Max level in Rift… again

Even though I am an altoholic, my dwarf cleric was my one and only max. level character in Rift – until Thursday. My warrior, who had been my first level 60 back when that was the maximum level, had been put away collecting dust while I was playing my cleric instead.

Since free players (as in those players who do not pay a monthly sub) do not get rested experience anymore, I decided to use some XP boosters I had gotten some time ago. In general, I am not that impatient when it comes to levelling my characters, but as I have mentioned one or two times here already, I despise the new expansion continent, the Plane of Water. I still wanted to get her to level 65, though, because at some point after the expansion, they introduced another new region (for level 65 players), the Planetouched Wilds and that’s what I want to play in!

Rift Paeroka warrior hits level 65

Rift and Guild Wars 2 may be very different games, but when it comes to choosing a main character, those two games are just the same for me. Warrior or mesmer in Guild Wars 2 and warrior or cleric in Rift. I just cannot decide! The main problem that Rift has is that there is this thing called “reputation grind” and the issue of gearing a character. Yes, the gear treadmill is alive and well in Rift and it’s annoying as can be! My fresh level 65 character tried to do the story quest chain that introduces her to the Planetouched Wilds and I had to get bookahnerk’s help because despite running around with a solo-build (self-healing capabilities) and doing fine with single enemies, I died over and over again as soon as several enemies appeared. Then again, have a look at the comparison picture. My warrior has blue level 65 items and the purple one is the current T3 raid item. I strongly assume those who raid and have those items have much less trouble than me!

Rift Item comparison T3 raid and level 65 blue items

Thankfully, when bookahnerk and I played together, we had no problems whatsoever and could enjoy the storyline. :) Still, Rift just shows its “old age” or rather, that it is an old-school MMO in many areas and at the same time, I love Guild Wars 2 even more for not being like that! Yes, I am trying to get my ascended gear together and it costs a huge amount of gold (for me, at least). But the difference between my current gear – mostly exotic items  – and ascended ones really isn’t that huge. And exotic items are easy to get as long as you’ve got a bit of spare gold. No reputation grind, no having to do dailies or weeklies or anything.

Anyway, this post was actually not meant to complain about the gear treadmill – well, a little bit. But it was mostly meant to celebrate my warrior’s level 65 and me being able to explore the Planetouched Wilds! The parts of it that I have seen so far when I did a quest related to Rift’s latest festival got me very excited. I don’t only want to see the area, though, I also want to play through it and read all about the lore. As I understood it, it’s the homeland of the Bahmi, one of Rift’s playable races, which got lost. Well, lost or deliberately detached from the rest of the world or something like that. It was found again now and reconnected… Rift’s lore is a bit weird. But there you go: the Planetouched Wilds… and I am ready to explore them, finally!

Rift Planetouched Wilds

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016 in June!

nbimediumNot too long ago, I saw a short conversation on Twitter about how NBI would most likely not be taking place in 2016. Not because nobody wanted to do it per se, but most of all because it requires time and dedication to get this initiative off its ground. That dreaded real life again making us unable to do the fun things we would really love to do. ;)

However, there is a happy ending: We are going to have another round of Newbie Blogger Initiative this year! Doone from XP Chronicles announced the NBI 2016 starting in June on May 12th, actually. This totally went over my head here, but I’m so happy to see it happen either way! I really love this initiative and I love that it makes people come together and support others, because blogging can be an awesome and fun hobby!

The person running it isn’t alone, though. As with all the recent years, a lot of us “veteran bloggers” are joining, lending our helping hands and answering questions to those of you who want to start blogging, who recently did start or even those who want to get back into blogging. While most of us, if not all, blog about games, it is not a requirement for you to do so as well. If you’d rather blog about cooking recipes or your daily life, then do so! We will be here encouraging you to blog either way.

 Tyrannodorkus has a great post introducing you to the most basic questions like “what is a blog?” and links to where you can get in touch with all of us and with each other, because I do hope that we’ll be able to greet a lot of new bloggers this NBI! Just so that you will not miss the most important links, I am going to put them in here, too:

NBI forums
NBI twitter
NBI Discord

Others have joined Doone by now with announcing the NBI and welcome prospective new bloggers: Eldaeriel from StarShadow, jewel from Healing The Masses, Aywren – and probably more that I forgot now or haven’t seen yet (sorry if that’s the case!).

On a personal note: I was looking through my blog to find the posts from the previous two years only to see that I have tried to support NBI since 2012 already making this the fifth year it’s running. Back in 2012, this blog here had only been around for one year, so I felt a bit newbie-ish myself!

So, if you ever thought about starting your own blog, now is the perfect time! Get started and join us. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions! :)

Edit: I am going to list all announcement posts that I find here. The reason is pretty simple: Those who announce the NBI are also very likely open to listen to your questions or give advice if you need it! So go check out their blogs and don’t be shy!

Doone from XP Chronicles
Tyrannodorkus
Eldaeriel from StarShadow
jewel from Healing The Masses

Aywren
Iogro Merrybelly from A Hobbit’s Journey
Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Original vs. expansion “maps”

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnWhen an MMO originally launches, I often find myself exploring the world and simply enjoying the stories that can be found. When you play a hobbit in Lord of the Rings Online, you start off with things like delivering a cake to a neighbour. There is this peaceful village that has no idea about the threat in the outside world, so naturally, their biggest concern is this cake (and well, they are hobbits, after all). But even in other regions, you get to explore the culture of the people living there, you get to read about their lives and all that. One could argue that it is a bit boring at times, but I personally enjoy this part of an MMO. I mean, it is a virtual world, so why not have a look at the everyday life of its citizens?

But with expansions, this seems to be gone quite often. In Rift, for example, I don’t find myself exploring. Instead, I find myself eye-rolling and longing for the previous worlds again. Of course, Rift’s “Nightmare Tide” expansion is an incredibly bad example as I find it to be by far the worst area/region I ever played in any MMO. That whole “you’re in a dream/nightmare“-stuff is just too over the top for me. But that is my point, after all. Everything is focused on the expansion’s storyline and yes, you even do get to experience the way the citizens live in that world. But for me, it is too much and I want to get back to the origins in the “original world”. It often feels slower and wider than what you get with an expansion.

Rift_Dreams

Could it simply be me? That the “magic” of exploring a new (game) world is just gone and I can’t appreciate these things anymore like I did when I first entered the game? On the other hand, I wonder if it really is related to the scope of the story. How much time does it take to create such an MMO? How much time does a company have to let their artists and writers create the world and how much time do they get to create the expansion maps? Or maybe it’s just the typical “we start slow and then the ‘main storyline’ gets into the focus more and more”. The developers may feel the need to bring out bigger and better stories and with that, the little calm areas that I care so much about just get pushed off, because they’re not important anymore.

I would say that this is at least partly what bothers me about Guild Wars 2. I get it, the threat of the Elder Dragons gets worse every day and it would not make sense to have our characters stroll through an area and bring a cake to my asura’s grandmother. There is a world to save, after all! Still, that doesn’t mean that I have to like the change.

Looking at the different MMOs I have played – at least those who did get an expansion – I would say that I liked World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade as it gave a whole new continent and two new races with two new starting areas. The new maps had different storylines they followed while the big bad guy, Illidan, had his own storyline. Not everything was focused on this big bad guy. Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Rift’s Nightmare Tide both focus on a big storyline and the maps seem to exist only to deliver the story (while yes, also sometimes telling a side story). Thankfully, both games have a feature that downlevels you (or lets you downlevel in Rift’s case as it is optional there), so I can actually go back and enjoy the lower level zones whenever I want to! Still, I wonder what those two games would need to do to give me new high level maps that I enjoy.

I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place. Sometimes they will make sense, sometimes they won’t.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (Mai 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWhen reading through the Steam community hub of Funatics’s game “Valhalla Hills“, I saw a post by a player saying that Funatics was recently acquired by InnoGames. The post is in German as well as most news postings I found about this happening. However, an English post that I found specifies that Funatics had to close as a company and the team was hired by InnoGames.

Either way, in case you don’t know or don’t remember, Funatics is the company who made the Cultures series. The Cultures games are still among my favourite games I ever played. They were also part of the developing teams around the Settlers games.

But let’s take a look at this acquisition. Funatics is a company that focussed mostly on building/simulation games. InnoGames is a company that makes browser-based and mobile games. I did take a look, but while those browser-based building games usually look nice and all that, but for me, at least those games are hardly ever appealing. Mostly because there is often a cash shop included which lets you speed up your game which is running in “real time” (“wait 15 minutes to harvest X” and so on). Maybe their mobile games are different and I am not doing them enough justice now, but I don’t play on mobile devices. When I am outside of the house, I am working or doing other real life-things and I made a decision at some point to not put a game on my mobile device, because I want to enjoy the outside world. :p

Cultures 8th Wonder of the World

So, while I am of course very happy for each and every team member who does not find themselves without a job, I am sad to know that the company that brought me the Cultures games and who were my “entry back into gaming”, so to say (after playing on the C64 as a kid and on the gameboy as a teenager), is no more. And that the kind of games they will be making from now on will probably be rather far away from what I like to play.

On a positive note: The publisher of Valhalla Hills said that they will try to finish the second DLC for the game, as the special edition you could buy included the first two DLCs free of charge and so far, they have only released one. I got Valhalla Hills and ended up not liking it at all, unfortunately. There’s just nothing of that Cultures charm left. So for me, at least, it doesn’t matter whether they will ever release another DLC or not, but I know I am not “everybody”, so I am still happy to see that they will try to get it out. :)

Something more positive: Civilization VI was announced! This certainly came as a surprise and everything I have read about the game so far sounds great. Especially the part about city districts and being able to see when somebody builds a world wonder. I don’t know yet if I will want the game for the fill price, as there will also be lots more DLCs and I am still not swimming in money. So I might wait for the price to drop a bit, at least.

Now on to the negative part about Civ VI – there always is something negative, right? The graphics. I have seen so many complaints about the graphics so far and to be honest, this was also my first reaction towards them. I guess enough people complained that the art director spoke up and explained why they changed the look of the game.

I think the graphics will grow on me. In fact, I don’t usually mind the graphics much at all, but this style just reminds me of “cheap browser/mobile” games which also makes me think of a “dumbed down” and easy game, so people can play it easily on a tablet etc. But that’s not what Civilization is! So seeing those graphics and having those associations in mind is a bad thing. On the other hand, from all that I have seen so far, it is exactly not what is going to happen to the franchise! There are many things coming that sound amazing and I am looking forward to seeing what else they will reveal. So yes, I am actually quite certain that once I am playing the game, I will not mind those graphics at all. In fact, it may even be easier to see what is going on on the map. Still, those trees… no. Just no. The rest I will get used to, but those trees are awful.

Atlas Reactor Solo game with Rask

Atlas Reactor recently switched from “free to play” to “buy to play”. The main concern people had was that the player base will be too small, as people will not want to blindly buy a game without trying it first. Now Trion Worlds announced their “recruit a friend” programme. If you get referred by somebody, you can try the game for free for three days. If the person you refer buys the game, you get some rewards. In case you do want to give it a try, here is my referral link. I don’t really care about the rewards, but hey, if you want to get three days of a free trial and end up liking the game, I also would not say “no” to those rewards. :p But please note: The game is free to try this weekend anyway! Additionally, the game is still in beta, so everything is subject to change as usual in betas.

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.

Impressions from Foostival Germany 2016

NamensschilderAs some of you may know, I am part of the organizing team of the German Foostival. It took place yesterday, on May 7. In the previous two years, we had a location in Hamburg which is in Northern Germany. As amazing as that city is (seriously, there is no better city in Germany than Hamburg if you ask me), it’s just not easy to reach especially for residents in the southern parts. So this year, we switched and had Foostival take place at the esports bar Meltdown in Cologne.

The location was very fitting, obviously. :)

The only downside of this place was that it was dark inside while Germany is currently experiencing a very unusual early summer with temperatures up to 25 °C instead of the usual 15 °C. If we had known that in advance, we could have looked for a beer garden instead. :p  But seriously, it was a very really nice location with good drinks and the pizza place on the other side of the street even brought some of the ordered pizzas in!

What I liked more in comparison to the location in Hamburg was the absence of PCs – well, mostly. The Meltdown actually has PCs and consoles that you can play on, but those were ignored for the most part and did not play a role in our organization of the event (they were used after Foostival was over, though. Gamers will be gamers, after all!). We were also all in one room sitting around a couple of tables whereas in Hamburg, the group had been split in two rooms at times. This way, we could all be together and mingling was a lot easier. It being a bar, we could also enjoy lots of beverages including drinks like a “Headshot” or a “Stimpack”. Not that I think we need alcohol to have fun, but it was still very convenient to have drinks around. :p

So, without PCs and all of us being in one room, it was also much easier to get in contact with the others and as such, I met a lot of new people and had a lot of interesting conversations, not only about Guild Wars 2, but also about other games and “The Dark Eye” (a German roleplaying game similar to “Dungeons & Dragons”).

Once the event was over, the bar opened to the general public, but not all of us left. I really enjoyed just sitting there together with the others who had stayed behind and talking. If you ask me, we wouldn’t even need any programme, quizzes or games. I could just spend that whole day talking and getting to know the others! And as such, I hope to see them all again soon – maybe at Gamescom, maybe at the Foostival 2017! :)

Please excuse the crappy quality of the pictures. I took them with my mobile phone, but I know there will be much better pictures soon and I will of course link you to the picture gallery then!

As always: A huge Thank You to everybody who organized the Foostival with me and to all the helping hands! Foostival would not be possible without us all working together the way we do. :)