mmorpg

10 Years of WoW – People change

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“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.

LIAR!

LIAR!

Live from Nexus: devoured by color

wildstar landing

When I first wrote about WildStar approximately two month ago, I described the game as a fairly standard MMORPG packed in beautiful graphics. After surviving the Headstart (which went better than expected. Big up, Carbine!), I have come before you to revise my opinion. In this and the next post on Thursday, I’ll be reporting live from Nexus why WildStar is more than your run-off-the-mill endgame treadmill and why you should bother checking it out. Today, I want to tell you about what made me change my mind from a more aesthetical point-of-view, while Thursday’s post will dive deeper into the different convincing gameplay elements.

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Faffing to 90 – Killing with style, killing in style

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Readers, I have to thank you.

In my previous Faffing to 90 post, I was somewhat cynical about the fact that you forced me to play a Blood Elf. I decided to make the best of it, made a blondie with one of those crazy hairstyles (only Varian has more wicked hair than those pointy-eared freaks) and named him Lorellis. The name is somewhat inspired by Loras Tyrell from A Song of Ice and Fire. For one because Loras is a badass warrior, but more importantly because the Knight of Flowers has that certain “fab factor” I’m going for. The result is the smashing elf you see above.

So, why do I have to thank you? First of all, because playing this Blood Elf has been a blast so far. Being the roleplayer that I am, I had to give Lorellis a personality. Being fabulous is sadly not enough to be an interesting character, so Lorellis had to be more. In my head, he’s a fashionista hedonist who has gotten in deep with some goblin loan sharks (who might be using actual sharks to enforce their will) to finance his extravagant lifestyle. In order to work his way out of debt, Lorellis has to do the only thing he is even better at than being the pinnacle of beauty, namely being the pinnacle of slaughter. And so, Lorellis’ adventure across Azeroth and beyond begins, always looking for beauty in all the bloody places. It’s killing with style, while killing in style!

Next to giving me the foundation of an enjoyable character to roleplay, rolling a Blood Elf also allows me to level through content I haven’t seen in ages or haven’t seen at all. The last time I played through Eversong and the Ghostlands was around the launch of The Burning Crusade, and I didn’t have a chance so far to even touch the reworked northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms. Imagine my joy when I noticed how much fun those zones are, with interesting mini-storylines and some fantastic quests. Always wanted to be a quest giver in the name of the Dark Lady? Make your way to Hillsbrad Foothills, and you can be one! Also, as with all the zones that received a facelift when Cataclysm hit, leveling in Hillsbrad, Arathi and the likes has so much…flow. Some might call it boring, but the fact that I can easily auto-pilot through these quests makes leveling so much more enjoyable. Kudos, Blizzard, kudos!

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Finally, an honest quest giver!

By now, Lorellis is level 32 and starting his adventures in the Hinterlands. It’s been a blast playing him so far, and I think I have to thank you guys for making this decision. You are truly the best readers are blogger could wish for!

Mistweaving: playing a monk and preparing for Draenor

As you might have figured, I’ve been infected once more with the WoW-Virus. It all started with that beta of that damned TCG, and it just got worse with the announcement of Warlords of Draenor. Now, I’m busy again leveling a slew of characters, lead by Umaru, my Troll Monk. But hey, I’m not complaining. Returning to WoW always feels like getting a frappucino at Starbucks with an ex-girlfriend you still get along with: you know there’s that wild past where your emotions were out of control, but now you’re both older and more capable of just enjoying the simple things in life.

And that’s just what I’ve been doing so far in WoW: enjoying the simple things. Leveling is such a relaxing activity, that I just like to log in for an hour or two to get my mind off of things: work, the dishes or the fact that I still have to write a blog post. Also, the familiarity of it all makes it even more comforting. Though the Cataclysm and Pandaria content are still fairly new to me, the rest of the world and the game feel like my childhood neighborhood: safe and recognisable.

Without knowing when the expansion will hit, I made a list of things I want to get done before we all take a leap through time and into the wilds of Draenor. Here it is:

  • Get Umaru at least through LFR Siege of Orgrimmar
  • Hit maximum level with at least one other character (bonus points if it’s a troll)
  • Get one of those suave flying serpents
  • Max at least two professions

It’s mostly catching up and not that ambitious, but I noticed that having a list like this helps me keeping focused on the game. Plus, checking things off feels good. I like things that feel good.

And right now, World of Warcraft just feels good.

What happened to Digital Dragonslayers?

“Zinda the Dragonslayer” by eisu

On 1 November 2013, I started writing Digital Dragonslayers. As planned, I wanted to devote the month to writing a non-fictional piece about my life as a MMORPG gamer: how I started, why the genre plays an important role in my life and how it influences others. Within the first days, I was able to amass quite the word count. Without much ado, the lines and formulations just came to me, manifesting on the digital paper of my Google Drive. Then, however, something happened. Around the 15.000 words mark, I noticed something.

I was done.

At least, it felt like I had encapsulated everything I wanted to say about the life of a MMO gamer. I re-read my script, but in a way, I had covered everything I had set out to cover. Sure, I could have started cleaning it all up, adding a description here and there, but that would have never taken me to that 50k cap of NaNoWriMo. I was simply done…and that frustrated me so much I canned the thing.

Yesterday, I skimmed through it again, and noticed that I had given up too early. Sure, I had already covered a lot of what I wanted to say in those 15.000 words, but I’m not done yet. Re-reading what I wrote has given me ample ideas of what to do with what I already have, and how I’ll expand on it. Sure, I might have “lost” NaNoWriMo, got I won a treasure trove of blogging topics.

So yeah, I didn’t slay the dragon that is NaNoWriMo, but you will certainly hear of Digital Dragonslayers in the future…in one way or the other!

Gear: make me care about it

lord of the rings aragorn narsil sword

“That’s all nice and well, Aragorn, but does that sword get you hit capped?”

Tyler F.M. Edwards of Superior Realities has recently given us a short summary about his love/hate relationship with RPG’s, highlighting what he likes and doesn’t like about the genre. One of the issues he has with the genre is the fact that your character’s gear hardly feels important. In fact, most games make it something replacable, merely a way to give your character bigger numbers so he can fight bigger enemies. Yeah, that makes gear important for beating the game, but how does it make it important for your character?

Maybe I’m just too much of a role-player, but to me, the equipment a hero carries says something about his personality and his past. Considering we are playing heroes in most RPG’s, I feel like the gear of our adventurers should really add to their or emphasize their characteristics. Of course your warrior will carry a sword and board, but why does he do that? Has his father taught him that the best offense is a good defense? Even better: did he inherit his shield from his dying father, hearing his dying words after that bloody raid on their hometown? Fiction is filled with examples of items that are so much part of the character we couldn’t imagine them without. Those characters wouldn’t trade in their equipment just because “it deals more damage and adds to my Stamina rating”. I mean, imagine how weird Return of the King would be if Aragorn went to the Auction House to get an upgrade for Anduril…

What I’m arguing for here is to make gear cool and personal again. Give me, as a player, to start caring not just for my character, but also for the equipment he carries. Give me ways to spend my adventure with not just fellow heroes, but also with that wand my character earned after graduating from the magical college. If the item has durability, make me really watch that so it doesn’t break and it’s lost forever. Make the destruction of an item equal to the death of a character: dramatic and plot-changing.

Alright, that might be a bit too much for video games, but it emphasizes my point: make gear more than just numbers on my character sheet. Instead of bragging about my new epic from last night’s raid, let me tell other players about my character and his blade Seven True Strikes, the sword he felled the demon lord with. Lord of the Rings Online is going in the right direction with their legendary items, but it’s not quite there yet. Let gear scale with your character, allows us to customize it, just give us ways to not feeling forced to replace it.

RPG’s are about role-playing, so please let me incorporate the gear into role-playing my character. Can’t explain why he changes weapons every week, y’know!

 

NaNo Prep: a rough structure

NaNoWriMo is less than a week away, and I’m knee-deep in my preparations for it. So far, I feel like I have the rough structure for Digital Dragonslayers down. Essentially, the book will be made up of three parts:

  1. A history of MMORPG’s
  2. Defining a Digital Dragonslayer
  3. The lives of the Dragonslayers

Each part will comprise several chapters, and I make it my goal to not focus make the historical parts too boring. Readers should get an entertaining overview of the genre, not feel like they have to take a re-sit of their most hated high school class.

Anyway, I’m still looking for MMORPG aficionados who would like to tell their story. Murphy over from murfvs.net already offered his support, and I will surely come back on that offer. If you feel like you have something to contribute to my project, hit me up!

The perfect MMORPG

“Genius” by MaroBot

The following story is entirely satirical. Chindividual is no semi-divine being, capable of creating a video game, let alone programming an Excel sheet. 

Dear Guild of United Game Developers,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to develop the perfect MMORPG. Not are you just giving me a gazillion dollars of funds, but you have also decided to leave the entire design, production and testing process in my gifted hands. Though I should not be surprised about how much trust you have towards a gaming demi-god like me, I do want to voice my honest gratitude for providing me with this chance.

You might have given me dictatorial control of this project, but I would like to keep you informed about my plans. I might not allow any of your untalented employees in my office (which I want to be referred to as the “Immaculate Dome of Enlightenment” from now on), I do want to provide you with a peek into my brilliant thinking procedure. Not that you mere mortals are able to comprehend it, but I take pleasure in seeing you try.

First of all, the savior of MMORPG’s would have fast-paced, positional combat. The fools behind Guild Wars 2 have created a good source of inspiration, and I will make sure to integrate a similar system into my creation. The idea that skills are weapon-bound is fascinating, allowing some interesting tactical options. Though GW2 has its flaws, the combat system is almost perfect. Of course, once I have molded it, it will be perfect.

Once the combat has been fleshed out, I will provide players with ample chances to explore a vast cosmos with their own vessel. Though the obvious reference here would be EVE Online, I draw my inspiration from Star Trek Online. Space travel is more abstract there, but the crew management gives life to your ship and your adventures. Why sail alone from planet to planet, when you can spend your time micro-managing henchmen?

It’s good though that I have mentioned EVE (then again, what is not good when done by me?). My perfect gem will offer a deep, complicated player economy, focused around scarcity of resources and remote trading posts. In my virtual world, you will have to peruse the markets far and wide for that +3 vorpal blade of ogre-slaying. Quality will not be found in dungeons, but in the hands of a skillfull tradesman.

Finally, the soundtrack will be written by Jeremy Soule and Nobou Uematsu. If those two fail to cooperate, I will send out my winged monkeys to snatch them in their sleep. My research has shown that humans grow more cooperative when…motivated in the right way.

I would say that this is enough information for now. Once I have created a succesful game (don’t even bother with a beta, I succeed on the first try), I will write you from my throne paid from the bizarre profit I’ve made. Of course, you will reap some rewards too. Do you prefer a red or black Lamborghini?

Signed,

Chindividual, He Who Saves The Genre.

NaNo Prep: what is a “digital dragon slayer”?

What did I get myself in to?

First, I decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s no biggy. I mean, I’ve done it before, so what could happen right? Right?

Well, ambition happened. Planning to write an informative discourse about the lives of MMO gamers turns out to be more work than I expected. Researching the history of the genre and trying to get some gamers to share their stories with me is taking more time than I had estimated, and so I guess I’ll be going into November (and thus into writing the damn thing) ill-informed.

Oh well, NaNoWriMo is meant to create drafts, not finished books. Right?

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Your avatar and you: where does one begin and the other end?

Let’s be honest, folks: James Cameron’s Avatar was a disappointing waste of time. If I wanted to see Pocahontas, I would have just dug through my parent’s VHS collection. Of course, the visuals were stunning and we can blame it on Cameron that nowadays every movie requires you to put on silly glasses, but the movie had an interesting element: transferring to one’s avatar, becoming an entirely different physical being with new capabilities and looks. It’s a thought many gamers can relate to, since it’s what we do every time we pick up our controllers or log-in to our game of choice. But just like the protagonist in this mostly boring piece of visual ecstasy, some of us don’t simply put on our avatars: they become their alter ego, and the more time they spend in that skin, the hard it becomes to shed off.

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