A Lame Attempt

So what’s the deal, Groovymarlin? How come no blogging for…oh…over a month!? I wish I could say that I’ve just been lazy, that I’ve been enjoying myself and relaxing and didn’t have the willpower to blog. Unfortunately, I’ve actually been really busy. I recently got busy again at my day job, plus I’ve been working my freelance hours in the evenings and on weekends. Busy at home as well, even when I’m not working. Veronica at almost one and a half is quite…energetic. Last weekend she figured out how to open the pantry door, get out a box of cookies (at least they’re organic arrowroot cookies for babies, but still), and start stuffing her face with them. I walked into the kitchen to find her on the floor with her hand in the box, up to her elbow, and a mouth full of cookie. She was pretty pleased with herself. Secretly, I was too, though I had to pretend to be stern. Sometimes it’s so hard just being the Mom.

Anyway, in my spare time, I still raid with my guild in WoW just about once a week. We have Karazhan practically on farm status now, and my holy priest is really well-geared (at least until the next expansion comes out, and random greens make her epics all useless, but I refuse to consider that just yet). We got the first boss in Zul’Aman down, and made it up to the eagle boss, but man he’s a pain in the ass. We couldn’t even get to the dragonhawk boss yet. We made one attempt on the lynx boss but it was late and everyone was getting tired.

A better choice for stress relief lately has been Hellgate: London. A weird hybrid of shooter and MMO, it reminds me a little bit of Guild Wars in its simplicity. It’s really fun though – basically I can log in, go into a level and literally go on a killing rampage with a machine gun and grenades (and you never run out of ammo!), finish a quest or two, pick up some phat lewts, and be done with it. All in under an hour. This is economical gaming at its finest.  The character I’m playing most of the time is an Engineer (proficient with rifles and other big guns, plus always has four or five drones/bots to keep her company). I think the class is ridiculously overpowered, and I like it that way. It’s nice to feel powerful for a change, and I mean that on many levels.

To attone for my sins (not blogging), another post coming up later today. Something more philosophical. With less violence. 😉

Do you smell something burning?

Betteh in Outland during Beta

Oh, it’s just the Burning Crusade! Har har. Nice post up on Terra Nova this morning about the new WoW expansion, asking for “observations and discoveries” so far. I posted screenshots and some of my thoughts on the beta on my WoW blog, but I’ll elaborate here.

For one thing, I never thought of gaming the system or coming up with savvy new ways to make money off of people entering Outland based on my beta experiences. Well, okay — I did think that maybe I should take up mining, because with all the people trying out jewelcrafting, minerals, gems and stones are in high demand. However I didn’t really follow through because 1. I’m more of an “idea” person and not a “follow-through” person, and 2. I have a very demanding real life named Veronica who’s almost seven months old. 😉

I’ve started my Blood Elf hunter and Draenei shaman and I have to admit I am having a blast so far. (I called my shaman Pammy. Pammy the Dranny Shammy – get it?) To date I haven’t even gotten my main 60 into Outland, figuring I’d give it a week and go when things calm down a bit. I shouldn’t be too far behind my guildmates and I know they’ll still run Blood Furnace and Ramparts with me until we’re blue in the face. As a mostly Discipline priest I’m pretty popular in groups, and I have intention of respeccing to Shadow for the grind to 70. Speaking of the grind, I’m going to take my time and not stress out about it (see notes on real life above).

I’m intrigued by what the post on Terra Nova refers to as “…massively geared-up level 68+ characters doing it [the current level 58-60 instances] for shits and giggles in bizarre combinations, much the way that players have been experimenting with killing Onyxia with the smallest possible number of uber-geared characters.” I have to admit, in my guild we’ve talked about doing just that. As a guild we’ve only recently begun running Molten Core together, and it’s a pretty big deal for us (a lot of us aren’t hardcore raiders in any sense). But already we’re talking about getting to level 63 or 64 and having MC on “farm status” in an only half-joking way. I think it will actually lead to much fun and hilarity, and I look forward to seeing the machinima evidence all over YouTube soon.

One thing that got a lot of discussion during beta was the high quality of the level 57-60 greens that were dropping. We rightly assumed that once BC went live, we’d all end up replacing most of our blues and purples with these green items, which is what is slowly happening. Some folks in beta general seemed to think that prices on the AH would be extreme (the TN post hints at this as a way to make money if you had beta experience) but so far on my server I’m relieved to see that prices are quite reasonable and realistic. I think people realize that while you might be able to sell some green cloth for over-inflated prices in the first few hours, by the time a weekend has passed the market will be flooded with them, and prices will normalize. Most folks are just skipping the initial gouging attempt and going with what the market will eventually bear.

I have more thoughts on things like jewelcrafting, socketed items, the current state of enchanting prices and materials, and more…but duty calls. Film at 11.


Why People Think They Dislike MMOs

I read a great post on Terra Nova this morning, about why some people studiously avoid MMOs. At a time when MMOs like WoW are taking over the known universe (and I say that only somewhat facetiously), why is it that some people are not only unfamiliar with these games, but actually purposely avoid them? The post on Terra Nova talks about many of the reasons, and it’s a really well-written and interesting post.

I’d like to give my personal responses to some of the theories presented, just for the hell of it.

“Some people simply refuse to play a monthly fee on top of paying for a game. ”

Fair enough. However, there is a pretty fun MMO out there that does not have a monthly fee – Guild Wars. The last expansion was awesome, and while the box itself was expensive, so are standalone RPGs like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I guess this is just a matter of preference for most people, like satellite radio: I pay for Sirius, and enjoy it very much, but a large part of the population still can’t imagine paying for radio. Just like way back in the day, people couldn’t imagine paying for television when cable started. I think most people would come around, if this was their only anti-MMO bias.

“…people don’t feel like they have the time for an MMO, even if they spend lots of time playing videogames otherwise.”

Well there’s some validity to that concern, though many games make it a lot easier now for the casual player. I think the key here is, plenty of people DO spend lots of time playing other types of games, and if they really analyzed the time spent on those games vs. the time they’d spend in an MMO, they’d see that it equals out, for the most part. I certainly feel the pain of time investment myself, now that I have a baby. But I’ve found it’s still fun and easy to get in some meaningful time in the evenings after she goes to sleep, and sometimes on weekends when my better half takes over. Let’s be honest – when you have a job and responsibilities, you’re never going to spend hours and hours playing ANY game!

“Tied to the previous issue is the idea that one’s time is not one’s own in an MMO. For a lot of people, having to adhere to a guild’s schedule or priorities is a responsibility they are unwilling to take on. ”

I feel the pain there too, and all I can say is, “choose your friends wisely.” The thing is, for every serious raiding guild in a game like WoW, there’s another guild made up of people who are casual, don’t want to spend hours raiding, and just want to have fun together. You just have to keep looking until you find them.

“A lot of people complain that it is too hard to just jump into an MMO and start playing.”

I remember my first MMO (DAOC) and what it was like when I started – I was a real “noob” and knew nothing. However, I found that people were generally kind to me and even helped me out, as long as I was polite, respectful, and patient. I see this from the experienced point of view now – if a noob asks questions in a polite way, doesn’t beg, doesn’t shout in all caps, and generally acts in ways that would be considered appropriate in any online or real forum, I’m willing to help them. This is not limited to the MMO world – anyone who’s participated on an online message board or forum pretty much knows how to act (and how NOT to act) in order to gain people’s respect and cooperation.

“Although it’s appealing to play with others, it is a double-edged sword in a level-based system where people have to play at a similar rate in order to be able to continue to play with each other.”

The author on T-N points to the sidekicking system of City of Heroes as one solution to this problem, and that’s a good one. I wish more MMOs had options like that. On the other hand, I’ve found that most of my friends in MMOs have alts of various levels, and no matter what level I am it’s usually possible to find someone to play with.

“Many standard videogame players, especially those attracted to adventure/RPG genres, perceive that MMO gameplay is extremely non-linear with too few concrete goals…”

I guess I just disagree with that. I mean, if you’re into first person shooters or platformers I could see where you might have this complaint. However, if you’re already into RPGs, then you’re used to a certain amount of open-endedness. The solution to this, if true, is to quest. WoW has bar none the best questing system of any game, and will give a player all the linear progression they can handle.

“A LOT of people fear becoming addicted…”

If you have an addictive personality, you can become addicted to any kind of game, not just an MMO. Maybe gaming is not for you, if that’s the case! Even so, I’ve found that game addictions are usually temporary. Everyone burns out eventually, and it doesn’t require losing a job/spouse/home to do it!

“Finally, many non-MMO gamers think that MMOs mean, by definition, PvP, or more accuratel,y open PK-ing.”

Obviously a misconception, and I guess the only way to get around that is to spread the word that not every MMO is full of PK-ers, and most MMOs, even the ones that DO feature PK-ing, are now designed in such a way as to protect those who are just starting out.

It was an interesting article on Terra Nova and a fascinating topic to those of us who do enjoy MMOs. I personally can’t imagine going back to playing only offline, solo games. I recently got into the closed beta for WoW’s upcoming expansion, The Burning Crusade, and I had so much fun this weekend (even with all the server crashes), I’m just drooling for the January release! I guess if you’re either an MMO person or a non-MMO person, I am definitely an MMO person. But I also think there’s a little MMO person in all gamers, if they are willing to give it a try!

Topic: unknown

I’ve been wanting to post on my blog again, but unsure what to post about. Baby stuff? Getting a bit repetitive. Politics? Too depressing and/or flame-attracting. Shopping? Ha! Who has time for shopping anymore (see: baby posts for reason why).

How about games? I bought The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion the other day. It’s pretty cool. I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to RPGs that don’t come with a MMO at the front, but I’m having a pretty good time with it. Just can’t seem to get the mouse sensitivity set quite right though. And, I notice that my performance degrades over time if I play for several hours. I wonder if there’s a memory leak in the game?

I also re-activated my WoW account, but I haven’t done much yet. An RPG like Oblivion is one thing – I can always pause it when I need to feed the baby, change a diaper, etc. But WoW requires long periods of committed time, especially when you’re in a group and people are depending on you. And I rarely have that kind of time. For now, hubby has agreed to take total baby duty at least once a week so that I can play WoW again.

Of course I had to insert a gratuitous baby picture here. She’s much cuter than screenshots from video games anyway.

Gaming news, and miscellaneous

Just a few random items today.

Gaming News: I read this morning that EA is going to buy Mythic Entertainment. I (and some of my friends) know Mythic well as the Fairfax, VA-based developer of Dark Age of Camelot, which was the first “real” MMO I ever played. Most people will know Mythic soon as the developer of Warhammer Online, which is supposed to be the next big MMO that has some chance of giving World of Warcraft a run for its money. We’ll see. I suppose this is good for Mythic because they get EA’s financial backing to do nothing but focus on developing MMOs. Hopefully that bodes well for their Warhammer game.

Pee-wee News: Fans of PW Herman (left), rejoice. Pee-wee’s Playhouse will be coming to Adult Swim on July 10. Adult Swim is already the greatest thing to happen to late-night television since David Letterman. I consider the addition of Pee-wee’s Playhouse just another reason to watch (along with Venture Bros., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Family Guy, Futurama, Robot Chicken, etc., etc.). Adult Swim is a programming block that airs on The Cartoon Network starting around 10:30 PM each evening. Check your local listings.

Baby News: I found out that my baby, due any day now, is in the breech position. Since it’s too crowded in there for her to turn around on her own this late in the game, it looks like I’ll be having a C-section, possibly as early as this Friday, but most likely early next week. (Due to the risks, we decided not to try external cephalic version, where the doctor attempts to manually turn the baby in the womb by pushing and prodding.) I’m totally OK with this since I wasn’t really interested in the whole “natural” childbirth thing anyway (come on, would you have a root canal without novocaine?). It means my recovery will be a little different and take just a bit longer, but I know I’m going to have plenty of help at home so I’m not worried (hubby is taking a month off work, my dad is going to be here for a bit, and my mother-in-law is coming to help for a while too). I’m really kind of relieved about the whole thing. I just hope they manage to schedule it before I actually go into labor!