    • Our guild had a level 1 gnome rogue raid on Orgrimmar where we all danced on the bank roof until we were killed and then resurrected ourselves a few times.  It was a lot of fun.
Yanet's questions:

2. What advice do you have for those wanting to start a WoW/gaming blog?

  • Read other blogs, they are the best inspiration for writing.  Then write what interests you, not what you think others want to read.
3. What's the biggest noob mistake you recall making when you first started playing WoW?

  • I started playing in the beta almost 10 years ago so it's difficult to remember though I'm sure I made many.  I mostly played solo and I know when I tried to participate in dungeons with my guildmates at first I couldn't control my pet.

4. Besides WoW, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?

  • I enjoy walking my dogs and spending time enjoying books and other things with my three daughters.  When we get a chance, an evening dinner alone with my wife is a great treat these days.
5. What's your biggest pet peeve in and out of game?

  • People who think they know better and can tell others how to play/live.
6. How many years have you been playing MMOs and have you ever quit and why?

  • It is almost 10 years now with the WoW beta.  I have taken three breaks when either I thought I was spending too much time playing and/or that I wasn't playing enough to be worth the cost.
7. If you could meet any fictional game character who would it be and why?

  • Chromie has such a great personality that I think she'd be a lot of fun.
8. How do you go about picking your character's names?

  • Before I started playing MMOs, I came up with the idea of taking the unique consonants from my first and last name (KNTHR) and then adding vowels to form a character name.  I dropped the H because I thought the names were better without it and I've stuck with the games I have played since.
9. Of all your characters, who's your favorite and why?

  • My first WoW character, 'Kanter', a dwarf hunter, I imagined during the beta and came up with the professions based on what I thought his personality would be like.  I wanted to be able to have animals who would fight with me and once I adopted my bear whom I named 'Iorek' (bonus points for those who get the reference), I was even more sold on his character.
10. If you could pick one thing for Blizzard to bring back to the game, what would it be and why?

  • Nothing is jumping out at me, but I do miss the non-raiding events we used to do as a guild.  I'm not sure how Blizzard could encourage it, but I wish they would.
11. What's the one thing you wish Blizzard would implement in the game that isn't available yet and why?

  • World of Warcraft really needs housing.  I'm not sure if Garrisons will fill that nitch completely, but I am really looking forward to seeing how they are implemented.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Liebster Award and the 2012 Newbie Blogger Initiative

Back in May, 2012 Syp started the Newbie Blogger Initiative and in May 2012 Wilhelm posted a summary of who was still around.  At that point there were 30 blogs out of 110.  I just checked those links and almost a year later, it looks like 18 of us are still around (have posted in the last 2 months).  So first, congratulations to all of you!
  1. Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien
  2. Ald Shot First
  3. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  4. Casual Aggro *
  5. Conveniently Placed Exhaust Port
  6. Elfkina vežička (Slovakian)
  7. Mighty Viking Hamster
  8. MMO Juggler
  9. Ravalation *
  10. stnylan’s musings
  11. That Was An Accident! *
  12. Vagabond Goes for a Walk
  13. Warlockery
  14. Warp to Zero
  15. White Charr
  16. Why I Game
  17. Wynniekin’s Adventures
In honor of your survival, I have added most of you to my feed and blog roll.  

Also,Yanet and Neri were kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award.  I was unfamiliar with it until it started circling around my blogging community about a month ago.  There seems to be some variations, but generally how it works is that you answer the 11 questions that were asked of you, you nominate 11 blogs that you believe should have more visibility and you ask them 11 questions.  I'm going to answer my questions in a subsequent post.

In recognition of posting for almost 2 years, I nominate these 17 blogs for the Liebster award (yes, I'm bending the rules).  Below are your 11 questions:

1.  What blog made you want to start blogging?
2.  How did the Newbie Blogger Initiative help?
3.  Did you find times where you stopped posting and what encouraged you to continue?
4.  Do you use other tools like Twitter or Facebook or Google+ to encourage the feeling that you are in a community?  If so, what is most effective for you?
5.  What blogger encourages you to post the most?
6.  What kind of game would you like to see made?
7.  What, if anything, do you do to help balance the time you spend online and/or playing games with outside demands?
8.  Why do you play computer games?
9.  Did you ever consider working in the computer game industry?  If so, it what role do you think you would enjoy the most?
10.  What is your Bartle Gamer Type?
11.  If you could take a trip anywhere, real or fantasy, where would you like to go?

I'll be interested see if my nominees see my post.  Please leave a comment or let me know some other way if you do.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So Many New Games to Say No to

There are a lot of games coming out soon that, in theory, should interest me.  I may post more about individual games later, but it really should be an embarrassment of riches.

Diablo III Reaper of Souls - March 25,2014

Not an MMO, but certainly of interest to me.  I played a lot of Diablo and bought both Diablo II and the expansion almost as soon as they came out.  However, this goes into the 'not safe to have a 4 year child looking over my shoulder' category and with my limited time, I'd rather play something where I don't have that concern.  (And no, I haven't bought the original game)

Elder Scrolls Online - April 4, 2014

I have both Morrowind and Oblivion but have only played them briefly.  Arena and Daggerfall both came out when I was still playing RPGs a lot.  Skyrim has received great reviews and I've considered getting it a couple of times.  However, somehow none of these games including ESO are really of interest to me.

Wildstar - June 3, 2014

I like the style of this game (more stylized, doesn't take itself too seriously) and I really like that they are explicitly trying to adapt to different styles of play with the Paths (as an aside, I recommend subscribing to Richard Bartle's blog).  Of all the games on the list, this is probably the one that interests me most, but I still think it is doubtful that I will ever play it.

Everquest Next Landmark - 2014 (?) but Alpha available now

Seems more like a toy than a game to me and therefore holds little interest to me.  I also don't like the idea of paying to alpha test a free to play game, but I can't blame SOE for doing it.

Shroud of the Avatar - Q4, 2014

I may have spent more time playing Ultima VI and VII than any other RPGs.  I lived in Austin, Texas longer than any place else (19 years?).  I think Richard Garriott does have some good ideas and I did watch the reveal video the day it came out.  I am glad it is in development and I hope it is successful but I just can't get excited about this game.

Star Citizen - Early 2015

I loved the first two Wing Commander designed by Chris Roberts and space combat MMOs are very rare (Eve Online is the only successful one that I'm aware of and I'm much more interested in the style of gameplay being offered by Star Citizen).  Even more than Shroud of the Avatar, I hope this game is successful (and not just at raising money).  I can imagine myself getting this game after it comes out, but not on the first day and certainly not as a pre-order.

Any prominent MMOs expected to be available in the next 12 months or so that I've missed?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It's a game, it should be fun

Kantra on her Jade Panther
I mentioned my plans to try to get the Mekgineer's Chopper on my Engineer, Kantrina, by grinding rep at the Argent Tournament.  I did this for a few days and stopped.  On reflection, it just isn't fun and so I'm not going to do it any more.

I have quite a bit of tolerance for daily quests.  Kanter is even exalted with all four of the original alliance factions because he kept doing the Tournament quests.  I happily farm on three characters every day.  However, what was fun several years ago isn't fun now.  World of Warcraft is a game and it shouldn't be about grinding or doing it right, it should be about having fun.

I am still enjoying Archaeology.  Just yesterday in my pursuit of the Vial of the Sands, I completed the Crawling Claw.  It happened to my 100th unique pet so I also got Nuts as a bonus.  I had thought that I was getting close to 100 pets and 100 mounts, but it is much nicer to just run across them as I am doing other things.

That was my intention with the Chopper.  As I was leveling, I was going to pick up the recipe, not realizing it was behind a reputation wall.  I will continue to level Kantrina and pick up the Engineering recipes as they come.  Maybe someday I'll go back and run some Wrath Heroic dungeons at level 90 solo to get the reputation needed for the recipe, but only if I enjoy it.  If not, there are other things to do and other games to play.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Professional grinds

Kantrina visits Behsten to stop experience (briefly)
I still have no desire to participate in LFR so I am continuing to work on professions.  Kanter is excavating 2-4 Pandarian Archaeology sites so that he can eventually get his Vial of the Sands from converting Pandarian finds to Tol'vir ones.  He has searched four Canopic jars so far without finding the recipe.  I believe it is about a 10% chance, so if he gets to 10 without finding it, I'll be disappointed.  I had also been doing the Lorewalker dailies at the same time, but I realized that the one that uses 20 mogul shards was slowing progress, so now I'm only doing the one to that provides valor when you complete an artifact.

Since Kantro is safely harvesting ore on his farm that gives me time to work on something else.  I enjoyed getting Jeeves, so I thought I'd start working on more of the Engineering toys.  The Mekgineer's Chopper was my first goal since I knew the recipe was in Icecrown.  Kantrina, my mage Engineer, was already at level 77 and I happily and quickly leveled her to 80 in Storm Peaks.  I made what I thought would be a quick trip to Howling Fjord to pick up the recipe but she couldn't buy it.  It turns out that it requires Exalted status with the Alliance Vanguard.

My first thought was to try to get it by doing 5-man groups with my reputation going to Aliance Vanguard.  I tried to get both regular and heroic groups, but since people are generally switching to Cataclysm 5-mans at 80, only the regular groups would ever form and the experience from them was small.  I visited Behsten (see picture above) to stop my experience just before I hit 81 so I could continue to do the normal 5-mans, but I eventually decided it wasn't worth it.  He is more difficult to find than I expected.  He is described as being in the 'War room' but the room isn't labeled (it is the room to the King's left in Stormwind castle).  He is stealthed at a table in the back to the left as you enter the room.

Reading up on the reputation, it looks like the quests are spread in different areas, so it didn't really make sense to do a bunch of old quests I've already out leveled.  I saw two suggestions, either three dailies spread around Icecrown or the Argent tournament dailies.  I am already exalted with the Silver Covenant on Kanter so I don't have a lot to gain with having another character, but at least I thought I could build up some tokens for pets and mounts that I don't have.

So this is my grind now.  It seems I spend most of the time on the farm.  Kantra is farming cloth and doing the two cloth dailies. Kanter and Kantro are farming ore and Kanter is using the trillium to produce the daily Living Steel.  I have a lot of ghost iron so I was able to build the Jade Panther on Kantra.  The Jeweled Onyx Panther that requires building the other three panthers is so expensive, I'm not sure it is worth doing but if I earn enough gold, I might.  I will see if I can stick with the Argent Tournament grind on Kantrina or if I'll have to move on to something else.  In worst case, I could come back at 90 and solo the heroics, but that doesn't sound like much fun either.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Warcraft, Wolfhead and What should an MMO be

I started reading Wolfhead after he had already stopped posting as much as he used to, but, even though I don't often agree with him, I always find his posts thoughtful.  He wrote a late response to Blizzcon in December and this is my delayed response to that post.

I played Ultima VI and VII in the early 90s and remember some fascination with the idea of an Ultima world where multiple people could play together when Ultima Online came out in 1997.  I also remember reading about EverQuest in Computer Gaming World when it came out in 1999.  However, I never seriously considered playing either game.  It seemed like a fascinating experiment, but it didn't seem that much like a game.  It reminds me of my wife's response to the first SimCity.

However, when I read about World of Warcraft (WoW) in 2004, it seemed like something different.  I had played Diablo I and II (and Lost Vikings) but the Warcraft games weren't of much interest to me since I never enjoyed real-time strategy games.  I had played many role playing games besides the Ultima games and if I had to pick my favorite genre, it probably would have been RPGs.

World of Warcraft was something that, unlike Ultima Online and Everquest looked more like a traditional RPG.  I was used to the pattern that I guess was originally established in Dungeons and Dragons where there was a plot one followed, minor battles and new places to explore interspersed with large battles.  I played the beta, found a guild and started playing on the release date and have played with some breaks ever since.

I believe Wolfhead wants something much more like the Ultima Online or Everquest experience where there is a world to play and explore in, but most of the content is driven by the players, not by a plot dictated by the designers.  He is correct in saying that this is more easily sustainable than the plot driven model of WoW.  However, I believe he makes the mistake in thinking most MMO players want the same thing he does.

To me, much of it is a matter of convenience and time.   I don't have the time or inclination to generate our own content or depend on the content that others have created.  I want to be able to follow the breadcrumbs and make progress on our own or join with our friends when it is convenient.  At one point, when you finished the breadcrumbs, about the only options were new characters, raiding, or pvp.  Pet battles have provided a new way to spend time (and help level a character if that's what you want to do).  I am enjoying Archaeology and Engineering as ways to build or gather toys, pets and mounts.

I believe there is a significant market for the kind of game that Wolfhead and many others want, a game that allows for real exploration and the sense that you are living in a dynamic world that you can influence.  I hope many games of this type get created.  However, my belief is that these will always be a relatively small market compared to what a more structured game like World of Warcraft.

Maybe I'm wrong.  The 33 million Minecraft users is many more than the 12 million maximum that World of Warcraft had.  Maybe there is a giant market for a sandbox game that some team will find the right formula.  Maybe there is a third way that some team will find in the future.  Maybe MMOs will all but go extinct like other genres.  I don't think either of those things will happen anytime soon.  Wolfhead keeps focusing in his post on the millions of users lost by World of Warcraft.  The other way to look at is that 7 million users in still many times more than any other subscription MMO and that having that many users for a 9 year old game is quite remarkable.

I believe we can learn more from people with different opinions if we allow ourselves to be open to our differences.  I also believe that World of Warcraft will thrive for many more years.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Uldum

Kanter finally has a camel

When I was playing Cataclysm, I spent a lot of time farming herbs in Uldum and would do the daily mallet quest because it was fun and thinking I'd eventually get to Exalted with Ramkahan.  I made it to revered and figured I'd eventually make it to Exalted by finishing the regular quests there.  I finally got back to working on it this month, with the Vial of the Sands still being my final goal, but I thought I would advance Archaeology and my Ramkahan reputation at the same time.  I found three jars, but still no vial, but I have now completed all quests in Uldum and have my exalted reputation along with my two camels.

Accomplishing multiple things at the same time is quite satisfying.  I spent a lot of time rather mindlessly visiting sites in Kalimdor hoping that a Tol'vir site would spawn, but that meant I collected most of the Troll, Fossil, and Night Elf rare items including a wolf helmet that sort of matches my Pauldrons of Primal Fury that I've loved since I got them while Zol'Aman was still current.  One of the fun things about being a casual player is that it was a happy surprise along with the many toys I collected.  When I did get Tol'vir archaeology fragments, I would finish quests in the area I hadn't done and collect herbs and Volatile Life.

Once I finished all the quests in Uldum I was quite short of exalted with Ramkahan, and I noticed there were quests in Lost City of the Tol'vir that would get me reputation so I got out my Ramkahan tabard that had sat in my bank and decided to try to solo it heroic so I would get the heroic reputation bonus as well.  All went pretty well until I ran into High Prophet Barim and his birds.  There might have been more I could have done, but it seemed to take too long for me to kill the birds and I would die before the prophet was dead.  Fortunately one of my guildmates was willing to help me with the last two bosses, so I was able to get the achievements and the reputation.  However, I knew there must be an easier way to get the reputation I wanted.

The internet being an introverts best friend, I looked and found that Halls of Origination gave Ramkahan reputation at normal and, after my experience with the stupid birds in Lost City, I was happy to be able to gain reputation in an easier fashion.  Halls of Origination was pretty simple in normal mode, though having to run down to push the levers on Temple Guardian Anhuur was annoying.  

After a few dailies and a few visits to the Halls, I was able to happily hop on my camel as seen above.  Of course, I still don't have my Vial, but at this point since I have most of the Kalimdor rares archaeology items, I will start performing archaeology in Pandarea and turning in Restored Artifacts for Tol'vir fragments.  I'm not sure if I'll work on that first, or try to get my warrior, Kantro, to 90 so he can fly, have an easier time gathering ore, and have more than 4 plots on his farm.

I still have many things I want to do and that doesn't include running Looking for Raid.  This is in contrast to Wolfhead's latest anti-Wow post, but my reaction will need to wait for another post.