Category Archives: Fun!

Bloggy XMAS 12: Connecting with friends through games

Blogg XMasThis post is part of “Bloggy Xmas” – an event where bloggers who signed up were assigned one day to provide a blog post about “Gaming and Community” and write about it.

At first, I didn’t know what I would want to write about, but then it hit me: I actually already had a draft sitting in my endless pile of unfinished drafts that fits the topic. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I simply forgot it was there.

Before Guild Wars 2 got released, we had wondered whether we wanted to create our own guild or join another one. We had also considered whether to make a German guild (seeing how we are Germans and us German-speaking folks often get their own set of servers to play on) or an international one. We ended up joining Dragon Season instead. With the exception of Lord of the Rings Online, we had previously always been in German guilds in MMOs. My game clients had usually been set to “English” (if that was the original language the game was made in), but within the game, I had played on German servers with German people. It’s not just because it’s easier to communicate if you’re all native speakers. It’s also because you do share a common culture and Germany itself isn’t such a big country. If you get to know people that you like, meeting them in real life isn’t usually too difficult to do.

So, being in the international (with mostly EU folks, as GW2 does separate their player base like that) guild that Dragon Season is, meeting people from the guild is much more difficult to do. We were lucky to meet a few fellow guildies at gamescom last year, but that’s about it. Still, you want to do more than “just” playing the game as you’re doing that every day anyway. Talking on voice chat is one thing and always fun. But what we do in the guild is to have a guild party at least once a year.

A few weeks ago, we had our summer party in Guild Wars 2… yes, it was just a few weeks ago, as we actually did it when it was autumn already or close to autumn. :p As is always the case with such things, a few people could not be there, but all in all, I would say it was a success as usual. I did not have as much time preparing as I would have liked, though.

We always celebrate by doing a few games and handing out prizes to the winners. Unfortunately, games always restrict you in what you can or can’t do compared to the real world. For example, I would love to put the prizes in wrapping paper to have a few extra seconds of the winner wondering what it is. But the games themselves are quite limited as well, as everybody who has ever tried to organize some or participated can probably imagine.

Costume Brawl

GW2 Guild Party 2014After having done three of those parties, I have found that costume brawl is actually a fun way to battle for a prize. There may not be much skill involved, but it’s fun to watch, at least. Some costume brawl items come with extra skills, though, especially the ones bought on the gem store. Also, some people may not have costume brawl items to participate (if that is the case, here is our only slightly old guide to get them without spending gems). So, I put down the cauldron that I can summon with the broom from the witch’s outfit (bought in the gem store). I love the cauldron, because everybody who just passes by can click on it, gets transformed and can participate in costume brawl. There are five possible transformations and this makes it a little more even.

Our rules for costume brawl: You become a costume brawl champion if you have scored 25 points. That champion then has to run to a predetermined spot to be declared the winner in our game. I chose to do it that way, because with the POWs and BAMs, it’s sometimes hard to spot who became a champion first. That way, they not only need to become a champion, they also need to realize they did and get their character over to the spot. Much easier for us to judge who is the winner. It may be a problem in larger groups or if you put the predetermined spot far away from the group, because some characters walk faster than others with special skills or items. So far, this hasn’t been an issue for us.

Find the NPC

This year, we did not play “Find bookahnerk” as we usually do. Bookahnerk could not actively participate in the guild party due to some exams he had had to study for. In the past, he went to a certain spot or a certain NPC in the town we were having our party in (Lion’s Arch and Hoelbrak were used for this). I gave out one hint (e.g., when we had our party in Lion’s Arch: “The sour loser…“) and the participants had to find the NPC and /bow at it. This is done, so we know for sure they aren’t just passing the NPC without knowing it’s the one they are looking for. Bookahnerk standing near the NPC also helps the participants because they know they are in the right spot – and it helps me to see who is there first without having to go there myself. Of course, nobody is allowed to party with bookahnerk or they can see his position on the map. It is also advised to turn off your commander’s tag if you’ve got it. ;) The downside of this game is that as long as the participants are looking for the NPC, communication is limited. You can use map chat or guild chat – but the latter only works if every participant is also in your guild and the first one means taking over communication space with people who may not be interested in what you are doing.

Trivia game

The classic game we always play is the easiest of them all: A trivia quiz. I think of questions I can ask, usually related to Guild Wars 2 in some way. Some are funny, some are lore-related, some belong to the “real life part” of the game – e.g. “When did Guild Wars 2 get released?”. The tricky part here is how to gather the answers. In-game mail gets restricted after sending two mails. So, if you have more than two questions at a time, you need to pause for quite a while in between. If you tell people to just use “say”, it’s less fun for everybody as one person shouts the right answer while the others may still be trying to guess. Another issue is typing speed. Some people can just type faster than others and I don’t really like having to exclude people from winning because they type slower than others. Latency may be an issue as well. So, no replying in “say”. I chose whispers during our last party and for me at least, it worked quite well. I sometimes missed a whisper, but altogether, it did not cause any issues: I have one extra chat tab only for whispers, so scrolling up, I could see all messages. Because of the aforementioned reasons, I also don’t take the first correct reply for the winner. Instead, I say that the first four or five correct replies will get thrown into the pool and the winner will be randomly selected. I know people have not been happy about this in the past, but I like to think it’s more inclusive and gives more players a chance at winning something.

Guess the NPC

GW2 Guild Party 2014This quiz also works quite nicely with NPCs: Instead of having players run to an NPC that I hinted at, they only need to tell me the NPC’s name. This also doesn’t limit you to NPC standing in the same map (so in order to avoid issues with people getting onto the same map again when they return). Last time, I changed that game a bit and gave out hints with decreasing difficulty. I started with some very vague hint: “We do not know that NPC’s hair colour.” – The next hint limited the possible answers a bit more: “The NPC is a human.” – For this game, I let players write in “/say” who they think I’m talking about. One guess per player per hint. So, when a new hint is given, everybody can write one more guess. This makes it a bit easier, as everybody can see the guesses that were already said and they know which NPC is not the correct one.

The problems with games is most of all the awkward limitation Guild Wars 2 poses on its players when it comes to communication. 2 mails only within a short amount of time and then you’re blocked from sending more mail for what seems like an eternity. Another issue I’ve ran into in the past was that I was muted from the public chats, because I had been too spammy, apparently. Of course, organizing and hosting the party and its games means that I write a lot in /say and getting muted quite frankly sucks. The alternative would be using a voice chat, but this would exclude those who cannot use voice chat for whatever reason and the random guests who were just passing by and decided to stop and play with us. Additionally, this is about building a community within a game.

In closing…

Playing games together would be much easier and probably also more fun if we could all just sit together in a room and do so. However, being in an international guild with players from lots of different countries, this is simply not an option. The second best is trying to work with what a game is giving you in order to play together and have fun. Guild Wars 2 could probably have a bit more to help with that, but it does have enough to make it a worthwhile and fun evening.

I think having guild parties like this does help to feel just a little bit closer together, even if we’re actually really far apart from each other. It’s by far not the same as being in the same room and playing a game like spin-the-bottle or whatever, you can still do something fun together. For me, these are always important events as they also remind me of why I have chosen this particular guild and why I’m still in there and help keep it running.

Away to game…

After some careful consideration – no, actually, it was an easy and fast decision. Something that’s still been on my mind for the last two or three days, though. I am going to quit NaBloPoMo. I like projects like these and I like setting myself goals and “rules” like these. However, it just doesn’t make any sense this year. Last year, I didn’t have a fulltime job yet. I did not do as much exercise as I currently do (actually, it was just more efficient but because of other health issues, I can’t do any “real” sports like jogging) and – okay, I still cooked as much and regularly as I do now. The end result, though, is that I spent most of my free time blogging so far. But it just doesn’t make any sense to blog about gaming when you can’t actually play any games. How am I supposed to write about the Silverwastes when I’ve hardly had time to explore them?

GW2_combat_silverwastesHow am I supposed to write down about my experiences with the Rift expansion when Meffanda is still only level 61?

I also have a few posts in my head that would take me longer than one evening to write them down or prepare them. But having to make one blog post every day means I can’t write on the longer blog posts while not having any content for shorter blog posts either.

So, I will stop with NaBloPoMo now. You can find me either there (*points Tyria*) or there (*points to Telaria*).

Rift_combat screen

It’s still been fun to write more often again! So I will keep up the increased activity, but maybe a middle ground would be the better choice. ;)

NaBloPoMo 2014

NaBloPoMo_NovemberJust as I did last year, I have joined November’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again. Just as last year, I would not have the time for National Novel Writing Month, so I’m going to substitute it again with this initiative.

I had wanted to make this “announcement post” yesterday, but then the Trove developers published their unlimited access key and I figured that it was more important to spread the word than to tell my readers about NaBloPoMo. I find it quite funny that last year, I did the same. I had published a different post on November 1 and only talked about NaBloPoMo on November 2. ;) I sense a pattern there! You may also go back to November 2013 and see what the last post was… you may or may not expect something similar for the end of November this year, depending on how busy we’ll be by then in real life.

I still remember how last year, I didn’t think I could make a blog post every day without using some lame short posts with no real content, but in the end, everything had turned out fine.

Of course, November is also going to be the busiest month at work with several projects and a research meeting that I am organizing with colleagues. All exciting stuff that, unfortunately, keeps me from gaming and blogging sometimes. ;) We will see how it’s going to turn out.

You can expect me to write about the usual stuff. I have been playing Rift and Trove a lot more than Guild Wars 2 recently which is why the focus has turned towards those two games here in the blog as well. However, I haven’t left Guild Wars 2 and I don’t intend to do so! I am also looking forward to the return of the living story and while I do know that the game will very likely not get the features that I want in an MMO (like housing – I’ve got Rift and Trove for that urge now :p), I am expecting some cool fights because for me, the combat system is still where Guild Wars 2 shines the most. Being able to move while fighting, having to use dodge and all that. I also miss fights like the marionette one (yes, despite its flaws it was by far my favourite… especially when the people on the lanes did manage to fight together and coordinate).

 

World of Warcraft: 10 years – 10 questions

wow_healerI stumbled upon a post by the ALT:ernative chat blog asking former and current World of Warcraft players 10 questions. This post is from August, so I was worried I’d be much too late, but in another post, the deadline is stated as… tomorrow. Perfect timing here. :p

As you, my readers, may know, I do not play World of Warcraft currently. But it is the very first MMO that I’ve ever played, so there’s a big chunk of nostalgia connected to it! World of Warcraft is having its 10 year anniversary and I’ve got to say that it aged very well. Anyway, on with the questions.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

Because of my boyfriend. What a stereotypical boring answer, right? ;) But there it is. We had been together close to a year when he’d let me test the game on his account. He had offered before, but I had always declined, because despite liking computer games, I thought that an MMO was too big of a time investment. Well, I tested on Sunday evening. Monday afternoon, he called to tell me my account key. And the rest… is history. ;) We spent a few years playing that game, left for Warhammer Online, came back afterwards, left again, came back, and today, we only play on the free starter editions when we get the urge to have a look at the game again.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

zwerge_wowI actually don’t remember. I tried out all the classes that were available for gnomes. I wondered if priest was a class I would enjoy, but gnomes couldn’t be priests back then. So, my dwarf priest, Grifola (see on the left), was born. The anecdote I always give about that character is how in Westfall (low level area, I hadn’t been playing for long), I got a random message from a random stranger asking me to please reroll the character because “female dwarves are ugly and fat and I don’t want to see them in the game”. -.-

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

World of Warcraft UndeadsI got the game in December 2005. It had released here in Europe in February 2005. So, at that point, my boyfriend, his sister, his cousin and a friend had settled down on a German PvP server, Alliance faction. I did not want to play alone, so I joined them. They also had Horde alts on a different German PvP server where I had created my undead warlock (seen in the picture) to play with them. But the main faction was Alliance and it stayed that way for our most active gaming time, even though I always liked Horde more. The people I wanted to play with just always ended up playing Alliance instead.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

There are a lot. For one, the above mentioned anecdote of a player asking me to reroll my female dwarf because he thought they’re fat and ugly. Thankfully, healers were in high demand and I had decided to not level as shadow (no dual-specs at that point), so I could jump into dungeons as a healer whenever a group needed one which meant that I met a lot of friendly and nice players who were just too happy to see my little healing dwarf. ;)

WoW_Undead Poets Society 2Another one was the weekend we spent at bookahnerk’s cousin’s place where we played our Horde characters. We basically did 4 man runs through all of Scarlet Crusade until everybody had all the good items that dropped from there. Thankfully, the dungeon had four wings. But it still got a tiny bit repetitive after a while. Still, with all four of us being in the same room, we had a lot of fun!

Last but not least (and there are definitely more memorable moments!), that one time in Serpentshrine Caverns where we killed Morogrim Tidewalker on our first try: I had been part of a raid that raided once a week. Most of the others did that raid with their alts and I was one of the few ones doing the raids with their main (draenei frost mage at that point). It was past the usual raid time, so quite a lot had had to leave and our raid leaders decided we should give that boss a try. We got a few others in, so there were several people there that had never done that boss before. Me included. We were usually a chaotic bunch of people, mostly because those who were there with their alts thought they didn’t need to pay attention that much during the encounters and concentration was always an issue. The raid leaders had told us: Yeah, we’re going to wipe here. But let’s just give it a try, okay? – That one single try ended with us killing the boss and 0 wipes, as nobody had made a mistake throughout the entire boss fight. I had never heard Teamspeak being this quiet. Until that moment when the boss died, of course!

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

Fishing chair - perfect for every kind of weather

Fishing chair – perfect for every kind of weather

I can’t say what my favourite aspect is. When I first got into the game, I loved the soundtrack and how big the world seemed to be. I loved fishing and crafting and earning gold without doing any combat. How many addons and mods the game has and how much you actually can mod (mostly speaking about the UI here, not so much about damage meters and the like). There are so many things I still love and miss. Archaeology became one of my favourite things to do. I also greatly enjoyed the pet battles when I had briefly returned a few months ago (right before Rift went free to play and lured me back in). So, I would say archaeology and no, it hasn’t always been the case as that was added later on.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

An area as in a certain place in the world? Ironforge. With the music turned on. I often turn off the soundtrack, because it’s distracting or I’m watching a stream while playing. But entering Ironforge without having the music turned on just doesn’t feel right. This place is also connected to the “most nostalgia” seeing how the first city I ever entered was Ironforge with my dwarf.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

charactercreation_wowI cannot check that because I’m not currently subscribed to the game. I did start in December 2005. As mentioned above, I left when Warhammer Online was released, but returned two or three more times following that initial departure. My /played time in all MMOs is always very high, though. I tend to be online in MMOs while doing other stuff (right now, my cleric in Rift is idling next to the mailbox, for example).

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on where I am in the game, what I’m doing next to gaming (e.g. watching a stream or talking to bookahnerk) and of course, the kind of quest. I am not interested in reading a vague and boring explanation on why I need to kill 10 murlocs. If the quest is related to a bigger storyline, for example, I usually read the quest texts.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Not quitting the Karazhan raid with my healing druid earlier when the raid leader had started to be rude. (Hey look! I am capable of writing short answers… ^^)

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

WoW dragon smileNot all that many, actually. The effects to life outside of gaming came afterwards, especially with Guild Wars 2 where I went and met people outside of the game. On the other hand, I did meet other WoW players in gaming communities and friendships were formed. It was my first MMO, though, and the happenings in my life and new friends I have found were because I have this very blog here and I wouldn’t have started this blog without Warhammer Online and I probably wouldn’t have played that game if I hadn’t played WoW first. ;) Oh, one thing, though: My name! I did not go by “Paeroka” before World of Warcraft. That name is a name I had used in a (still unfinished) story I had started writing and when I started World of Warcraft, I needed names for my characters. I had given the name “Paeroka” to my undead warlock and later started using her name for myself (technically, that is “outside gaming”, because I use it on Twitter, etc. where I don’t only talk about games ^^).

Weapon Master…

We have successfully moved and most of our stuff is in the new place. I have also been ill for the last three weeks – yes, my timing is impeccable. However, now that most things have settled, it is time to call for an end of our summer break and you’ll see me blogging here more often again. :)

Some time ago, I wrote about my favourite “profession” which is actually not a profession per se, but a weapon and a specific playstyle (especially in Guild Wars 2): The one-handed sword.

I’m very close to 10.000 achievement points and had a look at the various categories to see where I could get some more points when I found the weapon master tab. As I said in that post, I really love the sword, but I had no idea how much I love it, especially considering that I actually do have five professions at level 80 already!

GW2_Weapon Master

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen_onions and baconUpdate April 10: I forgot to edit this post to say that this is, of course, just an April Fool’s Joke, but to be honest, I did not expect anybody to fall for it anyway. ;) I just remembered that last year, I had posted a nice recipe on April 1 already and wanted to continue with this tradition. The recipe is real, though! :oD

We had to wait 1,5 years for  ArenaNet to announce quite a lot of the  features coming on April 15 that the community has been asking for. Is it a coincidence that all of them are ready for release at the same date? I don’t think so. Instead, I am absolutely certain that they postponed all of them to shove that stupid Living Story down our throats. You may have noticed it, but the content here in this blog has become about so many other games recently and we hardly ever write about Guild Wars 2 anymore. It’s just not a game that I enjoy playing anymore. I’m sorry, but here it is. The truth is out. The decision was made even easier for me, since our guild has recently decided to move back to Guild Wars 1.

But what about our tiny little blog here? I had previously tried to add some more flavour to this blog by adding a baking recipe. The truth is, while I can bake cakes and muffins, I don’t do it often nor am I really that good. But I can cook! So, from now on, I will concentrate on other things that I enjoy more. For example, my new gaming addiction: Sim games. I’ve tried out a pig sim which was fun enough. Then I tried out a railroad sim and the last game I have gotten addicted to is a cooking sim which even lets you add your very own recipes! This is perfect and lets me combine my two hobbies! I will try out cooking recipes in this sim and if my sim people like it, I will present the recipes here. So don’t worry, I will still be writing about games here, but it will only be about the cooking sim from now on!

The Flammkuchen recipe will make the start. That’s tarte flambée in English – although I’d prefer calling it “flame cake” instead. ;)

Dough
250 gr flour
125 ml water
2 spoons of oil (vegetable oil preferably, nothing like olive oil as the taste is too strong)
a bit of salt
Sauce
100 gr sour cream
100 gr crème fraîche
salt and pepper
Toppings (can vary)
1 big onion (sliced in rings)
200 gr bacon (pieces)

Pre-heat the oven (250°C). Get the flour, add the salt and the oil and then carefully add the water. Try adding less than the amount mentioned above first. The resulting dough should not be sticky! Depending on your kind of flour, you may need less or more than the water mentioned above. Also, taste if there’s enough salt in your dough. It shouldn’t be too much, but the dough shouldn’t be „tasteless“ either. Then roll out the dough very thinly on baking parchment. It’s important that it’s thin. This is not a pizza! ;) You may find that the dough is actually enough for about 1,5 baking trays. That depends on how thin you actually manage to make it. Now mix the sour cream and the crème fraîche. Add as much salt and pepper as you like. Coat the dough with it. Add the onions and the bacon on top. Put everything in the oven (~ 7 minutes, 250°C). The amount of time it needs depends on your oven, so stay there and watch it! Take it out if it’s getting too brown.

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheeseThe toppings can vary according to your taste. Get creative here! What I mentioned in the list above is the Alsacian tarte flambée, but really, you can add just about anything you like. Use e.g., tomatoes, mozzarella, rocket, mushrooms, leek, brie,… – even olives and feta work quite well! Just never overdo it with the cheese. As I said above, this isn’t a pizza. In the picture below, you see a variation made with rocket and goat cream cheese. An important tip: Keep the rocket off the dough until it is finished baking! I had a brainless moment once and had put the rocket into the oven. ;) Only put the goat cream cheese on it and when it’s finished baking and out of the oven, add the rocket. We also experimented a bit with the sauce. The Flammkuchen on the picture below was made with sour cream and low fat curd cheese which makes the whole Flammkuchen a lot lighter and thus, allows for things like goat cheese without feeling bad about all the calories in it. ;) It does taste a bit differently than the original recipe, but it was still really good!

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheese 2

That’s it for today. Just remember: From now on, this blog will feature cooking recipes and my reviews of first person shooters. :D