On Monday my husband ran a guild activity in World of Warcraft: a kind of “Hide and Seek” across the zones of Kul Tiras. Each alt was logged off during the day in an out of the way location, we then had clues in guild chat when he logged each alt back on as to where we could find them.
There were points for reaching each character first, second or third out of all those participating and some prizes at the end for the highest score.
The clues had us all racing all over specific zones looking for each character in-game. Their content hinted at aspects of lore, area names, NPCs or features of the map itself. Great fun was had by all, with guild chat filled iwth banter and laughter as we raced back and forth. It was a great excuse to take a break from questing or grinding and to just travel around these beautifully crafted zones.
Looking at the map in more detail than normal was important. Also thinking back on all those quests that we did as we levelled through the zones was useful. Some of the clues were more cryptic than others – this mixed approach gave everyone a shot at guessing some of the locations correctly.
As I write this I wonder what other guild activities are possible? This was competitive, albeit good-natured, since we were racing around to find each character. I’ve read several times on other blogs about guilds hosting lore quizzes for prizes, but again that’s competitive.
I took part in a similar hide and seek event in Neverwinter years ago. I also remember taking part even longer ago in a climbing/jumping competition in Dungeons & Dragons Online.
What kinds of player-created guild activities have your guilds come up with? I’d love to read some examples. Were any cooperative instead of competitive? I’m wondering whether the dungeon building toolset of Neverwinter or Everquest 2 might allow a “escape room” style series of puzzles or something inspired by the Crystal Maze?
Shintar has a very detailed review of the history of daily missions in Star Wars the Old Republic in a recent post. It’s a great post if you want to feel nostalgic about various aspects of questing and repeatable content in the earlier periods of the game’s history.
I have a very on-off relationship with daily quests. In Lord of the Rings Online since September I’ve been mostly running dailies in Minas Tirith on my main. I’d learned that there were all-important return skills to unlock via reputation withe defenders of that city and the set of six repeatable quests in the post-battle version of that city are an easy way to boost that reputation. Doing a run of those takes less than half an hour, at a nice pace and in a relatively small area.
These are daily quests but I never get too focused on them. I wouldn’t have the time, even for 30 minutes, to play LOTRO and run them every day. Gaming as my hobby is rarely priority number 1: I’m not the sort of dedicated gamer that gets up early in the morning to fit in a session before going to work.
In World of Warcraft, likewise, I’m happy to run emissaries (sets of 3 or 4 world quests) when online and time permits. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to make time every day to run the maximum number of emissaries possible. Running the same emissaries on more than one character is also a turn-off for me.
World bosses are world quests too
I’ve played alts a lot less in Battle for Azeroth than I did in Legion anyway, but even in the last expansion I rarely repeated emissaries on a given day – better to run them in batches on different days. The flexibility of the emissary system is to be lauded in that vein: since you can save up to three days worth of emissaries up, you can alternate between two characters on different days. It keeps you from having to rerun content back-to-back when compared to a more traditional daily quest system.
So for me daily quests are a valuable content type; either as a way to catch-up a character that has lagged behind the difficulty curve (my main in LOTRO) or as something to do at ‘end-game’ where I’m not actually that interested in the main group content (i.e. raids or Mythic+). But taking them to the implied norm of the daily chore that I should be logging in to do is a step too far – that strays too far into ‘needy MMO‘ for my tastes.
Recently we had that rare opportunity to sit down and do some tabletop roleplaying in person. Such events vary greatly in frequency but, with my longest running D&D (3.5) campaign that started back in 2006, it’s never that frequent. 2018 proved to be the year we have made more of virtual tabletop gaming. We’ve grown pretty accustomed to playing D&D and now Starfinder via Fantasy Grounds.
This has the odd side-effect that playing Starfinder in person requires all the equipment of virtual gaming but in the same room. The campaign, the character sheets and even the manual are all digital products either in Fantasy Grounds or PDF form. Such a setup is ideal for virtual tabletop gaming of course, but for in-room sessions there is something missing. I’m not so far removed from the older standard way of playing after all. As a friend commented during this most recent play session: “it’d be nice to have a manual to look the spells up in”. So I think a Starfinder Rulebook needs to go on my Christmas list this year!
The trappings of virtual gaming will certainly be needed over the holidays. I hope I’ll be able to run at least one session of D&D 5E with family, and some Starfinder as well during the week we’re back in my home town. That means taking my laptop to run Fantasy Grounds as a bare minimum. For travelling tabletop sessions the “all digital” aspect is a major improvement – running games away in the past meant difficult decisions over how many and which manuals to take with me. For the venerable 3.5 campaign I have a slightly crazy number of hardback setting and rules books to choose from – taking anything beyond the basics was never practical. So having PDFs and virtual tabletop rulesets is a real boost to the portability of my roleplaying gaming!
A fraction of my RPG book collection
Work has gone a little crazy in the run up to Christmas, though at least I will be off for nearly two weeks. We’ll be spending the holidays with family as normal so actually I probably won’t have a huge amount of free time for online gaming. If anything it’s more likely we’ll get some Starfinder / Dungeons & Dragons sessions squeezed in in-between the various family get-togethers that are planned.
There’s also the imminent arrival of patch 8.1 in World of Warcraft next week, a content dump that will offer some kind of new quest-content weekly through this same period. I’ve not yet stepped foot in the current tier’s raid, so the big new item of the new raid isn’t aimed at me as a player.
Otherwise I plan on playing some more Lord of the Rings Online as well, but am well aware that time to play a game on my own is going to be even scarcer than time for playing WoW or tabletop rpgs. I decided yesterday to cancel my long-standing Elder Scrolls Online subscription for a bit at least as I’m simply not getting any playtime out of it. I can’t see myself getting into Norrath at all this Christmas either for my somewhat traditional dip into the Frostfell festival.
I’ve been feeling like I have too much on my plate of late in multiple senses and that includes trying to play too many MMORPGs at once, so for this Christmas I’m going to narrow it down to just the two: World of Warcraft with friends/family and LOTRO as my side-game. I’ll revisit this list when the holidays are over and we’re looking ahead at 2019…
…or the lack there of has got me thinking at the moment. My gaming time has been rather limited due to two weekends in a row of visitors. The main thing I have been doing is logging in, as time permits, for the daily login rewards on my most current games. It’s an easy thing to do that keeps me feeling at least a little connected with the games when I won’t actually have time to play them.
Not all MMORPGs are created equal in this regard, however, the simple act of switching characters in the same game is not always so easy. Standing Stone Game’s MMOs are particularly egregious here – you select the server after logging into the launcher before even clicking to open the game client. Switching characters on the same server is the fairly standard affair of logging off a character and choosing the other one. But, switching to a character on another server requires a client and launcher restart – you can’t even switch servers on the launcher itself without restarting that as well.
That wasn’t ever an issue in LOTRO in the past as I’ve barely even dabbled on a second server before; now with the Anor experiment running I have to really try to think what I’m doing rather than reflexively clicking the wrong server. Also to get the login rewards for both my Champion main on Laurelin and my new Rune-keeper on Anor I have to load the launcher and client twice from scratch – I suppose I should be grateful that the login rewards are per server and not game-wide though? It’s the same process in Dungeons & Dragons Online and, in that game, I’ve long had characters spread across servers. Back when I was playing in a guild and separately with friends, I’d occasionally have that moment of annoyance as I realised I’d logged into the wrong server and had to quit right back out again.
I remember just how badly this issue was dealt with in Neverwinter at launch as well – no option to switch characters when logged in, you had to log out or close the client to change. At some point a command line command to return to the character select was added (or at least discovered by someone) and that made the process a bit easier; now the client has a button to do the same as is the standard in most MMOs. Neverwinter uses a ‘megaserver’ approach as well so at least there’s no need to remember which character is on which server.
Modern Neverwinter character select screen
Although I’m not playing Everquest 2 at the moment, it does offer the ‘best of all worlds’ example here in that you can switch character and even server from the character select screen of the game client. Equally it does one better than Neverwinter in having not only a command line switch to return to character select, but also the option to include a character’s name in that command to switch directly to that character without any further input.
Different MMORPGs take rather different approaches as to whether they encourage or discourage the playing of alt characters. They even take rather varied approaches to the process of switching itself.
I was struck when playing on Anor that levelling the same class a second time is something I very rarely do. I treat alt characters in MMORPG as variant gameplay or kind of like new content. Replaying the same quests and stories on a sufficiently different class does help to prevent boredom creeping in.
The longest run I had of such a character was a second Druid in World of Warcraft that I played as guardian in a leveling group some years ago. He started at level 1 and reached level 67 before the group’s enthusiasm fizzled. It was a very different play experience from that of my Balance Druid main. We had started the group to re-play all the post-Cataclysm dungeons and I volunteered to tank, so it made sense to play this particular class as I’d never played my main as anything other than Boomkin.
This topic came up because of playing a second almost identical Rune-keeper on Anor in Lord of the Rings Online. Playing through the same starter zones on the same character class feels rather familiar, too familiar in fact.
In this second case I’m not leveling a new role/class combo for a specific reason beyond wanting to play Rune-keeper currently and needing to start again to play on Anor. I remain on the fence about the whole thing though.
Funnily enough I did create a Cleric without even thinking about it on Rift Prime’s server back when I was playing that. Classes in Rift are less clearly defined though as the soul system is what you actually build a class combination from and I played multiple different combos while on that server so didn’t feel that it was that similar. Other than those three examples, I can’t think of any other MMO where I’ve had any reason to consider a repeat character class. What other reasons are there for playing the same character again? I’m pretty sure several of the Blizzard Watch podcast crew have many alts of the same class in World of Warcraft; there’s one particular player in my WoW guild who has a thing for Shamans. Personally I don’t see the point, but what about you?
For my final IntPiPoMo2018 post of the month and year I decided to give my own nod to Wildstar, the colourful MMORPG that shut down yesterday. I wasn’t able to be in game for the shutdown itself, I’ve never actually managed that in any MMORPG that I’ve played. In any case this selection of pictures is posted as my tribute to a game that I enjoyed.
Best mount in any MMORPG ever, the Snarfelynx
I loved everything about this mount: the mount animation where it swallows you in a graceful somersault, how bouncy it is, how it weaves across the landscape.
My main an Engineer
At home with his favourite two ‘bots.
On adventure in Arcterra doing a group event. I loved the play mechanics of my Engineer, good ability graphics and fun tanky/dps gameplay.
The real star of Wildstar, the world of Nexus
Arcterra was pretty!
Malgrave in all it’s sun-bleached badlands glory
The mountains of Algoroc
The eternal sunset over my house in the sky
My Chua Spellslinger is sad he never made it to level 50
IntPiPoMo2018 total 50/50