Category Archives: WoW

LOTRO 10 Year Anniversary: Community

Roger has a special post up remembering his past 8 years in LOTRO for the game’s currently ongoing 10th anniversary event. I joined LOTRO late in 2013 but I recognize the special nostalgia and fond memories of the early player from my own time with WoW where I was a regular from the US beta up until the beginning of Cataclysm. That is a very long time to be invested in an MMO world. Looking back even as an ex-player of WoW today, there is so much to be thankful for but nothing more important than the people: the social encounters, the friendships and the guilds.

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Without community, MMOs are just a very large online world. A beautiful world for sure and one that’s worth exploring but hardly worth sticking around for years and years. More so even that virtual property, I believe the thing that glues us to MMOs are other people – the only truly unscripted thing that shall remain unpredictable forever.

Early MMO camaraderie, as described by Roger, is a special thing that tends to wane as MMOs become more streamlined and well explored. Internet databases have done their share of replacing some of the social interaction and seem to grow ever faster for every new game that gets released. I remember a time in WoW when everyone knew everyone on a server and world chat would buzz with support. That was long ago in WoW and long ago in LOTRO.

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Stranger things will happen at 2am in the Prancing Pony…don’t ask

As a recent LOTRO return however, I can say that at least for Laurelin, “the EU RP server”, server channels are still fairly active and friendly. Zone chat is dead for some reason and maybe it was never a thing, but you do generally get advice in world chat. Places like the Prancing Pony are well frequented and always good for a stop to listen to a bard play or take part in shady night time activities. There is also an inexplicable amount of generous and supportive players in general who will whisper you after a noobish question or come meet you to y’know…trade you gear upgrades for no reason or let you copy their cosmetics for the wardrobe. Both has happened to me within 3 days of play.

It seems relatively difficult to find groups for old content however which is something I struggle with in Moria. LOTRO’s dungeon finder seems to be a completely ignored feature by a majority of folk, so I was encouraged to use LFF chat for Grand Stair and Hall of Mirrors. It took the better part of Sunday afternoon just to find 5 other people willing to run HoM twice since that is the required amount of runs to complete the quests there. It was a very friendly and fun group however and I ended up getting invited to their cross-fellowship channel.

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Despite some grouping difficulties, just having company out there to chat or listen to and knowing you’re not alone, creates much of my enjoyment in MMOs even when I’m running solo (the other important parts being exploration and world building but you knew that already). Now that I’ve re-subscribed to LOTRO and intend to make up for lost time in Middle-Earth, it was an obvious next step to join a casual but active guild once more. I had been part of a bunch called the Grey Guard in 2013 who were kind enough to accept and not kick me after 3 years of absence, but it’s been very quiet after my return and I’ve felt rather lonely and behind even more so than in 2013. Thankfully, a kind offer by Roger to join his long term kinship has arrived at what seems the perfect time! I am back in the saddle and back among people who still enjoy an MMO they’ve been attached to for years – a warm and familiar feeling.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and the Legacy Server Question

In the wake of the much discussed Nostalrius server closure, Gamespot published an interview with Blizzard’s Overwatch team about the great failure that was Titan, as part of a history feature for Overwatch. Titan having been this great hush-hush project for so long, with only a single Kotaku article shedding some light on its demise at the time, I found both the timing and takeaway of this new interview quite fascinating. It is rare for a developer of Blizzard’s caliber to come out and talk about screwing up projects of such magnitude in candid fashion, with notable commentary by Jeff Kaplan and Chris Metzen. Yet if youtube comments are anything to go by, it was another smart move on their end in terms of marketing Overwatch and generating some more trust and curiosity within the player base.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and Legacy Servers

What the Titan interview is too, is a rather ironical look at the long-lasting after-effects of the monster that was created in 2004 – World of Warcraft, proclaimed hero and villain of mainstream MMORPGdom depending on whom you ask. Over the years many a case has been made against WoW for hijacking the creative diversity of the genre, causing a plethora of unfortunate clones or ill-budgeted AAA-titles crashing in one treacherous MMO bubble. What isn’t discussed nearly as often however are the negative side-effects of WoW from within, for a company and creative enterprise. WoW may be the best thing that ever happened to Chris Metzen and Co. but it “happened” to them in the same bewildering, unforeseen and uncontrollable way it happened to the entire market; a child of chance and momentum as much as creative genius and industry know-how. An alchemy that defies simple re-creation.

That fortuitous chain of events led the team at Blizzard through the same process it would lead anyone that could not be prepared, from a time of unstoppable force and hubris to a place of shattered dreams and identity crisis when it came to Titan, crushed under the real MMO giant that remains World of Warcraft. The irony is strong in this one. WoW casts its long shadow to this day and left the staff soul-searching and scavenging Titan’s remains to come up with Overwatch, a completely different, much smaller game to complement their genre palette. Thus a team used to the dizzying successes of the past stood humbled, as Chris Metzen points out in the Gamespot feature.

The Long Shadow of World of Warcraft: Titan and Legacy Servers

Among MMO bloggers there goes the saying that “there is no WoW killer other than WoW” and indeed, nothing can seem to affect this title’s weight, not even the next Blizzard MMORPG. This must create a challenging emotional ambivalence even among those closest to WoW and most blessed by its many rewards. And I can’t help but think it also plays a role in Blizzard’s unaltered disregard for WoW legacy servers; something that surely makes sense business-wise and in terms of fan service. But if we then consider a crew of people who are simply tired of old WoW and eager to create new experiences, experiences not continuously outclassed by a 12 year-old zombie that just won’t stop rearing its insistent head, well then we can empathize more with that decision.

You run legacy servers when you’re actually happy to keep the past alive. At this point, I don’t get the feeling Blizzard are content to be defined by the successes of WoW’s heyday and this weighs heavier on their mind than a couple more subscriptions.

About that Black Desert Online Learning Curve

Five days into Black Desert Online, including some beta testing and headstart, my current state of mind is best described with this picture:

Black Desert Online learning curve

HALP! (click to enlarge crazyness)

I still don’t know what the fuck I am doing. And that is probably a good thing too, given how I generally find new MMORPGs too easy, too repetitive and too been there done that. Really, BDO is doing a lot of stuff its own way; I can’t say how effective or worthwhile it all is yet, but between node and worker management, haggling and raising amity with NPCs, one million gazillion crafty things and sub-menus for every possible resource, horse breeding, AFK-fishing, shipyards and feeding pets while looking to unlock the perfect residence, I have my hands full and then some. That Black Desert Online learning curve is no joke even for seasoned players.

Sandbox musings

While browsing the official Black Desert Online forums, I chanced upon this provocatively named youtube rant by WoW raider Kungen – ye, that dude that ran/runs Nihilum and raided with Ensidia for a time. I honestly never payed much attention to WoW’s 1% although there was a time when I statistically would have belonged among that group, albeit much further down the ladder from our Scandinavian overlords. In the few interviews I ever read back in wow.com’s time, most of them seemed aloof and not in touch with anything.

Anywho, after several minutes of WoW tirade Kungen goes over to waxing lyrical about BDO, its great sandbox premise and horizontal endgame “progression”. I confess, I found the video rather entertaining for all the ways he hits and misses various points related to his general WoW malaise. He is quite obviously incapable of relating to what constitutes the majority of WoW’s non-hardcore player base. Where there’s only “easy peasy mythics” left for him in today’s endgame, other players would argue that the game has added a lot of non-raiding related content over the years, from achievements to pet battles and the garrison. That doesn’t interest Kungen because raiding was the greatest in vanilla and after that, the game gradually went to shits. Here’s where I agree with him: WoW took a big turn for the worse after the conclusion of the Arthas arch in WotLK; I too am a Cataclysm-unsubscriber. And I hate flying mounts in WoW, they rank right after achievements for me.

The rest is mildly amusing, given how this hardcore player fails to realize how his playstyle adds to his own detriment in MMOs. He probably level 50+ during the BDO beta too or something, so I wonder how long the enthusiasm is gonna last. But hey, it’s nice that even the “WoW elite” (…) can appreciate Black Desert Online for doing things a bit differently.

Who are the MMO Core Players?

brief exchange today between myself and Gazimoff on WoW’s fluctuating player base, got me thinking about the often referenced „core players“ in MMOs. Although there’s unfortunately no data on who today’s longtime WoW subscribers are and when they started playing, it’s reasonable to assume that WoW has a core of the faithful, made sticky by longtime relationships, memories and trophies accumulated over the years. Social ties and virtual property are an important glue for MMO retention and WoW hit the market like a blazing star in 2004.

But really all sarcasm aside (I’ll try!), who are the core players in WoW? Are they the ones who never unsub, never fluctuate? Are they the all-abiding, undemanding that Blizzard need never worry about? Are they the so-called fanboys and fangirls?

What constitutes core and how many core players are there in an MMO like WoW? Is it enough to remain subbed for a certain amount of time to qualify or invest a certain amount of money? Is it the current 5 million players or much less than that – 1 million, 500’000 players? More importantly, how long until we’d find out, how long until the last non-core player is ready to quit WoW and never look back?

What does it take to reveal an MMO’s core?

Questions, questions!

OTC – Big Deals Edition: The Challenges of Virtual Poop, Undertale and DPS Meters still suck, thank you!

You guys, I actually used “poop” in a topic title! *Achievement unlocked!*

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The big deal that is pooping in ARK

I’ve been playing some ARK over the past weekend after finally upgrading my old graphics card to a 970. The game is beautiful but also rather straightforward and boring, to the point of where I am calling over-hype. Coming from the suspense that is 7 Days to Die, ARK still has a long way to go before it catches my survival fancy – “just surviving”, as in making sure you’re not starving, isn’t a good enough reason to sink hours into a game and build fortresses for me. That’s all well though and I will return to ARK once it received more content love and fixing.

Of course one very under-reported, hilarious feature in ARK is your character’s defecation mechanic which has caught many an unsuspecting player by surprise. It also spawns fantastically comical forum threads such as this one which was my main inspiration for looking into the topic. For those who don’t know how it works, just a brief summary: player characters in ARK randomly poop all over the place with a “you defecated” message popping up on your screen and an overly realistic bowel sound effect going along with it (eww). Also, you can pick up player poop and do things with it! There’s apparently a way to initiate pooping yourself (I did not know this), rather than being taken by surprise when your character relieves himself in the middle of your base like he’s part of the livestock.

This is noteworthy because most games never dare venture into the no-go zone that is human poop, no matter how high their authenticity bar is set otherwise. I only remember encountering virtual pooping in the Sims and Conker’s Bad Fur Day myself in the past. Even toilets as part of game settings are kind of a big deal, as was recently deliberated in this RPS article. Cross-reading different ARK forums, there’s plenty of players utterly aghast at this, nevermind all the violence and moral decay portrayed in videogames otherwise but…..poop? No way! I actually got a buddy of mine to play ARK and he is turned off so much by the defecation thing, he’s already stopped playing. I couldn’t stop laughing after it “happened” to his character the first time around!

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So many places to do your business!

Now, I am possibly the last person to ask for poop mechanics in videogames, or any simulation of mundane bodily functions for that matter, since I’m all for the idealized, stylized and aesthetically pleasing fantasy environments! The fuss over something as trivial as poop in a game like ARK cracks me up though; I guess I’m okay with the fact that my human body does that sort of thing and so does yours because y’know, we’re part of nature no matter how fancy we dress and talk. We tend to be fine with “manure” (different word for poop!) from beefalos when playing Don’t Starve, so let’s try be a little less Martha Steward about the whole thing, shall we?

The Tunes of the Undertale

Undertale, a successful Kickstarter project that’s been created for the most part by one guy named Toby Fox, has recently been released on Steam with a bang. Not only is it difficult to find anything but raging reviews from players and journos alike, the fact that many would go as far as calling it the best RPG they ever played or at least among the best, got me curious to check it out myself. Only about 1 hour in and without wanting to spoil anything, I think it’s safe to say that lovers of the (J)RPG genre will find this to be an interesting journey for its toying with player expectations, tongue-in check approach to classic tropes and unorthodox approach to round-based combat. That is, if you can get over the minimalistic graphics. I’m not even sure how much I like Undertale yet myself but there is something about it I need to get to the bottom of.

What’s already won me over is the game’s soundtrack – a whooping 101 tracks of oldschool goodness composed by Toby Fox again (that guy!), and available for only 9.99$ on his bandcamp site. If you’re at all into retro VGM, this is for you and one great deal for the buck!

And MMOs are still better without DPS meters

Most players who have ever spent a decent amount of time in FFXIV: A Realm Reborn will at some point talk or write about its incredibly friendly community that seems at odds with the current WoW-based MMO standard. I have mused on this not too long ago and so have other bloggers, and it requires no great leap of logic to grasp that FFXIV’s lack of (acknowledged) DPS meters, as well as its very forgiving dungeons for the most part, have a lot to do with it. FFXIV relies heavily on social engineering in many different ways and pugging is as essential to the player experience in this MMO as it is in WoW and other games, toxic hells that their LFGs have become. I have lamented the state of pugs in WoW as well as in Guild Wars 2 in the past and Eri did in fact recently write a similar review on returning to Tera.

Now Rohan linked an interesting experiment from reddit in his post yesterday, in which some guy parsed both the harassment and the DPS for pugs in both FFXIV and WoW. Bottom line: the jerks in WoW are often also the “good” players (no doubt using meters as their justification). In FFXIV on the other hand, in case of a bad pug it’s more likely that the loudmouth is also a bad player (that’s simply never detected). So far goes the result of the experiment.

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More dps whyyyy…look I have a pretty angel!

It’s easy enough to believe this data. Like Rohan, I fail to see how any of the two options are superior in theory because well, I generally don’t want any jerks in my pugs. Doing well on meters doesn’t entitle you to be a jerk. Where I disagree slightly is the bottom line that the two approaches to meters are on the same level / cause equal inconveniences; in reality I am a lot less often subjected to harassment in FFXIV than I am in WoW by virtue of how the FFXIV devs handle meters. And this is a big deal.

Would you rather deal with a 5% chance of getting ebola or a 70% of getting SARS?  The 5% suck but are preferable to the 70%! Naturally, these are my uncorroborated percentages to illustrate approximately how often my pugs have been awful in FFXIV vs. WoW. Source whatever you like, it would surprise me greatly if you didn’t end up with a huge disparity between these two titles. I must have done a 100 runs myself in FFXIV by now and I recall precious few group disbands either, outside those 2-3 single raid boss encounters everyone seems to loathe.

Of course the question of whether bad players matter much towards outcome, factors into this and once more FFXIV appears to be more laidback and forgiving where the majority of its puggeable content is concerned. I mean look….the 4-man dungeons aren’t exactly difficult. I am still undecided whether WoW’s dungeons are truly that much harder to warrant meters – I’ve a feeling this is not the case. The amount of harassment in WoW happens because meters are readily available and because people can. So, I’ll take a few loudmouth players in FFXIV who are “also bad” any day, if it means a much friendlier overall community.

So, how is FFXIV “better” than WoW? [#Blaugust 12]

Yes I’m doing it, am comparing two popular subscription MMOs with die-hard audiences, some of which are very very vocal. Wish me luck!

I’ve drawn a comparison between FFXIV’s and WoW’s endgame lately, both of which are rather lacking in their straightforward, gear-grind focused approach. However, it seems FFXIV often gets compared to WoW for all sorts of things and I’m not exactly onboard with most of them, given that I’ve played its predecessor in 2002 long before WoW launched. There is plenty of MMO tradition in SE’s two titles for sure (same as for WoW) and no doubt the dev team analyzed WoW during ARR’s development (especially for re-launch). But FFXIV has its own spirit and way of doing things.

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

If I keep saying FFXIV is the better overall game than WoW, I should at some point explain why that is or rather, why it is for me. As an ex-WoW player and now-FFXIV follower I am totally biased, just like everyone else is. So agree with me or not, these are my reasons to prefer playing FFXIV over WoW today, in no specific order:

  1. Regular content: Over the course of 1.5 years between re-release and Heavensward expansion, ARR has known a respectable number of content patches. Steadily, SE have released new encounters, dungeons and driven the excellent story forward via questlines. The newly released expansion has already had content added to it. How many content patches did Warlords of Draenor have again?
  2. Great writing and stakes: I have gushed about how uncompromisingly SE handle storytelling in FFXIV. You can certainly dislike storydriven MMOs like that but at least they’re doing it damn well. In this, the game is second to no one and you’ll find detailed reasons in the post I just linked, if you care to.
  3. Superior LFG experience: Or maybe I should just say superior community because it is unbelievable how 98% of all PuGs in FFXIV are just the nicest social encounters ever. EVER.
  4. No stupid ass meters: There’s an unspoken rule in FFXIV that if you use any meters, you need to keep quiet about it. If not, well everyone’s too scared to go there. Apparently (although I cannot locate an original source) SE have taken a clear stance on dps meters: use them for yourself only or fall under the harassment offense. How awesome is that??
  5. World feel / graphics: FFXIV is a zoned world very much like WoW is but in terms of that authentic world feel, from how terrain is crafted to the texture of rocks, light and shadow or the sound of things, right down to how NPCs behave, it is simply the much superiorly crafted world. This is obviously a question of graphics style, engine and power too. FFXIV is a newer game than WoW is.
  6. Lousy Achievements: The lackluster achievement system in FFXIV remains unobtrusive and rather inconsequential in the greater design of things. Quite a few players have moaned about this since day one, while I want to kiss frogs and marry princes because it’s so wonderfully ignorable!
  7. Cosmetics/gear: Myeah, let’s move right to point 8.
  8. Housing and other whimsy: Not the greatest housing model in the world, FFXIV still let’s you have your own space to decorate and has equipped guilds with their own, individual hubs and more recently airships. WoW sports garrisons which I actually quite liked…they just don’t make up for housing. Furthermore, FFXIV includes experiences like the Thornmarch encounter or barber NPC Jandelaine, which I’d like to call wonderful experiences in wild japanese humor and whimsy. Harris Pilton and Indiana Jones questlines are mildly entertaining but that stuff is plain madness.

If you’re fuming at this point because I’m being very unfair to WoW, I’ll readily make the following concessions: there’s pet battles and plenty of cool mounts to collect, flex raids and a much, much better account management system with actual player connectivity across realms, regions and games even. Also, WoW let’s you use parties, mounts and pets at the same time – a feat of epic proportion for FFXIV it seems.

The mogstation really is teh worst and we all know this but it’s not like I log in there every day. This is largely the thread where I tell you why FFXIV > WoW for my personal intents and purposes and yup, I have a clear winner kupo!

MMO Regrets [#Blaugust 11]

MMO regrets, I have them. Maybe you have some too. Over a decade of dragon slaying and getting to know people from all over the world by doing so, has been mostly a mad and fun ride, yet looking back there’s also a few things I would do differently. Or maybe not. In any case, here are three of them in no particular order:

  • Not getting a lifetime sub for LOTRO; players have paid between 200 – 299$ for their lifetime subs at some point, depending whom you ask. LOTRO wasn’t in such a great place back then and it still isn’t, unfortunately I came to it way later and so that was never an option. Given that LOTRO is my favorite MMO that I’m not playing, I wish I could log into ME sometime without re-subscription hassles. If you have a lifetime sub for LOTRO that you’re not even using, don’t tell me!
  • Returning to WoW for Cataclysm; I had said my goodbyes to WoW and my long-standing community there at the end of WotLK and it was a perfect finale to a mighty fine run of six years. The goodbye thread in our guild forums was epic kleenex time. But then I came back after Cataclysm launched, yeah I was that person. I came back for entirely the wrong reasons and against my better judgement. It ended in some personal disenchantment for me where few people were concerned, experiences that I really could’ve done without. So not long after, I logged out once again and told hardly anyone about it.

“And so I did. In Elwynn, my lovely, where the journey began. In Elwynn, where my personal anniversary event quest for Adrenaline was stationed. In Elwynn, where the Crazy Cat Lady will go on taking in strays and the murlocs will gurgle forever at the riverbank of Eastvale Logging Camp, long after I have left. In Elwynn, with Goldshire at its heart where all paths lead to greater adventure. A good place to rest.” (“Where do you go to die?”)

  • Losing some of the faithful; I’ve written at some length about how the changes to WoW’s raiding scene over the years basically turned people into assholes. Okay, let me rephrase that: they increasingly put competitive raidguilds into the position of having to choose between raiders and good friends, loyal guildmates. I am talking about myself here – I wish we, the leading team, had had the good sense to drop the allures and just be a little more casual. I know it’s never as simple as that because you also feel obligated to your ‘top players’ but much of that wouldn’t have happened had Blizzard not decided to cut raidsizes from 40 to 25 and 10 and emphasize individual performance over collective achievement.  In any case, it’s why I won’t ever go back to WoW and its raidmeters and over-analyzers who have no room for diversity. Good is good enough, MMOs are not a job!

“This is not a message for those who are still in WoW striving for glory irrespective of cost; by all means, knock yourself out. You have your own path to follow and maybe it will lead you to a similar place, maybe not. But I am not that person anymore, I am glad that I’m not. Friendships are precious and fragile – many people are worth knowing and caring for outside our immediate realm of ambition. So long WoW, you have nothing left to teach me. (“Why I’m not playing WoW anymore.“)

I guess it’s fitting that my greatest MMO regrets come from the game I invested most of my time and heart in. What saddens or bugs you looking back on your time in virtual worlds and communities?

WoW Legion: Content Patches over Expansions any Day! [#Blaugust 8]

In January 2007 millions of World of Warcraft players turned their gaze towards the Blasted Lands: after two years of living in vanilla Azeroth, the Dark Portal was about to open. After too many runs through Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Ahn’quiraj, it was finally time for the Burning Crusade – also known as “back when WoW was cool”.

According to the timeline on WoW wiki, the wait time between a freshly launched installment and the announcement of the next one, consistently lies around 10 months on average (TBC being the freak) due to winter launches and Blizzcon happening in fall every year –

  • Vanilla WoW, November 2004; October 2005 TBC announcement
  • TBC launch, January 2007; August 2007 WotLK announcement
  • WotLK launch, November 2008; August 2009 Cataclysm announcement
  • Cataclysm launch, December 2010; October 2011 Pandaria announcement
  • Pandaria launch, September 2012; November 2013 WoD announcement
  • WoD launch, November 2014; August 2015 Legion announcement

The average lifespan of a WoW expansion is around 20 months. Only vanilla WoW and WotLK made the playerbase wait for longer than that. Looking back, I am shocked how soon into the glorious TBC Blizzard already announced WotLK.

Considering Blizzard have been running like clockwork for 10 years, my launch date speculation for Legion is September 2016. Given that they’re down to 5.6 subscribers as of now, I wonder what else they’ll come up with to span the second half of Draenor. Expansion hype or not, it won’t keep more and more players from unsubscribing until the next expansion is actually here. Poor guilds.

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Oh and I still don’t like expansions

In 2011 I wrote a lengthy rant (with very srs charts!) on why I dislike expansions in MMOs. While GW2 or FFXIV have made some progress on that front in the past few years, it seems no AAA-title can withstand them forever. WoW has always been notorious for its extreme play-cycles, with mad content rushes after a patch and profound pre-drop/-expansion malady that has players methodically unsubscribing. This vexed me a great deal as raider and guild organizer in the past, because it became increasingly difficult to keep a schedule going during the second half of an expansion.

“I want to feel part of the world I play in. I want to be included in a continuous and ever growing story. I want change happening all the time, not every 1-2 years in traumatic leaps. I want stable and lasting fun, not a curve that goes from player fatigue and long wait times to over-excitement, before tumbling back down into the valley of tears. I don’t want to regularly un-subscribe from the MMO I am playing because it’s delivering content in situational peaks.” (Syl)

Besides impacting negatively on social stability, WoW expansions have always had more negative side effects. They affected the game’s economy, rendered our gear and trophies obsolete (green is the new purple! even for legendaries) and deprecated a major part of the previous world and content. That last one is a particularly sore point for players like me.

One the other hand, regular and smaller content patches don’t exhaust their audience and don’t reset their status quo in the world over night. They don’t hit guilds with simultaneous player exodus over and over. And there’s also less pressure and therefore less potential disappointment riding on patches. Didn’t like a particular chapter or felt bored with it? Well, the next one isn’t far off!

So really, what can expansions do for MMOs that a patch cannot? Okay – there are a few things, in fact Spinks (who is dearly missed!) has written about the differences between expansions and patches five years ago on her blog. And I agree with her: expansions have a more fundamental power to reset/expand a world or introduce a new one. They’re a marketing tool for bringing players back and maybe recruiting a few new ones. The extra cash from selling copies and CEs might make up for 40% of your subscriber-base leaving several months before each time, I don’t know.

I can’t help but feel these apparent benefits aren’t what they seem at first glance; not if expansions basically act as a “correction” of your own business strategy. If they bring back players you lost along the way due to how you’re handling content in the game, that is not a very good argument pro expansions, even if it does the job in that case. As for continuously introducing new worlds and abandoning old ones, what does that say about the longevity and depth of your work?

The WoW expansion model is its own enemy. Blizzard can’t turn back and change their strategy of so many years and they’ve bred their very own audience since day one, so I understand that they’re stuck with it. However, their example doesn’t do a very good job advocating for expansions in MMOs and thus I remain as ever, respectfully on the other side of that fence. You could say I am not prepared. Again.

OTC – Good is Good enough Edition: Massive Opportunities, the TGEN Tribunal and Why I’m not playing WoW anymore

otc

OTC is a multi-topic category on mmogypsy.com

By now everyone’s heard of the layoffs by AOL which will affect MMO community news hubs such as WoW Insider and Massively who have since been able to open up. Massively is to close its doors by February 3rd 2015 – that’s two days from now. The news of these shutdowns came with a peculiar, not to say unnerving timing for me personally, the type of uncanny jinx-sensation when you’ve just said or thought something that comes to pass shortly after. Only 2 weeks ago while recording the next Battle Bards session, did I bring up the topic of the future of MMOs and how that may affect places like Massively with Syp on skype: were there any worries on their front as to what may happen with the genre and by extension, the website? But Syp was all positive and cheerful – the genre might be going places but as far as Massively is/was concerned, the page has only ever known growth. For those that only care about numbers, Massively is doing better than ever. Too bad good ain’t good enough for multi-billion companies like AOL – because reasons- (insert generic corporate speech).

I’m sad to see Massively close its doors like that. I’m sorry for its staff that poured all their love, time and enthusiasm into keeping it running. I wasn’t the closest follower of Massively at times but it constitutes one of only few constants in the MMO community, graciously linking back to bloggers like myself. I would visit to read Eliot Lefebvre’s strong opinion posts and of course Sypster’s Jukebox Heroes or Perfect Ten. I always marveled at how Syp could juggle his Massively “job” with Biobreak, several podcasts, his real life job and a family – but such are the workings of a labor of love. My jaw dropped when he told me his monthly quota was 90 posts, which makes Syp the real superman as far as I’m concerned.

When one door closes, another opens. Sometimes life’s endings and goodbyes are just a great new opportunity we cannot yet perceive. What Massively doesn’t lack is a following and talented writers; I am more than positive they will be able to recover and build something new from here, with help of the community.

Introducing the TGEN Tribunal

Our network of gaming and MMO-related podcasts has just launched the first episode of the TGEN Tribunal, a quarterly exchange between different co-hosts from all eight shows. In this first episode we are discussing our individual experiences getting into podcasting, from the more technical aspects to general advice for podcasting newcomers. I happily consider myself a complete amateur in this field but it’s fascinating to hear others talk about the future of this particular medium. Speaking of which, this is the first show I’ve been the producer for, so if there’s something wrong with the editing or sound quality, you know whom you can blame (but hey, I think it’s good enough!).

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Why I’m not playing WoW anymore

My recent FFXIV:ARR shares on the blog and twitter may have given away that my sudden, unexpected WoW-comeback of last November was somewhat short-lived. I had immense fun re-discovering Azeroth for a while, getting in touch with new old zones, my holy priest and the Garrison but after a few run-ins with the more toxic sides of its community, I have quickly realized why I’m over this MMO. Hell is other people and WoW is singular in amassing a crowd of elitist jerks, overbearing endgame achievers and forum kids ever since 2004. Even if you’re doing your best and focus on yourself only, someone is going to unload their frantic achieverdom on you sooner or later, trampling all the roses.

I’ve said it before – I am over this. And I feel ancient when met with the endgame crazy of raiders (in LFG too) and min-maxers. The hardcore vs. casual debate is alive and well in WoW and listening to some of the conversations or reading yet another condescending list of tips or srs rules written by a young person with lots of time on their hands and no notion of good is good enough, I find myself utterly disenchanted with the World of Warcraft and how it holds no escape. Maybe worse, there is that humbling self-awareness, never depicted with greater accuracy than in this recent Dark Legacy comic #471: A Decade of Love and Hate.

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srs WoW players in LFG.

It is the horrors of full circle I am feeling whenever I venture too close to Azeroth’s deafening underbelly. We can have our rationalized “fun vs. satisfaction” and playstyle debates all day long on our blogs – it won’t change the fact that there was a time when I too made other players (and guild mates probably) miserable in WoW for wanting to play the game differently or not being as good or good enough according to an arbitrary measure, through an overbearing raiding queen attitude and caring for progress and riches over people. I know this and for that I am sorry.

This is not a message for those who are still in WoW striving for glory irrespective of cost; by all means, knock yourself out. You have your own path to follow and maybe it will lead you to a similar place, maybe not. But I am not that person anymore, I am glad that I’m not. Friendships are precious and fragile – many people are worth knowing and caring for outside our immediate realm of ambition. So long WoW, you have nothing left to teach me.

[WoW] How to Unlock your Pet Menagerie the Quickest Way (for Noobs)

So, you are late to pet battles but would still like to activate that pet menagerie in your garrison? Then like me, you will require a little help!

I used to be a pet collector in WoW up until WotLK and only now that I am back for Draenor, did I start looking into the pet battle feature. I’ll be honest, I might have disregarded this entirely had it not been for that empty spot in my garrison, where 5 of my collected pets could be running around the menagerie. Well, it so happens that where there’s a will, there’s a way! I am in no rush to get to any endgame in WoW these days, so I might as well start working on that achievement. The following quick guide is based on my own research on how to  –

  1. get you started with pet battles in WoD
  2. get your first lvl 25 pet(s) quickly
  3. beat the pet menagerie quest “Pets versus Pests

I am on the second stage myself still and have managed to get several lvl23 pets now within over an hour (give or take, depending on your luck in Kharazan). For step three I have spent the evening reading up on wowhead in order to find pet options for players who don’t have any “fancy beat-all” pets like Pandaren Water Spirit or Chrominius. I’m sure you could look into those but I’m generally quest-lazy and would rather just work with what I have got or can capture!

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How to unlock your Pet Menagerie the Quick & Dirty Way

Step #1:
Talk to the first pet trainer in your capital city (for alliance that means Stormwind next to the Cata portals, for horde Orgrimmar) to get you started with pet battles in WoW. After this, the pet menagerie quest will appear in your garrison and you will also start seeing lots of green pet battle markers wherever you go. Choose mechanical pets for your first team because they tend to take less damage and are more beginner-friendly (some of them are dirty cheap on the AH).

The intro quests are fast after which the trainer will send you off to beat several other trainers in Elwynn and Westfall, as well as Redridge and Duskwood (as alliance). Around the Duskwood stage, your pet party should be roughly around lvl 5-6 which is enough to continue to step #2!

Step #2:
Continue using this excellent guide on how to obtain your three Arcane Eyes in Deadwind Pass and two Dragonbone Hatchlings in Dragonblight. The pets in Karazhan are found around the entrance as well as on all the upper balconies and terraces of the fort. They are not rare spawns but if more players are looking for the same thing, you might need to check back several times. Also, note the Hatchlings will come with two additional allies per fight(!) but you can still definitely do it, even if it means some of your Eyes will die and will require a rez after the fight.

A few tips: if you struggle beating the Hatchlings, aim for lvl 22 ones rather than lvl 23. Heal up after every fight (cooldown ability and stable master if you have no more bandages). Once you got a victory, start using your new pet right away!

After obtaining two Hatchlings, head straight to Pandaria for the Eternal Striders in VoEB. Continue to level up your lvl 20/21 Hatchlings (when you capture them, they lose two levels!) as well as the Arcane Eye and don’t trust the time frame in the guide – it will definitely take longer than 10mins to level 25 (maybe more like 2 hours)! Try not to let your pets die or they won’t get any EXP and keep in mind only the ones actually active in battle will gain experience. The stable master in VoEB is Jaul Hsu (I alternate between visiting him and using my own pet healing cooldown).

Step #3 (in progress):
After you got at least two pets to level 25, you can start boosting a third. There are several boost guides around the official forums but so far, I haven’t found one that doesn’t require you to already own very specific other battle pets as boosters or to be on certain parts of a questchain (if you have any other info, let me know!). This means I am likely to boost my next pets the normal way, by battling for EXP in Pandaria. Since I can battle almost all high-level pets at this point, this means I will try capture lvl20+ pets of the pet families I need instead of boosting any low-level pets.

The three encounters in “Pets versus Pests” require specific lvl 25 pet abilities to beat them. You can spend some time on that wowhead link like me to check if there’s any comment that includes pets you already have. For my own mundane setup, my picks against each boss will likely look as follows:

  • Carrotus: A frog and any water striders (capture some of those you are fighting as part of the first lvl25 pet).
  • Gorefu: 2 moths and any other pet.
  • Gnawface: 3 spiderlings of any kind

It appears that for some fights you’ll only require two appropriate pets and maybe any third to finish off. As for the rotations to make this a success (each pet has 6 abilities of which you can only choose 3), check the comments in the links I included.

I obviously haven’t tested this stage of the guide myself yet but it’s been verified by other players and should lead you to success in a few hours. Most importantly, it will let you skip all the other pet battling business and trainer questlines in order to unlock that lvl1 pet menagerie the quickest way! Good luck!