Gaming Questionnaire – Because, Yeah

I’d really like to take the time to write more but I’ve been so rarely in the house lately that I’ve done very little blogging.  Can’t complain of late, given the (finally) nice weather.  Fall is approaching, so after the next 2 weekends, there should be some stability.

That said, late as always, I thought I’d give the Gaming Questionnaire from Cannot Be Tamed a shot.  Some part of this is for me, some part for you!  win/win

There are a lot of questions and after running through it, I get to realize that this is like asking me who my favorite child is.  They all are, for various reasons, at various times.  And I’m really glad I can say that.

1. When did you start playing video games?

A little squib, probably 5-6.  I’m 35 now, so that’s a fair amount of time.

2. What is the first game you remember playing?

I do remember playing Pong at my grandmothers and a fair chunk of early Atari.  My friend had a commodore.  A neighbor was always buying new Atari games, then selling them.  I bought what must seem like 30 games from him for a dollar each.  It was a lot of fun.

3. PC or Console?

I started on console, then moved to PC, then back to console, then back to PC.  I really don’t see the need for consoles today.  Steam + Big Screen + controller is the way forward.  I think the actual conversation today is PC or mobile.

4. XBOX, Playstation or Wii?

Today?  Playstation.  It’s a gamer focused device with a bunch of value services.  XBOX is a shell of what it was and Wii is in a really, really weird place right now.

5. What’s the best game you ever played?

That is a really, really good question.  How about I split that up a bit because a game today can’t really compare with one from 20 years ago.  Quest for Glory series has been on the list for a long time.  The original XCOM.  I prefer Civ 5 over the other ones in the series but 1/2 were amazing. Myst had me change the way I thought about games.  NHL 94 and Jeremy Roenick.  FF6 I’ve put hundreds of hours.  Ni No Kuni is the best RPG in the past 5 years.

How do you ever pick a single game?

6. What is the worst game you ever played?

I dunno, Enter the Matrix?  I tend to put in a good 5 hours into a game, even if I don’t like it.  Just to get a feel for it.  EtM was really quite bad.

7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

Call of Duty/Battlefield/FPS clones.  I just don’t see the point.

8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

I’m going to say Hellgate.  PvE FPS MMOs are all pretty ugly today.  Hellgate did a TON of things wrong but also did a TON of things right.  There was next to no middle ground.

9. What are your favorite genres?

RPG, platformers, tactical/strategy games tend to be top of pile.  I prefer to think than to react.

10. Who is your favorite game protagonist?

This isn’t a fair question.  Protagonists today are clearly defined while 10 years ago you had to fill in the blanks.  Voice actors make or break it.  So old school, I’d say the hero from the QfG series.  Very flexible, you could act noble or not.  I thought it was solid and the story kept pace.  Today’s hero is Oliver from Ni No Kuni.  The character progresses drastically from start to finish, it’s really impressive what they did.

11. Describe your perfect video game

RPG with MMO elements, set in sci-fi, with PvE sandbox elements.  Solid replay value, with different branching stories.  I like the idea of playing the protagonist but even more so the strategist.  How about a combination of Minecraft, Overlord and Mass Effect.

12. What video game character do you have a crush on?

Hmm.  Female characters are so underdeveloped it’s really hard to go that route.  The new Lara Croft angle sounds promising, and FemShep had potential (but spoiled it in ME3).  I guess right now, Drusera in Wildstar is the one I’m most curious about.

Lightning from FF13 started out as a crush but then you learn more and go “oh”.  I would be curious to see Nathan Drake’s descent into madness.

13. What game has the best music?

FF6 is up there.  Eternal Sonata is highly noted.  Ni No Kuni has an amazing soundtrack.  Transistor was also quite good.

14. Most memorable moment in a game

Biggest plot twist is likely Aerith’s death given that no one liked to kill protagonists in the first 1/3rd of a game (outside of an intro).  I’ve had quite a few memorable moments, when I either get my wife to see it or my kids.  To pick one would be to deny all the amazing moments in great games.  By and large though, it has little to do with the climax of the game but more with the intertwining of the story.  Bioshock Infinite is less about the climax and more about the 2nd playthrough and seeing the game through a different set of lenses.

15. Scariest moment in a game

I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever been scared in a game before.  Never been my type of thing.

16. Most heart wrenching moment in a game

There have been plenty of self-sacrifices in games over the years.  Booker in Bioshock Infinite is the most recent memorable one.  I have great difficultly watching a parent lose their child, yet thankfully that is a rare occurrence in gaming.

17. What are your favorite websites/blogs about gaming?

See my blogroll :)  In addition, the official Reddit forums for a game are usually the best place for news.

18. What’s the last game you finished?

Transistor?  Devious Dungeon on Android might be more recent.  Does a replay of Quest for Glory count?  How many games today actually have endings?

19. What future release are you most excited about?

Today, Civilization: Beyond Earth and Wasteland 2.  I try not to look too far ahead.

20. Do you identify as a gamer?

Why yes, yes I do.  Anyone filling out this survey would be a gamer otherwise they couldn’t answer these questions.  Play games?  Gamer.

21. Why do you play video games?

I’ve answered this in the past.  I game for all sorts of reasons.  It’s my main hobby and allows me to decompress after a long day.  I enjoy nearly every aspect of gaming and find more pleasure from it than I think most do.  I am oddly concerned to meet someone my age or younger than doesn’t play games.  Outside of sports/crafting, an engrossing social life, or perhaps self-improvement activities, I’ve always been quite curious as to what people would rather do in their spare time.

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#Wildstar – Veterans

While I recently tagged 50 with my Engineer I was left with a conundrum.  What do I want to do now?  I mean, I have a healer and a tank, both of which are DPS as well.  I’ve done the paths that interest me (scientist and settler).  What’s next?

I opted to get my Engineer up to the first “hurdle” for attunement, getting enough reputation.  Well, the first step is getting 150 elder gems, that took a week+.  Then was killing Pyralos in Wilderrun.  I did this guy with my Esper, who had about 20K hit points.  That took about 3 hours of trouble and I was swearing something fierce.  My engineer had the hit points to be knocked down from the tower and survive with 300hp.  He could also stand in the fire without dying.  3 tries and he was down.  I can’t imagine how that would feel for a player with their first 50 – with such a large disparity between the classes.  Anyways, after that I hit the reputation wall – currently at 26K of 32K.  At that point it’s either daily grinds OR veteran content.

My Esper is at the “all adventures on veteran” stage and a class I tend to enjoy playing more, so I hopped back on.  I collected a Goldensun Essence (which is neato) first, then decided to run around a bit.  I collected a few bags (the 16 and 15 slot ones from challenges) as I seem to be perennially out of space.  The I looked at my housing plot, thought “It’s going to take days to make this look less like a trailer park” and moved on.  I do need to take a stab at it mind you, just not today.

First was re-gearing from the AH.  Esper had more cash and for 1.5p I was able to replace 4 pieces of gear and up my Moxie by nearly 200.  (note to others, look at level 49 gear).  I put in a few runes but it’s about 1p per right now, something for later gear I suppose.  Though from what I’ve read, this crafted gear I have is optimal well into the raiding sphere.

At this point I thought about getting into the veteran content outside of the guild, which meant the LFG tool.  I have a natural aversion to LFG tools for the first few months of a game.  Let’s just say that the people who are using it are in it for the end result rather than the actual content, locusts by and large.  Once you hit the end of month 3, the people left in the game are vastly different than before and quite enjoyable.

So I said, let’s do veteran ship hand missions – the button was there while leveling after all.  To my disappointment, the button doesn’t work.  Same with housing plot adventures.  I’d gladly do both on veteran.  Mind you, the housing ones do scale and the shiphands scale you down.  There’s a challenge, I just don’t want the gear.  I want the housing stuff!

I then decided to bite the bullet and opened the LFG tool.  I selected DPS and removed myself from the healer queue.  It’s always a good idea to do hard mode content as a DPS, where you can make mistakes and learn new patterns, and then graduate to healing.  Less than 2 minutes and I was into War in the Wilds.

This is the MOBA adventure and I’ve done it quite a few times on normal.  Capture flags, destroy enemies, check.  Very easy, very short.  Veteran started well enough as we captured 5 flags without incident.  Then things took a turn.

I don’t know if this is the core strategy or not but the tank decided to take on all 5 enemy heroes at once, in the middle of the enemy AI path for the moodies.  So there’s those 5 plus 5 more moodies and there’s red telegraphs everywhere.  I was doing my job, decently enough I might add, then the healer just ran out of focus.  We’re talking a solid 5 minutes of non-stop battling, which shouldn’t be a normal thing for a healer.  I died, the tank died, then it was a wipe.

You know what happened next? Full disband.  I’m used to gkicks in other games but just a full drop seems excessive. I know to get silver you need to have more kills than deaths, and we were WELL above that marker.  I just don’t get that mentality of failure and quitting.  I guess I need to run some more stuff with the guildies.

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#Wildstar – Esper DPS Guide

The following is my perspective on DPS as an Esper.  They are a long range attacker, with some survivability due to lifesteal and healing capabilities.  They are rather fragile though, so you want to stay out of the fray.  They can solo most 2/3 man content but the 5+ content is really the domain of the Spellslinger and their ability to kite with a snare.

Espers work with Psi Points, obtained through builders.  They cap at 5 and unless you have a specific AMP, any gained past that point are wasted.  They last for about 10 seconds in combat.

Skills

This section will give you an overview of all the damage skills and their value.  While Esper damage is somewhat simple (2 builders + 2 finishers), there are many options depending on the event.

Spectral Form

Our innate that no longer roots us!  30 second cooldown that gives you an absorb shield, increases output and gives you PP over time.  You want to use this at 4 PP, to get to 5 quickly then cast a finisher.  You’ll be back at 5 in a flash just afterwards.  Get used to using this often as it’s extremely powerful.

It can also be used for movement portions with low combat, such as dodging laser beams.  It will give you an absorb shield and enough PP to keep casting a finisher.

Telekinetic Strike (TK)

One of two builders and there’s absolutely no downside to using it.  Psychic Frenzy’s only advantage is a built-in lifesteal at T4, which is only useful if you’re trying to solo some group content.  T8 gives additional PP generation too, so max this and use it liberally.

Psychic Frenzy (PF)

The other builder with comparable damage to TK but you must be in melee range to use.  That puts you in harm’s way, which is a bad spot for a light armor player.  If you are using it, you must be at T4 to get the lifesteal.  Works the same as TK at T8

Mind Blast (MB)

One of two finishers, this one has a smaller telegraph at long range and is an instant attack.  T8 gives you a damage buff when used at 5PP.  Unless the target is 100% stationary for 7s (extremely rare), this is the best damage attack you have.

Blade Dance (BD)

Does OK damage but you can’t do anything else while it’s channelling.  The damage needs to scale a whole lot better for it to be anywhere close to useful, or apply a DoT instead of a channel.

Illusionary Blades (IB)

Deals more damage than other builders but has a cooldown and 3 charges.  If you use it on cooldown, at T4, it’s on-par with Spectral Swarm in terms of damage.  The T8 snare is useless due to the long cooldown.

Concentrated Blade (CB)

Minor DPS, off general cooldown, gives a PP on hit.  No reason at all to invest here, just baseline as a free PP generator.

Bolster

Gives 1PP per use, off the GCD.  Don’t invest, it’s just for the quick PP.  It’s sad that this is on a DPS skill set but pretty much mandatory for optimal play.

Haunt

It’s a so-so skill, at T4 with a magic damage buff for yourself. Use it before a finisher for maximum damage.  Don’t bother using it below T4 and even then the damage benefit is questionable when compared to IB.

Spectral Swarm (SS)

Only acquired through AMPs, this generates 2 bugs that attack the enemy.  T4 gives you lifesteal as well.  An AE boss will kill them quickly, which makes this more of a solo/situational ability. On par with IB in terms of damage output.

Reaper

Pure PvP skill that snares the target.  Horrible damage.  Skip it.

Geist

This is a decent leveling ability until you get SS, especially if you get it to T4 for the lifesteal.  A horrible tank but a decent DPS addition.  Geist + SS + PF is a decent solo damage output with lifesteal, something to consider.

Crush / Incapacitate

For when you need to break armor and interrupt.  Depends highly on your group composition and your level of trust.  Crush at T4 takes 2 armor away.  No need to invest in Incapacitate.

Shockwave / Restraint

Shockwave destroys 1 interrupt but also knocks the enemy back. Restraint applies an AE root.  PvP only.

Fade Out

A “get out of crap” card that breaks stuns and roots and throws you backwards.  Situational but quite useful – aiming can be tricky.

Projected Spirit

Allows you to sprint forward and give a minor heal.  This is meant to put distance between you and the target, not anything else.

Soothe

A decent solo ability that can heal you on the move, or top you up after a fight.  Not useful for group content.  Spam it for decent healing without PP generation.

AMPs

Assault all the way, with a touch of strikethrough. BINGO is up in the air as it doesn’t work with all builders and if you’re already at 4+PP, the extra PP is wasted.

Build Suggestions

There are 2 core builds, a pure damage output and a sustainability option.

Pure Damage – TK + MB + IB + CB + Bolster (My Base Build)

Sustain – PF + MB + SS + CB + Bolster (My Base Build)

The rest of the skills are highly dependent on your preferences and the actual event.  Crush at T4 is very powerful, and combined with Incapacitate can make quick work of bosses.

Psi Point Management

  • This is where the real skill level cap is found, managing optimal PP.
  • You want to always use MB at 5 PP, for the damage buff.
  • You don’t want to overlap on PP generation as you can’t get more than 5PP.
  • Spectral Form gives you 1 PP instantly, the rest over time, so cast it at 4PP.
  • A double Bolster + SS gives you 3 PP in under a second.
  • CB takes ~3 seconds to hit your target. Cast it at 3+PP so that they land AFTER your finisher

Runes

  • Runes are really quite powerful, and rune sets are even more so.
  • Rune sets at the same power level (4/8/12) do not stack, you need to have them at different level (say, 8 and 12 and not 8 and 8)
  • Rune sets of Spellweaver (+magic damage) and Assassin (+damage on foes under 30%) are your best bets
  • Rune Slots are extremely powerful. You should use them.  Don’t bother unlocking a rune slot unless you’re wearing a blue-level item though.
  • While there’s some overlap between rune slots, some give better bonuses than others. For example, many rune slots give Moxie but Fire and Logic give the largest bonus.  The breakdown works as follows:
    • Fire: Moxie, Crit
    • Fusion: Assault Power
    • Life: Crit
    • Logic: Moxie, Crit
    • Water: Strikethrough, Finesse
    • Air: Moxie
    • Earth: Brutality
  • Base runes + rune sets means you want a Spellweaver rune of Moxie in an Air slot

Stat Priority

  • Stat priority is very simple. Attack Power > Moxie (1680) > Finesse > Strikethrough (7%) > Crit (~25%) > Crit Severity.

Learning to DPS

The first rule of DPS is that a dead player deals no damage.  Wildstar is especially unforgiving in this regard, so you need to learn to dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge.  In all cases, you should move and re-cast rather than take the hit.  Thankfully the Esper is rather mobile class, so this shouldn’t have too large an impact

Next to learn is Moments of Opportunity (MoO).  When you see an enemy casting (a purple bar) and you are able to interrupt it, they get knocked down and take extra damage.  This bypasses all shields and increases damage by a solid 25%.  This is the key to beating veteran content.  A group should set up an A team and a B team, then rotate through.  Unless your attack can kill the enemy in 1 hit, a knockdown is always the best option.

Third is learning to circle strafe and attack.  You need to move around the target, in a circle, with mouse look (hold right mouse) and keep attacking.  Once you get that down, include some dodges in the attack pattern.  Learning to move and attack makes a huge difference.

Finally it’s about learning the attack dance.  Cooldowns are generally synchronized to patterns.  TK + TK + SS + CB x2 + Bolster x2 is sustainable for a long time.  It’s about practice to find the optimal sequence of button presses and practicing so that it becomes more natural.  Slotting those attacks in sequence in your LAS is a good bet too.  Getting a programmable mouse (or multi-button at least) is also a smart bet.

 

#I’ll try to keep this guide up to date.

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#Wildstar – Esper Healing Guide

Syl has a good post detailing her healing experiences in Wildstar thusfar.  The main point is that it’s incredibly hectic but at the same time, extremely rewarding.  I had started a comment but realized it was getting too verbose, hence this post.

The following is my perspective on healing as an Esper.  They are more akin to the traditional healer in MMOs, when compared to Medics (mid-range, shield and AE focused) and Spellslingers (long range, Spellsurge dependent, absorb focused).

Espers work with Psi Points, obtained through builders.  They cap at 5 and unless you have a specific AMP, any gained past that point are wasted.  They last for about 10 seconds in combat.

Our main healing resource is Focus, analogous to Mana from other games.  You have a decent amount, it regenerates over time and there are a few skills that can boost it.

Skills

This section will give you an overview of all the healing skills and their value.  While Esper healing is somewhat simple (builder + finisher), there are many options depending on the event.

Spectral Form

Our innate that no longer roots us!  30 second cooldown that gives you an absorb shield, increases output and gives you PP over time.  You want to use this at 4 PP, to get to 5 quickly then cast a finisher.  You’ll be back at 5 in a flash just afterwards.  Get used to using this often as it’s extremely powerful.

It can also be used for movement portions with low combat, such as dodging laser beams.  It will give you an absorb shield and enough PP to cast Reverie to maybe save a few folk.

Soothe

One of the most powerful skills we have, it heals for about 75% of Mind over Body and is a great group heal.  You need to target it in a wide beam, so the group needs to work together. I cast this at 3 charges, continuously.  My personal go-to heal, in all situations.  Of all abilities, this one should be maxed to T8 as it applies a HoT.  Costs 13/17/25 focus.

Mind over Body

While I have this slotted, it has very limited use for 2 reasons.  First, it requires a lot of focus and can drain you quick.  Second, it’s the only ability that the Esper needs to stand still to cast.  There are very few times where you can use this outside of some raids and dead spots during boss events.  Even then, the ramp up time for point generation is rather slow.  I sometimes use this on heavy boss fights on the tank, if we’ve wiped previously.  Costs between 25-37 focus.  If you’re a dedicated tank healer, then slot this to T8 as it increases future heals by 15%.

Reverie

Super group AE heal, massive space but you still need to make sure everyone is in range.  T8 increases future healing by 10%, which makes this thing an awesome chain heal in big AE battles (which is nearly all bosses).  Costs 7/13/20/27/33 focus.

Mending Banner

Single target mega heal.  A good “oh crap” skill that has to be T4 to get the armor buff on the tank.  T8 gives a chain heal but only 10m.  Costs a variable amount of focus, slightly more than Reverie.

Phantasmal Armor

I use this to start the fight and then when the tank is dipping a little low.  It’s a great damage shield.  Never found a reason to upgrade it mind you.  Costs 69 focus.

Pyrokinetic Flame

It’s a raid buff, plain and simple.  The heal is minor but the 5% increase to attack/support power is amazing with more than 5 players, at T4.  Otherwise, I leave it off.  Costs 20 focus.

Warden

A stationary AE Heal over Time.  Really low output that doesn’t scale very well and has a high focus cost. If your tank is having trouble staying alive due to gear issues, then you can drop it on them for some support.  Costs 35 focus.

Bolster

This is simply a way to generate 2 charge PP near instantly.  Sadly, pretty much required.  If you can, target the tank, otherwise it’s a self-cast.  Costs 13 focus.

Mental Boon

Very similar to Warden but has no focus cost because it’s centered on you. The range is so small, you need to be in melee range to hit the tank.  Same issues that Warden has, in terms of scaling too.  I’d much prefer replacing Warden with this and allow it to be targeted.

Crush / Incapacitate

For when you need to break armor and interrupt.  Depends highly on your group composition and your level of trust.

Catharsis

A cleanse ability that can be upgraded to a purge but that needs a T8 investment, way too much.  It’s very situational and will only be used on a few bosses.  Costs 38 focus.

Meditate

Takes 5s to cast and regenerates focus, 1 more per tier.  T4 gives you 2 PP.  You also can’t move while casting, which is a massive downside.  At low focus regen levels, it has uses on long fights but I prefer Fixation.

Fade Out

A “get out of crap” card that breaks stuns and roots and throws you backwards.  Situational but quite useful – aiming can be tricky.

Projected Spirit

Allows you to sprint forward and give a minor heal.  This is more of a DPS skill, in my opinion, to keep a gap on the enemy.  Rather slow too.  In high movement fights, where a double dash + sprint is not enough, then this has some value.  But you probably made a bunch of mistakes for this to be useful.  Costs 39 focus.

Concentrated Blades

If for some reason you still have room on your bar, CB will give you 2 PP after they hit and deal some minor damage.  It’s been a while since I’ve played with it active but it certainly has uses.

Fixation

At T4, it gives a focus regen on top of giving you 3 PP.  Very powerful and I use it pretty much on cooldown.  Scorchwing with 2 healers is possible with this skill.  If your regen gets high enough, then I can see you dropping it.  If you’re reading this guide though, your regen isn’t high enough.

AMPs

There aren’t many bad choices, outside of perhaps Companion and Mirage, which need some rework.  AMPs that trigger on crits are useful, or that add extra shield/healing power.  If you don’t get Fixation, then you can fill out all of the T2 support skills.

Build Suggestions

There are 2 core builds, an AE focused and a tank focused, which prescribe 3 main skills per.

AE – Soothe + Reverie + Bolster (My Base Build)

Tank – MoB + MB + Bolster (My Base Build)

The rest of the skills are highly dependent on your preferences and the actual event.  Fixation should be on the bar if you have the AMP.  Phantasmal Armor is always useful.  Crush or Incapacitate (I like the latter) will save your bacon and help the team.

Focus Management

  • Not all skills require focus and those that do often have varying amounts required.
  • You want to reach ~3.5 focus per second. The AH has some decent gear to get you started but when looking at upgrades, FPS is right up there with Support Power and Insight.
  • For any non-boss fight, focus isn’t an issue. For bosses, if you’re spamming MoB + MB, you’re going to run dry in a flash. You can practically chain Soothe + Reverie forever.  Think about what you’re casting.

Runes

  • Runes are really good to address focus issues. The General Rune for focus regen is where you want to go for 12/12.  This will give you a ton of regen.
  • Rune Slots are extremely powerful. You should use them.  Don’t bother unlocking a rune slot unless you’re wearing a blue-level item though.
  • While there’s some overlap between rune slots, some give better bonuses than others. For example, many rune slots give Support Power but Life and Water give the largest bonus.  The breakdown works as follows:
    • Fire: Crit / Insight
    • Fusion: Support Power
    • Life: Insight/ Crit Severity / Focus
    • Logic: Crit / Crit Severity
    • Water: Insight / Focus
    • Air: Focus
    • Earth: Crit Severity

Stat Priority

  • Stat priority is simple enough to start, get focus regen to 3.5 per second. After that, it’s Support Power > Insight (1680) > Finesse > Crit (~25%) > Crit Severity.  There’s no cap on Support Power and a soft cap on Insight as 1680 is the last milestone.
  • You do not need Strikethrough, unless you’re using CB. Missing a CB is a lost PP.
  • Tech (for deflect) and Grit (for hit points) are not terribly useful but can provide some skill buffer. You are a glass canon after all.

Learning to Heal

My suggestion for this has always been the same, regardless of the game.  Learn to heal in PvP first.  Start with single target healing – find a tank and shadow them.  Figure out what skills work best for you.  Move on to group heals so you learn to aim the darn telegraphs.  Once you’re comfortable, move to open-world group content – in particular Scorchwing for 5+ group quests to learn the ropes.  Following that, move onto Adventures, then dungeons.  You’ll learn all about situational abilities, how to manage focus, what rhythm works best for you.

WS is hard enough to require triage but forgiving enough to let a few things slide.  If you’re at 50%, then you’re going to live – if you’re not the tank.  And if things are really going wrong, in 99% of the cases, your group is not using interrupts properly. Smart play is very well rewarded.

#I’ll keep this as up to date as I can…

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WoW – 10 Years Leading the Pack

Bhagpuss found a neat idea from Atl:ernative Chat, that came up with a neat way to recognize WoW’s personal impact.  Reading through his post, I found a fair bit in common and a fair bit of nostalgia as well.  So here goes.

1. Why did you start playing WoW?

I was a pretty big W3 player, was deep into EQ/UO and found the MMO concept pretty decent.  I somehow got into the very early beta and fell aback at the sheer quality compared to what was available.  Interestingly, I found a website about the game (WoW.net I think it was) and wrote some guides for the beta.  Someone found them, offered me a job writing more guides and that sort of cemented me into the game.

It also helped that I had a dozen or sort friends that I converted to play with me.

2. What was your first character?

Dwarf rogue.  I was active with him until MoP too.  I loved Rogues, always have.  They were pretty darn solid DPS class, and at the start weren’t all that glass canon.  I think the best part was stealthing dungeons with a couple other rogues, clearing it out.  BC was prime-time for Rogues.

3. What factors determined your faction choice?

Barrens decided it for me.  I think for quite a few years the starting area for the Horde was horrible.  Westfall and Dun Murogh were amazing in comparison.  I liked the Horde concept and the characters, but the actual gameplay was not fun.

4. What was your most memorable moment?

Good question, hard to think of one off hand.  Clearing MC in vanilla was up top, chess event in Kara too.  My healing shaman ruling AV for a few months is also top of pile.  Hmm, the most memorable are likely the two massive guild implosions I experienced.  One where logistics of MC destroyed us.  A guild of 60 people, we had a bench for raiding and still couldn’t get everyone to show on time.  The other one was related to DKP drama.  Oh the days of loot ninjas!

5. What is your favorite aspect of the game, and is it still the case?

Originally, it was the ease of access along with system integration.  Everything seemed to interconnect with everything else.  Plus the game had a low skill level for entry but a relatively high skill cap.  The first one is gone, completely obliterated through iterative design focused on the second.  I think the game is much, much to simple today and has trained too many people to just faceroll and expected purples.

6. Do you have an area of the game you always return to?

The auction house.  I’ve never found the art in-game to be particularly attractive, just average.  I like the concepts of the zones just not a big fan of the implementation.  I will say that every expansion has been drastically better than the last.  Cata certainly showed that clearly by re-jigging the starter world and making Draenor look like poop.

7. How long have you /played and has it been continuous?

I started at launch, played consistently until a few months into BC.  Since then, I play 2 months starting the expansion then 1 month after the last expansion patch.  That’s a fair amount of time and I’ve enjoyed most of it.

8. Do you read quest text or not?

I do on the first play through.  Blizzard has very good writers and some pretty memorable characters.  It’s really impressive what they are able to communicate without voice.  While over the years there have been MANY conflicts within the lore, overall the quality of the text and stories has been solid.  I think this is the most consistent part of the game.

9. Are there any regrets about the time in game?

I think I played too much at the start but over the years the play time has been sensible.  I rather enjoyed the single player aspect and the “live world” aspect.  I do regret most of my time “farming” gear though and ignoring the social aspects.

10. What effect has WoW had on your outside life?

A lot.  Much more than I would have thought.  I met people through WoW, made a ton of money (off the guides), applied learning to the game, developed a better understanding of system complexities, improved leadership skills.  WoW taking the forefront of my gaming plate for so long gave me an outlet, as an introvert, to try new things without long term consequences.  I’m a firm believer that gaming can provide some significant real world benefits.

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MMOs – Where are they now?

Nosy Gamer’s recent MMO roundup from XFire shows some interesting developments when looking at Wildstar and ESO.  Wildstar launched at the start of June while ESO was start of April, so 2 months and 4 months respectively at this point.  They are slotted at 8 and 12 on the list.  WoW rounds out the top, even though it lost 800,000 players.  EvE and FF14 are the other 2 subscription-based games on the list.  Everything else is FTP, which makes for some interesting metrics.

I do agree that the sample is flawed and isn’t a direct representation of the population.  I mean, I can’t think of anyone who actively installs XFIRE today, so newer games are at a distinct disadvantage.  Heck, Raptr only shows WoW, WS, FF14 and ESO in their top 20. That said, XFIRE does a great job at showing patterns over time and for that I think the discussion is very relevant in that both WS and ESO are down.

While I can attribute a fair amount of that to the 60 day drop (people play box + 1 month), rather than the 3-monther Keen professes, there are certainly some additional factors at play.  We can’t just assume that the summer provides a dip here, because it should affect all the games rather equally.  The factors have to be game-specific.

ESO first.  The VR wall was my “I win” bucket.  The fact that the game was anti-social certainly didn’t help.  Mind you, recent reports say they are trying to fix both issues, among a pile of kitchen sink additions.  I do think that once VRs are gone, the game will be in “ready to launch” state, some 5 months after actual launch.  I think of this compared to Marvel Heroes, or Neverwinter’s “beta phase” but both of those had no price point for entry.  It will have cost box + $60 to get to launch with ESO and that’s a price point people can find more value elsewhere.  In particular GW2 from a FTP perspective or FF14 from a subscription perspective. There’s certainly a chance it comes back up to the top, what with WoW likely not launching ‘til December.

Wildstar next.  While I am still enjoying my stay, I do know a lot of people who have left due to lack of progress past 50 – or heck, even mid-game.  Wildstar’s approach to combat is extremely divisive, and scales at an inappropriate pace.  There’s very little transition for people entering group content, just a wall of bodies at 20.  There are very few reports of successful PUGs anywhere, to the point where Carbine had to make change to the rewards system, in order to avoid group crumbling after 5 minutes.  And this doesn’t even get into the craziness of level 50 and raiding.  Sure, you could do the attunement and farm gear in dungeons/adventures but there ain’t no way you’re going to raid.  Everything up until that point can either be accomplished solo, with 5 people or with random PUGs in a zone.  The dungeon medal requirement is crazy, to boot.  But the cherry is getting 40 people to do it and then getting them to raid with you.  Bluntly put, the investment requirement for raiding has either been accomplished already by those with a want to invest or never will be.  That means two distinct parts at issue.  First, you need to accept the combat structure (difficulty + pacing) which is not going to change, outside of adding some “learning” zones.  Second, you need to accept that you’re likely never going to raid.  This part has been beaten to death on many blogs and I would like to think that Carbine, like Bethesda, is actually paying attention.

I do have to say that I’m less surprised with ESO’s tumble than Wildstar’s.  The ESO beta was not kind, and there were significant rumblings before launch about readiness.  It’s clearly still popular if it’s on lists though, so that’s good.  And there is active development, also very good.  Wildstar’s issues seem to be more condemning.  It had a relatively clean beta and had significant groundswell at launch.  Many people have issues finding a flaw with the game outside of the inability to find attachment to justify investment.  That is a massive problem for MMOs in general and one that doesn’t bode well for the future.

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Interstellar – On My List

So let’s get this over with.

  • Chris Nolan – check
  • Anne Hathaway – check
  • Michael Cain – check
  • Hans Zimmer – check
  • Sci-fi – check
  • Transcendence – check
  • Do not go gentle – check

And why can’t I give them my money now?

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