There is one feature that I would truly love to see in Guild Wars 2: Archaeology from World of Warcraft.
Let me explain first what archaeology is, for those of you who may not be familiar with World of Warcraft and its professions. Thankfully, I even still had a 10 day free trial of the last expansion of World of Warcraft, so I could actually reactivate my account for free to show you these nice screenshots! All for you, my non-WoW-connoisseurs!
So, archaeology is one of the secondary professions in World of Warcraft. You can have up to two primary ones (e.g. tailoring, enchanting, armorsmithing – the usual), but your character can learn all available secondary professions (first aid, fishing, cooking and archaeology). The short version is: You go hunt for pieces of lore all around the maps and have a chance to get some nice rewards like mounts (well, they do exist in WoW, after all :p), mini pets, nice-looking weapons and so on.
When you have learned the profession, you see several available dig sites on the map. You have to go to such a dig site and click your archaeology skill. In the game, your character puts up a surveying tool and you need to look at the direction it is facing towards as well as the colour of the little blinking light. Move into the direction the tool is showing. If the light is blinking in red, then you are far away from a relic and know you can walk quite a bit – it could also be further left or right of where the tool is facing. If it is yellow, you are in medium range. If it is green, you are only a few metres away from the relic. Once you are within range and use your skill, the relic shows up. You can collect several relics at each dig site before you need to move to another one. Every relic belongs to one collection. It counts up based on the rarity of the relic (see screenshot above). Once you achieved a certain amount, you can “hand in” the collection and then start all over again. Every time you complete a collection, you get something. It’s random, but you can see what you will get as soon as you start a new collection.
This post is part of Blaugust and I decided to “take a break” from the posts I’ve planned to do in order to write about one of the prompts:
What is your favorite evergreen game?
An evergreen game is a game that you find yourself going back to consistently despite doing other things and playing other games in between. Usually an evergreen game holds up over the course of months or years.
My very first MMORPG was World of Warcraft. I started playing it because bookahnerk had been playing it and after telling me how great it was, I caved in. At first, I had just asked him to let me try the game myself on his account… I got my own account two days later. :p We played until the end of Burning Crusade, but quit before Wrath of the Lich King came out. While bookahnerk went back after half a year in WAR, I stayed away for a longer time… this, however, will be part of another blog post later. Yes, I will take you on a journey. ;)
I don’t think a single year has passed where I did not go back to World of Warcraft. I had left during BC, as mentioned above, returned at the end of Wrath of the Lich King and stayed for quite some time of the Cataclysm expansion. After that, I always returned when Blizzard had given me 7 free days again. But it even goes as far as putting a reminder in my calendar, so I wouldn’t forget to activate my current 7 free days before they expired at the end of last week. :p One time, after those 7 free days, I also bought the expansion “Mists of the Pandaria” and a 30 day game time card. Unfortunately, this was also just a few days before Rift announced going “free to play” and WoW had no chance against me being able to play Rift again.
Speaking of Rift, this is the second game that qualifies for the title “evergreen game”, at least when it was still sub-based. Every few months, I would get a few days – I think it was on weekends – of free game time. I always went back to play that game during those weekends, dreaming of the day they would go free to play. Needless to say, now that it is free to play, I am playing it and enjoying it immensely (while yes, also giving Trion some of my money once in a while – I feel this always needs mentioning when I say that I play again because it is “free to play” as I don’t mind paying, I just do mind being forced to pay every single month).
Just a few days ago, I downloaded Lord of the Rings Online again and logged into my account for the first time in about half a year or so. I even bought the Beorning class, created a character with that class and started playing it. But returning once for a very brief time does not count, right?
If I could, I would also return to Warhammer Online in a heartbeat – yes, despite ranting and raging about how bad that game was. :p It did have some really good ideas for really good features and if only they could be implemented well (without lagging, rubberbanding, server crashes), this game would have been quite good, actually… in PvP, at least. Let’s better not mention the PvE side.
Still, the one and only game that always draws me back is World of Warcraft. I did get all expansions but Warlords of Draenor and the just-announced Legion. We still went to the announcement of the expansion at gamescom. We were already at the convention anyway. There was so much excitement and yes, nostalgia as well, of course.
So, while I do like returning to WoW for those 7 free days – and also, logging in to my account with my low level characters (you can now play for free with characters level 20 and below!), I just don’t see myself returning to the game in a serious manner. This ship has sailed. Not because I don’t like World of Warcraft anymore and not because the game would bore me, but because I do have so many alternatives right now that I’m more or less actively playing (Guild Wars 2, Rift, Trove and, most recently, Wildstar – especially when the latter goes free to play later this year), that there simply is no point in investing any serious amount of my gaming time for yet another MMO. But that gaming nostalgia will always be there. I will always have fond memories of WoW and the fun I had with friends and family. And whenever I do start up that game, I realize: Those times are gone. They are fond memories, but the current game is just not the game I used to play anymore.
Thursday is the day where gamescom is usually the least busy out of all the days that are open to the general public. But it is still far from empty! That’s the reason why we completely skipped gamescom last year. There was also nothing there we had really wanted to see, so we only went to the Guild War 2 community party in the evening. This year, however, we wanted to see gamescom as well, even though again, there was nothing we really wanted to see. I don’t need the Guild Wars 2 demo, for example, when I can just play the beta weekend event on my home PC. Thankfully, they opened more halls this year which meant that the crowd got to spread out a bit more and I think the paths between the booths were also a bit wider. The only hall that was so crowded you could hardly move was the merchandise one. Very weird if you ask me!
It took us a bit longer than planned to arrive in Cologne (1,5 hours drive) as there had been quite some traffic on the roads. But we have also spent several hours in a traffic jam once a few years ago, so that was nothing in comparison. We decided to park our car in a parking garage close to the venue of the Wildstar Community Event in the evening, so we would not have to park our car in two different spaces (which would have cost more) and walked to gamescom from there. I really love that walk as it leads over a big bridge and you can see the Cologne Cathedral from there as well as overview a part of the Rhine.
Once inside the gamescom, our first stop was the computec media booth. As subscribers of one of their magazines, we got a little goodie bag there. Unfortunately, it was mostly stuff we will throw in the bin this time. Very ugly cheap green plastic sunglasses from “Just Dance 2014”, for example. A copy of “Sacred 2” and a magazine guide for Minecraft from last year (original cost: 10 €) are the only two useful things. Unfortunately, we don’t play Minecraft. But eh, it was free, so I won’t complain.
Directly next to the booth was the XMG booth where Rocketbeans were set up. This is something that non-German speakers probably don’t know. Or maybe you have seen the name before as they are quite popular on Twitch. They are German only, though. We watched them for a bit, but you could only see them and not hear them as they were inside a “glass cube” and streamed live on Twitch from in there. It felt a bit like a trip to the zoo and we were watching the animals inside their cage. ;)
We also watched a guy at the Cyberith Virtualizer booth for a bit. He had just gotten into what looked like a “baby walker”. It did look interesting in how his own movements got translated into this fantasy world we could see on the screen. He moved and turned around and what he could see through his Oculus Rift changed accordingly. What did not seem to work too well was the actual “walking” part. The guy walked and walked and walked, but the image on the screen showed veeeery slow movement, if the “character” moved at all. I feel it needs to be polished still, but the general idea is really nice and it did look impressive nonetheless!
The entrance of the merchandise hall – the least crowded corner in there
So, I actually tried a game. Well, “tried”. The thing is – and the reason why I don’t care much about long queues personally anyway – that I want to *know* what I’m doing and I need time to read the tooltips and to get into the game. I want to do that in my own time without knowing that lots of people are waiting for their turn right behind me. Since this is not possible at gamescom anyway, I tend not to play anything and just watch others playing. But there was one booth where several gaming stations were empty. Unfortunately, all stations are prepared for right-handers with the mouse on the right side and I cannot play like that. Some even have asymmetrical gaming mice making it even harder for me, even if I get to put the mouse on the left side. On that note: Thank you, NCsoft, for having symmetrical mice at the community party, so I could just put the mouse on the left side of the keyboard and play! But this is also my personal problem with being unable to handle a mouse with my right hand and an aching wrist and so on. Still, it’s not much fun, right?
Anyway, the games in question were Van Helsing: Final Cut and Warhammer 40.000. We only looked at the screens, but what drew me in was that it looked like a Diablo-clone. And I mean that in the most positive sense! We actually thought it was Warhammer 40k on that side of the booth, but it turned out to be Van Helsing. Either way, I wanted to give it a try! I really like this genre and if it hadn’t had that resemblance, I may not even have looked at it. But I did, I picked up the mouse and killed a few mobs. That was more than enough for me to determine: Yes, I’m interested! I want to know more! Unfortunately, there was nothing. No flyers or anything as far as I could see. But at least, they had the names of the game everywhere, so I can use my google skills. :p
I remember at a former gamescom we had stood in line to see what was inside the XCOM booth before its expansion “Enemy Within” launched. After waiting for quite some time, we were led into a dark room with bean bag chairs – very comfortable, but too dangerous to put them there at gamescom where you’re at your feet all day long… we didn’t want to leave anymore afterwards! On a sidenote: We just decided to buy a bean bag chair for our living-room. :p But back to “Enemy Within”: We were shown a video of the game, including the silly “I hold a controller in my hand and act like what you’re seeing is live right now and not staged at all”. And now, on to XCOM2 and back to gamescom 2015: The line had been relatively short. I think we waited for about 20 minutes or so until we were let in. It was a bit of a disappointment to see they had benches in there which were, of course, much less comfortable. On the flip side, they could fit in a lot more people at once which led to shorter queues. Once again, we were not allowed to take pictures or film the video. Of course we weren’t, because IGN has a report and the video uploaded now. If you want to see what we have seen, click the video below. Unfortunately, this has the guys from IGN talk all the time while we actually got to hear the in-game sound, voice-overs and all that together with some explanations on what we were seeing.
Of course, we also stopped by the Guild Wars 2 Twitch booth. In fact, we went there twice. This was when we first got to talk to Gaile Gray, who is the Forum Communications Team Lead for Guild Wars 2. We did not play the demo, as we both rather play the beta here at home. But it was still nice to watch others play for a bit and watch the ArenaNet team interact with the players.
At some point, we made the mistake of checking out the merchandise hall. It was horribly crowded in there. Yes, crowded-crowded! Narrow paths, booths with lots of people around them wanting to buy stuff and of course, everybody who walked along there watched what was available at the booths, so everybody walked slowly. It felt like ages to get through. And we went there twice, because we had been looking for something, but then ended up not buying anything after all. Close to that area was the food hall which we used to have lunch. The downside of the day tickets at gamescom is that you cannot leave the venue. If you do, you cannot get back inside. So you either need to bring your own food (not really a smart idea if you’re carrying your food in warm halls all day long) or buy what they’ve got there. Healthy food? Ha, you wish! We opted for the wannabe-Asian food of baked noodles with vegetables and soy sauce. A classic where you can’t go wrong, I guess. As usual for gamescom, there was a queue. Thankfully, there were two dishes on the menu: Baked noodles with vegetables and soy sauce – and baked noodles with vegetables, chicken and soy sauce. So we did not have to wait very long as they handed out the food in record speed. It was actually quite good! I would have assumed the noodles would be bathing in oil, but that was not the case. Of course, it was still super expensive, but at least, it was tasty.
We also later had crêpes (I chose the kind with applesauce, sugar and cinnamon while bookahnerk had the traditional “Nutella” ^^) and really bad coffee. Ever since I’ve stopped drinking my coffee with milk (oddly enough, I get sick when I drink coffee with milk, but milk on its own is no problem) and sugar (if I have coffee with sugar now, I have two distinctive tastes – coffee AND sugar, but not sugared coffee), I have come to realize how many bad coffees you are actually served. And that one belonged to the very bad category. It goes without saying that I still drank it all.
But back to the games part of gamescom. Overwatch. Bookahnerk would have loved to try it, but the queues were ridiculously long, even past 6 pm (gamescom closed at 8 pm that day). The convention has just become too popular and while tickets were sold out, they started letting people in past 2 pm as soon as enough other visitors had left the venue. However, we did get to see the announcement of the next World of Warcraft expansion “Legion”. I knew it would get crowded, but I was still surprised to see how many people had gathered there. Unfortunately, it also got very hot then. In general, the AC kept the temperature in the halls at a very nice level and it was very comfortable to walk around the booths (except for the merchandise hall and the hour around the expansion announcement). The announcement was one of the highlights for me. They started by showing off the trailer for the original vanilla World of Warcraft, then the expansions’ trailers in the appropriate order. So much nostalgia and lots of cheering and applauding from the crowd! And then, yes, I admit, I had some goosebumps when they showed the newest trailer and I saw Illidan. I immediately recognized the shape of him, although that’s not too difficult considering we have an Illidan figure in our glass cabinet in the hallway. We left after the trailer, because we had seen enough and needed to walk over to the Wildstar Community Event. But it looks like it will be a solid expansion. It will not bring me back, though. As long as World of Warcraft remains a sub-based game, it just wouldn’t make much sense. I just play too many MMOs as it is (with Wildstar currently being the exception because it will go free to play this fall).
Crowd before the announcement started
Crowd before the announcement started
This was earlier that day
This was taken earlier that day
One last anecdote before we end this blog post: Back in vanilla World of Warcraft, bookahnerk had one character slot reserved with a night elf hunter, waiting for Blizzard to release the “hero classes” as he wanted to make that night elf hunter into a demon hunter. As he said during the announcement: It only took them 11 years. – Better late than never, right? :)
Perfect timing from Blizzard… Just when I feared I would have nothing to write about on the 4th day of NaBloPoMo, they sent me an email reminder that the offer of 7 free days of playtime in World of Warcraft is about to expire. I activated my account this morning, patched it and then went to work.
I think it’s great that they give you free days every year or so. It actually did make me return to WoW before. I even bought an expansion just for that. However, usually after the first month or so, I realize: You either pay or you’re out. And that’s when I usually leave again. I still like the game, but it doesn’t offer me anything that other games can’t give me either. Or, at least, they offer me a similar experience without forcing me to pay. I’m not a “freeloader”, in case you’re worried about that. I do give companies some of my hard-earned money. Especially now that my financial situation allows me to spend money on such luxuries as gaming. I am still very clingy, though, and don’t like to feel forced. It’s all about perception here!
Anyway, this doesn’t change the fact that Blizzard offering me 7 free days here and there has had the intended effect in the past. This time, however, I very much doubt I’ll return. Guild Wars 2 is releasing their new patch today which also comes with a new zone and Rift has just released their expansion which I’m slowly playing through. On top of that, Trove is entering open beta and I’m curious to see how the development of the game is coming along and when they will release the candy barbarian. That’s three fine games right there and not one is asking for any money, just so I can even play it.
But let’s look at World of Warcraft. I don’t know everything that has changed since I’ve last left the game, but upon loading the game, I got quite a shock. I had seen the redesigns of the character models and always thought: That looks nice! But when I saw my own characters, my heart sank a bit. It’s not that they look completely different, but in a lot of cases, something in their expression changed. While I chose this one human face because it has a mixture of naiveté and curiosity, it now just looks… weird. Yes, weird could be it. Maybe a bit skeptical even. Look at the picture and you will probably see what I mean. My dwarf had this pretty shiny orange hair. I loved her friendly expression. The new face frankly just takes away any personality my dwarf has ever had.
Left: old. Right: new.
Left: old. Right: new.
Left: old. Right: new.
Thankfully, I quickly found out that you can re-enable the old character models. For a moment, I thought everything was gone. All those memories… yes, I know I’m not even playing the game anymore, so that doesn’t matter, right? But in a way, it did. Friendships formed in that game and for several years, it just accompanied me through my life. I know a lot has changed since then (both in my life and in the game), but my characters have always still been there whenever I returned.
I am curious what else I will discover in the next… 6 days. But for now, this blog post has actually been cut short as ArenaNet announced that they’ll be giving us the patch soon. This also saves you a lengthy rant today, I think. ;)
I stumbled upon a post by the ALT:ernative chat blog asking former and current World of Warcraft players 10 questions. This post is from August, so I was worried I’d be much too late, but in another post, the deadline is stated as… tomorrow. Perfect timing here. :p
As you, my readers, may know, I do not play World of Warcraft currently. But it is the very first MMO that I’ve ever played, so there’s a big chunk of nostalgia connected to it! World of Warcraft is having its 10 year anniversary and I’ve got to say that it aged very well. Anyway, on with the questions.
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
Because of my boyfriend. What a stereotypical boring answer, right? ;) But there it is. We had been together close to a year when he’d let me test the game on his account. He had offered before, but I had always declined, because despite liking computer games, I thought that an MMO was too big of a time investment. Well, I tested on Sunday evening. Monday afternoon, he called to tell me my account key. And the rest… is history. ;) We spent a few years playing that game, left for Warhammer Online, came back afterwards, left again, came back, and today, we only play on the free starter editions when we get the urge to have a look at the game again.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
I actually don’t remember. I tried out all the classes that were available for gnomes. I wondered if priest was a class I would enjoy, but gnomes couldn’t be priests back then. So, my dwarf priest, Grifola (see on the left), was born. The anecdote I always give about that character is how in Westfall (low level area, I hadn’t been playing for long), I got a random message from a random stranger asking me to please reroll the character because “female dwarves are ugly and fat and I don’t want to see them in the game”. -.-
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
I got the game in December 2005. It had released here in Europe in February 2005. So, at that point, my boyfriend, his sister, his cousin and a friend had settled down on a German PvP server, Alliance faction. I did not want to play alone, so I joined them. They also had Horde alts on a different German PvP server where I had created my undead warlock (seen in the picture) to play with them. But the main faction was Alliance and it stayed that way for our most active gaming time, even though I always liked Horde more. The people I wanted to play with just always ended up playing Alliance instead.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
There are a lot. For one, the above mentioned anecdote of a player asking me to reroll my female dwarf because he thought they’re fat and ugly. Thankfully, healers were in high demand and I had decided to not level as shadow (no dual-specs at that point), so I could jump into dungeons as a healer whenever a group needed one which meant that I met a lot of friendly and nice players who were just too happy to see my little healing dwarf. ;)
Another one was the weekend we spent at bookahnerk’s cousin’s place where we played our Horde characters. We basically did 4 man runs through all of Scarlet Crusade until everybody had all the good items that dropped from there. Thankfully, the dungeon had four wings. But it still got a tiny bit repetitive after a while. Still, with all four of us being in the same room, we had a lot of fun!
Last but not least (and there are definitely more memorable moments!), that one time in Serpentshrine Caverns where we killed Morogrim Tidewalker on our first try: I had been part of a raid that raided once a week. Most of the others did that raid with their alts and I was one of the few ones doing the raids with their main (draenei frost mage at that point). It was past the usual raid time, so quite a lot had had to leave and our raid leaders decided we should give that boss a try. We got a few others in, so there were several people there that had never done that boss before. Me included. We were usually a chaotic bunch of people, mostly because those who were there with their alts thought they didn’t need to pay attention that much during the encounters and concentration was always an issue. The raid leaders had told us: Yeah, we’re going to wipe here. But let’s just give it a try, okay? – That one single try ended with us killing the boss and 0 wipes, as nobody had made a mistake throughout the entire boss fight. I had never heard Teamspeak being this quiet. Until that moment when the boss died, of course!
5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
I can’t say what my favourite aspect is. When I first got into the game, I loved the soundtrack and how big the world seemed to be. I loved fishing and crafting and earning gold without doing any combat. How many addons and mods the game has and how much you actually can mod (mostly speaking about the UI here, not so much about damage meters and the like). There are so many things I still love and miss. Archaeology became one of my favourite things to do. I also greatly enjoyed the pet battles when I had briefly returned a few months ago (right before Rift went free to play and lured me back in). So, I would say archaeology and no, it hasn’t always been the case as that was added later on.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
An area as in a certain place in the world? Ironforge. With the music turned on. I often turn off the soundtrack, because it’s distracting or I’m watching a stream while playing. But entering Ironforge without having the music turned on just doesn’t feel right. This place is also connected to the “most nostalgia” seeing how the first city I ever entered was Ironforge with my dwarf.
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
I cannot check that because I’m not currently subscribed to the game. I did start in December 2005. As mentioned above, I left when Warhammer Online was released, but returned two or three more times following that initial departure. My /played time in all MMOs is always very high, though. I tend to be online in MMOs while doing other stuff (right now, my cleric in Rift is idling next to the mailbox, for example).
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on where I am in the game, what I’m doing next to gaming (e.g. watching a stream or talking to bookahnerk) and of course, the kind of quest. I am not interested in reading a vague and boring explanation on why I need to kill 10 murlocs. If the quest is related to a bigger storyline, for example, I usually read the quest texts.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
Not quitting the Karazhan raid with my healing druid earlier when the raid leader had started to be rude. (Hey look! I am capable of writing short answers… ^^)
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
Not all that many, actually. The effects to life outside of gaming came afterwards, especially with Guild Wars 2 where I went and met people outside of the game. On the other hand, I did meet other WoW players in gaming communities and friendships were formed. It was my first MMO, though, and the happenings in my life and new friends I have found were because I have this very blog here and I wouldn’t have started this blog without Warhammer Online and I probably wouldn’t have played that game if I hadn’t played WoW first. ;) Oh, one thing, though: My name! I did not go by “Paeroka” before World of Warcraft. That name is a name I had used in a (still unfinished) story I had started writing and when I started World of Warcraft, I needed names for my characters. I had given the name “Paeroka” to my undead warlock and later started using her name for myself (technically, that is “outside gaming”, because I use it on Twitter, etc. where I don’t only talk about games ^^).