MMOs are dead; hey, let’s give ESO another try

MMOs are not dead because people aren’t forced to group or because people can’t commit 18 hours to camping a spawn anymore. MMOs are dying because the generation that loved them is growing up, had kids, and generally has other things to do. The newer generation visits MMOs but doesn’t live in them the way we did.

Maybe it’s time for a new paradigm in online gaming.*


I posted this as a comment on Facebook earlier today and am wondering if maybe I hit a nail on the head, at least as far as my own MMO experience goes. I play them, but I don’t live them anymore like I used to; and even then, I don’t play them nearly as much as I think I’d like to.

(It’s like the person who keeps waiting for that other person to call because they said they would, but they haven’t yet and it’s been 3 weeks. If that person wanted to call they’d have done so by now. We make time for the things we find important.)

I still call myself a gamer, I still keep a bunch of games around, and I even keep some of them up to date, but I don’t really actually play all that much. I do way more thinking about gaming and talking about gaming than actual gaming, and even the thinking and talking are down to an all-time low compared to, say, 2009 and the heyday of this blog. (Man, time really flies.)

I suspect MMOs will end up being a mere blip on the evolutionary landscape of whatever gaming is turning into, because whatever it becomes it’s clear gaming itself isn’t going to go away anytime soon — it just probably won’t look like what the dinosaurs from the turn of the millennium think it should or would.


In the meantime I’m downloading The Elder Scrolls Online again, mostly because of this fascinating article that a friend linked on Facebook and that led to the above-mentioned comment. Sometimes MMOs are a cynical labour of trying to screw as much money out of people as possible, and sometimes they’re a hopeless labour of love, but they’re almost always made by at least a few people who are literally pouring themselves into something that usually doesn’t have a whole lot of chances of succeeding, or not for any length of time. And when someone cares that much, it makes me want to take another look at a game I tried and cavalierly abandoned after a few weeks — not because it was awful, but because it didn’t galvanise me the way Asheron’s Call and the early MMOs did.

The problem is, no game can. One can’t go back. Maybe it’s time for me to admit that, move on, and find my own new paradigm.

PS: Yes, I’m still mad at World of Warcraft.


*I don’t think I’ve ever quoted myself quite this blatantly before. I don’t know whether to feel cool, conceited or just a little bit dirty.

WoW – back to Vanilla


This is a whine post, and I’m just getting something off my chest in public, so feel free to move right along.

Turns out that everything, and I mean everything in Legion is gated behind dungeons, except for actually getting to max level. Which is a shame, because in every other respect Legion is probably the best (and best-looking) expansion World of Warcraft has ever done. It reminds me of Vanilla-WoW, which I basically stopped playing at level 50-odd because everything led to doing dungeons, everything you might need or want was in a dungeon, and the entire game was focused on doing dungeons so you could gear up to do more dungeons.

Things I like to do in WoW:

— Harvest stuff and craft stuff (just for fun – I long ago gave up any illusion of it being useful). Progressing through crafting professions (to 800) is now gated behind dungeons.

— The levelling process. Ironically (for a game whose design paradigm revolves around something completely different), WoW has one of the best levelling games there is. Only SWTOR comes close. Levelling characters is super fun for me and yes, I have an enormous capacity for repeating content (because I play to relax — knowing “what’s coming” is actually a plus for me). That part Legion does really well.

— In Legion, I was looking forward to doing the Class hall stuff because it’s part of your character’s story through the expansion. This is gated behind dungeons. Apparently it’s only one dungeon if you’re a hunter*, but that’s not the point. (Especially since I’m an altoholic.)

Things I do not like to do in Wow:

— Dungeons. (Even when I’m umpty-nine levels above them and can go through them on my own, they’re basically the last thing I would ever choose to do when I log in.)


And by “do not like” I mean: get so overwhelmed and upset by the process (finding a group, getting there, sitting through the “pretty” visual effects and fights) that I usually end up in tears. It’s a sensory processing disorder thing, and possibly even an Asperger’s thing, I don’t know. I do know that lights + noise + speed of action + having to deal with other people = cruel and unusual punishment.

Why on earth would I want to put myself through that for a game?

Answer: I don’t. And I won’t.

I’m not asking for the gear or indeed for any of the “goodies” one gets from doing dungeons. I’m not motivated by that shit. But the epiphany I just had included this: WoW is all about the gear. It always has been and apparently always will be. At the end of the day, there is nothing else. Gear is the WoW paradigm, and while we can sometimes work around it, I guess in Legion the designers decided it was time we remembered it with a vengeance. And in WoW, gear equals dungeons equals gear equals more dungeons.

For a while I actually thought Blizzard had decided that it was possible to make a game where some folks could do dungeons and raids (and get the benefits of those) and those who didn’t want to could do other stuff (and not get the same benefits but that was ok too). That’s basically what Warlords of Draenor was. Apparently this was not popular, and Legion decided to go waaaay over to the other extreme.

Way to go, Blizzard. It feels like we’re back in 2006, and I’m going elsewhere until 2018.

I’m updating EQ2 as I type.**

*Thanks to Kanter for pointing that out. I appreciate the effort and I know you get it. But it’s still one too many. 🙂

** Yes of course I’m knee-jerking and rage-quitting. I’ll be back.  I just won’t expect to play Legion.

On courtesy, phones and the generation gap in tabletop roleplaying

So I came across this on Twitter. But first, a quick caveat.

This is a rant. It is not a rant aimed at @GMRaphi in particular, even though I’m using his Tweet as a springboard for the rant. I’m taking issue with what he’s saying — and okay, with his generation (or what I assume to be his generation) — but not with who he is. Because a) that would be a dick move and b) I don’t know the man but he looks like a decent chap.

And an extra caveat a few days later. Yes, it’s all generalisations, that’s what a rant is. Do I think entirely in generalisations? Do I assume what I’m saying applies to each and every possible situation? Of course not. Do me the courtesy of understanding that and understanding that a rant is, by its very nature, a complaint against a general order of things. Yeesh.


I couldn’t find a way to respond in 140 characters so here we go.

  1. It’s impolite, at least to basically anyone of my generation or older. I’m 47 — which, by the way, doesn’t make me decrepit, doesn’t make me incapable of understanding the internet (we invented it, assholes), and doesn’t make me stupid — and where/when I come from, using your phone at the dinner table or while you’re out with your friends is just plain rude. It’s the same at the gaming table — we’re gathered to be here together, not to sit here individually checking our Twitter feed. If you want to sit in your social media bubble, do it somewhere else.
  2. It’s beyond self-centered. Just because my character isn’t in the limelight and it’s somebody else’s turn to act, I get to switch out and do something else? Seriously? Why exactly are you getting together with 3-6 other people to play a game if all you give a shit about is your character’s rolls and shining moments? If I were older and more curmudgeonly I’d say this is a perfect example of how entitled and self-centered the millennial generation is, but instead I’ll just glower and tell them to get off my lawn.
  3. To me, it’s a sign that you can’t really be bothered to be there, and/or that you’d rather be tweeting about what you’re doing than actually taking part in what you’re doing. Which, I know, is life these days — we don’t go to events to enjoy the event, we go to events so that we can take selfies of ourselves attending the event so that… I dunno. I don’t get that, which is probably another sign of my lack of hipness with the times. (Which my use of the word ‘hip’ just confirmed.)

I also know that responding in any way to what could just as easily have been a troll on some random forum is largely pointless. I don’t know the chap in question, he might just want to be provocative (because I’ve never done that, nope), and I just happened to come across some Twitter friends’ responses. If it’s a troll, responding is useless. If it’s a generation thing, responding is equally useless because we have the cellphone-grafted generation that prefers to read a thing on social media than to be at the thing and we have the pre-cellphone generation that still understands what it’s like to attend a thing and not just for the sake of filming it on your iPhone — and never the twain shall meet.

It’s ironic. Not so long ago, I was of the generation of young assholes that were destroying all that was good and kind about the world and the reason we couldn’t have nice things. Now I’m the one complaining about the young whippersnappers.

Except in this case, I’m right. If you’re going to attend a tabletop game (or a virtual tabletop game for that matter), ask if it’s ok to use your phone or tablet or whatever. Some GMs won’t have a problem with it. I sure as hell will. And if it’s not OK, then don’t pout, don’t sulk (no matter how good you millennials are at the whole passive aggressive thing), just fucking put your fucking phone away and BE AT THE THING like a normal human being. Show some interest in someone else other than as a link to your own coolness.

In short: don’t be a dick.



Looking one’s best when dead

OK, so I’ll admit the new Demon Hunters do look pretty cool.


And as far as leaving a stylish corpse goes, I can guarantee you that I’m really good at leaving a corpse, at any rate. The pre-Legion demon invasions are in full swing and I’ve spent a (relatively) quiet afternoon going from one to another and getting some new gear.

And dying. Lots and lots of dying. The fact that I’m not really bonded with my character yet, that she’s melee, and that I’m throwing myself at the bad guys like the stubborn guy in that Kids in the Hall sketch might have something to do with it, not to mention the fact that some of those demons do a lot of damage.

If you want serious leveling coverage of this event, go read Stargrace’s blog. Me, I’m just a tourist.

Finally and utterly a propos nothing, I have almost 700 screenshots in my WoW screenshot folder. It takes forever to load. I should probably archive some of the older ones or something.

That’s it. Move along. Go! Shoo!

Sensory Integration whaaa? #MentalHealth

I originally posted this on Facebook and thought that was more than enough exposure, but I have a feeling that reaching out to others (and emulating the courage I see in folks who do it routinely) about this mental health thing might be helpful for me, in some weird ‘I don’t quite get it but it seems to have some Zen-like benefit in there somewhere’ kind of way.

And as someone who made it FORTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS without a diagnosis (OK, maybe 42, I remember being 7 and having issues with sounds and textures, lights and emotions), if posting this sparks any kind of recognition in even one other person, it’ll be worth it. Because as the smart young lady over at Eating Off Plastic says,

I’m almost certain nobody that has this condition actually enjoys it


True dat.

Everyone has some kind of sensory sensitivity, or certainly everyone I’ve ever met. But please don’t confuse that with Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder, which I somewhat prefer). Crank ALL your senses, including the emotional ones, up to 13, 24/7/365 (yes, even while asleep) x 4 decades and then let’s talk.

And I’m high-functioning. God only knows what it’s like to have this and not be. On the other hand, my very high-functioningnessabilityation is probably to blame for my rather elevated* levels of anxiety, but oh well. We’re dealing with that.

So here’s the text of the Facebook post, shared a bit more widely than the close family and friends I target over there. Now please excuse me while I go hide under a rock and pretend I didn’t do this.

Long post about my mental health incoming.

Today I had my last permitted consultation with the amazing and wonderful Cognitive Behavioral Health lady at the 377th Medical Group in ABQ. An hour later my referral to UNM Neuropsychology (which had been languishing on the desk of my newly-promoted-to-Captain Primary Care Manager [aka Doctor for Euros]) came through, so that will be the next step.

I am still rather uncomfortable discussing all this, even at the remove offered by Facebook, but wonderful CBH lady says it’s fine if I want to share and not unhealthy, so here we are, just to keep my friends and some family updated.

It seems my sensory integration issues may be at the root of pretty much everything that’s eating this Gilberta Grape, though it took 4 decades to get a diagnosis. Even the vertigo. Certainly the anxiety, and possibly the self-esteem issues (which are way worse than most people know because, as usual, ‘high-functioning’. Am starting to really hate that term).

And I may be further on the autism spectrum than I thought, given that I never expected to be on it at all, even on the cool, look-at-all-these-smart-people Asperger’s end of it. As a single example, turns out my issues with feelings (having them, expressing them, dealing with them, doing anything other than pretending they’re not there and can be intellectualised into something else) are not uncommon on that spectrum.

It’s all very, very weird. The diagnosis fits like a shoe you never realised you were wearing, or maybe like a shoe you’ve spent 40 years pretending you weren’t wearing. So it makes sense, but it’s weird. I’m not quite sure how to deal with it. I can’t just ignore it because it won’t go away and it’s affecting my life so negatively right now that I must choose to do something about it.

The next step (see how the shoe metaphor works for me here) is UNM’s neuropsychology department, assuming they accept my case, and Occupational Therapy for what I’ve got. Whatever that really is. It’s difficult to get information as someone diagnosed in adulthood because most of it is aimed at kids, but I’m digging out resources here and there.

And I’m not alone out there. Which is helpful, in a distant kind of way. Here’s one really fun blog that is more baldly honest about *ulp* feelings than I could be in a million years. [See Eating Off Plastic link above. Come on, scroll back. You can do it.]

* I originally wrote ‘insane levels’ but then I figured that wasn’t terribly sensitive. Because I care about that – actually no, I don’t, but I do care about not calling myself crazy. BTDT, it’s not healthy.

Not-RPG-A-Day: No tabletop RPG for you!

I just told the weekly gaming group I joined less than a year ago that I won’t be able to take part for a while, and I’m pretty conflicted about it.

On the one hand I have a very, very hard time being around people these days, and the weekly ‘be with people’ commitment has been gnawing away at my peace and making me really anxious for, oh, months now. On the other hand, I don’t get out much as it is so those tabletop sessions were probably as good for my sanity as they were bad for my anxiety.

In brief, I’ve been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, which sounds like a complete bullshit thing but which totally fits basically all the symptoms and issues I’ve had for most of my life. So sensory input overwhelms me, and that extends to people and — these days — pretty much any situation where I have to be outside my comfort zone, which is currently limited to the bounds of my house (and the local diner. Thank God for the local diner and our weekly breakfast out). Why it’s become so much worse in the last year is a mystery (though trying* to solve my anxiety with SSRIs might have something to do with), but to be honest I don’t particularly care why — I just want to cope. And I’m not, or not very well, at the moment. I’ve also been diagnosed with borderline Asperger’s but I haven’t even looked at that yet. I’m not sure what to make of it (that can’t be me!) and I’ve got enough to deal with on the SPD front.

Apparently nobody reads posts unless they have pictures, so here's a picture.
Apparently nobody reads posts unless they have pictures, so here’s a picture.

I’m waiting on a neuropsychology referral and in the meantime my mental health specialist has (literally and loudly) given me permission to do whatever feels best in terms of being with/around people or not, mostly because I keep telling myself that to be ‘normal’ I should do what other ‘normal’ people do, which includes being around other people even when it’s the last thing I want.

It’s been hard enough maintaining the twice-monthly virtual gaming group, where we get together via the magic of the intertubes and don’t have to actually be in the same room, but the whole for realz tabletop gaming just isn’t possible for me at the moment. And, given how much fun I’ve had with it over the years, that makes me sad. Bah. “Sad” is an understatement for someone who has defined herself as a roleplayer and a gamer for the best part of 30 years.

It’s lovely to be able to game ‘remotely’ with other people and it works much better than I ever expected it to, but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to being around a table with real drinks, real food, real dice… and people. I just can’t take that much ‘people’ right now. Even when the people in question are super fun and have been super welcoming, people who were strangers a year ago but are now friends and could someday be good friends. If only I could stand being in the same room with them.

I’m posting this mainly to clear my head. It’s done, I’ve pulled out of the group for the time being, and while the decision makes me sad I also know it was the right one, at least for now.

I’m also posting this as a coward’s way to let my lifelong, decade-long and more recent friends (many of whom are gaming friends) know what’s been up with me this last year, why I’ve kept everyone at arm’s length (ok, for more than this last year) and why I’ve been even weirder than usual.

As for the SPD thing, I have no details to offer. I’ve done a bit of my own research but it’s primarily diagnosed in children and there’s very little documentation for adults. Apparently I’m very high-functioning, or was, which I guess is why it went unseen for so long.** I’m also extremely good at hiding anything that’s wrong with me, which in this case probably wasn’t as good a survival mechanism as I thought. We’ll see what the neuropsychology people say when I finally get my referral.


* Unsuccessfully and with a number of unpleasant side-effects, one of which might be the increased severity of my issues.

** And ironically my family was always extremely tolerant of my ‘quirks’, which included extreme introversion and a liking for much quieter, calmer surroundings than most other kids. I was always lauded for how well I played by myself and how I read grown-up books even before my teens. My grandad was the same and everyone just pointed out how similar we were, and that was basically it.

Demon Hunters ready, get set, chaaaarge!

Almost exactly a year ago I was terrifically underwhelmed by the whole Demon Hunter and Legion thing. Mostly because I was taking part in Blaugust and needed something to write about, but partly because it does seem as though we’re rehashing some material these last couple of Warcraft expansions. I say potato, you say deepening the fantastic amounts of (utterly incomprehensible to me) WoW lore.

legion patch

So now here they are, the Demon Hunters, or will be when the servers come back up in a few hours, hot on the heels of the biggest class changes I remember ever seeing in World of Warcraft. Am I excited? I’m not sure.

Ever since I started playing tabletop RPGs my favourite classes have been the pet classes, either the ones with pets (rangers) or the ones who can be pets (druids), so it’s no surprise that my absolute fave classes in WoW are Hunter (since beta) and druid (I came late to that party but I love me some feralz). And hunter seems to have taken a bit of a beating on the pet side for the latest mega-patch.

All the classes have had their spells and skills reduced by what seems like 50%, and I’m actually OK with that after having played it a few days, because 3 full hotbars is just too much for an elderly brain to remember. (EQ2, are you listening?) I started a handful of newbie characters on Dalaran server just to see what it’s like from scratch, and while the plethora of skills has been rationalised a little, the feel for most of them is still the same. (Almost. What most of them feel like at the moment is “I’ve really only got 3 skills I keep mashing,” but I’m not sure that’s very different from “I’ve got 19 skills at level 10 but only 3 of them are worth mashing.”) The notable exception seems to be my Elemental shaman but don’t take my word on that — my ‘main’ shammy is only in her 60s and the new one is level 20, so I don’t speak from a position of great experience.

But back to the hunter, and specifically the Beast Master hunter. It feels very different now, it’s more like the (Summon-lots-of-temporary)Beast(s)-Master hunter and not the one-woman-and-her-dog/cat/bear/spider it used to be. I miss that. But perhaps I’m just resistant to change. Apparently the Marksmanship and Survival talent specs got huge boosts (which IMO they needed because they both bored the pants off me play-wise in the last few years), so good for them. I guess I can be a MM or Surv hunter for a few years, until the next expansion mega-patch changes everything again.

What does all this have to do with Demon Hunters, you ask? Nothing, really. I was going to write about them but I’ve done ZERO research on them and I’ve been far more interested in whether my favourite chars have been chopped off at the knees. But they’ll be in early access in a few hours so we’ll see then.

Will I make one? OF COURSE I’LL MAKE ONE. You clearly don’t know me at all.

RPG a Day – or, don’t hold your breath

I have been hit by work. It’s a lucrative condition but not one that’s conducive to blogging, as though I needed any excuses not to blog in the last few years.

Eh, it’s not just that. My mental health issues mean I have no desire to communicate with people and no faith that I’d have anything interesting to say even if I wanted to. (For those who have asked: I’m fine – really. It’s being handled. But ‘being handled’ still means I don’t want to interact with people at the moment and I’m giving myself permission to be that way.)

If you want more RPG A Day stuff, go read someone else’s blog instead. Like this one. Or this one. Or any of the lovely people who are doing Blaugust this year.

RPG A Day #1 – How do you roll?


Whoops, almost forgot about this and now it’s almost too late. So, in 10 words or less:

I love the tactile feel of dice but software is easier.

(You can’t beat dice. Actually I have some dice from TishToshTesh that you could use to beat someone with, because they’re heavy Steampunk metal thingies that threaten to break my glass desk every time I use them. I love them.)

(But still. When you’re playing with an online group, as I do a lot these days, rolling dice on the desk in front of you when nobody else is in the same room doesn’t cut it. So yeah. Dem bones when I can, dem 1s and 0s when I must.)