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.