Bloggy XMas – Day 19: the Christmas spirit and MMO’s

Guys and gals, believe me when I tell you that the spirit of Christmas is possessing me. Not in a bad, Exorcist-y way that makes me spin my head around and cover priests with my green barf, but in a cheerful and festive way. It’s only five more days until Christmas Eve, the time when my family and I will stuff ourselves with delicious food, discuss world politics over a glass of great wine and make fun of my obvious lack of any real-life crafting skills.

…Christmas is fun!

Anyway, I hope all of you are also feeling the Christmas vibe, especially since most of our favorite MMO’s are throwing it right in our faces. Though not every holiday event is as creative as the other (simply slapping Christmas hats and some mistletoe on everything in-game doesn’t make it a holiday event. God.), you cannot outrun the Christmas vibe in Azeroth, Tyria or any other digital world. Hopefully, this will bring players of all these games into a festive mood, willing to share the gift of love this season and-

Wait, did I just get kicked from my dungeon group because we wiped a single time?

Did that Rogue just whisper me, cursing me in some teenage language because I didn’t keep him alive while he was AFK’ing in the flames?

Does that tank only have twenty-four hours left to live, or why is he rushing us through this dungeon like he still has to finish a bucket list?

Oh boy, the materialistic, capitalist side of Christmas might have found a place in every MMORPG (“Just grind these mobs for eight hours a day and you might get that reindeer mount. Stop complaining, and obey the powers of the free MMO market!”) but the actual soul and heart of the season cannot be found anyway.

Let me then use this post of Bloggy Xmas to call upon you, my fellow gamers, and urge you to embrace the spirit of Christmas. Remember, behind that keyboard is another human being, and all we want in our brief existences on this planet is to be loved. Yes, that Rogue might spell like he was taught by Chewbacca, but give him a virtual pat on the shoulder when he shows that he knows his class. Yes, that tank might be pulling mobs faster than Sony surrenders to terrorist threats, but why not ask him politely to slow down? And yes, you might have the urge to kick your healer from your party because you wiped a single time and that is CERTAINLY that damn healer’s fautl, but…think straight for a minute and realise you were the moron to pull three additional packs of mobs while trying to tank with one hand because you really wanted that last Pringle in the can.

You jerk.

Embrace the spirit of the season, fellower gamers, and don’t drink and LFG! Merry Christmas!


10 years of WoW – Games change


Hey, you guys still there? I know most of you will currently be busy in Draenor, now that the servers have calmed down a bit and the queues are not THAT long anymore (I hope). However, as I promised three articles in celebration of WoW‘s 10th Anniversary, I still owe you one. Last week we talked about how people change, the week before that we discussed how times change, and this week we’re gonna look at how a game changes, as that topic is more than fitting for the days after the expansion has hit us.

When I started playing World of Warcraft, the game was a lot different: each faction had only four races, and Azeroth had not yet seen any playable Death Knights or Monks. While being a smaller world, travel took longer because of sparsely scattered flight masters and being limited to ground mounts. Most importantly though, the game was far from being streamlined: while  being one of the best MMORPG’s on the market back then, some things just had not been thought entirely through. The early days of the Honor system? Utter chaos. The opening event for Ahn’Qiraj? If you think Warlord of Draenor‘s launch has been rocky, you should have seen the servers tremble when Ahn’Qiraj was about to open. As good as the game was back then, it would still require a lot of polish and tweaks.

That’s exactly what Blizzard gave the game. Over the years, the developers tried out different things with varying results. Some changes were for the better, others made the game worse. Don’t ask me to give examples for these categories, for that is highly subjective. I believe that the best addition to the game have been the linked auction houses, while I’m convinced that our current Talent system is rather bland. However, ask a hundred other players, and they will name a hundred different changes they liked or didn’t like. Different folks, different strokes.

What we can agree on is that the game has changed. Every patch and every expansion has brought some degree of that, and no one can deny that these changes have kept the game in our minds. While active players have direct contact with these changes, those of us who have taken a hiatus from the game are also not unmoved by them. When I told my brother about the features of Warlords, he smiled and we talked about how he thought that would impact the game. Mind you, my brother dropped off the surface of Azeroth in early Cataclysm, but he keeps at least half an eye on the game. Who knows, he might one day see something that has him return to the game. Changes to World of Warcraft keep people talking about it, playing it and possibly returning to it.

Of course, changes also drive people away, but the blame for that cannot be put entirely on the game alone. Times change and people change too, but a change in the game can be the catalyst for someone to recognise such changes in himself. If a change to a subsystem like Talents is enough to drive you away from the gam, were you not already halfway out the door, but did not yet have a good excuse to leave?

MMORPG’s offer persistent, living worlds. Part of life is change, and MMORPG’s cannot escape them. Without some form of change now and then, things would become boring and stale. Yes, a change can cause people we love playing together with to leave, but it can also bring them back. People change, times change, and games change.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

10 Years of WoW – People change


“Damn Thrall, have you been…working out or something?”

When I was eighteen, I started my study to become a history teacher. I dropped that a year later, but that’s another story. While learning about the fall of the Roman Empire during the day and making raid bosses fall down in the evening, I listened to a lot of Paramore. I really enjoyed their light, pop-punk sound and the charismatic and powerful presence of the lead singer, Hayley Williams. In the clip to their hit song “Misery Business“, Hayley struts her own punky style, while also demonstrating her impressive voice. Their album “Riot!” was playing non-stop on my iPod back then, and I thought I would listen to this band forever and ever.

The years went by, and I started to care less and less for Hayley and her band. The albums after “Riot!” were not terrible, but I started to notice a shift in the style of the band. The fanboy in me immediately linked that to the growing popularity of the band, blaming success for straying from the one, true Paramore sound. The rational, quiet and boring person in me, however, understood that artists change and want to try new stuff. I might not like that new stuff, but no one’s forcing me to keep Paramore in my playlist, right?

Also, I had changed since first listening to “Misery Business” and “Let The Flames Begin”. I think that’s something many people forget when they complain about how everything was better in the past: others are not the only one’s changing, but we, you…I change too. What we like and don’t like is not fixed in our DNA. We change as new impressions are picked up by our senses, adapting to the new input and adding it to our frame of reference. No one is born the grumpy old man, but change might turn you into the grumpy old man.

The same goes for World of Warcraft. Sure, Azeroth has changed throughout the years, but the people playing have as well. The majority of people I used to play with have left the game. Did they leave because the game got worse, boring or repetitive? From their perspective, it might have. However, these people also left because World of Warcraft did no longer fit into their life. Their priorities shifted, their ambitions seemed to lie elsewhere and they simply were no longer willing to incorporate a MMORPG into their daily life. I still hang with those people, and we still think about the fun we had raiding together. Would I love to see them return to the game? Oh, hell yeah, but I also understand that who they are now is no longer who they were when we all shared a raid group. People simply change, and that’s okay.

If you know someone who has not changed one bit in the past ten years, you know a really boring person. I love how I’ve changed, I love how my friends have changed, and I love how World of Warcraft has changed. I know there’s still a lot of change for me in store. Who knows what I’ll be like when I (ever) get married? How will my future children influence my personality? What impact will my career have on who I am? In ten years, will I still be a person who will log in to Azeroth at the end of a busy day, to have fun with guild members and slay dragons?

Well, Hayley has changed a lot, but she’s still in Paramore. I think I can change a lot and still enjoy World of Warcraft, and so can you. Understand that it’s not just the game…it’s also you.



10 Years of WoW – Times change


When you’re sixteen, you think you have your priorities straight. You know what matters in life, and neither your parents nor your teachers can convince you otherwise. This mentality was part of sixteen-years old me, which caused me to be a lazy, uninspired twat who cared only about two things: finally getting noticed by the pretty girls in my class and video games. The latter were way easier to get, so I mostly settled for them. While my grades declined and all of my attempts to score with the other sex failed, I found myself having ample free time to invest in gaming. As fate would have it, I found that brown box with the grim orc on it in March 2005, just a few weeks after my birthday. That’s where it all began.

For those who started to worry about the quality of my youth by now: relax. I might have been a fat nerd back then, but that didn’t bother me. Sure, I was convinced that being a bit more attractive would improve my quality of life (which turned out to be only partially true), but I actually enjoyed having a lot of time for myself and my games. Doing the math, I think that back then, I could easily invest sixty hours a week into games, and I sure as hell did. The problem was that I did not own any game I could pour that much time into before getting bored, and at first I thought World of Warcraft would be no different. Oh, was I wrong.

Almost ten years later and I’m still busy exploring Azeroth, Outland and soon also good ol’ Draenor. I’ve had my breaks but in the end, this game lures me back. A lot has changed though, and one of those things is how I invest my time in World of Warcraft.

As said before, back in my Warcraft “prime”, I could easily invest a whopping sixty hours a week into the game. Today, I’m glad if I can put an hour or two each day into the game, right before I hit the gym, catch up with friends or simply enjoy a moment of evening serenity. Time’s change, people, and we won’t do anything against that.

Change. It’s something many of us struggle with. As a species, humanity likes security and stability. We love the predictable, and condemn chaos. Change, then, is something we fear, especially if it is a change outside of our control. Time brings many changes we cannot influence, and that scares many of us. If we could decide the course of time, we would have affected its stream as if it were a river that meandered the wrong way. If each and everyone of us had the power of the Bronze Dragonflight, we would surely see no changes. We would stick to what we know, and never sail for new shores.

I’m glad no one’s Chromie.


Time has been good to me and the people in my life. I have grown from a fat nerd into a somewhat athletic and healthy…nerd. I have been fortunate enough to experience a spectrum of emotions, with ample chances to flavor what the world has to offer and now live in an environment where I am loved and safe. Like all others, I float on the river of time, curious to see what lies beyond the next turn.

And Warcraft? Warcraft has also changed in these years. It also has been fortunate enough to allow people to experience a wide spectrum of emotions, offering them to taste the different flavors of a digital world. Time has seen it grow and shrink at the same time, as the game changed to fit a world that would not stand still. There were times that had me believe that I would never return to this game, seeing as we were moving in different directions. Well, here I am writing an article in honor of the game, while taking a break from leveling my Troll Priest. Time has proven me otherwise, it seems.

None of us can hold or turn back time, and so the only option we have left is to go along with it and adapt. I will keep on changing as the years keep passing by, and so will that game we love. No matter if I have sixty or just a dozen hours a week, Azeroth has not gotten rid of me yet. Will it ever?

Time will tell.

Civilization: Beyond Earth – I wanna party with Colbert and Johansson

ColbertLet me get one thing straight: I am not a Civilization fanboy. In fact, I’ve gotten into the franchise pretty late. As a wee boy, my dad thought to be a good father by getting a copy of one of the Civ games for me, but back then I lost interest in a game when it had me do nothing for more than a millisecond. It was not until a few years ago, when Steam put a hefty discount on the franchise, thus practically forcing me to try a game that many claimed to be better than a night with Stephen Colbert, Scarlett Johansson and an unlimited supply of pina coladas.

Well, the games are not better than that (I assume), but they are pretty damn good. When Civilization: Beyond Earth was announced, I was pretty hyped. Now that I had the chance to spend a few hours with the future of strategy games, does the newcomer live up to the standards set by his predecessors? All I will say for now is that it still isn’t as good as a night out with two celebs and tons of alcohol, but which game is?


This week I will…colonize space and say hello to a broken world

Since it’s been a while since my last post, I feel like it’s best to get my blogging mojo back by telling you what I’ll be doing this week, both game and blog-wise.

In games:

  • Civilization: Beyond Earth is the best multiplayer backstabbing simulator I have played in a long time, so any time I have to hook up with someone for some multiplayer matches will be spend there. Let’s see if I can succeed in reaching any Victory Condition while not just fighting bots…
  • Warlords of Draenor draws ever closer, and my goal is to reach maximum level on just one more character before we set foot in old Draenor. I’m running lowbie dungeons on Tuesdays and Thursdays with some friends, but that won’t be enouhg for my Troll Druid to reach 90 before 13 November. My Troll Priest, however, has a fair chance. He’s chilling in Thrallmar right now, being pretty close to level 59. Wouldn’t it be great to have one more healer at maximum level?

In blogs:

  • Yeah, I’ve been quiet. It happens.
  • Expect a review of Civilization: Beyond Earth on Thursday. As much as I enjoy the politicking in it, I have some negative words to share about the Tech Web and Sponsors.
  • World of Warcraft‘s 10th Anniversary is drawing closer. To celebrate that, I’m preparing a three-part blog series about my time with the game. It’s all about change, and I’ll be telling you how time, people and even a game change in ten years time, and why that is nothing to fret about. Expect the first post on Sunday!

I’m off to start my working week now. If you have anything to share with me, hit me up on Twitter via @TheChindividual. In the mean time, stay awesome and don’t write me a love song!

Destiny: $500 million revenue can’t guarantee a good story.


Like a large part of the PS4 owners, I’ve been busy shooting aliens and saving Earth in Bungie’s record-breaking new first-person shooter Destiny. Trying themselves at a RPG shooter a la Borderlands, Bungie sure knew how to turn on the hype machine, generating more than $500 million revenue on release day. Being already the most pre-ordered game in the history of video games, this number is not surprising, but still impressive.

I’ve contributed my part to that ridiculous revenue, and I would be lying if I would tell you I haven’t enjoyed myself so far. Destiny is, without a doubt, a very entertaining shooter with a dash of MMORPG loot and grind. Controls are smooth, the game looks absolutely stunning and the gameplay itself is more than a good foundation for future expansions. Regarding those aspects, I don’t regret spending $60 on the game. However, there is one thing that just bugs me.

You see, the game is made by Bungie, the studio that has created the award-winning, genre-defining Halo series. Next to reviving the shooter genre on consoles and giving us the amusing Red vs. Blue show, Halo is still known for its gripping story, interesting characters and overall great writing (especially when compared with other FPS). It’s not in my Top 5 of best games I’ve ever played, but Halo 2 is one of my favorite shooters ever and that’s not just because I could stick grenades to my friend’s faces. No, Halo 2 had a thrilling story, which was supported by the individual missions you went through and that kept you wanting more. When the game ended with one of the most gruesome cliffhangers since pixels learned how to move, I was both enraged and satisfied, demanding another helping of such excellent storytelling.

Destiny just hasn’t given me this experience yet. I’ve finished all the story missions, and to be honest with you…they are boring. The writers show us all these interesting story hooks and then decide to not do anything with them! That Warmind Rasputin? Mentioned, but it never plays a role in the story. That badass queen and her Fallen bodyguards? Oh, they look sweet and all in the cutscene, but they won’t be back until Bungie runs her event. The actual motivations of any of the enemy factions? What, they try to destroy Earth! Isn’t that all you need?!

Of course, certain hooks hopefully remain unused so they can play a role in some DLC or expansion. However, not giving a single faction any motivation beyond “they want to kill humanity / the Traveler / both” is just unsatisfying and lame. If I’m going to fight something, I want to know what it’s planning and how that affects me. Why did the Fallen ever attack Earth? Why aren’t we exploring that in the missions in Old Russia? Is there any other reason for them to fight the Vex on Venus beyond “the Vex are more evil than all the other evil in the universe”? So far, all we get is some vague info during cutscenes and on some Grimoire cards, but that just is not enough. For a game that calls itself the most expensive video game production ever, I feel like just a nickel and a dime went to the writing department.

All I can hope for Destiny is that future content gives us some more information on the actual universe and what everything does there. Grinding faction reputation to get that sweet weapon can only keep me busy for so long. Once I have that weapon, I want to bust some aliens, and I want to know why I should bust them.