Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

MMO Holding Pattern: Not Done Yet

I think I mentioned in my last post that I’ve kinda been in a holding pattern when it comes to MMOs lately. I log in to FFXIV (the only MMO I’m really playing), I do some daily beast tribes, I maybe do an alliance roulette, and sometimes I do a leveling. Some days, I don’t really even log in at all.

I’m still working on my goal for the month, which is to get some leveling done on my Summoner/Scholar (which is now at level 66 as of last night). I do need to work on cleaning up story quests still, too.

But other than that, I don’t really feel the call to do a lot in MMOs lately. So there’s not a whole lot to write about here.

This makes me feel a little bad, especially since I’ve been much more active at putting out posts for my revived Second Life blog. Maybe it was a mistake to have separated the two blogs, I don’t know. I thought that folks who followed for MMO posts wouldn’t be interested in tons of Second Life posts and vice versa. Also, I wanted to reuse the URL I used to have for my original Second Life blog because there are still links out there that send folks to that site.

I also felt a little bad after reading Syp’s post on Biting the MMO hand that entertained you. While I do feel like I’ve been suffering from MMO burnout, especially FFXIV end game burnout, for quite a while, I’m still playing casually and I don’t have negative feelings towards the game or MMOs in general. I just need a change of pace.

But we are all seeing a shift away from MMO blogging. It’s gotten quiet around these parts. Not just in what people write about but in overall interaction with each other.

Right now, I’m really focused on many aspects of Second Life (even though I thought I’d never come back to it). Part of that is because of the response I’ve gotten from others… even though the grid is huge and I’m pretty much a stranger to everyone. Though some folks in the Second Life community can be jaded, they also seem to quickly laud and promote the work of SL folks.

For example, last week, a screenshot I took in world and posted on Flikr was chosen as a header image for a SL photo group there. That made me feel really awesome.

Yesterday, an established Second Life blog highlighted a series of tutorial posts I’m writing about being a Blender noob. I suddenly got this rush of new visitors to my young-restarted blog, with a few leaving random comments. I’m also getting a pretty positive response and conversation on Reddit. And boy does that encourage me to keep going with those posts.

I really love Syp’s Global Chat column on MassivelyOP for this reason, too. I always check it out just to see who’s been highlighted, and get a thrill if one of my articles appears there. I think it’s a wonderful thing to lift other people’s work up in that way, and always give props to him for keeping his finger on the pulse of so many blog posts.

This is in no way a knock against the MMO blogger folks, because I have nothing but respect and affection for you all. I guess it’s easy for us to get siloed into our little slots — maybe we’re writing about a game other folks aren’t playing or hopping around having a hard time finding that place to call an MMO home.

It only makes sense that if I’m playing X-MMO and another blogger is writing about X-MMO, they’re going to get more of my read and comment time than someone blogging about an MMO I’m not playing or interested in. It could be just another casualty of having too many games to choose from, not enough time, and most folks struggling to find a game that really calls to them to stay.

I don’t know.

I’m rambling now. But I suppose I felt I needed to write something to say “I’m not dead done yet. I’m really into something not MMO (but yet kinda MMO — Second Life is more of a virtual world), so I’m blogging about different things. But I haven’t quit playing or blogging or anything, even if my focus is somewhere else for the moment, and I seem a little quiet here.”

I’m sure someone will do something silly in a duty finder for me to write about. Just hang in there.

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Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs

MMO Guild Tool Review: Guilded

As a FFXIV Free Company leader, and someone who takes web presence and web design seriously, I’m always on the lookout for tools that can help me keep things running smoothly. Knights of Memory <KoM> is fairly free-form in allowing members to set up and run things as they see fit. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.

You want to run a Canals night, go ahead and set that up. You want a Coil clear day, go ahead and set that up. You want to build that submarine, go ahead and organize it.

Given the high level of trust we have in our members, this has worked just fine for us. The difficult part has been providing a tool that everyone can use to organize these things.

Guild Communication

When my FC adopted Discord, it quickly overtook our old guild website, which was hosted at Shivtr. Eventually, about the only thing we needed a site for (other than a calendar) was to provide potential applicants with information about us, and give them a sign-up sheet that I could reference later when needed.

Things like forums and photo galleries went out the window because Discord provided something similar, and was more central to everything my FC did. For a while, I moved the site to my own self-hosted WordPress, but when I started having issues with my web host that caused me to move most of my WordPress installs, I took the FC back to the Shivtr site.

This was fine. This was functional. But I kept my eye out for other options because I felt we could find better.

I stumbled upon Guilded a few weeks back, and I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

Guilded Luvs Discord

This isn’t a promotional post, but I’m not going to hide the fact that I was really impressed by Guilded’s features. The devs there were smart — they recognized that Discord was becoming widely adopted and they embraced that. Rather than trying to do the same thing or trying to compete, they integrated with Discord instead.

This was a huge factor that made me choose Guilded as our new FC website. I knew that our previous guild sites got little interaction, but that’s because Discord took the limelight. If I were to present a system that works with what we’re already using, then the chances of adoption by the FC was much higher.

I was right.

It took a little nudging, but overall, I think my FC views Guilded as a good experience that works alongside our Discord channel. I love that the calendar feature allows members to set up their own events and advertise them — this is a huge thing for encouraging people to organize their own things.

I also love that while Guilded seemed geared originally to Overwatch, it’s obvious that the devs want to find how to make it fit with FFXIV Free Companies. The devs just released a v2 alpha yesterday and invited FCs to join in testing it on the FFXIV Reddit.

I quickly jumped in (and had FC members who alerted me to this too), and we got a shiny new upgrade to our FC site last night!

guildedsite

In making the transition to v2, I caught a very minor bug, and reported it. I was very impressed at how fast the devs responded, fixed and deployed it. I offered to help test the fix, and everything worked like a charm! Then, I was invited to their team lead Discord, where I can directly report bugs and discuss features, which is pretty exciting.

So this is a very responsive team, open to user feedback, with a lot of great ideas — especially on how far they can take the Discord integration. They also have free iOS and Android apps which work well from my experience with them.

If your guild or FC has jumped on the Discord bandwagon, but you still need a calendar and application tool, Guilded is well worth a look. Even if you don’t have a Discord, but you’re looking for a new guild site, Guilded has a lot of nice features and a slick layout. It’s very easy to make a guild site that looks impressive.

Just wanted to pass along my experiences with this tool so far. Looking good!

Posted in Gaming, Landmark, MMORPGs

Sad Farewell to Landmark & A Look Back at Alpha/Beta

Last night, Daybreak dropped yet another bomb in the form of an email that informed players that Landmark servers will close on February 21. Now, part of me had a strong hunch this was coming, but another part of me just looked on in disbelief.

I know it’s a money thing. I get it. Yet, I don’t.

EverQuest Next Landmark

I bought the $59 Explorers Pack for EverQuest Landmark on the first day alpha launched. I have no idea why as I’d just previously been burned by SOE’s floundering alpha/beta pack for Dragon’s Prophet. I really had no plan to buy into the alpha, and it was totally an impulse purchase.

I just remember I was home from work that day (sick?), I saw that the team had lifted the NDA on day one, and I had a hunkering for a sandbox world. I thought the idea of building the next EverQuest game was an amazing one. And, in the beginning, when Smokejumper and other devs were right there with us making something special, it did feel like the purchase was justified. Back then, Landmark was an amazing, sculpt-able version of Norrath.

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Norrath has Two Suns?

I blogged my experiences all through alpha and into beta (I’ll link these below). I clocked in a good amount of time as I learned the game’s systems and how to build. As a sandbox game, Landmark had a huge amount of flexibility, especially once players stumbled upon building methods that not even the devs could have foreseen.

There was a strong roadmap. The team stuck by it and kept developing a world we could alter to our own vision. I saw many new, improved iterations of crafting and building. I had several claims over that time, and really enjoyed building and exploring.

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A Landmark Valentines Poem

Then, somewhere in the midst of beta, they added caves and water. Something happened with those builds that rendered my ability to play the game almost null. Though my PC was fairly new and not a pushover, I was hardly getting 10-15 FPS no matter what I did… and that meant that I had to sit out the beta until they got it fixed.

Because of that, my posts stopped in May of 2014. It wasn’t until May of 2015 that I picked up the game again because it was honestly unplayable for me until then. I did come back to test the FPS issue from patch to patch, and did report it, but it took a year before it really got resolved. I was not the only one with this issue, but it existed for a long time.

Slow Downfall

Needless to say, that broke my momentum. I came back to a game I didn’t really recognize, and found it hard to wrap my head around all the changes that I missed. The game was no longer “EverQuest Next Landmark.” The company was no longer “SOE.”

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The loading screen, back when it was once named “EverQuest Next Landmark.”

A month later, I became very disappointed as the team threw the much-loved roadmap out the window. I already had a feeling that it was the beginning of the end. Sadly, I was right.

In March 2016, the game did launch out of beta, but Daybreak announced the end of development for Everquest Next. It was a kick in the gut for a lot of players, especially those who put their heart and soul into building what they thought were assets for their upcoming dream MMO.

I did log in a few times after the March release, but it just wasn’t the same. They had added a lot of neat systems and building options, but the magic and excitement of alpha/beta was gone. While I’ve kept Landmark installed on my laptop, I haven’t actually logged into it since March, 2016. So I guess I can’t say that I’m losing something, but in a way, I am.

Potential.

What stuns me is that this game had so much potential to be a strong sandbox contender. They did a lot of things I haven’t seen in other building games, and I know that those who love it will deeply miss it. If this game had been released towards a building/sandbox audience, rather than being linked to the failed EQNext, it may have been a small success. I still have those dreams of riding a flying mount across the inter-connected islands of wonderful player creativity… that was touted to be the future of Landmark that we never got.

But I guess at this point, that’s moot. All we’ll have are our memories.

EverQuest Next Landmark Alpha Post Archive

Landmark Beta Post Archive

Landmark Release Post Archive

Posted in Gaming, Uncategorized

December Goals in Review

The end of 2016 is almost upon us. That’s pretty wild to think about. Some folks are ready to see the year go. I’m just trying to figure out how to do stuff differently next year. But that’s a post for another time. This is about my December gaming goals.

I’m posting this a little early because I foresee myself being busy the next few days (I’m visiting and roadtripping, and won’t be home until next week). I don’t think I’ll be hitting any more goals than what I already have for the month, so it’s all good.

What did I accomplish?

Games to Explore

  • Civ 6 ✓
  • Skyrim
  • No Man’s Sky ✓
  • Minecraft
  • Sims 4 ✓

I did pretty good on this. Poor Skyrim is falling by the wayside again, but I hope I can pick it up next year. Minecraft might actually get a bit more exploration since I did pick up the Wii U copy as well to bring along on my trip. 

Aside from that, I won my first round of Civ 6, started building a base in No Man’s Sky, and my Sims family have reached the top of their career. I’m aiming to get them that nice penthouse once they save enough simoleons.

I still have a lot I want to do in No Man’s Sky, but I also have a few new Steam games that I want to explore next year. I also want to get back on my Steam Challenge in 2017 and knock out some backlog games that have been hanging around for too long! 

Pokemon Sun

  • Complete 3rd Island ✓
  • Continue to fill Pokedex ✓

Yes! I did this! Despite being sucked into breeding and trading for the holidays.  

I actually just reached Poni Island last night in Pokemon Sun. While I still have a ways to go, I’m happy to say that my Alola Pokedex is sitting at  76% complete. I have three teams worth of Pokemon training in Pelago, either leveling to hit an evolution or leveling before I give them a stone to evolve. 

Final Fantasy XIV

  • Gear Dragoon ✓
  • Work (harder) on Dragoon Relic ✓
  • Level Monk ✓
  • Do Monk job quests ✓
  • Do Summoner job quests
  • Clean up old quests
  • Gear Summoner
  • Gain reputation with Sahagin

I’ve actually been taking a bit of a break from FFXIV this month, and it’s been a good thing. 

I finished gearing Zuri’s Dragoon with Scripture gear, and while I have worked on the Relic, I’m just not feeling motivated about it. Maybe waiting until the 3.5 patch, which is coming on January 17, to see if we’ve got any much-needed nerfs is the way to go for now. 

I have leveled Zuri’s Monk a bit – slowly coming up on 58 – but it’s not something I’ve worked really hard at achieving. I’d like to get it done before the end of January, though, because the Monk and Dragoon share end game accessories, so that would help clean up some inventory space. That’s really the only reason I level jobs anymore! 

I’ve really done nothing to gear up or advanced my Summoner. I just haven’t had that much interest in it, especially since Red Mage has been announced. I don’t know if Red Mage will share weapon stats with mages or with the other ranged DPS yet. So it’s hard to make plans for it. 

My poor old-skool beast tribe quests. Every month I just ignore them. Maybe now that I’m done working on getting Tomes for gear through beast tribes, I can focus on cleaning up the rest of them before Stormblood. 

I don’t know what kind of motivation I have for leveling my other jobs that are just hanging out there on Zuri. That level 50-60 grind is painful… and might ease up once the expansion comes. I have a level 30 Black Mage, level 32 Ninja, and two tanks hanging around in the 30s as well. I’ve not unlocked Astro or Dark Knight, and I’m not sure I have interest in unlocking them aside from just for completion sake.

Before Heavensward hit, I made a push to level all my crafting jobs to 50. So I might get the same itch with my battle classes this year. Maybe just to 50 so that once the expansion drops, they’ll be ready for the bonus experience. Who knows.

Right now, I haven’t decided whether I’m going to keep setting monthly goals for myself in 2017… but from the sound of it, I have a lot I still want to do!

 

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

The Future of LOTRO is with Standing Stone Games

So earlier this week, news broke about LOTRO that most of us couldn’t foresee. A new company called Standing Stone Games spun off of Turbine, and with them went both Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Going Indie

Heavy speculation ahead!

We’ve probably sensed for a while that MMOs were getting the cold shoulder from Turbine. They wanted to make their presence felt in the mobile industry because… you know… that’s where the “quick” money is, apparently. Their stable of MMOs were aging, and probably cost them more than they’d like to keep running.

The developers who have years and years of MMO experience may have prefered to remain developing the MMO world they have nurtured for many years. They may have needed to learn a whole new skillset to make a switch to mobile design and development. That may not even be where their interests are. Just because you have a dev team doesn’t mean they want or should be a mobile dev team.

lotro1

So, it makes sense to me then, that rather than shelfing LOTRO and DDO, the developers who love those games are given ownership of them, and they break away from Turbine, who wants to go in a completely different direction. To me, it sounds like a win-win. The games keep running (hopefully), the team gets to work on what they love, and Turbine gets to make its quick-money-whatever-apps that I have no interest in.

I know it’s not all that simple. But after reading the developers’ own words on the forums, (they all seem ecstatic about the move), I actually feel more hopeful for the future of the games than I did with them under Turbine’s thumb.

A History with LOTRO

I only played DDO very briefly after it went free to play. But I have a much longer history with LOTRO. I was a beta tester, back on Brandywine, where all my characters still reside today. I still have several characters that I rolled during open beta to save their names before launch, even.

The first year, I played a bit, then put the game down a bit, and didn’t get serious about it until the first year anniversary. They were offering the Lifetime deal again, and I decided to take the plunge. I’ve never regretted the Lifetime membership, especially after the game went F2P. It’s one of the few reasons why the game is still installed on my laptop.

lotro3

I did put thousands of hours across many alts into the game, though it’s not apparent because that was long before I started this blog. After they re-worked all the skill trees, I just sorta floated off to other games. I’ve still never made any sense out of the trees and legendaries and all that stuff.

Dat Daybreak Doh!

So, the elephant in the room. Daybreak games has become the publisher.

I’m seeing a lot of confusion and freak-out on this detail. Trust me, I did a double take, too. I didn’t know that Daybreak was into the publishing business, especially since their own games seem to be on dubious grounds sometimes.

Now, some people immediately think this means Daybreak owns Standing Stone Games, or some part of LOTRO, or they’re going to have direct input into how the future of LOTRO is shaped. We don’t know for sure how much input Daybreak will have on the situation, but I want to reiterate.

Daybreak is the publisher. Not the developer.

Let’s look at the definition of video game publisher:

A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by a video game developer. …video game publishers are responsible for their product’s manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

They often finance the development, sometimes by paying a video game developer (the publisher calls this external development) and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio. The large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish. Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any licenses used by the game; paying for localization; layout, printing, and possibly the writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design.

It sounds to me like Standing Stone Games wants to focus on development and not marketing. That’s probably a wise idea. Is handing that duty to Daybreak a good idea? I guess we’ll find out!

The Future of LOTRO

I don’t know how it’ll all pan out in the end, but I can tell you that I’m going to be keeping a close eye on LOTRO in the future. I’m very interested where an indie team will take this old game. In fact, I’m more interested in playing it and supporting it due to this move. I’ve even reinstalled it on my desktop (though I’m still confused as all get-out about those skill trees).

lotro2

I’m hearing whispers that the team might look into revamping their character models… which would be fantastic, IMHO. It’s really difficult for me to come back to LOTRO after playing games with awesome character models, like GW2 and FFXIV. It’s an immediate turn-off for me, especially given how lovely the rest of the world still looks.

I’d have a lot to sort through if I came back to LOTRO after having been away for all these years. In fact, I have a whole expansion or two that I bought with TP LOTRO Points that I’ve never even touched. Which one was that again… Riders of Rohan? Yeah. I always wanted to try out the war horses. Just never got past Isengard on any of my characters.

Maybe in 2017.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Starlight Celebration Arrives

Yesterday marked the beginning of FFXIV’s Starlight Celebration for 2016. The big rewards are the lovely, dyable Starlight Robes and the Starlight Celebration Orchestrion scroll.

Here’s a non-spoiler overview!

The quest itself is a sentimental story, much like you’d expect at Christmas, revolving around children, family and holidays. They give you the robes straight up front, so if all you want is the cosmetic, you don’t have to try too hard to get it.

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Tai is not amused.

It’s not a super long quest line – I’ve run it through on three characters already – and the interesting thing is that finishing it opens up a repeatable daily quest. The scenario changes depending on what you choose, but the rewards appear to be all RNG. If you’re curious about the rewards, folks are gathering information about it on Reddit.

ffxiv_12152016_223740
Strike a pose!

There’s also holiday decor for inside and outside of houses. Last year’s selection was a bit brighter, but hey… you get piles of snow that allow you to throw snowballs at each other!

In closing, have a creepy holiday paissa.

ffxiv_12152016_203431
“Have you been good this year?” *stares into your soul*
Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs, Uncategorized

FFXIV: FC’s Revenge on the Diadem

It was little over a year ago when our Free Company first attempted a run of the Diadem. We went in on Easy mode just to check it out, and got our tails handed to us. Granted, we were trying to fight things there with only 6 people, only one being a healer, when it was meant for a full party. But I think that run discouraged some of us from trying it again… until last night.

Dungeon Blahs

I want to note that I’ve had a case of the dungeon blahs in FFXIV for quite a while. Even though gearing up only requires me to run an Expert 4 times a week, and the dungeons are both easy enough, I still feel my interest waning.

Aside from that, I’m on a terrible grind for Umbrite on my first Relic. I’ve been earning Sands through fishing for Blue Scrips, which is a RNG thing in itself. Sometimes I have a great fishing session, sometimes I barely reel in enough to re-purchase my bait. And every time I do earn a Sand, it just feels like I’m still miles away from finishing it.

Yesterday was a day when I logged in, fished a bit and just went Blah at the whole thing. But then, someone in the FC suggested, “Hey, we’re interested in trying the Diadem!” And that turns things around.

Into the Diadem

ffxiv_12112016_181455

I’m kinda sad that the Diadem didn’t catch on in FFXIV. I understand why it didn’t, but if it had been done the right way, it could have been some of the open-world content I would have enjoyed.

It’s the open-world stuff that FFXIV really suffers the lack of, and for players like me, who long to do stuff outside of a dungeon, it can be a bummer sometimes. FATEs are a nice try, and I enjoy doing them, but so few people run them in Heavensward areas. I know there is going to be a rework for the Diadem in the future, and I hope that it’ll be a change in the right direction for open-world end-game content.

But, anyhow, back to last night.

We got together a full party this time around, and decided to do a Normal mode run in the Diadem. Most of us had either not been there before, or only been there once (like me). So, my memory was pretty rusty on how it all worked.

It seems to me there have been several changes to how the Diadem works. I could be wrong, but I remember having to attune to more Aether-whatevers before our group could fly. Now it’s only two?

Having a full party with far better gear than a year ago, we went inside and really cleaned house! I even got to try mining there a little bit to see what I could find in the zone. I did discover some Steel Sky Pirate Spoils, which I was able to trade for a bunch of Brute Leech bait for my Sands fishing. So that was a win.

Boss Battle Win

We did trigger a boss fight while we were there, which happened to be the exact same creature that beat our party senseless the first time we played the Diadem last year. This time, we took him down without any trouble at all.

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REVENGE!

What a difference being geared up can make, I guess. It did feel nice to go back and defeat something that left us defeated last time. We also opened the map for several folks in the FC, completed objectives, earned a few spoils and had an overall interesting time.

After that, we decided to do a few treasure maps, and ran through the Aquapolis a few times. We didn’t get anything amazing, but I can always use the gil and the items to sell, that’s for sure.

Not to mention the neat little FC totem we made.

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