Posts Tagged ‘Community’

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Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me

January 8, 2014

4 bday

Holy crap, as of yesterday this blog is four years old! Time really flies, doesn’t it? It feels more like three, though that might be because I completely forgot my blogiversary last year. Would have forgotten this year too, truth be told, if Rowan (who will be celebrating his own blogiversary very soon as well) hadn’t reminded me. I am just bad with birthdays.

Anyway, since my blog’s anniversary is in January, technically this post could also serve as a look back at 2013. Once again, this blog didn’t see as much activity in the last year as I would have liked. In my defense though, it was a busy year in terms of real life, and quite honestly, it was a pretty tame one for MMOs. Tame…but definitely not lame.

I only participated in the launches of mainly two games — Defiance and Neverwinter — and both released during the first part of the year (though in the latter’s case, an um, open-beta-that-really-wasn’t-a-beta).

nw

Instead, I spent the last year revisiting a lot of old favorites. World of Warcraft, of course, is as ever the dependable standby. I would play a couple months, take another couple months off, then do it all over again. I know I can always count on it being there whenever I feel like a romp through Azeroth.

panda

Star Trek Online saw some play too because of their new expansion. I rolled a Romulan, got to have some fun with the duty officer mini-game, and got roped into doing dailies for their summer event. This was the year I truly came to develop an appreciation for a free-to-play STO.

romulan

A few months ago, I also surprised myself by resubbing to Star Wars: The Old Republic. This was thanks to the revitalization of our guild, which included a faction change to refocus our efforts on the Empire side. SWTOR saw an expansion too, and I’m still hopping in now and then getting in my Galactic Starfighter battles. They’re a lot more fun once you get a hang of the controls and start upgrading your ship.

ops

And finally, there’s The Secret World. TSW Mondays are still going strong, and in terms of social events, it’s probably Mercy Gaming’s greatest success. I don’t think anyone would have believed it a year and a half ago, but it’s true that our weekly group has steadily grown since Secret Mondays first started. To the usual gang, thanks for making this such a great year in TSW.

headstand

Other highlights of the year that aren’t really related to gaming (and in fact, they actually took away from my gaming time, but I wouldn’t change that for the world!) include some of my new hobbies:

1) Pathfinder! I have reason to look forward to Sunday nights now that my friends and I hold weekly games over Fantasy Grounds 2 and Teamspeak.

2) Miniature painting! I’ve always wanted to get into this, and this year I finally took the plunge!

3) Podcasting! Recording Battle Bards with my co-hosts Syp and Syl has been such fun this year.

4) Book blogging! I’ve always read voraciously, and this year I went one step further and started a book blog with a couple of my friends. It has been amazing.

And of course, nothing beats spending time with my family. My little girl is almost two now, and every day she fills my life with surprises and delight. My husband and I don’t get to play video games as much anymore, spending a couple hours a night in our MMOs only after we’ve put the baby to bed. When she’s awake, we don’t want to miss a moment with her!

Finally, to my readers, I want to thank you for another fantastic year. 2014 looks to be another great one with a couple big MMOs on the horizon. I haven’t mentioned these games a lot on my blog the past year, mostly because I’ve resolved to keep my excitement in check going forward, but I’d like to go on record to say that I am very much looking forward to BOTH Wildstar and The Elder Scrolls Online.

wildstar

ESO

I have no doubt I’ll be gracing this blog with my thoughts on both sometime in the future. And perhaps more! Thanks again, and I’m definitely looking forward to another year of blogging. Ciao!

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The Secret World: Krampusnacht And End Of Days

January 2, 2014
Lighting Hel up for the holidays.

Lighting Hel up for the holidays.

Happy new year, from your friendly neighborhood MMOGC! Hope everyone’s holiday season was filled with much love and joy and gaming.

The last few weeks have been conspicuously devoid of posts about The Secret World Mondays, though I have indeed kept playing even through the craziness of the holidays. In fact, out of all the MMOs that had their Christmas events, I probably spent the most time doing TSW’s, even though I did dabble some in Guild Wars 2 and their Tixx’s Infinirarium dungeon.

Heh, now that’s some insane juxtaposition right there: creepy Krampusnacht of the former versus the whimical Wintersday of the latter. True to form, Funcom puts a horror twist on everything, even for Christmas.

krampus mask

And nothing says “horror” quite like an ugly holiday sweater from your great aunt Agnes.

As a bonus, the End of Days came back as well, which made me very happy because I was out of town when they had that event last year and I thought it was a one-time thing that I’d missed forever.

xibalba

Sigh…this would have been such a cool screenshot if I hadn’t ruined it by wearing my granny panties.

xibalba2

And this screenshot says so much about us as a guild.

Anyway, it all wrapped up today and my friend TenTentacles’ round-up post inspired me to do one of my own. And like TenTen, I thought it was great, but also that it’s high time Funcom comes up with something other than, in his words, the whole “Big Bad Monster Tromping Around the World thing”. It’s a lot of fun, but he’s right in that it’s also getting a little old. Or heck, maybe I’m just feeling bitter because I must have participated in more than two dozen fights of Super Hel and never got my horns. Seriously, everything else dropped for me BUT the damn crown.

behind me

“That two-faced mother…er, she’s standing right behind me, isn’t she?”

On the bright side, I still maintain that these types of events bring out the best of the TSW community. I wouldn’t even have gotten to battle the big two-faced Norse goddess if not for the efforts of the different cabals and the numerous other volunteers pooling up their resources to chain summon her for the rest of us who need the achievement or need her drops. Everyone is always so eager to help others in this game, and I hope that aspect never goes away!

hel train

People all over The Secret World, join hands! Start a Hel train, Hel train!

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TSW: Post Party Report

July 15, 2013
If you FPS >10 then you still don't have enough DPS!

If your FPS >10, you STILL don’t have enough DPS!

So, the person who predicted that I wouldn’t be content with getting just one pet during The Secret World one year anniversary event? They were absolutely right.

I ended up going boss farming this weekend, and walked away with a total of eight out of the nine available. I tell myself I’m not going to count the one out of Fusang, having given it up as a lost cause right from the start. I wouldn’t even have ended up with so many if it weren’t for my prince of a husband, who helped me out by giving me some of his loot bags. His must have yielded 6-7 pet drops for both of us, whereas mine continued to drop only flares and signets. With my rotten luck, I’m sure I could have killed bosses ’til the end of time and still wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.

But crappy RNG and the questionable decision by Funcom to involve the PvP in the event aside, I’d say that the TSW first anniversary celebration was a success in terms of fun and enjoyment, due in every part to the efforts of the community. The players really came together for this one, calling out guardian sightings and offering meet ups over the #Anniversary (and #Anniversity) chat channel.

My in-game friends list is filled after this event, mostly due to the fact you have to get around from boss right to boss fight, you have to “friend” someone before meeting up with them. But in spite of this, there are a lot people I’ve established a rapport with from communicating and cooperating with each other during this event, and as such, there are quite a few names which will stay in my contacts even after the celebrations are over.

With that kind of help and support, it’s much easier to set aside the frustrations and just enjoy myself. As overheard in chat during a glitched fight in the Carpathian Fangs, someone said “I love how the boss is bugged but I’m still having fun”, and I couldn’t agree more.

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DAW: Funcom

March 28, 2013
shout out

Shout-out to Funcom

Outstanding. Apparently, my blog’s revival has serendipitously coincided with DAW, or Developer Appreciation Week. This is good, because I would have been loath to miss out on this tradition. Let’s all take part in sharing the love! Originally the brainchild of Scarybooster, DAW is a chance for gamers and bloggers everywhere to show our appreciation for developers, and thank them for their hard work in bringing us the games we enjoy.

Anyway, there are so many devs that deserve a pat on the back, but this year I would like to dedicate my DAW post to Funcom and the team who brings us The Secret World (and I’m not the only one).

TSW enchanted me from the outset to become the biggest and most pleasant gaming surprise for me in 2012. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was expecting at first, but it certainly wasn’t something I anticipated playing past the first 30 days. I think I bought the game out of curiosity more than anything. It was meant to be an MMO to dabble away in for a while, a summer distraction and not much more.

Fast forward almost nine months later, and I am still playing. More importantly, I am still having a blast.

Of course, Funcom has had its struggles and TSW has not been free of issues, but I’d like to think I know a gem when I see one. The guild I am in has even set up weekly sessions to play TSW together, and I have to say that week after week it still never fails to entertain me, to shock me, to make me shake my head and say to myself, “Damn, this game is bloody brilliant.”

So, to the good folks working on TSW, keep up the good work. You have in me a loyal subscriber who does not at all mind her money going to support the likes of creepy Innsmouth Academy occult headmasters or rifle-dancing Marya. Thank you for your ingenuity, for having the guts to push the envelope, and for making one hell of a unique MMO.

Good times:

werewolf

darkness war

Hell Fallen

cat god

templars

 

 

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Here’s my first post of 2013, whose title I confess should really be “My Top 5 Gaming Highlights of 2012…And Then Some” because while 2012 was indeed a great year for games and gamers, admittedly I found myself struggling to come up with pure gaming-related entries for this list. It’s not that I haven’t been impressed with the industry’s offerings this year so much as I find myself with less gaming experiences to draw from, because the truth is I played less games these past twelve months than I have in recent years. Time has been so tight, there are so many games on my to-play list that I never even got a chance to go out and buy, let alone play. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so behind before.

Then again, so much has also changed in my life in 2012! Let’s take a look back at the memories:

5. Pet Battles and the Return of the Dynamic Duo

Pandaren

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th. I won’t go as far as to say it’s my favorite expansion so far, though I’m aware it is for many. Nevertheless, I’m still playing it more than three months later, which is already more than what I could say for its predecessor Cataclysm.

I will say that the new expansion has provided me more reasons to stick around, even after hitting the new level cap. For one, the companion pet battling and collecting system has me hooked — 431 pets to my name so far, and I’m still hunting, always hunting. Also, the mister and I have both taken a break from the endgame grind to work on a couple of Pandaren Monks. More than anything, I love playing MMOs with my husband. Leveling characters has always been our special way to bond, and nothing brings us closer than facerolling our enemies together with our Spinning Crane Kicks.

4. 122 Books

stats

I’ve always been one to go looking for challenges, which I have to say sometimes leads me to give myself some pretty random dumb goals.

As with most random dumb goals, I didn’t really have a reason for it, but a few years ago I just decided one day that I wanted to read 100 novels in a year.  I attempted several times, coming so close in 2011 at 83 books, and being pathetic I went and retroactively lowered my Goodreads challenge that year to 80 just so I could get the achievement badge. Well, no need to fudge the numbers for 2012; I kicked the challenge’s ass with a total of 122 novels and so you can even say I read enough to make up for last year.

Interestingly, the more I read the lower my average rating for books seem to get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting more critical, or that more books under my belt just simply equals more mediocre ratings.

3. Mercy Gaming

Mercy Gaming

2012 was a rather turbulent year for Star Wars: The Old Republic to say the least, and neither has it really been smooth sailing for a lot of us who kept our subscriptions going until free-to-play. I think the most gut-wrenching part of it all the worrying I did about whether my Republic and Empire guilds will fall apart. After all, I got to meet and play with an amazing group of players, and I’ll always have SWTOR to thank for that.

I needn’t have stressed myself. The Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps may be shadows of what they once were in the game, but many of our members have kept in touch. Rebranded Mercy Gaming, the guild lives on, becoming a multi-gaming community that continues to adventure together in games like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, PlanetSide 2, and many many more. It’s always a party with these folks, who have all become my very good friends.

2. The Secret World

TSW

Never have I ever played an MMO like TSW. The only other game that even came close to capturing my heart and blowing my mind this year was of course Guild Wars 2, but even that gets edged out, albeit just barely. For one thing, while my playtime in GW2 has tapered off until I can find more time in my schedule, I am still playing TSW regularly each week because I just can’t seem to get enough of this game! I suppose it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that made it stand out to me above the rest, and it’s not just the unique genre or playstyle.

For one, I like that it came out of nowhere and surprised me (in a good way). In fact, months after its release it’s still regularly doing that. While it’s far from perfect and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it does sometimes feel like with every issue update and TSW Monday, I fall hopelessly in love with this game all over again.

1. “Baby Mogsy”

MMOGC Jr

Welcoming our first child in February 2012 definitely made me and my husband a lot busier. While taking care of a baby has left me not as free to do a lot of my hobbies anymore, I’m loving motherhood and I cherish every single moment I spend with my little girl, even though she’s probably the biggest reason why my time spent gaming has dropped so dramatically in 2012! But you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I’d gladly give up anything for her.

Our daughter has changed our lives, bringing us such joy and making us feel blessed each and every day. At 10 months old now, every moment with her is like an adventure. She is just full of surprises, and I don’t want to miss a single one!

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How Do You Feel About One-Time-Only Events?

October 29, 2012

So I was fortunate enough to be online in Guild Wars 2 yesterday, waiting in Lion’s Arch, at the advertised time for the special Halloween event. And after all that build-up, all the secrecy, the “one-time-only” event that we were all waiting for amounted to a cinematic cutscene that lasted about 40 seconds.

Whether it was worth it or not is a matter up for debate, one I’m not going to get into here. Personally, I thought it was a wicked cutscene, followed by a fantastic encounter with the Mad King in his otherworldly lair, and that overall the ArenaNet folks did an amazing job bringing us Act 3. I was thrilled to have been a part of it.

But I still dislike the idea of one-time-only events.

Quite simply, they’re bad news, and hard to justify. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that game designers are still freely experimenting with special events and timing, but when you’re planning an in-game holiday intended to be enjoyed by everyone, then 1) announcing a one-time-only event, and 2) not giving any details about what to expect is probably one of the quickest, easiest ways to alienate and piss off a bunch of your players.

Speaking for myself, yesterday just so happened to be a lazy, rainy Sunday and I had some free time in the afternoon. But I’m aware not everyone was that lucky. Australians and folks in Asia were setting alarms to wake up in the wee hours in the morning on a freakin’ work day, and a lot of East Coasters in the US were out shopping for supplies and preparing for the Frankenstorm. Come on, people, we’re living and gaming in an international community! There’s also conflicts and unforeseen circumstances that can always pop up! Crap happens! When you know full well that everyone and their mother is going to want to participate, why still consider one-shot events?

Not to mention how they often lead to not-so-fun problems associated with overloaded servers. If you ask World of Warcraft players present at the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj opening event, most will tell you about the horrific lag, and I still recall the long server queues being a hindrance at Rift’s River of Souls event last year. GW2′s event wasn’t perfect, but I do however have to give a hat tip to the team for the relatively smooth performance yesterday — though not indicative of everyone’s experience, I had absolutely no problems before, during, and after the wait in Lion’s Arch nor during my showdown with the Mad King. At least before the servers sputtered and died, that is.

But what does this all mean? It occurred to me that dynamic, truly spontaneous events with persisting and enduring consequences that will change the game world are still possibly a long ways off. After all, can’t an impromptu, extemporaneousness event which can cause our actions to alter our surroundings permanently for everybody arguably be perceived as a one-time-only event? As much as we ask for it, as temptingly awesome as it sounds, even if it were technologically achievable, player resistance will probably be a significant obstacle. As gamers, none of us like to be left out or miss anything in our favorite MMOs. And really, who can blame us?

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Rift: My Storm Legion Tour – Player Housing And Dimensions

October 25, 2012

In this final post of my tour of the Rift: Storm Legion expansion, I will talk about what Community Manager James “Elrar” Nichols showed me of the highly anticipated Dimensions feature, perhaps more widely known as Rift’s housing system. Remember how I said in my last post that I was saving the best for last? Well, while I can’t speak for others, I have to say this was personally my favorite part of my almost two-hour tour. (You can find the first part about new zones here, and the second part about dungeons and raids here.)

I confess I was looking forward to my tour of the Dimensions feature the most, and believe me when I say it didn’t disappoint. First of all, I almost feel like it could have constituted an expansion all by itself. The fact that we get this intricate housing system plus two huge continents of PvE content and the dungeons and raids in Storm Legion is just starting to sink in.

Second of all, I am beginning to get a deeper understanding of why the Rift team prefers to use the name “Dimensions” rather than the term “housing” when referring to this feature. Sure, it may also sound better for marketing, but to me the plain and simple truth is, the word “housing” just doesn’t cut it; I don’t think it’s really enough to describe the sheer scope of we’re being offered with this expansion.

For this part of the tour, Elrar took me several dimensions in order to explain how the whole system works. The first one we went to, “Elrar’s Bar”, was a relatively simple endeavor in the Stone Flask Tavern location where I was allowed to muck about and get hands-on with everything. The first thing Elrar told me to do was to look up. The surroundings clearly showed that I was in the Stonefields area, but what I saw above me was most definitely not a Stonefield sky. Yep, it was one of those things Elrar had put in to customize his own little corner of Telara. Pretty!

Here, I was shown the basics and given an explanation of the system. I was told you can own multiple dimensions, but can only have one active. As to why, Elrar clarified that this is because the feature is still so new. Indeed, testers have suggested letting players have more active dimensions, but before the team can expand the system further they have to make sure current conditions won’t crash out the system. But in the future, who knows what’s possible? This feature will continue to be expanded. I didn’t press for more information, but it seems that in the meantime if you wanted to switch active dimensions, doing so is as simple as having all your items packed up into a box before moving.

As to how to gain ownership of new dimensions, I got the impression that they work a lot like many other items in the game — some will be easily accessible, while others will have varying degrees of rarity, with the rarest dimension “keys” being highly coveted and requiring the appropriate level of investment to obtain them.

I asked Elrar when is the earliest a player can have access to his or her own personal dimension. His answer: through a quest you can get at level 5, or in other words, pretty much as soon as you complete the tutorial area. That’s pretty great news; Rift developers are aware that not everyone who will be interested in housing will also be interested in questing, leveling, endgame, etc. and their goal is to make the Dimensions feature as accessible as possible. This will also allow newcomers to the game access to a huge part of the Storm Legion right off the bat, since I was told the bulk of the new areas in the expansion, i.e. much of everything else I saw on the tour, will only be available to level 50 characters.

Next, a closer look at the controls and decorating tools. As a “friend” of Elrar, my character had access to his dimension, though each player will have the ability to further customize these options to designate who can visit, place items, or make changes, etc. In the dimensions UI, you can also set whether or not you want your dimension private or public, but more on that later.

If you look at the screenshots, you can see that the UI is very intuitive. Clicking on the wrench icon will give you access to a bunch of options, allowing you to take an item and move it along multiple axes, or rotate it, or scale it, etc. You can do this with virtually every item. In this next shot, I took a formerly normal-sized stool and shrank it into a size fit for a dollhouse. In the screenshot after that, I was playing with the height of some of the furniture. Want a bed that floats in mid air? Sure, you got it! Can’t jump high enough to get to it? Create yourself a flight of floating steps using books! Pretty much everything seems possible.

Items aren’t just limited to furnishings. I already mentioned the way you can customize the sky with a projector, and there are also music boxes to add to your dimension, letting you set the perfect mood. With a click of a button you can bring up a list of all the items in your dimension, and actually doing so was how I came across a peculiar entry called “Dimensional Bartender.” Yes, Elrar has his own personal barkeep. I stood by as he served up a line drinks and then watched with amusement as Elrar’s character promptly chugged them all down.

From what I saw and heard, I got the impression that there will be various methods to procure dimensional items, with the most common items being easily accessible and obtainable, and those rarer and more unique items likely requiring more time and effort invested in the game.

Later, I was shown several other examples of dimensions and what their owners have done to them. The impressive display of creativity and user-created content simply boggled my mind, and left me with no doubt that this feature will have a profound impact on the Rift community.

Elrar had described dimensions as being virtual neighborhoods, a social system that is easy to access, share and explore. Indeed, there were many open to the public which you can enter from anywhere in the world. I could also see that a bunch of them were highly recommended by other players using the feature’s rating system. It occurred to me that certain dimensions can even have the potential to become in-game tourist destinations (“Hey, have you seen the ____ dimension?” “OMG, you have GOT to visit the _____ dimension!”) In fact, we ran into many other players while visiting the public dimensions.

In this dimension, the decorating has started in this corner of the house. Everything seen here has been placed there by hand.

In this one, the owner built the entire second floor from scratch, just adding to the basic structure of the house provided.

This next dimension features a boat in a lovely little grotto. I was told that the boat, also constructed from scratch, is made up of about a few dozen or so separate pieces — again, all placed by hand. This is sort of what I meant when I said that the term housing just doesn’t seem sufficient to encompass this feature. This is about way more than maintaining a home in a game, it’s also about the complete freedom to build and share anything you can imagine.

To further illustrate that point, here’s another dimension Elrar showed me. The owner has made a jumping puzzle out of it! Literally, the sky’s the limit. My own personal limit here, however, would be my crappy platformer skills. By the way, did I mention that I’m notoriously bad at jumping puzzles in MMOs? Not surprisingly, I didn’t get very far on this. There will be no prizes for me.

One thing I do know for certain now: there will be absolutely no jumping whatsoever required in my own dimension when I get Storm Legion.

Here’s a couple more screenshots to show two versions of the same building structure template, but their owners have done very different things to its exterior. The second house has been cover with rocks, creating a cave-like stronghold complete with hidden entrance, and which even has an added second floor.

Here are some more examples of fun things other players have built in their dimensions. Some of it almost puts me in mind of Minecraft on steroids.

I think housing is something a lot of people enjoy and would like to see implemented in more MMOs, so I wasn’t surprised when so much of the buzz I’ve heard surrounding the Storm Legion expansion involved the dimension system. But now I know it’s also because of the lengths that Rift has gone with it. They seem to have embraced it completely, intending full well to deliver their promise of giving players the ability to unleash their creativity and transform their dimensions into anything they want.

I actually thought of the Sims at one point, and considering what a big fan I am of the building and decorating capabilities in those games, I definitely mean it as a compliment. Can you imagine the potential for roleplayers? For everyone? My mind is swimming with the possibilities.

And so ends the write-up of my Storm Legion tour, I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and thoughts. I was initially unsure of how I was going to present all this, but ultimately decided just to write about what I saw and heard from my guide and lay out everything as they were shown to me. I couldn’t help it, though; I just had to gush a little when it came to Dimensions. If you haven’t gathered already, I was very impressed by this feature.

Again, I want to say thank you to the Rift team and Elrar for this wonderful opportunity. But of course, I must also curse them now because I’m tempted to resubscribe right away and not to wait at all to buy the expansion.

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