Monday, May 2, 2016

A Month in an MMO Life: April 2016

Baldur's gate box
Not an MMO, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3442785
I went from 'A Week in an MMO Life' to a 'Month' since I haven't been playing or posting much.  However, I did some gaming over the last month and I'll count this as my April post even though it is posted in early May.

I recently bought two copies of Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition on a Steam sale for my daughter and I to play together.  I remember buying it as soon as it came out in 1998 (I believe it was December).  I'm pretty sure it was the first computer video game I played with another person over the internet.  I don't even remember who it was, but at that time I believe I was still active on CompuServe and it was likely someone else who posted there.  We didn't get very far together and I also didn't get very far by myself.  

One of my daughters has recently showed an interest in Dungeons and Dragons, so I thought this could be fun to play together and maybe I could finally complete the game and play the sequel.  I died early on going off by myself, so we'll have to see if it gets any traction or not.

I still log into World of Warcraft most days, but haven't done much besides daily Garrison tasks, bi-weekly auction house sales and periodically making sure my in game mails don't expire.  I did level my Shaman who has been at level 19 for years to level 20 to get the achievement (and logged into Hearthstone just long enough to see the cross game bonus was there).  I also have started fishing for Felblight for upgrading my gun and joined my first Lord Kazzak kill for the Felblight from him as well.

I played some Minecraft with my daughters, but I would rather play on our Mojang server and they would rather play with mods they have discovered so it has come to something of a stand-still.

I would still like to try out Black Desert Online sometime.  What I have read about exploration and crafting makes me believe it would be something I enjoy, even if I don't play it long.  Stargrace has also made me want to try out Wurm Unlimited, though it is probably a game better suited to someone who has more playing time than I do.

The World of Warcraft Legion expansion now has a date:  August 30, 2016.  I plan to get it upon release (probably with Amazon Prime's 20% discount on new games).  That gives me four months from now to close out a few things with Warlords.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Solo Play and the Future of MMOs

Fishing is a solo activity even if Nat Pagle is with you... twice.
I haven't posted in a long time and really have made very little progress in World of Warcraft and haven't played any other MMOs in the last 6 weeks. I am continuing to do my daily Garrison activities for Kanter and bi-weekly ones for the other 4 toons with Garrisons, but I have cut down gathering because I have so many crafting resources and don't particularly want to sell them when they are so cheap now.

My gaming is moving away from MMOs, primarily due to my family.  I picked up a 3DS XL and Pokemon Y to play with my daughters.  I have been gradually catching Pokemon and advancing through the gym leaders and went ahead and got Pokemon bank so I would get the bonus Pokemon they are offering.  We also still play our Minecraft Realm periodically.

I would still like to advance my other three toons in World of Warcraft to level 100 before Legion, but I can't seem to ever focus the time.  I even have a toon sitting at level 19 that could (I believe) get the level 20 achievement in an hour or so of play but can't even be bothered to do that.  Maybe I'll go back to group play some day, particularly if I feel safe playing with my daughters and they want to.  Both of the younger ones like playing video games, but they mainly use their tablets or DSes, not the computer or video game machine.

Once that time comes I wonder what MMOs will be like.  The announcement that Daybreak games was stopping production of Everquest Next confirms what seemed to be in the cards - continuation of older games and more games with a smaller focus and ambition.  That is probably a good thing as far as I am concerned.  I will probably continue to play World of Warcraft as long as it is around and I can play for free.  I invested so much time in the game up to this point that I'll want to see what comes next.

But I also believe I will eventually find other MMOs I want to play.  I tried Lord of the Rings Online, Final Fantasy XIV and Guild Wars II (along with a few others), but none of them really worked for me.  Many people have started playing Black Desert Online and I really like the fact that you can focus on trade skills and learn new systems without the focus on combat.  I came close to buying it once, but since I'm looking at is as a solo game to play along with others, there is no rush to get involved and so I plan to wait.

Brad McQuaid just showed a demo of his new 'Everquest-like' game Pantheon.  I hope it is successful, but I don't think it's for me.  Based on my schedule, I need a game that can be played solo and in small time segments and I don't think those are his goals.  Likewise, Blade and Soul has a set of dedicated players, but action-MMORPG is also not what I'm looking for.

Hopefully smaller MMO games will continue come out with more focused goals and we can all find ones we enjoy.  I'm not sure what to do with this blog now that I am not doing much MMO playing and I don't see that changing anytime soon.  It'll be four years since my first post in May, so I'll probably think about it until then and try to come up with new goals that match what I'm playing now.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Week in an MMO Life: Slow Progress

I guess fishing isn't a bad analogy for how I have been playing MMOs
'Slow Progress' could be the title for pretty much all my 'A Week in an MMO Life' posts since I started this blog, except for the few times I haven't made any progress at all.

So I guess it's appropriate that I accomplished one of those achievements that rewards slow steady activity, Learning from the Best.  My hunter, Kanter, has been fishing since I was using it to feed my bear back when that was a requirement.  I had finished the Nat Pagle quest back in Vanilla when it was required for maximum level fishing.  I thought about getting the 'Salty' title, but collecting the coins in the Dalaran fountain were too much even for me.  When the Angler reputation appeared in Pandaria, it didn't take me long to get to Exalted, but at that point I was still a long way away from being Best Friends with Nat Pagle and I decided I would rather do other things.

However in Warlords of Draenor, I could gradually get Lunkers while catching fish that I used to sell when some of the level 100 food wasn't available on my server.  I knew I was starting to get close so it wasn't a huge surprise when it finally happened about a week ago.  Now there is decision about what to do with the coins.  I will probably get Nat's Drinking Hat which is a decent upgrade to the Weather-Beaten Fishing Hat I am currently using, though I like maximizing the number of Enormous fish I catch by using the +200 fishing lures while the hat gives you +150 fishing.

I also finished the quests in Spires of Arak with my mage so she'll eventually be able to get the Salvage yard when she gets her third small plot at level 100.  She's over half way through level 97 now, so with a few more quests she'll be able to finish her quest to level 100 in Nagrand.  The main purpose there is to upgrade Kanter's gun with her Engineering.  That would be three max level characters and I might be tempted to level my druid and warrior who already have garrisons at that point to get the Quintessential Quintet achievement and have access to max level profession characters for everything except for Inscription.

I still haven't done the raids required to finish the third chapter of the Legendary Ring Questline.  Doing LFR is really unappealing to me, but since I was able to get it done for Chapter 2, I will probably eventually do it for 3 as well.  Once my Mage, Kantrina, hits 100, it'll be time for me to evaluate how else I can avoid doing LFR, but still play WoW.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Remembering Computer Gaming World

Demo disks from CGW
One of the nice things about having a blog (or a diary), is the ability to go back and know exactly when something or someone entered or left you life.  One of the things we did over Christmas break was clean out our old CDs and floppy disks and I found the demo CDs that were included in my subscription to Computer Gaming World (CGW) from about 2002 to 2006.  In the days of very cheap old games from Good Old Games and other sites it didn't make sense to keep them, but it did make me nostalgic for the many years where I would look forward to getting a copy in the mail.

A TI 99/4a I bought in high school was my first computer and I probably got it when it first came out in 1981.  At the time, it was the first 16-bit home computer that was available and well ahead of the Commodore, Atari, and Apple computers that were it's main competitors.  Being more advanced didn't really help if people wouldn't pay for it and it was discontinued after two years.  However, for learning programming, word processing and some light gaming, it served me well until I bought my first IBM compatible computer (a 386) probably around 1989.  I was never good at picking the popular choice as I also had a Mattel Intellivision when Atari ruled the video game space.

While I was in college I had a friend from high school who had an Apple computer and I would visit his house and play computer games (mainly RPGs) with him.  I also remember visiting my brother a little later and playing Warlords and F19 Stealth Fighter with him (I'm guessing it was 1989).  Around that time I found CGW and was amazed to be able to read a magazine totally about Computer games.

I always liked statistics and I remember being fascinated by the listing of best games that they would calculate based on a mail in survey they received from their subscribers.  Later it changed to an online survey and then they dropped it all together.  I also remember the Scorpia articles where she would provide hints to questions asked by her readers, which is difficult to imagine is this again of instant internet answers.

I probably subscribe the the magazine for 16 years between 1990 and 2006 when it shut down and it existed about 9 years before I started subscribing to it.  I would sometimes look at PC Gamer (which started 12 years after CGW), but I loved CGW with its focus on technology and strategy besides the hype associated with whatever was the next big thing.  I kept all the issues for many years, reducing to one per year at some point and finally getting rid of them all a few years ago.  There used to be a CGW Museum that had many of the old issues, but it isn't currently online, so I can't look at those old issues there.

In this Internet age, with all the sources of games news online, I don't need a computer game magazine and I'm not sure how PC Gamer still exists, but, almost 10 years after it stopped existing, I still have fond memories of reading each issue cover to cover when it arrived.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Gaming 2015



Happy 2016!  Yes, I'm already 2 weeks behind, but better late than never.

I used Raptor to confirm what I played in 2015 (based on what I had recorded in January).
  • World of Warcraft - 371 hours
  • Minecraft - 27 hours
  • Don't Starve Together - 7 hours
  • Guild Wars 2 - 3 hours (14 hours recorded)
  • Games with more than 1 but less than 5 hours
    • Banished
    • Diablo III
    • Bastion
    • Civilization V

Yes, not a lot of gaming outside of World of Warcraft, but it is probably even less than it looks like.  I reduced the Guild Wars 2 time because I'm pretty sure most of that time was spent installing and upgrading the game over a couple of nights.  Some of that Minecraft time was one of my daughters playing with my her friends, but generally I think it's pretty accurate.

In World of Warcraft, I generally spent between 30 minutes and an hour most days doing my garrison tasks and the rest was primarily leveling my five level 90 or above toons.  With the advent of the WoW Token, most of my time playing was free, so I don't think 45 minutes a day was bad to let me play free for the rest of the time.  It is quite possible I spent more time in the Garrison than every other place combined in 2015, but that is part of being a casual player who wants to use tokens.  I was still able to make some progress.

The Minecraft and Don't Starve Together time was primarily time spend playing with my daughter.  It'll be interesting to see if this grows as two of my daughters are now old enough to want to play computer games, but not so old that it is not cool to play with their father.

I enjoyed all four of the games I played less than 5 hours, but was never able to get into any of them much.  I just played the Diablo III trial and I am still hoping to find it for $10 or $20 with the expansion, but that might not happen.  Bastion and Banished were both Steam sale purchases that I enjoyed but never played much.  I bought the complete Civilization V also on a Steam Sale (I had the original game for quite a while), but I only played one game of it and I'm not even sure I completed that game.

I posted on this blog 21 times in 2015, a little less than twice a month and significant less than the 28 times I did in 2014.  I would like to get back to posting most weeks.  On a positive note, I kept up with reading my blog roll in 2015 and even commented a little more with some incentive from Blaugust.  Besides posting once a week, I'd like to comment at least once a week as well.  I enjoy the game/mmo blogging community but I'm not a full part of it unless at least some of the communication is two ways.

I wish you all a Happy, Prosperous and Fun 2016!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Not everyone likes the Garrison, but it is good for Christmas decorations!

I hope everyone has had a very Merry Christmas!

My main Christmas MMO activity has been to gather the Christmas decorations for the Garrison.  It is a pretty painless daily activity to add the four Winter Vale dailies to get the Garrison decorations and a toy and now there are only the Savage Gifts for a chance for a Yeti mount.

I also leveled my mage, Kantrina, to 96 so she can start doing the Spires quests.  I'd like to finish the quests so she can get the Salvage yard and then I'll see how long it takes me to get to level 98 to move on.  I'm waiting to upgrade Kanter's gun until I can get her to level 100 so I can use her Engineering.  I certainly hope I can do this before too long (not that I really need it for what I'm doing).

Kanter has been gathering Elemental Runes through regular and naval missions and for Chapter 3 in the Legendary Ring quest line.  I should start running the Blackrock Foundry wings.  I'm over two-thirds of the way through the 900 required stones, but I can't seem to ever dedicate the time to it.

On other games, one of my daughters received her own Minecraft account for Christmas and we now have a Minecraft Realm so she can play with me, her sister, or her friends.  Now that the price went down to $7.99 a month with an automatic renewal I thought it was worth it, particularly since I'm hoping it is a way she can keep in touch with her cousin who lives far away and I don't really trust the shared servers.

Later this week will begin the new year.  I know I haven't been as active in gaming or in this blog but it'll still be interesting (to me) to summarize what I've done both in gaming and in blogging next week.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

There is No End Game


Often when people talk about MMOs, they mentioned that, to them, the end game is the game (well they often leave often the 'to them' part of that).  I have always enjoyed questing and leveling and have known that they are not speaking for me.

One reaction to this attitude has been to remove leveling from the game and make everything accessible to everyone.  I can understand this works for some people but it doesn't work well for me.  I like the experience of gaining skills and becoming more and more powerful over time.

My middle daughter is now interested in Dungeons and Dragons (she will be getting the starter set for Christmas, don't tell her!).  In Dungeons and Dragons, leveling slows down a lot and the idea of becoming max level is not something most people consider.  I was wondering if someone could make an MMO like that for people like me.

When World of Warcraft came out, the idea of having 'rested experience' so people who played less was an innovation.  Over time, people have become so focused on the end game that this is nothing but a slight speed bump, only slowing the 'end game' people from getting to the end game with each subsequent expansion by a minimal amount.  What if a company made an MMO where you couldn't ever get to the End Game?

My thought is that you would put a hard limit where you couldn't exceed 1 level a week.  You would start the game with some number levels, let's say 50, and by the time 50 weeks have gone, you would have content for the next 25 levels and at that point you'd have regular 6 month expansion cycle.

The game would need to have other content where people could explore and do things besides leveling, things like the pet games in World of Warcraft.  Another advantage of this is that there could always be content that would be tough.  If you kept areas with 5 extra levels around, people would always have areas they could explore that would be dangerous.  I imagine a system where mobs about 2 levels above you should pretty much always beat you if you are alone.  Mobs 5 levels above would be pretty much unable to be injured, so even with a group there would be areas that would be very dangerous to explore.

Has any company tried anything like this?  I am guessing this would be a nitch game, but I think most of the MMOs coming out now are.  Any thoughts or suggestions?