Blogging 101 Week 2

I am still continuing with “Blogging 101”, but it was more behind the scenes at the beginning of last week. I went through our “About” page, but most of it was still accurate, so there weren’t too many changes. I did add a text widget in the blog’s sidebar with a link to said page, to make it more visible for new readers. I don’t know about others, but when I find a new blog, it’s usually because I had been looking for information or somebody else linked a specific blog post. If I like what that person says or how they write, I always look for an “about” section on their blog to find out a little bit more about who they are. The second action I do is look for their Twitter handle, as I like being able to follow them on Twitter. I usually do add blogs to my feedly account as well.

The second task of this week was to keep personalizing the blog by adding a background image, a header, a new widget. I did try adding a header with our blog’s logo in it, but it’s very basic and I am not a fan of the look. However, adding our logo in some way into the header images would free up space at the top of our sidebar where we currently feature our logo. There is certainly no need to have the logo displayed twice in our blog!

After that came tasks that could be “done together” again. We were first asked to comment in four different blogs in which we never commented before, then we were asked to write a post inspired by somebody else’s post and the last task of week 2 was to build a better blogroll. I still need to do the last two tasks. Throughout the week, I did not have the time to go through “random” blog posts of people I haven’t read before (or at least, never commented in their blog before), so it had to wait until yesterday. It seems that the beginning of the year is slow when it comes to blog posts about Guild Wars 2, Wildstar and Trove which are the tags I looked for here in my WordPress reader (I did say I would want to use it more, right? :) ). I eventually did find four blogs which partly were not completely “new” to me, but I am sure I never commented there before. And I also did find four blog posts where I felt I could leave a comment that had a bit more substance than “nice post!”… and since I really did like these posts, I figured I should share them with you here. Still, I do not count it as the “make a post inspired by somebody else”. I’m not going to summarize what is said in the original posts, but will instead just add my own thoughts here. If you want to know what the post is all about, please head over to the original blogs. :)

“Gambling In Guild Wars 2 (Ruined Me)” by MapleTaurus

Oh, who hasn’t yet tried out some way that could potentially earn you lots of gold in Guild Wars 2? Unfortunately, if you ask me, Guild Wars 2 is a bit too focused on “buy your rewards” which can be done either with gems (the real-money currency which you can indirectly buy from other players with in-game gold if you don’t want to spend real money) or via in-game gold. Either way, I have never dropped a precursor or anything else that is worth lots of gold. Too bad. I’ve gotten used to Guild Wars 2 being the only MMO where I just can’t find a fun niche to earn gold, so I’ll forever be semi-broke. It’s enough to slowly buy the dyes, so I guess I can’t really complain. Instead of having a legendary weapon, I have dyes. :p

“Old Year New Year” by Gracie

New Year Resolution: Blog more often! Check. Done that as well, let’s see if it works. :) At least, participating in Blogging 101 is a good start to the year as it gives me a few tasks not only to post blog posts, but also to clean up the blog a bit, refresh it with new blogs in my blogroll etc. I spent most of my holidays visiting family and friends – or having them over – so there actually wasn’t much time to play any computer games. What we did do was play another round of “The Dark Eye” (the pen & paper roleplaying game) with friends and Pandemic, the board game, with bookahnerk’s sister and her boyfriend when we were visiting them. This is a great game, by the way! It is a cooperative one where each player takes on a special role (e.g. the Quarantine Specialist). You either all win against the game or lose. Your goal is basically to prevent diseases from spreading all over the world and you win when you manage to find a cure for all four diseases before one of several other events happens. This, of course, is just the very basic rundown of how the game plays. :p Anyway, while we did manage to win when it was just us and his sister, as soon as her boyfriend joined, we kept losing. No, the poor guy did not play that bad. The game itself just becomes harder when more players are playing the game and we had chosen to play with an expansion that was apparently much too difficult for our abilities. ;)

“Syp on ‘good dungeon runs'” by Telwyn

As I commented on that blog post, I do have very fond memories of the old World of Warcraft dungeons (they were nerfed at some point where they became really easy to do). I mostly ran them with guildies and friends. At some point, me, bookahnerk and one of his friends ran through all the dungeons together as the lowest level we could enter and yes, only the three of us when those dungeons were made for five players. We were a tank, a healer and me, the rogue as damage dealer. I still remember after we’d gone into the Stormwind Stockades where they said: “And you as the rogue will apply poisons.” – I blinked… paused… then unmuted my microphone and said: “Poisons? What poisons?” – It turned out I had forgotten to learn them and they actually are quite a large portion of a rogue’s damage. Or at least, they used to be back then. I don’t know what it’s like now. Still, we were successful! And we had so much fun. We didn’t even notice the time when we played together. Nowaways, with less free time, we probably couldn’t do that as much as we used to do. But once in a while would be nice. However, this all changes when “PUGs” come into play. Or: Playing with strangers, especially over something as anonymous as the “looking for group”-tool. Don’t get me wrong here. I think those tools are good and should be in an MMO because looking for more players through the chats was basically a waste of time. It took so long just to get ready to get into a dungeon that by the time the group was full, chances were high at least one of your group members had to leave again. With PUGs, I wouldn’t want to spend hours and hours in a dungeon. I definitely prefer the cozy and comfortable atmosphere with friends. So while I do think the LFG tool is good, I also think dungeons should be accordingly fast and easy as to avoid frustration with PUGs. At the same time, I would want more challenge with friends.

“Screenshots Of The Year 2015” by Haffle

There isn’t much I can say about this post as it’s mostly about the screenshots that Haffle posted. I did really like the one from Lord of the Rings Online. I haven’t played this game in months, but as with most MMOs, I miss the art and the way the world looks! Lotro especially has such a pictoresque look to it. I could spend hours just watching the scenery and observe the moving clouds in the sky (or rather, the moving sky, but that’s a different problem that thankfully can’t be seen on screenshots :p).

This post by Haffle is also the one I will use as “inspiration” for my own post. The original task was to continue and make a post adding your thoughts and expanding on what the original blogger said, agreeing, disagreeing or asking further questions about the topic. This is not really possible with a “Screenshots of the Year” post, but if you’ve been around for a bit here in my blog, you will probably know that I love screenshots, so I really want to make such a post for my own gaming year 2015. :) At the same time, this very blog post here comments and expands my thoughts on all four blog poss

Me and my Mini-Mes…

After I had written about the online game I’ve been playing the longest, I figured I should “revisit” all my MMO characters. Mentioned and shown below are only the ones I called my “main” in games that I have played for more than one month. I couldn’t possibly list and show all the twinks and alts I have had in the past and I did not want to go through all characters I ever created. Besides, I’m really not that attached to any of the characters I hardly ever played anyway. ;)

Let’s jump back to 2005. World of Warcraft got released here in Europe in February 2005. It wasn’t until December 2005 that I started playing. Bookahnerk had played during beta already and was eagerly awaiting the release. In fact, it got released the weekend before Valentine’s Day and when he’d told me that, I had sent him back to his place, so he could be there for the release and play with all the other gaming geeks. I had never touched an MMO at that point, but I had played PC games and I knew all about the excitement of starting a game the moment you can get your hands on it. ;)

In November 2005, I participated in NaNoWriMo and since I’d seen bookahnerk’s gnome in World of Warcraft (and totally adored the little creature), I wrote a story about gnomes. Not the WoW ones, though. I wrote about gnomes in my own fantasy world! One of those I had called “Paeroka”. I don’t remember how I came up with that name… I probably just scrambled around letters until I found something that looked and sounded good. Then in December, bookahnerk bought WoW for me. He told me the code and I started playing on my crappy laptop that wasn’t even made for gaming. I was lucky I still liked the character I had made when I saw her on a better PC as it had been more of a guessing game what she looked like when creating her on my laptop. ;) I was also very impressed with Silverpine Forest, because it was so scary and dark and you couldn’t see anything with all the fog. Yeah, lowest graphic settings, cheap laptop, etc. There is no fog and it’s really not that dark, as I found out a few weeks later. ;) Unfortunately, I only have about five screenshots from the first few months and I can’t seem to find them at the moment.

But here you go. Paeroka, Undead warlock. That was even before I got my widescreen monitor (not to mention that I’ve got two of them now). Paeroka was my main for quite a long time, until one day, we decided to start on another server. Long story short, I switched to Ghamina, Draenei mage, as the guild we joined plays Alliance. I also had a night elf druid, but I’m not going to show her as I never actually liked night elves. But playing alliance, I had no other choice than that race back then.

Some time in between, I had bought Guild Wars, after a friend had told me how amazing that game was. I’d been skeptical at first, after trying the preview weekend for Factions and being totally overwhelmed. However, something had struck me. I had loved the Jade Sea and… the atmosphere and the feeling the game world gave me. When I did buy the game, it was Nightfall that I got first. My main, Paeroka Yeodo, was a necromancer. However, I kept dying with her and well, I had no idea how aggro worked! So I switched. My second main, Tenedra Yeodo, was a warrior and she is the one that I sticked with until the end.

After World of Warcraft came Warhammer Online. I had already written about my adventures in that game. My mains were my blackorc, Grifip my goblin shaman and Grifola, my dwarf engineer.

The next game was Lord of the Rings Online. I had bought the basic game plus Mines of Moria, because I knew I wasn’t interested in any of the base classes and instead, really wanted to play a runekeeper. While installing the game and downloading the patches (that took ages…), I read about the two new classes online and found the warden much more interesting. And yet, I still started playing the runekeeper. She was at max level when I realized she was quite boring, after all. So I switched to my warden. Here they are, Tenedreth (runekeeper) and Tenedra (warden).

The next “serious” game was Rift, which I cancelled again as I had not wanted to pay a monthly sub anymore. Since it’s gone free to play, I’ve been playing it a lot more (and yes, they did get some money from me. ^^ I’m not opposed to paying people for the work they do, I just don’t like recurring fees like that). My main was a cleric, a dwarf called Meffanda, but then I switched to my warrior Paeroka – another dwarf. I’m still not sure if that was the right decision, but thankfully, the game only has four basic classes (called “callings”) which can then be specced/built in lots of different ways which means that there is a lot of variety, but you still only need to level four characters to get everything there is.

Then there is The Secret World. I love the atmosphere of the game and the setting. I think it’s great that your characters can wear silly clothes but also just regular jeans and a t-shirt. However, I am not a fan of the characters per se. I think all the faces look more or less the same.

Last but not least: Guild Wars 2! My first main, Flummi, asura mesmer, and my new main, Paerjja, asura warrior.

At the moment, I am mainly playing my warrior in Rift, my warrior in Guild Wars 2 and several alts in Guild Wars 2. Maybe I will give Lotro another try once the expansion is released on Wednesday.

GW2: Customize with dyes

Dyes: Spring Tide, Indigo, Tungsten
Dyes: Spring Tide, Indigo, Tungsten

One thing that I’m really disappointed with is the limited visual customization of your characters. For example, I bought Flummi a Tiger Charr Backpack. The problem was that I still only had a rare back item. So I spent 5 gold and 5 guild commendations and bought the Guild Assassin Backpack to put the look of the charr backpack on. I liked the look of that one as well, but the charr one was so much cuter. Then April 1 came and with it, the Super Backpack Cover. My problem is that I really love the look of that one as well! But in order to have that look, I would either have to transmute it over the charr (not going to happen!) or buy a second Guild Assassin Backpack… I’m going to do the latter probably. Then I would also want to have the actual look of the Guild Assassin Backpack.

I just don’t think it’s a great design if it means that in order to have more than one look at a time, I have to buy the stats for an item over and over again. lotro_cosmetic outfit slotsI really wish I could move the wardrobe system from Lotro over to Guild Wars 2. This one gives you several slots and you can put items in there that you want to have for their looks. Then in your character panel, you have several cosmetic outfit slots that you can use to put the look of those items in. In the screenshot on the right, you can see the Hauberk of the Mithril Guard. That character isn’t wearing a helmet and the shoes aren’t shown because hobbits don’t wear shoes, after all. ;) With a simple click, you can switch between different looks. You can even enable and disable individual items which can also be seen in the screenshot. Look at the little eyes at the lower right corner of each icon. If the eye is closed, this item’s look is disabled.

The wardrobe slots and the cosmetic outfit slots can be bought in the Turbine shop (including expansions of those slots). So as far as monetization is concerned, it can be used for that as well.

I just like being able to switch whenever I feel like it and Lotro gives me this choice.

Dyes: Butter, Spring Ice, Brick
Dyes: Butter, Spring Ice, Brick

But I’m trying to make the best out of the current situation. I won’t stop saying that I really greatly dislike the current system, but I’ll try to live with it. Instead of switching between different looks (except for the two backpacks for Flummi), I switch between dyes. Once a dye is unlocked for a character, this character can use it as often as you want.

On the other hand, dyes are unlocked per character and with a lot of alts like I have, this is going to be expensive. That’s why I decided to specialize my characters for now until I can, maybe, buy all dyes for all characters. My sylvari ranger left the dream around noon and she loves vibrant bright colours. My sylvari thief loves the night, so he gets all blue dyes. Unfortunately, there aren’t even that many cool blue dyes as far as I could see. My male asura elementalist feels very sophisticated, so white-ish colours it is. He likes pairing that with green hues because he thinks he looks radiant in them. I try to focus on natural metallic dyes (and red) with my asura warrior, but that’s mostly because I don’t think the other colours look too good on her armour. Last but not least, my charr warrior likes pastels as that fits best with her light fur.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch: Arrrr thar other games?

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome t’ today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! Th’ place about miscellaneous interestin’ news related t’ Guild Wars 2 – an’ on occasion, other games.

This time, we be havin’ a slightly different Bookahneer’s Geekwatch. ‘t does, fer once, nay focus on Guild Wars 2.

I have to admit that I have not been paying too much attention to the gaming world outside of Guild Wars 2 in the last few weeks as I usually do, but a few things did catch my attention and I did look at those games more closely. As much as I would love to be a one-game-woman, I am not. ;) I like getting into other games every now and then for a change of scenery. Right now, I am very much looking forward to Torchlight 2. It releases tomorrow! According to a forum post, they are aiming for a release at around 7pm CEST (Paris, Berlin time. 1pm East Coast USA). That fits perfectly to my schedule as I should be home 1 1/2 hours before that and then still need to do some exercise before I can sit down and play a game.

But this is not all that Runic Games has for us. They are giving us the soundtrack for free! You do not even need to have bought the game if you want to download the soundtrack. But, of course, it would be nice to give them something in return. ;) You may be interested in the current Humble Indie Bundle offer which gives you Torchlight 1, among other games. You set the price and support charity at the same time. This is quite a nice deal! Oh yeah, and Torchlight 1 will be playable on a PC and on Linux! Oh, and on a Mac as well. Speaking of which, so is Guild Wars 2 (I’m referring to the Mac, not Linux, unfortunately ^^).

Darkfall Unholy Wars screenshot Aventurine has finally announced Darkfall Unholy Wars. I did know that they are kind of, maybe, reworking Darkfall Online and that something will happen and players may have to start all over again because all data will be wiped… maybe. As you can tell, Darkfall Online is not my kind of game, so I haven’t been following it too closely. I like PvP, but I prefer other PvP modes than “open world everybody vs. everybody” like team-based PvP matches. I did recommend the game to bookahnerk’s cousin, though, because this really is the kind of game that he loves playing.

So why is this game even mentioned here then? Because I think they’re doing something very bold and that’s worth mentioning! They are not just upgrading their current game or redesigning things here and there. They apparently developed a new game. I am curious how far they took it and how different this new game will be. The game will be released on November 20, 2012. They have written a blog post with some more information if you’re interested, although I don’t think it has enough information in it. The game’s website seems to have a bit more information, at least.

It’s been postponed but the new date for the next Lord of the Rings Online expansion, Riders of Rohan, is getting closer: October 15. That’s four weeks from now. Lotro is one of those games that will see me again sooner or later. My main character, a hobbit warden, never saw the max level that got introduced with Rise of Isengard, but even though I don’t like playing that class too much anymore, I really don’t want to level another character. Lotro is the only game so far where I never liked playing alts too much. I am not a big fan of how the characters look (link to previous entry – aesthetics!) and I do not like the combat feeling too much either. The world design, on the other hand, is still gorgeous and I do hope to get around to seeing the new parts of the world one day.

And, of course, there is World of Warcraft. The infamous panda expansion is really close now. The expansion will come out next week (September 25 – look here for exact launch times) and I am really curious how many people will still be complaining about pandas afterwards. To be honest, I still don’t get why people are upset at Blizzard for including them. Why are two-legged cows with humanoid breasts okay, but pandas aren’t? I know that the space goats weren’t taken too seriously, but people didn’t complain about them that much either. And it can’t be because of the film “Kung Fu Panda”, because Blizzard’s pandaren are much older than that. But maybe it’s because people are scared that their favourite MMO will now be called “a game for kids” even more often than it already is. To this I say: Who cares? Play what you want to play because you like it.

Oh well, my time in World of Warcraft is definitely over. I like reading up on what’s been happening in the game, what’s being added or changed, etc. but nothing makes me want to renew my subscription and log on again. I am curious how the expansion will effect Guild Wars 2 and its servers. Will we notice a drop in active players?

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (“What to play until GW2 releases”-edition)

Before we start with today’s Geekwatch, there’s some news about ArenaNet’s community managers: We apparently now have community managers tweeting during EU time and Rubi Bayer has joined as new community manager (she was previously working for Massively). It’s great to see them “expanding” and hopefully this means that Guild Wars 2 is closer than we dare to hope at the moment! ;) The funny thing is that I haven’t really noticed not having CMs tweet or report during EU times because Seattle is conveniently located timezone-wise. Or they just waited for all their big announcement until us EU folks were up anyway. Because so far, announcements came at some point during our afternoon or evening. Still, now we get to hear from them during our morning hours as well, maybe? ;)

But let’s continue with the actual posting. Today’s Geekwatch is about “free” games. And with “free”, I mean games that used to cost a monthly fee and which don’t anymore… to a certain extent at least. More and more seem to be converting nowadays which is great if you just want to check out game or two or if you want to bridge the time until Guild Wars 2 comes out.

Let’s start with MMOs that went f2p some time ago. You can just go to their official website, download the client and start playing:

Lord of the Rings Online went f2p quite some time ago. I’d recommend this if you’re a Tolkien fan (or just liked the films ^^). You get the starting areas plus a few after that for free (I know Lone-Lands are free now but I’m not sure about others). All other areas won’t have quests for you unless you buy those quest packs. You can still grind your way up to max level, though. The game’s “real money shop” now also offers armour with stats which is one of several reasons why I’ve fallen out of love with the game recently. Still, it is a pretty game and I love looking at the game’s screenshots. They also have interesting classes with good and fun mechanics. And I love the cosmetic system which lets you dress your character in one way while the character wears ugly armor with good stats on it. ;) If you want to read more about the game, go to this entry where I’ve previously compared Rift, WoW and Lotro.

Everquest II is a game I’ve just recently discovered for myself. And I was probably one of the last people to do so. ;) It’s definitely an “old game”. It was released in 2004 and it’s showing its age. Then again, the amount of stuff you get for free is great. The downside is that you can’t play all races or all classes for free. That’s kind of sad and made me actually spend money so I could play my cute little rat. But the housing in the game makes up for it. So much freedom (compared to Lotro which is the only other MMO I’ve ever really played that had housing) when it comes to how you want to decorate your house. Also, all quests are free. You just don’t get the last expansions – but you need to buy those in Lotro as well. ;)

Star Trek Online joined the f2p group this week. You get less character slots than subscribers (as in Lotro and EQ2 as well). STO is outstanding when it comes to the character creation (compared to Lotro an EQ2). Also, they have space combat which the other two, obviously, don’t have. As I said above with Lotro and Tolkien: If you’re a Star Trek fan, it’s worth checking out! The restrictions you get compared to subscribers also aren’t bad at all.

Champions Online, DCUO and City of Heroes: I’ll just throw those in because they’re all superhero MMOs and it seems they’re such a niche, they all go f2p one day. ;) City of Heroes is the oldest one, DCUO the newest. I liked the character creation in Champions Online the most (one thing Cryptic – the developers behind STO and Champions Online – can do very well is character customization, apparently ^^).

Aion EU will go free to play soonish. There’s no definite date yet as far as I know but it was said to become free to play in February. Once that happens, the game will not be published by NCSoft anymore. They will hand over the game to Gameforge. Important to note is that this is only the European version of Aion. The US American one stays with NCSoft (at least, as far as we know) and will still require a monthly sub. Still, if you’re interested in the game, why not check out the EU version once you can do so? As it’s not switched over to f2p, we can’t say much about the real money shop yet.

Guild Wars – Oh come on, you know I had to throw this in here now, didn’t you? ;) This is NOT a real free-to-play game. You actually have to buy the game first. But once you own it, you can play without any monthly subs. And I’ve seen all three campaigns plus the addon for 30€. So that’s not too bad. If you want to start playing the game and you don’t want to buy the complete edition (with all three campaigns – and either with or without the addon, depends on the version), I’d recommend “Nightfall” as I found this tutorial the best to follow. If you’re just interested in the world 250 years before Guild Wars 2, then you want to check out “Prophecies” (and later the addon “Eye of the North”). Stay away from Factions at the beginning because it’s not newbie-friendly (I felt lost in there and that was after I’d started a character in Nightfall and knew the basics ^^). It’s also not a real MMO. I guess “cooperative RPG” might fit better. Still, if you haven’t played it yet and are waiting for Guild Wars 2, why not check out its past? :)

World of Warcraft (European version), Warhammer Online and Rift Lite are still subscription-based. But all three games offer “unlimited trials”. Which means that you can play a portion of the game for free and don’t have a time limit. WoW and Rift both give you 20 levels of gameplay. Once you’ve reached level 20 with your character, you can’t advance it any further unless you pay. In WAR, it’s the first 10 levels, I think.

11 games to choose from. Even if each of those only entertained you for a month, this could last until the very end of 2012. And we know that GW2 will be released this year… ;)

Edit: I was just reminded that there’s also Fallen Earth. Now I know that I can’t list every single game that exists but this list should’ve been one of games that I at least tried out (and liked ^^) and I even played Fallen Earth for a few weeks (which is… well… a bit more than just trying it out)! The crafting is what makes this game stand out as the best items are craftable. Also, it’s set in a kind of post-apocalyptic USA (or very tiny parts of it). There also weren’t any bad restrictions. I just found the combat itself a bit clunky. Still, it’s nice to have a non-standard settings for once.