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!

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Travel Log: 10 starter planets in No man’s sky

Yeah, who would’ve thought- i caved and bought the most recent hype-machine. Haven’t played yet, but took screenshots of 10 starter planets in No Man’s Sky. Enjoy- i’ll be off starting on planet 11.

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Outlevelling content in ESO

Yesterday i mentioned being level 25 with Nuria Solstrum in Elder Scrolls Online. One thing that’s becoming clear right now is that i can hit level 26- the recommended level for continuing in the main story as well as guild quests, easily and a good while before finishing all there is to do in Grahtwood. Elder Scrolls Online is designed to give huge amounts of questing content and it doesn’t fail here.

After researching a bit, i’ve found that there are many players facing the problem of outlevelling content in Elder Scrolls Online. It’s an easy thing to do if you go into dungeons, pvp a bit, take a look at the new DLCs and so on. There are a few suggestions out there on how to deal with that, but they didn’t fit me- the most detailled suggestion was nice enough, but disregarded questing more or less completely.

So into the game i went, to take a look at the achievements and see if they’d provide guidance. I think they do, so i’ll just formulate my own suggestion here and see if it works out in the end- it’s just an idea, basically, and has yet to prove itself. But it’s the way i’m going to approach it.

Preamble

I won’t be chasing each and every quest in a zone, but i also like progress, so i won’t try and stop me from gaining experience or levels. And i respect the variety of content ESO offers- while it’s still mostly combat-based, there are quite a few ways to spend some quality time in ESO: ranging from Delves, Dolmen, Dungeons, Questing, World Bosses, PvP up to the newer DLC. As a sidenote: actually, that’s another reason to look forward to the Thieves Guild DLC- while all the sneaking and stealing usually isn’t my style, it offers something different, at least.

Anyway, i’m going to try and keep variety and freedom in how to approach each zone in ESO. Another thing that should be mentioned: once you get into the Veteran Ranks, you’ll be able to do old quests for Champion Points- so you can still do everything and get some reward later on, even when- if i understand correctly- your alliance’s questing maps won’t be scaled to VR. I think this is a nice thing to keep in mind- even if you’re a completionist, you can return later with two benefits: first, you’ll revisit outlevelled zones, which is a nice thing. And you’ll even get rewarded for doing so.

So this will be the way i’ll try to move through the zones and even “complete” them to an extent while hopefully not outlevelling the zones by much even when diving into DLC from time to time.

Questing

I’ll keep with the quest flow. In Grahtwood, i did the quests in order of the recommended level, but i think i’ll change that up in the next zone and do level-appropriate quests when some of them turn green. My hope is that this way, i’ll see most of the zone i’m questing in at any given moment, which is important regarding the later points in my plan as well as gathering resources and might be good in terms of variety. Also, of course you should do guild quests and main storyline quests as soon as you can get them/reached the corresponding level. In addition, i’ll do the Dolmen if/when they pop up. I’ll stop questing in a zone when i’ve earned the corresponding achievement.

Still a few to go.
Still a few to go.

As you can see, right now i still need to complete 4 quests in Grahtwood to get the Achievement. It is very likely that i’d get to level 26 by doing those remaining quests. But as i said, this is not intended to stop outlevelling altogether but to keep it in check, at least.

I’d also try and finish quests that reward skill points, but it’s actually surprisingly difficult to find a list sorted by location. I think Cadwell’s Almanac covers most of them, but there’s might be others.

Exploration

In the exploration area, i’ll make sure to visit all striking locales- they’re marked as “eyes” on your map.

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Next up will be all the caves (torches on your map).

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Finishing those achievements will grant you a nice meta-achievement and a dye.

Great...it's some kind of brown!
Great…it’s some kind of brown!

Character

When all this is done, i’ll go and look for the missing Skyshards. Regarding Skyshards, in general, i take the following approach:

  • first, i’ll keep an eye out for them while questing and finishing up the other achievements from above
  • then, i’ll look into the corresponding achievement tab- there are hints to the locations of the skyshards. I’ll try and decipher them
  • if i still can’t find them, i’ll simply look them up in the internet

I know there are addons for all this kind of stuff- but using them would rob me of the enjoyment of exploring in ESO- and this is one of the best MMORPGs for exploration out there- i’d even call it the best.

Seeing this now, i think i have an inkling where some of them are.
Seeing this now, i think i have an inkling where some of them are.

Conclusion

Will it work? I don’t know, really. But i think it’ll help me decide on when to move from one zone to the next while also keeping all options open- i’ve put them in this order because chances are you’ll find striking locales, caves and skyshards while questing. You might find skyshards in caves and so on, so it is somewhat efficient. I’ll soon subscribe to ESO and gain +10% XP, so the problem might get worse. If i see it failing, the quest achievement will be the first i’ll drop- i can get back to that later on and treat them as longterm goals, but i will have my dyes and skill points!

Black Desert Online name reservation

Just like Aywren, after a few reloads of the site i was able to reserve my name for the northamerican server of BDO (it seems there is only one planned in each region). I don’t really think that this name needs reserving, but doing it anyways feels like a small first step into the game.

Here’s hoping that ping won’t be much of an issue when connecting to NA from europe. Excitement for Black Desert Online is building up with me, so i’ll probably take a look at CBT2 when it opens up.

I think i’ll go with the Valkyrie first, although Sorceress or Witch might be candidates, too. Maybe i’ll take a quick look into each of those when CBT2 begins.

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I’m stopping to look for guilds…and more

Final Fantasy 14

I finally managed to go back to Final Fantasy 14 – as i mentioned, i wasn’t really in the mood to play this game due to a lack of time. When i returned, i had to find out- yet again- that my inactivity led the Free Company i found earlier to kick me out. Well, both of them did that- the international one and the german one.

FF14 is a game that takes time- usually, i’m totally fine with that, in fact, an MMORPG should take its time to play- but it shouldn’t waste mine. FF14 does just that in many ways and that’s why FF14 is a poor game to start playing in times where you know you won’t be able to put a lot of time in. Now, a lot means different things to different people- for me, that amounts to about 10 hours a week, preferably a little more. If i feel confident in being able to put that time into FF14, it’s a great game- if i’m not, it’s a waste of time to even launch it, since it can happen that things one should do in the leveling process take a while to get rolling.

So i haven’t logged in in quite some time- my new Free Company had big leeway- 6 weeks absence wouldn’t do a thing, but after that, you are going to be kicked out of the FC. Of course i could just raise my hand and tell them i’d like to rejoin, but there’s really no point because i know they’ll kick me again in the future. I don’t think i should need to tell the guild that i won’t be logging in for some time- i’m an adult, there might be times when i simply can’t or won’t play and i think good guilds should factor this in.

I’ve always been of the impression that in-game or out-of-game acquaintances are the best way to form and maintain a guild- forum advertising, applications and somesuch don’t really serve for the community of people i’d be looking for. If you’re short on time, like i am, it seems getting into a guild and forming relationships there doesn’t really work. It’s better to get to know someone and join his or her guild because you already have some roots and a contact there. I think Belghasts superguild works kind of like that- know someone of them and they can make a recommendation/vouch for you and you’ll be able to join the tribe.

Watching the sun set over Limsa Lominsa
Watching the sun set over Limsa Lominsa

There will be a lot of other guilds out there working quite the same way- and if i were to found one again, i’d go with the same process. So now, i decided that i simply stop looking for a guild and instead stumble upon one while playing the game. Or not, we’ll see. Of course, this means i’ll have to put the effort i usually put into forum-digging for a guild into in-game relationships, which again might be a good thing. There used to be a time when friendlists were longer than the guild member list, it’s time to get back to that.

Useful links if you’re playing FF14 for the first time

So when i saw that, i decided i needed to create a new character. I know, i know. This is one of the many flaws in my way of playing MMORPGs- i play a game, maybe take a break and have a hard time getting back into that character i used to play. Normally, it’s the skill bar that confuses me, but that is a thing that’s manageable- one can read descriptions and try them out on mobs. With FF14, it’s more than that- since you have threads everywhere, the question i don’t have an answer to when relogging into an old character is her position- what was she doing, what was she planning to do next, where does she need to go? And so on. This can get out of hand and whenever this happens, i feel that it’s just easier to begin a new character since i’ve not progressed very far into the game anyway. The farthest character had her main adventuring level at 26- this is something that can be achieved pretty quickly.

And so i needed to decide on a server, again. But since Heavensward early access was going on, many of the servers were shut down for new characters. However, this is not a permanent or even daily thing- every 3-4 hours, servers opening and closing for new characters switch around. There’s a way to get help with that, namely worlds.nyxstudios.moe . Not only can you see which servers are available for new characters, but you can also subscribe for e-Mail notifications, so whenever a server changes its status you’ll get an eMail.

I don’t know how many times i looked for “essential quests” for Final Fantasy 14. The most basic gameplay features are unlocked by way of the main storyline, but there are some things- like dyeing your gear, forging materia, access to the Gold Saucer and others that you’ll have to unlock through sidequests. Since you can do all sidequests only once while being able to level all classes with one character, i try to avoid sidequests as much as i can for the first class. But i don’t want to miss out on game features- so in the end i found this useful list of quest- and level-locked content in Final Fantasy 14, and that’s a great help if you’re looking for something like this.

There’s also a basic leveling guide with some general advice to be found. If you’d like to know how to best level crafting, Aywren has put together really great tips for leveling gathering/crafting classes in FF14. She also has some nice postings up with impressions from the Heavensward launch.

If you’re looking for Heavensward impressions, i can recommend these posts:

Aywren – Heavensward Launch day recap (no spoilers)
Aywren – Heavensward day 2 recap (no spoilers)
Belghast – It’s finally here
Belghast – Learning to fly
Belghast – Making story matter
Belghast – Lord of the Hive
Lucek – Heavensward first impressions (possible spoilers)
Nomadic Gamer – Heavensward is here
Nomadic Gamer – Heavensward 1st weekend

Do you remember that NBI talkback challenge? Right now, i really envy all these people playing in the expansion.

One less expansion to worry about

The pre-purchase for Guild Wars 2’s expansion Heart of Thorns is available now. There’s three editions to buy: Standard Edition for 50$/45€, coming with the base game and the base expansion, the Deluxe Edition for 75$/75€, coming with a few extras, including one character slot and the Ultimate Edition, coming with everything the Deluxe Edition has and 4000 Gems.

I’ll buy in when they have a 50% discount on that prizing. See, Aywren has all the arguments (great post by the way, you should read it), so i will simply state that i feel like i’m not getting my money’s worth when the base game is included. Because i don’t need the base game anymore- interestingly, if they’d put the same price out, excluding the base game, i might have bought it, so i don’t really think it’s too expensive. But done this way, i feel like i’m paying for something i don’t need. I mean, as far as i know, and please correct me if i’m wrong, i can’t even give the base game to someone who hasn’t bought the game yet. I’d have a friend to whom i might give it if it were possible.

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Other than that, i’m of the opinion that the code or whatever we get when buying the expansion should add a few character slots for those who already own the game, and i think three would be a good number. Or maybe gems…or something. As it stands right now, that part of the investment will simply go the way of the dodo and i’m not fine with that.

I am not unhappy about that, though- with SWTOR’s expansion coming, my commitment to that game by subscribing for 6 months, Final Fantasy’s expansion coming this week, which i also bought and Trove seemingly sucking me in some more as well as the Repopulations pending release and at least some peeks at Skyforge, Blade & Soul and Wildstar f2p, i already have more on my plate than i could possibly digest this year.

So with Heart of Thorns, i’m waiting for the christmas sale and/or some course correction by ArenaNet.

Two good news in one day

Who would have thought, right? It’s 2015, in some ways a new age of MMORPGs, with smaller titles, less hype and a lot of happiness with what’s already out there. And yet, today there were two big news for the MMORPG player: Blade & Soul is going to get a western version and the Repopulation seems to make it to release– this year!

For me, this means that Project Trinity is almost set for this year- SWTOR should be a side MMO, but is my main pastime at the moment. By the way, i decided to do one run of an Imperial Agent, solely focussing on the class storyline. I can’t see myself stop playing that game right now- it’s fun, it’s rewarding, it fits my schedule, preferences and moods. Final Fantasy XIV should get a bump soon(ish)- after all, it is my “main” game until august, at least. Elder Scrolls Online didn’t see me, this month, and will be swapped with Guild Wars 2 come june. Heart of thorns is going to release soon(ish), if leaked info is to be believed, it will be releasing on june, 30th. I can play- even a new character- to 80, easily, in one month.

Come the end of this year, the Repopulation will release, and that means the second of three games for which this blog was created- as a reminder- back when i started, i looked forward to either ArcheAge, the Repopulation or Everquest Next to be the new home MMO for me. Nowadays, i’m not so positive anymore- and the games are not the whole reason for that. If i were to play only one MMO, that game would have to be very versatile. I don’t think one game can do that.

The Repopulation is interesting to me because, on paper, it offers everything an MMO in my opinion needs- an open world, restricted-but-existing open world pvp, trade opportunities, a player-centric economy, somewhat dynamic pve, crafting that isn’t just an add-on to the game and so on. When it comes, i might even hop onto a hardcore server, for the trade.

The thing is- as much as i’d like to be able and willing to play such an MMO, my time-restraints might become an obstacle. I’m not sensitive in this- if it is possible to enjoy the game with as few gaming hours as i have, i’ll be a happy camper. But it would have to be a “sandbox” like EVE, where there’s not only goals for player groups to achieve, but also for solo/casual players. Then, there’s the “polish” thing- the Repopulation’s tutorial reminded me heavily of Fallen Earth, setting-wise as well as handling-wise. This shouldn’t be much of an obstacle, but it did feel a bit clunky.

Still, i’m very much looking forward to the Repopulations release and might play some of it before it’s happening.

Blade and Soul is a different thing. I don’t really know what it is- action combat, wuxia and, well, outfits. For the last point, there’s mostly the skimpy ones getting attention, but i read that there is more diversity to choose from.

The reason i don’t know anything about it is simple: after the long wait for ArcheAge, i decided i won’t look too deep into new releases over in asia- after all, you can’t be sure if the games make it over here at all. Even if they do, usually there’s a period of over one year between releases- in ArcheAges case 2 years, with Blade and Soul it’s three.

I’m not expecting the game here, but i think NCSoft releases decent MMORPGs, quality-wise, so it’s nice to be able to look forward to a wuxia MMORPG that might actually be good. I always wanted to delve deeper into wuxia novels- they are “chinese fantasy novels”, but it’s quite hard to find wuxia novels who were translated into english- there are fan translations, but somehow those don’t appeal to me. So, if you know about a good wuxia novel that’s available in english or german, let me know.

Blade and Soul might allow me to experience wuxia in a different way. Granted, MMO story is rarely as good as what’s available in book-form, but in this case, i’ll take it happily. If the game is fun and interesting, as well- all the better.

So i’m really looking forward to both of them- it might not be as quiet a year as one would have expected when it began.