Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Wandering

Not a screenshot from World of Warcraft!
After reading about Heart of Thorns, particularly from Inventory Full and Kill Ten Rats, I decided to go ahead and download Guild Wars 2, particularly since the original game is free.  The download took a VERY long time (I ended up just letting it finish over night) and even after it finished it still had to patch again.  I only played through level 5 so I don't feel like it's enough even for a mini-review, but I don't feel like it's the game for me.  I will try to give it another chance, possibly over the holidays.

My middle daughter and I played Don't Starve Together again and I felt like we made more progress this time.  It is nice because my daughter knows more about what she is doing, so she can be in control and I can help her, particularly by gathering what she needs.  We still died from the hounds when they appeared, but we at least had spears to protect ourselves and have some gardens and clothes in preparation for winter.  We'll see how that goes the next time we play.

I am still playing World of Warcraft, but I haven't been doing much other than basic Garrison activities and auctioning enough to still buy the now more expensive Tokens to keep the game free.  I would expect the cost to keep going up until the expansion arrives when a influx of players will include those who don't want to wait to buy things.  It was hovering around 20,000 gold in the US after the release for several months but is now over 37,000.  In the EU it has always been more expensive and is now at 61,000 gold.

I was able to use the Garrison to gather the stones required for the second part of the Legendary quest.  I need to do two parts of LFR to complete it, but haven't been able to find the time and inclination to do it.  Again, maybe it'll be a holiday thing since I am so close.  It also should be pretty quick to level my Mage to 100 but she has been stuck at 95 for more than a month now because I just don't have the inclination to play.  I may let my subscription lapse in December and just wait until Legion comes out.

Since my last post Blizzcon happened and I'm generally pretty positive about what I have heard about the Legion expansion.  For someone who doesn't care about raiding, it is usually pretty easy to sell things early in an expansion so it should be easier to justify paying for it knowing that the subscription for it will probably be covered by Tokens.  However, the Demon Hunter doesn't appeal to me that much (I'll probably eventually play it like I did the Death Knight primarily to see the starting quests) and I don't even know how I would use the Level 100 character upgrade so there isn't a reason for me to buy it early.  I'll probably just purchase it a week before it comes out so I can be ready.

I really seem to be in a gaming lull.  It'll be interesting to see if something changes that.  All the talk about Fallout 4 has been fun, but, though I have been playing computer RPGs since the original Wizardry, the post-apocalyptic setting has never really appealed to me, so I'll probably wait until I can get it for $10 or so.  My daughters may spark some gaming as well, particularly if something takes off over the holidays.  I played a little Diablo III with my  middle daughter but it didn't seem to appeal to her.  I'll probably go ahead and buy myself a copy assuming it goes on sale for $10 again.  I really enjoyed the first two games, but I still feel it is rather dark to play in front of my daughters so I'd rather play other games where I am more comfortable playing with them, or at least with them watching me. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life - Happy Halloween

Halloween at the Garrison
Ever since I completed the prerequisites for flying in World of Warcraft, I haven't been very motivated to play.  I did go ahead and finish the first set of dungeons for the Legendary ring upgrade.  It was generally quiet, though I did get kicked once for forgetting to turn off growl.  I turned it off as soon as I was asked, but was still kicked.  I felt bad about it briefly, but it really didn't hurt to have to take an extra day.  I have started the second set of quests which will require some raids.  We'll see if I get them done or not.

I started doing the daily Halloween quests for the Garrison decorations.  I have the jack-o-lanterns and the pets so far and I figure I'll go ahead and capture the three pets (an undead rat, maggot, and spider) since I'm not sure how available they will be outside the holiday.

WoW tokens have gone up in price significantly, but I still have plenty of gold for them, so I don't mind continuing to subscribe and get a few things done in the game.  I still want to get my mage to level 100 in order to use her Engineering to upgrade Kanter's gun.

With all the talk about Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, I went ahead and downloaded the client since the original game is free.  I started up the game once, but then realized I need to pick a server.  I'd be interested in any suggestions, but I don't plan to play much.  I just want to get a better sense of how it plays.

Halloween is one of my least favorite holidays.  I did like the candy as a child, but I didn't like going up to (relative) strangers houses as a child and don't enjoy doing it with my children either (though it is fun to see their excitement for getting all the candy).  However, I have a vacation coming up next week and I always enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas and I know those will be here soon.  In any case, I hope you enjoy your Halloween!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Saberstalker Reputation achieved

Still not quite done with the Saberstalkers

I have done the weekly Saberstalker quest and joined a group each time and between the two I have made it to revered with them, leaving me one more revered reputation (Order of the Awakened) to earn before I get Draenor flying.  I mentioned in my last post that I find this grind annoying since it's behind a daily quest that required finding treasures or rares.  The good news is I only have to do it 4 more times.  The bad news is that I have already picked up almost of all of the obvious treasures, so I'll have to finish the quest more with Rare mobs.  Since, with the Saberstalker quest and totems, you can be guaranteed for 3 rare mobs weeks and usually 6 of the 10 tokens needed for the daily quest, I'll probably keep doing it weekly until I have the last revered reputation I need to fly.

Looking back at the goals I set for myself in March, I have done many of them, even some of those that seemed unlikely.  At this point, I am again at a lull.  It may be that I'd like to be able to fly since it'll help with leveling the other characters but I would rather not grind those last four quests.  I wish they had set up some other way to get reputation - the other two Tanaan Jungle reputations have that.  Even if this was the 'best' way, options are always helpful psychologically to have multiples ways of completion to make something seem like less of a grind.

In other gaming, I have been playing Minecraft and Terraria on our mobile devises with my daughters.  I finally made a house and mine that goes deep enough into the earth to mine red stone and diamonds.  I also started exploring over land, building three houses due south of the original spawn, but I haven't found anything particularly interesting and don't feel like going to the nether (though I have a diamond pickaxe and several good places to gathering Obsidian, something I haven't done in Minecraft before).  Terraria is probably the first game I've played with my daughters where they are noticeably better than I am.  I guess I need to get use to it.

I have bought a WoW Token but am holding off exchanging it for game time in case I decide I need a break.  I'm pretty sure I'll continue until more of my characters are max level.  I keep thinking that Kanter has a high enough iLvl that he should go ahead and do some of the dungeons and raids for the legendary ring, but I still can't be bothered.  I'd rather just be casual, which seems to be a theme in the blogosphere recently.  Maybe more on that later.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flying in Draenor

I'm spending more time in Lion's Watch and Tanaan Jungle again.
Flying was introduced in Draenor in World of Warcraft on September 2nd and I am still firmly on the ground.  I starting writing this post in early July around the time that Blizzard decided to allow people to jump through several hoops in order to be able to fly.  Before that time there was some comments from Blizzard employees that there might never be flying in Draenor and much consternation from some players because of it.

For me, it was what I expected.  There were a number of things to do in Draenor that were supposed to be a challenge because you were on the ground.  Even before Warlords of Draenor (WoD) was released, we were told that there wasn't a plan for flight.  It was fun to be able to finally be allowed to fly in Burning Crusade but WoW is a game and I am fine with the developers tweaking the rules to add new challenges.

That said, now that flying is here and I've started testing what it will take to get Revered reputation for the three factions, I'm pretty sure I'll complete them.  One of the factions, Hand of the Prophet (for Alliance) is part of the quest line that gets you the Shipyard and to the Tanaan Jungle, so it's pretty straightforward to get the reputation.  There are seven daily quests and you get to choose one of two every day.  After I had done the campaign quests and each of the dailies once, I believe I only needed to do 3 or 4 more to get to Revered.  Right now I'm only 100 reputation away and will just wait to do one more daily (they provide 500 reputation each).

The second is The Saberstalkers.  I visited once briefly by myself and then just joined a custom group twice and already half way through honored.  There is a weekly quest, Rumble in the Jungle, where you can use three totems that you buy with the claws that you gather as you kill Saberstalkers to challenge three elite Saberstalkers.  I will wait until I can get this quest next week (after the Tuesday reset) and join one more group which will probably put me at Revered.  You also get Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragment that can be used for the last reputation from the three elites.

The last reputation is the most annoying, Order of the Awakened.  There is primarily one daily quest that gets you this reputation and it requires gathering 10 Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragments.  These fragments come from treasures or rare mobs in Tanaan Jungle.  The combination of only being able to do this quest once a day and having to either search for treasures (I did buy the map for 600 gold) and hoping to find the rare mobs to kill.  It feels both too constricted (only once a day) and too random (finding the treasures and rares).  That said, I have made it about 25% into honored and have decided to purchase the Hunter's Seeking Crystal for 1000 gold that will teleport me to a nearby rare so I can complete it.  I still find it annoying as I did the Timeless Isle.

I enjoyed finishing most of the quests in WoD with my hunter and priest and I'd like to get some of the other toons to 100 so I can get all the crafting high level recipes that require a level 3 garrison but I wouldn't mind making that faster for them.  I figure it is worth getting flying and buying the Excess Potions of Accellerated Learning to speed getting the other three or four characters to level 100.  The potions cost 100 garrison resources and I am wasting most of my resources now since I don't have a use for them outside of the missions I do about once a week.

I would have been fine with them leaving everyone on the ground in Draenor but jumping through these hoops has probably kept me playing longer than I would have otherwise, so I guess it's a win for Blizzard this way and I am sure I will enjoy being able to fly from place to place once I have it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Tale in the Desert Telling 7

Definitely NOT my stuff

A Tale in the Desert is planning to start it 7th Telling on September 11th and the Beta that doesn't have a reset already started on August 28th.  I often hear people asking for more variety in their MMOs and have always heard of A Tale in the Desert (ATOTD) as an example.  There is no combat in ATOTD, it is built around crafting and working together to accomplish goals.

The game first appeared in 2003 and has had 6 approximately 18 month tellings since it's inception.  You can play the 6th Telling for free until the September 8th (when it ends) and I've probably played for 30 minutes in a couple of sessions, so I know very little about the game.  The game is subscription based with 24 free hours and then $11.95 a month (with discounts for buying more than one month at a time).

The two things I do the most in World of Warcraft is crafting and questing.  ATOTD would allow me to do both of those things without having to deal with killing things which sounds good in practice.  When I downloaded the game a week or so ago I thought I'd subscribe for a month or two and see how it works.  However, I don't think I'll be doing that now.

If you think about how games appeal to us as represented in the Bartle Test, there is no 'Killing' in this game, but there is also very limited Exploring.  I like the idea of learning the crafting game and I understand there are puzzles to be solved as part of it, which also appeals to me, but a lot of the pleasure I get out of playing has to do with wandering around different areas, particularly new ones. The graphics in ATOTD are very basic (as you can see above) and, though I didn't explore extensively, there doesn't seem to be a lot of variety (it is a Desert, after all).

I am glad this game exists and I am glad it is getting a little bit of press, but I'm not sure I'll play it again.  Sometimes it is better just to enjoy the idea than to actually participate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Pets and Flight

Pet Menagerie finally built.

Yes, I should probably be titling these 'A Month in an MMO Life' given how often I've been posting them, but I can always dream that I'll start posting more.

With the Pet Battling triple experience weekend a couple weeks ago in World of Warcraft, I finally built the Pet Menagerie.  I had done almost no Pet Battling, so I was starting from two Ultimate Battle-Training Stones from my two level 3 garrisons and a bunch of pets I had gathered through years of playing WoW.  I used the first comment on the Pet Versus Pests Wowhead entry (with 201 up votes at the time) as my guide.  From there I targetting getting a frog, a Dancing Water Skimmer, a fox, and a moth to at least level 20.

I used my Ultimate Battle-Training Stones to level my Terrible Turnip and Sprite Darter Hatchling to level 25.  The Terrible Turnip has a 'Weakening Blow' that will never kill a pet you are battling, so you can make sure you don't kill it before capturing it.  I took my mage (who both wasn't max level and had a port) to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to capture the Dancing Water Skimmer and Yellow-Bellied Bullfrog.  Battled there until I had two uncommon skimmers and a rare bullfrog and also leveled some of my moths at the same time.  From there is was a quick trip to Kun-Lai Summit to capture an Alpine Foxling Kit and was lucky enough to get a rare on one my first battle.

I was able to win the three pet battles needed to complete the Pet Versus Pests quest with just those pets, including two moths I had leveled, at level 20 or higher which allowed me to build my Menagerie.  Moving it to Level 2 was just a matter of some gold and garrison resources.  I completed one of the daily quests but at this point I have 15 pets at level 20 or higher and to try to build a full collection is daunting.  I'm not sure I want to spend the time doing it or finishing the 150 pet battles to get the Level 3 Menagerie.  At least I can say I've built all the Garrison buildings (except the PvP one).

I also was able to find the time to finish two of the last three achievements I need for the Draenor Pathfinder achievement that allows flying in Draenor.  Whenever I had some time, I would check to see if one of the Securing Draenor quests I hadn't finished was in my garrison and would run it.  Once I was down to four assaults, I just paid for them at my garrison with resources from my Garrison Quartermaster.

I also finished the Master Treasure Hunter achievement.  My missions had given me the Shadowmoon Valley and Gorgrond maps so I started with those.  Once I had done most of them I realized I'd need one more map to finish it, so I bought the one for Nagrand from Grakis in Stormshield.  I'm not sure this was the best one to pick because quite a few were difficult to get to.  Fortunately, I didn't need that many after having gathered most of the treasures from the previous two zones, so it was just a matter of looking for others if one was very difficult to get to.  I enjoyed the scavenger hunt aspect of this, but not as much as I thought I would.  It felt like they were generally reasonable in Shadowmoon Valley but in Nagrand you would often have to find an obscure path to the treasure.

So I only have one achievement left to earn Flying in Draenor, Tanaan Diplomat.  There are three reputations you need to level to Revered and while one of them is pretty straight forward, the other two are going to be quite a grind.  Once again, I'm not sure if it is worth it or not.  I didn't mind being grounded in Draenor.  I'll try to post more about that later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World of Warcraft Subscribers and Legion

New World of Warcraft expansion announced on 8/6
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion.  The new class, the Demon Hunter, doesn't appeal to me but I thought the initial class quests for the Death Knight were interesting and I'd like to see these as well.  I like the idea of having an artifact weapon that stays with you and advances.  The weapon has always been the item that most impacts the player's effectiveness and this should make it a little less subject to where your next best weapon is placed and the luck of the random number generator.  I have enjoyed the questing for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor more than Cataclysm and I expect more of the same and that is a good thing.

There have been a lot of negative talk about how Warlords of Draenor has effected the subscriber count.  Looking at the curve published on MMO Champion the 1.5 million subscriber drop is bigger than what would be expected, but it is only one quarter.  Mists of Pandaria (MoP) had a 1.3 million subscriber drop from between 3 and 6 months after release, so it is only slightly higher.  The decline of subscribers after MoP was not as steep I am sure Blizzard hopes the announcement will help stabilize it similarly.  

I agree with those who say this is a 10 year old game and there isn't a lot Blizzard can do to change the overall curve.  As more people leave there will be a higher peak with sightseers, but it is unlikely many of those returning to see the new content will stay to raid or do other end game content.  I would also think there will be a point where the decline will slow because there are also a lot of people who are committed to the game as long as Blizzard keeps supporting it.  Even if that is around 2 million people, Blizzard can make a lot of money keeping it a subscription game at that level.  I don't see them going Free-to-play but rather ending the game if it doesn't make the profit that makes them want to invest in it.  A recent Game Revolution article put the Final Fantasy XIV subscribers between .8 and 1.2 million, World of Warcraft probably still has five times the number of subscribers as the second most popular subscription MMO.

I take Blizzard at their word that they are trying to release content faster.  I expect a release in the first quarter of 2016, which would be about 6 months faster than the Warlords of Draenor release. If they can do that, they should get another peak from returning subscribers who are just sightseeing.  From there the curve will level out some, but it will be very interesting to see where that seems to happen.