A Bundled Little Ball of Contradiction

October 31, 2008

Does the destination matter to me anymore?  Is the journey to a level cap, or endgame the important part of a game or does my enjoyment start when I am maxed out on levels?  I think I have finally answered that question for myself.  I don’t know how, after 15 years of online gaming,  I didn’t know the answer, but self-reflection isn’t my strong point.  Some relevant cases:

  • On Toril, upon getting my ranger to the cap of 50, I switched to the warrior I was playing (Rarik) and capped him.  Then there was an elementalist (Nerral), who hit 50, whereupon I began moving the bard, Meclin, towards 50, hitting 46 when EQ2 launched and I left.
  • Which brings me to EQ2.  On Crushbone, playing off and on between other titles, I capped 3 or 4 toons, and all of the tradeskills but 2.  Those toons are over 60.  I don’t think I really played any of the capped toons once they got there, except to raid sporadically.
  • WoW–same as above, various servers between PVP and PVE.
  • EVE–doesn’t fit because there is no end I can find.  There are some deadend systems though.

After I wrote about the end of WAR for me, I wanted to figure out why I didn’t “fit” into the game.  I was excited about the Casualties of War guild.  I like PVP.  I have played PvP extensively in other games, from FPS to MMO.  So what was missing?  I think it must have to do with my desire to progress.  I want tangible progression towards some greater stature, but I also need variety.  It was taking me an inordinate amount of time, or an inordinate amount of PVE quests, to see any semblence of advancement.  It was suggested elsewhere that we could have ran PQs to 40 if we wanted a group experience–in my opinion this is only a group version of the PVE side of WAR experience.  The rewards of the progression bar and chance at marginal loot, coupled with the same slow experience grind just did not rise to the level I need in a game.  The favored path of advancement seems to be scenarios.   If I enjoyed the scenario grind I think I would still be in WoW, which I’m not.

There is a contradiction here, however.  I will park my Hulk and Retriever in a belt and mine for hours.  I spent eight hours the other day laying in kernite.  Why can I grind out the most mundane task and take some enjoyment from it?  In EQ2, one of my favorite activities is harvesting.  I typically have about 30 minutes before I go to work where I watch the news.  Call it a professional obligation, but I need to know what the issues of the day are before I go to work.  Since I’ve been back in EQ2 I have picked up an old habit.  I am getting up  a bit earlier, firing the TV up on the second monitor, and harvesting with my guardian on Guk–and enjoying the hell out of it. 

I have come to the conclusion that the scenarios in WAR and the PQs just didn’t payoff for me in a way that I found meaningful.  The loot in PQs was marginally better, if at all, than the quest equipment I received.  The random roll, when I scored in the top 5 invariably colored me a loser as well.  A couple experiences like that and I was done with PQs.  The massive lag in scenarios and chunky operation altogether made it seem unfair as well–the flag carrier was halfway across scenario before they appeared many times.  And of course, I have LotrO, EQ2, EVE, and a number of other games to compare performance with–and it’s not me or my machine.

So in a sequel to my last post, I think I have figured out finally what drove me from not just WAR, but a number of other games as well.  I had a few things going for me in WAR–a set group, a set guild, and a decent gaming rig.  The game itself defeated my will to play–it just doesn’t satisfy what I’m looking for in a game, for the reasons listed above.  Succinctly, I felt like I was on the WoW honor/arena grind except I was going to have to do it for 40 levels.  That grind is why I left WoW, so WAR is in good company.

As others have pointed out, I have the gaming attention of a fruitfly, but going back to EQ2 with a fresh set of toons has been a great experience, though I have only been at it for a week.  The guild is there–I actually found out one of them only lives a few miles from me–and they have helped me with bags/boxes without being asked.  That is a good sign, and I hope portends well for the future.  I have hit the sweet spot for farming named mobs, normally the bane of my AA point climb.  Fabled loot and master chests are just as addictive as rare harvestables.

So this is my last WAR post, I wish the players and Mythic the best.  I don’t intend this as an endorsement or condemnation of the game, but instead a bit of self-exploration.

Happy Halloween!

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Back in EQ2 or Why I am Bored With WAR

October 27, 2008

So with some anticipation and excitement, I slipped into WAR a few weeks back.  I participated in the open beta with the CoWs, and was up and running on launch day.  In fact, I powered through to rank 16 with my black orc, staying ahead of most of the curve.  That is where things got a bit wierd.

First, on the Destruction server there were huge waits for scenarios–scenarios being the preferred leveling tool, and 16 levels of mostly PVE quests–led me to try the Order server for playability.  And off I went.  I leveled through to 16 again, but the second time through, even with the new quests and much more frequent scenarios, it was already becoming a grind.  In fact, so much so that I only log in to play with the Wilhelm/Potshot instance group anymore, and the last two weeks I have left a bit early.  I really like playing with a steady group, but the inability to progress except by “grinding” whether it be scenarios or pve quests, has led me to find excitment elsewhere.

EVE has been going well during this time–I’m mining away and skilling up for the big move to 0.0  My corp is there and I’m just trying to tuck away a few million isk and some supplies before I load up the jump freighter and head to nulsec.  And while there is plenty to do in EVE, there aren’t any swords.

Enter the old standby and perhaps the most diverse play experience out there, Everquest 2.  I started toying with the idea of finding Darren, who I don’t know very well and playing on a new server.  Of course, this being the cult of celebrity if you hear someone’s voice on a podcast they must know who you are, right? 

Start over I did.  Reactivating three EQ2 accounts and quickly rolling up a sarnak guard, defiler, and a ratonga dirge, I was off and running on a new server.  I am tempted to load up an unused, high level crafter from Crushbone and move him over–bags, boxes, plat, and everything else is missing.  But that would defeat the experiment.  I am trying to experience the game fresh, and that means leveling myself–currently to fourteen!  I think i will go provisioner and armorer for sure–laying down a steady coin flow this far into the game’s life may be difficult.  I am curious if i can make money outside the eng game tiers.

It’s been said, but bears repeating–the sarnak starting area of Timourous (sp?) Deep is well done–I’m enjoying swinging my sword once again, though it will probably be at the expense of my WAR account.


Drake Escape

October 20, 2008

While I still have a Warhammer account (thanks for asking) I have not found much to write about concerning the game which hasn’t already been said.  In fact, aside from the Wilhelm/Potshot instance group, I have not been able to play much during the week.   Mining in EVE, with the new Hulk/Retriever setup is sufficiently mindless and allows me to be a dad, do work for school, etc.

Mindless mission running is what I was engaged in last night, as I worked through a 10 part storyline mission for the Amarr Navy.  Every other one is a courier mission, and I break out the Drake for those out of impatience–they Rokh turns slow, warps slow, and is generally just a big DPS machine, not a decent mode of transport.  The decision to run with the Drake saved a full set of implants last night.

I headed to the first gate, intent on finishing up this last courier mission before turning in for the night–I had been mining and running missions most of the evening and was a bit fatigued.  My lethargy led to a moments hesitation, when warping into the first gate I was greeted with a highlighted-yellow pilot icon, sporting a large red star.  I don’t think it even registered what that meant as he began to flash red.  I am still not brave enough to use autopilot so I was within jump distance.  Hitting the gate I quickly set up to warp to my next waypoint.

Revisiting the gate--notice the addition of a cloak.

Revisiting the gate--notice the addition of a cloak.

Too late–he was on me, and I was scrambled.  My velocity began to bottom out and his drones were already on the way.  Denied another gate, I turned towards the one I just came through–12 klicks away.  In the meantime I opened up with seven heavy launchers and five Hobgoblin IIs.  This was almost a fatal mistake.  My booster kept the shield relatively in tact for 10 km, as I spammed the jump button, only noticing on the fifth or sixth click a message:  “Due to your recent acts of aggression, you are not allowed to jump” or something to that effect.

I pulled in the drones, shut down the missiles, more in an attempt to save cap and the hope to warp out at some point.  There was a barely discernable sliver of red damage on his shield–not even an annoyance for him.  I was still being scrambled periodically, and apparently webbed as well, judging from the wild swings in velocity.  The cap failed, and in perhaps half a second my shield was gone and my armor dropped in half.  And the gate worked.  I was through, and headed back into the station I had just left.  Either he didn’t realize what I was doing headed back towards the gate, or he thought I would die before I got through.  The enemy ship was a good 12 km from the gate when I left, giving me time to escape with my implants still in my head.

The rest of the night I spent looking over my shoulder, fitting a cloak on my ships, and generally worrying that when I get to 0.0 I’m going to be killed a lot.  Potshot reminded me it was my idea to join a corp that operated in 0.0–I guess this is my just reward.  A bit of Shakespeare popped into my head when I limped into my home station.  Battered and damaged, I had survived a pretty lopsided encounter.

What though the mast be now blown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding-anchor lost,
And half our sailors swallow’d in the flood?
Yet lives our pilot still.

Henry VI, Scene IV Act V


Hulk

October 14, 2008

Title says it all.  I have achieved the Hulk.  Along with my EVE pod-mates, Wilhelm and of course Potshot, I am now mining at unimagined (by me anyway) rates.  With the Hulk on station alongside my combat pilot’s Retriever, money is a bit easier to come by of late.  In fact, the recent downturn in the kernite market has barely been in a hiccup in my cash flow–veldspar is readily available and the trit is selling fairly well.

The problem with new toys in EVE is it makes me want to play more–playing more makes me micromanage my skill queues.  When WAR was still shiny, I got the bulk of my Hulk skills down, drones V, gunnery V, electronics V, and a variety of other skills trained without noticing the time.  Now when I log in to mine or run missions, the hour and thirty minute skills seem to last forever.

At least I can haul in massive amounts of ore while it ticks by.  Next up are shield skills on the combat pilot and perhaps a Drake for my miner.  That pilot has little more than learning, industrial, and mining skills currently.