From Across the Net: “Sharing FFXIV with my kids”

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Enjoyed this piece by Justin (aka Syp) titled “Sharing FFXIV with my kids“.

And then I tasked them with helping me find on-screen clues leading us to the poacher, so there were three sets of eyes combing the screen and pointing to anything with a name tag over it. “Is that it?” “No, that’s another player.” “What about that?” “That’s the same player.”

XIV_Wallpaper_03

Loyalty

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“What I value most in my friends is loyalty.” – David Mamet

Back in the early MMO days, I was active in a game called Asheron’s Call (AC). What made Asheron’s Call different was a simple ingredient that seasoned in-game relationships:

The Allegiance System – introduces the unique concept of vassals and patrons. In this system, a vassal swears allegiance to a patron. The patron then acts as a protector, item giver, and basically a guild leader. The reward for being a patron equals a daily award of experience points based upon a small percentage of experience that the vassal makes while playing. The allegiance system ultimately encourages the formation of miniature kingdoms, much like guilds found in today’s more modern MMO. – Asheron’s Call Celebrates 10 Years (via JBG)

Time, trust, and loyalty were the bonds that held the allegiance system together. A symbiotic scratching of backs, defense, and survival.

Pay Day

As I drove into work this morning, my mind was racing faster than my Honda Accord. I kept asking myself:

– Am I going to be let go this morning? –

– They wouldn’t fire me, would they? –

– If they don’t fire me today, will it happen in two weeks? –

Working for a firm that is on the verge of collapse is stressful. Seeing no hope on the horizon, in the form of incoming work, is enough to make anyone concerned.

In my situation, my patron is still putting in the time to try and salvage the operation. However, trust and loyalty were dissolved the moment a co-worker was let go. Who will be next? I’m not sure. No one wins this game of office Survivor.

Despite my earthly patron’s status, I know that my God is in control. As I was reminded yesterday in church, everything boils down to reminding myself of God’s promises AND believing that they are true. In fact, I’m even thinking of writing them down and randomly sticking them around the house. God promises me that I will overcome, if not in this life then the next.

Until next time: Who are you trusting to be your patron?

The Old Republic

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Yesterday, the State of Texas celebrated it’s 174th birthday. Happy birthday Texas!

Speaking of other old republics, I started downloading Star Wars: The Old Republic last night. As of this moment, my download is almost done! My plans are to create a Han Solo type character–hey, I’ve always called myself a scoundrel!–. I am really looking forward to playing the game and comparing it to my other BioWare experience, Mass Effect 2.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. The high today, here in East Texas, is 62 degrees. A nice change from the 80 degree weather we have oddly experienced this past week. Until next time.

World of Warcraft Isn’t Cheers Anymore

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A few weeks ago, I decided to stir the gaming pot and ask some of my close friends a simple question:

What would it take to get you back to playing World of Warcraft?

The following are their responses, starting with my own:

For me, right now, the only thing that could get me back into that game would be friends playing it again. That and knowing that I’d be able to play with them regardless of the time difference. Will admit though that playing this game again would feel like taking two steps back for some reason.

A friend from college replied:

I honestly don’t think I could go back. I’ve peg holed it with such negative feelings that I would first need a reason to make it beneficial to my real life. Right now, I just don’t see how it could be. I know my schedule now. I’ll never have hours per week to sit down and play it and so even with friends on there it would have to be something we do once a month maybe, and I can’t even really see pulling that off. Combine that with the monthly fee and there’s no way I’m paying 100 bucks over the next three months to hang out with some friends for 3 or 4 hours.

My friend Lord Andrew said:

For me to play WoW again?  It would take the promise that my group of friends would all commit to playing it together again.  That’s where the enjoyment is, playing with friends.

Combat Chuck replied:

I agree with Lord Andrew, plus I at this point I’d need to add time and money to the equation 🙂 but more than that, video game interest has waned for me and I don’t have a big pull or drive toward many games other than a couple on my phone 🙂

Finally, my friend Scotto finished with some great thoughts:

There might come a day when one of you guys will announce you are playing WoW again…and I will feel that familiar pull to play…but I think something else will finally come along that will be much better. Diablo 3 perhaps?

I’m always up for some Left 4 Dead 2 🙂  Nothing like immediate zombie-killing gratification with friends.

World of Warcraft burnout seems to run deep amongst my friend pool. Quite simply, all of our lives have changed since the game launched back in 2004. Many of us are now married, have moved onto other games, and have been overwhelmed with life responsibilities. As good of a time I had in Azeroth, I just don’t see myself going back. Why visit a place where your friends no longer reside? Why return to a world where everyone doesn’t know your name?

RIFT Impressions 1.2

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Often times I feel like I’ll mention a game on this site and then never talk about it again. I promise you that this is not some small part of a larger conspiracy theory. I truthfully just quickly get bored with games that fail to grab hold of me. Case in point:

Closing Thoughts:

MMO’s are time-sucking-vortexes that I simply do not have time for anymore. While I still enjoy reading about them, I feel that the genre as a whole has not advanced forward. World of Warcraft is the pinnacle of modern MMO gaming. Games like RIFT, though polished, offer me nothing compelling to forget about World of Warcraft and move forward. I do hope that Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 do something to shake up this genre funk. I miss playing a good MMO. Until that day, MMO’s like RIFT have been banished from my computer. Case closed.

RIFT Impressions 1.1

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"Nirvana is coming, the mystic portal awaits."

Ah, the smell of a new MMO! The joy of playing through starting content and actually seeing fellow human players running around completing quests. I had forgotten what this feels like.

During my first play session last night, no matter what, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be playing World of Warcraft instead. I mean, there is nothing inherently wrong with RIFT. I fear though that years spent in the refined lands of Azeroth somehow set a mental bar in my head. Why should I play anything less than the perfection that is WoW?

After leveling to level 4, I called it quits last night. That is, until a few minutes later…when I sat down again and played some more. Call it the MMO pull or the relaxation that mindless tasks (kill ten mystic dudes) bring, but I continued to play until I hit level 5. By then my laptop’s fan was screaming and the base of the computer was super hot.

The last time I really dove into an MMO, besides WoW, was with Warhammer Online. Warhammer had something special going for it. At least I thought it did. The public quests, dark art style, and a land perpetually at war drew me in. Heck, the fact that it was something other than World of Warcraft was enough for me. As I progressed through the levels however, I soon came to the conclusion that Warhammer was a shallow affair. My friends quit shortly after the first few months and I did too. Warhammer was fun while it lasted.

I‘m still not sure what I think of RIFT. Can’t tell if it is just more of the same or if something “special” is just over the next horizon. Like I said in my first post, I’ll keep you updated. Until next time.

RIFT Impressions 1.0

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I love the dark castle lurking on the horizon.

Perhaps I am totally burned out on MMO’s, but RIFT seems like more of the same so far. The combat, storyline, and level progression are all things that I have experienced over the years. I will note that the soul system could prove to be interesting… but do I really want to commit to playing “another” level grinder? Something to think about in an age where Lord of the Rings Online is free-to-play.

In my first session of play I have managed to hit level 4. With 6 days left on the free trial, I am going to continue to give the game a shot. Say hello to Waldcelter on the Greenscale shard if you think about it. I could use some friends! More impressions to come!

RIFT Free Trial

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For months now I have heard @Syp talk about the wonders of RIFT via his blog. Being burned out as I am on MMOs, I had decided to take a pass on this one. That is, until I found out that RIFT has a 7 day free trial. Free being the goodness that it is, I think that I may have to take a leap and see what all the talk has been about. Care to join me fellow burnouts?

Connections

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In the hustle and bustle that has become everyday life, I am beginning to wonder how I ever found time to play such games as World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online. I think that when I was playing them, I was using them as a social means to hang out with friends from back in California. With the time difference proving to be too big of a drawback–I’m usually in bed by the time my friends get around to being able to game–, my friends and I all slowly walked away from MMO’s.

While part of me misses the thrills of leveling and exploring the various game worlds, I more so miss being able to hang out with friends in another state. Slaughtering the digital denizens, while shooting the breeze, created good memories for me. As a guy, doing something with other guys is just priceless, even if it is just playing a game online.

I don’t know if it is this way with every gamer, but I have a core group of friends that I have gamed with since high school. Since moving to Texas, I have kept in touch with them by phone, email, and occasional visits. I ultimately don’t want our connection to be lost due to distance. Though we may have walked away from MMO’s for the moment–Bioware’s Star Wars MMO is on the horizon–, we are all still good friends. I am thankful for friendships that evolve and change with time… and distance.

Pokémon: The MMO

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Pokémon: The MMO was announced by Game Freak and Nintendo today. Set in a world revolving around Ash Ketchum’s journey to greatness, players must protect Ash as he journeys with the one ring to Mount Poké-doom. With over 5,000 new Pokémon to catch, this is sure to be the biggest Pokémon adventure yet!

Bulbasaur returns!

New Features:

  • A complete graphical overhaul that puts Crysis 2 to shame.
  • Video conferencing/ battling provided by a special partnership between Apple and Nintendo.
  • iPhone integration for those on the go!
  • The introduction of Poké-weaponry.
  • And so much more…

For the Love of Flight

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Sadly, Jasmine decided to ditch me...for some guy named Aladdin.

Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling

Through an endless diamond sky…

Flying through the forests near Shattrath, I was suddenly struck with the thought that flying in World of Warcraft is lame. I mean, don’t be me wrong, I love the ability to take flight at any time. In fact, I absolutely dislike having to dismount from my flying mount. If I could fly everywhere in-game, I would. That said, the flight mechanics/ physics in WoW are rigid. Flap, flap, flap.

Locked and loaded for a bombing run. The Ewoks won't know what hit'em.

As I flew just below the forest canopy, I wondered why my mount doesn’t increase speed when flying downwards. Why doesn’t the flying mount have the same physics that govern airplane movement? Imagine the excitement this could bring to the game! Aeriel PvP, quests that involve air races,  and dogfighting are but a few ideas that a flight mechanic overall could bring about.

In the end, I want my time spent soaring to not only be a convenient way to get from point A to point B, but to add to the storytelling and adventure.

 

Virtual Real Estate

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I have never owned real estate in a game before. In the past, saving up money and having an actual housing option stopped me from making such a commitment. Until now…

Note my awesome hat!

Lord of the Rings Online offers housing options that are not prohibitive in price. A starter home only costing about 1 gold. My interest piqued, I decided to visit the local real estate agent in Bree. I was quickly given a list of homes available. Not knowing if one neighborhood was better than another (I have no idea what school districts are like in Bree), I randomly picked a neighborhood to see what was offered.

I love the cartoon drawing of the house. It's the little things.

The house was small, situated on a good piece of property, and had a convenient mailbox located outside. Inside, the floors were bare and the walls ready to be decorated with my spoils of war. Now, I do want to note that while there are no utility costs involved, there is a monthly upkeep fee (in the case of this house, 50 silver). Wonder if that is for both the gardener/ housekeeper? Having seen enough of the house, I rode around the neighborhood and happened upon an area meant for parties. Wonder how many this area holds?

I was all ready to purchase a house, however, I found myself a bit short on funds. A few more adventures across Middle Earth should do the trick. I’ll be sure to post a picture of my house once I have settled in. Until next time.

Confessions of an MMO Tourist: Cataclysm Edition

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A few months back, I had heard that there had been a cataclysm in Azeroth. All of the lands and continents of the game had been changed. Realizing that this might be a great time to visit at a discounted rate, I made sure to keep my eyes open for travel deals. No sooner had I started my search, when an e-mail arrived in my inbox with this subject line: “Bryan – Try World of Warcraft: Cataclysm FREE for 10 Days.” 10 whole days of vacationing in a new land, for free? How could I not pounce on this offer? A game client download and a few patches later, I found myself venturing once more in the lands of Azeroth.

A giant lurks in the mist.

Blizzard wasn’t joking when they said that things had changed. Right away I noticed the two new races featured in the game, the Worgen and the Goblins. So I decided to choose a new race. The thought of being a werewolf was too amazing to pass up, so I quickly created a Worgen mage by the name of Ruford. Ruford and I rode around the Worgen starting area, slowly learning about the Worgen infestation and how the great cataclysm occurred.

Ah Gilneas, World of Warcraft at its most refined.

My adventures with Ruford lasted until level 9. It was then that I decided that enough was enough. Though Cataclysm represents a fantastic upgrade to the World of Warcraft experience, the game is still the same. Frustrated, I quit playing. 10 days later I find myself wanting to play again…but alas, it is not to be. Farewell new content!

Gamer OCD

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I have quickly come to the conclusion that I play too many games at the same time. A friend of mine calls it “gamer OCD”. Want proof? Within the last month I have explored:

  • Ratchet and Clank: Future
  • Dragon Age Origins
  • Final Fantasy 13
  • World of Warcraft
  • Little Big Planet
  • Flower (With only six levels, I rocked this game!)
  • Final Fantasy 7
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Did you count how many games I have played off and on? 8! Keep in mind that it is not like I play each game for 5 minutes and then jump to the next. No sir. Instead I dump more than a few hours into each title. With Final Fantasy 13, I have probably played for more than 6 hours total. Run. Battle. Discuss random things. Run. Battle. Etc.

The problem with moving between so many games at a time is that you quickly forget how to play a specific game. Take last night for instance when I fired up Final Fantasy 13 and quickly died. I had forgotten how to play the game. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So, where am I going with all this? This year, I really want to focus on playing one game until I complete it or decide to discard it forever. FOREVER. I inwardly laugh over making such a resolution (I don’t think I’m capable of it) but I would certainly like to try.

Climb aboard my tidy ship of serial-gaming-monogamy. The waters ahead could be a tad rough.

Beyond the Cataclysm

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So, you’ve just shattered a six year old game Blizzard Entertainment, what are you going to do next?

1. Release expansion packs that build upon the new Cataclysm content. Expansion packs are like the carrot on the end of a stick, enticing gamers to hang around for new content. Will there be new races and lands announced in the future? You betcha ya!
2. Find ways to further grow the current player base. Research into video game addiction and recruiting your grandma will no doubt be internally announced soon. “What are the kids into these days?”, they’ll ask. Hopefully the addition of Silly Bandz, Webkinz mini-games, or anything remotely related to cutsey talking animals are added to the Azerothian landscape.
3. With the release of Cataclysm, the ablity to fly all over the Warcraft world will finally be attained (or soI have been told/ lied to). The next logical step, in WoW’s development, will be to add an underground kingdom. Imagine riding around on mole mounts past vast underground cities and luminous lakes. Let the current Minecraft game/ craze be your guide!
4. In-game advertising! Always remember, a druid likes to be reminded of the latest hamburger available at Burger King.
5. Celebrity designed armor sets. Wait, never mind.
6. Drop the current monthly pay structure. Free is the way to be.

*Inspired by Bio Breaks Where can World of Warcraft go from here article/ posty thing.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Launch Parties Are Go!

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A friend of mine was telling me, over lunch, that Blizzard is hosting Cataclysm launch parties. Apparently the party/event closest to him will have developers on hand to sign retail copies. Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Check out this link for a list of stores and events surrounding the December 7th Cataclysm launch.