Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mythic, a breath of fresh air

Mythic continues to do its community good service.

I'm usually not much for hyping up a company, but from day one, Mythic has listened to its fan base, and the latest batch of announcements proved no different.

Instead of releasing a mass notice to the "internets," Mythic sent a few bloggers a special Valentine's Day notice, which hinted at a dark elf-themed holiday event. And lo and behold, the Night of Murder is upon us.

While Thursday, Jan. 29 hit the mmo community with some big news, I can't help but tip my hat to the job Mythic has done with their live events. These live events are more than just simple holiday events that other mmos partake in. These events are enriching to the Warhammer IP, serving as crucial — and exciting — introductions to content updates.

Before I continue, let me first line out Warhammer's free expanded content — titled "Call to Arms" — for the next few months:

Bitter Rivals — slated for March, Bitter Rivals will allow players to begin their quest for the famed Orc Choppa and Dwarven Slayer. Much like Heavy Metal did with the Reikland Factory scenario, Bitter Rivals will feature an all new Chaos-themed scenario, Twisting Tower. If it's even half as good as Reikland Factory was, then Mythic will have succeeded.

• Beyond the Sands — slated for April, Mythic still has yet to release information regarding this event. It is safe to say, however, that it will serve as a nice precursor and introduction to the Tomb Kings.

• Rise of the Tomb Kings — while many fans thought they would have to wait until a paid expansion was released to experience the lore of the Tomb Kings, Mythic has outdone themselves by including this live event in May. This event will be a heated and bloody race between the armies of Order and Destruction to see which faction unlocks the Land of the Dead first.

• Land of the Dead — opening in June, players will gain access to the deserts of Nehekhara, as well as a new RvR-gated dungeon. Even Mythic admits that this is the spiritual successor of the widely popular Darkness Falls in Dark Age of Camelot. The event will also feature new public quests and new lairs.

But before all of that, players will have to battle it out in the Night of Murder (Feb. 6-Feb. 15).

The Night of Murder is another Warhammer holiday, but not anything like Valentine's Day. Instead of hearts, candy and roses, Mythic describes the night of murder like this:

"As darkness falls on the Night of Murder, the worshippers of death bathe the land in blood, each intent on proving his or her devotion to the Elf god Kaela Mensha Khaine. It is a time that the forces of Destruction are all too willing to exploit. Assassins infiltrate the cities, while on the battlefield the differences between Good and Evil fade beneath the crimson haze of bloodlust. None are immune to the will of Khaine during this dark holiday."

Not really what you would consider romantic Valentine's Day fair, now would you? That is unless you are talking about the St. Valentine's Day massacre

While other mmos, such as World of Warcraft, only recreate real life holidays, Mythic is busy creating holiday events that are themed around the game's IP, not real life. It makes Warhammer Online all the better of a game for it.

The game isn't littered with pop culture references and holidays that don't fit the world. Why experience the same busted real life holidays in a video game, when you can have murder plots and assassinations, drunken ogres and goblins and Nurgle beasts running amok. 

This is what separates Warhammer from the rest of the herd. It's the loyalty to the original IP's lore and heritage, as well as the continued innovation of how that lore is revealed to those new to the Warhammer universe, that allows WAR to flourish. But more so than anything, it gives us what games do best and that is something other than real life, an escape.

Well done, Mythic. The next few months will be a very exciting time to be battling it out in Warhammer Online.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Fresh pepper, anyone?

I've never been much of a gear-grind kind of player.

For me, I enjoy running a dungeon and experiencing the content within it, not for the loot but the actual events of the dungeon. The events in Bastion Stair, for example, are fun and worth experiencing at least a couple of times.

However, now that I am at 40, I have discovered that it is time to grind for gear. So in between RvR events, I am running some dungeons — the Bloodwrought Enclave and the Bilerot Burrow — with an alliance group.

We have cleared both of these city dungeons multiple times — I usually go just for the social interaction — yet the majority of the time, no gear for anyone in our group drops. See this blog over at Altitis for all loot dropping rules.

This is in direct contradiction to the natural order of WAR. WAR has always been about PQ chests and RvR rewards being specifically catered to your class. As long as you got a chest in a PQ or RvR, then you are guaranteed an item for your class.

But, why can't dungeon bosses be like this?

Why can't there be a contribution system for boss fights? Why, after your group downs a boss, doesn't a contribution calculator — just like in PQs and keep sieges — open up and reward players who win with a loot drop for their specific class?

The contribution system is always what separated gear grinds in WAR with gear grinds in WoW and other mmos. Sure, there is a bit of luck and randomness to contribution, just as there are with random loot tables, but I always know that if my group finishes a PQ, then everyone will receive a bag and gear for their character class.

If WAR's end-game dungeons weren't a gear grind where players hope that they get a loot table that benefits them, then I would be enjoying them even more. As it stands right now, I need the gear for wards in order to be successful in other PvE dungeons and to survive against fortress lords, but the hope and off-chance that something drops is miserable.

WAR isn't supposed to be focused on gear, at least it wasn't intended to be, so why does Mythic have us grinding the same dungeons and keeps for a chance for greater gear?

Time is money, and while I may miss out on a gold bag during a keep siege, at least I was able to gain some renown for all of my efforts. When I enter a PvE dungeon, I am losing time and not gaining anything for it if the random loot table doesn't fall in my favor.

It's time these dungeons adopt the same loot contribution system as PQs and keeps.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The journey, not the destination: Part Four

Editor's note: this is the fourth in a multiple part series highlighting my mmo experiences — both good and bad — as well as a general critique of the game in question.

Now, before I even get started, let me say that I think NC Soft and Cryptic did a great job with City of Heroes and City of Villains (which from here on out will be known collectively as CoX).

The character creation is unmatched by any game to date, although Champions Online and DC Universe Online might be strong contenders when they launch. In fact, I spent more time creating super heroes/villains than actually playing the game. Why isn't there a Spore Creature Creator equivalent to CoX?

Also, I really liked how abilities were selected and how item enhancements worked, allowing for a good deal of variety between players who chose the same type of base superpower category.

However, the honeymoon and enjoyment of playing super hero/villain dress-up ended quickly for me once I started playing the game.

The game became an exercise in repetition, just like the Matrix Online.

Gameplay consisted of me locating or calling a contact and then rushing off to a way point. Way points led to an instanced space in a building, or a sewer, or a cave, etc. where I would fight a lot of the same mobs in a lot of the same environments. Once again, just like MxO.

My biggest problem — and the point of this article — is the fact that CoX and MxO don't take advantage of the world in which these missions take place.

More or less, the world is just a hurdle for me to cross on my way to an instance way point. Running from way point to way point became a tiresome exercise in persistence and patience.

These three games showed players an exciting world, yet failed to really let the players do anything but run across it.

Sure, all three had mobs within the world, but they were all easy to bypass on your way to a mission way point. And why would you stop to fight them anyways? You are going to be fighting in the missions anyways, which will earn you additional experience and money because of completing the mission. It's a better use of playtime instead of fighting random mobs on the streets.

I'll admit that these games had some menial open world quests, but they weren't even slightly comparable to the missions.

I wanted a world, not a hurdle. I think the developers of these games agree with me to a point. That's why they granted abilities such as the hyper jump in MxO and the fast travel options in CoX — such as flying and teleportation.

Honestly, gaining the ability to fly in CoX at level 14 emphasized the diminishing importance of the traversing the world. Now, instead of dodging obstacles in the street, I could just fly through the mostly-clear skies on my way to the way point.

All of this reiterated to me that the world in which these missions take place was a pointless time sink.

This was the fatal flaw for these games. If I wanted to do nothing but play a series of instances, then I would play Dungeons & Dragons Online. I'll say this, at least Turbine realized that it is pointless to have an open world with no real objectives.

I look forward to Champions Online and I hope Cryptic has learned from their mistakes.

Next: Part Five of "The journey, not the destination," where our writer tackles everyone's favorite mmo, World of Warcraft.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Attaining the ding!

Well, after all of the adventuring, all of the killing and looting, after 10 years of gaming in various mmorpg universes, I can finally say — unequivocally — that I have finally reached the level cap with my WAR toon.

Now, this may not seem like much to many of you, but I am a self-diagnosed altoholic. I jump from toon to toon, usually because I saw some high level player do something shiny.

I like shiny things, thus being an altoholic has been my calling since Everquest.

And while it is fun to create different virtual personas, it has always irked me that I could never reach the level cap. Because of my disorder, I've missed out on high-end raids and dungeons.

Honestly, I knew before WAR launched that it would be the game where I would finally taste the level cap. While there are a truckload of renown ranks to get, I can at least have the piece of mind of knowing that experience is no longer needed.

It was an exciting and momentous occasion as I spent the last few percentages grinding high elves in a chapter 21 public quest in Eataine. After every other mob, I would glance at my xp count. My heartbeat sped up, my hands began to shake, all for the sheer moment of the ding.

Finally, I'm no longer that guy who could never stick it out to the end. Finally, I had an end-game toon all to myself.

Reaching the level cap was a goal that I've gotten close to in other games, but just never attained.

In Everquest 2, I reached lvl. 46 when the level cap was 50. I hit lvl. 63 in World of Warcraft when the cap was 70. It wasn't that either of these games were bad, it's just that I would see something shiny float by and think, "I must have."

I found this incredibly difficult in WAR, since all the classes have such a distinct and iconic look to them, especially the magus. Every time I would see one of these harbingers of the disk float by, I had to fight to not shelve my disciple.

But I stuck it out and can finally celebrate having a lvl. 40 disciple.

For an altoholic, temptation lies around every corner, in every scenario and around all public quests, but it is possible to claim the daunting feat of hitting the level cap.

So, now that that is out of the way, I think it may be time to roll an alt.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The journey, not the destination: Part Three

Editor's note: this is the third in a multiple-part series highlighting my mmo experiences — both good and bad — as well as a general critique of the particular game in question.

I happily swallowed the red pill.

I welcomed its taste, as well as that part of my mind that resisted the small oval's temptation to awaken me. However, it wasn't long before I was hunched over a toilet in Mega City, trying desperately to vomit the damn thing up.

Matrix Online, more or less, was a game created by and for fans of the trilogy for the mere purpose of having a social network to gather in.

Admittedly, I am a huge fan of the trilogy. I even liked Enter the Matrix, if that tells you anything, so I was very excited about stepping foot in Mega City. 

First off, I found the character creation process very intuitive and immersive. The way the operator searched the busy streets looking for your character, to the creation of your RSI (residual self image) was perfect. It even asked for you to type in your real name, followed by your awakened name. Very immersive, indeed.

The tutorial was very quick and reminiscent of Neo's training in the trilogy, making for a fanboi's dream.

MxO incorporated a different type of combat than other mmos, called interlock. Once in interlock, the player lost movement control of his or her character. While this may seem like a glaringly negative thing to have, its purpose was to create cinematic martial arts and gun fights, which it accomplished. 

The problem was trying to break out of interlock to run away, or the Architect forbid, try to run past enemies in the first place. There is nothing more annoying than getting pulled into interlock combat when you are just trying to run through an area.

Another problem with interlock is that it just didn't feel comfortable. It felt like some sort of quasi-mmo limbo where it was sort of turn based and sort of not. All in all, it felt like I was always fighting the game-driven control scheme.

As far as the good points about MxO, I enjoyed how you could switch skills and classes on the fly — barring the fact that you had to have previously purchased the abilities to do so. It really made the game's character advancement set up fun and unique.

While on the outside it would appear that you could only be one of three classes — hacker, coder and operative — a further look revealed several specializations. For instance, not all operatives were the same.

Some were masters of kung fu, which others were gun experts. The system also went even further in detail, allowing gun experts to specialize in a particular gun, which would result in specific techniques for the chosen weapon. Empty hand operatives could choose from kung fu, karate or aikido.

Even though the character advancement was well placed, everything else about the game was a repetitive grind. I would call up a contact — which was either a Zion operative, a Machine or an Exile with the Merovingian — depending on which faction I aligned myself with and then proceed to accept a typical mmo mission.

After that, it was just running to the next waypoint, which would lead me into an instanced building. Mega City was huge and I appreciate the fact that I could walk into any building I wanted to (it only became instanced if you had a current mission in it), however many of the buildings looked alike. 

There was never anything interesting to discover in a building, making the whole experience of the "outer world" seem more like a chore, since it really didn't matter what you did out there, as long as you reached your mission waypoint.

Running from waypoint to waypoint, mission door to mission door, became old very quickly. Sure, there were Exile "dungeons," but these were nothing more than boring grind fests of the same mobs over and over again.

Gameplay aside, what made MxO good was the community. 

Everyone enjoyed roleplaying in the Matrix universe, which could always be seen in the game's earlier days by attending a night club or other social gathering.

More so, MxO employed a Live Events team which would interact with the players during certain times. The Live Events team would enter the game as well-known characters from the trilogy, advancing the ongoing story of the Matrix through the help of the players.

This, in my opinion, is one of the best things I've seen out of an mmo. I was fortunate enough to take part in one of these unscheduled events.

I ended up swallowing and coughing up the red pill a couple of times, and while the second time was a better experience than the first, I just couldn't shake the repetitive gameplay and stagnant environments. 

However, MxO succeeded — monumentally — in letting players become part of the ongoing story. The Live Team events was a wonderful inclusion. It's just sad that the developers couldn't keep going what they had at the beginning.

For those red pills still lost in the Matrix, I salute you for your dedication to not only the trilogy's canon, but to the art of roleplaying. I hope that more players follow suit.

Next: Part Four of "The journey, not the destination," when our writer talks about the promises and problems that plague games like City of Heroes/Villains and Matrix Online.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The journey, not the destination: Part Two

Editor's note: this is the second in a multiple-part series highlighting my mmo experiences — both good and bad — as well as a general critique of the particular game in question.

While I wouldn't claim to have a first love in the mmo genre, I would be slightly remised if I didn't consider Everquest 2.

I had played other mmos before my arrival in the torn Norrath, but no game prior to EQ2 could entertain me for very long. EQ2, however, changed all of that.

It was this game that propelled me into the hobby of mmorpgs. 

In my opinion, the game never got the credit that it deserved. Many purists (i.e. Everquest players) didn't appreciate the changes, while other players had World of Warcraft on their minds. And while I played WoW for a couple of hours on my brother-in-law's computer, I couldn't wait to return back home to log in to EQ2.

I had several characters, but my favorite was a dark elf necromancer named Talieris Grimm. In fact, I can almost say that he is my all-time favorite character.

EQ2 holds several epic memories for me. Things such as the betrayal quest and travel instances made the events in this game epic.

The music was outstanding and the best that I have heard in an mmo to date. There was nothing like emerging from the dark and tenebrous Nektulos Forest into the refreshing Commonlands for the first time. I was betraying Qeynos for Freeport and to not only see the sun, but to hear the fanfare theme of the Commonlands, sent chills down my spine.

An epic moment, indeed.

And then there was the Celtic theme of the Thundering Steppes, which was built on powerful layers and melodies. There was the sweetness of the Enchanted Lands and the despair of Zek. There was the bitterness of the strings in Everfrost and the urgency of Cazic-Thule.

The music made each zone different and unique. It provided a color that no amount of quest dialogue or lore could match.

EQ2 emphasized grouping over soloing, which could be seen in the many non-instanced dungeons scattered throughout the world. My favorite dungeon of all time was the infamous Nektropos Castle. 

This was a twisted castle owned by the maniacal Lord Maltus Everling. The hallways were bent and warped, reminiscent of a scene out of a Tim Burton movie. Ghostly servants filled the rooms, while Everling's daughters held the key to revealing their lord's hidden lab.

There's so much that EQ2 did right that it makes it hard for me to be critical. Perhaps EQ2 is my first love. Maybe that's why I could look past the load times and the all but required grouping in order to advance.

While Live Update #13 practically ruined the game for me (I was a lvl. 46 warlock at the time), I did end up eventually returning, resulting in my aforementioned necromancer.

Admittedly, this trip down memory lane has me contemplating a return to Norrath, but like all first loves, it's never as good as the first time.

Next time: Part Three of "The journey, not the destination," when our writer describes why the Matrix Online both succeeded and failed.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The journey, not the destination: Part One

Editors note: this is the first in a multiple-part series highlighting my mmo experiences — both good and bad — as well as a general critique of the particular game in question.

There is a sort of sweetness that accompanies our thoughts when we think back on our first love.

It's an innocence that can't be diminished. For many people, they continue to always compare new experiences to their first love. While it may not be objective — because the first time is always the best time — people still do it.

Enter: mmorpgs.

It is often a running joke amongst my real life friends and online friends about how I tend to hop on the mmo roller coaster and just let it take me where it wants. You see, I don't subscribe to the idea that a player should only play one mmo. I — in turn — play them all.

It began with Everquest, then Anarchy Online. Next, I adorned my first cloak in Dark Age of Camelot. I finally ventured back into a torn Norrath in Everquest 2, all the while counting the days until I would finally see the Matrix for myself. Then, it was onto Star Wars Galaxies and Lineage 2, Dungeons and Dragons Online and Shadowbane, with a little Horizons, Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa thrown in for flavor. Sprinkle all of that with Vanguard, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings OnlineCity of Heroes/Villains and Age of Conan and you have one experienced piece of cake.

I have now landed in Warhammer Online.

For me, there wasn't really a first love when it came to mmos. I guess if I had to pick one, I would say that EQ2 held the most grandeur for me. I use the word "grandeur" because I think a lot of gamers make their game of choice into something more than it really is.

I know people who are still playing their first love. They never stray. Sure, they may look and maybe even touch another game, but they always come back to their first love. It holds precious memories for them, memories that can't be matched in any other game.

But can you really blame them?

I mean, does it really matter how great Onyxia in WoW was when your first experience with a dragon was with Venekor in EQ2?

What it comes down to is that people revel in their first love and appall the differences in other games, instead of celebrating said differences.

I revel in the differences. I welcome the perspective to say that Auto Assault was a great and innovative game, yet failed because its innovation wasn't wanted by the populace. Perspective also allows me to make the not-so-bold claim that World of Warcraft brings absolutely nothing to the genre, save a few million players who will never stray from the game.

I also enjoy perspective because it has allowed me to see and adventure in vastly different worlds, each one giving something special that the previous game didn't.

Tomorrow: Part Two of "The journey, not the destination," when our writer describes why Everquest 2 has such a special place in his heart.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Legion, for we are many

This past Saturday marked a pivotal point for the Twilight Alliance.

While we (members of Ira Deorum and Trained Again) were making preparations for our weekly Bastion Stair run, I began receiving /tells from Istendil of The Darkness Before Dawn and Loor of Sadistic Intentions. Both were looking to join the Twilight Alliance.

Drathek (Morkry) of Trained Again gave his approval for alliance growth, as did many others.
Within the next couple of hours, I jumped from /tell to /tell, all the while working to maintain the needed coordination in Bastion Stair through our Vent channel.  

Needless to say, things got pretty difficult juggling three different paths of communication. Luckily, I was allied with strong players, so my full attention wasn't needed while we ventured in the realm of Khorne.

After all was said and done, The Darkness Before Dawn and Sadistic Intentions became part of the Twilight Alliance. It was a move that — in one night — doubled the size of our alliance.

I have been working to ally with The Darkness Before Dawn for a couple of months, so having this come to a realization pleases me. Sadistic Intentions is focused strongly on RvR and I look forward to seeing them make a name for themselves in the lower tiers as they venture towards end game. I especially like their dedication to not only taking keeps, but defending them.

It was a busy night, indeed, for the alliance. I believe this past Saturday will have a lasting mark on the future of the Twilight Alliance.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

WAR: Age of Frustration

Typically, there aren't things in a game's design that I would deem as game-breaking for me. If anything, I usually leave an mmo out of boredom, rather than class or content issues.

However, last night on Phoenix Throne almost made me change all of that.

The population caps on fortress sieges are an abomination. This feature is every bit as fail as healthy KFC chicken. This one glaring change to the game's core mechanics has me thinking whether or not WAR is worth it.

This game is about mass RvR, not that little skirmish stuff like in WoW. But more so than anything else, WAR is about realm pride. Realm pride isn't even touted anymore, but old DAoC players know what I mean. With realm pride, I could care less about the risk vs. reward. All that matters is that I am fighting the good fight, and last night I — and many other people —weren't allowed to do that.

For those who say I am just whining, please look at the fundamental design flaw of having a game based on defending or sieging lands with massive armies, yet only allowing a percentage of people access. This isn't a R40 dungeon, this is open world RvR, where a R1 toon can travel to if he or she desires.

My R37 DoK was prohibited access to defend Fell Landing from the onslaught of Order. As a dark elf on a roleplaying server, not being able to defend my fortress against an invading army is as dishonorable as a Japanese samurai spitting on a daimyo.

I have to admit it, I would rather the server just crash over Mythic denying me access to defend my realm. Nothing in the history of my mmo career has been this frustrating. It certainly is something that may become game-breaking if things don't change.

WAR has always been a game where the end game actually started at R1, not at the level cap. But now, after a few months of going live, things have changed and there actually is a low-level game and an end game. The way things are now, if you aren't at the level cap, you must sit and watch as your brethren either fail or succeed at their given task.

Any warrior, despite his or her level, deserves the right to defend their realm.

I know that these two games are written in a different languages, but if Eve Online can develop script that allows 1,400 pilots in the same area, so should WAR.

Really, what's the point in having RvR if only a percentage of those who stand a fighting chance on the battlefield are the only ones allowed to fight the good fight?

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

You want how much for a backpack!?

I have been very impressed that within the first few months of WAR's release, players have already been able to participate in three long Live Events. 

The Witching Night provided a nice touch for Halloween that was unique to the Warhammer universe. It wasn't like the WoW celebration, which is an exact replica of the real world's Halloween traditions. Witching Night was it's own unique idea, and it worked like a charm.

Next was the Heavy Metal event.  Simply put, this event rocked. Reikland Factory is still the greatest scenario created and sorely missed by many players, including myself. This event was drawn-out and detailed, providing players with easy and interesting daily quests to complete. Of course, Mythic eventually made the quests open for players to complete on any given day, making carebears all over the world sing with glee.

And just recently, players wrapped up the dwarven tradition of Keg End. What better way to celebrate Christmas in an mmo than with a unique dwarven end of the year celebration. Once again, showing how Mythic made another unique holiday tradition, unlike WoW.

Many prizes awaited those who participated in the Live Event, from stunning firework displays to a unique title. Along with those and other unique items, was a world drop known as the Battle Brew Backpack.

Not only does this backpack has nice stats on it, but it also has a damage over time ability (which for some reason isn't listed in the link).

Admittedly, I didn't really participate in Keg End. I was still reeling from Heavy Metal and I didn't really get the chance to unwind from that live event. But as I was traveling with a guildie through Dragonwake, we stumbled upon the world mob — a caravan of drunken ogres and goblins protecting kegs.

We decided to decimate them in the name of Khaine, revealing the revered Battle Brew Backpack. My guildie had already informed me that he sold one on the auction house for 140 gold and that I could have this drop if I wanted it. Of course, no proud druchii would be caught dead wearing the dwarven abomination, so I told him that we should both greed roll for it and see where the chips fall.

The chips fell and I won the backpack.

The backpack sat in my inventory for a day or two before I finally managed to make it to the Inevitable City to put it up for auction. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.

The backpack was going for as high as 650 gold! For this backpack?

I haphazardly said, "What the hell," and threw it up for a staggering (and humorous) 450 gold, laughing as I did so. Flashing memories of price gougers in EQ2 putting outrageous prices on master spell drops, or WoW players charging exorbitant fees for purple items danced in my head.

I later told another guildie that I found it and he expressed interest in the pack for one of his alts. I told him that I would gladly give it to him, as long as someone didn't already buy it.

But lo and behold, not 24 hours later, someone bought the backpack for 450 gold. (Must have been a WoW player, hehe.) I wonder what the buyer would think if he knew I was going to give it away for free?

So I guess now all there is to do is wait until there is something worth buying. 

Epic mount, anyone?

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Molding the masses

This is the first time that I have been the leader of an mmo guild. Up until now, I have been but a fledgling member, trotting my way for the betterment of my respective guilds.

You see, I haven't had much luck in finding decent guilds. Throughout my mmo career, I have had more guilds that I joined that failed than succeeded. Sure, there have been great ones such as the Legion of Truth (sending props out to Darknessx) in EQ, Shadowfire (too many people to mention) and The Lazy Blade Brewing Co. — formerly Nox Noctis Alternus — both of which were in EQ2.

My experiences — especially in the latter two guilds — were ones that made my enjoyment of EQ2 better. To this day, I still have fond memories of traveling with guildies on the dusty roads of the Commonlands or in the frozen paths of Everfrost. 

It also allowed me to realize that more than anything else, I enjoy the social aspect that guilds bring to an mmo.

Thus, Ira Deorum was born.

ID is my WAR guild that was started nine months before launch by myself and a former guild leader of the above mentioned Shadowfire. Since then, we have incorporated real life friends and people that we have met in game into the guild ranks. While still small, ID continues to progress well.

It has been an interesting experience leading my first guild. Admittedly, I wasn't aware of all the administrative responsibilities, but I try not to get too wrapped up in those sort of things.
It's been an enjoyable experience so far. And while I have a few gripes about the way that Mythic has handled certain guild rewards (I'm sure I'll touch on this in a later post), I am thoroughly impressed by the alliance system.

ID recently allied with Trained Again to form the Twilight Alliance. It has been a very positive experience, allowing guildies to form nightly groups for RvR, PvE and scenarios. In a way, it feels like ID has grown in membership because of it. And I guess that's the best part of the alliance system.

Guilds can gain additional membership — depending how you look at it — while at the same time still preserving their identity.

It's a great system and will only flourish even more in the upcoming months as the Twilight Alliance builds.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

And who are you again?

Well, I just finished reading my first post that I wrote earlier and realized that I kind of jumped right into this whole blogging thing without any sort of introduction.

So, here is the skinny. I have been playing mmos for the better part of 10 years. Like a lot, I lost my virginity to Everquest. I remember buying it — well my girlfriend (now wife) — actually bought it. At the time, I didn't even know that it had to be played online. Add that to the shock of having to pay to play and you have one confused gamer. It was almost enough to drive me back to consoles.

However, it only took 10 minutes in Neriak with my fledgling dark elf necromancer for the magic to take hold.

I didn't play EQ for long, but soon branched off into Anarchy Online and Dark Age of Camelot. I left the genre after DAoC and came back when Everquest 2 launched in 2004. I've been fully lost in the genre ever since then.

The harsh reality of the genre, for me at least, is the fact that most games aren't worth playing for more than the "free" 30 days. Some have good concepts, but most were/are littered with too many flaws, which hinder enjoyment of the game.

Now, I find myself lost in Warhammer Online, and while the game has many flaws, I still enjoy logging in and seeing the world. So as it stands right now, a lot of my posts will be centered around WAR, but I always have a few things to say about the genre as a whole and the specific games that inhabit it...

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Sigmar's Rise or "Isn't Christmas break over?"

The past few weeks have been quite hectic for the forces of Destruction on Phoenix Throne. The warriors of Order have been in full stride, constantly pushing their way to the Inevitable City. It seems that each day I log in, the majority of tier 4 zones are controlled by Order. Where once these were controlled either by Destruction or kept in a state of contention, now they are painted blue with the blood of my allies.

It would be easy to say that the recent surge of Order activity was a direct result of Christmas break, thus reinstating the mmo stereotype that the "good side" is always filled with children and adolescents, i.e. Order, Alliance and Qeynos. While I may joke about it and even shout it in my vent channel through mere frustration, I have to take a step back and realize that Christmas break is over, yet Order persists.

Have they gone blood drunk? Have they learned an exploit to lock down zones? Or are they becoming aggressively better than Destruction?

In my experience with my Disciple of Khaine, I've always taken note of the unified front that Order has displayed throughout all tiers. This is in stark contrast to the chaos surrounding Destruction (yes, I am aware of the pun). Of course, maybe Destruction is just really good at roleplaying and the chaos is a part of it. Yeah, I don't think so either.

Destruction's only saving grace so far has been the fact that the end game in WAR is currently not working as intended. Of course, Order was saved just as many times — if not more — from the fortress crashes and server lag in the previous months.

So, as a member of Destruction, I thank the poor soul who miserably coded fortresses. Thanks for saving my city for me. For example, about a week aog, Order was assaulting the dark elf fortress early one evening. I hopped on my cold one and headed towards Caledor to make my way to the fight, salivating at the thought of filling my chalice with the soul essence of Order. However — due to the massive fight — Caledor crashed shortly after my arrival, banishing my character was stuck in mmo Purgatory.

I hope that Mythic can fix this problem soon, rather than later. A large amount of the population is itching for the server's first city siege. While up till now, I was confident that Destruction would be celebrating this server first, I now find myself starting to wonder.

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