Halloween in the MMO

Autumn (aka. Halloween) celebrations are a staple of modern MMORPGs.

A low polygon count Halloween with Gnuhcgnaw
A low polygon count Halloween
Has anyone seen my decaying Undead flesh? I seem to have lost it.
Has anyone seen my decaying Undead flesh? I seem to have lost it.
Winner for tallest pumpkin in an MMO
Winner for tallest pumpkin in an MMO.
Is this scythe big enough to pick pumpkins?
Is this scythe big enough to pick pumpkins?
Quite possibly the strangest ghost costume ever created
Boo!
Ye gods what is that?
Ye gods what is that?

(I was going to put another picture captioned “It’s always Halloween in Kingsmouth!” but I couldn’t find my screenshot.)

FFXIV First Month Ending

My first month of FFXIV ends on Nov. 1 so I need to decide whether to subscribe or not. I think I will, because it is definitely the "freshest" MMO I’m playing right now, although perhaps not right away. (I’ve also been on a weird WoW kick lately, but that’s another story.) There is an endless number of things to do in the game if you bounce between adventuring, gathering, and crafting, particularly since you can change classes at will. Bored with archer? Switch to pugilist for a totally different gameplay experience! It’s a lot like Rift in that way.

As of this writing, my character is a level 33 Archer, 12 Pugilist, working toward the Bard job. (I’m still not clear why it makes sense that an Archer turns into a Bard, by the way.) In the last story dungeon I did (Brayflox’s something-or-another), someone asked why I wasn’t running Bard, and at the time I hadn’t even considered it since Archer was working fine, but after some investigation it seems like the Bard is a more group-friendly class, so I decided to work toward it so I wouldn’t be seen as a terrible group player in the next instance I did. I’m not sure where to go after I get to the required 15 Pugilist though. Back to the Archer’s Guild? Or is there a Bard’s Guild somewhere? Guess I’ll have to Google it.

WoW Doesn't Take Itself Seriously

Playing WoW again recently, it dawned on me why it’s been so popular. It’s a good game and all, and it’s more addictive than blue meth, but I think that one of the main things that pushes it over the top from niche game to mainstream hit is: It doesn’t take itself seriously.

Most people would probably be embarassed to admit that they play a game involving elves and dwarves and knights and dragons. Society tells us that those things are for kids, or hardcore D&D nerds, and those guys are weird. (At least they were when I was growing up.) WoW said to the world, hey all that stuff is stupid, right? We’re going to make fun of that in our game. We’re going to put in quests with ridiculous characters who say silly things and make meta jokes about pop culture and anything we can think of to keep this from being a serious fantasy world. Our trolls are going to be Jamaican stoners. Our Undead are going to be necrophiliacs. Our dwarves are going to be Scottish highlanders. It’s all just going to be a big silly cartoon. So nobody will have to pretend that they’re really playing in a fantasy world, and it’ll be okay for normal people to enjoy it. (Normal as in not a D&D nerd.)

Well, it’s a theory. Most MMOs try to build an immersive fantasy world and an immersive story where you are the hero that saves the world. But when you run around reading the quests in WoW, they are so silly that it’s impossible to take them seriously. I’m thinking of the Gnomeregan dungeon where all the inhabitants are thinly-disguised references to the 80s show The A-Team.

I think my theory will be put to the test when WildStar comes out. My inital reaction so far has been, "Ewww, that looks just like WoW." And all the promotional material thusfar has had the same cartoony, doesn’t-take-itself-seriously attitude as WoW. So based on my theory, WildStar should be a runaway hit and ESO, which is a more traditional, immersive fantasy world for D&D nerds, will become an afterthought.

WvW Season In GW2

I saw an announcement recently about the start of the Guild Wars 2 World versus World "season." I personally have never gotten into the WvW thing in GW2, so I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about a new season. Conceptually I like the idea of jumping in there, zerging around for a while, and leaving, but it never seems to work out that way.

First of all, I’ve never been a fan of PvP in any MMO, because it’s inherently random. Two opponents of equal skill level should theoretically play to a 50/50 win/loss ratio over time. However, thanks to the random factor, you might go higher or lower than that ratio due to forces beyond your control. I just find it irritating to get killed by a random crit. Therefore I never go anywhere alone in PvP settings.

That leaves running with the zerg, which is fun for a short time, but once you realize that the zerg is not executing some devious master plan, and is in fact just running around randomly, you start to wonder why you’re wasting your time. Especially when you see that if everyone would just go over there and take that objective, your team could make a lot of points, but the zerg is more concerned with facerolling one lone guy running away over a hill.

Beyond that, the biggest problem I have with WvW is finding the zerg. Those battleground maps in GW2 are frickin’ enormous. I used to find myself zoning in and running and running and running and never finding anyone or anything. Everyone is always bunched up in one tiny little area, while the rest of the map is a wasteland.

Also, I don’t feel any compelling urgency to win WvW games. I mean, you don’t get anything, do you? You certainly don’t lose anything if you lose. And people get so worked up about it. Someone is always yelling at you in chat for not putting your entire soul into winning battles. Who cares? You get the same loot and XP whether you win objectives or not.

At least it was like that last time I played WvW, which admittedly was many, many months ago.

Book 3, Chapter 5, Part II of III

When I logged back into LotRO for the first time in a long time, I remembered one of the main reasons I stopped playing:

On the outside looking in...
On the outside looking in…

It was Book 3, Chapter 5, Part II of III. I’ve probably been stuck on that quest for well over a year. It says you can do it solo, but I was facerolled every time.

Lies! The Elf-stone's inspiration is no help at all.
Lies! The Elf-stone’s inspiration is no help at all.

I finally went out to YouTube and found a video of someone soloing it. In the video, the guy hit the Elf-stone like I always do, then he moved forward a little bit, and then suddenly his health and mana quadrupled! What de hell! Mine never did that!

Next time I logged in, I did exactly what I saw in the video. Stand where it says “this is a good place to use the stone.” Hit the Elf-stone. Your guy kneels for a second but nothing seems to happen. Then I moved forward a little bit until it says “this is NOT a good place to use the stone.” Then, magically for no apparent reason, my health zoomed way up like I saw in the video. Then I had no trouble with any of the elite mobs.

Take that you vile vicious Tarkrip.
Take that you vile vicious Tarkrip.

Of course, I went the wrong way and my health dropped back down and I got killed. I revived myself and ran back outside so I could do the Elf-stone again, except that when I tried it, following the exact same steps, it didn’t work. Ugh. What a super annoying quest.

The next time I logged in, I finally did it!

Standing victorious over my nemesis's corpse.
Standing victorious over my nemesis’s corpse.

Celebration!

Woohoo! Success at last!
Woohoo! Success at last!

FFXIV Tab Targeting

Can we talk about the tab targeting in FFXIV? And when I say "talk" I mean "rant" and when I say "we" I mean "me."

The tab targeting in FFXIV is the worst I have ever seen. It makes absolutely no sense. When I hit tab to switch to the next target, I expect the "next" target to be somewhere in the same vicinity as the first target. But for some reason, when you hit tab, suddenly you’re targeting some monster a mile away from everyone else who isn’t even attacking. Then you have to hit tab fifty more times to get to the mob you want to hit, and you usually overshoot it because you’re tapping the tab key really fast because you’re in a hurry, and then the whole thing starts over again. By then you’ve usually pulled fifty new mobs into the fight by accident. This is especially annoying in FATEs where you have monsters attacking in packs.

I’ve seen that there are target "filter" settings in the options, which is an awesome idea, but I can’t seem to figure out how to get them tuned the way I want them. In other games, tab targeting usually just "works" and you don’t have to think about it.

Ah, I found a Reddit thread which claims it targets from left-to-right instead of close-to-far like we are all used to. Because obviously the tried-and-true method needed to be changed.

WoW, Relaxing Trinquility

Perhaps as a result of a post on Inventory Full and a post on Herding Cats, I found myself playing WoW over the weekend. It was not one of my better weekends in terms of getting productive things done in my life, but I choose to think of that as the cause of playing WoW, rather than the effect. Anyway, I made a number of observations about WoW as compared to more modern MMOs.

It’s Huge. The game world is enormous, and there is a lot of running from place to place. That, I think, is the primary cause of people spending so much time in WoW. It simply takes a long time to get things done. You can’t just jump in and spend 15 minutes knocking out a few quests. You have to commit to spending some time in the game. My original hunter is now level 61 and on that Hell Penninsula I swear I must have spent twenty minutes just riding hippogryphs to get to the places I needed to go. (Once I accidentally clicked the wrong destination and had to fly somewhere and back. Talk about a groaner.)

It’s Grindy. WoW is quite grindy at times, particularly on the quests where you have to get X number of items from monster corpses. Because on those quests, the item only drops from the monster a certain percentage of the time, which never seems to be more than 50%. So if you need to pick up 10 foozle feet, you have to kill at least 20 foozles to finish the quest. Most modern MMOs don’t do that anymore, and boy are we glad.

It’s Difficult. WoW is actually kind of hard, if you’re not in the swing of it. You can’t just go walking out into the wilderness without a plan, particularly on the character I was playing who was a lowbie gnome mage. It’s hard to run away from monsters, it’s hard to see monsters, and it’s super easy to aggro other monsters. Sometimes you’ll be walking along and run right into the aggro range of a super elite boss, and next thing you know you’re doing a corpse run.

Respawn Is Slow. Along with the grindy bits above, the respawn rate for monsters is extremely slow. So say you have a quest to kill 10 foozles. If someone else has already been to the foozle camp recently and killed them, you have to stand there and wait for them to respawn. God forbid someone else is there waiting with you, because then you end up in a competition to tag the foozles when they spawn.

Classes Are Limited. You would think that a game that’s fifty years old would have limitless class possibilities and gameplay options, but it doesn’t. The classes are quite rigid, and there aren’t very many to pick from. It actually seems to me that some of the classes (eg. the mage I was playing) are not suitable for solo play at all. I haven’t played a warrior much lately but historically I also found it hard to play solo. Generally I’m only comfortable soloing with a pet class. Back in the day, I had to roll a hunter because it was the only way I could get anywhere in the game.

Addons Are Mandatory. Good lord there are a lot of addons, and you really need them, because the native WoW interface is kind of bad. Almost everything you’re used to in a modern MMO is missing in native WoW. You even need an addon for the dead simple core action of comparing an item in your inventory to an item you’re wearing.

I left out some other problems, like constantly running out of inventory space, and the inconvenience of banking. After that list of complaints you might wonder why on earth anyone would subject themselves to WoW.

It’s fun. :) The repetitiveness has a relaxing tranquility to it.