Category Archives: Frivolous Friday

Mobile Gaming 4 U (and me)

After much consideration (I am cheap), I finally became the owner of a shiny Samsung T800 Galaxy Tab (10.5) this last Tuesday. Aside of being able to watch clips and movies as well as read and chat with more ease thanks to a much larger screen, owning a tablet means mobile games! I partly got this tablet so I could return to the frantic fun that is Cook Serve Delicious (which you should totally own) but I am also set on discovering more casual games to take to Italy with me next month. Yes, that’s what I do while sunbathing at the Adriatic coast (don’t judge).

mv

In my head, mobile gaming has so much potential and yet, discovering games that are worth a dime feels like pearl diving at the bottom of a vast sea of humbug. That’s why I’ve spent this week sourcing my social media platforms for solid mobile titles inside the RPG/adventure/sim and casual silliness corner. So far, I ‘ve been able to secure the following games, along with the awesome CSD:

  • You must build a boat
  • Crossyroad
  • Monument Valley
  • Blek
  • Plague Inc.

As you can see, I don’t really care if the games cost me a dollar or not, as long as it’s worth the investment. In fact, paywalled content or a lot of ads and popups are a big no-go in my book. This is where I’m shouting out for more tips from y’all – it would be especially nice if there was a JRPG or two that I could sink my teeth into. I do know about mobile Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy & Co., what I’m looking for is something potentially new and fun that lands somewhere between Zelda and FF (no tactical RPGs plx!). I also really like games that look good or have nice music, so this is where I’m recommending Buddy&Me and TA: Red Riding Hood to those of you who are into that kind of thing.

So yeah, I need some help with this. More mobile tips & recommendations this way please! And happy weekend everybody!

(P.S. I am waiting on Fallout Shelter to come out on Android, in case that was your first thought!)

Treasures of Draenor

It’s about the little things. It always has been. Whether it was finding Sheddle Glossgleam in Dalaran for shiny shoes or so many other secrets in World of Warcraft safely hidden away. Draenor is a beautiful world with its long leaves of grass moving in the wind and snowflakes swirling across the plains of Frostfire Ridge. There is more treasure to find these days than ever, with a map for achievers or without for the more exploratively inclined who’d like to think the world an endless place of mystery.

secrets

And then there’s the secrets. The things only found by chance that someone had to come across, maybe on an errand or erring with nothing in particular on their mind. I love early expansions; between exclamation marks I’ll make time to follow the footprints in the snow, climb a mountain, swim out to the sea. Or levitate, rather. That’s how I came across and island to the southernmost edge of Nagrand and on that island there was a path leading up to something –

robinwilliamstribute

It’s the little things – an odd scenery where you least expect it, mementos thrown away, curious and without explanation. Finding a magic lamp hidden in the grass right next to them, letting you activate whatever is stored inside. Maybe a cloud of dust, a string of words long forgotten or a dark spell? Or a wink from far away, a well-known phrase by a genie called Robin.

Maybe a wish that some things could be preserved forever when memories are all that remain. Life is a treasure. Happy weekend everybody.

Weekend Wildstar Wrap-up: It’s all Blizzard’s Fault

If there is just one observation or rule that, after almost four years of meta blogging, I may declare applies without fail when there are two sides to a passionate debate, it’s the following:

Both sides of the argument want exactly the same. That’s been the case each and every time I’ve experienced engaged and complex discussions on this here blog or elsewhere; two or more people arguing for the same thing but believing in opposite ways of achieving it. Your prime example for this is the ‘grouping and facilitation’ debate where some will argue pro enforced grouping for more community while others believe grouping, in order to be the real thing, needs to happen naturally and dynamically. It’s important to understand that on the most basic level, these players all want the same thing.

Quite an entertaining phenomenon in retrospective, it usually takes a moment to sink in. Once you’ve distanced yourself from a topic, you’ll detect such patterns a lot more clearly even if that won’t bring you any closer to a satisfying solution.

In which Blizzard gets all the blame

In what has proven to be a universally divisive topic for Wildstar this week and probably for a while to come, I argued that the 12step attunement needs toning down in order to accommodate a wider variety of both casual and hardcore players. While my argument in favor of inclusion wasn’t my only point, it’s as important to me as it is obviously to others. Liore followed-up disagreeing with pretty much most of my logic, explaining why to her the attunement chain adds direction, content and more playstyle variety. Bottom line: we both argued in favor of diversity/freedom, albeit for different target audiences that are sadly all too often mutually exclusive in MMOs.

That brings me to a second, more vexing matter: World of Warcraft’s continued influence on our perception of design dynamics and as a consequence, its impact on our not-so carefree experiences of new games such as Wildstar. Liore makes an explicit WoW reference in her article, in which she equates not having hard attunements with “being just… like… WoW” because well, like me she’s played and seen a lot of WoW. Just like that, I referred to WoW attunements in my own post and ended up responding (guilty..):

Funny enough unlike for you, to me this [read: the current status of the attunement] is all exactly like WoW and not unlike WoW. I raided in vanilla and it was considered hardcore, the way WS raiding seems right now.

And today, in an interesting update over at Tobold’s, the comment section is full of arguments, speculations and assumptions inspired by past experiences in – you guessed it – WoW. All the while, somewhere else an anti-Wildstar brigade is forming within WoW’s disgruntled and bored community as we speak, because apparently Wildstar is appealing to many of that same demography. Shocker.

wowglass

Our WoW glasses need to be smashed.

….It’s all WoW. WoW, wow, wow. Whether we’re for something or against it, whether it’s totally cool because different from WoW or dangerously close to being like WoW, WoW is the all-encompassing factor and ultimate perspective. Apparently we cannot free ourselves from the mind print that this MMO has left in our collective memory. If something happened in WoW, well it’s probably gonna happen in Wildstar, right? Wrong!

To close a week of intense feels: it’s clearly all Blizzard’s fault. Happy weekend everybody – to the Nexus as well as Azeroth! Stay classy!

Identity Crisis and a Wildstar Avatar

It is the weirdest thing when our plans go topsy-turvy, when the things we thought we were looking forward to fail us miserably and the ones we never even considered, take us by surprise. What do we even know? Nothing.

Sometimes we think we want one thing only to discover that we really didn’t. Something looks just right and suitable in our mind but in truth it never was or will be. In the end, what we want and what we need are two different things and that’s something I have learned before, at a time when I thought I knew exactly what (and whom) to pursue in my life. And then seemingly out of the blue, someone came along and told me he was all I needed.

wsavafinal

Right now, I should be playing Guild Wars 2 or The Elder Scrolls Online because they look like everything I want in MMOs. Instead, I am playing Wildstar – a game with traditional questing, a holy trinity and cartoony graphics. Not just that, I am enjoying myself. A lot.

How did it come to this?? ………

Anyway. Happy Wildstar weekend everybody! The Nexus awaits and my olde healer muscles are aching for practice. Never say never.

What ever happened to /hail?

hailing

While marveling at SOE’s name giving for their newly announced MMO title, a recent twitter conversation with @Mylin1 made me painfully aware of one simple thing: how much I miss hailing in MMOs and all it stood for.

What ever happened to /hail? In my memory it was the most common greeting in older MMOs, certainly in Ultima Online and it wasn’t just for the role players. /Hail was part of early MMO culture, maybe MUD culture too (feel free to jump in), and it instantly gave every social exchange a more serious, almost solemn coating. It was like a portkey for immersion, a sign that this was a different world you traveled – a world of dragons and magic. In real life you were Sam the history teacher but here you were Lorella Stormcloak, five times Grand Mistress of Arcane Arts.

hail

image @ http://www.aschulze.net/ultima/stories/story027.htm

When and why exactly we lost /hail I do not know. Maybe it was that later MMOs outgrew the classic medieval setting of Ultima Online that set such a perfect stage for the odd Shakespearean prose. Maybe it’s that after WoW’s successes, the genre became too mainstream and “Mr. T-cool” to allow for this kind of geeky eccentricity. I remember still seeing /hail around in vanilla WoW but that’s about the last time I’ve encountered it in the world of online games.

Oh hail, how I miss thee. Like so many other things we’ve lost on the way, you’re a remnant of a bygone age, a symbol of our early beginnings.

Happy weekend holidays everybody and a solemn /hail to all of you! May your road be safe and your loot plentiful.

Friday Linkage

Battle Bards episode 13 has aired this last Tuesday and it’s adventure time! One of our most abstract theme shows so far, it was both interesting and challenging to think of MMO tunes that convey the spirit of adventure; that feeling of setting sail into the blue. Adventure and travel are every explorer’s bread and butter but no matter your Bartle profile, it means a great deal of different things to different people. What does it mean to you? Find out and tune in!

cities
Episode 13 show notes

  • “Open Sea Music” from Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • “Explorers and Artifacts” from Guild Wars 2
  • “Spiritual Elysium” from Anarchy Online
  • “Step to the Next World” from Aion
  • “Talking Island” from Lineage II
  • “Romulus Suite” from Star Trek Online
  • “Breeland Jig” from Lord of the Rings Online

An NBI-2 Status Update

This October’s NBI has already attracted a fair group of new MMO bloggers – head over to the official forums to check them out! We are only halfway which means there’s plenty of time left to sign up as a newcomer or to contribute as a sponsor. The poetry slam event is still going too and around ten MMO bloggers have already risen to the challenge. This has been great fun so far, so keep them rhymes (or not rhymes) coming, folks!

nbimedium

Women who play interview

Kazz from Gameskinny has started an interview series on female gamers, bloggers and women generally active in and around the field of gaming. It is her proclaimed goal to reach out and encourage women who play to step into the light – to join communities such as the blogosphere and other networks where gamers roam and are being creative, without fear of rejection.

“Women in gaming” is a topic I wanted to write about for some time, but never quite found the right approach. Whilst there are many tales available of the horror stories and downsides for women who dare to call themselves gamers, my own experiences – as a gamer and game blogger – have actually been quite positive.

I’ve always felt that it is important to highlight what is going wrong and to expose those who judge by gender. But equally, women are playing games, they are making games, and they are making positive contributions to gaming communities. [Kazz]

As a videogame blogger I have a lot of self-cringe when being asked to give anyone an interview on myself; it seems like a horribly self-absorbed thing to do unless your name is Jane McGonigal or Markus Persson in which case you probably have something important to say. However, after overcoming these initial misgivings I was happy to answer Kazz’ questionnaire which led me way back, to humble beginnings and parts of my gamer biography I have never talked about before on the blog. If some of my own struggles can inspire anyone to take heart, that’s a worthy cause right there.

Tangentially, I always wanted to write an article on my personal gamer bio; I think this would make for an awesome blogosphere meme. I’d love to hear fellow MMO bloggers to talk about their own journeys – how it all began and which games they deem the most significant and formative. In any case, over the course of the questionnaire I realized once more how much I owe the blogging community and how thankful I am for discovering it, including all the special bloggers and commenters who have engaged with me over the last few years. I was a fairly isolated gamer before I started my blog. I still hold a torch for fellow gamers and geeks everywhere, no matter the sometimes bad propaganda or foul apples on boards and comment sections. We are the community.

So, thanks Kazz for having me. For all those who are similarly nosy and curious as myself where their fellow bloggers are concerned, you can find the interview here.

Happy weekend everybody! I shall resume more game-related news and ponderings soon, well as soon as an MMO out there does something interesting. Here’s to hoping!

I want my global Village!

It’s the new old latest achievement: global servers and they all have them – The Elder Scrolls Online, Everquest Next, Shroud of the Avatar. Or so it is said. One of the biggest, if not the biggest item on my personal MMO wishlist right now, is global servers across regions so I can play with fellow bloggers and friends no matter what side of the Atlantic. In these modern times of online gaming and communities, nothing feels more overdue than the removal of one of the last barriers in gaming: regional servers.

Who has them truly? While everyone (minus Carbine who need to make everything complicated) is speaking of smart mega-servers pairing friends via friendlist features or other mechanics, it doesn’t seem like global MMO servers, as in global global (not regionally global) will see the light of day anytime soon. I’m no expert on state of the art world servers and cloud technology, so I can’t judge how much of the old “ping issues” argument rings true in 2013. I’ve played on both Japanese and American servers before and it was never an issue but that’s not to say that what works for few (willingly sleep-deprived) individuals, would work with everybody on board.

All is not lost though; like GW2 and FFXIV, TESO will feature free server choice no matter your game version. The folks over at the official @TESOnline twitter account were so kind as to actually shed light on this matter and clarify the question for me and others –

tesoservers

It’s a start and who knows, maybe one day at least guesting features will become cross-regional in MMOs. For my part, this means rolling my future main character(s) on NA, or both NA and EU if such should be possible, to be able to join many of my blogging friends out there. I really look forward to explore Tamriel in some proper company although I won’t likely be around much for prime time. Ah well.

At this point I’d also like to whine a little bit in public (who knows who’s listening!) for still not having received my TESO beta key – surely something went wrong there?? Pfft.

Two more things before the weekend

Before we’re all off to our weekly panem and circenses, two more tidbits from the world of bleeps and blurbs for all the resistant non-twitterers out there:

– The NBI is back! Head over to CMP and become a sponsor once more or for the first time! Let’s keep the MMO blogosphere alive!

– Handwriting memes are fun and everyone should do them (yeah yeah, life/world whatever)! Happy weekend global blogosphere!

sylshand

When did frivolty go out of fashion?

When Syp shared a link to this excellent Extra Credits video today, I couldn’t help but think about how videogames indeed have changed since the 80ies when the whole business started off. And not just games actually but western pop-culture as a whole; I used to love the silly action flicks (like Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop) of the 80ies, I still do. Their kind or also the type of sitcoms that used to be popular at the time, are almost completely non-existent nowadays. Critics would tear them apart. Everything has become a lot more complex and that is an inevitable part of an evolution and progression – but things have also become a lot darker, grimmer and more cynical.

ALF-kitty

My retro extremist friend Cyrille, who’s been a next-gen-grump ever since the early 90ies, used to tell me how games were increasingly losing that “charm and magic” for him and I don’t think he was merely a victim of nostalgia. Yeah, we’ve grown-up since the 80ies but our games at the time were created by grown-ups and those action movies I miss so much were also created by grown-ups for grown-ups? So there’s clearly something bigger at work here culturally when we compare different eras. When did it become so unfashionable and untrendy to be frivolous? Why is it silly to be a little silly and over the top? Why this trend of ever darker and edgier?

In context of many of the recent “blogging cowboys/girls aka is blogging dying out?”-debates in the blogosphere (I’m not worried, by the way), particularly also this take by Liore and my personal reply in the comment section, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own blogging and blog as part of the MMO blogging community. As Wilhelm put it too, gold is where you find it and that community is wherever we believe it to be depending on the particular space we inhabit and our closest neighbors. I’m very happy and grateful where I am, for the way things have gone so far and for all the amazing people that frequent my comment sections and populate my blogroll, filling my head with new thoughts and ideas. I know fully well though that there are also a few readers and probably also more bigtime bloggers, who believe I am not serious enough because I dare to be hypey/enthusiastic or ranty/pissed in some of my reviews. Or then, I delight in more silly and trivial things or swear on appropriate occasion. This blog is a colorful place, I hope for more than just its design. To me, the world of videogames isn’t serious – it’s colorful, hyperbolic, goofy, hilarious, strange, creepy and fantastic. My heart goes out to the part where the Extra Credits video speaks about Final Fantasy and how the older titles dared to be shamelessly magical and over-the-top. It was pure fun and joy, it was silly and beautiful.

That’s everything games and the entire fantasy genre for that matter, are to me. That’s also what I’d like to be and remain as a blogger, hot and cold as appropriate (I actually believe true balance is created by the existence of two extremes), enthusiastic and passionate about the things I write. It’s a great feat to be a consistent source of information for your readers, but there’s also wanting to inspire connections and emotions, looking to create a spark or maybe just a smile or constructive disagreement. When I started my journey in this blogosphere, I introduced a regular category of posts called “Frivolous Friday” to celebrate the trivial and humorous side of gaming. I realize though, I too have stopped paying this category the regular tribute it deserves and for this I apologize. Truly. I hope it’s not because I considered it to draw too little attention or because I felt some kind of peer pressure. More than maybe most of the articles I write on MMO Gypsy, passionate explorer and social justice discussions aside, frivolous Friday represents me as a person. I love creative, poetic or silly writing as much as putting on the meta design or social critic’s hat. I can do both.

So I guess to bring both topics to a happy end: let’s not forget about the simple joy and fantastic hyperbole that can be part of games and MMOs. It’s okay to just entertain or delight in silly stuff while also being a srs blogger. Just because we’re growing up doesn’t mean all of our games or other interests have to.