Make mine a double

bourbon1Let’s have a nice large helping of blogger drama to start the working week. No, I shouldn’t keep stirring the pot. But it’s early, I’ve not had a lot of coffee yet, and I’m going to stick my own very small oar in the “he said, she said” mix. Tobold’s oar is the size of the freakin’ Titanic, so he wins by default.

Tobold is not pleased to be mentioned on Twitter. By this I am assuming he’s referring to the bantering that went on a few days ago regarding several posts on his blog, and by the resulting LfGCV posts.

I’m sure the incoming traffic the various posts generated was fine, as long as we don’t, you know, have the temerity to actually say anything.

And apparently those of us who got his Gevlon joke and appreciated his puzzlement with the fact that people comment far more on the fluff than they do on our opus magnae are just nasty trolls who would never have made it past the comment moderation over there.

I appreciate not liking to find out that third-hand people have written about one. However, Tobold obviously doesn’t mind the incoming links people send him — like the three just in this one post. So what does he mind? Not having any facetious mention cleared with him beforehand?

Newsflash: if I hated Tobold’s stuff and thought he wasn’t worth reading, I would. not. link. to. him. That shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

So why are my panties now in a bunch? Because a) it was harmless fun, b) if you hear rumours it pays to check them out before going off on one, c) I dislike being told off from on high in that passive-aggressive fashion so common to bloggers (and which I’m using now, but at least I’m linking), and d) the whole martyr things gets a little fucking old. Really. We’re on your bloody side, Tobold. Or were.

I get that Tobold is a much bigger blogger than I could ever be, and I get that Tobold is an internet celebrity, and I guess that means I have to get that he’s far too important to check facts or ever visit anyone else’s blog. That does not give him the right to get mean about random folks because he’s pissed with blogging in general.

Sure, I should have kept quiet. But why? Apparently I’m an evil troll and this place is the only place I can express myself in an unmoderated fashion. And you know what? Apart from the evil troll bit, it’s true. This is MY place. If I want to make a joke, I can. I am not a cruel person and I don’t make fun of people intentionally when I don’t think they’ll like it. The stupidity of this is that all we did was agree with Tobold and drive traffic his way.

I should have enemies like that. Seriously.

The Post With No Name*

near_dark

(Or: Move over EQ2 crafting, it’s bloodsucking time!)

So, if Spinks is right in suspecting the imminent announcement by CCP of something regarding the much-anticipated (by me, at least!) World of Darkness MMO, then there’s one thing I want to know.

If we’re talking only leeches and not garou, what clan would you play?

Assuming they remain as they currently are in the WoD setting, here’s a refresher, with my certainly-very-biased, decade out of touch commentary. {Pause while Ysh goes off in search of the current WoD clan list. Ysh hasn’t played WoD since the mid-90s. Ysh discovers, thanks to the WoD Wiki, that things have changed in her absence. What’s this? No Malkavians? No Toreador? That’s it, I’m storming out of here!}

  • Daeva – wannabe Toreadors. Oh, don’t bother denying it, you know it’s true. (They now contain what-was-Clan T as a bloodline, in fact, so the apple didn’t have far to climb back into the tree. Or something.)
  • Gangrel – I still have the Gangrel T-Shirt I bought at Euro GenCon in 1991. Nuff said. It is so holy it’d probably drive vamps away by now, and has the consistency of tissue paper, but it’s my favourite T-shirt. That said, I’m not biased or anything. For the uninitiated (who might still think this is a serious poll), Gangrel are outdoorsy types ranging from Tarzan of the Apes to Greenpeace types to the Unabomber and including Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. How can you resist?
  • Mekhet — dunno much about these but from a glance at the wiki, they seem to be lurkers in shadow without the Nosferatu uglies. Could be interesting, provided we don’t end up with 18,674 undead Aragorns. Oh, God help us.
  • Nosferatu — leper, outcast, unclean! If you haven’t seen the Murnau classic, go watch it now! Sure, the special effects are dated, but this is what it’s all about baby. While you’re at it, you should probably also watch Martin (irritating but still a classic), Innocent Blood, and Near Dark (that’s a bunch of gangrel right there).**
  • Ventrue — the ones who think they rule the rest of em. Best Ventrue quote of my tabletop gaming days: “They may be backstabbing bastards, but they’re our backstabbing bastards!” Maybe you had to be there.

If I only get to pick one, it’ll have to be a Gangrel. I just can’t help myself. What about you?

* I forgot to give the post a title. This is an edit. I wasn’t here. You didn’t see me. Move along now.

** Or you could just check out this rather excellent list of the top 70 sucky movies of all time for inspiration. John Carpenter and Mr Coppola weren’t the only people to make vampire movies, ya know? (Thank god.)

EQ2 Crafting, Part I: Generalities

Just about any crafting guide in any game is likely to become longer than the tl;dr crowd can stand, and this one is no exception, even with my skill for brevity and conciseitude (©Stylishcorpse, 2009). I’m therefore going to break this one down into parts, and since I’m adding stuff in as I go along, I’m not sure how many parts it will be. At least two, since I guess a crafting guide really should include information on how to actually craft — especially in EQ2, since it’s not a push-button-and-wait kind of crafting.

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Go on go on go on go on go on

mrsdoyle

Am rueing the day I thought I should do an EQ2 crafting post. The thing will be a monster and I’m not certain of its overall value. However, I did a poll AND promised no free T-shirt (and if somehow I implied actual free t-shirtage, rest assured that I intend to pull a Cryptic), so there’s no getting out of it.

It’s still in draft form. So for today, and in honour of Tobold and weird commenters everywhere, I declare this to be Random Comment Day.

/throws glove

I realise that merely challenging people to comment on a totally fluff post is probably going to net me zero comments, for you bloggers and blog readers are a fickle and tarty bunch. Maybe I should insult someone first, to spark a debate?

But wait! Inspiration strikes.

I don’t really like cake.

Pie is … meh.

But cheese… cheese is the food of the gods. From now on, any incentivising pretend-goodies on this site will involve mouldy milk products and rennet. Pie and cake are banished!

This post was brought to you by the League for Greater Comment Volume. Never mind the quality — feel the width!

Other members of the League for Greater Comment Volume

Ardua — Commentapalooza: the Tobolding

Ferrel — Epic Slant

Rivs — A High Latency Life. I wanted to go there, but I lagged out.

Syp — who needs no introduction, but does need a Bio Break.

Frank over at Overly Positive might be being sarcastic, but I think he means every word. He does acknowledge the power of cheese though, so it’s all good.

/gab kicks it old school and Shakespearean, with a side of Jewish uncle.

Multiplaying is spoiling for a fight. Gummi bears indeed. They even rank below PIE.

Incoming Pull think they missed something. I could say yes, but it’s really just a handful silly people deciding to be silly on a silly day. And it’s probably a model. (And hey, guys, what happened to Name/URL logins? Or WordPress logins? Your comments hated me and wouldn’t let me speak. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!)

What’s the most fun about this bit of aimless Thursday silliness is that without intending to, I’ve come across another dozen interesting new blogs. Are you guys trying to kill me through Google reader?! I hate you! Le Rocquefort will get you all!

Grinding to Valhalla*

(*with special thanks to Randolph Carter’s perfectly-named project!)

Most games are repetitive by their very nature. You never go up the ladders and down the snakes in Monopoly, for instance, or try to make words in Ludo. I’ve played dozens of games over the years and it doesn’t bother me that they’re always the same — after all, when I sit down to play Monopoly, I know what to expect and that’s part of the fun.

MMOs are repetitive too. How you kill something doesn’t change all that much whether you’re level 1 or 100, and of course the fact of killing (or “defeating”) stuff to advance is common to most. You can’t suddenly go to catching butterflies as a method of advancement.

Most of us are fine with repetition. We do a lot of it in real life, and we do a lot of it in games. Sometimes it’s a little tedious, but most of the time we do it without thinking, or even with pleasure.

So when does repetition become the dreaded grind?

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She’ll never be a berserker

Horns-dilemma, meet Ysh. Ysh, horns. Or, as the lolcats would say: this is dilema. I are on it.

I have one character slot left on my second EQ2 account, and it’s eating away at me like sulfuric acid — or maybe like the sea on the shore. It’s not too painful, and I’ve been resisting, but that empty space where a character should be will eventually wear me down. So yes, dilemma — two, actually.

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Epic crafter is epic

There’s something the EQ2 team have understood that very few other games have: exploring, crafting, lore-chasing and other non-combat activities are playstyles in their own right. Most other games seem to assume there’s only one playstyle: end-game focused, raid-focused, achiever playstyle, and that anything else is just an amusing but temporary side-trek.

Now, before you tell me that combat is what these games are all about and all these games will ever be about — STFU. That’s a failure of imagination and not a failure of the games themselves. Look at oh, I dunno, Hello Kitty Online. I bet that’s not all about fighting. And if it is, I guess I’ll drink my own cup of STFU and raise ya a keg of Puzzle Pirates. Games are contests of some kind, sure, even if they’re only with oneself or against the game itself. Still, contest does not have to equal conflict does not have to equal combat; starting with the same letter is no logical reason either.

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Not just me

What were we all thinking a year ago, to start blogs like this?

I blame Warhammer Online and I blame Casualties of War, the guild, not necessarily in that order. CoW has a large proportion of bloggers, was started by bloggers, and showed us such a glitzy, ritzy lifestyle that most of us couldn’t wait to start being bloggers ourselves!

Okay, so maybe I’m lying about the glitzy ritzy lifestyle. That or someone’s lying to me and I haven’t received my pass to the Ultra Special People’s Lounge yet. (That sounds oddly Communist. I’m not going if I have to share my coffee!)

Well anyway, another blogbuddy celebrated his first year yesterday and since he does want the glitzy ritzy fame and fortune, he gets a link too. Happy Blogday, Harbinger Zero!

I bet there are more of us out there, too. (If you’re one of them, let me know!) This time last year the Warhammer Online beta was ramping up, people were jumping up and down and foaming at the mouth with hype, hope and antici………………… pation, and what would be one of the best meta-game communities ever was already shaping up nicely despite the fact that most of us weren’t even playing (ahem, testing) the game yet.

Warhammer Online may not have been my cup of MMO Joe (I just don’t have that much PvP in me), and it may have some fairly serious flaws, but it’s a great attempt at a great game made by some seriously creative and dedicated people who clearly give a rat’s ass (one of 10) about their community, and who encourage said community to grow and thrive. I wish more games companies were as proactive about that kind of thing.

I want MMOs in general to do well, because the more of them we have, the easier it will be to challenge the 800-lb gorilla design and revenue model, but Warhammer has a special place in my heart for all the things it did right and despite all the things it could have done better.

Happy birthday bloggers, and happy almost-soon-release-delay-headstart Warhammer Online.

beatles-birthday

This was the year that was

one-year-oldAccording to der kompuder, my first post here was on August 13th, 2008. Now, I’d half intended to do some sort of rambling yet entertaining retrospective-thingy post, but as usual, life decided to intervene.

1. Stupid allergies ganged up on me last night and I didn’t get much sleep.

2. Ergo: I have eyes like poached eggs, a nose like the straw you’d try to suck a turnip through, and a mood you’d be best not to poke at until I am good and sloshy with coffee-coffee goodness. And we’re a long way from goodness just yet. Hit me, Joe.

Besides, I have a strong suspicion that nobody gives a shit about “Oh look, I’ve been here this long!” posts except the person doing them.

Nonetheless it seems to be some kind of tradition, so I’ll creak and groan and bow to it a little.

This past year I have been mostly:

— getting all hyped up about WARhammer Online
— matching hype to reality
— discovering that PvPvPvPvP alllll the time just isn’t my bag. Hell, it’s only my bag for about 20% of my gaming time, tops. That said, WAR got me to actually try PvP and, what’s more, to enjoy it. That’s a hell of an achievement. If only the rest of the game had been as sticky
— trying and enjoying Wizard 101, but it wasn’t quite sticky enough either
— going back to WoW, and being briefly wowed; 4 years away can see a lot of changes, but it’s the same beast underneath and it just doesn’t cater to the sort of stuff I like to do in the way I want it to
—  going back to City of Heroes/Villains also after 4+ years away and being very impressed, yet ultimately not compelled to stay there either
— going back to EQ2 and yes, we’d quit back in 2006 so it had only been 3 years, but still. And that’s where I am now.

Making a list like that is interesting. I guess this has been a year of going-back-to, though technically that’s been going on for the last several years. In the last two years we’ve been back to most of the games we’ve played at one time or another; SWG held onto us the longest on this second trip around the block, mostly because it still has great crafting even if the system and its place in the game have been mutilated almost beyond recognition or usefulness.

Nothing felt particularly homey, however. Even SWG, to some extent, felt like a trip down memory lane more than like an actual, ongoing, developing game we were playing; the increasing focus on combat and the insane new levels of grindiness they keep discovering there just aren’t my thing. That and taking an official “well okay, if you use unattended macros we’ll just look the other way” stance means only one thing to me: we’ve designed a game where you HAVE to set your chars to do stuff unattended because a) the gameplay is boring and b) we built a grind so mind-numbing we have to let you walk away from the computer to be able to complete it. That’s some great long term design right there. (I’m sure it wasn’t planned that way, but come on — doesn’t anyone at these companies ever say “Whoa, I think we’re reaching stupid levels of repetitive tedium here. I wouldn’t play this and I don’t think anyone else should have to either”? More to the point, are they ever listened to when they do?)

Anyway, moving on from my trademarked tangential rambling, since I haven’t actually played SWG in the last year, back we went to EQ2.

Most of these re-ups were nostalgic returns to fond memories. Unsurprisingly then, they failed to satisfy for more than a few weeks. So far, however, EQ2 is different in that it feels like we’re actually playing and moving forward and doing/seeing/building stuff that isn’t just a repeat of what we used to do in the good old days. And of course, EQ2 has a robust crafting system with a reasonable crafted-goods economy and a crapton of stuff for crafters to do outside their little crafting dungeons.

It’s been fun, and that dreaded 3-4 month mark has come and mostly gone and I’m still keen on the game. I started by bringing my provisioner up the 10 levels opened up by new expansions, to 80 (crafting, mind you – you can be pretty sure I’m never talking about max adventure level). After that I worked on the carpenter, since she was already in her mid-50s, but at that point I stopped having any sort of plan and just explored all the stuff that had been added since we left.

And so, without particularly feeling like I’ve ground my way tortuously up Sisyphus’s hill, I’ve ended up with 4 level 80 crafters and one within spitting distance at 72 or 73. The others are all in the 50s, but they’ll get there eventually, especially with that great +10% xp bonus you get for having other level 80s on the same account; I’m sure that bonus caps out eventually (+50% or so?) but even so, it’s a nice little… bonus.

After all, I have to do something with all the stuff I harvest. Have harvesting junkie, will craft.

Meanwhile, that beast called Real Life slouches towards wherever it’s slouching to. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, mostly it’s a mix of both. I try not to let it intrude here too much but hey, we’re real people. The whole talking-head-blogger thing just isn’t my bag.

Enough rambling. Here’s to another year, and to all the great people I’ve met along the way. That, to me, has been the real point of writing here.