Help! I like too many MMOs…

In the past few weeks, I thought I had finally fallen out of love with Rift. It was to a point where I did not even log in anymore to get my daily artifact (they changed the system now where you get nicer bonuses for logging in, but that’s not why I went back). Then I suddenly felt the urge to continue building in my dimension. I figured that that’s something nice and since I really don’t like this “old-fashioned” combat anymore, I would at least focus on something. But then I found myself out in the newest region, the Planetouched Wilds, playing through a quest chain with bookahnerk. And while the combat really is boring, it’s just great exploring this world! Rift is one of those games with no loading screens between zones – at least those who are on the same “continent”, like in World of Warcraft. There is something amazing about being on top of a mountain and just looking down to see all the players running around or the NPC doing their daily work. In other MMOs, those mountains can’t always be used to climb on because they are there to avoid having to deal with “invisible walls” as they restrict this zone from the next and you can only switch to another zone at specific points which let you enter after a loading screen appears.

Rift Planetouched Wilds

Then poor Guild Wars 2 was on my list of games I would go on “hiatus” for a bit. There has not been any new content in quite some time and while I liked the new maps at first – some of them, at least – it felt repetitive going through the zones over and over again. While the recent patch has not given us new content (and if I interpret them correctly, there won’t be any new content until July?), they did some other much needed changes which revived the game in general for me. You can now play WvW and the Edge of the Mists and get a reward track like they introduced in sPvP. I also completely forgot that you can unlock Hero Challenges in Tyria through playing WvW which means that I can slowly unlock my alts’ elite specializations without having to visit all the PvE challenges. This alone is motivation enough for me to play the game more often again!

This leaves Wildstar and Black Desert Online. My two newest MMO-addictions. Wildstar has amazing combat and I actually prefer it over Guild Wars 2 – well, in some areas, at least. But once my medic hit max level, I actually did not really know what to do in the game. I still have much exploring to do, so that is something, but I still felt… lost. Now that they introduced the new zone, Arcterra, that’s different. I haven’t played much on it yet, but I certainly will! And Black Desert Online – it’s a bit funny, actually. My first character got this quest chain for a mount and that’s all nice, but I switched to playing a Valkyrie instead and I can’t find that quest chain for her and she’s still running around on foot and that’s annoying me enough not to continue playing the game at the moment. I want to go to the bigger town and explore that and play there and quest and level, but I also want to find out where I can get that mount. It’s not even anything great like a noble steed. It’s a donkey. But still, I want it. :(

Wildstar Arcterra

On top of that, I actually don’t have that much time for gaming! I “stole” some and ignored other things that need to be done for a day or two recently (chores mostly :p), but I can’t do that all of the time. So I guess I should decide which games I want to focus on. But they all offer something unique that I want to experience.

5 years of Rift…

Since Rift and our blog are almost exactly the same age, I always get very nostalgic when I read about their anniversary preparations. As always I am looking forward to the Carnival of the Ascended, even though I am currently taking a break from playing Rift. I don’t think I will manage to stay away from that game during the carnival. At least, I think there are some nice rewards attached to that festival usually.

Either way, Trion also announced some big events connected to the anniversary. It sounded really great at first, but then I realized that it’s a “if you belong to the most active 1000 players, you have a chance at winning something”. Me having a fulltime job means I am automatically out of the competition. That’s a bit sad, actually. I guess it’s for the best of the game, though, because it means that there will be a lot of activity on the servers. But for me personally, as a player, it’s a bit disappointing. Still, more activity in the game also means that if I do log in and want to play, I will have lots more players with me and that is always good in an MMORPG.

If you want to participate in those events, you can find all rules and regulations here in the official forum and a blog post with more general information on the official website.

I was a bit confused when I had a look at my old screenshot as I had completely forgotten that there was a long headstart period starting in February. So here is the very first scenery screenshot I think I took.

Rift Scenery Starting Area

And here is one from my favourite region in that world, Gloamwood. This is where I enjoyed following the main storyline the most! Seriously, if you want to play Rift, make sure to give the storylines a chance until you’re in that region (it starts around level 20).

Rift Gloamwood

So congratulations to Trion and to Rift and let’s hope the game will stick around for a long long time!

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Spending money in Trion’s games

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnA side note first: I am very late with continuing the “Blogging 101” challenges, as I did not have any good ideas for some of the last tasks. Blogging 101 asked me to make a regular column, but I just did not have a good idea until now. I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them. So I will try to give my rants a place in this blog with “Paeroka’s Ponderings”!

Today’s topic is the recent shift in how Trion wants to monetize Rift and Trove. It started with Rift – if you ask me, several months ago already. I already complained about the prizing of the Primalist, a profession I am interested in, but won’t buy because I think it’s too expensive. Yes, I know that by paying I support Trion in developing Rift and that the few who are willing to pay something are financing the game for those who do not want to or are unable to. But let’s be honest here: I am not rich at all and I need to see where I am at the end of the month as well. If I want to feel generous, I rather donate money to charity. So when I do spend money on a game, I also ask myself: Do I get what I’m paying for? And in this case, it just feels too expensive. They also increased the price Europeans pay for credits (the currency you use in their cash shop) just a few months ago.

Rift Store

A couple of days ago, Rift’s community manager announced a change that came with very short notice (2 days). The earring slot and the unlock to wear water-based items would no longer be able to be unlocked with in-game currency, but with credits only. To elaborate: With the last expansion, character sheets also got two slots for earrings. Those earrings can add quite a bit to your stats (Rift is very much a stat-based game)! And then there are some items that can only be worn if your character is attuned to water (the element the expansion focuses on). So, without spending real money, you either have a weaker character than everybody else and sometimes drop items that your character cannot equip or you save all your gold (“platinum” in Rift) to spend on a REX. REX is an item bought with real money by a player. That player can then sell this REX in the game and receive platinum for it. With that REX, the player who bought it can exchange it for credits, the cash shop’s currency, and buy those earrings slots. Long story short: Every unlocked earring slot was paid with real money from now on. In other words, unless somebody pays money, your characters are weaker than other people’s characters. What was the definition of “pay to win” again?

Again, I do get that they need to earn money. And what I really like about Trion, despite all this, is how open they are in their communication. At least, they’re not waiting until the “shitstorm” dies down, and reply to the community. But at the end of the day, I still strongly disagree with what Trion is doing and it will reflect in my willingness to spend money on their game.

Trove_Mounts in the store

Not long after that announcement, Trove also announced a shift in how they are earning money. Some of those changes are minor, I would say. You get fewer initial cubits, but the amount you get in the beginning isn’t that huge anyway. And since this is one of the in-game currencies, I think it’s okay. Yes, cubits are used to pay for some items which can be paid with either this in-game currency or real money, but I still don’t think it’s too bad. Additionally, I actually thought some items were rather cheap on the store and wondered why I should pay with credits (the real money currency) if I can also pay with cubits. The much more controversial part is that classes will no longer be unlockable with cubits! In order to get a new class, you will have to pay. But they also said that there will be ways to randomly get a class coin which can be spent on any class in the cash shop and that you will be able to unlock a few classes for free. In fact, you will be able to unlock more classes for free than you are now, but if you want all of the classes, you will have to spend at least some money.

On top of that, they are considering hiding features behind the Patron status (monthly sub). While I understand the first two parts, I am scared of what will come out of this change! I do not pay monthly subs, because I just don’t play most games often enough to justify one. The only exception being Wildstar right now, but I do not intend to keep my sub running once it expires. Instead, I plan on spending some money to buy a few costumes or mounts and unlocks. I would really hate to see features that I like being hidden behind a paywall. What’s worse is that since patron is a monthly fee, the minute I stop paying, I lose access. Unless I decide to pay the monthly fee again, of course. But once again – and even stronger here than in Rift – I get the feeling that they want to communicate with us and maybe reduce the negative reactions both games are facing now. They also stated that patron benefits will not include playable content. So maybe, those changes won’t be that bad, after all. Maybe.

2015 in screenshots

As I previously said, Haffle’s “Screenshots Of The Year 2015” post inspired me to do something like this myself. Instead of going by game, I will try to go through the year by months.

January 2015 was all about the Guild Wars 2 stencil contest that ArenaNet had hosted together with fansites – and, of course, the Heart of Thorns announcement.

February 2015 marked Trove’s open beta.

Trove_Monocle
My character as candy barbarian in her cornerstone

In March 2015 the second German Foostival took place. I was also still playing lots of Trove. And our blog turned 4 years old.

April 2015 – more Trove… and Guild Wars nostalgia…

In May 2015 …which didn’t engulf me until May. I also revisited Folk Tale (still not released, by the way. I’ll have to re-re-re-visit it again, I think. It is constantly being developed further, after all!)

June 2015 was… all about Trove again. Oh, and look: New Lion’s Arch!

July 2015 had me hide in my Rift dimension to build – oh, and Trove launched.

August 2015 was the busiest month here as I participated in Blaugust. There wasn’t much time to play with the amount of posts I wrote. I had started to feel at home in Wildstar, though. Oh, and I gave Project Gorgon and The Repopulation a  serious try.

September 2015 – my birthday month. Not that much happened gaming-wise, actually.

October 2015 was the gaming month. Wildstar switched to “free to play” and Guild Wars 2 launched its first expansion.

In November 2015 I spent quite a lot of time enjoying the Guild Wars 2 expansion.

And last but not least, in December 2015 I hit 50 with my first character in Wildstar and was busy with Christmas preparations and visiting family and friends.

This is it. My year 2015 in screenshots. :)

Gaming disappointments of 2015

In general, 2015 has been a really good year for me gaming-wise (or in general even!), but there are also a few negative points that stick out for me. Not games in general, but part of the games that I otherwise liked or was looking forward to. So if you see something on the list here, it of course doesn’t mean that I think the whole game is crap. :p The list is also in no particular order as it would be really difficult to compare and rank the issues I’m having with the various games or aspects.

The ending (episode 5) of “Life is Strange” (spoiler-free!)

It is simply not possible to say anything about this part without spoiling, but I will try. I had read about some players’ opinions that they had been disappointed about the ending and I had wished not to belong to that group, but rather to the one who enjoyed and liked the last episode. Unfortunately, I am disappointed as well. I am not saying it’s a bad episode. The problem for me was that it did not feel as great as episodes 2 to 4 did. On the other hand, it being the last episode, I also did kind of rush through it to experience the ending of the story. So this could be part of it.

Guild Wars 2 throughout the year

Yes, I know they prepared for their first expansion and the whole company was busy working on it, but having the game with nothing new to do content-wise for most of the year still seemed very weird to me, especially considering the game is still very young and received its first expansion. So, no matter what I think of the expansion, for most of the year, Guild Wars 2 was the same than it was in 2014 and that was disappointing for me and not what I had expected.

Rift_Level 41

Rift and the Primalist

In October 2014, Rift had launched its second expansion “Nightmare Tide”. While the content itself is free, other things (like new souls for your callings) need to be bought. I did pay for a few things (I bought the new souls, for example). Now they are asking me to give them 30-something € again for 6/10 of a new class, the Primalist. 6/10 because 4 souls are not released or done yet, but they already said that the remaining four souls would be a separate purchase. I know, I know, I don’t have to pay for it, I don’t have to play it and it certainly isn’t “pay to win”. But it still felt too fast after the release of the expansion to ask for such a large amount of money for 60 % of a new class. The price is just too much.

Valhalla Hills and lack of depth

I had such high hopes when I heard who was developing this game (some developers who were responsible for the early Settlers games and for the Cultures series) and when I saw the first trailer. After I had gotten the game (as a prize from winning in the Blaugust challenge), I did have fun in the game for a while. However, it is nowhere near Cultures or Settlers. Asking for 30 € for this game just seems like much too much and part of me just can’t get rid of the feeling that this would have been a great mobile game. But on a PC? It just doesn’t really work for me. It is lacking the depth that Settlers and Cultures had. Maybe one day it will get close, but so far, I’d rather play the old Cultures games again (which I can, because I have all of them and they work wonderfully with Windows 7).

ValhallaHills-Grola

Neocore Games’ communication techniques

Van Helsing’s “Final Cut” did get released in 2015 after all. Two times, Neocore Games decided to postpone the release. Important: them postponing the release is not my complaint here! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know which issues caused them to postpone the release twice and that’s a good sign, because it means the issues are clearly not part of the game anymore! However, both times the company decided to announce the postponing within 24 hours or less than its scheduled release date. I would think they should have known longer before that. In a time where people take days off work to play a game on release day, this should be handled with more foresight. Thankfully, I don’t belong to those people. :p But I had still planned my evening around being able to play the game and it was disappointing. Having a bit more warning ahead of time is much better and lets a company seem much more professional. With these short windows between the announcements and the originally scheduled release, they did come off as less professional than they probably are. Still, all is well that ends well. So let me emphasize this once more: My complaint is about their communication, but not about their game at all which I happen to love. :)

The Repopulation’s engine woes

I feel so bad for the developers of “The Repopulation”. Not being able to continue working on your game and selling it to players (especially now with the holiday sales) must be heart-breaking. They have done really well so far if you ask me and the game’s been coming along nicely. In case you don’t know what’s going on with the Repopulation: They are working with the HeroCloud Engine. The company behind that engine is having some kind of issues. You can read up on it on MassivelyOP if you like. By now, it seems that there is cause to be optimistic that the issues will be resolved soon. What’s so sad here is that none of this is the fault of the developers of The Repopulation and they certainly don’t deserve such a scare or missing out on sales. So yeah, the game itself or any of its parts are NOT on my disappointment-list. On the contrary!

Devilian’s server Seadrift

This came in at the last minute, more or less. Seadrift is one of the two European servers for Devilian. Of course, it is the one with my character on it. What happened is that some weird data loss issue had emerged causing Trion to work overtime to try and fix it. Characters had lost their items (in an ARPG title like Devilian, this is really bad, of course) and quest progress has been lost as well. I, for example, could now re-do some quests. In fact, I also have a tutorial quest which I can’t do, because I can’t access the tutorial area anymore. Unfortunately, this also means that I do not have that box with items that you can open every few levels to get some rewards out of it. It also doesn’t feel right to know that while I did do those quest chains, the game itself lost the data and there is no trace of it left. In the “aftermath”, the server had to undergo maintenance several more times, compensation has been given out and so on. But it still feels weird with the character not being as it used to be. I have since started playing on the other European server, because I don’t trust Seadrift anymore. One good thing about this whole issue was Trion’s communication, by the way. They did frequently post updates about what is going on! I did feel it would be a bit unfair to the company to post this complaint here without also posting the positive aspect of it.

Devilian

Now that my complaints are out there, look forward to “My personal top 5 of 2015” list coming soon (as soon as I have made my final decision on which games should be on there and at which position :p).