The Daily Post: Carefree (in MMOs)

WordPress.com has a daily prompt consisting of one word to give you an idea what to blog about. I will definitely not do this daily, but I do take a look at the prompts regularly. Today’s daily prompt word is “Carefree“. When I hear this word, I immediately get some mental images and I thought it’s a good thing to try to find appropriate game screenshots to show you what kinds of images this word triggers.

GW2_Carefree gliding Rata Sum

In reality, I am afraid of heights and would never ever do something as gliding. But in games – and in theory, when I imagine doing something like this – it’s just an amazing feeling. Oh, and the view is great most of the time as well. Well, unless you’re gliding through the Maguuma jungle with all the fights going on. Rata Sum, however, is perfect!

Rift_Carefree on a mountainI seem to have a thing for heights here, apparently. :p But what I really love doing in Rift is just climbing on mountains! The best part is that each continent is one map of its own meaning that I can go from one zone to another with no loading screen. Here I am standing between Moonshade Highlands and Silverwood.

Rift Dimension building project: Tempest Island III

Rift Tempest Island DimensionI just realized that the last time I showed my Tempest Island dimension was almost one year ago.

I did not add too much to the main rooms on the lower floor of the house. The kitchen got a little kitten and some more bottles, mugs and the like. The stove got some control “knobs”. The backside of the stairs, which is supposed to be my storage area, hasn’t gotten anything new. I did add a table to the living-room corner, though. It should be a comfortable and cozy atmosphere where you can sit down and read a book after being outside trying to save the world all day. On the terrace, I changed the position of the chairs, so everybody eating out there can look at the ocean. Because really, if you had a house like that, would you really want to sit there and stare at the wooden walls of the house? I also added more food and more plates. It did take me a long time to get my hands on more plates, actually. They belong to a special kit which can only be bought during a special holiday (I think it was Rift’s anniversary holiday). I don’t think I will ever understand why such basic things such as dinner plates are so rare in this game.

I had thought about adding walls and more rooms upstairs but I wasn’t really sure what to do with those rooms then. I imagine my little dwarf lady living in that house and having friends over regularly. So maybe one guest room would be nice. Other than that, she still has the corner with her bed. Instead of several little rooms, I decided to give this part some functionality. My dwarf is rational enough for that. :p So, you now find target dummies up there which you can actually interact with to test new builds or just practice your skill rotation and/or new macros. There is also a target dummy that you can use to practice healing. I also like using the dummies to see whether my cooldown addon is tracking the correct spells. I also added several weapon racks. Hey, she is a dwarf, after all! You’ve got to live that stereotype to the fullest! And I placed some chairs, a little table, beer mugs etc., so my dwarf can have visitors and friends watch and give her feedback on her fighting skills or practice a bit themselves. Again, functionality paired with comfort. :p

The outside of the house has always scared me and still does scare me. It’s so huge and I still have no idea how to properly fill it! I decided to place a few trees and stones and leave the rest of the island blank. She is slowly expanding her realm, but it will grow over time whenever I get an idea. One big addition is the crafting corner. Again, I decided to combine functionality with looks. ;) Trion added crafting stations for dimensions, so I gathered my platinum and bought some of those. Since you can get into your (or your alts’, your friends’ or your guild mates’) dimension whenever you want, it is very convenient to have something like that.

Rift Bogling NPC
It talks!

I mentioned the kitten above. This is another thing that Trion added at some point: Stationary NPCs. They do move around a little bit with some animations as well, but only in a very limited area/circle. It makes sense, though. We can add basically anything to the dimensions and there would be a ton of clipping issues if the NPCs tried to wander along. The kitten on the beer keg would “walk” in the air if her area of movement would be any bigger than it is. But this way, she actually stays on the keg at all times. I decided to also add a “caretaker” kind of NPC for Meffanda, a little Bogling. He has his own fishing boat now and a little hut right next to the house with the crafting stations. We’ll see if maybe he will also get a little garden to grow some vegetables or something like that. He does look like the kind who would do that and who would enjoy having some vegetables together with the fish he caught.

What I always find fascinating is that you can hardly ever find bathrooms in MMOs. Where are the showers? The toilets? So I took a look at other people’s dimensions – at least those who also added homes like I did. Several had bathtubs added, but I only found two with added toilets. I have a little outhouse in one of my other dimensions, but nothing like that here yet. I added a little building and placed a closed door in front for now. You can only guess that this is supposed to be a toilet, though. I’ll have to think about this building a bit more and how to build the actual toilet. Of course, there are no premade toilets here (as a side note: There is a toilet in Wildstar which you can buy for your housing plot!), so I will have to build one myself combining other items. I do have a shower, though! I am just not too happy with its look yet, but I’ll work on that.

I have less than 500 items placed so far. 1000 is the current maximum, but I can upgrade it to 2000 (with platinum, thankfully! :p). So there is still a lot of room for improvement, quite literally. :)

Gaming without the internet

So on Tuesday while working from home, the internet stopped working. We figured it may be our modem, but the company wanted to test some other things outside first. Needless to say, we spent the rest of the evening without internet. I decided that it’s time to check out which games I can actually play while being offline – and to write a “diary” of my offline gaming time.

Day 1

Of course, all MMOs are out. Doh. I had started playing Van Helsing Final Cut lately and really wanted to continue with it. The problem is that I had never been able to decide for one class, so I played the starting map countless times already. I finally decided to go with the tanking class. The good news first: You can play Final Cut offline! But you do not have access to your cloud-saved games. Well, this is quite logical, of course. The problem is just that I didn’t know the games were saved online only! So the only saved game was of a level 1 character. That is a bit useless. I could have started another character but this would have been the 10th time or so I would have seen the beginning of the game. No thanks.

Anno 2070 is an Ubisoft game. Do I need to say more? Okay maybe… I have it on Steam, but when I wanted to start the game, it told me that it can’t connect to the key server. So no Anno 2070 for me. To be quite honest, I mainly started this game to see if it works offline and not so much because I felt the urge to play it. Still, it would have been nice!

I then decided to play Venetica. I bought the game not too long ago and I thought that without the internet, I could finally concentrate on the story of a roleplaying game. We usually have a stream open or watch a series on Netflix etc., so I never really pay too much attention to the story of a game or at least don’t feel immersed – other than MMOs. The problem is that this game was rather buggy. I am not sure if it’s Windows 10 maybe, but when I exited a map and entered another, I had half of the loading screen on top and only restarting the game fixed it. That’s when I decided to not play this game for now… or until I can figure out if there is anything I can do to make it run better.

For the rest of the evening, I played The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. It is a kind of “hack & slash” game where you control one character and have two NPC companions with you. So in total, there are three characters: A male man, a male dwarf and a female elf. Of course, I forgot all of their names. ;) I chose to control the elf, because she has a staff and can fight in melee. I love staff-wielding melee classes and would really like to see this more often in games, actually. Yes, I was the weird person running around with her female orc warrior and a staff in World of Warcraft who ended up really crushed when her boyfriend told her that while warriors can wield a staff, there are actually none for the warrior to choose later on (it was a white staff and a low level character at that point), because all staves had caster stats on them…

Lord of the Rings War in the North

Anyway, my verdict on The Lord of the Rings: War in the North: It’s not a bad game. It’s not a good game either. The problem with this game for me is that all levels seem to be on rails. In fact, you enter a (small!) map, fight off several waves of orcs and/or goblins, get some story piece (the voice overs are actually really good if you ask me!), get to choose some of the dialogue you want your character to say and then move on to the next map. Oh, and you collect better and stronger equipment pieces, of course. Before transitioning to the next map, you even get a pop-up telling you which character did the most damage, used the most special attacks and so on. You can play the game with other players instead of those companions – if you can go online, that is. But taken together, you have a small-map hack & slash game in Middle Earth with a not very interesting story. At least, not in the beginning. I fail to get excited here.

Day 2

On day number 2, while enjoying my morning coffee before work, I decided to see if I could play Fragmented. This is an online game, but you get the option to play offline or even host your own server. It’s still in Early Access on Steam, so I didn’t really think it would work – but it did! I could continue playing my character on the offline server. This was a very nice positive surprise! But it was early and I had to get to work, so I could not play.

After work, we found out that the company had not done anything yet and we still had to wait for them to actually do their tests. So, no internet that evening either.

Bookahnerk went to meet some friends and I stayed behind (my own decision! I could have joined him, of course, but I preferred being a lazy potato at home). I played some more War in the North, but that did not change my opinion on the game. It was nice, but nothing amazing. I also started up Demonicon (a “The Dark Eye” game), but after reading some Steam reviews (on my mobile phone), I had ruined the fun for me. Lots of reviews mentioned constant crashes and other issues and I just did not want to spend my “precious gaming time” with that game. Maybe another time. For the record: There were 0 crashes during the 30 minutes I did play the game. :p

By the way, Prison Architect also stores the games offline, so I did have a look at my little prison for a bit and checked on my prisoners. They’re all still there. Good girls. :p But as soon as I had started that game, I realized that I could also try Civilization: Beyond Earth. I had played the game during a free test period on Steam and had liked it so much that I bought it not too long afterwards. Unfortunately, I had soon realized that I just did not get the game. I assume it’s not complicated at all, but the last time I had started the game, I remember I tried to google quite a lot. Still, I wanted to give it a try again. Unfortunately, no matter how often I clicked the “play” button, nothing happened. That’s when I decided it’s time for Civilization V again instead.

Diablo 2 got tested at some point as well. It loads. Thankfully, it doesn’t rely on the battle.net-launcher to be online. In fact, it doesn’t need the launcher at all!

Day 3

The company had made their tests and had confirmed that it’s nothing outside into our house and that, in fact, they need to send a technician over. Not on Day 3, though. But at least, we had it scheduled for Day 4.

I immediately settled for Civ V after work. I also spent an hour in the kitchen preparing dinner which I had thought would be fast to prepare. Apparently not. ;) I usually have streams, music or Netflix on in the background when cooking. It was actually not bad not to have any background noises. I should do that more often after work. In case you’re wondering about what I had made for dinner: Chicken marinated in soy sauce with fresh vegetables and saté sauce (not self-made, though. I still had some left that I bought a while ago which only needs to be poured into boiling water).

Civ V Austria

Civ V is great, but I soon wondered: Wouldn’t I want to give Diablo 2 a shot again? I did, oh yes, I did. Don’t get me wrong: I really like Diablo 2 and would love to finish playing it one day (I never did, because once I had discovered it, it didn’t take long and bookahnerk gave me World of Warcraft…). The major downside was that I did not think about “forcing” the game into windowed mode. Tabbing in and out did not always work flawlessly the first time. So I tabbed in and out several times to get back into the game – and then tried not to tab out again afterwards. ;) I also got a slight headache from the graphics. So I only played for a bit before I decided – just one more turn! Back to Civ V until it was time for my bed.

And in case you are wondering: Yes, I know it reads like I have “gaming-ADHD”. I do the same with MMOs, only with less games  to choose from (currently it’s only Wildstar, Guild Wars 2 and Rift). But hey, there are so many choices for me, it’s really hard to decide and one moment I feel like playing a roleplaying game, the next I prefer a turn-based game. It could also be that I just get more and more tired the later the evening gets and turn-based games are easier to play when you’re tired. :p

Day 4

The technician was said to arrive between noon and 4 pm. He arrived exactly at noon! Not one minute later. I was shocked, actually, but very happy about it. Only thirty minutes and a new modem later, our internet was finally back up. Just in time for the weekend – and for me to be able to finish work without having to drive to the office as I actually had some important emails to send which I never want to do on my phone. The screen is too tiny and uncomfortable to send longer emails if you ask me.

Anyway, I started Steam and it updated 10 games. I also logged in to my favourite MMOs and immediately got stuck in Rift again. Summerfest has started. Since there is no summer to speak of here, I guess Rift’s summer will have to do for now. ;)

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Bored-out instead of Burnout?

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnExcuse the bad pun up there, but something got me thinking… In a conversation about GW2’s content drought, somebody wrote (I don’t have a link, so I’ll paraphrase here out of my memory): MMOs aren’t meant to be played exclusively. They are made to play with breaks in between.

But when I started my first MMO, World of Warcraft, I don’t think anybody would have said that. In fact, it was the contrary. When you left for a month or two and then came back, you certainly had to find either a different raid group or try to catch up somehow as the others were ahead of you in the fights and working on the next raid boss or bosses and you had to learn the mechanics of the fight or even worse, they outgeared you. I heard a lot of people say “I would love to try World of Warcraft, but I don’t have that much time to play.” To be honest, I don’t think I heard people say that about Rift or Guild Wars 2 lately.

Saying “I need to take a break from WoW, I’m burned out” was also something I regularly saw back in those days. Even I felt like that, although I never was in any big raiding group. I was part of a Saturday evening raid which consisted mostly of people with their alts and a handful of people with their mains (me included). It was a rather casual laid-back raid. Then I joined a Sunday Karazhan raid group which was originally made to “just enjoy the content”, but we soon noticed that the raid leader had actually wanted to speed-run through the raid. Which wasn’t possible, because the tank and the healer (yours truly) were neither experienced nor geared for it and he had known that in advance as we had asked if that would be okay with him and he had been happy to take us (as usual, the lack of tanks and healers probably left him with no choice). It started to feel like work and having your weekend evenings booked with raids was just too much for me.

But maybe this mentality has shifted in the meantime. I cannot speak for World of Warcraft as I haven’t actively followed this game in a long time. So I will take Rift as my example instead. I left Rift for a couple of weeks as I had lost interest in the game and returned when I felt like picking it up again. I stay far away from raids in all my MMOs, so that part is out of the equation for me anyway. I know that Trion is adding new raid content every now and then and I know that my guild is doing raids. But it just doesn’t seem to be as it was back in WoW. I hardly ever see them talk in guild chat about needing this or that piece of equipment. It also doesn’t seem to be a problem if somebody disappears for a month and then returns. Maybe it’s because they are even more laid back than my Saturday WoW raid was, but maybe Rift is also just “slower” and you don’t feel left behind that fast.

Looking at Guild Wars 2 and at the original statement, it seems to back this up. True, Guild Wars 2 has been adding raid content. So if you do like raids, your content drought isn’t as strong as everybody else’s. But even with raids, it doesn’t feel like you need to catch up. One big reason for this is that Guild Wars 2 is not gear-dependent. So you do not get outgeared by others if you take a break.

GW2 Shrug emote

Maybe MMOs in general have changed to not require you to play all of the time. Or it is related to the game’s payment model. After all, with no mandatory monthly fee attached to GW2 or Rift, there is no need to get you to keep playing and paying. I guess it just becomes a problem if you get too bored with it and then never return, no matter what gets added to the game. In my case, I got too bored with Rift, but I did return, because as much as I dislike the world and its lore sometimes, I just love too much about this game (mostly the way the world looks – other than the Nightmare region – and the dimensions, of course). The same goes with Guild Wars 2. Even though I am currently very bored and don’t care about the content I haven’t experienced (like the raids), I know I will return to the game and actively play it again.

I guess this is much better – and healthier – than playing too much and getting “burned out”. And maybe, in the long run, it’s even better for the developers. Because if you leave burned out and stressed, there is a negative feeling towards the game. Leaving because you are bored is a more “indifferent” state and as soon as they add something that sounds interesting, you may want to jump back in with enthusiasm and fun!

Rift Housing: Stone Grove

My newest housing project is “Stone Grove”. I want to build a house up in the trees. I guess I’ll also have to plant a few more trees, as the ones existing in the dimension only look strong on the ground, but get too thin up there.

Anyway, it is currently a mess and I don’t really know how exactly to make it look good and solid and believable. What you can see in the screenshot is not what I want it to look like in the end, of course. I just figured I’d start with a platform in the sky and work my way downwards. So I needed some structures that let me walk up there comfortably. But the platform doesn’t look good either, especially as there are no trees to support the platform anymore that high up. Come to think of it, maybe I should just build everything a bit lower. :p

So, since I felt a bit lost, I went out into the world to see how the Rift designers made structures similar to what I imagine. I could also go have a look at what other dimensioneers are doing, but I always feel a bit like “stealing” their ideas. When I look at what Trion does and how they design the world, I am just adjusting my dimension to the “Rift look”. It feels different. Either way, I did get a few ideas, but soon noticed that everything I like actually has water below or close to it. But for once, I do not want to build my little oasis by the ocean. I still like the look of those structures, though. Below you can see Kelari Refuge on the left and a part of Fort Zarnost on Ember Isle on the right. I actually really adore the look of Ember Isle. Sadly, it seems like a neglected zone since it was added as a sort of “end game” zone for level 50s, but max. level is 65 now.