Blaugust Day 21 – Anti-Motivation and Other Things

Well. I guess instead of moaning about it on Twitter as I’ve been doing for the last half-hour, I might as well moan about my lack of motivation here — especially since my lack of motivation includes the lack of motivation to write a blog post, so complaining about my lack of motivation with my waffly skills should use up at least 200 words, by which time I’ll be 40% there. (There being the Blaugust 10-sentence, 2-paragraph, to-my-mind 500-words-ish rule of content requirement.)

Twitter has been no help at all — well, except for TAGN, who alone responded to my plea for help — and maybe MrC, who totally enabled my displacement activity.

gotnotmotivation

Apparently some people actually have lives and jobs and things to do on a cool and breezy Friday morning other than post a week’s worth of Tweets in an hour. Or provide a desperate blogger with post ideas. Or, better yet, write them for her.

OMG there it is! I should have found myself a guest blogger! That would have been such a cool thing to do for Blaugust, too! Curses.

In the spirit of carpe diem, does anyone want to do a guest post on an incredibly high-profile, Jon Stewart reads this, up-to-the-second, content-stuffed bloggy mountain of infinite delights? If so, apply to the Huffington Post. If you’d rather an obscure cavern of confusion, apply here.

You’ll get acclaim, pride, self-confidence and the absolute guarantee of no free T-Shirt ever. And you’ll be the first guest poster here. (And quite possibly the last.) (Despite the tone, this is a serious offer.)

[Okay, 238 words, only 262 to go. I can do this!!]

TAGN inspires, I perspire

Under the Drunder You Go

Drunder Prison-World may be the most awesome thing ever… It’s basically EQ2’s answer to Lord of the Flies or Escape from New York* with 8,000 Snake Plissken wannabes. You can read the whole post for yourselves, but the basic idea is that the biggest asshats in EQ2 will find their entire account banished to an exile server from which they may never escape, as determined by Customer Service GMs. People can also opt for a one-time, no-refund, one-way transfer to Drunder if they think they’re hard enough. People also have to have a paid subscription account to EQ2 for this, which is just kind of weird. Because the rest of the scheme is totally not weird.

Aside from the obvious issue of let’s-just-make-a-new-account-they’ll-never-know-it’s-me-bwahaha, which I assume they’ve thought of (no of course I haven’t read the entire thread, what am I, made of time?), and the inevitable whining that will ensue when people transfer over for a lark and are forcibly made to understand the meaning of the term “one-way only”, does this have a chance of working at all? My guess would be asshat players will either find a new account to be an asshat on, or will find a new game to be an asshat on; of course if they pick the latter it’s no longer the EQ2 staff’s bailiwick so problem solved.

At any rate it’s a new idea in an industry that always needs new ideas, and it could lead to some interesting server-ruleset variations if this experiment works. And if it removes the worst offenders that’s a good thing. Not that I have any idea who the worst offenders are or what they have to do to earn that dubious distinction. Even in EQ2, which is one game where I follow global channels, I don’t follow the global-global channel because it’s invariably full of over-sharers, eejits, or crashing bores who think they aren’t.

My favourite MMO mount

Hrm. All of them. Okay, probably this one — as the mount you can’t actually ride except for 10 seconds in a specific zone with a one-hour cooldown. (Can you say L-A-M-E?)

Shinri

I’m terribly boring when it comes to mounts. I like to get the weird and wonderful ones but when it comes to actually getting around I’m 100% utilitarian. They need to move without too much jerk, wobble or bounce (yes, the mounts), they need to not fill my entire screen (Pandaclysm dragon-mounts FTW), and they need to match my outfits — by which I usually mean my pets. So here’s my most common mount in WoW, which probably counts as my favourite.

winterspringers

A crafting profession memory!

That’s easy. All of them. I’m a crafter in games, it’s what I am as much as what I do, and any adventuring that happens (including levelling, in most games) is an incidental by-product. Most of my EQ2 characters are max-level crafters — or were an expansion or 2 ago — but haven’t made it out of the teens or twenties for adventuring. I had no less than three accounts for SWG back in the one-account/one-character days so that I could experience all the crafting professions. I pick games based on their crafting options — and yes, I’ve been disappointed many, many times. Which doesn’t mean I don’t play games where the crafting sucks (WoW is an obvious example), but it does feel sort of like playing with half a game. And so we segue neatly into…

Why is there so much Cheese in WoW?

Because cheese is awesome. Because cheese is better than cake and better than pie, as I have stated before (see the no free T-shirt link above if you really want linkage). Because a world without cheese might as well be a world without air. My glorious leader said so:

How do you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?

Yes, I’m French. What of it? You wanna take this to Drunder? EDIT — WordPress is either Francophile or Anti-French. It ate my DeGaulle caption. But since it was about cheese, maybe WordPress just really likes cheese. Thanks for spotting that TAGN!

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* I totally made that reference before I’d read TAGN’s post about it. GMTA or something.

Quest design – ur doin' it rong

Here’s an example of how not to modify a quest that’s already in the game.

In WoW, there’s a daily cooking skill quest, one instance of which requires you to find 4 sacks of sugar for the poor orphans of the city. Up until about 6 weeks ago, these sugar sacks spawned in about 5 or 6 buildings around town, in a single location — it was a bit of a wait to get them all, sometimes, but mostly people would queue good-naturedly and just wait their turn. (You could also buy a sack or two at a time from certain vendors, though respawn is fairly slow. This hasn’t changed.)

A few weeks back, this was changed. The sugar sacks still spawn in the same building locations, but now they spawn in up to five different spots in each building, and they don’t spawn any faster than they used to. Which means that now everyone is running around like a loon  trying to be the lucky bastard who catches one of the 1-5 spawn locations in a given building. Any sense of good nature is gone as people snarl at and elbow each other out of the way — it’s like Sale Day at Bergdorfs, only with more F-bombs. Camping and queueing is more a case of spitting and clawing.

So the designers basically did one of two things: either they did a very well-meaning but insanely stupid thing, or they’re downright sadistic and someone thought it would be fun (for them, anyway) to make this irritating daily quest even more frustrating and time-consuming. If the former, then I’d have thought they were paid to be smarter than that, unless this got shoved off onto some noob designer; if the latter then thanks, and if I ever meet you, I will not be buying you a beer. Count on it.

En Garde!

No, not the play-by-mail game of the 80s and 90s (and if you know what I’m talking about, many props!). Rather, Syp’s thrown down the gauntlet to EQ2 players to give him 5 ways in which EQ2 is better than WoW. Since both games launched at almost the same time 5 years ago, it’s a good challenge.

I’m not generally a fan of numbered lists but this one does interest me, not in any spirit of WoW-bashing but more to examine why I’ve spent more time in EQ2 than in any other game since Asheron’s Call, my first MMO. We originally played it for a year in 2005-2006, then left for greener pastures. I don’t recall wanting to leave the game as such, I think it was more the lure of greener, shinier things “over there” — including various betas like Vanguard. I returned to EQ2 in April this year and have been playing it consistently ever since. The only game that’s lured me away for any length of time has been Dragon Age, and even that is on hold until I decide I’m willing to drag Kaitou’s bored backside through the end of the Fade section.

For the benefit of those new to this blog, you need to know the following about my playstyle to understand how I judge games: I am a crafter who adventures as a hobby; if it’s shiny, it must be picked up, no matter the danger; if it’s harvestable, ditto. I avoid raid-type stuff at all costs, primarily because I’m not motivated by the item-treadmill reward such raids offer, but also because I find them (much like other people view crafting) to be a rather tedious waste of time better spent doing something else. The only exceptions to my item-disinterest include anything that can be used to decorate a house or anything silly that can be used to decorate a player.

Snow White and the Shard of Love (I'm the dwarf on the far right)

So, the list, per Ysh.

1. Crafting. While the process itself is as repetitive and ultimately tedious (for many) as in any other MMO, the “sphere” of crafting, to intentionally borrow from Vanguard, really is independent from adventuring in EQ2. You don’t need to be a level 50 adventurer in order to be a level anything crafter, which was something that turned me off WoW both times I’ve played it. Crafting is the core of my gameplay, not the side-dish. There are many other things that fit into this category, like the plethora of crafter quests that are constantly being added to, that make EQ2 one of the few games that genuinely understand and cater to the crafting playerbase — not the adventuring playerbase that also happens to craft when they can’t get a group.

2. Guild Halls. Quite a few games have guild halls now, but not many of them offer the communal amenities EQ2’s guilds & halls can offer to their guild-based communities. Aside from being very grand buildings with tons of decoration options, guild halls can offer bankers, brokers (think auction house), crafting stations, adventuring/crafting writ givers, and a ton of other stuff that’s normally found in the outside world. The downside is that guild halls have become the social hubs of the game, emptying out city areas that were already underpopulated due to the weird partitioned way in which the two primary capital cities were originally designed. On the other hand, however, most guild halls are at least partly open to the public which means they can become genuine alternative meeting places.

3. Housing. Most other EQ2 players will mention this, I suspect, because it’s one of the most glaring lacks in WoW. If you like housing and you’re playing WoW, you’re SOL, to pile on the TLAs. Aside from the fact that it’s at least offered in EQ2, it also comes in eleventy-zillion different flavours — each city has its own distinct housing look and several different room-counts and layouts to choose from. In Freeport and Qeynos houses you can actually change the texture of walls, floors and ceilings. Furniture can be dropped freeform and moved as you please — there’s no x-axis rotation (as there is now in SWG), but you can resize, move stuff up/down, and rotate on at least one axis, all of which is a lot better than simply being given hooks to hang things on, as in LOTRO. (As an aside, that LOTRO system is one Turbine used in Asheron’s Call housing back in 2001 — time for a change, guys!)

4. Mentoring. Unlike many games, WoW still doesn’t have a system to allow players of disparate levels to play together. That said, since WoW’s focus is now entirely on getting people to max level as fast as possible, it would be silly for them to include any such system, but that speaks to a fundamental difference between the two. EQ2’s levelling used to be really slow, compared to WoW, even back in the vanilla days; the curve has been flattened quite a bit in the intervening five years, but EQ2’s motto is not, and hopefully never will be, “The Game Begins at 80.” This always jarred me in WoW, was one of the things (along with … well, #1-3 above) that turned me off the game, and is I think one of the major contributors to the bad side of raid-based gaming — you know, elitist jerks and gear snobs. (Who are starting to come out of the woodwork in EQ2 as it starts to focus more and more on raiding. Oh, EQ2, step off this path before you become Brown-WoW!) Now in EQ2 you can mentor yourself down for no reason other than that you want to be a lower level again for a while, which reopens up a ton of previously greyed-out content — and trust me, there’s a LOT of content in EQ2.

5. It’s not a Theme Park. It’s not entirely a sandbox either, but one of the things many people who try EQ2 often end up saying is “I didn’t know what to do or where to start!” This is a frequent sandbox-type issue, and actually EQ2 has become a little friendlier to new players over the years, but it certainly doesn’t put you on rails and send you out along the Ride To 80, even today. For the type of player I am this is a definite plus rather than a weakness, because once you get past that head-spinning stage you end up faced with tons of possibilities whenever you log on. It doesn’t always come down to the only choice being adventuring — and I know that’s not the only choice in WoW, but since so much of everything is tied to one’s adventuring level and since the game is by design slanted towards chomping through content, then adventuring and chomping through content sort of end up being most people’s default choice. Fighting stuff is very rarely my activity of choice in any game, and in EQ2 there’s still always more to do than I have time to do it in — which is exactly what I want from an MMO.

I could mention guilds as levellable entities, collections, appearance slots (so that you don’t have to look quite as ridiculous as you do in WoW), art style (it’s on the brown extreme but it’s learning to be more chromatic)… but I won’t, since we only get 5 slots. Go add your own to the comments here or to Syp’s.

Other bloggers to have joined this meme-in-the-making include Stropp, whom I may have had a hand in luring to EQ2 in the first place.  /halo. See also this Elder Game article kindly linked to by one of Syp’s commenters, since it’s an oldish post; good read!

Last but not least, Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating it today in the US.

EQ2 Crafting, Part IV: Tips and Tricks

This is likely to be the penultimate installment in the series, with the last article covering harvesting. Previous articles:

Part I — Generalities

Part II — Getting ready to Make Stuff

Part III — The Crafting Process

Today’s article is a catch-all for what I may have forgotten to mention in previous articles, and also for what others mentioned in their comments, many of which were extremely useful. Thanks & blanket credit are due to all those who weighed in. Continue reading

EQ2 – 560 levels of leet

So, despite being burdened by parental visitation, I did manage to get my last character on Account 1 to 80 crafting the other day — 80 is currently max level in EQ2, though that’s only going to last till next Spring or whenever the next expansion comes out.

Before anyone accuses me of achieverism, I should point out that all the characters on that account were created in 2005, and were in fact somewhere around level 30-50 crafting when we stopped playing in 2006 (a couple were even higher). So 7 level 80 characters in 4 years is probably about right for my slackerish ass.

It was sort of a milestone, but I never felt compelled to get there other than to be able to make all the recipes I could get access to — or rather all the recipes I could get access to without a long-ass, chew-your-own-arm-off faction grind. I’ll eventually get most of them their epic thingy and their Master Crafter status, more to be useful to various friends and guilds than for the achievement itself.

And if you’re asking what next — well, there are 9 crafter classes in EQ2 (not counting the red-headed tinkering and transmuting step-children), and I’ve only got 7 chars on the old account, so I’m slowly working on the last two on the second account.

What keeps sort of boggling my mind is how I’ll get asked “But how can you bear to do that? It’s CRAFTING!? Clearly you don’t mind ultimate tedium and relentless grinding!” — By the same people who will stop at nothing to get all their adventuring characters maxed. Where, exactly, is the difference?

Sad fact is, if you get it you get it. If you don’t, then no amount of explaining on my part will convince you that the way I play is fun for me. And I’d better stop before this turns into another playstyle rant.

eloise80