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.

WAR f2p… for a short time

Warhammer Online_115When I wrote about the closure of Warhammer Online, I complained about them not doing anything to say goodbye to the players. As a goodbye, Mythic has now reactivated all accounts and Warhammer Online is free to play until they shut it down on December 18. This is definitely a nice gesture. According to the official announcement, they will also add NPCs that will “power you up”. This is good, since you can’t really join the endgame (T4) unless your character isn’t only max level but also has a high renown rank. At least, if you want to be any competition to the players who’ve been around for ages.

Of course, I haven’t been able yet to get into my old account which is a shame. I would love to say goodbye to my characters. :) I am currently logged in with an account, but I have no idea which one it is. It might be the one I used after cancelling my sub as for quite some time, they let players try the first 10 levels of the game for free.

Patching seems to be very slow. So if you want to have a look at the game, better be patient.

Farewell, Warhammer Online

I am late with my article reminiscing about Warhammer Online after the closing of the MMO on December 18, 2013 was announced, but for a good reason. If you scroll just a little bit down, you can see a carefully selected assortment of screenshots that I have taken in the one year that I played. This took quite a while to sort through. Also, be warned: This post is full of personal nostalgia and will be very long.

When I saw the announcement of WAR’s closure, I was a bit shocked. Not that the game is going to close as this has been foretold by players for years. ;) But for a few weeks, the WAR community had not heard anything about the game and its upcoming anniversary. Said announcement was posted on the game’s 5th anniversary. That’s a great way to show how much you care about your costumers! So far, there’s also not been any announcement of closing parties/events as other MMOs have done them.

All in all, I do not regret that I left the game after a year. I did miss it every once in a while, but never enough to pay Mythic any more of my money.

But let’s head back in time. It was 2007 or 2008 when bookahnerk first mentioned Warhammer to me. I probably barely looked up from my screen playing World of Warcraft and just muttered a quiet: “Warwhat?” He told me about this MMO in development and I, being the nice girlfriend that I’ve always been, sat there and smiled and nodded and… no, seriously. Of course, I listened, but I was not interested in another MMO. I already had WoW and didn’t need anything else, especially as I did not want to pay two subs. I don’t know when that changed, but while getting burned out in WoW and listening to him tell me about this wonderful Warhammer universe that is also the spiritual parent of Warcraft, I got hooked up. It didn’t take long and it was me sitting in front of the PC reading every piece of information and new I could find about the game while squeeing excitedly at the classes that Mythic had already revealed. I especially remember one Sunday morning with bookahnerk acting like he was fast asleep while I went on and on about which class I found interesting and why. Once I talked about the “zealot“, though, he was wide awake and told me why he loved that class and wanted to play only that one – or the blackguard, but this was ultimately one of the four classes that got postponed.

WAR CE mousepadWe both bought the Collector’s Edition of the game. My very first Collector’s Edition of anything. You can see a video of somebody unboxing it on YouTube, only that ours also had a small mousepad as GOA (the European publisher) had added that to our version. The best part was probably the mini figurine that, typical for Warhammer figurines, came in several pieces and with no colouring. Quite a lot of people stormed to whatever forum they found (there weren’t official game forums in the beginning) to complain about the broken figurine. By the way, mine is… still not done. It’s been on or near my desk all this time, but apart from a bit of filing, nothing’s been done. Oh well. One day… one day (and only if I find the orc’s arm again… O.o)! There was no soundtrack, though. Instead, Mythic offered 6 songs to download for free.

But back to before launch. First, there was open beta. If I remember correctly, it was exactly one week of open beta. At that point, GOA was reponsible for the European players, servers, service and so on. We were all eagerly awaiting the website to accept our account registrations. We had our open beta codes, but GOA said we had to wait. I don’t know how many we were, but we crashed the site. On the day open beta was supposed to start, we could finally enter our registration codes! Bookahnerk and I met with a friend on Teamspeak and instead of entering a code, we just saw “414” appear on our screens. In the end, we watched some DVDs and at some point during the night, it finally worked.

I did not want to spoil my fun by playing a goblin shaman which was what I wanted to play a week later at release. So I chose the most unlikely candidate: The blackorc. I knew I only liked casters and healers and since the blackorc is a tank, I was certain it was the best choice. Oddly enough, it turned out that I really loved the blackorc and did make him my first main (I switched to shaman and engineer later on, but not because I disliked my blackorc). It was Warhammer that made me realize how much I love tank classes. And speaking of the blackorc, I absolutely loved that the orcs weren’t the only ugly characters in the game. ;) During character creation, you could choose scars for all characters. That pretty lady down there (in the gallery) is missing an eye! Well, it just shows she’s not to be messed with as she has no problems getting into a fight and coming out alive in the end with a pretty scar to brag about on top.

So this is one thing that I’ll always remember positively: My blackorc. Other than that, I also loved how they implemented the tanks. In PvE they were pretty much your standard tanks, but in RvR they started to shine. Of course, they were tougher to beat than others, but thanks to collision in the game, they really could block other players’ paths. And they had skills that gave those standing behind them a defensive buff. They also had the guard ability they could put on one other player, so that part of the damage to that player was taken by the tank instead. This way, all classes were useful in PvP.

Warhammer Online also had something similar to Guild Wars 2’s dynamic events – only that they were static. ;) But they were specific events in zones where everybody could participate and had to work together. If you contributed enough, you got to roll on loot. Unfortunately, if there were e.g. 20 players, not every player got loot as there was only a limited amount of loot bags. But overall, this wasn’t actually too annoying. These public quests, but also roaming through the RvR zones, were made easier by public groups. Those could scale up to the size of a raid (4 groups with 6 players each). You could open a small window to see all public groups in the area. With just one click you joined the party. The window also showed you how many seconds were still left until you grouped up with them. This made interacting with others and finding them a lot easier and faster.

Warhammer is no peaceful world. It’s dark and grim, spiked with dark humour. Not even your capital city was safe! Every now and then, a hero monster appeared that required a group to kill. If you just happened to go afk near that mailbox and returned a few minutes later, you could basically just scratch your remains off the ground and regroup. They also had level-neutral mobs. The player who first attacked the mob determined its level. If a level 10 player attacked the mob, it would change into a level 10 mob. This was great especially for events as that meant that every player could participate.

I will also always fondly remember the first week after release where we were just bashing the other faction – and they were bashing us. Back and forth, back and forth in the chaos/empire first RvR zone. Another player came by, stopped and asked: “Why are you doing that?” – There are objectives in WAR’s RvR zones, after all. Flags to be captured, castles to be stormed and claimed, etc. But we didn’t do anything like that. Our reply was: “Because it’s fun.” – Of course, later on, it wasn’t that much fun anymore and more tactical fights on the battlefield were preferred. But this was the first week. Everybody was trying out their class and wanted to see what’s possible and I think we quite enjoyed fighting in such a largy army (even though performance was bad for quite a lot of us). Everything was new and we did not do stuff for loot or gold. We did it, because it was fun.

Altogether, I spent many many hours in the game and while I’d been very shy about getting into PvP/RvR at first, the way the game was designed, I just fell in love with PvP: RvR zones were in the middle of the PvE areas, a warning and countdown popped up before you got flagged after entering the RvR zone, you got unflagged after death and could go on about your PvE business if you had enough and it was very easy to find others roaming the RvR zones thanks to the public groups. The maps were also always a great help when trying to figure out where fights were happening (crossed swords were shown at the location) or where your help may be needed.

So when I loved this game so much, why didn’t I stay?

Bugs, lags, crashing servers, crashing clients (though I didn’t suffer from that, at least, but others did), stuttering, hitching, a lack of development, a lack of balancing,… mostly stuff like this. To give one example: Bookahnerk was not able to do one of the scenarios (instanced PvP). It was called “Twisting Tower” and you entered the battlefield by using a jumppad, but whenever he used the jumppad, his character did not land on the tower as he was supposed to, but fell down long before he even reached the tower which meant he fell right into his death. There was no way to get into the fights without using the jumppads. His PC could handle the game, but in this case, it was too slow. A weak PC determined your character’s position in the game. Brilliant idea. ;) Not to mention the players that got banned for speed-hacking – it turned out that those players had overclocked their CPUs.

Not that long after release, the game saw its first added content, the Land of the Dead. After that, no other new zones were added. In general, it seemed that patches got slower and smaller. If you read the announcement post, you’ll see Carrie Gouskos saying “We had this, but we didn’t finish it. We were working on that, but then we axed it…” – and this is just the short summary of WAR’s development. In the end, stuff was taken out instead of added in, like the fortresses, because those regularly crashed the servers. Apparently, they were reintroduced… a mere two years after being taken out!

The game world itself, as I said, was a grim and dark place. Maybe they wanted to make us feel unsafe as well by placing traps in the oddest corners: I once got stuck in a bush and bookahnerk liked to get caught by fences. You could “unstuck” yourself, at least, but it was still a tiny bit annoying. Especially as those places never got fixed. Bookahnerk’s cousin regularly ended up below the game world’s floor. By jumping. See the above mentioned problem that bookahnerk had with the Twisting Tower. Those were probably related, as bookahnerk’s cousin had a really, really bad PC and jumping meant the PC had trouble loading the new data while determining where his character landed after jumping.

If you’re looking through the screenshots, you may notice some Denglish in there. The client determined part of the shown language with the server determining the other part. Quests were displayed in German on German servers and in English on English servers. That part was determined by the server. The interface itself was dependant on your client’s language. I could not stand that mixture, so playing on German servers meant using the German client. Thankfully, the translation actually wasn’t bad at all if I remember correctly!

Something else that was always with us were server transfers. We started playing on Bolgasgrad. Then player subs went down, and three months after launch, servers had to be closed. We transferred to Hergig and felt quite at home there. However, about 6 months later, player subs were again down and Hergig got closed. Our last transfer led us to Drakenwald. I had switched to playing Order at some point after transferring, so I was playing on Carroburg. But that’s not WAR’s fault. ;) I had just found a guild that seemed stable and friendly and they happened to play Order. That was also when I switched from my blackorc and my goblin shaman to my dwarf engineer. I am still with that guild as they are my German Guild Wars 2 guild. So, count those to the positive things of the game!

I’ll end my post with this: I had fun and I loved the RvR. Until this day I still miss it, as I haven’t experienced anything similar in other MMOs so far. On top of that, I got to meet a great guild and great people in that guild, of course. For that, I am thankful. So farewell, Warhammer Online and thanks for all the fish.

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.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (December 12, 2011)

Welcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to gaming (will most likely include at least one piece about Guild Wars 2 ^^).

Let’s start today’s Geekwatch with Lotro. We’ve just received update 5 which gives us the second half of the expansion that launched in September. Since I’m not playing Lotro much, I haven’t actually cared about what’s in the update too much. I know it’s new instances and a new raid. In case you’re interested and for some reason haven’t found them yet, here are the patch notes (and the known issues). An interesting bit of information is hidden inside and fortunately, Doc Holiday posted about it: The plugins finally got a plugin manager! That’s one thing I really wanted Turbine to add. It’s just not so nice to have to use a third party plugin for all that stuff. I’ve only tested it shortly and one plugin worked while another didn’t but I guess that’s because I haven’t updated them in quite some time. ;) I guess that also means that I’ll have to update my Lotro plugins guide. If you want to have a look, ignore the part about needing a plugin manager and ignore the part about the plugins leading to crashes. ;)

And finally, a giveaway posted at Casual Stroll to Mordor: Win Turbine Points! I am not going to participate because I don’t need any points. But I’m sure it’ll make a few players out there very happy. :)

Next on the list: Warhammer Online. Though the poor game isn’t getting any good news, I’m afraid. Or maybe they are good news for the remaining players. Mythic announced two more server merges on Wednesday. After that, we’ll have 1 US server, 1 European server, 1 German server (technically European as well but we do like our own language too much… ^^) and 1 Russian server (not operated by Mythic, I think). Werit has posted a bit more about WAR. Tobold also writes about this and poor SWG. I found this spot-on. SWTOR kills SWG and maybe even Warhammer Online. We’ll see in a month or two. ;)

Let’s switch over to Everquest 2. This game just went “free-er to play” after having had a f2p server for about a year or so. Now you can access all servers. I returned, especially because they made a few changes to their f2p-system. This now is the third try I’ve given EQ2, by the way (in case you remember me asking How many chances do you give a game? some time ago). I wasn’t too happy with any of the available free races but started playing one anyway. After Sony’s hacking fiasco, I’d gotten 400 Station Cash, though, and figured that I could upgrade to silver and buy myself the race pack that includes ratongas. I couldn’t find the silver pack anywhere in the shop and was disappointed only to find out that apparently, Sony had granted all accounts, including previous trial and f2p accounts, the upgrade to silver! So I already do have all those benefits. I quickly bought 500 more Station Cash and am now the happy owner of three races: ratonga, Iksar (lizard ladies! I already made my “Gechi” – and was very happy to see that this name wasn’t taken yet on Freeport and ogres. I was certain I wouldn’t care about the ogres at all but they do have a certain charme. I might make one later. So far, I have Tenedra (whom you can see on the picture on the right), a wizard ratonga and a ratonga swashbuckler. I also have said iksar (guardian) but haven’t played her yet. I’ll most likely continue playing Tenedra. If you’re curious about all the pros and cons of EQ2’s f2p version, head over to Player vs. Developer who wrote a great post about it. This is also the first f2p game that I ever spent money on, I think. And Guild Wars (though it doesn’t count because it’s not a real f2p game to begin with… ^^).

Last but not least: Guild Wars 2 and their lack of news. Sadly. Though I’m just impatiently shuffling my feet here. Hunters Insight reminded me of Eric Flannum’s post again:
“All that being said we’re definitely getting closer, we’ll be revealing the final profession before the end of the year, and we’ve got a few other things to talk about in the coming weeks as well.”

There aren’t too many days left and as Hunters Insight says, they probably (hopefully?) won’t want to tell us all about the last class during the holidays. I also got curious when I saw Massively announce the IRC chat with Jon Peters and Johnathan Sharp on Wednesday. Maybe there’ll be a lot of questions to ask then? Maybe we’ll finally get to hear something new about Guild Wars 2?

All I know is that I don’t care much about SWTOR. It’s not my kind of game. Instead, as you might have noticed, I got sucked into EQ2 and am now exploring this game while anxiously peeking at Twitter, waiting for some official tweet from GW2. ;)