Posts Tagged ‘Spouse’

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GW2: The Strangeness Of Grouping

June 11, 2012

As other gaming couples must know, love is about refraining from playing an MMO without your other half, never leaving them behind in experience and out-leveling their character without their express consent or knowledge. In fact, that’s a pretty surefire way to bring about spousal aggro in this house.

As such, my husband and I have always maintained at least one character for the purposes of concurrent leveling in every MMO we play together, and lately it has become apparent that this spousal-leveling contract has been extended to game betas as well. I guess it will come as no surprise then, that we also played together for the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend.

I was really liking the look of my Elementalist…until my husband said, “Hey, Lucy Lawless!”

We started over with new human characters for this BWE; I made myself an Elementalist while my husband rolled a Guardian. We journeyed across Queensdale hitting up “heart tasks”, personal story missions, dynamic events and any other activity we came across along the way. We had a blast. Something interesting that I want to bring up though: after several hours, I started to notice something — GW2 is the first MMO in which partying with my husband has felt “off”, and sometimes even downright awkward.

I guess it’s not surprising, given what Arenanet has said about de-emphasizing grouping. Of course, this means that while partying is supported, it doesn’t feel as necessary as they do in other MMOs. Obviously there are lots of benefits to this. Gone are the days of kill stealing or competing tooth and nail for mobs in crowded areas, for instance.

And yet, for someone like me who probably spends up to 90% of her MMO game time playing with at least one other person in the group, GW2’s brand of cooperative PvE takes some getting used to.

For one thing, concurrent experience gain is much more unpredictable. For example, if I run around with a bunch of people during a dynamic event whacking at centaurs and killing them one after an other in quick succession, that gains me a lot more experience than my husband who is sitting off to the edge of the group whittling down a enemy’s health by himself. Likewise, while we’re both completing tasks for the denizens of Queensdale, my husband’s XP takes off because he’s killing worms while I prefer more passive tasks like feeding bags of oats to cows for their cute floating pink hearts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two group members’ XP bars fluctuate so greatly while still doing the same things together.

While our rates of experience gain tend to even out eventually, I have to say what still feels missing is the synergy between us. That’s the biggie, I think. One of my favorite things about always playing with my husband is the inevitable discovery of how our chosen classes simply click. I mostly PvE, and in playing within a structured group, a lot of the time I end up learning more about how my class plays by observing the abilities of others and seeing how my own can play off of them. A wonderful thing happens when the mister and I play together, just me and him; gradually we come up with unspoken strategies and somehow I know all his moves before he makes them and vice versa. I can see there will be less opportunity to do this in GW2, when there is little reason to attune to each other as most everything is done with every other player who is in the same area.

The strange feeling of grouping in GW2 is just an intriguing observation that occurred to me this weekend, and is by no means a criticism. Really. Of course, the most enlightening moment for me is when the realization hit that we don’t actually even have to be partied up and the little difference it would make! We still did though, if for no other reason but the fact it’s easier to see where each other are on the mini-map.

It would be interesting to see what other gaming couples or people who frequently group together will make of the GW2 duo-ing experience. I think leastwise, it adds a new dynamic.

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SWTOR: Double The Pleasure

December 15, 2011

Staying away from my class(es) of choice during the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta was probably one of the best gaming decisions I’ve ever made. From the beginning, I’d resolved to save some surprises for myself for launch, and I’m glad I did it this way.

BioWare had a few surprises up its sleeves as well. Unless my eyes deceive me, I’m pretty sure they’ve added a fine polish to all the visuals. For some reason, I found myself completely mesmerized by the “butt-flap” on my Bounty Hunter’s new chest piece yesterday. I’d definitely not given my armor much thought before, especially at such a low level, but as she ran I was amazed that the fabric just looked and moved and felt like it had actual weight…like real leather.

As planned, I played my Bounty Hunter as my solo character and made it off Hutta yesterday. I was probably higher level than most others when I finally did, because I spent much of my time aiding random strangers with their heroic group quests, even though I had already done them. I can’t claim it’s all altruism — while I enjoy helping others, the extra XP from killing mobs and being able to gobble up the bonus from their quest completions wasn’t anything to scoff at either.

Before hitting Dromund Kaas, I was also able to complete the flashpoint Black Talon, a rite of passage of sorts. It was made all the more enjoyable by the company, which included my guild leader as well as Syp from Bio Break.

* * *

It was a much different experience with my Jedi Knight, the character that I have tethered to my husband’s Jedi Consular. I’m aware of my constant joking complaints about the Spousal Leveling Contract, but in truth there are huge advantages to being grouped up almost 100% of the time.

Tython. Oh, Tython. I’d avoided playing either of the Jedi classes all through game testing, so this planet and its quests were utterly new to me. I’m so glad, because being able to explore a new MMO together is one of the best things about playing with my other half, and so at least we had this whole world to do so together.

And I know this sounds so corny, but…finally being able to get my first lightsaber was definitely the highlight of my time playing a Jedi so far.

As a Jedi Guardian/Jedi Sage team, we’re already mowing down our enemies like wheat before the scythe. Throw in companions, and we’re decidedly even more effective, even though our team of Twi’lek, Miraluka, lizard man and astromech droid all dog-piling on a mob may look a tad ridiculous.

We ended the night with a wonderful run through the Esseles flashpoint, with fellow RMCers Drannos and Tramell, who were up to some very evil things…

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3DS Adventures: Take It To The Streets

September 9, 2011

Today I want to talk about a new addiction of mine. And I warn, the euphoric hit I get from it is going to sound completely ridiculous unless you have had the pleasure of experiencing something like it for yourself.

My new drug is the Nintendo 3DS’s Streetpass system. This little handheld has proven its worth to me a thousand times over, especially during last week’s power outage, and thanks to my car charger I was able to keep it juiced up everywhere I went.

But I guess what started the obsession actually happened a while before this. One day, I was at the mall shopping for a pair of yoga pants, and when I looked down into my purse and — BAM! — there was that little green light on my 3DS telling me I’d gotten a tag. Someone in the last few minutes had passed by me with their own 3DS, and in that split second our two systems had traded information. I opened up my 3DS, checked out my Mii Plaza and saw to my surprise I had actually tagged not one but two people during my short time at the store.

It was that moment I became hooked. When I had first heard about Streetpass, it sounded like a pretty cool feature BUT OH GOD YOU WON’T HAVE ANY IDEA HOW AWESOME IT FEELS UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU!!!

With wireless communication turned on and your 3DS in sleep mode, it will automatically send data about your Mii and the games you’ve played to people you meet on your travels (who also have their Streetpass enabled), and vice versa. I’ve since developed a habit of taking the 3DS with me whenever I go out. Every time I see that green light, I get all giddy. Unreasonably, excessively so.

It still doesn’t happen as often as I like, but I’m hoping news like August’s 260% increase in 3DS sales and today’s launch of the new “flame red” 3DS will mean more Streetpass opportunities in the future. These days, I seem to have the most luck at the mall, where I get at least one tag every time I go, even if it is just “Mike the Gamestop guy”.

Game and electronic stores are almost guaranteed to give you a hit, and I’m sure if I went to a gaming or comic convention in the city I’d be in heaven picking up random people left and right (wait…that didn’t really sound right…) but to me, that’s a little like bamboozling the system. I much prefer the random Streetpasses that I get by simply going about my daily life, the encounters that some people in the community have taken to calling “wild Miis”. Leave it to Nintendo fans to make everything a Pokemon reference.

Ever since my husband traded in my old DS Lite for a 3DS of his own, things have also gotten a lot more interesting. Our systems tag each other every morning without fail as he makes his way to work, and the thing is, once you encounter someone more than once you can choose to leave custom personal messages to each other. And yes, in case you’re wondering, we do leave each other intimate notes — turns out there’s just enough space for “Buy more milk!” but not enough for “It’s recycling day!”

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Rift: Ding! Level 50!

April 13, 2011

My husband and I reaching max level at the same time. Sure, I *could* insert a dirty joke here...but I won't.

That’s right, we are one of THOSE couples. The kind that controls their experience gain so they can do the big ding together and take screenshots of the occasion to look back and go “aww” and say “sweetheart, do you remember when?” and all that lovey dovey crap. So saccharine and sickly sweet, guaranteed to rot your teeth and make bystanders want to throw buckets of cold water at us!

The journey to level 50 took almost two months playing at a medium, semi-casual pace. In terms of total time played, it took approximately 6 days and 4 hours. I’d say Trion did a pretty good job of pacing the game; it’s a pretty reasonable time frame — not too long and not too short. On the other hand, I’m sure if I hadn’t been constrained by a pesky spousal leveling contract, I might have hit the levelcap sooner. See, I think I’m more into this game than the mister. Recently, he’d been splitting his game time between Rift and Crysis 2, and I had to adjust accordingly. God help me from the spouse aggro I incur if I even try to log on to do some foraging without him!

Looking back, what amazes me is that I never ran out of things to do. I didn’t encounter any of the major problems that have led me to quit new games in the past — mainly grind and not having enough content. In fact, there were two whole zones I had to skip completely — Moonshade Highlands and Iron Pine Peak — simply because questing and rifting in Droughtlands, Shimmersand and Stillmoor was plenty enough to get me from late 30s to 50.

Speaking of quests and rifts, yes, the former can be a bit dry, but on the whole I didn’t mind doing them. There were actually quite a few interesting story quests at higher levels, and whenever questing got tedious, we simply broke up the monotony with a little rifting. Every time (with very little exception) a zone-wide invasion occurred, we would drop everything and participate. And just like that, the levels flew by.

So, now what? Well, I remember doing a lot of research when I first decided to get this game. With so many MMOs flooding the market these days, it’s time to be a little more choosy. I knew I wanted something I could play for the long term, and not just because I’m looking for a new MMO to call home, but also because I just didn’t feel like jumping around from game to game anymore, and having a ton of characters spread out all over the place, all languishing in the lower to mid-levels. I told myself the next time I consider shelling out for a box and a monthly sub for a new game, I had better be willing to go all the way. No quitting and ditching yet another character, eternally sentencing her to a life of a lowbie, never to see play again.

Thus I weighed in carefully on my purchase of Rift and felt pretty confident afterwards, but of course there was still a chance that it might not be for me. No matter, a commitment’s a commitment and a goal’s a goal — I was fully prepared to push myself to levelcap if I had to. Lucky for me, though, not once did I feel like I had to “force” myself to play Rift. In fact, I probably wanted to play more than I could. Honestly, the whole journey has been rather a pleasure.

Furthermore, now that I’ve reached level 50 in Rift, I haven’t lost my steam yet. I already have plans to do things like crafting, artifact hunting, achievement farming, rep grinding, exploring…everything that I’d wanted to do but couldn’t because I was concentrating on leveling. Guildies are turning 50 left and right this week as well, so there should be plenty of opportunities to run higher level instances.

The best part is, I can finally do all that and more at my own pace, since the spousal leveling contract dissolves at levelcap. Durr, it’s a leveling contract, after all. At last, nothing will hold me back from Rift! Finally, I’m free of the old ball-and-chai–er, I mean, in spite of the deep pain I would no doubt feel to be playing without my beloved, I am eager to go forth and explore my own individual potential.

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Ahroooooooooooo!!!

December 7, 2010

So last night’s foray into night was successful, and I am now admiring the contents of my Collector’s Edition of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. While I’m excited for this expansion, I think living through the launches for the last two have mellowed me out somewhat over the years. I rushed to complete all my goals when The Burning Crusade came out, and did the same again with Wrath of the Lich King, and where did that leave me? All I got for my troubles was a severe case of burnout.

Well, lesson learned. After coming home last night and installing, the first thing my husband and I did last night was — wait for it — go to sleep. And this morning we were rewarded with a flawless start to our Worgen adventures, clear and smooth sailing from login screen to level 5. As planned, I made a new Worgen Priest. Meet Daeshara:

From proud noble...

...to chained dog.

I have enjoyed everything I’ve seen in this area so far, from the gorgeous new environments to the posh NPC accents. I also love the new story-telling aspect in these new starting zones.

Once you start, I have to admit it does get harder and harder to stop. And it’s even worse when you’re surrounded by the giddiness of so many WoW players in the MMO and blogging community today. You want to slow down and remind yourself that all the new content will still be there tomorrow, but the atmosphere is bloody infectious. For better or worse, I’ve got my husband to help me keep a good pace. Mr. MMOGC doesn’t have all that much time to play, so whenever we start new characters together, longtime readers will remember the dreaded Spousal Leveling Contract.

Besides leveling, however, I even hesitate to do anything that might involve any form of progression in-game, lest I accidentally dishonor the contract and invite spouse aggro of a whole different sort. I found out the hard way just this weekend (it’s a week for all sorts of lessons, apparently) when I didn’t think he would mind if I went off on my main to do some of the new zone quest achievements on my own. I’d only done Westfall, Redridge, and Duskwood but from the earful I got you’d have thought he had just found out about my plans to run off with our life savings to live in some remote villa in Tuscany with my secret twin Antiguan lovers or something.

Anyway, to be fair, ever since I came back to WoW after my break, I’ve always thought of it as “his” game since it’s the only MMO he likes and plays. Sometimes I wonder if I would even bother to maintain a subscription if it wasn’t for my husband. And there is something to be said about the joy of being able to experience new things together for the first time, and share those in-game memories for years to come. And it is very sweet of him that he wants to do everything with me, so for the sake of marital bliss I will strive to resist all cataclysmic temptations.

Heeeey, WATCH THOSE HANDS, old man.

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Spouse Aggro Through A Mirror, Darkly: The Dreaded Leveling Contract

April 17, 2010

I think most people who play MMORPGs are familiar with the concept of spouse aggro. We’ve all either read about it or have experienced the dangers of it first hand. I’m happy to say that Mr. MMOGC and I are fortunate enough to live our lives relatively spouse aggro-free, because we’re both avid gamers.

Nonetheless, we never let our games get in the way of real life obligations like dinner dates, important chores, appointments or outings with friends. We both agree that real life stuff should always take priority. Even so, there are times when one of us will allow the other a certain degree of leniency. For example, if we had a grocery shopping trip planned in the afternoon but he tells me he’s still in the middle of a heroic instance (“I swear, I just need fifteen more minutes to get one more little badge so I can buy epic shoulders!”) I’d be like, no problem, we’ll delay our trip for another half hour or so, it’s not a big deal. It’s because I’ve been there, and I get it. He would be affording me the same courtesy if it was the other way around. There’s no badgering at each other to log off, or grumbling about how video games are nothing but a time suck.

To be signed in blood!

That’s not to say that our gaming habits never cause problems in our relationship. My husband and I were joking about this last night over dinner and had a good laugh over it, but there’s some truth to what I’m about to say. Basically, we do our share of gaming-related bickering, but every time it happens, it’s always about one dreaded thing (cue ominous music) — the “Spousal Leveling Contract”.

Or more specifically, it’s when someone is in breach of it.

Simply stated, the terms of Spousal Level Contract are:

Both parties must maintain at least one character for the purposes of concurrent leveling in each MMORPG applicable to this agreement. Under no circumstances may either party advance said character without the presence of the other, unless prior consent has been conferred. A failure to abide by the terms of this contract will result in reparations in the form of back rubs or any other method of compensation deemed appropriate by the aggrieved party.

We’ve both been quite good at honoring the contract, though I won’t deny it, once in a while someone slips up…and it’s usually me. I acquired a number of infractions with Star Trek Online, for instance, and I blew it big time when I went back to level my old character in Age of Conan, though to be fair I still don’t think that was my fault (I gave plenty of notice, as per the agreement, yet I’m still paying for it big time). Yes, I’ll admit it, between the two of us, I guess I’m the more hardcore one when it comes to gaming. After all, my husband relies on me to pick out his Xbox 360 games for him, he’s usually the one to come to me for gaming advice, he’s always the one who follows me to new games and — ah hell, I have a game blog, enough said.

Anyway, you’ll never catch either of us telling each other “I think you spend too much time gaming and not enough time with me!” but sheesh, say an innocent little thing like, “Sweetie, just so you know I logged in the other day to train my skills and had to kill a few things to get there, so don’t be surprised if I’m ahead of you by a few bars” and boy, do I get an earful!