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. (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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
Yesterday, Trion Worlds teased a new game. If you go and take a look at the comments on Massively Overpowered, as well as on mmorpg.com, you’ll see a lot of negative comments for a game that’s only been teased as of right now. We don’t know anything besides some art piece that serves as a background for a homepage. Of course, these comments don’t attack the game, they attack Trion Worlds- and it makes me sad. Compare that to the positivity we saw when it was announced Trion would publish ArcheAge and you’ll see Trion has a problem on its hands there.
But it’s not only Trion. Daybreak can’t get a break, as well, especially since it was announced that the dev priority is now in EQ Next and not Landmark anymore– but it’s been negative ever since they went from being SOE to being Daybreak and a few high-profile employees left- or had to leave – the company.
Of course, Blizzard is making us pay subscriptions and for mounts in their cash shop while delivering content at a very slow pace and taking away flying for most people. We don’t like Perfect World because of their monetization schemes. We dislike NCSoft for closing City of Heroes and/or Tabula Rasa (this is the one i miss dearly). Carbine is quite bad for delivering a raid endgame, ArenaNet has lost goodwill, as well, maybe since the perceived lack of delivering something akin to their design manifesto, maybe for overprizing HoT or something else entirely. Bioware turns SWTOR into a single player game and uses a f2p model where they make the customers pay and Funcom overpromises and does launches bad.
I think, right now, the only company who’s somewhat seen in a positive light is Square for closing and reopening Final Fantasy XIV. While i think they deserve the praise, i think we shouldn’t behave like that.
In defense of ArcheAge
I don’t really see Trion at fault here- i mean, one could say that they should have looked at how exploits, hacks and so on work in that game- but in the end, they delivered a product we were wanting very badly. I think the hacking/exploiting was the main problem in AA, this is what sucked the fun out of it for me- because i felt that crafting and so on was made worthless if someone else could just cheat his or her way out of the system, especially with housing spots. But this stuff isn’t really in Trion’s hands.
As for the cash shop? I don’t know. Yes, selling Labor point potions might be a bit much, but i don’t see it as critical- first of all, the labor point system was in place since before the game went free-to-play. Personally, i like a system like that, because there’s a stop gap on what one account can do each day. It allows dirty time casuals like myself to not lose contact to others so quickly and it also makes players prioritize what they spend their LP on. You can learn and level all crafting professions in AA- labor points is used to maintain interdependancy in the game. If they didn’t have that, crafters could just craft everything by themselves instead of trading with other players. This might be what we want, but in my opinion, this takes away some of the fun that is to be found in MMORPGs.
In defense of Trion
Myself, i really like Trion. I still do, even if i was quite disappointed at how ArcheAge turned out to be, as well. But if you’d take a look at their other games- you know, those they actually developed, namely Rift, Defiance and Trove, i think they are doing a decent job, especially with Rift and Trove. If you think Trion is a company desperately trying to “steal” your money, you should take a look at Trove. Regular, meaty updates that take player feedback into account and a monetization that is quite fair. I don’t begrudge anyone trying to sell me something, i simply decide whether the game is fun to play and if what is offered/the prize it’s asking is worth it to me.
We are customers, not fans
Massively Overpowered had this article about MMO terms that should just go away- for me, there are two terms that rub me the wrong way- first, it’s when someone calls playing an MMO “work”, as in “i worked so hard to get gear x,y and now they’re nerfing it”- you’re not working, you’re playing a game. The second one is “fans”. While it might be true in some ways, i think it creates a slightly off mindset. If you think about “fans”, the first thing that comes to mind are sport teams- for us over here it’s soccer/football, for north americans it might be american football/baseball and so on.
Now, fans of teams get passionate, they do. When things aren’t looking so good for their team, they’ll look for someone to blame, will probably find someone and will want him or her gone. But these fans always want the best for their team.
In the other direction, i think it makes devs feel to safe when they think about us, the players, the customers, as fans- there might be some fans to each games- i think all those who create fan sites should be considered fans- but the main body of us? We’re customers- devs/publishers will have to offer a product that’s worth its prize.
We should be more fan-like
I’ve stated before that in my personal opinion, MMORPGs are in a decline. It’s not the license for printing money everyone thought it to be in 2006 to 2010. MOBAs used to be it, but i guess that time’s over now, as well. Maybe survival is next (i think we’ve only seen indie survival games up until now). 2015 turned out to be a better year for MMORPGs than i thought when it began, but this is for existing MMORPGs, mostly. There are quite a few indie MMORPGs in development, and some of them might even be great (Repopulation and Shroud of the Avatar, looking at you here), but if we are honest about it, few of them, if any, should be considered Triple A. Those times seem to be gone.
I think we should be more positive with the people/devs who provide us with games from our favourite genre. I think especially developers, so those guys actually creating these games for us, are very enthusiastic about what they’re doing- because frankly, i think there’s more money to be made elsewhere with the skillset they have. I have little doubt, as well, that people like Scott Hartsman, Joel Bylos, John Smedley and so on love what they’re doing. Maybe sometimes they’ll make tough decisions we don’t like, but they’re doing this with the best intentions for their company, even if it might seem that it isn’t in our- the customer’s – best interest. But i don’t think we can blame them for that- making games is also a business.
We might not be “fans” of certain games or certain companies, but we are fans of the genre and would benefit greatly if the genre was doing fine- in quality and quantity.
If all these companies we “don’t like” are gone- who will provide us with the games we love to play?
So i’m looking forward to seeing what this new Trion game is, give them credit for what they’ve done with Rift and Trove, at least, and just hope it’s something ambitious- either self-developed or published- we need that.
By the way, the best guesses i’ve seen so far seem to indicate it’s possible that Trion might be publishing Lost Ark in NA/EU.
Edit: It looks like Devilian Online is a better guess.
This week in /saved
I’m still playing catch-up when it comes to all these new blogs i’m following, all the people i followed via Twitter and so on. This week has been a busy one, for me, so some nice posts might have slipped- which i guess is always true, because it possibly is impossible to follow all these great blogs out there.
Bloggers and Media
This topic carried on through this week, as well. We already saw people chime in who know both sides of the medal, this week Syp from Biobreak also took a turn and offered an interesting perspective on the matter.
Ravious from Killtenrats thinks MMO journalists should concentrate on being less a part of a games’ PR and keep the dev studios more on their feet. He wants MMO press to be “needed” instead of “wanted”.
Ironweakness shares the opinion that on Massively, there were authors who are from a range of play styles and Massively served as a kind of good example in letting every opinion be valid and important in a discussion. He thinks that in a blogging community, this wouldn’t happen as much.
The last one ties in with another discussion that went on some time ago where someone mentioned that bloggers rarely seem to disagree. I’m so sorry, i can’t find the source right now and i’m pretty tight on time, so i’ll maybe get around to sharing a link when i find it.
More than pixels
There’s also been a discussion if online relationships are somewhat different than real life relationships. Belghast thinks it’s only different if you make it different, while Braxwolf thinks online relationships lack multiple things that real-life relationships have, while having some advantages, as well. I think he’s of the opinion that they lack depth.
My view on this, in short: i always try to treat pixels as people- everything else wouldn’t be true, after all there’s another player playing on the other end. But i’m not equating online friends to real life friends, this doesn’t work- have you tried to explain to a non-gamer who calls you once every several weeks that you can’t talk right now because you’re in a group? Yeah, i tried and it didn’t go so well. I’ll try and keep appointments, but really, when a friend’s standing at the door i’m not going to tell him to go away because it’s Guild EQ2 time.
Daybreak Games have been a topic this week- i guess there’s a good roundup out there. I haven’t shared my opinion on the topic because….i have none. Or i had none. I don’t know, i guess i was and am slightly worried, because investment firms aren’t very good for the longterm health of the companies they buy, in my opinion. But then Daybreak decides to let Dave Georgeson and Linda “Brasse” go- and, forgive me, i’m not a longterm fan of SOE/Everquest and haven’t followed the games religiously, but come on! These names, i do know. I know Dave’s face, he was very enthusiastic about the games he lead, which is always a good thing. In my opinion, letting these two people go was a poor decision and i have to wonder if they didn’t know that already- or might it be true that they stood against something that Daybreak wants to do in their games and had to be removed?
Anyway, here are the opinions of people who know more about the subject than i do.
There have been other great posts, as well. First of all, i love how Syp tells his gameplay experiences- it’s just one way to do it, mind you, but i like how they are quick to read and entertaining, as well, with all these pictures.
J3w3l from Healing the masses took a look at the new content in Firefall, while Wilhelm Arcturus took an outlook on SWTOR’s 2015 and Telwyn went and did some advanced solo dungeons in Everquest 2 (looking forward to those!). A completely different approach was taken by Belghast, who shares the best games he isn’t playing.
And then, Massively Overpowered’s Eliot, who also writes the shaman class column for Blizzardwatch, was very mean, at least in my book. He shared his view on the Enhancement Shaman as the last true hybrid. I loved playing the Druid as a hybrid and i’d love to experience something similar again, so i was quite tempted to see if what he writes is true.