Mixed blessings #WoWClassic

Playing some more World of Warcraft Classic dungeon-running I have somewhat mixed feelings about this version of the game. I can see clear disadvantages from a gameplay perspective and also advantages. This dive into nostalgic gaming is a case of mixed blessings for me.

There are plenty of obvious things I could bring up, things that depending on the individual player could be said to be the negatives or the benefit of playing Classic over retail WoW: like all the endless running around (a k a making the world matter once more) or gold being super-scarce while levelling (a k a having a more balanced in-game economy). Much of this is down to personal opinion and what each of us considers to be the ideals of MMORPG design.

Lots and lots of boat voyages

But for me the more telling comparison is the micro one, so the perspective of playing a Holy Paladin main in WoW Classic versus having played a Holy Paladin as a first or second alt through all the expansions of WoW.

Redeemed by the Light

The biggest downer of Classic is the amount of busywork, the five minute blessing buffs for instance. I do love buff spells, and really like in Classic to “drive-by-buff” random characters while travelling around. Having a wide variety of buffs as choices to make is good gameplay to me, these form part of the much stronger class variety and identity that Classic has over retail. But having to renew buffs on each individual character every five minutes of the much longer dungeon run times in the game isn’t something I’m as keen on. I guess I should be thankful I don’t play Warrior with their 2-minute duration shouts…

Buffs aren’t the only thing that is busywork: mana management is a pain for most casters, including Holy Paladins. Lay on Hands draining all my character’s mana is pretty brutal as well – there are a number of abilities like this with much less utility or much more situational usage because of their more restrictive nature versus retail.

A rare consecrate – can’t often afford the mana for this

For all the negatives there are some strong positives, of course. Focusing on Paladins still, the breadth of spells in Classic is something I’m like. Buffs I’ve talked about above, but also the active combat abilities are more numerous and nuanced. The seal + judgement system as a core rotation mechanic I find rather fun. In more challenging dungeons I need to conserve my mana and focus on healing only; but in lower dungeons that we are repeating for loot drops or quest items, I can step up to deal damage as well and having something more than just two or three abilities is great.

Seal.. then judge

So Classic represents quite a mixed experience for me personally. There are good aspects and bad aspects, just as there are to retail, leaving it representing a different play experience from retail, but not necessarily a better one.

Posted in MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

Some catching up #Worldofwarcraft

Although it’s old news for most, since returning to World of Warcraft I’ve been ticking boxes on things that I’ve not yet done in 8.2 and 8.25 content. Rep grinding for Nazjatar and Mechagon was a necessary step to unlock flying in this expansion, plus there are some quest chains that require specific unlocks as well.

Thus Husband took me through the Raid Finder version of the Eternal Palace raid to defeat Azshara for quest completion. That first run was ok, which is about all I can ever say for Raid Finder (or LFR as it’s also known) – I just don’t like raiding in any game, and despite the relative ease of the content, playing alongside such a large random group imposes its own stresses.

Sadly we’d not quite finished a particular storyline in Nazjatar, which ended with us needing to kill Azshara – so barely a day after we’d done the fight we had to do it (and the preceeding boss as that wing is 2-boss fights) again. The second run was a lot less smooth, naturally, we defeated the first boss easier but then the group collapsed and the LFR system decided to not bother refilling our almost full raid for a.g.e.s. The group just gradually dwindled until only three of us were left.  After what seemed like ages our group was merged into another to progress onwards: all in all it was about 2 hours worth to get the Azshara kill, most of that was frustrating waiting around not actual fighting. Can anyone give a good reason why raids are necessary for story progression in this day and age?

It was worth doing though as that has unlocked the ‘Black Prince’ quest chain with some interesting tie-ins to earlier zones and content.

old haunts

There are also some really nicely written in-game books to read for extra lore on this character and background info on wider events. This kind of content really appeals to me, I love the chance to learn some more about the history of the virtual world I’m playing in.

It’s great to be able to fly again, I don’t always miss flying when it’s not available but I do certainly appreciate it when I can use it!

Posted in MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

RPGWriterWorkshop priorities

Alongside IntPiPoMo I’ve also spent all of November writing for an e-course that I’ve been taking: RPG Writer Workshop. I’ve been writing my own tabletop rpg adventures, and adapting published ones, for thirty years now but never with an aim beyond personal use in my various campaigns. This course has encouraged me to think seriously about writing for a wider audience.

The course’s structured readings, activities and discussion topics reinforces ideas that I may have known but not consistently put into practice such as structuring and planning an adventure to link events together in a coherent manner. It offers a lot of practical advice by artists in the field on how to design cast characters that are more than paper thin in their motivations and on how to get a party of characters hooked on the adventure in the first place. I have learned a number of good tips and concepts for longer-form writing as well, especially for writing for other gamemasters. We’re about half way through the six week course now. I have a drafted adventure that I’ve edited and improved on an earlier draft I’d worked on over the summer.

It’s quite exciting to be on track to publish this online (via DMs Guild as it’s for D&D) in December. It does mean I may have less time for blogging for the next few weeks as I have to prioritise this project ahead of the usual busy-times that mark the run up to the holidays. I do plan to write some normal MMORPG output in the meantime, but expect some longer gaps in-between.

Posted in D&D, MMORPG, TTRPG | Leave a comment

Gaming moments 2019 #IntPiPoMo

For my last scheduled post in International Picture Posting Month 2019 I’ve decided to highlight a few of my favourite gaming moments from this year. This post has some story spoilers from the get-go so if you’re not playing any MORPGs at the moment you might want to skip this post.

Break the spoilerific chains…

Continue reading

Posted in EQ2, LotRO, MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

Transport in the Pact Worlds #Starfinder

In the Starfinder setting of the Pact Worlds there is an almost default assumption that players will be loaned or will find a starship of their own for transportation (see building a starship section). However that is not to say that all Starfinder games are run this way, there are story reasons why a given party might not have a starship of their own or, temporarily at least, why the starship they do own may be unavailable for use. What other methods of transport are available to those not fortunate enough to own their own starship or for those in a spot of bother transport-wise?

Pactcoach
A common and relatively cheap means of transport between the inner worlds of the Pact Worlds’ system are the Pactcoach scheduled Explorer class vessels: each with room for shared accommodation for 24 passengers. Schedules are structured around the somewhat-random nature of Drift travel, a ship will often be waiting several days in port before departure to regulate the service between worlds. The ships are utilitarian by nature to keep fares down so no private accommodation or fine dining is available. Expect bunk beds and food processor meals only. The service has a good reputation for reliability and security, staff are well trained in defusing tensions or even defending the ship should it be required. [Suggested fee: 50 per day]

Cuvacara AutoShuttle
A more luxurious option for those who lack a ship but want a convenient option for a one or two-way trip is the Cuvacara AutoShuttle service. A standard system shuttle can be booked for a given date/time. The shuttle generally auto-pilots to the customer, is then either on auto pilot for the journey or optionally allows the customer to fly (requires proof of system-valid piloting licence) and then returns to base on auto-pilot afterwards. The shuttles have some automatic defences and will call for Stewards assistance if attacked or if the customer tries to hack or interfere with the shuttle’s systems. Given the potential wait time for a shuttle to arrive from their base on the city of Cuvacara on Verces (1d6 days via the Drift) 95% of users book the service well in advance. [suggested fee: 300 per day, +75% for a return fare]

Colonial Post
Although this service is primarily a “packet mail” service these Transport class vessels also usually reserve one or two expansion bays for bunk accommodation for paying passengers. The service is less frequent than the Pactcoach above but Colonial Post runs scheduled mail drops to all Pact World systems, even those in the outer system, and also to Near Space systems with some frequency. The motto of the company is “to connect all civilised worlds no matter the distance”. The crew of such vessels are no-nonsense professional spacers, ‘passengers’ are expected to stay out of the way and to look after themselves when it comes to food preparation and entertainment. Most of the ship is off limits for such guests as the security and privacy of the cargo of trade goods, post and data packets is paramount to the service’s reputation. [30 per day]

Distant Shores
This corporation based on Absalom Station runs luxury cruises for the system’s wealthiest holidaymakers. The small fleet of Bulk freighter class vessels are heavily refitted with deluxe interiors, fine dining restaurants and evening entertainment lounges. Passengers travel in oppulent (by space standards) quarters with privacy and round the clock service guaranteed. A ship normally serves only 20-40 passengers as it takes in an itinerary of visiting different Pact Worlds to show off the system’s most spectacular sights during weeks of leisurely space travel. These ships have state of the art technology including formidable defences and weaponry, including a pair of fighters that can be deployed to warn off any would-be pirates along the route. [1000 per day]

Note: given the number of variables involved in calculating fees for these services no prices are given in this post. It is up to the Gamemaster to decide what exact fares should be for the journey based on the relative expense of the service and the distance travelled. Within the bounds of the limits of Drift travel, the Gamemaster is free to devise their own schedules for the scheduled modes of transport presented here as fits their campaign stories.

 

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Common monsters in MMORPGs #IntPiPoMo 2019

Here’s another in my schedule International Picture Posting Month posts showing off some more of the many screenshots I’ve collected while playing MMORPGs.

Kobolds, Dungeons & Dragons Online

They may lack candles, but these little lizard rascals are very, very common in the early levels of Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Bears, World or Warcraft

Although World of Warcraft was satirised for the amount of boars you have to kill in an old episode of South Park, I’d argue there are just as many varieties of aggressive bear if not more.

Battle droid, Star Wars the Old Republic

Droids of one variety of another are very common enemies in SWTOR, which is not a negative judgement as they come in a lot more shapes and sizes than say bears.

Undead, Guild Wars 2

The last expansion of Guild Wars 2 focused heavily on undead, very heavily to the point I got rather bored with their standard attacks and debuffs.

Planar creatures, Everquest 2

Everquest 2 has a very varied palette of monsters, but elemental or planar opponents are common I would say in many zones. Although this picture is from the most recent expansion which is planar focused, my favourite starter zone (Frostfang Sea) has ice elemental motes and rolling animate stones so you do not have to travel far in Norrath to find these types of creatures.

Orckind, Lord of the Rings Online

Many MMOs have orcs and similar monsters as inspired by Tolkien’s works. But LOTRO as the game most closely modelled on those novels really does take orckind to heart as a core, almost omnipresent threat to the civilised peoples of Middle Earth.

Daedra, Elder Scrolls Online

Demonic foes in ESO are called Daedra but they share many traits with the Burning Legion in World of Warcraft of abyssal forces in Dungeons & Dragons. Although this game focuses a lot on humanoid opponents (other factions, bandits and cultists), the Daedra are always there in the background manipulating and corrupting events.

Count for IntPiPoMo 46/50.

Posted in DDO, EQ2, ESO, Guild Wars, LotRO, MMORPG, SWTOR, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Practising in public #EQ2

The current Dragon Attack! event has offered quite a good opportunity to play some alts that I haven’t devoted quite so much playtime to and thereby gain a bit more insight into their skills and possible rotations. At the same time I can be gathering the various mount items for various characters and unlocking the special dragon illusion flight form.

My Shadowknight was my second character to run through a round or two of these public events. As a melee character which is, de facto, somewhat tanky I was a bit worried I might get in over my depth in what is effectively a pick-up-group single boss raid situation. Sure, the dragons lack the complex mechanics of instanced raids in most MMOs, but they are big health sponges and have some knockbacks and damage spikes.

Grabbing aggro?

This really gave me a chance to practice his self-healing abilities. It’s easy to just rely on a mercenary when soloing quests, but for this I chose to forgoe having the defiler pet-healer out. I even found myself grabbing aggro at least temporarily from other tanks so, despite his very poor gear by current end-game standards, his taunt abilities still made some impact.

I told you to stay home, this is a fight for dragons!

The second alt that I’ve switched to now is my Warlock. He’s my provisioner (i.e. cook) and like several of my characters in EQ2 tends to see more playtime as crafters than as adventurers. I insta dinged him ages ago with an intention to use him as a non-tank, non-healer dungeon character but that never happened for whatever reason so he’s sat mostly cooking away in his native Kelethin for a long time.

I once tried self-mentoring him down to the right level to carry on where he was when I dinged him up to 90, so in the early teens. But with all extra spells and skills, plus the ‘AA’ points spent upgrading his abilities, he was so overpowered for that starter zone that it seemed a bit pointless playing him. Against the dragons attacks,  relatively long lasting fights if it’s not prime time on the weekend, I’ve had a real chance to read his various abilities and try them in different combos. Quite the chance to practice his spells ‘in public’ as it were!

Count for IntPiPoMo 39/50.

Posted in EQ2, MMORPG | 1 Comment