I’m not going to write about how thoroughly exhausted and beaten down I was last night after completing the epic ~45 minute death march of a fight in the first chapter of the first episode of GW2’s Living World Season 4.
Instead I’m going to keep it light and talk about jumping. I saw a remark somewhere in passing about jumping in MMORPGs (apologies but I can’t remember where) which inspired me to write this.
A lot of people jump around a lot in games. I don’t know about anyone else, but I immediately assume the person behind the so-called bunny-hopping behavior has very poor impulse control, is a child under 16, is drunk, is impatient, has no historical appreciation for the real purpose of bunny-hopping in games, or any combination thereof. I only jump in very specific circumstances and very specific ways.
Mainly, of course, I jump if I need to get over an obstacle.
The more emotional or let’s say “social” reasons I might jump are the following:
If another player has done something nice for me while I’m out and about in the world (like helping me kill a mob, or waited patiently for me, or something like that), I will often jump exactly one time as a way of saying, “Thanks.”
If I’m mad about something the game has done to me, I will often run around in circles and jump up and down to simulate a temper tantrum. The avatar looks mad to me during this process. It sort of looks like he or she is stomping their feet.
(Incidentally, Dark Souls allows me to accomplish the opposite maneuver, which is to display happiness: Performing forward rolls in circles, accomplished by moving in a circular pattern and using the dodge-roll button. This is most often displayed after beating a boss. I don’t think there are any MMORPGs where you can do anything like this.)
If I’m in a group and I want to demonstrate the proper place to stand, or draw attention to my location, I will jump up and down a few times.
If I’m in a group, and someone asks if everyone is ready, I will jump once to indicate I’m ready. It’s a visual indicator to the group that I’m at the keyboard.
Sometimes I will jump once as a visual way of saying, “Yay!” For example, after beating a boss or winning a loot roll.
Sometimes I will jump over a shape or line or a rock or a log on the ground just for the fun of it. This is usually done while running from one place to another in a dungeon that I’m very familiar with because there is nothing else to do. In these cases I only jump once at the precise moment required to get over the imaginary obstacle, because I’m an adult.
Sometimes I will jump once at the top of a set of stairs or a slope going down to heroically launch myself higher into the air, or at least so it looks to me. In games that have gliding, this of course gives you a little bit of a longer gliding path.
That’s about all I can think of. I’ve always tried to optimize my finger movements when playing games. :)
I wish game developers would add emotes that are much more subtle than the ones that are usually in games. Every game has “thank you” emotes that I could use instead of jumping, but they are really extravagant bows or salutes–things that I would never do in real life in a million years. I want something like the quick wave of acknowledge you would use when signalling another driver on the road, that is sometimes no more than raising up your fingers a little bit.
Bhagpuss said something interesting in his last comment:
In general I think the idea that GW1 had good writing is fanciful. Much though I like Prophecies, the writing is pretty shoddy. I think when people praise the writing they are mainly talking about the plotting, which is fairly coherent. The dialog is mostly stilted and unconvincing, often risible.
First, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “risible” in my entire life. It means laughable, as in, “It’s risible that I’ve never seen the word risible.”
Secondly, he brings up a really good point: Does a good game need good writing?
For myself, when I mentioned that I had heard Guild Wars 1 had a good story, I wasn’t talking about the writing at all. I was talking more about the “immersive experience” or something along those lines. The world, the people in that world, the things those people are doing, and the way that my character interacts with them.
I honestly can’t think of a single RPG I’ve played in over 20 years where I looked at the quest text in a dialog box and thought, “Wow, that’s really good writing.” At best it’s totally transparent to me (which I consider good), or at worst the font is too small to read, it’s full of grammar errors, or it’s an assault of bad puns. Yes, I mean World of Warcraft when I’m talking about the puns.
I mean, I’m sure I must have occasionally thought to myself, “Nice turn of phrase, there.” But it’s so rare that I don’t even remember it.
Actually I can think of one game that I would praise the writing: The Secret World, because those cut scenes are often riveting, but they are more of a combination of good writing and good voice actor performance.
And now that I think about it even more, Lord of the Rings Online consistently has pretty good writing in their quest dialogs, at least in the areas that I’ve played, which is generally up through the Mines of Moria.
I think the issue of writing quality might be a moot point for the upcoming waves of MMORPGs, though. I’m reasonably confident that the days of reading quest text are coming to an end, if they haven’t already ended.
Since I’m done with Guild Wars 2 until November 28th (I got bored with dailies), I had a crazy idea a few weeks back to re-download and play Guild Wars 1 to have a look at the story. I’ve always heard it’s good.
I own this game. So why not play it? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I own all of the available GW1 content. I originally bought it somewhere around 2011, and later I think I bought all of the expansions sometime after Guild Wars 2 came out when I saw there were some achievements and titles that you could get from linking your accounts or something.
I never got very far in GW1. My highest-level character is a Necromancer that I got to level 17 in the “Prophecies” campaign. I logged into that character and had absolutely no memory of getting to where he was. He was in a place that I knew nothing about, standing in front of a row of henchmen that I didn’t know what to do with.
So I started a new Ranger.
At first, I didn’t care much for the game. It’s clearly from a bygone era, when men were men and MMORPG players used arrow keys to turn and move. You can use the right mouse button to look around (not the left button) but anytime you walk up or down a plane, the camera shifts by itself to compensate, which is very disorienting. I can’t find any way to disable it.
Combat is very much of the “inactive” style. You stand in place and push your hotbar actions until either you are dead or the other guy is dead. As far as I can tell, you can’t do a single thing while you’re moving.
It’s fairly common to get stuck in the terrain. Don’t walk too close to any “edges” or you’ll find yourself rooted in place, bound by invisible forces. Once I tried to make my way to a river, and couldn’t go any farther, so I tried to turn back only to find that my little follower Gwen had blocked me there. I had to stand there until Gwen finally decided to move and free me. I couldn’t even jump up and down in frustration! I’ve tried to stay on the roads and obvious paths since then.
It’s pretty obvious why they decided to make a Guild Wars 2, from a technical perspective.
So with all those complaints you might think I gave up pretty quickly.
Actually, I kind of love this game. I got used to the quirky limitations after only a couple of play sessions, and after about a week I found myself running to the computer to log in and continue where I left off.
Admittedly it’s probably because a) it’s largely new to me, and b) I’m recording yet another video series and I just love reading RPG quest text in funny voices. Editing these videos is also quite fun.
But beyond that I’m finding myself engrossed in this little world around Ascalon City. It’s very interesting to see how the world changed from Guild Wars 1 into Guild Wars 2.
There is a whole lot of combat to wade through, though. It’s sort of like Heart of Thorns in that regard. But at least it’s tedious and easy, instead of tedious and hard.
In light of the announcement of World of Warcraft Classic, everybody’s abuzz with WoW nostalgia, so I thought it would be fun to re-post my very first thoughts about WoW Vanilla from 2006.
World of Warcraft
October 10, 2006
Inspired by the recent episode of South Park, and being bored with FlatOut2, I finally installed my trial version of World of Warcraft yesterday, which I’d gotten with a video card about a year ago I think. I’ve been trying to stay away from MMORPGs because, as South Park indicated, you really can’t play them competitively unless you’re willing to join some kind of guild and give up your life, and really, what’s the point in playing a game if not to win? :) But I’ve heard repeatedly that WoW was particularly good for so-called “casual gamers” and people who liked solo adventuring, so I gave it a shot.
First of all, installation is not for the faint of heart. It took about two hours to complete the installation and updates. It was roughly like installing Windows. I should have expected that, but it was still annoying. Especially the part where you have to forward some ports to help the silly peer-to-peer update downloader.
Once I was in the game, I was immediately struck by the physical similarities to Asheron’s Call (the first one – I didn’t play the second one). The running mechanics are the same, the falling mechanics are the same (the way you sort of blink back and forth between the falling stance and the running stance when you go down a steep slope). If they’re not the same engine (and there is no mention of it that I can find), Blizzard clearly modeled their engine to work like Turbine’s engine. This is not necessarily a bad thing, btw, I was just expecting something, well, different.
Gameplay is about the same as Asheron’s Call, too. And this is a criticism. Because at first, your focus is basically on getting the hell away from the starting town as fast as humanly possible, before the n00b stupidity plague infects your brain too much.
All the standard n00bs are represented: The people standing around begging for weapons and armor, the people standing around begging to know where quest items and places are, the people standing around trying to sell their useless wares they crafted, and the ever-popular people begging to team up for adventure. I frown on such people because all you have to do is get off your lazy butt and explore the world a little bit to find the information you need.
All the standard n00b exploiters are there too, like the people selling items at ridiculous prices and the people talking about how stupid n00bs are (those people invariably end every chat line with “lol”: “u noobs r so stoopid lol”).
Which brings me to all the people who act like asses when you put them in a virtual 3D environment: The people who run around with no clothes on, the people who talk about how drunk they are all the time, the people with dirty names, etc. We didn’t have dancing in AC, but you’ll see plenty of it in WoW: There’s usually a group of people in town just standing around dancing. (As a bonus, at the local inn, you can almost always find one or more people standing on tables dancing with no clothes on.) It’s funny for a few seconds, then it’s just stupid. For those people, the game is essentially a glorified $15/month chat client.
Moving on. So far, I can say that the claims of satisfying solo adventuring are rather exaggerated, at least through level 8. I don’t know where the whole “instancing” thing is supposed to be. I guess that’s only for the high level people. In my adventuring, I had to deal with plenty of the standard lot of n00bs and dorks hanging around with me in the Farigold Mine (or whatever it was called). Those most hated dorks of all were there too: The people trying to steal your kills. I hate those people. Hate them, hate them, hate them. At least in WoW you are assured that you get the loot from your kill if you do the most damage. But it is so annoying to share the experience points with some twink running around with a super-weapon and no clothes. And there was only one Goldtooth Kobold dude that everyone was trying to kill for a quest item, so there was the obligatory “circular firing squad” crowd hanging around his area waiting for him to spawn. In a nutshell, it’s the usual crowd of fellow questers in every quest area fighting for the same quest items, just like in Asheron’s Call. Lame.
On the plus side, it was worth a lot of experience to do the quests, so at least you don’t have to stand around repetitively killing monsters all day to gain experience. (Though you’ll get much better loot that way.) Unfortunately, it takes forever to complete the quests because you have to run all over the countryside (and contend with the other dorky questers), so I’m not sure it’s really worth it. You just have to figure on X amount of hours of gaming to acheive level Y, no matter what you do.
Overall, I can’t figure out why it’s so popular. Through level 8, it’s almost exactly the same as Asheron’s Call from, like, six or seven years ago. It’s fun if you’re bored I guess, but you’ll still be spending a lot of time wading through hordes of idiot gamers, and staring mindlessly at the screen while running from place to place.
I give it a 3… out of 5.
World of Warcraft Addendum
October 11, 2006
Addendum: So I go to login to WoW last night to see how many levels I can acheive with a 14-day trial account, and it says the server is full and I have to wait in a queue for some 30 minutes to get in! You have got to be kidding me. That seals the deal. There is no way I’m going to pay $15/month for the privilege of not being able to get on the freakin’ server! That is just about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. I’d much rather play in severe lag than not be able to get in at all.
You can pick another server to play on, but, of course, you have to start a brand new character. Remembering that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” is the same as the one for “opportunity,” I took the opportunity to try out a gnome rogue who looks a little bit like Mario. It was actually kind of fun waddling around killing wolves, and not very crowded up in the snowy mountains. It was more fun than starting out as the human warrior, actually. There aren’t as many gnomes running around without clothes, at least. :) And I only saw one person with “spooge” in his name. Maybe it’s just because it was a new server.
One thing that’s different from Asheron’s Call… it’s way easier to start from scratch in WoW. There’s not much danger of dying from any of the early monsters; they don’t even attack unless you attack them first.
World of Warcraft Redux
October 23, 2006
Perhaps this was inevitable, but in the absence of anything better to play, I’m reversing my stance on World of Warcraft. It’s grown on me like an infectious fungus, so I paid the $20 activation fee so I could keep playing past the free trial period.
I got my original human warrior up to level 14, but I was having a lot of difficulty soloing in Westfall against the stupid Defias mages that shoot freakin 75 point fireballs at you, and against those stupid Murloc frog creatures at the coastline that gang up on you with their pet crabs. Soloing more than one monster near your own level is almost impossible in WoW, unless maybe you have a huge stash of healing potions, which being a new player I obviously don’t. Anyway, those obstacles brought my ability to complete quests to a screeching halt, so I started thinking about a new character template.
I did a little web research and found that hunters and warlocks are the most recommended classes for solo play, because of their ability to use combat pets. So I started a new floppy-eared night elf hunter.
In a nutshell, a hunter with a pet just plain rocks for solo adventuring. It’s a huge improvement over the warrior, and I can’t imagine life without a pet now. I send my pet owl to attack a monster, then stand back and fire arrows from a distance while the monster battles my owl, and I don’t get a scratch. It’s awesome. This is no wimpy owl, either — it can dish out some damage. Between the two of us, the poor monster is usually dead in seconds. Most of the time, the owl can handle itself just fine even without my help. If I end up fighting multiple monsters, I’ll direct the owl to fight (and distract) one monster while I fight the other, and the owl usually kills his monster before I finish mine.
I usually prefer to post nothing instead of a post about blogging*, but since Roger brought it up, and I just said two posts ago that there’s nothing to blog about, let’s talk about blogging!
Rather than write something that stands on its own, I’m just going to respond to the parts of Roger’s post that jumped out at me, as if it were a Usenet post.
The Nature of the Beast
“I’ve written several pieces that I’m proud of. However, they never got the traffic I hoped for. That’s the nature of the beast, I guess”
I’ve always been of the mindset that there is blogging, and then there is blogging for success, and the two are totally different disciplines. There is a fairly well-established body of resources and theory on how to attract attention to your site. It falls under a category loosely known as “copywriting.” One of the blogs I follow off-and-on is called Copyblogger. If you go to that site, you’ll know instantly that it’s a blog about blogging for revenue (aka. views), because it has that “generic corporate” look and feel.
If one wants to get traffic, one needs to follow certain rules that involve SEO, keywords, readability, images, links, and many other things like that. None of those rules have anything to do with creative writing, which is what I’m more interested in. I have a WordPress plugin called “Yoast SEO” that regularly yells at me because my posts invariably fail to live up to their potential.
Oh, everyone says that the best way to get attention is to write good content, and to a certain extent that’s true. But if that’s all you do, then you have to rely on lucky breaks. Like when I posted about the Dark Tower movie at the exact time that everyone on the Interwebs was searching to find out how the Good vs. Evil Edition differed from the theatrical release. If one wanted to chase traffic, you need only watch what people search for every day and write daily blog posts that answer their questions. (See: Every for-profit web site in the world.)
See what I did up there? According to Yoast SEO, self-referential or “internal” links are good for business. I also changed the “focus keyword” for this post to “blogging” and I suddenly got a lot of green dots, which I assume is a good thing.
The point I’m trying to make here is this: You won’t know which posts will “hit” or “miss” but there are things you can proactively do to stack the odds in your favor. This is also known as “SEO” or, as I like to call it, “work.” I’m generally unwilling to do a lot of work on something that doesn’t pay out anything in return, and I’m generally happy with where my blog is at the moment, so I don’t do much SEO work except for testing or curiosity. The biggest return I get for writing this blog is an occasional mention in MassivelyOP’s Global Chat column, which is pretty cool and I’m grateful for it, but unfortunately it doesn’t contribute anything toward paying the mortgage.
That’s why new writers should never start blogging because they want fame and fortune. You won’t get it. (Unless you happen to know someone who is already famous.)
So why blog at all? Great question, which is hard to answer. I would say the two most compelling reasons for me to keep blogging are, firstly, that I like to write and it’s a great way to practice writing, and secondly, it’s the main avenue for me to express my weird thoughts and opinions to the world. Nobody I know in real life would ever listen to me talk about what I write in this blog for more than about five seconds. :)
Therefore, an audience, comments and feedback are important. Our writing is an invitation to friendly interaction and an exchange of ideas…
Number and frequency of comments is one of the most universally-accepted measures of a blog’s success. Unfortunately for me, I’m the dictionary definition of a “reclusive writer” and it takes a lot of mental energy for me to monitor and respond to comments. In my personal opinion, it’s one of my biggest barriers to greater success here and generally in life overall. If I had an intern here at Endgame Viable Headquarters, they would very likely be tasked with responding to comments and “building the community.”
For myself, every time I see a new comment has arrived (anywhere on any platform), I have to go through a whole process of, “What wrong thing did I write this time?” “What did I leave out that utterly destroys the entire argument I was trying to make?” “WHAT IF I MISSPELLED SOMETHING?” “What if they don’t like my writing and by extension me as a person??” “How can I bear the shame of even showing my face on the Internet after I read this comment???”
It’s gotten a lot better over time, but that’s the standard thought process of me interacting with audience feedback for any creative endeavor. I have to mentally construct a brick wall around my “artist self” aka. “helpless small child” before I start looking at comments.
Consequently, I rarely write a blog post to begin a conversation. I typically write posts that try to explain my thoughts on a subject, with hopefully a clear beginning, middle, and end. I write them as if I’m writing an article for a magazine someone would read in a waiting room. (Success varies wildly from post to post.) I usually don’t feel any need to continue a conversation beyond what I’ve already written.
That’s not to say I don’t like conversation-starting blogs. I’m just not very good at it myself. Others are quite good. Incidentally, you can always tell the bloggers that want to start conversations because they typically end their posts with a question, to gently lead people into posting a comment. “What do you think about all this, dear reader?” In copywriting parlance it’s a “call to action.” In a way, it’s what Roger did with his post on blogging. :)
Blogging as Therapy
although such concepts are becoming increasingly alien in the current binary climate. This last point paradoxically offers another reason to write. I use my blog as a means to marshal my thoughts and to try and understand what is happening in the world.
I agree with this completely. I write therapeutically about “the current binary climate” on a different blog, though. There is very little audience in the world right now for critical views of both “them” and “us,” certainly not in gaming. (Honestly, there never has been an audience for that in politics.)
Words versus Videos
Being a fan of the written word, I always prefer to read someone’s thoughts than watch a live stream or a video.
I have also observed that the Venn diagram of blog audience and video audience does not overlap very much. My efforts here and on Twitter to gesture nonchalantly at my YouTube channel go completely unrewarded. :)
I will offer this as for why people might go to streaming or videos from blogging, though: It’s generally more time-consuming for me to write a blog post than to record a video. While I don’t know this for a fact, I have a feeling that the pool of video viewers is larger than the pool of blog readers. So going back to the principle of not doing work without remuneration, it makes much more logical sense to concentrate on making low-effort videos than writing high-effort blog posts.
Fortunately, I still like writing. In fact, sometimes I record videos of a new game I’m trying out, and transcribe what I said to make a blog post. (Most of my Snap Judgment posts follow this formula.)
I also have another completely selfish reason for making videos: I’ve never been good at speaking out loud so every video I make is a little bit more practice. I very rarely get opportunities in real life to speak uninterrupted for any length of time.
So what do you think about all this, dear reader? Uh, write a blog post about it! :)
* There’s an old, unspoken adage that if you blog about blogging, you are not really creating content. I’ve heard the same for podcasting about podcasting and I would assume, now, streaming about streaming.
P. S. Regarding time investment, it took me over three hours to write and edit this post. Yoast is yelling at me now because it’s too long.
P. P. S. If only I could count this text for NaNoWriMo!
I mentioned that there was nothing to blog about. Then I started catching up on all the things I’ve missed in the MMO landscape over the last month or so.
CCP VR Layoffs. Apparently CCP decided they didn’t want to be a pioneer in VR after all. Presumably this means they’ll need to figure out how to increase revenue from EVE, a fourteen-year-old game that new players run screaming from. (Incidentally, I keep meaning to try out the free version.)
Voice Actor Strike Ends. I’m glad this is over. I don’t know all the details but I assume everybody is happy with the results. I love good voice acting, and voice actors deserve not to be treated like cattle by game companies.
Lord of the Rings coming to Amazon. Not quite game-related, but Christopher Tolkien retiring from his watch over the Tolkien estate might one day affect Lord of the Rings Online in ways we can’t predict. (Incidentally, I have no plans to watch Lord of the Rings on Amazon without a lot of convincing. You can’t just wave the words “Lord of the Rings” in front of my nose like candy before a toddler to get my attention.)
MXM Shutdown. And this just in.. NCSoft MOBA MXM is shutting down, too. After, like, a month? Or something? I don’t know anything about this game except that every time I heard about it, I thought, “Huh? Why?” Still, you hate to see anything tank in the games industry. It hurts everyone.
I’m in another “there is nothing to blog about”* mood so this is a brief update to tell you that I finished the GW2 Living World Season 2 again. It was more entertaining the second time. Except for every combat encounter, of course. But it felt considerably easier the second time through, and I only remember wanting to punch my monitor on two of the bosses. That’s an overall smaller monitor-punches-per-episode rate than Living World Season 3 was. (I used my Revenent character.)
In more interesting news, ArenaNet announced Living World Season 4 will begin on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. I’m actually looking forward to it. Being completely caught up on an MMORPG’s story really helps ramp up my interest in newer releases at launch time. Also, you know, it’s free!
The trailer is awful, by the way. Roughly 98% of it shows scenes from Living World Seasons 1-3, and I’m pretty sure the remainder came from the final cut scene of Path of Fire. In other words, there’s nothing in there that shows what to expect in Living World Season 4.
Whatever it is, I’m anticipating it will be crushingly difficult to make up for Path of Fire’s relative walk in the park storyline.
Guild Wars 2 posts do fairly well for some weird reason (but not as well as Dark Tower posts, go figure), so here’s another one. If you aren’t caught up with GW2 there might be some accidental spoilers below.
I mentioned before that I’ve been re-playing the Living World Season 2. Eventually I’ll be uploading them to my YouTube channel, because hey, why not. “Pivot to video” and all that. I actually got six whole views on one of my Path of Fire videos!
Anyway, playing these episodes now, with the benefit of knowing what I know about the future story, is an eye-opening experience. Suddenly a lot of things make sense. Not everything–but some things.
For example, in Echoes of the Past, when I went into Glint’s lair. (Before all the anger over the last boss.) I actually know who Glint is now! And the exposition between Marjory and Kasmeer talking about Destiny’s Edge, Glint, and Kralkatorrik actually made sense! Kind of. In a high-level way. At least I know who and what a “Kralkatorrik” is, which I’m quite sure I didn’t when I first played that episode. And when I ran into Ogden Stonefacewhatever in the library, I knew him from the prologue in Path of Fire! (At which time I was quite sure it was the first whole dwarf I had ever seen in GW2.) The exposition between Kas and Jory went over the highlights of what dwarves are and why they’re stone and why they’re all dead, which put the mysterious Elder Scrolls-style dwarves in better context.
I think the mistake I keep making is assuming that each new game release of GW2 will have a self-contained story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. But that’s not the case at all. Every new release contains another “middle.” It’s as if the story of Guild Wars 2 is unfolding at an incredibly slow-motion pace, over the course of five years. You would think after five years of the game being out, there would be a lot of stories told. But when I look back at Season 2, compare it with Heart of Thorns, Season 3, and Path of Fire, which you’d think would all be separate and distinct stories, it’s as if they are all small chapters of one large story that somebody wrote a long time ago. (Perhaps that book that Bhagpuss keeps recommending, which I don’t want to get because it’s more fun to keep reminding ArenaNet where backstory is entirely missing from their game. :)
As one example: In Living World Season 3, Braham basically told us (the Commander) to go take a flying leap off a short pier somewhere around the middle of the season. There was never any resolution for that, and from what I remember, we never heard from Braham again after he got that scroll in those caves. We went through the entire Path of Fire story with barely a word about Braham. So that’s still hanging out there somewhere, waiting for a resolution. Is he going to re-join the fold in Living World Season 4, one, two, or three years from now? Is he going to be the new Big Bad, a bitter and broken Norn because he didn’t get to die fighting Jormag? Will there be an epic guild fight between Destiny’s Edge 2.0 and Dragon’s Watch 1.0? Who knows? But it sure seems like the kind of thing that should have some sort of resolution during the course of the past, let’s see, roughly two years of game updates.
ArenaNet seems to be counting on us to hold a whole lot of story in our memories over a very long period of time. Maybe people who play every release 20 times on 20 different characters can do that, but l’il ol’ me who only plays them once (if that hehe) is left out in the cold.
P. S. I am back up to 30 gold from dailies! I’m rich again!