ESO: racial choice: race change or reroll?

While playing Elder Scrolls Online recently I had a bit of a dilemma over my solo character’s race. He’s my Argonian Dragonknight character, an unwitting clone perhaps of my EQ2 Sarnak Shadowknight.

Playing through a major Deshaan quest chain set within the Ebonheart Pact capital city of Mournhold, I was struck by the fact that I probably would prefer to be playing a Dunmer character as my (solo) main, especially because the upcoming expansion for the game is set in Morrowind. I should mention that I do really like Argonians as a race, but still he’s not a Dunmer. I created the character without much thought when I returned to the game, and obviously before I knew there would be a Dunmer-themed expansion coming.

Bit pricey for me atm…

Race change options in MMOs are one of the ‘premium’ services that MMO studios like to charge extra for – quite a chunk of money at £14.99 for the necessary 3000 crowns (Currently it costs £19 in WoW). I’m not a fan of these extras that are charged in real money; whether server transfers, race changes, character make-overs or whatever. It always struck me as somewhat exploitative, especially in games with a sub that the studio would charge players for something that should be included. I’ve only ever server swapped in Rift as Trion made a point of not charging extra for such services. I did once pay for a race change in World of Warcraft, back in the Wrath era, because we needed a healer for our nascent Horde mirror-guild.

This Troll Priest started life as a Draenei

I could create a new Dunmer character and get that caught up with my Dragonknight, either as a direct replacement or a chance to try one of the two classes I’ve not yet played (Sorceror or Nightblade). But do I really want to re-roll when that means winding back on progress and repeating what I’ve already done, I’m not normally one for repeating content so soon…


Posted in ESO, Gaming, Rift, WoW | 4 Comments

Twitch streams as background

I’ve had a couple of thoughts linked to Twitch streams recently in the back of my mind. I’ve started watching them occasionally on my second screen while playing solo gaming session. That’s not to say I’ve always something on in the background, I think it depends on the type of content I’m doing. If I’m gathering and doing crafting writs (repeatable quests) in Everquest 2 then it’s easy to have something on to watch at the same time. It’s less doable if I’m running dungeons in World of Warcraft.

Pulling up roots doesn’t require 100% concentration…

I suspect I started with Massively OP‘s various Twitch streams, I hadn’t touched the platform before the early part of this year. But as I’ve cycled through a few games this year I’ve explored whether there are any regular streams that I can watch as background. Some games make this easier than others; both of Standing Stone Games MMORPGs (LOTRO and DDO) have official Twitch channels that host a scheduled rotation of streamers.

Non-story content mixes well with a background Twitch stream

Time zone differences are sometimes a problem as the majority of streamers seem to be in North America so I catch their streams at (for me) times when I can’t necessarily sit through the whole thing. But it’s nice to engage with them where possible and I’ve actually found myself learning little tips on gameplay or game systems even in games that I’ve played for many years. I had no idea that there’s a method to save and load UI layouts between characters in Lord of the Rings Online, for example – thanks to a comments discussion on a recent stream I now have these commands written down for future use.

Do you watch Twitch streams of your MMOs?


Posted in Gaming, LotRO, EQ2 | 3 Comments

LOTRO: Anniversary Event and Scavenger Hunt

Lord of the Rings Online has been in the gaming news quite a bit of late given the arrival of the Battle of the Black Gate update (Release 20) and more recently the Anniversary Scavenger Hunt.

Previous years’ versions of this game’s launch anniversary event haven’t encouraged me to participate – I can remember logging in once to a shower of fireworks near Bree but wasn’t actively playing so didn’t investigate further. Typically, this year the event started just a couple of days before I went away on holiday; now that I’m back I’ll be squeezing some free time to have a look. I recently had a lot of fun with the Easter egg hunt activity in Everquest 2, so a similar scavenger hunt in LOTRO sounds like fun.

Is that egg ‘looking’ at me?

I’m sure I’ll get around to the new content of Release 20 at some point as well, but I’m doing a lot of standard questing in WoW and ESO at the moment, so I look for something a bit different in anything else I’m playing. I snagged the anniversary intro quest as well, which I may well never have done and opened the anniversary gift boxes I’d received in my inventory. This quest lead me in a round about way to the Shire Party Tree where the Scavenger Hunts are to be found on cards hanging from said tree.

However en route I was reminded of a recent blog post I’d just read while starting to catchup on the blog feed backlog, one by Syl about inventory management not being fun. It’s pretty spot on for LOTRO, my main character has always had bag space problems. He’s an Explorer by trade so gathers ore and wood, and he’s my tailor too. So you can imagine the array of different tiers of raw and refined crafting materials his bags and bank have accumulated over the years. As was noted in the comments of the linked post, LOTRO’s one failing here is the lack of serious ability to upgrade bags or space in-game. It’s part of character progression, and a very popular crafting activity, to swap smaller bags for bigger ones in several of my favourite MMORPGs.

Bag space is always an issue in LOTRO

There’s the rest of the Intro quest to do and three different Year 1 Scavenger Hunts lists, so lots to do spread all over different zones. I’d seen on Massively OP just before I went away that there are already community guides to this, but it’s part of the hunt for me to actually think about where to go and in what order, so to start with at least, I’ll try to work it out for myself.

Posted in Gaming, LotRO

WoW: flying and sightseeing

I’m back from a fantastic holiday in Greece and Turkey, having spent time seeing new places and sights. As we eased back into gaming this weekend, my thoughts turned to sightseeing in World of Warcraft.

Real world sightseeing in Rhodes, Greece

Before going away I successfully unlocked flying in Draenor and then flying in the Broken Isles. Flying in World of Warcraft is often considered as a great boon to convenience – you can skip a lot of interruptions or hassle when (world) questing if you can fly directly to the next location.


I agree with that sentiment of course, it’s transformed the completion of daily emissary tasks and world quests on the Broken Shore since we can now fly over tight packs of aggressive monsters that otherwise might have slowed or halted travel from A to B.

Getting to Dark Heart Thicket dungeon was a pain without flying…

But actually flying also gives another benefit – it’s a great boon for virtual sightseeing as it both gives you a different perspective on the landscape and frees you to explore areas previously difficult to access. Although it’ll wear off eventually, I am feeling a renewed pleasure in manually flying around now familiar zones just to see how they look from this higher vantage point.

Looking down on the Broken Shore

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment

Annoying NPC voices

There are a couple of NPC voices that I seem to be hearing way too often during recent gaming sessions, voices that annoy me for various reasons. Here’s a couple of examples, in no particular order.

Khadgar, World of Warcraft

Khadgar annoys me because of the words he is speaking, not his actual voice. He’s increasingly given pun-overloaded, silly things to say to us as players – despite the fact that he’s one of the most powerful mage’s in Azeroth’s history and is spearheading the fight back against the Burning Legion’s invasion of our world.

Thisalee Crow, World of Warcraft

Champion deactivated…

Oh how I dislike the voice of my main character’s new class hall champion. She has a nasal, “whiny teenager” kind of voice, that I really dislike. Of course you hear standard phrases from champion’s every time you select them for a mission. If you have them slotted as a bodyguard for questing they even follow you around whenever you’re out and about in the Broken Isles. I immediately deactivated her after finishing the quest to unlock her because I find her voice that annoying!

Random republic vendor guy, Star Wars the Old Republic

This is a particular voice-over not a specific character as it is used for various vendor-type characters throughout the game. Most of SWTOR’s voice over work is fair to excellent, but this is a particularly bad example. Just the words “I have the best hardware and the best prices” in that flat, lifeless monotone is enough to set my teeth on edge…

This post could go on and on so I’ll stop with just three examples. What about you dear reader? Which NPC voice annoys you the most?

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR, WoW | 2 Comments

Social items in MMORPGs

It occurred to me over the weekend that MMO’s by their design can encourage socialising, or not, by even simple little design choices. One of the Mage features in Legion is to summon an image of Archmage Vargoth who will dole out an hour-long buff to adventurers who talk to him.

It’s a lovely example of a social item, and not the only one in the game. The various versions of Blingtron offer both a once-per-day present to all of the same faction as the engineer who created him. It’s a great item, and apparently quite popular as I regularly see a 6000 or older 5000 series standing in Dalaran or a class hall.

A Blingtron ‘scrum’

I love design choices that reward players for using public spaces like this. WoW doesn’t have the monopoly on this, of course. I remember fondly the campfire system in Tera, which allows players to use common consumable incense items to buff their character and any other standing near the campfire at the time.

The Secret World always seemed to excel at this kind of item as well, there would often be “gift parties” going on in front of the main Agartha portals as people grouped to share rewards from certain seasonal random gift bags. We were too focused on leveling to take part in such social activities, but they seemed popular enough.

Agartha party…

What other, similar, examples are there in MMOs that encourage casual player interactions?

Posted in Gaming, Tera, TSW, WoW | 3 Comments

AFK, prep and mobile-tie ins

This weekend has been dominated, in part, by gaming preparations for an AFK break – we’re off on holiday from tomorrow. For the MMO player that means certain specific tasks are probably due: like checking for almost expired mails on all your characters, sending off all the  research-type tasks that you can, saying “au revoir” to guildmates so they know why you’ll be absent, etc.

I was playing Everquest 2 anyway to level my woodworking; so checking skill research was easy enough on the three characters I have high enough to be eligible for these free skill quality upgrades. Four characters have housing that needs regular rent payments too, though you can pay up to just over a month in advance, so a short holiday is easily covered.

Long research times can be a bonus

In Elder Scrolls Online, I have research tasks on my blacksmith to manage, but they take a day at most so that character will be idle for pretty much all of the time I’m away. I still have plenty of items gathered from the last couple of sessions to feed into my trait research, but given the long times needed (12-24 hours mostly), it’s going to take a couple of weeks of casual play to clear them all.

A dozen items = over a week of research time

For World of Warcraft there is the Companion App to manage class hall tasks while we’re away. That’s a whole other post probably; as there’s a danger of not unplugging from gaming, as part of normal life, if I use the app too much while away.  Still it is very nice to have the app as an option. In preparation for going away we spent a good chunk of time running the weekly “20 world quests” task to get 5000 hall resources, I managed it on three characters in the time I had free. That chunk of resources is more than enough to feed class hall missions for the time we are away.

The Companion App covers a lot of class hall functions

This then shows an advantage that World of Warcraft has over the other games I play, it allows me to manage certain “busy work” tasks that might only take 5 minutes to arrange from the phone app. If I’m at the library or on a lunch break at work I can still engage with the game without needing the full client. Likewise when travelling for leisure or business, I can still keep my characters ticking over. I’d like some kind of crafting app for ESO as many of the crafting professions need a similar amount of daily attention as do WoW’s class halls. Indeed, I’d even like a remote way of managing my Everquest 2 character’s skill research although a full-blown app would be overkill, perhaps via a website interface like WoW’s armoury?

As an aside I will be afk for just over a week. I have a couple of further posts scheduled, but will not be able to respond to comments straight away. Happy gaming in the meantime!

Posted in EQ2, ESO, Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment