WoW: Say cheeeeese!

Now who’s more photogenic, eh?

I like how silly World of Warcraft is sometimes. I had seen that they implemented the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera some time ago, but both my characters received their very own ones in the game today. Oddly enough, despite it being very silly, it’s not really breaking the immersion for me. Maybe because the game has always had pop references and the like (Haris Pilton…). I laughed quite a lot when I saw the picture I took with my draenei, but the pandaren is just adorable.

I have been playing my draenei mage as my main character ever since I first created her (when Burning Crusade released). However, when I went back to the game after Mists of Pandaria had released, I had created a little pandaren monk and I really liked that class. I made a different one (I wanted a different name), Gechi, and boosted her to level 100. But she has to wait as my draenei mage is questing her way through the previous expansion’s story content. I want to know what happened before I continue playing the current expansion! Although I somehow doubt it’s going to be too relevant considering the previous expansion put is in an alternate universe. Not really my cup of tea, but I’m also not a fan of Rift’s lore and I am slowly getting bored with the elder dragons in Guild Wars 2 as well. Let’s just say I apparently do not really care about the stories much but about the rest of the game. Anyway, this post is not about my love or hate for lore. It’s about my love for silly things in MMOs and this S.E.L.F.I.E. camera certainly is one of such things!

Finally got my Opie!

If you pre-purchased the expansion when Trion announced it and collected the Starfall Prophecy tokens by logging on every day (which fortunately, I was able to do), then you should have 50 of these tickets today and can get your Opie mount!

rift opie mount

I had seen pictures of the mount, but I never noticed that it shrinks you and that it’s actually tiny. Very cute! I haven’t tried out the other – functional – part of Opie yet. It’s not just a mount, it can help with collecting artifacts. It can jump very high making it easier to reach certain places. There was a concern that Trion would put in artifacts that are otherwise impossible to reach, but they promised they won’t do that. Additionally, Opie needs to be fed with pellets in order to be able to use these abilities and they will not drop too often.

In other words, I can just enjoy my new Opie mount and being tinier than usual (being a dwarven lady).

rift opie mount with sparkles

Paeroka’s Ponderings: When is a game worth your money?

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for column

I know there are a lot of gamers with a huge backlog of games and a bad conscience whenever they get yet another game even though there is this long list of games they never or hardly played.

Most of the time, I compare the money I spent on the game with the amount of time I played it. Obviously, not counting the ones that I did not like at all as these are obviously a waste of money. So far, my comparison was usually a ticket to the movies. Let’s be generous and say 8 € for 2 hours, because I don’t go to 3D movies and don’t need the extra comfortable seats in the back. :p But in a lot of games, you already spend half an hour or so in the tutorial! With that comparison, if a game has a long tutorial (or you just need longer to get through it like I usually do), a game for 8 € would be worth it already if I get through the tutorial. So while it is a good comparison in a way as its anchor is another pastime that costs money, I think it’s not too good considering the nature of games. That would be a bit more like me comparing it to the trailers that you see in the cinema before the actual movie starts. :p

A colleague of bookahnerk said to him: “I have an easy calculation: 1 € per hour played”. I like it because it’s easy to calculate, but also a lot stricter. For some weird reason, my brain really needs such a calculation, though, to justify getting yet another game. I like that this one is a lot stricter than mine but probably still reasonable and only slightly less arbitrary. :p

Let’s take a look at my Steam profile: The one with the most amount of time played is still Star Trek Online with 258 hours. I would say that I spent most of these hours trying to figure out how the space fights work and how to get a good ship. But MMOs are always different and Star Trek Online is a free to play game on top of it (I think I paid for it once and also bought the original series uniforms? I’m not too sure, but I do know they got some money from me). Then there’s Tropico 4, Civilization V, Tropico 5 and Prison Architect with 139 to 106 hours played. There is no question about these games: They were worth their money if you ask me! Where else can you get that much entertainment for that amount of money? Especially considering I got most of these games on sale.

But let’s look at Tropico 5 as I know I bought it for full price when it came out and only went for the sales for the extra DLCs. Summing everything up (I kept the emails), I spent 62 € on Tropico 5 for 109 hours of entertainment. So yes, it’s in the positive. Phew. Still, as I said, my brain needs some kind of justification and I think this formula will help with that. It will also keep me from buying impulsively, I hope. And I’m sure I’m not the only one coming up with some calculations, right?

And one day… one day I will try out all these tiny little games that I don’t care about because they were part of a bundle. And once I do, I will write about my experiences here. Sometimes these little ones are true gems. Sometimes they’re garbage. You never know until you tried, right?

 

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.

Revisiting World of Warcraft

WoW Death Knight starter areaWho isn’t back to World of Warcraft? This was the question I asked myself a lot lately when looking at blog posts or tweets. And once I mentioned it to bookahnerk, we were off on nostalgia lane. “Do you remember how…” and all that. We knew we would not go back to WoW ourselves. After all, my last expansion was Mists of Pandaria, which I had bought and levelled my mage a bit right before Rift announced going free to play at which point I immediately dropped WoW. But there was another expansion before Legion which I would have to get. Bookahnerk did not even have Mists of Pandaria. So, in order to only catch up, we would already have to buy three expansions plus the monthly fees.

Only that apparently, Blizzard gifted every account that owns the base game (so not the free trial accounts) every single expansion except for Legion! Once we saw that, we decided to gift ourselves three months of monthly fees and a long trip back to see what has happened, changed, been added to the game. There is one great thing about our WoW corner: It involves a guild. The guild that bookahnerk has been very active in back in Ultima Online. Yes, you read that correctly. He’s been with some of these guys since the early years of Ultima Online! And even though we’ve basically been away since Cataclysm, we are still members of the guild.

So, upon returning we decided to make new characters to get back into the game more easily and asked for invitations for these characters (WoW doesn’t have account-bound guild memberships). A few minutes later, he was on Teamspeak chatting with the guild members. We were welcomed back and I think this is a pretty big part of an MMO. You can leave easily and never look back when you know the people you played with are gone, too. But once you are part of a community, you never really leave, right?

I had chosen to give Death Knight a try. The last time I played, she had two blood, two death and two frost runes and I had to memorize which skill used which runes etc. Now she has six frost runes if she’s frost-specced and the skills do not require different types of runes anymore. Much easier, I have to say. Maybe too easy, but I have never been a fan of resource juggling when playing a character. I much prefer having to know which skills do what (like stuns, roots, damage over time effects and so on) over that.

WoW Death Knight on stolen mount

My main character was a frost mage and when I last played her, I got her to level 88. Mists of Pandaria had a maximum level of 90. Warlords of Draenor added 10 more levels. So I figured I should also level her a bit to see all the new content. The Death Knight is level 60 now, so she’s ready for Burning Crusade, which is the expansion that released back in 2007. :p I remembered most things about my mage, almost all hotkeys and even her macros were still working! It took me a while, however, to remember that frost mage actually has a water elemental. Whoops. All of a sudden, her damage got up a lot! ;) So I guess that was my really n00bish moment getting back into the game.

Now here is something that already annoys me a lot: I had played my Death Knight with a two-handed melee weapon. I love these weapons as long as the combat animations are quite fast. That was the case with the Death Knight. But now I got a message that the system changed and they are now required to fight with two one-handed weapons. No big deal, I thought. And then I remembered that I also started a pandaren monk who fights with a staff. Melee staff-wielders are my favourite when it comes to melee, but hardly any game ever offers you those. Most of the time, it’s casters with a staff in their hands. So I logged on with her and noticed I had mail… yep, Blizzard telling me that melee DPS monks no longer use a staff, but two one-handed weapons. Seriously… -.- That staff was the main reason I rolled a monk! I am not the only one who doesn’t like this change, but that doesn’t really help much. On the other hand, it makes me want to check out the thief in Guild Wars 2 again with her daredevil specialization!

Oh well, I have enough to do with my mage, after all – who yes, is holding a staff in her hands. ;) I am also already looking forward to checking out garrisons and what they are all about. Certainly not housing, though, so Rift won’t lose me any time soon. :p

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Gear and level-advantages in PvP

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for column

Some time ago, I read a topic in the German section of the Black Desert Online forum where a player suggested that the game’s PvP may be better if there were no level-advantages as a higher level gives better stats, for example. He was laughed at by others and called “carebear” for wanting that. Unfortunately, I cannot find the thread anymore – but it would be in German anyway. But this is apparently how PvP should work and it is good this way: If you spend a lot of time in the game, you should have an advantage over those who play less often or are new to the game – other than the already mentioned increased experience and skill in playing your character, of course!

I admit, I am a carebear. I am a huge big carebear! – Why? Because I think that being able to win against somebody who has no chance whatsoever at all, no matter how skilled that player may be, simply because I am higher level and/or have better gear, is a horrible design flaw of PvP in a lot of MMOs. If some new player comes in and has not played the game much but knows how to play so much better than me, then kudos to him! He should be able to win against me. I, on the other hand, should not win simply because I have been playing longer and managed to get my character in better gear. I was just very surprised to see that somebody asking for an even playing field and letting skill and experience decide a battle rather than stronger gear and higher level, is called a carebear. Some people…

Warhammer Online Chicken in Tier 1

Let’s look at other MMOs, though: Warhammer Online, for example, had four different PvP (here called “RvR”, but I’ll continue using PvP to not mix up the terms all the time) tiers and bolstering up. The first tier was for levels 1 to 11. So right from the start, you had your map with PvE zones and PvP zones. If your low level 1 entered the tier 1 PvP zone, it got bolstered up in stats to level 11. It was still weaker than a “real” level 11, but at least, you got much closer to the other player. The best part, however, was when you were too high level for a given tier – in our example, when your character turned level 12 – that you were turned into a chicken which could be one-shot by other players. You regularly had people in chat say: “Okay, that’s it. See you in tier 2” and then you could see the chicken run out of the PvP zone as fast as their little feet could carry them. I do remember some heated discussions about this feature before the game launched but Mark Jacobs stood by that decision. Of course, simply getting downscaled would have been the better option in my opinion, as that would have freed up the whole game to you once you were max. level instead of restricting you only to the highest tier. But I still think the chicken mechanic is better than having high level players repeatedly kill low level players. Especially when you consider that low level players also may be new players which are kind of important to keep in an MMO… ;)

GW2 sPvP with level 2
All specializations are unlocked, even though my character is only level 2. In PvE, you need to work towards unlocking the specializations first

Guild Wars 2’s sPvP (instanced PvP) goes even further: No “artificial” bolstering up, but being at maximum level with exactly the same stats and exactly the same gear as everybody else! When I heard that they were doing it like that, I got pretty excited! Those who have a lot of time (and who are usually the ones with the highest level and the highest gear in other MMOs) are probably also those who get the most practice and as such they will have an advantage over people like me anyway. However, there are also those who do have a lot of time on their hands, who do get a lot of practice and who may turn out to be worse than somebody with less practice but quicker reflexes or whatever the reason. I ask again: Is this bad? Am I a carebear if I say that this is how it should be? That skill should determine the winner of a battle and not the playtime, the level or the gear that a player acquired?

Thankfully, we have so many games around that I think everybody can find a game that does it the way they prefer. So, I know that even though Black Desert Online looks like an interesting game, it is not the game for me. I do prefer Guild Wars 2 where level and gear don’t matter!

 

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.