Favourite mmorpg alts #IntPiPoMo2018

This latest post in the IntPiPoMo series for 2018 is showcasing my love of alt characters in various games, I have normally a main character that I play for the bulk of any time that I’m active in-game. However, one aspect of MMORPGs that I enjoy the most is the variety of playstyles within a given game that can come from the choice of class that you play. So having alternative characters allows you to experience the game and its content from a different perspective.

In no particular order, here are some cherished alts and their screenshots:

Belnius, Resto Shaman – World of Warcraft

He was my main character for a couple of expansions, but I’m back to playing Boomkin since Legion. Shamans are a class I do like a great deal though in terms of the class “fantasy” or aesthetic. I love the water-themed healing graphics for Restoration Shaman in WoW especially since they were updated – they animate beautifully.

Healing streams

For me the attraction of WoW’s Shamans isn’t just in the main combat abilities, but rather the amount of utility they bring – Water Walking, Heroism, Tremor Totem, the list used to be even longer. I guess I’m a sucker for cool non-combat abilities and Shamans get to bring that whilst looking really cool as well!

Revenus, Templar, Elder Scrolls Online

A much-loved but currently somewhat neglected character in Elder Scrolls Online is my Altmer Templar. He was part of a leveling trio and has largely been stuck in Eldenroot for the last year or so since we last played together. But thanks to my love of crafting he has continued to be logged in order to practice his Blacksmithing.

Targash, Hunter Ranger – Neverwinter

Nature-themed characters appeal to me from my long years of playing Dungeons & Dragons offline. Druids aren’t available in Neverwinter as yet so Rangers fill that thematic niche. That you could build Rangers to provide support buffs in group content as a side effect of their attacks intrigued me.

The graphics for Rangers are somewhat subtler than my other characters but still nicely themed.

Belnius, Rune-keeper – Lord of the Rings Online

The character that I’ve played solo in Lord of the Rings Online other than my Champ main are recently anyway my Rune-keepers, one on Laurelin that I’ve levelled on and off this year and now a new incarnation on Anor.

Rune-keeper the second

The healer-ranged damage dealer class is often my favourite archetype (see Shaman above), maybe the Anor version of this character will get more opportunities to group up to do some dungeon healing too. The class aesthetics are very appealing, I love me some runes after all.

IntPiPoMo2018 total 42/50

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Posted in ESO, LotRO, MMORPG, Neverwinter, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

Too soon for nostalgia? #IntPiPoMo2018

Catching up on my blogroll on Feedly has been quite a mission – ten days is a lot of blogposts to read; it seems the blogosphere is quite busy at the moment. Ultrviolet’s post just after I went away mentioned that the nostlagia for old zones on Lord of the Rings Online’s Legendary progression server wasn’t working as their last playthrough of old zones wasn’t that long ago. It’s a feeling I can sympathise with as I’ve dipped into new low level characters on my normal server on Laurelin several times this last year or so – Ered Luin, Breeland and the Lone-lands are familiar enough to me as a result.

Memorable moments

That said I still rolled a new Rune-keeper on Anor just to see what the hype is about. The tutorial is a bit of a slog now, not that it’s bad mind, but more because I’ve run it at least twice pretty recently. I’ve been reading in my catchup of people playing their characters into the 30s or even higher, so I’m way behind as expected.

With more players running around, photobombing is quite the problem…

Chat is busy though with people looking for dungeon groups, so perhaps it’d be worth sticking around at least until I’m high enough for the Great Barrow. That desire is balanced against the feeling I’m neglecting my main character and many alts on Laurelin though. Unlike many of the veteran players this kind of nostalgia trip is aimed at, I’m not up to date and done with all the content in the game. So if I level a new character from scratch yet again I’m delaying my Champion getting any Mordor progress made.

As with Rift Prime and the Everquest 2 servers that I’ve tried, I’m pretty sure the shine on this will wear off quickly for me. Loss of progress outweighs nostalgia in general for me, the thought of starting professions from scratch and redoing so much content is pretty daunting.

In any case running around my favourite zones again on this new alt is a perfect excuse for taking lots of screenshots, we’re still in the month for IntPiPoMo2018 so that makes it worthwhile!

IntPiPoMo total 35/50

Posted in LotRO, MMORPG

AFK gaming downsides

A very interesting issue I came across, rather at random, is that of the downsides of ‘AFK’ gaming. I’ve been messing around in Black Desert Online again so this struck me as particularly applicable. It raises some of the potential negative impacts of afk gaming,  beyond the usual complaints the phrase might conjure in MMORPG players’ minds about leeching or botting.

Auto-running

The environmental argument

The Reddit thread that inspired this post criticised the design of Black Desert Online’s systems that encourage ‘away from keyboard’ gaming – it is possible for your character to perform repetitive actions in an automated fashion without much intervention from the player. You can set your character riding in circles on a horse to level the mount for example, or leave your character afk fishing to gather crafting materials.

According to the comments on this thread such activities are popular, and the in-built ‘run minimised’ game mode further encourages them. Other commenters will leave BDO running minimised in the background while playing other games in the foreground. If nothing else this is likely to increase the computers electricity usage – the processor, graphics card and hard drive working harder will generate more heat and require more cooling fan action. Using more electricity according to some energy industry professionals is a bad idea in general, unless you can guarantee your supply is from renewable sources, then any usage is contributing to potential climate change effects. This argument could easily devolve into tangential discussions, but I would say running the computer almost 24/7 for one game *is* not going to be good for the environment.

The PC wear and tear argument

I tried the minimised game mode early on when I first played but I remember being worried about what effect that would have on my computer and haven’t done it much since. I rarely run two MMORPGs at a time even if my PC is capable of handling the load – it’s likely to punish the hard drive, graphics card and cooling systems for the PC to be that active. It usually results in some loss in gaming performance in both games also.

Computer components all have a finite life, for some such as hard drives this is even estimated as part of the units specifications (mean time before failure MTBF). Everything we do on a computer will add to the cumulative wear and tear effects that will cause parts to fail at some point. Now a computer isn’t much use if it’s left off for fear of ‘wearing it out’, but I’ve never been a proponent of leaving a computer on all the time for convenience. If I’m not using it for more than ten minutes or so then I shut it down. So it would sit very badly with me to leave my computer on overnight as some commenters advocate.

The cost argument

The plainest argument is that of cost. Electricity in most countries is priced by usage, the more you use the more you pay. Electricity in my country has become increasingly expense in recent years, a trend that’s not likely to reverse. I’m not in a position (thankfully) of having to worry about the cost overly, but neither am I so blasé about it that I’d waste money burning electricity for no reason. So again leaving a PC on all the time to afk train a horse is a big waste of electricity to me. If you lack an unlimited Internet connection then this also would impact this – wasting limited bandwidth on afk gaming (no matter how small the bandwidth use) again isn’t something I’d want to do.

AFK gaming and other games

This post could be seen as a critique of Black Desert Online, which it isn’t per se. When I have played I’ve enjoyed it without engaging in any afk gaming at all – it’s part of the game but not an essential part to me. Other games may not have the baked in systems to encourage such activities but they may be designed with the same “keep them logged in as long as possible” mentality.

What about repeatable quests on a short-ish cooldown timer (Lord of the Rings Online), public activities that encourage you to follow the zerg for regular or timed events (Guild Wars 2) or repeatable instance grinds for tokens or random rewards. The mmorpg genre is full of examples of gaming that encourages us to be online longer than we would necessarily chose to be. If you’re leaving your game logged on while you wait for a rare spawn in World of Warcraft, or semi-afk mining ore in LOTRO while watching Netflix then some of these same arguments could apply…

Posted in BDO, Guild Wars, LotRO, MMORPG | 4 Comments

By land and air #IntPoPiMo2018

I’m back from my travels, and happy to be at home and not moving for a while – holidays are great but travel can be tiring. That said I never tire of travelling around virtual worlds, and how my character does that from point A to B matters to me. Having a choice of mount or travel mode is an important part of character progression and development. Catching up with a few games since I returned, I’ll present some pictures of travel of a more personal nature than the earlier posts in this IntPoPiMo series.

Guar, Elder Scrolls Online

I love my Guar mounts in Elder Scrolls Online, and when I saw this Shadowghost guar advertised upon logging in a few weeks ago I had to buy it.

Griffon, Guild Wars 2

Although not my favourite mount for this character, unlocking the Griffon was a pretty big deal in Guild Wars 2 so I have to use it nowadays. The limited flight also makes all the difference in reaching some content, like the Mastery Point in the Tomb of the Primeval Kings.

Bunnyroo, Guild Wars 2

Others may call them Springers, but to me they’ll always be Bunnyroos. This is the proper mount for an Asura about town.

Elemental, World of Warcraft

This Shaman class mount is pretty awesome, one of my favourite visuals currently in the game. It’s beautifully animated, is a flying mount (where possible) and coupled with the Shaman Water Walking spell makes for a great ride almost anywhere in BFA’s zones.

IntPiPoMo2018 total 30/50

Posted in ESO, Guild Wars, MMORPG, World of Warcraft

Sailing the seas (in MMOs) #IntPiPoMo2018

This is a schedule post so please allow for a delay in any replies to comments.

As I set off to sail around sunny islands in real life, I was reminded of the joy of ship travel in MMORPGs. I have fond memories going back to my start in the genre in World of Warcraft circa 2007 of being awed by the majesty of taking a ship between the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor.

I have a rather nostalgic view of such travel, it’s not exactly convenient or fast by modern MMO standards, but there a kind of gameplay in working out just how to get from A to B for a quest when those two points were many zones or even continents apart. All the talk of WoW Classic at and since Blizzcon 2018 does have me thinking about that aspect of a Vanilla WoW game – the Deeprun Tram and the ships/zepplins will suddenly have real purpose once more. Such travel methods still exist in WoW of course, but why bother when teleports, portals, multiple hearthstones and flight offer more direct and faster methods to move about Azeroth.

Ships are a theme in BfA

Ship travel as a background to adventuring has come back in force in the Battle for Azeroth expansion as ships are our factional class-hall equivalents and for the War Campaign on either side you’ll be taking ship rides a lot even if they just lead to a loading screen. Tiragarde Sound as a zone also has rowboats as a ‘fast’ travel mode, although usually the griffin network is faster.

Other games have ship travel as well, some that I’ve played even make ships more of a gameplay feature than just a means of transportation. I’ve not explored ships that deeply in Archeage or Black Desert Online, I haven’t gotten that far into either game and the association of ship use and PVP in most sandbox games made me hesitate in any case. PVP just isn’t for me, ship travel should be about freedom, graceful movement and taking some time to enjoy the journey. That a journey could be interrupted by player pirates detracts too much from the experience for me. Seeing another ship when on a cruise in real life is an event, something to watch as the ship docks or sails past. In gaming it’s more likely to be a source of tensions – a momentary decision to flee or fight.

The closest I’ve been to a ship in Black Desert Online

I did do some sailing in Vanguard actually just before the official game shut down, each player received some very generous login rewards including housing materials and a small boat. So I had an opportunity to do some sailing around the coast of Thestra. I have few screenshots from the game, thankfully the blog provides some examples. I wish I’d had more time in the game to explore how ships fitted into various gameplay activities!

IntPiPoMo2018 total 26/50

Posted in BDO, MMORPG, Vanguard, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

Finding the new in familiar territory #IntPiPoMo2018

This is a schedule post so please allow for a delay in any replies to comments.

We’re currently on holiday cruising among islands that we have visited a few times before, but only on a cruise. On such holidays you only spend a day in each place normally, so you rarely do more than one activity or tour. That means that going on the same itinerary, or a similar one, is no problem as you’ve not come close to exhausting everything there is to do in any one place.

Playing through Secret World Legends, in the Tokyo zone again, I was struck by this same idea of familiar territory mixed with new experiences. We’d played through the zone not so long before the game’s relaunch and had a lot of fun there. This time around it was places we could remember but there were plenty of stuff we’d not done or noticed before.

Familiar streets

We’re playing Illuminati this time instead of Templar (plus a Dragon) so there have been some new cut-scenes to see all the way along and in Tokyo some subtle differences in background details as well.

There have also been some missions that we just didn’t do – maybe because we didn’t have that particular Issue purchased back when content was sold in packs.

かわいいロボットです、ね。

There’s also the constant yet stimulating distraction of seeing Japanese written all over the place. After just one year of study I can barely read anything not written for beginners since I know so few Kanji as yet, but stuff written in just the two kana alphabets I can read. That’s always a fun moment when I see something I recognise – a new frisson from this second playthrough.

O-ro-chi

The Orochi Tower sub-zone, which seemed to take no time at all in The Secret World was a major chunk of content on this playthrough. You have to do all of the levels for the main mission, I believe it was more of a repeatable random selection before. That means a *lot* more story and background details to explore now. There is some really excellent content in these levels, even if the shared layout used by most gets a bit repetitive.

Quick, make like we’re on holiday…

Who packed the insect spray!?

Overall Tokyo, as the most recent content we’d played on our original characters, felt so much less familiar than the earlier zones we’d played much earlier. I think the inherent grind in TSW’s Tokyo made us want to focus more on just the bare minimum to get the main story done. This time around the difficulty was certainly lower, but that meant we felt more comfortable just running around gawping at everything we could find – just like proper tourists.

IntPiPoMo total 20/50

Posted in MMORPG, TSW

All at sea #IntPiPoMo2018

This is a schedule post so please allow for a delay in any replies to comments.

The holiday I’m on is a cruise (my favourite kind), I’m always happy to be on a boat at sea or visiting new port destinations. Recent news from Blizzcon mentioned in future content that we’ll be heading to Nazjatar, the sunken city of the Naga. Who knows how much of that will be on the water’s surface, underwater and swimming or something more normal at least from a movement perspective.

The ship has left without us!

The hints of concept artwork shown and the discussions on various WoW video bloggers featured comments on Vashj’ir, WoW Cataclysm’s large and somewhat unpopular underwater zone. I’ve ok memories of playing it, but then I probably only played through it twice or three times – I wasn’t playing that many alts at the time and subsequent content and changes to the levelling curve have made it eminently skippable.

I immediately thought of the Nightmare Tide expansion in Rift, however, an entire expansion that dealt with content above, among and underneath the waves. Regardless of what one might think of the gameplay of the expansion (and the difficulty of playing it years after the bulk of the playerbase had moved on), I was regularly wowed by the design of these zones.

The expansion starts in normal underwater style with some questing underwater, at times you do come back to content in water as well, but despite the Elemental Water theme of the whole expansion you do not have to spend all your time swimming. The transition between underwater areas and newly dried out areas comes quickly enough and is very impressive.

The dry areas are standard enough to play in albeit with an alien coral and denizens of the deep-theme to them.

Later in the expansion as you move between zones you get another layer of underwater content that has you travelling vertically downwards to another dry layer – so the sky is actually the bottom of this water layer complete with giant sea monsters swimming above you.

My point here is that underwater zones or even an entire expansion do not have to solely focus on 3D combat and movement problems. Indeed in Battle for Azeroth there is some questing underwater in a few areas and that seems well done enough. I’m rather looking forward to seeing what Blizzard do with Nazjatar!

IntPiPoMo total 14/50

 

 

Posted in MMORPG, Rift, World of Warcraft