Posts Tagged ‘RPGs’


Project WoW Noob: Days 3-4 – Contemplating The “MMO” And The “RPG”

December 13, 2010

DAY 3 & 4

Player: @jarira
Character Name: Saalua
Race and Class: Night Elf Hunter

Little elf lost in the big city.

After how smoothly Day 2 went, we decided to see how Jar can hold up in the game on her own. So I was pleasantly surprised to log in one night and see that she’d been online just a few hours before, and had actually gained a level by herself. I quickly shot her a message and asked her how Day 3 on her own worked out. Not so good, apparently. I gathered from her replies that the major highlights of her experience was that she had gotten lost, accidentally ran into a named mob three levels higher than her which killed her pet, and then it took a while for her to figure out how to rez him again.

After questing on my own the other day, I’m not so sure WoW is a game I would play on my own much. Its just so much more fun with someone else, especially when everything is new, and I literally get lost like all the time (as you saw today in the cave lol) I think it’s just my lack of experience with RPG type games, but I am really really bad with maps. I know the arrow is “right there” but I will wander around and have no idea where the hell I am going, and it’s not just in WoW, it’s happened in Zelda and stuff like that which is why I’m easily turned off by RPGs.

Having someone guide me around really helps – and even if they weren’t experienced with the game, running around lost together is much better than wandering around alone. Hence my point about WoW being a social thing – it’s like you’re hanging out with a friend in a virtual world.

Despite the quest markers and the mini-map arrows, getting lost still seems to be the main problem for our newbie. Not that I can blame her; Teldrassil is notoriously difficult to traverse (everywhere you turn is a damn hill or a massive Kalimdorian tree trunk in your way) and so on Day 4 we decided to quest together again.

One of the first quests we tackled was The Relics of Wakening. Does anyone else remember this awful, awful quest? At around level 8, a quest giver sends you into the Ban’ethil Barrow Dens, an underground labyrinth crawling with furbolgs, to pick up four sacred items. Well, this quest was given a major facelift in the Shattering patch. First of all, once you find the entrance, a Sentinel Huntress NPC will magically appear out of nowhere to offer to “guide” you through the den. Talking to her will open up a dialogue box with options to take you directly to the quest items, which makes me wonder why they’re sending me on this quest in the first place, if they know where everything is already. But I was like, whatever, this is nice. Choosing a destination will prompt the Huntress to summon a globe of light, which then leaves a lighted trail showing you exactly where to go.

She’s like an in-game GPS system! Now instead of wandering around the caves aimlessly getting more and more lost, we just follow the GPS lady. I suppose this is the definition of hand-holding, but I can’t say I minded it so much, because let’s be honest, this quest needed it bad. And for an MMO newcomer like Jar, this stuff is like a godsend. Here’s what she had to say:

I would say that RPGs are the genre of gaming that I have the least amount of experience with, because I’ve never really liked them. I know it’s blasphemy but I do not like Final Fantasy, Zelda, etc. I clearly cannot handle the open ended gaming worlds and I really need to be hand held and be told ‘do this, do that’. GTA is a good example of a game that is open enough but not too open for me to enjoy. Although, GTA is somewhat RPG style with the missions, etc. there is a lot more structure to GTA and a definitive end to the game.

The big difference with WoW is that it is online, with other people. So what I’ve always disliked about RPGs, it’s not so bad when there is some sort of social interaction to it, and someone around to help you out (real people, not those guides that show up in the game lol – although I must admit, as lame as they might be, they are really helpful, and a nice touch from a usability point of view). They’ve managed to create a help system by integrating it into the actual gameplay. It’s kind of neat.

Her statements sort of bring up another point — I think her feelings about RPGs and her limited experience with them are obstacles that might make it harder for her to get into a game like WoW. For one thing, MMORPGs can be a lot of work when you’re just starting out. Not everyone will have the patience to weather through the learning curve, and I think people already familiar with RPGs will find the transition much smoother and easier. Jar’s a self-confessed ADD gamer, and what she wants is to get in there and play, right away. Keep it quick, or you’re going to lose her attention. Still, I was glad to see that the process of leveling was at least somewhat rewarding, according to what Jar wrote to me:

When I see the (XP) bar about to cap off, I can’t wait until I level up. I’m by no means a completist gamer, but new quests are still exciting to me…and the prospect of getting cool items is still a novelty (I am going to be the worst hoarder, I am so sure about that already).

While I am enjoying the game so far, I can see how my patience might start to wear thin – I think at this point it could go either way (whether I stay with the game or not) but for now, I give my 3.5 days of WoW experience a thumbs up.

While we’re on the topic of RPGs, I also want to make a comment about lore. Pete of Dragonchasers made a statement that the game lore and narrative will mean nothing to someone brand new to WoW, and I made it a point to ask Jar specifically what she thought about that, since I was curious too. Well, he was absolutely right, at least when it comes to her. As a newcomer to WoW, Jar’s initial interest in the lore was non-existent, and it was far from being her first priority when it comes to getting into the game. I am sure as well that her lack of interest in RPGs to begin with also contributed to her ambivalence:

I pretty much don’t know anything about the lore in WoW, what I know is what I have observed in the game, which isn’t much. I have no idea what I’m doing within the game means in a larger context. Right now, to me it’s just a world with different races, that run around doing quests to get money or items.

Of course it would be nice to put everything into context and to know the story behind the game, but I prefer having the story integrated into my gameplay as opposed to massive amounts of exposition. Obviously, lore adds a huge amount of depth to a game, and it enables that emotional connection that I mentioned, but for me it’s like a vicious cycle – I want the strong story line to grasp on to in the game but I don’t really want to be bored by the details of it all cause I just want to play. I am just a huge child! Find a way to tell me without boring me!

I think that’s definitely what Blizzard is trying to work on, because integrating story into the gameplay is sort of what I’m seeing in the revamped Azerothian zones. But I still don’t think that’s going to be a big draw to a new player, at least until he or she starts making an emotional connection to the game.

And I have to say, the starting areas for the pre-Cataclysm races still leave a lot to be desired. At the end of that day, I had a revelation myself — I hate the Night Elf starting area.

Even with the changes, it’s just too bland, too tedious. I kinda got the feeling Jar felt the same way. Plus, based on some of her comments, I think what she really likes about an MMO is the “Massively Multiplayer” aspect, the part where you get to be with other people and be social, and I think Teldrassil is a tad remote for that. It was time for a change of scenery.

Well, I figured if she wants to see people, I can show her people. And since she sounded so enthusiastic about taking a boat the other day, I decided to take her across the ocean to the human lands.

Ahh, I can still remember my first ever venture into Stormwind. Just the grandness of it all, crossing the bridge over the Valley of Heroes, seeing towering statues on both sides and the shining white walls of the city just ahead. And the music! And the people! Definitely one of those MMO moments I’ll carry with me forever. I was hoping Jar could get that same sense of awe that I felt, and from the number of “OMG”s I got from her as we traveled from the harbor to the Trade District, I’m guessing she did:

I can’t believe that there are banks and auction halls and everything! And the amount of people in Stormwind is crazy! When I couldnt find your character in the crowd it was hilarious, it was like we were literally lost in a crowd!

I think she was glad we didn’t start out in the human lands, because it was so much more fun for her to see the hustle and bustle of Stormwind after being in the relative quiet of the Night Elf area. Since that was the eve of the Cataclysm launch and I had to haul ass to the midnight release, I left her after that hoping she would do some exploring on her own. Exploration is one of the three pillars of MMO gaming after all, and even though I didn’t think she was into that, I figured if being in Stormwind doesn’t make you want to explore, I don’t know what will. Sure enough, I got an email from her the next day:

In the night elf area I never felt compelled to discover the area cause there was really nothing to discover, but Stormwind is a whole different story. I actually didn’t mind exploring a bit before I looked for any quests – and trust me, that is a lot coming from a lazy ADD gamer.

It was funny to see little children running around and stuff and the different merchants there are. I ‘talked’ to one of the guards just to see what kind of places I could go to, and yeah, there were a lot. I found the profession guy that I was looking for. I picked up a few quests and had the intention of starting them, and after crossing a few bridges it seemed like it was kind of far (or I got lost, who knows really lol).

So, at this point, I’m not sure if WoW is going to be a game for her, but at least Stormwind was a big hit, and I had a feeling it would be.

I actually bought candy from a candy vendor cause I thought it was so funny. I was like OOH CANDY!!!

Oh yeah. I totally did that too.


New Friends In New Vegas

October 27, 2010

In my last post about Fallout: New Vegas, I think I made a comment that implied I felt the quest lines were shallow and weren’t as compelling as I’d liked. Well, I take that back. I think it’s safe to say everything I experienced in the first 10 hours or so was just a small taste of what the game has to offer. Just a tiny little morsel to whet your appetite, so to speak, because the real fun happens when you hit The Strip.

Here’s what I think really makes the game: Factions, factions, factions. There are a ton of them in New Vegas, each having their own rich culture and stories. Some are big, some are small. A couple of them are so scummy it makes your skin crawl. Others are really bizarre like that gang of Elvis impersonators. Many of them have cool names like the Followers of the Apocalypse and the White Glove Society. Would that I could please them all.

I love the Black Widow perk.

Once Mogsy the Courier reached the bright lights of New Vegas proper, however, it became clear that all the factions have these complex relationships between themselves. They’re all eager enough to get you to do things for them, of course, but please one and you risk pissing off another. I had a very difficult time choosing which factions I should get in bed with (just a turn of phrase…or is it? With Mogsy, you never know!) but in the end, I remembered how I wanted to play — no more goody-two-shoes and running around being somebody else’s errand girl. I was going to try to be mean and mercenary for once, and I figured if I’m going to have any chance of taking over New Vegas, I’d do well to ally myself with like-minded people…at least for now.

What I didn’t foresee was how things could get so complicated. Yes, you can lie, con, manipulate and exploit your way into and out of favor with your factions of choice, but every decision you make can affect your relationship with other factions in ways you can’t even imagine. I went as far as to vaporize one of my pretty little companions to prove my loyalty to a psychopath in an organized crime syndicate, thinking I’d made a true friend, only to have him turn around later and forge an alliance with a “good guy” faction I’d made every effort to ignore. Then I find out even the good guys can ask you to do some pretty sick and unsavory things too, wow.

I like how the lines are so blurry. To me, these dynamic relationships give the game depth and really take the experience to a whole new level, not to mention they also greatly increase the fun factor. Meanwhile, I’ve also been amusing myself with shooting old ladies for their sarsaparilla star caps and special unique weapons, plus testing out sexbots on the side, but that’s a whole other story.


Me, Myself And The Wasteland

October 21, 2010

Oh, and Victor. Thanks, by the way, I do feel as fit as a fiddle.

While reading Gordon’s blog post about MMOs and fun vs. habit the other day, it occurred to me that, yes, I’ve logged in to games before for no other reason than that it feels like the right thing to do. I’ve gone through the MMO motions before, and afterward wound up feeling like I’ve eaten a big meal without really tasting any of it. And yes, the MMOs I play can sometimes feel like a “giant comfort blanket” of familiarity that I wrap myself in to achieve a sense of habitual routine and stability. Not that it’s always a bad thing, mind you; I’m a human being after all and need some order in my life, dammit. Nevertheless, sometimes that blanket can feel heavy enough to suffocate me.

I guess this is what people mean when they say they’ve fallen into an “MMO rut.” Personally, I’ll always love MMOs no matter what, so I try hard not to let myself get to the point where I stop having fun or start feeling unhappy. But a girl’s just gotta get away from the massively multiplayer environment and have some “Me” time every once in a while, that’s all. But while Gordon finds it difficult to pick up where he left off after a reasonable period of absence from a game, it’s the opposite for me. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and to be sure, I always attack my MMOs with a renewed fervor after being away from them for a while.

Aren't they like the cutest things you've ever seen? Seriously!

This is where the single-player game comes in. Case in point, I’m currently spicing up my gaming life with a delightfully sultry affair with Fallout: New Vegas. I’d been looking forward to this for a long time.

After two days of playing, I’m about six hours in and still haven’t even made it to The Strip yet, so any opinions are still a little premature. But I’m liking what I see so far, though admittedly parts of the game feel slightly sloppy and lacking in polish. I’m not just talking about the bugs either; so far the story lines and quests are great but just don’t feel as “tight” as they could be. The characters I’ve encountered are intriguing, but I haven’t been able to get a good grasp on anyone’s personality the way I was immediately able to do so in Fallout 3, probably because I was thrown into the Mojave Wasteland to fend for myself so soon after the very short intro.

By the way, comparisons between Fallout 3 and New Vegas are going to be inevitable, since they do feel very similar.

Mogsy's the best kind of person there is.

Anyway, I had a chat with one of my friends earlier today about how I’m going to play my character. In Fallout 3, I was a goody-two-shoes to the end, and so this time I definitely want to play the jerk in New Vegas. It’s hard for me, even though it’s a game, just because it’s so against my nature. I really have to push myself to make my Mogsy evil, but so far she can only manage to steal things when no one is watching, and shoot innocent people in the back of their heads when they aren’t expecting it. Oh my God, I can’t even bring myself to be a straightforward asshole, I gotta be the pathetic and cowardly kind. But hey, more of my karma seeps away from me each day, and well, whatever works.


Picture Points: What’d I Miss?

October 17, 2010

Well, I’m back from my vacation/honeymoon, which was spent cruising on the Oasis of the Seas in the Eastern Caribbean. My right shoulder is a little sunburned and I feel about a hundred pounds heavier (man, they really feed you on those things) but otherwise my time away from the real world and the virtual world has left me feeling quite rested.

As honeymooners are wont to do, my better half and I closed ourselves off from the outside world and shunned our cellphones, internet, and all other means of communication with the world at large. As such, I came back to hundreds of unread emails and messages, and a mountain of blog articles in Google Reader. Looks like a lot has happened in the last week, but how nice it is that none of my favorite games seem to have imploded or went under while I was gone. Hey, with this industry, you never know.

Gee, where do I start? More and more, I’m starting to appreciate the wisdom behind Anjin’s use of bullet points, especially when you’re tackling multiple topics in the same post that are all completely irrelevant of each other. How’s about some picture points?

This topic really doesn’t deserve to be tackled first, but I’ll do it anyway because if anything, I felt it was the most entertaining tidbit of my day. Yet another long, whiny rant to add to the ever-growing pile of other long, whiny rants. The more I read about it, the more it seems the only reason this one caught fire was because the author alleges himself to be a soon-to-be Ex-Mythic employee. Even if he could prove his claim, I could care less why he thinks Warhammer failed, but along with Syp, what amuses me most (because such drivel is hardly worth getting angry or even annoyed over) is the way the guy tries to smear Star Wars: The Old Republic by dragging it into his bitchfest born of a feeble grudge. Shoo, louse, I had to deal with a flea infestation on my dog earlier this month that commanded more attention. I’m not worried; SWTOR has survived the storm of naysayers for years, no doubt it can weather another angry little gust of hot air.

Something else that a lot of the blogs I read covered this week was the World of Warcraft Patch 4.0.1. I haven’t updated the game yet or even looked at the notes, but just based on some of the opinions I’ve read, I am prepared for some big changes. You mean I have to relearn the game agaaaaaiiin? /whine. I have so many characters, many of them at level 80, I just can’t be bothered to go through all of them and give their abilities and gear their makeovers, not even my feral druid that has been my main for years. The more I hear about Cataclysm, the more I think I just want to dabble lightly in WoW until it comes out, then pour my full attention into a new Worgen or Goblin character. To hell with the rest of ’em. I mean, with a fresh expansion, a fresh Azeroth, fresh game systems and mechanics, why not a fresh main? My husband probably won’t be too happy to hear that, but the idea appeals to me more and more each day.

SWTOR released a new timeline video about Exar Kun for their new Friday update. To be honest, I was never really interested in that particular storyline, but I enjoyed the video, nonetheless (and things are so much more exciting when they’re narrated by Lance Henriksen, aren’t they?) As such, my leaky memory has shed most of the details about the fall of Exar Kun, so the timeline was a nice refresher even if it didn’t reveal much of anything new. In any case, it’s worth a look if you haven’t read the books, comics, or played the Knights of the Old Republic games that deal with Exar Kun, to get acquainted with one of the more relevant storylines of this era. One thing of note (that I’m surprised Hunter hasn’t mentioned since he has as much at stake in planet reveals as I do) is I wonder if we’ll be seeing the moon Yavin IV unveiled some time soon in a future update? It seems almost a certainty, given this timeline video.

So much to do! I can hardly wait to visit the Minecraft multiplayer server to see what new construction projects have popped up in the last week, but first I have business with the Devidians to attend to in Star Trek Online. The new arc debuted yesterday and I have plans to savor it tonight with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea and a bowl of chips. Until then, I’m staying far far far away from West Karana and Tipa’s spoilers.

Well, vacation’s over and it’s back to the drawing board (or should I say, the Wacom tablet, now that I’ve started my adventures into digital art?) but I’m not sure how much work I’ll be able to get done for the rest of this month. It’s the attack of the single-player games! Oct 19th — Fallout: New Vegas. Oct 26th — Fable III. Oh, and don’t forget, on the same day we have Force Unleashed 2, as Blue Kae reminded me on Twitter earlier today. Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot. It’s going to take incredible willpower to get anything productive done in the next couple of weeks. Gotta love it when the release dates for highly anticipated games just sneak up on you like that, but it’s a whole other conflict when they all descend upon you at once like an avalanche.

Finally, on a non-gaming-related note, I’ve recently become completely obsessed with George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. My interest in epic fantasy has been rekindled after reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and I brought the first novel A Game of Thrones with me on my vacation. I’d originally wanted to start another novel or series after finishing it, just to spread out the titles in my to-read list a little bit, but who was I kidding? I began devouring the second book A Clash of Kings the moment I finished the final page of the first. I’m surprised I hadn’t picked this series up sooner, and even more surprised that my husband never recommended it to me, since I just found out he had read it years before. Dammit, he knows I like my epic fantasy dark and gritty. What’s even stranger is that a certain promo on HBO featuring snowy landscapes, ravens and scruffy men with swords and beards has caught my eye for weeks and weeks now, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that I realized it was the television adaptation, around the same time I started debating whether or not to start reading the series. Funny how these things work out, and funnier how unobservant my mind can be sometimes.


KOTOR II – Taking Off

July 7, 2010

Finally, I was able to put aside several hours tonight to focus on Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. I can’t promise this post won’t contain any spoilers, so heed this warning if you have any concerns about that at all.

Respect the T3 unit!

I’m not very far into the game yet, but already I can tell that much of what I’ve heard about the darker tone of KOTOR II is true. First of all, the Peragus Mining Facility isn’t exactly the happiest place in the galaxy, and the dead bodies lying all over the place certainly don’t help. The companions I’ve met so far, while interesting and thus far benign, nonetheless still give me the creeps. Even the amicable Atton Rand seems like someone I should be watching out for (I can’t help it, after the emotional roller coaster that was Carth Onasi from the first KOTOR, I’m suspicious of all and any pilots who say they just want to “help”). And Kreia…well, do I really need to explain why she creeps me out? Gotta love T3-M4 though; those utility droids never get the love they deserve. I also feel especially attached to that little bot, seeing as how I played him more than I played my own character during the first couple hours of the game.

Anyway, I just got off that rock and am now on my way to Telos (leaving a trail of death and destruction in my wake, which is par for the course). Despite this ominous start to my adventures, I gotta say I quite liked that whole introduction section to the game, perhaps even more than I liked Taris in KOTOR. And that’s really saying something, because I adored Taris in the first game. I just felt that my goals and the overall experience on Peragus was much more focused, and the atmosphere was such that I set about my tasks with a more pressing sense of urgency.

I’m also very impressed with the writing so far; some of the dialogue I’ve encountered is fantastic. My conversations with the HK-50 droid, for instance, are going to stay with me for a long time. By the way, I noticed he didn’t stop using the “condescending” prefixes even after I told him to knock it off, that bastard.


Kreia, And G0-T0, And The Exile! Oh My!

July 3, 2010

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic, but I’m quite chagrined to admit I’ve never gotten around to playing its sequel. It’s certainly not for lack of trying though. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment, The Sith Lords has been on my list for a long time, but when I finally got around to installing the game, for some reason my PC and evil Windows Vista refused to run it. By that point, I’d already gotten rid of my old computer and operating system so I was SOL.

Well, when the trusty PC fails me, I know I can always count on my old pal the Xbox 360. I finally got around to ordering a used copy of the original Xbox version of the game, and it arrived last night. My KOTOR II adventures are just an update away. I. Am. Psyched.


Another One For The Backlog (Curse You, Steam, Curse You!)

June 26, 2010

With my busy schedule and an impending move on the horizon (not to mention the backlog of games I still have yet to play), I really, really shouldn’t have been checking out Steam’s Perils of Summer Sale. Curiosity got the better of me though, and I went to take a look, promising myself that I won’t get anything.  But that was before I saw The Witcher Enhanced Edition for sale for $6 and change, and well, I just couldn’t help myself.

This is one of those RPGs I’ve always wanted to play, but never got the chance. I have no idea when I’ll be able to get to this but I figured it couldn’t hurt grabbing it at this awesome price (I found it interesting that Victor also went through a similar thought process when that game caught his eye, I guess great minds think alike!) just to have it now and decide when to play later. Also, the development of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings has also been on my radar screen ever since fall of last year, so getting the first installment out of the way is definitely on my to-do list (whenever that may be).


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