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.

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!

NBI 2016: Blogging can be life-changing

Yes, I admit, the headline is probably a bit too dramatic. ;) So before you get too excited: Blogging will not make you rich and it is very unlikely that you will become famous. However, looking back at the past five years with this blog, a few things happened that did influence our lives in positive ways.

Even though writing, and thus blogging, per se is a solitary pastime, having a blog ultimately leads to being read. If you allow comments on your blog, then the interaction with your readers can be a very direct one, obviously. In case you are wondering: Should I allow comments? – I can recommend this post by Contains Moderate Peril. If you opt for a wordpress.com blog, I would suggest enabling the feature that when somebody comments for the first time, this comment will be put in “moderation” and you manually allow it (or not). This way, you can catch trolls and delete their comment without it being public. No harm done. As soon as you allow somebody’s comment, future comments will not be put in the moderation queue and will appear immediately. So far in the five years, this setting has helped us a lot – not that we actually did get troll comments. We only sometimes get spam comments that the automatic spam filter doesn’t catch. This is still a very good feature for these situations.

But back to the topic of this blog post: If you allow comments, then you will sooner or later get a few people who will comment on your blog. It will very likely not be a huge amount as the vast majority belongs to the “quiet readers”. What I personally really like is when people comment and add their thoughts that a post of mine provoked.

On top of that, blogging about specific games also means that you are part of a gaming community. This is also where comments come into play. Reach out to other bloggers that you like reading. Comment in their blogs, add them to your blogroll or reply to a post they made with a post of your own (always remember to link to them and use trackbacks as that is a good way to notify them of your post).

In my case, some other person (Marc, the founder of GuildMag) had noticed our blog and when ArenaNet was wondering who to invite to their European community gathering before Guild Wars 2 launched, the UK community manager at the time reached out to us and invited us to come to Brighton. Now this was probably a lot of luck for us! This trip was back in 2012 when I was still relatively new to the blogging world, but without this blog, I obviously wouldn’t have been able to go because all of us were bloggers or writers for Guild Wars 2 fansites. I accepted the invitation (gladly, of course!) and then found myself on a plane to the UK. I had never been to the UK before (and still haven’t returned which is quite sad, because I really want to visit that country), so I was even more excited. Finally! Even if it was only for a bit more than 24 hours. And I’ll be eternally grateful to Tasha for pulling me back when I had forgotten that cars drive on the left side over there.

Group picture EUFanDay

While there, I got to know some Greek dude who had mentioned his Guild Wars 2 guild. Once back here at home when we were trying to find a good guild for us, I sent him a message and asked if we could join. And that’s how we got accepted to Dragon Season. This guy (those who know Dragon Season probably know by now that it’s Tilion that I am talking about) has become a very close friend of mine and if nothing goes wrong, we will finally get to meet again this summer!

Another example is the Foostival. Foostival is a real life event from fans for fans of Guild Wars 2 which has taken place in several European countries for a couple of years already. It is mostly organized by those of us with Guild Wars 2 fansites. Since we are German but blog in English, we did not actually have any connections to the existing German fansites. But when GuildNews joined Foostival back in 2014, I was invited to help organize this event (by Tilion, actually) and I happily accepted. Through the Foostival, we have met several more great people and hope to stay in touch even outside of Guild Wars 2. Since they are all German, meeting in “real life” is also a lot easier since there is less distance to travel!

Last but not least, being one little blogger with one little blog can also lead to something more “professional”: Justin from Massively mentions that a lot of them started off as individual bloggers. And some of the Massively staff actually ended up working for game companies (like Rubi who now works for ArenaNet and Celestrata who joined Turbine and later switched to TrionWorlds).

GW2 Pink Day Plaza - Aurora Glade

I guess what this post aims at is that blogging is actually not so much a solitary pastime, but a very social one with lots of opportunities to reach out to others, connect and find friends who share your interests. Thanks to the internet – and if you use a widespread language like English – even all over the world. But even if you decide to blog in your native tongue, you can still reach out to a lot of people you would probably not meet otherwise. And I personally just really enjoy participating in something bigger, something community-driven (“Pink Day in LA” should also be mentioned here which I once helped organize on our server Aurora Glade).

(Side note: I had originally wanted to be a lot more active during NBI, but due to health issues concerning my fingers and a strict “NO TYPING!” from my doctor, I tried to restrict typing to my day job. :p)

NBI 2016: Screenshot prompt “The New”

A prompt to make a blog post with screenshots? I’m in! So, this is part of the “Newbie Blogger Initiative”. You can find more information on what the Newbie Blogger Initiative is in a previous post of mine (as well as in the other posts I’m linking to there).

But let’s get to the prompt itself:

This week I was thinking “the new”. A moment in game you experienced something unexpected, learnt something new, or just a visual element or object you had never seen before.

I tried to come up with something good, funny, creative – and I failed. But then I remembered my recent rant about expansions and the new regions introduced and figured: This is just perfect, isn’t it? “The new” parts of the world that an expansion gives a player: Guild Wars 2 expanded its world by giving its players more of the Maguuma Jungle, called “Heart of Maguuma”, while Rift gave us the Nightmare Tide zones. So, one features a jungle with trees and several floors to experience. They also added gliding, so you can vertically explore the game while the other gives us nightmares in a mostly underwater world. In my personal case, this really is a nightmare sometimes because of my phobia of “deep dark water” and “the things that live there”. So in case you are scared as well, be careful!

Rift’s Nightmare Tide was released in October 2014 and Guild Wars 2 released almost a year later in October 2015, which also means that both expansions are not exactly “new” anymore. But back then, they very much were, of course, and that’s where I’m digging for screenshots. So the screenshots you will see were taken when I first played in those new zones.

Rift: Nightmare Tide

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Maguuma

Guild Wars 2: The upside of having a “content drought”

I saw a post on MMORPG.com about the potential correlation between content updates and increased earnings for ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 which got me thinking about my gaming behaviour related to their content updates. In general, I would say that the less new content they release, the less money I spend in Guild Wars 2. I remember giving them at least 5 € a month (remember: I try not to spend more money on online games than I would on a monthly sub), but since the expansion has been released, I did not give them any additional money anymore. I only spent some gold to trade for gems. However, I actually did not want to focus on how much money I spend on this game. I would just say that my spending behaviour is related to the amount of time I give to one specific game over others more than how much content a game actually releases, although those two factors are related, of course!

When I looked at the charts of that post, I remembered what Guild Wars 2 was like within the first year: New content every two weeks, content that would leave permanently after two or four weeks again. It was… stressful, actually. I found myself playing more because I had the feeling that I have to or I would miss out on something instead of playing because I was in the mood to play this specific game.

If I could choose, I would definitely want to have new content every two months or so that would stay permanently! But this is not a wishing well here. So, I’ll instead look at what we had back then and what we have right now. Back then, we had new content every two weeks. Now, we don’t have much new content. In my personal and subjective case, there is even no new content, because I don’t raid (you can thank World of Warcraft for making me swear never to get into raiding again). Which of the two do I prefer then? As I already said, I found the constant temporary content stressful. So for that alone, I choose the “content drought”. I kind of embrace the slow content releases. I work full-time, I work on my dissertation, I exercise regularly, I have a social life away from the PC (well, sometimes, at least), I like getting variety by playing more than just one game when I do decide to play and last but not least, I have this little blog here. In other words: I am not a hardcore gamer at all.

Having no new content means that whenever I feel like playing Guild Wars 2, I start it up and play. I enjoy myself in the game, because I never feel as if I am in the game only because I have to. There is nothing to catch up with and no feeling to play in order to not fall behind – and that’s refreshing!

Mind you, I say that only because there is still lots for me to do in the first place. :p At the moment, I am playing in Edge of the Mists whenever I find a bit of time to gather Proof of Heroics, so that my engineer can get his scrapper specialization unlocked. Yes, I am lazy. Or rather, I don’t really want to do all those hero challenges again. I much prefer battling in the Mists. I guess I would actually prefer “real” WvW over Edge of the Mists, but when you only have half an hour or so to play, this game mode is perfect. It’s fast with good rewards for your time.

GW2 Edge of the Mists

In the long run, I do of course hope that we will get to see a lot of new content and my hopes are for season 3 of the living world to be really good and exciting!

And if we pretend that there is a wishing well for a moment, then I would definitely wish for more content like the marionette fight, but with a longer time frame to participate and learn the encounter. I just really enjoyed the open world content and that is one thing I definitely miss from the content releases of season 1.

But hey, there will be an update tomorrow. Maybe we will get something new after all. :p