Category: my gaming

What to play and going buy-to-play

The recent weeks didn’t see much of MMORPG playtime. I was sick, playing singleplayer games, sick again and on vacation. I briefly considered taking an MMORPG sabbatical for some time, because right now i just feel i’m not in the mood of playing regularly. Gaming, and especially MMORPG-related gaming, tends to become so much of a focus in the private life that launching a game becomes the standard option of things to do in free time- and i don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to “automatically” sit in front of the PC as soon as i have some room to breathe, because in these last weeks, i found that to be suffocating. I don’t know if you can relate to this, but that’s where i’m coming from right now.

So now i’m going to give gaming a lesser focus in my free time. It won’t be the standard option anymore- see, raising a child for the last two years saw me getting out of touch with some other hobbies of mine- reading and watching tv-series or movies, for instance.

Anyways, this is still my gaming-related blog here, so let’s take a look at what i’m planning right now.

Final Fantasy XIV

As it happens, each and every time i play this game, somehow when i lose focus and momentum, interest goes full on zero. There are reasons for that, of course, the main one being that this game, despite its mechanics, also doesn’t appeal to me on many levels- the relatively small zones, the kind-of-grindy gathering/crafting, the cuteness and the fact that it is- well, i don’t know how to put that in words, but i find it cumbersome, sometimes- it’s almost as if everything in FF14 needs to be done in a deliberate manner.

Another reason is, of course, that i don’t have social ties in the game. Right now, i’m kind of waiting for my current guild to kick me for inactivity (they will, despite me being in the community) and i will look out for other groups when i return to the game next month.

Now, having already bought the expansion (it’s quite cheap on greenmangaming VIP, by the way), i plan a return somewhere around may to make an effort and see where i will be when the expansion hits. Having done that is one of the reasons i didn’t make the titular deliberate choice of going buy-to-play yet, but i kind of expect to do so come the end of the year. Or maybe not. Deliberate choices in MMOland don’t go particularly well for me.

EVE online

Now that’s funny, considering the above paragraphs and the contemplation to go buy-to-play (i’ll muse on that later), but as of today, i returned (if you can call it that) to EVE online. See, EVE is the only MMO out there that provides the features i’m looking for in an MMO- the local/regional markets, the player driven economy, distance being a part of gameplay. They had an offer to reactivate for some discount, and this time i took it- after being three years absent from the game.

Most everyone will tell you that EVE is not a game to play casually and/or solo, but to be honest, i don’t really believe that. EVE is a game where you set your own goals, so when i set my goals accordingly, i don’t see why one couldn’t play it casually and/or solo. Of course, i don’t know the game very good, the learning cliff is still waiting for me, and i fully expect to fall off of it again, but i’ll give it a try nonetheless.

Here are my loosely drawn-up goals:

  • get some capital by doing the tutorial(s) and maybe some mission running to get a feel of the game
  • start mining
  • at some point, i’ll do station trading- when i feel i have some money to play around with (the mining should help with that)
  • way further down the line i want to become a manufacturer- as far as i understand it right now, miner – refiner – industrialist is my preferred “progression path”, if you can call it that- the goal is to become an industrialist and trader. The path should help me getting an understanding of the process involved as well as capital. I also don’t know if being an industrialist really is soloable.
  • maybe i’ll take a look at exploration

I’m at the beginning of this process, my current capital is 8 million ISK (haha! :D) and i’ll need to learn a lot. It’s going to be slow, as well, but this time i didn’t want to miss the offer- i missed it two or three times already and every time i wanted to get back into the game it wasn’t valid anymore. We’ll see how it goes.

Elder Scrolls Online

Some project also “requires” me to play ESO, and i’m glad for it. I’ll not talk too much about it now, but i’ll start a Templar (continue my level 7 Templar) in an attempt to re-explore the game and try to be a combination of healer and dps, as i always try to be in MMOs.

Age of Conan

The guild project will move to AoC tomorrow. As it looks right now, we’ll be almost two groups of people who play and i’m really looking forward to it.

The Secret World and Guild Wars 2

TSW brought itself back into my MMORPG diet with its New Player Experience. I like what Funcom did there and plan on playing TSW on an irregular basis.

Guild Wars 2 fits into my “going buy to play” plan and would be a good addition to the other two b2p games out there- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World would be a great combination of games to play- if one was in the mood to play, i think these three games combined provide almost everything an MMO player needs, if paying a subscription fee is not what this player is looking for.

Going buy-to-play

Yeah, the title is misleading in this way. I’m not. But remember when i wrote about priorities in the first paragraphs? Subscriptions really don’t fit into this- for me, at least. When i’m paying a sub, it’s not that i want “as many hours as possible” out of the games, but there’s still the nagging feeling of “i’m paying a sub. I should play that game (if i’m playing at all)”. It seems a waste to pay a sub for FF14 but launch Guild Wars 2, for example.

Most free-to-play games are hybrids with an optional subscription. When i play, say, SWTOR, i will sub up because i find the experience to play it without subbing severely lacking. The same would go for ArcheAge, if i were to play that game.

So that’s when i thought about going buy-to-play, and if my EVExperiment doesn’t work out, i might still do just that. The b2p games out there are of a high quality, they don’t have intrusive cash shops, they don’t try too hard to make you subscribe. Buy-to-play is the business model that fits best with my priorization of gaming in my free time.

If i were to make the deliberate choice of only playing b2p games and it would make my (gaming) life so much easier- first, i might not always be tempted to take offers the f2p/p2p games put out, there would also be a very much smaller selection of titles that i’d consider to play on a given night when i want to play and there would be no pressure at all- imagined, self-imposed or otherwise- to play more often than i’d really like to. It would be a good choice for me.

For now, though, there’s still the EVExperiment and Heavensward in my plans.

How blogging and gaming feed each other

In the short time since i started blogging regularly, big things happened. First of all, i didn’t expect to be connecting quite so fast as it happened now. Even when i restarted writing more regularly in the end of 2014, after the news broke that Massively would shut down, i doubled down on that. My goal right now is to publish something every day, although i have to confess that this might not be the best of ideas- see yesterday’s post for reasons why. While i liked the topic and stand by the argument, i had to hurry somewhat and the post developed from one topic to the other. And now it’s quite a mess, but that’s ok.

I started following more blogs via WordPress and Twitter gave me new blogs to see, as well. Furthermore, i wasn’t alone in this line of thinking- Ironweakness’ Blog exists because of the impending shutdown (and, reading it, one has to wonder why he didn’t start earlier). Right now my following of blogs is a mess- some of them are only in the WordPress reader i don’t use, some of them are only on Twitter and despite the fact that this is an MMO-exclusive account the stream runs by very fast. And then there’s Feedly, where i do read and i’m slowly migrating everyone over there.

So, the social connecting thing works in this regard. I’ll also have to thank many of the “real bloggers” for that. You really visit my blog from time to time, comment, like, write posts answering some of the posts i made or even link to me. This is a great experience, and i’d really like to thank you for being such an inclusive breed of gamers!

Playing and Writing

Of course, these connections make me want to write even more. But then there’s another thing: i found that my writing and gaming feed each other. Sometimes i’d think about a topic for a post and realize that i should go and play something, focussing the attention during the session on the topic i want to write about. And sometimes it’s the other way round- i play something and a topic opens up.

As someone who is, sometimes literally, playing a different game each day, this connection between writing and playing has given me a focus i didn’t achieve before. Yes, i’d resolve myself to play “just this one” MMO for some time, but it never lasts- and why should it? When you don’t have strong social ties in a game and are playing solo, mostly, why should you be “faithful” to one or two games? There are reasons, of course. Social ties, for instance, grow while staying in one game- it’s more difficult if you switch every other week.

Rift Dragon
I wanted to stay in Rift until ArcheAge released. Didn’t quite work out.

But now? I want to write about things- and i want to experience things in the games. I also found out that i look at games differently- even when not thinking about making something a topic, i feel like i experience these games more intense. Right now, inspired also by comments here and some blog posts in other places, there are a few quite focussed projects i’d like to take on. We’ll see how it goes, because time is still limited.

Lord of the Rings

As i’ve mentioned, i fear a little bit for Lotro. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll last longer than 2017. I might be wrong here, and i do hope i am, but when the gates close on this one, we’ll lose access to the best realized Middle Earth in MMOs and maybe games in general. I don’t like that to happen. I planned to visit Vanguard when i had a “bad feeling” about it in the beginning of last year only to sadly be right and have the world yanked from us. When you don’t have lots of time to play, a project like “visiting the world” can take months, even years. So when i begin this now, there might be a chance that i’ll get to see the Middle Earth of Lotro before it shuts down.

Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle
Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle

My plan here is quite like something a tourist guide writer would do- see the places, know some things about them (i’m not going to graduate in Middleearthology) and present them here.

Final Fantasy XIV

Deidra_aetheryte

This is a game where a second, third or fourth look on crafting and economy is going to be interesting. I’ve read several times now that there’s kind of a barrier in the mid-30-levels, and i’m quite interested to see how it goes. I’ve experienced similar things, mostly in Lotro, where i always seemed to be stuck in the mid-30s.

So it’s going to be crafting/economy for Final Fantasy XIV, but also general gameplay experience. I guess i’ll continue to cover this for all the games i play, but if the last two weeks are any indication, it seems as though FF14 is my favourite game, for now. And it should be – it is good, after all, and i’d like to be ready for Heavensward without hurrying along.

Everquest 2

Not much focus here. I also stopped playing it outside of my guild group, because my guild group character progresses much faster than my other character and i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle when the guild project is over. But there’s something about EQ2 that’s really great- and from time to time, you’ll read about how it has so many features, how it is almost a sandbox in themepark’s clothing- i’d like to flesh that out a bit and look at the different features.

Socializing

This has been a topic here for quite some time- how to connect to other players- what can we, as players, do to make our gameplay experience more social? What can developers do? I’d like to take a look into that and also want to make my personal gameplay experience more social. You’d like to do that, as well? Goody, just head on over to Group up and give me a /tell.

So this is it- in the two months since i restarted blogging here i found that writing enhances gameplay experience, and you’ll get to know/talk to/discuss with great, like minded people…or not so like-minded. Doesn’t matter as long as discussion is civil.

I need a plan

Yesterday i chatted with a guildmate in Elder Scrolls Online. Since i know her to like Final Fantasy XIV a lot, we talked about that game in passing. She mentioned some uncertainty on her part in regards to buying Heavensward- because she hasn’t got time. Pew, who knew that time could be a problem, right? That was when i told her about stuff i’d like to get done at some point this year- i mentioned that yesterday when i tried to estimate at what time stuff releases this year. My guess is that when we’re talking about expansions, Final Fantasy XIV will be next.

Please don't remind me of all the ways you're awesome!
Please don’t remind me of all the ways you’re awesome!

So, to recount the games and my plans, as well as provide an overview for myself, let’s see what’s on my table and what goals i want to achieve as well as how much time i’ve got.

  • Final Fantasy XIV – get at least one adventuring class to 50 before the release of Heavensward – this will be a tough one.
  • The Repopulation – it turns out my old gaming community plans to start a chapter there, and rather sooner than later at that. Not much to do, here, just finish up the tutorial this or next week, after that it’ll be dabbling.
  • Guild Wars 2 – get my Ranger and my Elementalist to 80 before the expansion- shouldn’t be too tough.
  • Everquest 2 – my goal in Norrath is quite simple: just some steady progress and maybe be at the level cap in time for the expected expansion.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – smell the roses, see the world. My guess is i’m somewhat time-pressed here because i really don’t think the game will be around longer than 2017.
  • Elder Scrolls Online – smell the roses, see the world, craft. No pressure here.

So counting that and adding the project i have in my guild, which takes away one night every week, we have 6 games i need to juggle somehow. The easy way, of course, would be to just play what i like when i like to play it. But i’m pretty sure i won’t meet my “hard goals” this way, so i’m going to set up a schedule, you know, like Syp. I’ll mix it up a bit but will keep his “anything goes” – evening just to have it there. Also, since weeks just don’t have enough days, Lotro and Repopulation will have to wait for their turn on Anything-goes-evenings.

Yes, i like that one, too
Yes, i like that one, too

Final Fantasy XIV will have to get two evenings, and even then i’m not entirely sure if it will work out in the end. But for now, let’s stick with that. EQ2 gets one evening for now, since it’s also the current game in the guild project. The guild project gets another one. I think one evening for GW2 will be enough right now to get to level 80, at least with my Elementalist who already is around level 60. Elder Scrolls Online gets one evening, too, because, right now, i pay a sub for that.

So let’s see…

Monday: Final Fantasy XIV

Tuesday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Wednesday: Guild Wars 2

Thursday: Elder Scrolls Online

Friday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Saturday: Anything goes

Sunday: Final Fantasy XIV

Although i have to say that i don’t know yet what i’ll do if i don’t play some night, which will happen, of course, since gaming is not my only hobby and i’m not in the mood for it every day. Either i’ll just stick with the days or i’ll move them around (while keeping saturday for anything)- right now, i prefer the latter.

Is this good?

No, it isn’t. If you call me names, i’m perfectly fine with it. I really tried to be Mmonogamist, but it doesn’t work out for me right now. Every time i decide to play just one or two games, it just makes me miss the other ones more. It’s hard to describe, the best example i have is when i tried to quit smoking- i could go whole workdays of 8 to 10 hours without a cigarette easily, but my penultimate try to get rid of it lasted only about 4 hours- time i mainly spent thinking “i will never smoke again” and panicking at the thought. Meanwhile, i succeeded, but it’s quite similar here- when i try to play only FF14, for instance, suddenly i remember how game x is better in this-or-that feature.

Lord of the Rings - Archet

If i had to come up with reasons, i’d say there are mainly three to name: no game is a perfect fit for me yet, as are the guilds i joined in these games- although i do like them. The third reason is that while no game is a perfect fit, i do like most of the mentioned MMOs for something. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but i like them. And, to be honest, i’d rather like too many MMOs than being grumpy about all of them while still thinking i’m the “real” type of MMO player who strangely doesn’t like any MMO on the market.

The Beornings’ starting area

Well, well, well, Lord of the Rings Online. A game i liked very much- and still do, to some extent, despite there being changes i didn’t like much. I’m not talking about f2p here, but for instance how the old wood changed between 2008 and now. It used to be creepy and difficult. It isn’t, anymore. Still, Lotro has a world that’s really nice to explore, as well as great quest writing.

So i wanted to take some screenshots of the game and started up a new character. Might as well try the new class, the Beorning, since it somehow appeals to me (i always like playing hybrid characters that can do good damage while also being able to heal a little bit) and is the new shiny in the game. Also, i agree with those who say the character models look much better than those of the other races. I’m still dreading Moria and really want to make it as short a stay as possible, but for now, i went back in, this time even really reading quest text.

The other starting areas should be like the Beornings’

The starting area of the beornings looks gorgeous. Since i never went through Moria, i also never really got to see how the game looks nowadays, and i have to say, it really looks great.

Starting a beorning

 

It’s almost a pity that it’s over so quickly, but then again, after going through Archet for 100 times it’s good to see a starting area that focuses on the important things: story, a little bit immersion, getting a first feel of the class and admiring the landscape. This is by far the smallest starting area in the game, and all you really do is talk to some people, kill eight flies and some goblins, then talk some more and you’re done. All in all, maybe 15 minutes, if that. You get to level 2 by playing it and then get boosted to level 5 and sent to Archet (the real Archet, though).

Beornings starting area

 

After 7 years of mainly playing through Archet i think that this is a good way to go- teach the advanced basics- story and class gameplay- and send the player off. I’d like the other starting areas to be as quick (mind you, Archet is shorter than it used to be), although of course i know that this wouldn’t suit a player who’s new to the game.

Starter islands

Generally, i don’t like starter islands or zones. Everybody loves Age of Conan’s Tortage- i don’t like it. The same goes for Archet and the starting zones of Elves/Dwarves, the Isle of Dawn in Vanguard and others. World of Warcraft drops you right into the world and i think this is the way it should be done. All i really want when playing these zones is to leave them as fast as possible. So the Beornings’ starting area was a nice change of pace in this old game.

Tourism

While those who like the game know it, i think Lotro is really a great experience if you take your time while levelling. In this game, you shouldn’t hurry to reach the next level – although i wouldn’t use the XP stopper, either, and i wouldn’t do “grey” quests, but it’s really not a game to “skip quest text” and “reach the endgame”. I’d really like to see the newer landscapes, especially after seeing this starting area. It’s just Moria. Gandalf didn’t want to go through it, and i don’t want to, either. But we’ll see about that.

Game time: rejoining a guild and experience bonus

This past week i played both of my main MMOs and dabbled in three others.

Everquest 2

There was a bonus experience event in Everquest 2 this weekend and i planned to take full advantage of that. As plans concerning MMORPGs usually go for me, it didn’t quite happen as i’d liked it to. I wasted friday just reading blogs and other stuff on the net- i was in the mood for a movie (haven’t watched one of those in what feels like forever) and researched options. Saturday i watched what i found out (Guardians of the Galaxy); it was a good choice to make- it was very relaxing, just watching a blockbuster which was both somewhat funny and quite entertaining. I liked watching space superheroes.

Sunday evening i was finally able and in the mood to dive into EQ2 again and quested in the Butcherblock Mountains- yeah, my main character was just level 23 and i know that the description of “main” might be stretching it a bit, but still. I got him up to level 27 in about two and a half hours, which was great. I realize, of course, that i could have levelled more efficiently if i’d got a mercenary and went to a dungeon, but i also like to see the overland zones of this game. Next time, though, i will take a merc and head to some dungeon or continue the armor timeline for the inquisitor.

While Everquest 2 is a quest grinder (for me) and gives each class way too many skills (i’ve got 4 fully slotted hotbars), there’s also a lot to discover. I think one would be able to level a character by just exploring dungeons and killing stuff that’s on the way while, maybe, gathering materials for crafting for a good while in the early levelling process, especially when experience bonus weekends are around. For now, though, i’ll take the handholding approach and simply quest while slowly attaining a broader point of view on the game. As i said, i plan to visit dungeons solo/with a merc soon.

Why solo, you ask? Well, you won’t find many PUGs that do the old dungeons. Also, while my guild seemed to be a friendly, welcoming bunch of people when i joined (shortly after the expansion launched), it seemed awfully quiet yesterday. They’ll take me to level agnostic dungeons and help me progress and they’ll answer my questions, though it seems to be very dependant on which members are online. The guild is huge, if you count inactive players, but it actually is quite small when you consider activity. Unfortunately, there is a big, silent majority in there, as well. I can live with that, it’s an old game after all.

Final Fantasy XIV

I continued the main story questline, but still haven’t made it to the point that the main story level equals my adventuring class level. I travelled a lot. My Arcanist is level 23 now, i’m a level 15 Weaver, a level 18 Botanist, Level 6 Conjurer and Leatherworker and a Level 4 Carpenter. And i learned how to dye my clothing as well as how to get materia out of items (but not how to get it in other items, yet). So that’s where i stand.

Fighting Ifrit

I also chose my grand company (that one from Gridania) and saw that this path gives levelling options and stuff to do aplenty. It’s very difficult for me to not take every crafting and gathering class that’s available, because i don’t like selling stuff i might use later in the game for another craft. Also, i think it’s more useful to level the gathering professions with some sense of meaning by gathering materials i use in the different crafting classes. But if i do it that way, i kind of know i will be all classes level 10 when Heavensward launches. And i don’t want that, so i’ll see how far my bank space takes me.

I also rejoined my german free company, they’re a nice bunch of people and it’s a small but friendly and quite successful guildand i’m happy to be back with them.

The dabbling

I loaded up Landmark, Marvel Heroes and TERA, as well. Reasons were: to find land for my possible building project, just logging in for a reward / checking if store specials were still active and, well, i don’t know why i launched TERA. Maybe because someone wrote about it and called it a great MMO to dabble in and have fun fighting stuff.

I’d really like to get the Landmark project going, but i really am not very talented in building stuff when it’s totally free (that’s also why i prefer EQ2’s housing over Rifts Dimesions, by the way) and i’m not very creative. But i want to do that…thing. I’ll write about that when it seems at least possible in some way. Meanwhile, combat is in, but for now, i just find it…annoying when you’re out there gathering stuff.

So, what are my plans for 2015?

2015 will be a good year for MMORPGs. I believe so, because there’s not much in the way of “new shiny” coming out. This will be good, in my opinion, because the genre will relax a little bit- players will be more happy with their choices (because there’s nothing coming out next month that will make everything better), the chosen games will turn a profit and see some kind of development, and maybe some will be left behind and close shop. This may seem like a sceptical outlook, but i think this year is going to be healthy for the genre and its players.

So, i’ve put my resolutions for 2015 into some words and there’s two that are hopefully going to define my MMORPG-related gaming in 2015: focus better on some titles instead of spreading out too thin and “be ready when they come”. Also, i’d like to NOT discover an open subscription to a game like i did with Final Fantasy XIV the other week.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Speaking of which, FF14 will be my first candidate. With Update 2.5 possibly coming in January and the expansion, let’s say, in April, there’s still some time to get my main character to 50 at least in one class/job and hopefully one gathering and one crafting profession, as well. As i’ve mentioned a couple of times, i like the game a lot- it’s a nice mix of old school mechanics and new features and it at least tries to make crafting and the economy somewhat worthwhile.

So, at least in the first quarter of the year, i’d like to make that one my main MMO and hopefully get something done in there.

Everquest 2

Everquest 2 will be my “main alternative” MMORPG for the time being. I like it a lot (in reality, this is my problem- it’s not that all MMORPGs suck, but that they all have their strengths and i do like them).

EQ2 New Halas Mount

 

I’d like to play it when i’m not in the mood for FFXIV and continue levelling my Inquisitor slow and steady. My goal is to be where i need to be when the next expansion comes, presumably some time in November. But, of course i know that this game would be too big for that goal even if i’d play EQ2 exclusively until November, so i’ll see how far i’ll come.

Other candidates

SWTOR will lie dormant for the time being. It’s that “third” MMO i’d like to play, but i won’t have it in my roster permanently- the other two will take up all my free time to achieve what i’d like to achieve there. But still, when i’m in the mood, i’ll probably fire it up some time.

The Repopulation- i’ll take a look before headstart/final wipe and i’ll play it if and when it releases. But we’ll see if that’ll be in 2015, anyway, soooo i’m totally relaxed on that part.

Landmark- i have a vision i’ll share when i looked into the game and my abilities with it and have decided to follow through with it. So that might come up at some point, as well.

World of Warcraft is postponed. I might get back to that if i’m in the mood.

Lord of the Rings Online. If and when they let me buy my way through Moria i’ll take a look at the lands beyond. I won’t play through those caves, though.

Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. If and when they go buy-to-play and/or free-to-play, i’ll be there on relaunch day.

The Secret World. Hmmm, i don’t know. Funcom did something spectacular with this game, it might just be the best “play-to-finish” MMO out there, but unfortunately, it’s too quest-heavy for my tastes. But it is possible i’ll be hopping in from time to time.

Did i forget something?

For sure. I’m fickle. Sometimes i’m in the mood for this and sometimes i’m in the mood for something else. As much as i’d like to call one MMORPG my home, i don’t see a candidate yet. It would have to offer almost everything MMOs have to offer in one game- also, my guess is it would have to be polished and, of course, at least hack-and-cheat-free. Also, of course, there are Elite: Dangerous and The Crew, which you might or might not call MMO…and there’ll be new games.

Doesn’t matter, though, for now. We know Heavensward is coming and that should be my priority right now, because i know for a fact i’ll consider buying it and it would be a nice change to finally see an expansion i paid for. So, right now, i’d like to declare 2015 to be the FFXIV and Everquest 2- year for me. We’ll see if that pans out. (Spoiler: it probably won’t)

Resolutions for 2015

Well, only the MMORPG-related, of course.

Spend less

2014 was an expensive year for me in MMORPGs. Developers monetize the feeling of missing out i always get when there’s some kind of early access/beta or even expansion and new releases very well nowadays. Others may dislike the chaos that are the first days in an MMO, but i like how everybody’s interested and sets foot in a new (part of the) world of a particular MMO. That’s why i’m always inclined to join as early as possible. So in 2014, i “preordered” Landmark, ArcheAge, the Repopulation, Elder Scrolls Online, Galactic Strongholds (actually, i only subbed to get it, but still), Wildstar and Elite: Dangerous. I also stocked up store credits in Rift when the new expansion came. That’s some serious money for games i play in a (very) casual manner. In case of ArcheAge, it was a total waste. I don’t know, this one makes me sad, because i like the crafting/economy part of this game but feel it is totally borked.

So in 2015, i’d like to spend less on that stuff, although i know that Everquest Next, should they release a founder pack with alpha access will probably make it on my list, and there’s at least one expansion that’s beckoning me, Heavenswarth for Final Fantasy XIV. But even so, i hope to be more careful this year.

Be ready when they come

I’m sure this’ll be a moot point for EQ2, because that game’s too big for me to get to the “end” of the available content before the new expansion hits, but in general terms, i’d like to be where the fun starts with a new expansion. Right now i can think of SWTOR and Final Fantasy XIV where i’ll want to at least be level-capped when new content hits. EQ2 would be a bonus, but as i said, there’s not much hope.

Also, this isn’t new. Last year, i was hoping to get settled into one, and only one MMORPG. I was quite sure that by this time of the year, i’d live happily ever after with ArcheAge, but it wasn’t to be. So this year, i’d like to be at least a little more focussed and try to ignore those who most likely won’t expand this year. I could add Lotro here, but i’m so far behind the curve in that one and don’t really like Moria that i don’t think i’ll even try.

Don’t forget this blog

Yeah, i posted very infrequently since i started this blog and i’d like to change that. I can’t write every day like others do, but still, i want to keep it active. Also, more pictures please.

Continue my guild project

Well, i copied an idea from an international guild i was part of and brought it to a german multigaming guild. Basically, we move between f2p games every 3 months. We use a poll to determine which one it’s going to be and then meet up once a week to play that game together. Right now, we’re in Everquest 2. Reception of the idea was very good, with 15 players signing up. A couple of weeks later and we’re down to 4 players. Anyway, i think such a project is good to have in a multigaming guild, because it brings the players closer to each other and lets them play together for a while.

Be more social in game

I don’t really know how to do that. If in a guild, i’ll try and group up more often, or at least chat. Also, i’d really like to make use of a friends list again- the last one i used as intended was back in WoW, since then it’s mostly just prep-work to get a guild set up.

Don’t overstretch, focus (a little)

….please? For now, i’ve said goodbye to the idea of playing just one MMORPG at a time, it seems it just isn’t my style at the moment. But with my available time for gaming, it would really befit me to not have 5 MMORPGs to choose from every time i find myself having some time. Also, when i’m not focussed, i tend to sub to multiple MMOs and sometimes even forget a subscription (a few days ago i discovered my FF14-sub still being active). So, please, dear me, try and stay a while.

Goodbye Vanguard, welcome back FFXIV and nice to meet you, EQ2

Welcome back

So yeah, it’s been a while since i posted. I guess having a baby at home gets in the way of gaming and especially blogging about it. So what happened in the meantime? Not much, of course. Last year after my last posting i didn’t play much- i think Raptr counted 30 hours, mostly in SWTOR, if i remember correctly. This year i saw ESO and Wildstar coming and going (for me). I knew they weren’t games designed with me as a player in mind before going in, but i couldn’t resist. Needless to say, i dropped both of them. Also, we moved. New job and all that.

So here i am, still trying to figure out and find “my” MMO home. The three candidates that made me start this blog still haven’t released yet, so there’s still hope for me. A lot more of it, to be frank, because SOE dropped ProsiebenSat1, so EQN is on my radar once again.

On a side note: i stumbled across old (guild) friends of mine and rejoined a german guild because of them- the guild/community i joined last year is the best organized guild i ever encountered and they offer great community-related stuff, really great people, i can’t complain. The new, german one is a lot more casual in their together-ness, but they’re also very nice. One thing i miss is some structure- but honestly, i never was in a german guild that also had a good organization (maybe i’ll post about that another time).

Goodbye, Vanguard

When the year 2014 came, i had a bad feeling concerning Vanguard. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but some news coming from SOE made me think Vanguard might be nearing its end by the end of 2014. So i subbed, thinking i might spend 2014 with getting to know Telon in my own pace. One week after i subbed, SOE really broke the news about Vanguard closing. But much sooner than i thought. With a closure in the end of july, there was no hope for me to see as much of Telon as i’d liked, so i stopped playing. But that’s not the point.

A huge loss

The point is; i think Vanguard was the last of the more old-school, world-orientated MMORPGs out there. It had an open world, a great crafting system and diplomacy. There are other games with an open world, of course, but they also have that “zone”-feel. Go from Elwynn to Westfall in WoW and it isn’t a slow and steady but a sudden change of landscape. There’s only one game i know of that doesn’t have that as much- and that’s ArcheAge.

Also, character progression should take almost forever. That’s how i like MMOs- open world, a variety of activities, a good ingame economy, lots of opportunity to socialize. I’ve never been one to “finish” MMORPGs, Rift being the only game i maxleveled a character, but still…endgame is not for me. At least not the WoW-inspired raiding endgame.

So the loss of Vanguard made me think about that, and that’s why i knew ESO and WS wouldn’t be for me, but i didn’t know what else to play. Also, i wanted to make a “decision”, to stick it out with one MMORPG for quite some time. But which one. As it stands, i am now committed to two games.

Final Fantasy XIV

I liked FF14 very much when i visited it- there was one thing i didn’t like, though: i thought levelling crafting was a huge grind. What i didn’t know is that you can do these Levequests for gathering and crafting, as well. Those help with progress, a lot. Also, my new german guild is also actively playing it, so i am not alone. I’m really looking forward to playing this to level 50…and i will!

Everquest 2

News of the new expansion made me curious, once again. The player base seems to be very excited for the expansion coming 11/11. I don’t really know anything about EQ2, but the excitement carried over nonetheless. Everquest 2 is mentioned very often when it comes to full-featured themepark MMORPGs. The housing and crafting systems also get a lot of praise. Also, it is the successor of Everquest, to which Vanguard was the spiritual successor. Somehow i thought, maybe this is the game one would play if Vanguard was no longer available.

I decided to get All Access, as well. The perks SOE gives out aren’t that interesting for me, yet, but still…and now we are coming out of a member-double xp weekend that was so well-timed that SOE might have read my mind (went All Access one day before they announced the double xp).

I’m playing a Warden right now (Broshia), got to level 16 and just started levelling as an artisan. I haven’t decided on a crafting profession, yet, but i think it might be tailor.

In the case of EQ2, i plan to play it as “second” MMO. Soon there’ll be ArcheAge (my guess is a release in late september), so it’ll become third. I like it so far and think i should have looked into it much sooner. I can also see it being the “casual”, “fall back to” MMORPG that in reality gets the most of my available play time.

Darn it, my list is filling up again

Now, concerning myself. I started this Blog with a few games and a resolution for myself: i’d pick one of three candidate games- ArcheAge, EQ Next or The Repopulation, stick to my choice and keep this blog as a journal-type recording of how i got to select the MMORPG in question and how i experienced it when it released. In the meantime, i wanted to stick at least to my resolution, since i don’t have much time and wanted to experience at least one MMORPG to the fullest before moving on.

Moving on, though, has become somewhat unlikely. I still look forward to all three of these games, but something’s telling me they won’t be exactly what i’m looking for, as well.

Plus, there’s another thing: the sticking to one MMORPG at a time doesn’t work for me. First, i chose Rift, but Rift being what Rift is, it still didn’t provide me with the experience i was looking for. Many people describe Rift as being quite soulless- and i think for me, this is the problem with the title, although the accusation doesn’t hold itself when you enter expansion terrain. The content of Storm Legion has lots of soul.

So i moved on from Rift to find a surprise- Final Fantasy XIV, a game that has lots of soul, as well. I can’t see a downside to this selection- the game is an experience coming quite close to what i’m looking for- there are things i like very much- the dependency on others in economic matters as well as progression, the fact that gold sinks >= gold fountains (the balance has yet to be found, though), it is great.

As an addition, Firefall offers a different game experience- quite action oriented, quick, and a deep experience nonetheless. Plus, at this stage, it suits very well as a second MMORPG- there’s still lots of development to be done, it will not be provided very quick and vertical progression is not very long. I still like Firefall a lot, even if i didn’t get around to play it for quite some time.

The same goes for FF14, i have to admit. It’s been more than a week ago that i played it; there has been real life stuff in the way, other hobbies (watching football/soccer), meeting real friends at the weekend, so all in all, i clocked 8 hours game time last week, 6 of which have been in FF14, while the other two feature a new, old newcomer and my biggest surprise in released MMORPGs from last year: the Secret World.

Hanging out in Kingsmouth
Hanging out in Kingsmouth

This week, it looks like TSW will win the fight for my gaming time. In general, i think this is a good thing- see, i did buy the grand master pack shortly after release, but really didn’t play it enough to justify the expense, and i am generous on that front. While Funcom didn’t devalue the lifetime subscription in my book, i didn’t do as well on my end. So playing it again is a positive in this regard.

As in many others. The Secret World is a much underappreciated effort done by Funcom. It’s an MMORPG with loads of good stories in it, a good, but not very good, fighting experience, a great way of progression- at least for non-raiders and/or content locusts and some very interesting mechanics above that. What FF14 is for 2013, TSW was in 2012- the biggest positive surprise in MMORPG gaming in my book.

I haven’t really decided yet whether i’m going with my “old” character on the english RP server or with the new one on the german server. The german server seems to be business as usual for german servers- it’s quite silent and not so very populated, but i have to say i enjoy Sword+Fist more than Sword+Assault rifle. Also, i enjoy taking my time in the zones i visited earlier, but the decision to stick it out with the new character could turn into a bad decision when i realize that progression is too slow, when i remember all the missions and know how much of that is still waiting for me before i enter new territory.

So, all in all, i’m back up to three MMORPGs- Final Fantasy 14, Firefall and The Secret World. It seems i’ll achieve none of my goals when starting this blog, but at least the third reason for opening it up at the time i did will present itself soon enough- the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2 is going to start in a few days, this time mentored by the two sites Contains Moderate Peril and T.R. Red Skies. I wanted to join that, so i probably will, because i think this initiative is a great way to encourage new bloggers like me and foster the MMORPG/gaming community.

Edit: i’ve decided on continuing my “old” character, Eliza “Lisah” Ruben, on Arcadia and updated the Group up – page accordingly. As always, feel free to contact me in- or out of game.

Doing it wrong

Yesterday, i read the massively opinion column titled “Maybe it’s time to admit you don’t like MMOs” and it made me think- about the general perception of MMOs, their communities and my interaction with other players in the games themselves.

I came to the conclusion that i’m doing it wrong- i mean, in Final Fantasy 14 i am member in what seems to be a great linkshell/free company. My interactions with the other members have been saying “hi” and “bye” as well as one dungeon run, which was fun. In Firefall, i had fun doing stuff with one or two other players, but when our army grew to be bigger than the squad size of Firefall, i became reluctant to log in.

Finding excuses for solo-play

Now, i know what this blog’s title suggests, so i am aware of how these games are meant to be played, but there always seem to be obstacles to experience these games this way. For me, it comes down to:

  • Voice Chat. I don’t like voice chat. Yet, in many guilds using it is de facto mandatory. In my Rift guild, for example, guild chat would always just entail fragments of conversations that happened in voice chat. Yes, i might use voice chat once in a while, but don’t expect me to launch it with the game. I might want to listen to music/podcasts or whatever. Voice chat directly affects my ability to relax and enjoy an evening of leisure.
  • Log-In times. We have a toddler in the house. When he screams, i’m afk. When my wife needs assistance, i’m afk. Often, when i log in, i don’t know how long it will be- it could be 2 hours, but it could also be 15 minutes. I don’t want to ruin someone else’s evening by signing up for a dungeon run i can’t finish- or doing something in the party and let them wait for my return in a quest hub.
  • My own mood. I play these games to relax. I take my time, i play them slow- my Conjurer in FF14 is level 22 now and will remain there for a time because i want to catch up with my botanist and weaver classes. If i were to group up with my level 22 i could suddenly find myself being at level 30 without progressing in the storyline and my crafting jobs getting far behind. Playing at my own pace in groups becomes running after someone else very quick. I wouldn’t want that.
  • Other people’s progress. I’m slow, others aren’t. One reason i haven’t done very much with my linkshell is that many are in their 40s or at max level (they played 1.0) and therefore what they do isn’t available to me.
  • Other people’s playtimes. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with my last point, but there’s more than just the progression. I’m always somewhat surprised that even players who call themselves “casual” play 4 hours each day. As i mentioned, i average at about 10-15 hours a week and i consider that playing quite a lot. In Firefall, i saw how others in my army spent every free minute available to them in the game- when i see that, i think to myself how quickly they’re going to burn out and leave the game- and true enough, last week the guild leader played 2 and a half hours Firefall. As i said, right now i think Firefall is a great game, but you have to consume it bite-sized, or you’ll be burnt out when the really cool features come into play.

Resolutions

Good excuses, right? Well, no, maybe not. Maybe, if i don’t want to play with others i should just start up one of my many single player games i didn’t finish (or pretty much didn’t even start them). Sure, MMORPGs nowadays are soloable and especially the gathering and crafting bits of FF14 lend themselves very good to solo-play.

Maybe i should just scrap crafting first and just level my most advanced class to 50 as quick as possible. But then i wouldn’t be able to craft equipment for myself during the levelling process. Also, endgame is usually not what i’m playing these games for. When i reached endgame in Rift in June 2011 i just quit- doing daily quests or repeating the same dungeons over and over again doesn’t appeal to me. Levelling as quick as possible is also not what i’m there for. So that’s not going to work.

I made a resolution, nonetheless. I want to party more, and usually, when i do, i get something out of it. The other day i helped another player in a really dense spawn point- he was going to fill his hunting log, but no matter how he’d do it, he would pull 3-4 enemies to get to his targets. So, as a healer, i asked him what he wanted to do, grouped up and helped him achieve his goal. One more member on my friendslist.

So i want to do that some more- go around with open eyes and help players i see having trouble. I did that before, as well, but it was a case of throwing out one or two heals and going my way. Also, i should ask in linkshell chat if somebody wants to group up- either for my most advanced class or for some of the classes i want to play down the line. I mean, there’s many of them. Just for adventuring classes, i aim to play:

  • Conjurer
  • Arcanist
  • Thaumaturge
  • Archer
  • Pugilist
  • Lancer
  • Gladiator

All this to get the jobs of White Mage, Black Mage, Bard, Monk and Scholar- more or less in that order.

Making (and keeping) friends

One problem, of course, is that none of my friends play MMORPGs. Many players just enjoy group content with either real life friends or acquaintances from the game(s) they’re playing- none of the two are available to me, for different reasons, many of them my own fault. If you jump around in games and guilds very much, you’ll have a hard time making “online friends”. And when you do make them and let the connections somehow fall apart (as i did with the guild i co-founded in GW2), that’s your own fault, as well. Maybe i’ll talk more about that last mistake some time.

This blog

Now, there’s a topic for a series of blog posts that fits right into this blog’s title. Party business- how to put the multiplayer part back into MMORPGs from the perspective of a casual player.

I haven’t written for some time, because when commenting around at the last post i realized that the reason i started this blog- or the topics i wanted to cover- aren’t really hot anymore. EQ Next is a thing of the past- i’ll look into it again either when SOE scraps P7S1 or when i cave in and decide that making an account there isn’t the end of the world. With EQN, there’s another thing: i can’t shake the feeling that this will play very GW2-like. ArcheAge seems to become a lot more themeparky than expected and The Repopulation seems still to be far off.

Final Fantasy 14 caught me by surprise- i didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, but as you can see above, i have goals that last for quite some time- for me, at least- and i didn’t even mention crafting. But i’ll have to put some thought into how i’m going to develop this blog further, since it really doesn’t bother anyone what i’m doing in my MMO and so the journal-type i was using isn’t of much interest. That’s not to say i won’t continue like that, but there will be another theme to my blogging, and right now i think it’s going to be somewhat community-focused, which might be an odd thing to do for someone who’s doing it wrong.