Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Years Blogging, Still a Noob

With full "pups" to Wilhelm Arcturus for inspiring the title of this post, I greet you, Dear Reader,on this auspicious occasion. As of this post—strangely enough, my first of the year—I have been blogging about MMOs for over a tenth of my life. It's honestly a bit of a surprise.
I played quite a few games this year: EverQuest 2, Landmark, The Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, a return to Rift and Guild Wars 2. And, of course, The Secret World. Some were played more consistently than others. And at my side in each has been my lovely bride, Scooter.

I haven't been particularly consistent with IHTtS, either. Some months I blogged every day, or nearly so. Others, I barely posted at all. I would like to post more regularly this year. Thank you, Dear Reader, for joining me on this journey. And here's to many more miles together.
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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell to the Old, Ring in the New

I have always found doing a year-end retrospective a little awkward, since my blogoversary comes so soon in January, and I feel like I would end up being doing essentially the same post over again. But it's great to read about what other folks have thought about 2014, and what their hopes and plans are for the coming year.

After sorta staring at this post for a couple hours (I am actually doing several things right now), I find myself in the same general stupor of thought that has plagued me regarding the blog and gaming since at least September. Even Rift, which I am still interested in, has fallen a bit by the wayside in the wake of a surprisingly busy December.

I'm watching a lot more TV, by way of Netflix. So many nights, it just seems easier to vedge a bit in front of the boob tube instead of pulling out my gaming rig. And that's actually saying something. I have ripped through the first season Agents of SHIELD after having let it fall by the wayside last year. And I am watching Cosmos, with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which is proving to be an entertaining look at science. While much of it I've known for years, I'm actually learning a lot. I guess I haven't kept up with everything since I've gotten out of college—at least not developing theories.

This weekend, I dipped back into GW2. Almost deleted several characters just to start over, but I resisted the temptation. I'm relearning how stuff works in that game, plus there have been a few changes since my last foray into Tyria. Depending on her mood, I might even convince Scooter to join me. But even I am not really serious about returning. It's a nice diversion, though. Hopefully, January will involve less running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and we can settle back into a decent gaming routine. Telara needs us. Or something.
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QOTD: Functional Plateau

I have a theory that all software inevitably reaches a functional plateau from a user’s perspective long before its designers are done with it. Consequently they go on fiddling and tweaking when we are already fully satisfied. Applies to MMOs, too.
~Bhagpuss, commenting on TAGN.
I have seen this phenomenon myself, over and over again. I believe it may apply to other, more durable, products, as well. But the relative ease of changing software means it happens faster in that industry.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bloggy Xmas Day 20: Twisted Peppermint

So the Bloggy Xmas living advent calendar comes around to me. I share today with The Mystical Mesmer and I look forward to reading his post. One of the disadvantages of going late in the month is that I doubt I will have anything new to say about the topic of "Community." But when have I ever let that stop me?
I have covered the topic of community many times on this blog. In fact, a total of 82 posts, including this one, are tagged as community related.

Dictionary.com's third definition for community is as follows:
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the):
"the business community; the community of scholars."
The (video) gaming community certainly shares common interests,  if not characteristics, and we do perceive ourselves as distinct from larger society, even if study after survey indicates that the vast majority of people in developed countries play video games of some sort. Game bloggers are an even smaller community.

I love participating in community events like NBI, Blaugust, and Bloggy Xmas, and am grateful for folks like Belghast and Syl who organize such events. Every year, Stargrace organizes a gamer Secret Santa. Much like guild leadership, it is not a job I envy. I, myself, lack the motivation (and perhaps charisma) to get folks to come together like that, though I am happy to encourage the leaders and my fellow participants.

I have had the pleasure of playing with many fellow bloggers, and enjoy reading about the exploits of many more. Living in the Internet Age, we don't have to reside in the same geographic locale to develop friendships and, in some cases, even familial bonds. Our community spans the globe. Like many other online communities, we discover that we are not alone and can find refuge with each other from the travails of our lives.

Sometimes we disagree, and sometimes it gets ugly. But we are not all the same, anymore than mere geography makes us the same as others in our offline communities. Things can get ugly there, too.

However, this is the season for communities to come together, help each other and spread goodwill. Much like Syl's Swiss fellow citizens come together to create a town-wide advent calendar, hopefully this Bloggy Xmas will promote good cheer and a greater sense of community in this blogosphere.

Syl, the MMO Gypsy, has organized a community of bloggers to present a post or two each day from 1 December until Christmas. Just click the calendar to go to the Event site. And may you find joy in whatever holidays you celebrate this month.
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Whence Progress?

The Aggronaut has a post out singing the praises of a World of Warcraft currency exchange proposed by Blizzard that Bel has dubbed BLEX. In it, Bel mentions a mentoring system as part of his wishlist for WoW innovations. Lord Tridus from A Goon's Day Off thinks that such a system is simply a bandaid, for the problem of levels and old content. I threw in my two cents. (Quotes are his.)

"Flatten or wipe out the level curve entirely and content now becomes scaled on gear"
This system has worked fairly well in The Secret World, but the classless Ability Wheel and Skill System are very different from the classful system of WoW. I wonder if there would not be balance issues if they didn't completely redesign Azeroth from the ground up (and not just the landscape). And in TSW, you still cannot walk into the top areas in low level gear and expect to survive.

"as gear stats are all based on easily scaleable formulae already"
But that scalability depends on levels—that is, a single stat unit on gear has greater impact at lower levels than it does at max. Without levels, what would they scale gear-stats to?

For better or for worse, MMORPGs seem to be about all about character progression. Progression through gear can work, but there might be an upper limit to it that would be just as bad as plain ol' levels. And then, like Funcom's AEGIS for TSW, Blizz would be forced to come up with some other new system to represent progress to satisfy those players that are at the leading edge of content/stats.

The nice thing about a mentoring system like Rift's (unlike GW2's, for instance) is that you can choose whether areas you have already surpassed will be trivial or a continued challenge. There are plenty of times where I just want to beeline my way across a low zone rather than deal with the trash mobs milling about. Other times, I want to participate in the content at level; zone events, for example, or dungeons. Mentoring allows me to do so.

Like Tridus, I would like to see a truly level-less game. But I wonder if we're in the minority.

As far as BLEX, it sounds like a good idea. I've never gotten involved in that type of market, but I have considered it in order to get some quick game currency. And if it beats criminal gold farmers at their own game while replenishing the development coffers, so much the better.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.