Postcards from Boralus

So, I’m behind even on the moderate goal of posting twice a week. It happens. Today I’d like to post a couple of Screenshots from Boralus, the starting city of Battle for Azeroth for alliance characters. There probably are no spoilers here. I’m always amazed at Blizzards world building skill, and the first impression of the expansion seems to indicate that they’ve done a particular good job in this regard.

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Dungeon Walk

A couple of weeks ago, a few guildmates mentioned the idea of going for a Dungeon Walk- of going into a dungeon in Elder Scrolls Online, switch our characters to walking speed and enjoy the sights there are to see. There was quite a huge response, so when the time finally came, we were able to form two dungeon groups. Our group chose to walk into Direfrost Keep.

It’s hot in europe right now (slightly below 100°F), so we chose that dungeon to cool off virtually, if not in reality. AC are not (yet) very common in germany, so when there are like 3 weeks of temperatures in the mid 30 degree celsius range, the flats and houses will get warm. Very warm. A guildmate told us that he had 95°F- in his flat. Of course, walking into an icy dungeon doesn’t really help, but it was nice seeing snow and ice, anyway.

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Joining the #blaugustreborn party

So Blaugust reborn is happening and ever since reading the announcement I thought about whether- and how I’d be able to join. See, if nothing else, this is the time to try and get back into the blogging groove. I won’t even try to post every day, instead, I’m aiming for a sustainable pace of putting stuff here in the hopes of keeping it after the event ends. Read more

Vvardenfell and a warden

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a Twitter conversation about Elder Scrolls Online. After reading a bit, I just had to log in.

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That’s not the entirety of the conversation you see when following that tweet. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that this thread also covers topics like playing MMORPGs solo, guilds, guild leadership and so on. Quite a few people chimed in. It’s a really worth your time.

So in I went. My wanting to play Elder Scrolls Online had three main reasons: one, because of our small guild. Secondly, because of that Twitter thread and third, because I haven’t gotten around to creating and playing a warden which was released with the Morrowind chapter/expansion- to give an idea of just how long I didn’t show up.

Of course, we had our second child in the meantime and our daughter is healthy, in a good mood and…a baby. But that’s not the whole story behind my prolonged absence from this blog and Elder Scrolls Online- I’ve been looking around, testing other games, different content output channels (looked into Twitch streaming in theory, but haven’t really streamed besides some guest appearances in a friend’s stream). And then, there was that guild I co-founded…almost two years ago, I guess. The longer I was away, the worse my conscience. I readied myself for some kind of “where have you been? Guild leaders can’t leave that long!” discussions in private or guild chat, but I’m pleased to say that selective recruitment, early fostering of community as well as putting a good replacement in charge of things were a very good decision- there were no bad words, just fellow players welcoming me back. So that went well.

It was very difficult to find a suitable name for my newly created warden, though. I hit a couple of name generators, but of course all of these names were already taken. I gave it about half-a-dozen tries and settled for a combination of a lore-appropriate name and a family name derived from my online handle (Lorana Feng, iirc). I guess that’s not too bad. With all those obstacles out of the way, I could take a look at the game proper, and found it to be surprisingly fitting to my overall mood right now. I also realized I’ve been demoted to noob again by the changes in game.

For one, now you have to discover skill trees. When I went to spend skillpoints on skills for the first time, I found that I was only able to spend them into class skill trees, one world skill tree and one crafting skill tree. No weapon or armor skills to be seen. Come to think of it, I think even racial skills were missing.

Lately, I’ve been playing games more deliberately. If I choose to play a game, I play it without distractions- no Podcast listening, no stream by the side and so on. I play for one or two hours, then exit the game and do something else. I don’t sit in front of my PC pondering about which game to launch- if I don’t know what game to launch, I do something else. This leads to two outcomes. First, I don’t dabble in front of the pc until I make a choice and watch crappy Youtube videos instead. On the other hand, when I launch a game, I want to experience it- you know, including quest- and flavour text, atmosphere and things like that. There are no goals involved other than having a good time.

Elder Scrolls Online fits nicely into this mindset, and that is also why I loved that “discovery of skill lines” thing. Quests are presented via dialogues, optional conversation choices and they usually take longer than your average “kill ten rats” MMO quest. Exploration is encouraged as there are no quest hubs, per se. All in all, I had tons of fun, even while not getting much done. Between chatting with guildmates, my noobiness and taking it slowly, I finished one quest in two hours of playing. Fun times!

Also, happy new year!

Why I’m back to playing Lotro

When the news broke that Lotro and DDO wouldn’t be operated by Turbine, and in extent, Warner Bros, anymore, I felt a sudden urge to return to Lord of the Rings Online. Mind you, this isn’t really a new thing for me- in fact, from its release to around 2012, Lotro was the MMO I’d return to when another new release wasn’t holding my attention for one reason or another. Read more

The End…a new beginning

Why, hello there! Still in your feeds? That’s great, thanks for that. There’s a new year to look forward to and an old one to look back at. So let’s do this.

2016

In the latter half of the year, I’ve been in a slump with MMORPGs- far enough that I heard me say that I’m practically done with them to a friend. There were a lot of reasons and even a draft for a post on this blog here looking at them. In the end, it came down to time: MMORPGs are time-intensive things and I was having more fun playing session-oriented games like Rocket League or Overwatch- or slower paced singleplayer games like Planet Coaster, Cities:Skylines or Euro Truck Simulator. All of them share the feature of being able to begin and stop playing whenever I want, with no bad conscience for paying a sub, having to progress timely for an expansion to release and so on. It’s pressure-free gaming I enjoyed, even while I am mildly successful in keeping my MMORPG playing pressure-free.

There were real-life issues, as well. Nothing personal, mind you, until late in the year, but to be honest, I had to struggle with the results in the american election. Now, we’ll see where the US are headed and I’ll keep further discussion and my personal opinion on that aside- it has been an election, after all- but in the grander scheme of things, what happened in the US was a display of what’s going on, politically, on the whole world. More than worrying about the US (which I do), they made me worry about Europe and Germany- elections are coming up in France and Germany this year, and depending on the results, they could do a lot of harm to the european idea. So I’ve kept myself busy learning stuff- why this might be happening, what could be done about it and so on.

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I also got acquainted with the appeal of Twitch streaming- I haven’t streamed yet (planning to, though), but a friend of mine does, so I joined him when he was streaming and found it…interesting. I still don’t fully understand why streaming and watching streams is a thing, but I’m getting there.

Last month it also became apparent that we’re expecting our second child. Now that’s a way to end the year!

Strangely, the news of a second child rekindled my interest in MMORPGs to a degree, as did my personal interpretation of Twitch streaming (I’ll get to that in a minute).

The One

Elder Scrolls Online has been my MMORPG of 2016. I’ve tried many, as usual- Blade and Soul, Black Desert, tried getting back into Rift, WoW, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, but there’s an anchor in ESO: our small guild that’s not-so-small anymore. We’re 15 people now, growing slowly, but steadily- and recently, a couple of members created a Minecraft-server for us to enjoy.

So, while I didn’t really play MMORPGs very enthusiastically in the latter half of 2016, I’ve kept regular events going in our guild, and my main character hit level 50 and, by now, 70 Champion points simply by attending those- there was a huge push with the Halloween-event, where doing anchors granted huge amounts of experience (I also threw in some experience potions), and now I’m max-level. The last time I touched questing content was when the character was level 38, so there’s a huge amount of content left for me to discover.

Last year’s resolutions

You can find the long post on my old blog. Here’s what I wanted to get out of 2016:

  • Embrace PvP. I haven’t avoided Cyrodiil, but a deep dive seemed unnecessary as neither Camelot Unchained nor Crowfall reached a state where they were playable for me.
  • Keeping a budget….hahahaha. Oh well, that escalated quickly. I guess my “budget” didn’t last more than 5 months.
  • Prioritize MMO gaming- I guess that one went well. I still spent too much money on them, but in the end, I’ve been pretty consistent in playing ESO as my main MMO.
  • More time in good games- well, outside of MMOs, that was. I guess this one was mildly successful, as I did play different games in the second half of 2016.
  • Spend more time with people and grow the guild. Full success. Last year, I stated that I’d like the community to have 10 people, we are at 15 now. I have appointed a co-leader, so I’m not alone in doing stuff anymore and we’ve played ESO together for a year now.
  • Blog more regularly than in 2015. Nope. Went AWOL for quite a while there.

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2017

So here we are, in 2017. Resolutions? The same, basically:

spend less money, waste none

I bought the newest Rift expansion and haven’t set a foot inside yet, probably never will. Fear of missing out, dear reader, is a strong marketing tool. They got me with that stuff you’d get by preordering and logging in. Rift has one feature I really like: their housing system is great and reading this great post from Nouvae about finding inspiration for dimensions makes me wish I could get into Rift.

This year, one trap is already looming: Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, preorder opening in the end of the month. I just know I’ll be considering buying it on day one, knowing full well that I haven’t even touched Heavensward content yet. So here’s a resolution: either I’m not buying anything I can’t play (duh!) or if I do, I’ll see that I get there.

Get a grip on MMO hopping

Hopping around isn’t the issue for me anymore. I’m fine with that now. There are a couple of MMOs I like very much, and I’ll play each of them from time to time. What needs changing, though, is starting fresh every time. So no more character hopping. I’ll start fresh (or already have) once more, but continue playing this new batch of characters.

Grow our guild

The guild is in a good shape, our main game is in a great shape and getting better with each update. Let’s put a number on this – by the end of 2017, I’d like us to be a community consisting of 20-25 players, which would mean almost reaching our goal of 20-30 players.

Creating Content

In 2016, there was one thing I was somewhat unhappy to see: quite a few fellow MMO bloggers called it quits and stopped writing about and/or even playing them. Ironweakness and Murf, to name two. Liore went somewhat silent, as well. My friend, the streamer, doesn’t seem to get blogging, makes fun of our guild using forums to communicate and my guild’s poking fun at me for creating textwalls in forums and guild meetings. I don’t think blogging is dead, but maybe it needs some…freshness. So in 2017, I’d not only like to write more consistently – not necessarily more, but not in bursts of posts and stretches of silence, either, but also try that streaming thing and maybe even video stuff.

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More German

There’s a pendulum- sometimes, I think international servers are better, english clients are more enjoyable and original and the community bigger, and then, the pendulum swings back to a state where I prefer “simple” to “original”. My new batch of characters will be created on german servers, the clients set to german, at least to try them out, and I’ll create german content- if and when I stream, it will be in german. I might even get a german blog going, but we’ll see about that.

Games in 2017

I’m not going to fool myself- I will keep buying games, maybe even MMOs (Crowfall, Revelation Online?), but there are three games I plan to make a dent in this year:

  • Elder Scrolls Online, obviously. Housing is incoming and another big content update (Vvardenfell?) might be coming this year, as well. ESO’s going strong and I’ll join it on its way.
  • Final Fantasy XIV. Another very healthy MMO, and one with meaningful crafting and an auction house, as well. It’s also quite simple in its business model: sub or don’t play. There’s no annoying shop interface, no “updates” coming for the item shop only- it’s just so relaxing to play an MMO that doesn’t have a hand in your wallet at all times.
  • Lord of the Rings Online. Standing Stone Games are independent and Daybreak’s the publisher now. Licensing issues are non-existent, so in my book, this change is all-around positive. Lotro has been my “go-back-to” MMORPG for quite a while (at least from release to 2012) and I love the design of the landscapes.

In addition, a few of the released games I’d like to play in 2017 without pressing the matter:

  • The Secret World
  • Guild Wars 2
  • The Division
  • The Crew

All in all, I feel far from done with the genre and/or writing about it. There’s a bit of a course-correction this year, but I’m actually excited to go ahead with it, especially the multimedia-thing with streaming. After researching and thinking about ways to do it in the last couple of days/weeks, I feel like Twitch streaming and blogging are actually quite similar to each other. I guess that’s a different post, though.

Happy New Year everyone!

New Game Masters

So everybody* was really excited to see what Amazon Game Studios would “unbox” at their unboxing event that happened yesterday. After recruiting several devs from MMO companies like ArenaNet, the chances of AGS creating an MMORPG were high. We couldn’t admit to that, certainly, since by now it should be clear to everyone that MMORPGs created by devs in the western hemisphere are in trouble. New Triple-A releases were not in sight, and those triple-A-games that kinda, sorta were MMOs were carefully avoiding calling their games MMOs.

So here comes Amazon and announces New World, a game set in 17th century, supernatural america. And it’s a Sandbox with emergent gameplay and stuff. Read more