Wednesday, May 30, 2012

NBI: Winding Down...Final Thoughts

The newbie blogger initiative is coming to a close, Syp has a list of all the new blogs and advice posts up over at Biobreak.   This month has been a heck of a lot of fun for me not only due to meeting so many new bloggers, but also because I stumbled across some established bloggers I really like that I somehow managed to miss all this time.  My blog roll changed more in the past month than in the previous two years.  I think we all owe Syp a dept of gratitude for organizing an event that has been injected some new life into our corner of the blogoverse.  Good on you Syp! 

I never did get around to my advice post, mainly because I was out of town most of the month.  However, it was also hard to say what I would have added in terms of general advice given all the great posts  that other bloggers put out.  Some of my favorites were Anjin's general advice on how to get pageviews (Sente has another good general advice post, along with Blue Kae), Tesh's poignant piece on blogging as a social activity, Rowan's duo on the mechanical aspects of setting up blogger (I actually tweaked my settings after reading both of those), and the part of MMOgamerchick's post where she explains why she usually answers all of her comments (I couldn't agree more). 

During the course of the month, I spent some time thinking about what, if anything., I consider to be the golden rule of blogging.  I think it would be something along the lines of "Write about your passion."  Write what you'd like to read, what you want to say, and what you feel needs to be said.  Blogging is a labor of love more than anything. Very few of us are ever going to reach the popularity of Tobold, and even the Tobold's by and large aren't making any money blogging.  The only reason in the world to blog is because you have something that you want to express, and thoughts and experiences you want to preserve.

For me this blog is one part diary, one part personal soapbox. Of course like all bloggers I want to be read, or else these posts would be unpublished Word documents on a random desktop.  But I'd say creating something you are happy with and that expresses your voice is probably the single most important goal to have as a blogger.  Whether your blog attracts a small audience or a huge audience, if years from now you can look back on certain posts and think "I made that, I'm happy with it and I'm glad it's out there on the web" I'd say you have succeeded.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Love In is on a Haitus

You may have noticed that my previous, somewhat dry, post has been the only thing to read around here for a good while now.  I'm currently traveling and have access to neither MMOs nor much opportunity to post.  Expect posting to resume near the end of the month.  In the meantime, may your adventures be thrilling and your looting be fruitful :-)

This brief update brought to you by insomnia.

Friday, May 11, 2012

On the use of in game mail as a post-it-note

Wednesday night I logged into Star Wars the Old Republic after an absence of a nearly a week.  Looking at my quest log, it looked like I needed to head to Nar Shadda and start in there.  I noticed I had a couple of mails, and I vaguely remembered mailing a note to myself the week before.  I decided to check it before I headed out, this is how my message from me to me read:

Title: Memento 

First, head to fleet and spend all ur balmorra commendations. You have an OJ weapon that should make what u have look stupid if u max it out.  Then head to nar shadda for more leveling quests.

You will need to level ur biochem into the 100s b4 level 25 (but I suspect u'll remember that).

 It actually turned out to be a big help, I had completely forgotten I was sitting on a huge ass pile of Balmorra commendations.  Thirty minutes later, I headed to Nar Shadda with vastly upgraded gear.

Now, I find myself wondering...why the hell didn't I think to do this sooner?  The two biggest hurdles I always face when returning to a MMO I haven't played for a while are (1) I have no idea what I was working on, and (2) I can't remember my basic attack combos on whatever characters I used to play.  Yet in nearly all of these games, you can send yourself mail and it will sit there waiting for you until you open it.   

For example, I now really wish the last time I quit WoW I had sent myself something like this note on my Warlock:


(1) Normal weak foe: 1,3,4
(2) Strong foe: 1, 2, shadow nookie (bar 2), 4
(3) panic buttons: wall of shadow (right bar, lower part), shadow selfhealgasm (just above wall of shadow)
(4) Crowd control: shadow giggles (bar two, far right)

Whenever Mist of Pandaria launches (I expect play it for a month or two and quit when I hit the new level cap, like every WoW expansion) I will undoubtedly fire up my Warlock and get smacked in the face by a wall of hotbars linked to abilities that I barely remember.  If only it had occurred to me to mail myself cliff notes before I quit playing last year, the transition back could be so much smoother.

Further, I tend to dabble in a lot of FtP MMOs.  When I go back after a long absence, I generally haven't got the foggiest clue where to start.  In some cases it's so bad that it's easier for me to just abandon my old mid-level characters and start over fresh.  The last time I played Allod's Online that's exactly what happened.  I had a level 22 Summoner, and found her so confusing that I ditched her and started over on a Paladin.  If only I had sent myself a few notes before I quite the first time, I might have actually been able to see some of the higher level areas the month or so I was playing.

I now actually feel a bit dumb that it never occurred to me to use in game mail as a post-it-note.  Am I the only one that hasn't been doing this?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The New Skyrim MMO: Skyrim or not, sign me up

The announcement of the Elder Scrolls MMO, that's apparently been in development for a few years now, was met with a lot less enthusiasm than Bethesda might have wished. Fans of the offline games were pissed Bethesda has been "wasting" dev resources on an MMO.   MMO enthusiasts greeted the announcement of what in many ways seems to be a Skyrim skinned WoW-alike with a distinct "meh." I can kind of relate to both camps.

One of my all time favorite games was The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. Though offline, I found it enthralling enough to play for six solid months.  There aren't many MMOs I have stuck with for so long, and even fewer offline RPGs.  I love MMOs, and I love The Elder Scrolls franchise, but I just don't see them mixing all that well at first glance.  All of the things I love about ToS games are things that you just can't do in a MMO.  I can't permanently kill NPCs in a MMO, much less depopulate entire towns because the gatekeeper gives me lip, as it will bork quests for other players.  I can't create spells or magic items that are stupidly overpowered  since they would throw off balance.  Even if everyone could make the same OP spells, the entire playerbase would end up having to use the two or three OP combos to be competitive.  Hell, I can't even become a werewolf or vampire as the mechanics of it would be too hard to balance with all the other options (there's that "nothing can be stupidly OP" in a multiplayer game thing again).

As Bernardparsnip pointed out, the MMO we've been reading about doesn't really sound like an Elder Scrolls Game at all.  Further, considered as a new WoW-alike, do we really need another WoW/ LoTRO/ EQ II/ AO/ ROM/ Rift/ AoC/ SWTOR (ect.)?   The consensus from the MMO blogosphere seems to be "no, not at all really."

Despite all this,  I maintain that this not-really-at all-Elder-Scrolls Elder Scrolls MMO is going to rock.  Why?  Three faction realm-vs-realm combat.  The first MMO to hold my attention for more than a month was Dark Age of Camelot.  It had the best core PvP concept I've ever encountered in a MMO.  It was definitely asymmetrical warfare, where the side that showed up with the most guys to a fight had a big advantage.  However, instead of the sides being split into two (ala LoTRO's PvP zone, that one planet in SWTOR, pretty much all of Warhammer Online and numerous other games where asymmetrical combat really doesn't work well) the game was split into three factions so that that the little guys could gang up on the big guy if balance got out of hand.  The leveling game was also separated off from the PvP game, so if you just wanted to do some grinding and level you didn't have to worry about getting ganked constantly.  DAoC combined the best of a hardcore PvP game a and a devoted PvE game in many ways.

There was only one real problem with it: the solo PvE game was boring as hell.  There were few quests, and even fewer worth doing (to be fair I'm talking the the early 2000s, it was a game of it's era).  You mainly leveled by grinding mobs, and many classes sucked at grinding solo.  Better quest chains and a series of leveling battle grounds were patched in later, but the fact remains that leveling to 50 to get to all that awesome end-game three way PvP remains a bit painful to this day.* So much so that in recent years you get a free level every so often for every one you earn normally (no really).

This is where the new Skyrim MMO comes in. The end game is three way RvR combat ala DAoC, done by some of the same guys that helmed DAoC.   According to even the the haters, stuck onto the side of it will be a WoW style extremely smooth  PvE leveling game.  It might not be an Elder Scrolls game, but damn that basic design description has me juiced.   Like WoW, only the endgame doesn't make me want to vomit?  Sign me up!

All that said, even if DAoC 2.0 with a Skyrim theme doesn't appeal to you, I think Crafty has the right of it: we don't know enough yet to judge most of the game one way or another. Let's wait and see before we start balling up our undergarments.

*Disclaimer: it's been at least three years since I went back to DAoC, the PvE leveling game could be all kinds of awesome by now for all I know.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Newbie Blogger Initiative

Have you been yearning to start a MMO blog?  Would you like to get readers and feedback right off the bat instead of posting secretly into the internet ether for months until you get noticed?  Your time has come!

Syp over at Biobreak has organized the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  The goal is to get as many new voices to join the grand conversation of the MMO blogosphere as possible this month, and Syp has organized a cadre of bloggers to back the initiative.  Start a general MMO blog, start a blog about your current MMO of choice, or heck start a blog about your favorite MMO mini game.  If it's MMOish you qualify.

As a participant you will get a good hunk of readers from the start, and advice from established bloggers if you want it.  That "readers from the start" thing is pretty hard to do on your own (take my word for it ).  If you are interested, head over to the forum that Syp set up to announce your blog to the world.  Alternately,  post a link to your new blog in the comments below and I will give you a shout out here.

Over the next few weeks the dozens of established bloggers participating will post advice for new bloggers, and links to the new blogs going up. Do you have a perspective on the MMO industry that you think isn't getting heard?  Do you want an audience for your riveting tales of the travels of a gnomish necromancer?  Do you wish your screenshots of the awesome rare pets you get in Wizard 101 could be viewed by dozens of strangers?  Now is the best chance you'll have to get that going :-)