New post(s)?

A friendly comment on a random news post I made in 2010 may have just inspired me to ressurrect this blog from the dead. It has already spurred me to try and be more active in WoW (and get a class I actually enjoy to level 90), install DC Universe Online, and has me looking into Lord of the Rings Online’s latest incoming patch that’s dropping May 15th.

I may not be ready to commit to my old ways of only playing MMOs, but I’m curious to see if I can get back on the MMO-train while still avoiding the burnout that comes when you don’t just commit yourself to the idea of playing a singular MMO for the immediate future. I’m really wanting to get back into WoW, but I’m not going to rule out dabbling in other MMOs along the way.

So in the meantime, here’s a pretty cool Shadow Priest PVP video that I stumbled upon that helped convince me to transfer my level 49 Gnome Priest to my current server and attempt to make him my new main.

Pondering what to scratch my MMORPG itch with


My short-lived rampant addiction to The Secret World faded after about a week or two. I definitely got enough out of it to warrant the price of the game and the first “free month,” so I’m not bitter about it, but I can definitely say I’m shocked my desire to log in came to such a screeching halt. I think I logged about 40 hours in just the first few days of having it, so when I, all of a sudden, stopped logging on it was peculiar, to say the least. I think the first thing that might have put a dent in my momentum was the fact that I rerolled away from my first character and server, in order to be able to play with a friend of mine who I had convinced enough to buy the game. I won’t lie, I was kind of looking for more excuses to reroll my character, because I was unhappy with how his face turned out (little things like that nag the hell out of me in games) and I was already thinking about trying out a more offensive/dps build, as opposed to my purely survival-focused blade/chaos tank. Besides rerolling, the Steam sale didn’t help the cause at all, as that reminded me that I have a gigantic Steam library that doesn’t get enough of my attention. Before I knew it I had forgotten about my Templar comrades and I can pretty much say I’ve moved on. For now at least. I can definitely see myself coming back to TSW if Funcom sticks to their promises of monthly content patches. There was a lot I loved about TSW and I still truly believe it’s one of the gems of MMORPG launches in the post-WoW age of MMORPGs.

So here I find myself with a dozen-or-so freshly installed Steam games, looking for an MMORPG I can log into when I want that “lose myself for a few hours with a podcast playing in the background” type of game. I tried hopping into Rift since they reactivated old accounts for the weekend, but it wasn’t seeming to grab my attention. Maybe when the expansion’s launch is a bit closer? After Rift, my mind wandered to Final Fantasy XIV (probably due to the recent ‘A Realm Reborn’ 2.0 news), Star Wars: The Old Republic, and World of Warcraft.

My deal with FFXIV is that I feel like I’m still just better off waiting for the glorified 2.0 patch to go live. I already picked up the game for ~$10 a few months ago, so I’ll be able to side-step the inevitable price increase that comes with the relaunch and version 2.0. The FFXIV I tried a few months ago, while definitely improved, was still too much like the FFXIV I played back in the beta. I’m afraid this would still be the case if I reactivated any time before 2.0

SWTOR and WoW are kind of pulling the same strings for me when I try to analyze why I am getting an itch for both of them. Both have similar theme-park experiences, class mechanics, and talent-tree layouts. Both (now) have an automated “LFG” system. Both have similar end-game experiences of either “PVP or PVE” being the baseline options. What SWTOR has going for it that WoW doesn’t is that more of it is fresh to me. The idea of starting from scratch with the Reddit guild is really appealing to me. When I try to think of what I would jump into in WoW, it all kind of starts out hazy and then goes downhill when I think about server transfer and faction change fees — all due to the fact that I just don’t know if I want to stick to my level 85 Death Knight who is a recent Horde-faction-change-victim or if I want to go back to my home of Alliance, that just feels more natural and normal to me.

Besides these heavy hitters like SWTOR and WoW, I feel like I’m somehow overlooking an MMORPG that could hit the spot just as well as these. Lord of the Rings Online? It’s never really lasted long for me in the past, and with an expansion launch on the horizon that’s just an added cost, so an added barrier of entry. Guild Wars 2 launches in less than a month, but the client’s lack of optimization throughout the beta weekends has really turned me off, and besides that, I need something now, not a month from now. Planetside 2 beta is said to start in just a few days, but how do I know I’ll be in the first wave of invites? I’ve played a bit of it during the tech test (thanks to a lucky friend of mine who got in) and that engine could use some optimization too. I’ve thought about hopping back into Diablo 3, but having done all four acts, three to four times each speaks for itself. I’m tired of repeating content in that game for such little reward. What the hell, it’s not an MMORPG anyways.

Working this all out in my head as I’m typing this post has actually helped a lot, and I’m honestly leaning towards SWTOR at this point. Rerolling a Jedi or Smuggler could be fun, and I feel like I can fill my head with a “to-do list” in SWTOR way easier (and cheaper) as opposed to WoW. After all, setting goals (both big and small) in an MMORPG is what keeps me playing them. What’s an MMORPG without a carrot-on-a-stick?

When did it become “OK” to have a subscription fee AND a cash-shop?

Listening to the latest MMOvoices podcast and their discussion of EverQuest Extended (and its horrible implementation of the ‘free2play’ model) reminded me that EverQuest 2 already has a cash-shop within the regular, $15/month subscription, retail boxed-product. This made me think of Cryptic, who I consider to be the most dirty and unapologetic violators of this heinous act. You could go out on a limb and even say Blizzard does this as well, with their $10 vanity pets, $25 mounts, and handful of account services – but none of that is accessible in-game and most importantly none of that is intrusive and blatantly being commercialized to you while in game. When I think “cash-shop” in an MMO, I think of a big button on the in-game UI that is begging you to click it (read: EQ2 and Cryptic’s games).

I could probably name-drop a few more “subscription & cash-shop” games, but let’s stick to EQ2 and Champions Online (and breifly Star Trek Online). These are the ones that I have personally experienced and felt that the cash-shop was an impediment in my enjoyment of the game and left a very bad taste in my mouth.

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First Impressions: Champions Online

I could go on and divulge into why I’ve been a ghost for a bit but it’s honestly too complicated, melodramatic, and depressing to really get into, so just take this post and appreciate it! I’m overdue to talk about my recent over-indulgence of WoW, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, let me talk about my first impressions (we’re talking first night) of Champions Online.

I was excited to give Champions Online a try, for if nothing else, to get back into blogging and updating my site. Something about WoW just leaves me completely indifferent towards writing about it, so it’s always nice to play something else and get some actual inspiration and creative juices flowing.

I went into Champions Online retail knowing that performance of the beta client had left a very nasty taste in my mouth, but I was going to try and look past it. About a day into playing, and the game’s performance is really the only knock against the game I have. The graphics are perfect for the style they’re trying for, the character customization is deserving of all the hype (if not more), the depth of character progression and customization (beyond visual) is reminiscent of Star Wars Galaxies level of options, and the combat feels fresh and “actiony,” but still enough of the traditional MMORPG feel to make me happy.

I can’t go into much more than that at this point as I’ve seriously only played an hour hear and there. I’ve been scrapping and remaking characters just to try out a few of the power-sets and I think I’ve settled on the “Telekinesis” powers, which are quite fitting for my psychological-adept, mind-game hero “The Passive-Aggresive.”

So, about Aion and its Beta Weekends

I felt like I needed to write about how I am not taking part in the Aion beta events and haven’t since the first weekend of beta despite having it installed and servers being up. I have had a pre-order of Aion since they hit my local Gamestop and I’ve been in the beta since the first weekend, so “not having it” is not my problem.

A common folly of mine is that the gamer inside of me wants that sneak peak, pre-launch, hands-on that betas give you the privilege of enjoying, but the MMORPG gamer inside of me needs the character attachment and goal-setting drive that is just not possible in a beta, when characters will be wiped and fear of burn-out before the game even ships keeps me from wanting to play too much in the first place. Add in my disappointment that Aion turned out to not be the game I was expecting at all, and this makes for one unenthusiastic gamer.

While I’m at it, why don’t I just give examples of the things that totally bum me out about Aion.

I can’t stand the Asmodian race. One thing I will say is that I always hate the “bad side” in a game that lets you choose sides. It’s not that I can’t play the role of a heel, but it’s because I can’t stand the majority of those that always flock to the “bad guys,” you know, the teenage-angst teens listening to Disturbed and the “hardcore pvp” elitist asshats. Sure you could call it generalizing, but my time spent as an Imperial in Star Wars Galaxies, Horde in World of Warcraft, and Destruction in Warhammer Online totally cements and backs up my stance on this demographic of players. Just look at the Asmodians (pictured below), I can see the Slipknot shirts and hear the My Chemical Romance from here!

My bigger gripe with the races is that, well, there is technically only one race to choose. They split them into Asmodians and Elyos, but any non color-blind person can tell you that they are just simply pallet swaps. The character customization is deep, I’ll give them that, but it’s depth is honestly just smoke and mirrors. In the end you’re still going to end up a pretty-boy light skinned half-elf-looking-human with wings or a pretty-boy blue/purple skinned half-elf-looking-human with wings.

So I’ve created my pretty-boy with wings, let’s see if I like the game any better when I actually star playing. Short answer: more disappointment, but with a very pretty and polished wrapping. I’ve said this to my friends and thought this to myself a thousand times now, but Aion is the biggest “WoW clone” you will ever see (well, Runes of Magic actually is, but for the sake of my hyperbole Aion is). Aion takes the “themepark MMO” philosophy that WoW has popularized, polished the hell out of it, and plopped it into an Eastern-MMORPG shell. It’s not only the linear gameplay that Aion has copied, but the controls, UI, and combat all scream “oh hai WoW…I c wat u didd ther.” Aion takes all that Korean/Eastern MMORPGs have come to represent (what gave them appeal and charm) and totally defecated all over it in red, white, and blue.

Just thinking of how Aion has disappointed me (emphasis on me) makes me want to go log into Lineage 2 and engross myself in what a “Korean MMORPG” should be. When I have that “Korean MMORPG itch,” I want to grind monsters in the same spot for an hour, I want click-to-move to be the default control scheme and WASD to feel broken, and I want it to be a niche game where it stubbornly stands by what it represents in the face of the post-WoW MMORPG landscape.

Taking the time to truly rant about my disappointment with Aion has made me even question if I should keep my pre-order. I’ll need to be in the midst of a big-time MMORPG drought (like I am now, for instance) to get the drive to even go pick up my pre-order on launch day. I have no real MMORPG I’m attached to at the moment, but even that isn’t enough to make me want to log into the Aion beta.

(Hell, I’m reinstalling Lineage 2. I wonder if my account is still active?)

In Development: Mortal Online

mortalonlineheaderMortal Online.

Was introduced to this game recently, amongst all the Darkfall “zomg hardcore pvp / full loot” hype. I’m pretty impressed from the screens, videos, and FAQ. It’s another skill-based, free-for-all, sandbox, hardcore, pvp game. Give it a look and see what you think.

I’ve bookmarked it and I’ll be keeping track of it.

“MMO failure”

Random internet people claiming any MMO to be a “failure” as if they have some universal godly judgmental knowledge on how the industry works and is run has to be one of the biggest pet peeves of mine. As a blogger who covers both the business and player side of things within the video game and MMO industry, I can’t help but be exposed to this kind of ignorance everywhere I look.

An example of this is people who use phrases like “..fails like WAR” or “…fails like AoC.”. Designating games that they deem “failures” because they were either bitter about their time playing it and/or just latch onto the idea from word-of-mouth of other angsty forum-goers who like to bash every game they don’t fancy.

There are tons of factors that would determine an MMO to be a failure and quite frankly, it’s a subjective thing to try and dissect because my idea of a “failure” would probably differ greatly from the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) or CEO of a game’s publisher. In layman’s I just like to use the “if it is still up and running and people are playing it is not a failure” motto. Just because you do not enjoy a game, feel like your $50 was wasted or they stole $15/mo from you for x months, does not mean that there aren’t players around the world still living in that virtual world and having a blast doing so.

Play what you like, escape into a game that you enjoy, and just leave the other virtual worlds at peace if they aren’t to your liking. You don’t have cause a ruckus in the community of every game you don’t like or consider a “failure” just becuase you didn’t personally enjoy it. You’re doing a disservice to the entire industry every time you do.

Vanguard for $3

buyvg is having a clearance sale on a ton of older, not-selling-so-well, PC games. The list of games is mostly meh but one shining gem in the list is Vanguard for $3. With shipping it comes to about $6, which is still a steal. If you don’t have Vanguard yet, GO BUY IT.

At the same time, I feel bad for Vanguard after seeing the bunch it is with in the clearance bin. Horizons: Empire of Istaria which isn’t even called Horizons anymore. Archlord, which is a free2play game now and free download, but hey go pay $4 for it. And of course, non-MMO related, but a franchise that is dear to me, Tribes Vengeance, which doesn’t even have servers up anymore.

Can I have some RPG with my order of MMO?

Pushing on 23, I’m starting to feel old in the gaming scene (I can see all you older gamers scoffing at me right now for calling 22 old) – so that being so, I’ve started to appreciate games, MMORPGS specifically, in a different way. As my free time becomes more and more precious, I long to experience MORE out of my games and really have a way to escape. Yet, I’ve fallen victim to the GRIND of MMOs, and forgot that MMORPGS are in fact ROLE PLAYING GAMES and not just gear/level-cap grindfests.

Having recently get totally burnt out on WoW (again), I’ve realized it’s probably because I’m just playing the game in a way that would cause most sane people to resent it. A usual gaming session for me in WoW was logging on, clicking on npcs with ? or ! above them, instant-quest-text dialogue so I am not bothered by any hint of STORYLINE, and mindlessly following where Questhelper tells me to go, so i can make a bar move on the bottom of my screen. When a game is making you feel like you have to do something you don’t want to do, or when you’re just doing something because you feel like you have to, even though you acknowledge that it’s no fun – you shouldn’t be doing that! Before I decided to take a break from WoW, I did fall victim to the Wrath of the Lich King hype and tested out a Death Knight, but from a new angle. I let myself get immersed in the plot and storyline by reading every single quest dialogue, reading the random quest items you get like books or scrolls that may have lore/storyline hidden away on them, and I didn’t force myself to rush through the content. I had a blast! It was a shame they only gave DK’s about 2 hours of dedicated content. But alas, turns out I just hated the class, as I quit him around 65 when I found msyelf back in the grind.

So I realized, half of my problem is that I’m not treating my MMOs like RPGs. I’m not playing them like I would a single player experience. So giving WAR another shot, I’ve tried reading the quests, diving into the lore and storyline, and it’s actually helped me appreciate the game from a brand new view. Despite the technicle problems, general glitchiness, and rather boring story/quests (at least, Empire ones) – I still appreciated the game in a  new way and it has made me eager to see what else I have been missing, in the giant backlog of MMO’s that I have essentially not even given a fair chance.

First up on the menu? A $39.99 Guild Wars Trilogy wants to say hi, and I’m sure Lord of The Rings Online would taste pretty good about now.