Do dailies keep you gaming? #Blaugust2019

Gaming time has been a bit restricted of late, but I have been regularly logging into Everquest 2 and Star Wars the Old Republic – mostly it has to be said to do dailies.

In the former game I’ve no set goals to do other than the Days of Summer quests. If not doing those at a leisurely pace, I’m most likely to be found looping around the Plane of Magic doing the repeatable faction quests while also gathering and ticking off the two random tasks for the daily reward. Achieving these two select tasks is always very easy to do in limited time, for instance gather 40 resources and kill 8 different types of creature. It helps that I’m doing other easy things layered onto that – the faction quests are spread around this medium sized zone.

When playing SWTOR I’m most likely to be doing a round of dailies on Ossus to get the 5 dailies meta mission completed. I rarely have long enough to do the 10 dailies meta. Unlike more dedicated players of the game, I still haven’t fully geared one character through these dailies, and I’ve not grown bored with the zone or its content. So it works if I’m feeling like some adventure in the Galaxy Far Far Away as easy to jump into gaming.

In general I’m not a fan of dailies as the be all of ‘end-game’ gaming. If all I have to look forward to in a given MMORPG is dailies then I’m likely to get itchy feet soon enough for switching to something else. But, if I’m motivated to play a game and haven’t got much time they are a good solution to having something you can just get on with *and* finish within limited time. I have found on occasion that questing or leveling doesn’t fit so well into limited play sessions as it’s often difficult to know how long a quest chain or zone will take and remembering what you were last doing if playing only in short bursts can be more problematic. This has been an issue for me with EQ2, I’ve had my progress on main timeline quest chains halted for stretches of time because I haven’t felt like I have the time for running a big instanced set of quests, one where progress might even be reset if you do not finish them all.

Equally if I’m in danger of being interrupted at any time by friends logging onto Discord or other distractions then being in the middle of a complex or involved storyline in SWTOR isn’t ideal as I’m likely to have to drop the session suddenly. For me it’s sometimes better to have some ‘popcorn’ style gaming to indulge in that I can finish in a short span and drop if needed at a moment’s notice. Dailies fit those limitations rather well.

Posted in EQ2, MMORPG, SWTOR | 3 Comments

Joy in the moments 2019 #blaugust

We’re entering the Developer Appreciation Week segment of Blaugust 2019 as of today. Part of Blaugust this year for me is to do updates on posts I’ve done in previous years. Last year I posted about taking joy in the moments of gaming. By coincidence I posted something along these lines just this last week while playing SWTOR.

Although we’re done with ‘Getting to know you week’ now this topic is one that is close to my heart. I do get rather a lot of joy from mmorpg gaming, so such posts are easy for me to write. It explains why I post a lot about “my recent gaming session” as I want to express through blogging the enjoyment these games give me.

For example, in recent sessions I’ve been able to indulge my love of impressive or unusual robots (aka droids) thanks to Bioware’s efforts in Star Wars the Old Republic.

I’ve also been regularly amused by my diminuitive jawa companion’s antics.

“Get out of the way Blizz!”

Equally I appreciate all that Daybreak Games does in Everquest 2, where I get to have amusing conversations with a cuddly giant panda (ahem, I mean Hua Mein).

These Days of Summer quests are such a joy because they are 100% non-combat as a real change of pace, and they invite players to fly or ride around older zones revisiting key locations. This is all the nostalgia hit I need, far less extreme than starting again from scratch on a progression server.

Not so sure I’ve ever been here before…

Running these quests also reminded me of the sheer joy that is flying mounts in EQ2. The controls are simple but feel great, and flying over zones to divebomb down on a quest objective or gathering node is satisfying.

Where do you find your gaming joy at the moment?

Posted in EQ2, MMORPG, SWTOR | 2 Comments

The joy of movement abilities #swtor

I’ve posted before about how much I love having useful movement abilities in MMORPGs. I’m particularly fond of the ‘warrior charge’ style closer ability to get you into combat quickly: it helps to keep me in pace with a group when playing with friends, especially given my tendency to stop and gawp at things for screenshots.

Yesterday, as we continued our sporadic Imperial trio play-through of Makeb, we tackled the heroic mission The Specialists for the first time. At first we weren’t sure if we were already in the mission as it was in an ‘outdoor’ zone for the most part, I guess on Makeb everything is a bit more segregated than the original planetary zones. It was a nice challenge overall and longer than I expected it to be – very much like a mini Flashpoint (aka dungeon). It made me realise that I’ve done very few heroic missions actually beyond the first few original planets (I think every Republic character I have played all the Coruscant ones…).

Nigh-invisible bridges are a health and safety violation, surely?

About half way through I discovered a rather dramatic scene similar to the one below and I just had to try hitting that rocket-jump ability button. Across my character zoomed, landing to punch the opponent on the other side. I was thrilled that the ability was allowed to work across a sheer drop like that, I’ve seen similar before, but do forget just much freer ability targeting *can* be in SWTOR (it can also be buggy) – World of Warcraft’s movement abilities would never allow this. Sadly the second time we came across a similar setup my ability wouldn’t fire due to ‘no line of sight’, which was weird as our Juggernaut tank could use his jump ability to cross the gap just fine. I only got across after he deliberately moved the mob to a new location along the handrail.

I made it across, honestly!

Naturally my ‘in action’ attempts at screenshotting didn’t work, SWTOR is notoriously bad for screenshots. The Windows/Xbox overlay (Win+Alt+PrtScn) that I use as a substitute isn’t so easy to trigger and usually has a bit of a delay. In any case, testing the borders of possibility within a game is something we often do and enjoy. It can lead to some interesting consequences, including death by falling, or wiping on a dozen or so accidentally pulled groups. Thankfully with so little penalty for character death the game positively encourages experimental behaviour. Now if only my jet-pack equipped Bounty Hunter had a slow-fall / hover type ability…


Posted in MMORPG, SWTOR | 2 Comments

Why I write #blaugust2019

As part of “Getting to know you week” in Blaugust I see people are posting about “why I write”. Before starting this post myself I followed a chain of a post that linked to another post: reading other blog posts and wanting to respond in longer form is often a good motivator for blogging I find.

In Kluwes’ post I see some overlap with my own motivations for blogging, namely that it creates a gaming history. When you play a lot of different mmorpgs (or any game) over years and years it can become a very nice long-term reference to have in searchable form. Not just the words written on activities done and milestones reached, but also the many screenshots stored in the blog also.

The post also mentions that blogging can change the “way I think about games”. That’s certainly true for me too, mainly because I lump in reading other blogs as an essential part of blogging about this hobby and therefore get to read a variety of other opinions and approaches to a given game. It can be rather instructive to see how others feel about updates to a game’s systems or content.

The author also writes about blogging and streaming increasing their enjoyment of the hobby. That I feel is a more complex issue for me. I have felt the effects of blogging on how I game – I’m acutely aware at all times of potential screenshot opportunities, for instance.

I sometimes feel there’s the more negative ‘need to create’ that can subtly or not so subtly influence bloggers, streamers and other content creators. By this I mean the pressure to create content on a schedule: I do not make money from my blogging, so this is very much a self-imposed pressure. Generally that’s not an issue but if work, study or other outside issues build up then blogging inevitably suffers. It has rarely been that big a problem for me, but I mention it because one reason “why I blog” for many in this community might be the ‘need’ to blog whether real or self-imposed.

The flip-side to this is the act of creation in writing, which Kluwes also mentioned. I do find it both enjoyable and inspiring to read about topics elsewhere and to write down my thoughts and opinions on various gaming activities and topics as a result. It has been my main creative outlet for years now and has given me a lot of pleasure. That is probably the most important point to this post, I blog because I enjoy it.

Posted in MMORPG | 2 Comments

My take on player factions for Eberron

In working on a couple of adventures that I hope to publish soon ™ on the DMs Guild website, and in doing so I’ve been searching for an Eberron specific equivalent of the player factions that characters in Forgotten Realms Adventurers’ League adventures can interact with and ally themselves too.

The “player faction” system as described in the linked web page is also present in similar form in Starfinder Society organised play (and I believe in Pathfinder Society play also) with lore appropriate equivalent groups. I like the idea of this as a tool for GMs to have existing structures to base NPCs within and to give players the chance for some kind of story/political progression within a campaign.

So far at least there’s no official player factions for the Eberron setting, at least that I can find. Below are my ideas so far for the factions I would want to use, outlined below in brief since I don’t want to give away too many spoilers about these organisations’ motivations and methods. Since my campaign ideas focus on Breland heavily, I’ve chosen a mix of regional and more generic organisations for these factions while ignoring the more obvious religious or “evil threat” type organisations. Eberron as a campaign world is pretty heavy on the politics so there are a lot to chose from!

I’ve chosen this mix of organisations as they are particularly appropriate for the adventures that I am writing and the region in which they are set. Since the setting is decisively morally grey in tone, the final entry being a creation of my own.

Dark Lanterns
The loyal spies and investigators of the Breland crown, Dark Lanterns are active throughout the Kingdom. They specialise in information gathering and hunting covert threats to the realm from within or without.

Wayfinders Foundation
The Wayfinders Foundation is a network of explorers and treasure-seekers has its  headquarters in the capital of the realm of Aundair, but with chapterhouses in major cities across the continent. New adventurers sign up to a code of conduct and navigate this loose organisation’s internal politics in order to gain access to knowledge, resources and the valuable experience of its members.

New Cyre
An alliance of former citizens of the fallen realm of Cyre. This organisation and fledgling nation seeks to preserve Cyran society and values among the now scattered survivors of the magical cataclysm that created the Mournland. Supporters of the Cyrans and their struggles can find Cyran agents across Korvaire.

Wardens of the Wood
Defenders of nature against supernatural or more mundane threats. Druids, rangers and others who make a home in wilder places find themselves drawn to this cause. The loose alliance of individuals is centred on the Eldeen Reaches in west Khorvaire, but has members across the continent including in Breland.

Bearstaff Coster
One of the larger merchant houses independent of any Dragonmarked House allegiance, the Bearstaff Coster is focused on trade goods and storage with headquarters in Sharn and major trade posts across Breland and beyond. This trade empire is always seeking talented individuals who can help to defend merchant caravans, to seek out new trade routes or exotic precious goods.

All of these factions are intended to be potential allies, employers or even rivals of a party of player characters. How they are used in a campaign is up to the DM, but the idea of having consistent and relatively well known factions that will be present in larger settlements does help to lend the setting consistency for players who might be playing in a variety of campaigns and groups.

In the end I hope we see officially named player factions for Eberron soon, and I will happily reconcider my list in light of any such list. What groups or organisations would you use specifically as player factions in an Eberron campaign, if any?

Posted in D&D, TTRPG | 1 Comment

Topic brainstorming #Blaugust2019

We’ve just started Topic Brainstorming week for this 2019 edition of Blaugust. I posted a couple of posts on this very topic last year. Looking at what I wrote last year, I’m still very much following the model of blogging I described: especially the ‘gaming-diary’ and ‘response post’ varieties.

Beyond this prior advice, this year I’d add a few points below to help find inspiration for posts.

Find inspiration elsewhere!
There are regular meandering conversations and debates on interesting topics across many blogs within a community. Find and read other blogs with a similar focus and comment or link to posts you enjoyed reading. Blaugust is the perfect time to find new blogs to follow!

Link to join a conversation
This is a reference to my academic training, quoting sources is always good. A supervisor used to always say that your writing should be one side of a conversation: that certainly can apply to blogging. You can, naturally, blog in isolation; but I think blogs are more engaging to read if they are involved in a wider community. Comment on other blogs directly and quote other blog posts in your own posts to add something to the blogosphere chatter!

Link for more reading
If talking about a news item or a system or update, I’d suggest to link to said news item or another blog post for more info – let your readers decide how much  detail they want to read beyond what you are saying. It saves you writing out everything in exhaustive detail yet allows readers to find out more if they want to. Gaming wikis like Wowhead, EQ2Traders, or the D&D Wiki are all great resources. Here I’m talking about gaming but I’m sure you could apply the same concept to almost any blog topic.

Keep an eye on community events and hot topics
There are few annual community run events like Blaugust and IntPiPoMo that can provide a lot of inspiration for new posts. They are great fun and can really help with motivation to write and to shake up your schedule or writing habits. As an extension of the first point there are sometimes much more durable debates on a ‘hot topic’, something that gets wide commentary from the community. It’s can be engaging to join in on topics that do a few rounds of posts commenting on other posts.

Vary up your posting topics once in a while
In a sense I’ve always been quite broad on this blog since I’ve posted on quite a lot of different MMORPGs. For a year or so though, and increasingly, I post about tabletop RPGs as well as online gaming. Having two largely different topics to post on has helped to reinvigorate my passion for blog writing and also given me completely new topics to cover. I wouldn’t advocate spreading your blog’s focus too thin, at least in early years, but some change can be good once in a while.

Posted in MMORPG, TTRPG | 1 Comment

About this blog 2019 edition #Blaugust2019

A brief updated “about this blog” post seems apt for this preparatory week for the Blaugust 2019 event. My blog hasn’t changed as much as some other bloggers, in name for instance. It started as, and remains, Gaming sans frontières or GamingSF for short. It started as a MMORPG only blog and that’s been by far the most common topic of posts since 2011. I originally intended to blog (and maybe game) in other languages as well hence the multilingual reference in the title. If I take my Japanese studies far enough maybe I’d consider making good on that self promise but then I could and probably should be blogging already in German or Spanish if that’s the case.

The title is more appropriate today, perhaps, because I’ve started recently blogging more regularly about tabletop roleplaying games (as opposed to the MMORPG variant). This year I’ve managed to play a fairly regular amount of Starfinder and Dungeons & Dragons so I’ve plenty of material and enthusiasm to blog about these games.

MMORPGs are still my computer gaming genre of choice, however, so despite the drop in frequency of posting I am still interested in these games and writing about them. This blog has charted my MMO gaming habits over eight years, and it’s a wonderful aide-memoire and source of old screenshots to be able to search back through all those posts.

The blog was originally started to get me to write more in English, as an IT professional it can be too easy to avoid writing anything longer than the odd email. This has been and remains one creative outlet for my own language and ideas. Time to Loot has an excellent post up on finding your motivation to write. It’s an interesting topic, Naithin writes in his post, content isn’t the motivation per se, and that’s true for me certainly. Not having enough to write about hasn’t been the reason for taking any breaks, it’s more to do with conflicting priorities or real life stresses. Indeed, I’ve so enjoyed writing about tabletop RPGs, that it reawakened my desire to write about MMOs as well after taking a couple of months break. So perhaps defining a blog too narrowly can be a bad idea?

Posted in MMORPG, TTRPG | 3 Comments