You Games-Meandering Bastard

Yes,Victor, you games-meandering bastard.

You’re playing or trying TOO MANY freaking games.

You have Borderlands 2, Dark Souls PC, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and Morrowind (using the Morrowind visual enhancer) to tide you over on the non-MMO front.

Then you have an active sub to LOTRO, which you don’t play actively, and WoW, which you’re having trouble connecting to reliably.

AND you got a year’s membership to Pirate101?!


Now you’re considering getting The Walking Dead and subbing to RIFT and getting the Storm Legion expansion? I mean, I understand wanting TWD, but you could never stick to RIFT!

And you want to go back just for the freaking housing?! What the bloody, bloody hell is churning around in your head?

*imaginary hairpull*

For the love of all that is finger-licking good, like fried chicken, curb your purchases, at least till November.



Victor’s Meandering Mind.

Quantum Game Leaping

I don’t ever remember stepping into a quantum accelerator, but I do remember sitting in front of a computer, writing this blog post, mostly because I’m doing it right now.

It seems that I’ve become the epitome of a quantum game leaper. Or hopper. Or Hip-hopper.


The point is this: I spent a month and a half in LOTRO and currently have a three month sub there. I switched to RIFT for five days, then moved to The Secret World for two weeks, then Star Trek Online for one week, and now I’m contemplating going to EVE Online to round out the pre-GW2 time.

At the same time, I want to maintain a sub to The Secret World, mostly because I want to see what Ragnar and Funcom do with their commitment to monthly updates. So… we’ll see what happens.

For now, I’ll keep leaping, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each leap will be the leap home.

The “Upheavals” of MMORPGs, and of Final Fantasy XIV in Particular

I have written this piece with no particular logic in mind, so the thoughts here are mostly emotional responses to the games I’ve played. Apologies to anyone who feels slighted by any poor word choices I have made here.

In August, I played a total of four MMORPGs. There was Rift, Xsyon: Prelude, Everquest 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. Each MMO I picked during that month seemed to have one thing in common that wasn’t actually particularly common: they were all in a weird state of upheaval.

To my knowledge, my playtime with Rift was spent more on July during the Waves of Madness world event, a prelude to the arrival of patch 1.4 during the first week of August. When 1.4 came around though, I spent a few days and felt the change did nothing to keep me enthused: slightly revamped soul trees, PVP additions, and the addition of stuff for high leveled players to do, while definitely useful for keeping the 50s entertained, did nothing for me as a level 30+ player who wanted something he could own.

On a whim, I then bought and subbed to Xsyon for a month, hoping that then lure of terraforming and nearly limitless crafting would make me want to stay. This game is in a state of upheaval, even within its playerbase, because aside from crafting and killing four creature types (that’s what I was told) and dodgy PVP, the game was about barren of things to do as, well, a post-apocalyptic Lake Tahoe would probably be. Two days later, the unsubscribe button was promptly pushed.

I played Just Cause 2 for two weeks afterwards… that was a fun distraction. but a completely different thing to discuss.

Following some documented troubles with subbing to Everquest 2, I managed to get in a subscription and play before Game Update 61 became available. While the changes to the game as a result of the update did not greatly impact me (I even completed the Beastlord prelude quest that came with the update), it troubled me how everyone else felt bad because of how this game update was handled, prior to and during its introduction into the game. This was a state of upheaval that affected me because it hurt a playerbase that loved the game more dearly than I did, so I opted to temporarily try something else this past week so that the developers could remedy the situation accordingly.

To that end, I chose Final Fantasy XIV to occupy my time. So far, I am finding that not much has changed since I last played, but from my experience, what has changed has been important and it’s revitalized that love I’ve always had for the potential Final Fantasy XIV had to please people.

There are two things that have consistently gnawed at me during my time playing FFXIV. The first thing that tore at my imagination is the fatigue system of ability gain, and what it would be like to have that abolished: would it make me want to play more of the game, less of it, or the same amount as a result? The second issue that ate up my brain was the panic of playing a combat class: simply put, the system they had in place when I last played made me feel like a sitting duck because I was always waiting for Stamina to recharge to perform an action.

Patch 1.18 removed fatigue from the game’s leveling system, allowing casual players like myself to enjoy leveling up while not penalizing those who wanted to spend more time developing their characters further. It also ushered in the beginning of sweeping changes to the entirety of the battle system, beginning with the revamping or outright removal of specific skills and the abolition of the Stamina system, as well as adding something most MMOs take for granted these days: auto attack.

I see four upheavals at work here in these four games. There is an “upheaval” which is more of a small quake that did nothing but agitate the PVP playerbase and ruffle a few feathers (Rift). There is an “upheaval” that is more like terraforming, in that it is deliberate and slow to progress and, ultimately, rather like watching grass grow (Xsyon). There is an “upheaval” that wounds the playerbase severely because it came hastily, and with repeated, significant aftershocks as the world attempts to right itself (EQ2). Then there is the positive “upheaval,” in which certain foundations are taken down, and the ground is broken again to usher in a determined rebuilding and restructuring of faulty foundations (FFXIV).

The change happening in FFXIV is astounding, because the plans are being laid out in developer letters in a way that informs everyone of a concrete, long-term plan for rebuilding. I know other developers are open with their plans for a game, but for me, seeing someone literally explain how the foundations for a new “home” are being built, (specifically the plans for patch 1.19 that were written on August 15, and for 1.20 and 1.21 that were written a few hours ago today) with a projected timeline and explanations as to the reasoning behind specific actions, is a very positive way of introducing change to a community that has already suffered from the pain of a nearly a year’s worth of disappointment.

They’re revamping the battle, experience, and mob claiming system, adding new modes of transportation, introducing further tutorial quests, creating additional, unlockable job classes through questing, and making crafting more accessible and more fun (THANK GOD) to a wider range of players by simplifying certain crafting processes. They literally have a monthly plan that they are working hard to follow, and they have an excellent team that translates these producer letters so that they come out on the same day they’re made worldwide (at least, that’s the impression I’m getting). These guys have waaaaaay more discipline than I could ever imagine from myself.

The funny thing is, they know this upheaval and rebuilding is going to hurt. In a post made yesterday regarding the revamps coming to claiming and engaging enemies, producer Naoki Yoshida wrote (translated into English, obviously),

I want to make it clear now that I believe there is no way to settle this argument in a way that everybody will be 100% satisfied with.

In this one sentence, I feel the burden of being a producer, as this translation would imply that he concedes that the changes the current team is making will not please everyone and potentially please no one. He even goes on to explain what he thinks various portions of the playerbase are thinking:

This is an extreme example, but even for non-online, stand alone games, there are players who enjoy completing the game even if they use cheats to obtain all items or max out their levels. However, other players feel that this is a waste of time and that it defeats the purpose of buying the game. As such, this is a difficult issue to address.

In MMOs, there are players who would like help with leveling, because they want to play with other players as soon as possible. There are also players who would like to help new players level up, so that they can play with them. These players don’t want strong restrictions on power leveling, nor to be confined to parties with major level differences.

In contrast, there are players who believe that, “Players grow together with their characters,” “If other players are power leveling, leveling up becomes meaningless,” “Power leveling will become a necessary part of the game,” and “Power leveling will disrupt areas for proper party play.”

Even without considering RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit, this issue is the cause of a lot of friction. For online games, RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit will both certainly exist, so they must be considered. This is a good point of discussion, but opinions will vary based on perspective, so it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion.

He then explains their current battle plan for this particular system, acknowledging that not everyone will be pleased, but also explaining that the team is doing something for people with a particular mindset and explaining that mindset to everyone:

…as a current generation MMORPG we would like to do something about,

“new players who would like some help, because they want to play with their friends as soon as possible, as well as players who are willing to sacrifice their own time to help out new players get involved in the game quicker.”

To return to my metaphor, the upheaval is painful, but the reasoning behind the rebuillding process is there, and he hopes everyone will accept the mindset they have in order to make the game fun for more people.

To a gamer with my mindset, this certainly reads in a tone that I’d want every developer to adopt when they know they’re not going come into opposition from the fanbase (which is to say, “every developer out there”). As a result, I’m excited to see their development plan come to fruition, which is a lot more than I can say for the way EQ2’s most recent upheaval came to be seen.

On “Bad” Games, Pricing Models, and the Feeling of Fun

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing - a "bad" game or simply not fun for a majority?

I was reading Beau Hindman’s latest Free for All column earlier and a thought occurred to me that I wanted to put in writing. In Hindman’s post, he was, in part, discussing how the free-to-play movement can be seen as the latest experiential phenomenon to take hold to the world of MMO gaming.

While free-to-play games have had a long-standing history in the realm of MMO titles available to the world, there’s been this stigma that a free-to-play MMO is is some sort of lesser being in the realm of gaming, that it is relegated to the realm of “inferior” products. We know now, through experiencing various MMO pricing models and hybrids of such models of payment, that high-quality and “less-than-high-quality” MMOs can be found in all points of the pricing spectrum.

Now, you may have noticed that I’ve placed quotation marks on some of the negative modifiers in the previous paragraph, and there’s a good reason for that. It all goes back to my personal belief that I, as an individual, have my own preferences and mindsets in life and I cannot truly say that one thing is absolutely abhorrent for everyone. Even the basic ideas of death and poverty or the basic emotions of joy and sadness are so wildly divergent in what they mean to people (such as in terms of what constitutes certain ideas, or what triggers an emotion).

As such, a corollary to my personal belief would be that the “bad” game does not exist. There are simply games that fewer people enjoy and games that a larger group of people enjoy. The sweeping generalizations that Syp recently talked about regarding gaming have to be taken out if we are to better understand why people can feel similar emotions when faced with completely different and possibly opposing stimuli.

For instance, let us take stock of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV and Trion Worlds’ Rift.

When I first installed Final Fantasy XIV on my computer, I played for four or five hours and pretty much left the game entirely because it did not capture my attention. Information on the game and its various activities was scarce, and if you were the type of gamer who honed his skills on World of Warcraft, the lack of question marks to indicate quest givers would drive you insane.

On the other hand, when I first heard of Rift and played the beta, I was also not thoroughly impressed, until launch grew closer and I realized it was essentially a highly polished and technically proficient game with an intriguing storyline. If you check my Rift articles here on Games and Geekery, you’ll notice I meander between thinking the game is “meh” and thinking the game is awesome for having tanks that can self-heal.

If you fast forward to last week though, you’ll notice I barely posted anything. The simple response to this is that Rift could not hold my attention and I was madly searching for a game to occupy my free time. On Saturday evening, I decided to play Final Fantasy XIV again on a whim. I created a new character, rolled on a new server, and looked for the old guild I was chatting with online about the game. I played FFXIV for, as it happens, 14  hours straight that day (a feat that only happened once previously when I went raiding in vanilla WoW).

This week, I was reading through other blogs, and Elementalistly’s entry on how he feels about Rift kind of got to me. It wasn’t that I was offended by his post. Quite the opposite really.

You see, I was beginning to feel the exact same thing he felt when it came to Rift, only I was experiencing what he was feeling with Final Fantasy XIV, the game Elementalistly and I once both found to be less than stellar.

When I compare the two games on a purely technical level, I find Rift to be a clear leader in terms of customer-centric accessibility and polish. Final Fantasy XIV is not perfect, and still remains free-to-play so long as Square Enix deems the game to be in a state that is below their standard of what a good game should be.

Despite this, however, I know that there are people like myself who currently feel about Final Fantasy XIV the same way that Elementalistly feels about Rift. We’re all having fun in the games our preferences and predilections lead us to, and it shouldn’t matter how much you play, how much you pay, or how off-beat your tastes are.

The important thing is that you are happy with what you’re doing, whether it’s when you’re playing an MMORPG, when you’re writing that fantasy novel masterpiece about the adventurous marmot with nunchaku, or when you’re enjoying Direct TV Specials in the comfort of your home.

Choice Quotes on Net Security and Rift’s Future

I’ve been reading up on the recent security issue that Trion Worlds had with Rift. For the most part, I’m quite amazed to see the devs patch an exploit within two hours of someone finding it and talking about it on the forums. Not only was it fast, but Trion Worlds found the exact exploit with the help of this White Hat-wearing individual who was the first to discover the issue.

ZAM’s Rift site has an interview up with the white hat, named ManWitDaPlan, and here are some choice quotes from the fellow regarding security in this day and age of digital wonders.

Security is fickle. It’s finicky. It’s nitpicky. It demands attention to the minutae but will chastise those that cannot also see the big picture. And it punishes the slightest mistake or miscue or omission with the greatest severity.


Rift stands the best chance of dethroning WoW that I’ve seen of any contender to date, and not strictly because the game brings something new/special to the table. After all, Rift is derivative of all that went before it, just as WoW was, and as Ultima Online was of MUDs/MOOs, etc. all the way back to the first games writen for computers.

A key, and often overlooked, part of the equation is how the game is run, how the GMs interact with the players, how involved the developers are with the playerbase, and whether the game’s producer fosters a real sense of community for and with their customers. After all, a game is only as good as its developers make it and its players play it. Trion is striving to do right on all counts, and that puts pressure on the whole MMO world to do it better, whatever “it” might happen to be.


And my Favorite Quote:

Trion hit this like Jackie Chan channeling Bruce Lee, which is what you do when you find an exploit. No playing the blame game, no whining, just find and fix and slam the door on the hackers. “Crush the hackers, see them driven from before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!” (Apologies to Ahnold for that…)

I Yearn to Burn a Hole in My Pocket and Build a House from the Ashes

I am quite in the mood for some retail therapy at the moment to soothe my frayed work-related nerves. Mostly, I’ve gotten a yearning for virtual worldliness, which I think requires some explanation.

I have a couple of ideas in mind to fulfill this need I have to acquire a new feeling of homeliness.

The first idea is to go back to Everquest 2 or perhaps even try EQ2X because that’s the one place where I can really enjoy the housing system. I could try EQ1, but that game is beyond my patience level, seeing as I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by newer games. I just need to figure out if I intend to play long-term to end-game, or craft myself a storm and build tons of housing items. 😀

The second idea is to play EQ2 or EQ2X and Rift at the same time, so I can get my housing fix and my current MMO hotness fix.

The third idea I have is to give Games and Geekery a new home, by purchasing a domain name and finding myself a good host (to this end, I’m thinking of going with Arkenor’s host, called Arvixe).

Unfortunately, I’m too emotionally invested in all these ideas to be able to think things out more clearly. You’ve seen how… fickle… my gaming preoccupations can be.  Perhaps you can offer some good advice for me as to what might be a good course of action.

Heck, you may want to even offer me a different game to play. :)

Just comment with your thoughts so I can have something to think about. Thanks. :)

The Best LULZ can Sometimes be Found in the Worst Places

Insert statement about game forums generally being a Star Wars Quote about scum and villainy and hives.

Counter written introduction in order to place emphasis on important point of post.

Post point about the coolest forum threads being meta, and how Rift now has its own meta-thread about negativity and doomsaying from players.

Post link to said thread.

Mention that the Dev Tracker subcategory has a lot of mentions from amused members of Trion staff.


Post the written post hoping that people will find this very short, meaningless post interesting and worthy of comments and love.

Feel lonely about the fact that time is spent writing such a post which has no inherent value other than self-referential and self-deprecating humor.

Cry in bed.

Slee…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

Two Quick Rift Questions!

Posing some questions to you folks before heading to work. Maybe you can add an answer or two here to echo any sentiments I’ve put up?

Question 1: What is the current recommended Black Garden PVP Spec for Clerics if you have the eight main souls? My current PVE setup is Justicar/Shaman/Purifier but I’m hoping to change that with a PVP role.

Question 2: How many of you folks have a bugged quest on the Guardian Silverwood zone called The Care and Imprisonment of Changelings? I can’t seem to pick up the quest items from invasion bosses, which is a bit annoying, and I’d love to complete it before I move out to the Gloamwood.

Another Quick Rift Post, or How Rift Threw Me for a Loop

With the exception of really big main towns, I don’t think I’ve come across a MMORPG where you go back to a certain area to get new quests.

That said, Rift certainly got me a bit confused recently, as I followed the Guardian questline to the Highglade Lookout and completed some quests there. The only thing was that, after that point, there was no quest leading to the next hub as given by the folks near the area. Instead, I had to find my way back to Argent Glade, the secondary town of Silverwood, in order to find the next set of non-Realm of the Fae quests in order to proceed.

There are two ways of looking at such a happening. The first is that you look at it as a softening of your sharpened gaming senses that you actively look for the next breadcrumb quest to lead you to a new hub. The second is that Rift just wants you to explore the world, go back to the towns, and look for quests in the most logical of places: where there happen to be people, obviously.

Either way, my Cleric is having fun, and I certainly like the idea of revisiting content while powered up to steamroll through it. 😀

Now I Want to Redo Rogues

Previously, I’d mentioned that I had tried the rogue out using a combination of Bladedancer, Riftstalker, and Assassin. That didn’t go so well.

After some time rethinking my options and rereading what people wrote about in that piece, I thought I’d try leveling a rogue again, this time with Bard instead of Assassin.

Should be interesting to see if I can switch mindsets readily every time I change characters. 😀