Cold Nostalgia

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Bouncing off a topic Syp @ Bio Break wrote on today, I want to take a moment and dive into what I believe is one of the reasons people still play World of Warcraft, nostalgia.

Personally, I have played WoW off and on since its inception in 2004. Sometime after graduating college and getting married, I put down the game for what I thought was the last time. My friends and I went on to play other MMO’s (Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer, etc.) and always talked about the glory days in Azeroth. Our nostalgia was not just rooted in WoW but in the Warcraft RTS series as well. Hours upon hours spent playing online in high school only helped cement memories in time.

Last year I did the unthinkable though when my friends and I dove back into the lands of Azeroth. What had started out as a series of conversations about the good old days, soon manifested itself into us playing again. The past, the memories of days gone by, had pulled us back into the behemoths claws. This all didn’t last long though, as I soon grew bored in zones I had slogged through before.

Going back to Syp’s post, what will pull gamers back to World of Warcraft for the great Cataclysm? Will it be new specs? New character classes? Hardly. I believe cold hard nostalgia will be the drawing factor. Here is the thing though, nostalgia only lasts for so long. Soon reality sets in and people see things for what they are now, and not what they used to be.

The great cataclysm awaits…yawn.

Alive

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Wow, haven’t written something new in almost a month. Curse you writers block!

Life has been a bit busy lately. Gaming wise I have found myself dabbling in a few games:

  • World of Warcraft – I think I am going to call it quits for a month or two. I am stuck at level 55 and can’t seem to muster the strength to continue onward towards level 80. The time commitment alone is daunting and not something I am willing to undertake at the moment. Rest in peace World of Warcraft…for now?
  • Pokémon Platinum – Burned out on Dragon Quest IV, I decided to engage in something a bit more mindless. 🙂
  • Plants Vs. Zombies (iPod) – Good game!
  • Lord of the Rings Online – Abandoning the personal Titanic that is World of Warcraft, I have started a new character (Aubrik the warden) on the Landroval server. Anyone know of a good guild?

I watched the Sons of Numenor slowly canter through Bree (as a group) and then assemble in The Prancing Pony. I swear I'm not a spy...just a nosey hobbit!

New content inbound. Look for a journal chronicling my adventures in Middle Earth.

Surf Report – 3/1/10

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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

Slowly but surely, I have been working my way through The Love Dare book. So far I have learned a lot about myself and the way I function within my marriage. One of the more recent entries had me ask my wife what I do to irritate/ make her uncomfortable. The answers were interesting as well as enlightening. Good stuff.

.: Life :

Tired of the cold? I am.

.: Gaming :

Signed up for the Final Fantasy XIV beta last night. The limited beta, for the time being, is set to start March 11th. Not signed up yet? Head on over here.

Otherwise, below you will find a list of blog entries/ articles that have caught my interest:

  • Spinks has a post on the state of the World of Warcraft Dungeon Finder. (Check out Bridging the Gap for my own thoughts on the matter.)
  • Syp, over at Bio Break, has a retro article on Getting to Know Your Guild. I have a confession to make in regards to guilds, I have never found one that I have enjoyed being apart of. Somehow I always wander into guilds that are made up of rude little children. Perhaps one day this will change…
  • Tobold reports that the WoW Authenticator has been hacked. Yikes!
  • Keen explores old worlds such as Ultima Online.
  • Don’t know how many JBG readers have stumbled across Mike Minotti’s The Warcraft Hero, but I highly suggest checking out this WoW based comic.

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

Bridging the Gap

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Awhile back I blogged about World of Warcraft’s new Dungeon Finder system and my initial experiences with it. I ended the post with a list of thoughts so far. Today I would like to add to that list in light of continued use of the system (new thoughts in bold).

Pro’s-

  • Instant access to a dungeon party.
  • Easy experience (XP) earned.
  • Feels like you’ve accomplished something within an hour.
  • Instance Teleporting.
  • Meeting random new friends.

Con’s –

  • Your playing with random strangers.
  • Party members dropping out for no reason (not dedicated).
  • Dungeons seem to take about an hour to clear (45 minutes at minimum). Dedicated time is needed.
  • Finding out that the random person you just met and enjoyed playing with is on another server.
  • No penalty is given to party members who suddenly quit.
  • Lower level players are not able to play with higher level players (no scaling/ “Level Sync” system).

The friends that I play World of Warcraft with out-leveled me long ago (currently a 23 level difference and counting). Choking on their leveling dust, I manage to continue on towards that level 80 goal. (One can dream can’t they?) My high level friends occasionally fly down from Northrend and help me quest and run through dungeons — very kind of them I know–.  The other night I partied up with a few of these friends and decided to do a quick dungeon run with the Dungeon Finder. To my horror, I soon found out that the Dungeon Finder would not let me enter the queue due to my friends being too high of a level for the dungeon. What!?!

Bridging the level gap by adding a “Level Sync” system, ala Final Fantasy 11, seems like the next logical step for Blizzard to incorporate into World of Warcraft. Otherwise, for players separated by multiple levels — like me! — the level of frustration and feeling of being left behind makes one want to just give up. So Blizzard, add a scaling feature to the Dungeon Finder and let me play with my comrades in arms! Please?

Crossroads

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Arclight, faithful druid and all around good elf, recently hit a crossroads in his World of Warcraft career. After 53 levels of working in fine-feral-form, the time for change had come.

Recently resubscribing to WoW, I thought that it was time for something new. 53 levels spent as a tank was getting old. Looking around Stormwind one day, I noticed other druids that were specced out as moonkins. Why not give it a try, I thought to myself. So 20 gold later, I now have a guildless moonkin for hire. Time to hunt for some gear that will give me some mana regeneration!

If anyone out there plays a druid in WoW and has some tips for me, I’d appreciate it. Arclight (on Stormscale) is my main character in WoW. I have been playing him off and on since the game launched in 2004. While it is kind of sad that I have yet to hit 60, let alone 80, I have enjoyed the time I have spent exploring Azeroth.

Tips? Thoughts? Comment below.

World of Warcraft Auction House Going Mobile

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Original Post:

Since the launch of the World of Warcraft Armory, we’ve been regularly releasing updates and new features designed to help players stay connected to the game even when they’re not logged in. Today, we wanted to give you a heads-up about a new service now in development that will let players access the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch.

While there are still plenty of details to be worked out, we’re designing the service to offer auction functionality similar to what’s available in-game. Players have been requesting — and we’ve been hoping to implement — a feature like this for a long time, and we’re excited that the Armory and the game have evolved to a point that makes it possible.

This is a fairly complex service to develop, due in large part to its unprecedented integration with the game, so we don’t have an exact release date yet. It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based, which we’ll go into more detail on once the service functionality is finalized. As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services. You may be seeing bits and pieces of the Auction House service pop up in the test builds we use for the public test realms as we go through the process of internal testing. We’ll have more info to share with you here and at http://www.WorldofWarcraft.com as we get closer to release. – As originally posted by Blizzard Poster Bornakk.

Thoughts:

As exciting as this announcement is, many details still have yet to be hammered out like:

1. Cost

It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based…

Blizzard seems to be on the pathway towards requiring a monthly subscription fee + additional fees for what is deemed “premium content”. What does premium-based content look like?

  • Tier A – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House as well as in-game chat capability (premium-based monthly fee required).
  • Tier B – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for a one time app fee.
  • Tier C – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for one character (for free).

There are so many variables involved (access to multiple characters, number of auctions allowed per day, etc.) that speculation seems mute at this point.

2. Release Date

As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services.

Translation – The Auction House feature is still in the early stages of development. As with all Blizzard products, expect to see it released when we feel it meets our high standards.

Be sure to check back with JohnnyBGamer for the latest in video game news crumbs.

So You Want to Start a Guild?

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For whatever reason, be it a sudden abundance of time or a willingness to destroy your life, you suddenly find yourself wanting to start a guild in your favorite MMO. Common sense would dictate that this is a terrible idea. While this may be true, more social gamers cannot deny the urge to unite the denizens of a particular world under one banner.

Truth. Justice. Life Sucking Numbness.

Being one of the great enablers of the Internet, JohnnyBGamer wishes to guide those who desire the dark path to guild leadership. Please know that once one begins this path, it is very easy to throw all time invested/ players recruited away with a snap of a finger. You’ve been warned.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the most popular of online games, World of Warcraft. So let us begin this march towards mayhem and total doom.

Dictionary.com defines a guild as:

an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., esp. one formed for mutual aid or protection.

After months and months of preparation, your moment has finally arrived. The name you have chosen to bestow upon your underlings (your guild name) has been carefully chosen. Right? If not, think about this for a moment. Your guild name must cause hearts to fear. Got a name yet? Good. Let’s continue.

In order to form a guild in World of Warcraft, one must talk with a Guild Master and purchase a guild charter (10 silver). A grand total of 9 players must sign this charter, in blood, before it can be turned into the guild master and made official. Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Presuming one does not have 9 friends to sign the charter, other methods must be employed to obtain the signatures needed.

Bribery (one of the oldest forms of greasing the gears)

  • Offering players, who have no intention of staying in your guild, some gold for their digital signature may be worth your time. How much you might ask? Pick a number.

Power (the pathway to the soul)

  • Who wouldn’t want to have the title “Grand Taco” in your guild? Not only does this name denote power but also supreme authority. If all else fails, let the signing player give them self a title. If you don’t like it, delete them. That is why  you are the guild leader.

Secrecy (who doesn’t like a good secret?)

  • Let the signing player know of your grand schemes to destroy and rule Azeroth. It will happen one day…

If all else fails, beg. Beg as if your life depended on it. Although spamming the chat channel may prove useful if begging fails.

Once you have obtained the 9 signatures needed to proceed, return to the Guild Master. Your Warcraft dynasty has only just begun.

Join us next time as we tackle guild tabards, structure, and the need for clear expectations.

MMO Cost Breakdown

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Below you will find a comprehensive listing of subscription fees for popular MMO’s. Enjoy!

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $35.98*
  • 6 Months – $62.96*
  • 12 Months – $98.93*
  • (*Based on a discounted rate as of 1/19/2011)

Aion

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Alganon

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95

Anarchy Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play unless your playing with the expansions (then $14.95).

APB: Reloaded

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Asheron’s Call

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –  $12.95
  • 3 Months – $35.75
  • 6 Months – $67.75
  • 12 Months – $119.75

Champions Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • Free-to-play – January 25, 2011

Dark Age of Camelot

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $40.35 ($13.45)
  • 6 Months – $71.70 ($11.95 per month)
  • 12 Months – $137.40 ($11.45 per month)

DC Universe Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99 ($14.00 per month)
  • 6 Months – $77.99 ($13.00 per month)
  • 12 Months – $134.99 ($11.25 per month)
  • Lifetime – $199.99 (*PC Only)

Dungeons & Dragons Online

EVE Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.95
  • 3 Months – $38.85
  • 6 Months – $71.70
  • 12 Months – $131.40

EverQuest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

EverQuest 2

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Fallen Earth

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99

Final Fantasy 11

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.95
  • Other Services – Additional Monthly Character Fee ($1 per character)

Final Fantasy 14

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99

Free Realms

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play or $5 for Membership (5 extra jobs, 400 extra items/ quests, 3 character slots, and ranking on leaderboards)
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Global Agenda: Conquest

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.47
  • 6 Months – $59.94

Guild Wars

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

LEGO Universe

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.99
  • 6 Months – $49.99
  • 12 Months – $89.99

The Lord of the Rings Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.85
  • 6 Months – $77.70
  • 12 Months – $143.40
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.00
  • Free-to-play (pricing varies)

Pirates of the Burning Sea

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.99
  • 6 Months -$77.99
  • 12 Months – $143
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

RIFT

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Runes of Magic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – Free-to-play

Star Trek Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $13.99 ($41.97)
  • 6 Months – $12.00 ($77.94)
  • Lifetime Subscription – $299.99

Star Wars Galaxies

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

TERA

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – TBA

Ultima Online

  • Monthly Subscription Fee –$12.99
  • 3 Months – $34.99
  • 6 Months – $59.99

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $14.99
  • 3 Months – $41.97
  • 6 Months – $77.94
  • 12 Months -$143.88
  • 24 Months – $199.95
  • Other Notes: This game can also be played under the $29.99 (per month) SOE Station Access subscription. This subscription includes access to: EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Planetside, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Online Adventures, and Free Realms.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

Wizard 101

  • Monthly Subscription Fee – $9.95 (single account), $6.95 (2 or more)
  • 6 Months – $49.95
  • 12 Months – $79.95
  • Notes: Pay by Area ($1-$3 per area)

World of Warcraft

Did we miss a game? Find that our numbers have changed? Comment below!

Dungeon Found

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Though I had read much about the new Dungeon Finder feature in World of Warcraft, I had yet to stumble upon it until this past week. (I would like to note that I did so completely by accident.) Randomly pressing the letter “i” on the keyboard, the Dungeon Finder window suddenly appeared.

Immediately I was presented with a few choices:

  • What role did I want to play (tank, healer, etc.)?
  • Did I want to run a specific dungeon or a random dungeon?

After making my choices, I pressed “Find Group”, which put me into the cross-server que. Within moments I was asked if I wanted to join a dungeon, I selected yes. My very first Pickup Group (PUG) consisted of me tanking with my level 53 druid Arclight. The other players were made up of priests, rouges, and mages. Our group proceeded through the dungeon and was doing quite well until the last boss. Right before we entered the final boss encounter, a bad pull eliminated all but one person in the party. In anger or frustration — I imagine — everyone in our party quit. This left me and the remaining player to finish the dungeon. 5 minutes later we completed the dungeon and reaped our rewards. A very satisfying night.

My thoughts so far:

Pro’s-

  • Instant access to a dungeon party.
  • Easy experience (XP) earned.
  • Feels like you’ve accomplished something within an hour.
  • Instance Teleporting.

Con’s –

  • Your playing with random strangers.
  • Party members dropping out for no reason (not dedicated).
  • Dungeons seem to take about an hour to clear (45 minutes at minimum). Dedicated time is needed.

Overall I have enjoyed the two instances I have run using the Dungeon Finder. More to come soon.

Hacked!

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The nightmare of waking up to find that all your virtual loot has been stolen is one scenario that I have yet to experience — note that I am not asking for this. I cannot imagine the feeling of characters/ items being ripped off; online possessions that cost a great deal of time to obtain suddenly gone. Account hacking via keyloggers and other nefarious schemes are seemingly quite common in World of Warcraft. We at JohnnyBGamer are all about empowering the people. So here are a few common sense ways to protect yourself:

  • Create a separate e-mail account for your World of Warcraft account. Never share this e-mail address nor associated password with anyone.
  • Make sure your browser/ PC is updated regularly (auto updates are good).
  • Empower your Internet browser to fight back by enabling security features.
  • Purchase an official Blizzard Authenticator at the Blizzard Store.
  • Download the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator (link will open iTunes) for your iPhone/ iPod Touch (free).

Confessions of an MMO Tourist

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My vacation into the virtual lands of MMO’s began with Asheron’s Call in 1999. Playing with friends in a persistent world had a certain novelty to it. Granted, the release of Diablo II the following year quickly put my stay in Dereth on hold. Not one to limit myself to one game, I “toured” multiple MMO’s up until World of Warcraft’s (WoW) launch in 2004. Multiple MMO’s huh? Take a look at this virtual itinerary:

  • Ultima Online (1 month)
  • Everquest (1 month)
  • Final Fantasy XI (1 month)
  • The Sims Online Beta (a few days)
  • Asheron’s Call 2 (a few months)

The release of Asheron’s Call 2, in 2002, marked the first time I had set up a base camp in an MMO since the original Asheron’s Call in 1999. My stay in AC 2 did not last long, however, the group of friends that I was playing with ended up quitting the game. For the first time in years, I was no longer traversing the virtual landscapes. A whole year would go by before I would once again venture forth.

  • Saga of Ryzom Beta
  • World of Warcraft

In 2004, the perfect storm came together in the form of the Warcraft universe becoming an MMO.

Blizzard + Warcraft + MMO = WIN!

Blizzard games have been a staple of my PC gaming diet for years. Warcraft II, Starcraft, Diablo, and Diablo II were go-to games for me and my friends.

Sidenote: How many of you remember playing the original Diablo with a modem? I remember many late nights, on my Macintosh, spent listening to the pinging/ ponging modem language as I hooked up to battle.net. Good times. Haunting music. No option to run!

World of Warcraft came out the year that I went away to college. The game quickly became a way to communicate/ game with friends three states away. WoW had a darkside, however, one that almost cost me my love in the summer of 2005.

Guild Wars launched the following year (2005). Though technically not an MMO, Guild Wars provided a few alternative to WoW. Unfortunately, the beta period for this game all but killed the game for me (there are only so many times you can create a character, level, and then have it deleted). So I went back to WoW until things came to a head with my real life. Decisions had to be made.

Girlfriend or WoW?

Girlfriend of course! She won.

Girlfriend now wife.

I have played many MMO’s since WoW.

  • Dungeon Runners.
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Warhammer Online
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online

So many hours poured into games I never plan on returning to again. Reminds me of books left half read, tossed under a bed. In the end, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the different worlds that I have explored. Each has offered a different experience that the game previous could not provide.

2009 marked the year I returned to Azeroth with my wife’s blessing. In playing, I have found that World of Warcraft does not have the same pull it once did. So I left the game once more to try:

  • Maple Story
  • Guild Wars (again!)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (again!)

As you can see, I am an MMO tourist with a passport full of stamps. If 2009 has been any indication as to my less than monogamous gaming habits, 2010 is sure to be a busy year.

(Used as a resource for this article http://biobreak.wordpress.com/mmo-timeline/)

(1/26/16 Update: Reader Kevin Woodberry emailed me and asked that I link to his guide as a further resource. Check it out: Guide to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.)

Going Forward, Gaming Forward

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After receiving the prayers and blessings of the local priests and holy men, Tharyn, the elvish warrior, directed his company of soldiers into a long cavernous corridor. In the furthest reaches of that cave lay the fearsome demon-hound, Magmadar. A less-seasoned warrior would easily fall victim to the demon-hound’s mind tricks. He commonly constricted his adversaries with fear and sent them running into a frenzied panic. On this night however, Tharyn would not become Magmadar’s prey but stood defiant as his predator. Really though, this night was not about Magmadar. Tharyn and his guild of fighters were barely prepared to fight when they “accidentally” attacked him (stupid impatient tanks). Some members were still getting home from work, while others were fixing dinner for their families. Really only twenty-some of the recommended forty were present and armed to fight (yours truly the dynamic rogue included), but it didn’t really matter because the fight with Magmadar was trivial content as it had been for the past month. Everyone get your buffs. Everyone to your locations. Tanks in, dps in, backstab backstab backstab, run to your healer, backstab backstab backstab; and so the fight persisted until Magmadar fell and we gotz the uber loot! Very soon everyone else would arrive, and following several hours of mini-boss battles that night’s real conquest would come, Ragnaros.

It’s been 4 years since I braved the caverns of the Molten Core, or anywhere else in the World of Warcraft for that matter, but my first life marches on even while second life is left behind. Occasionally, I find myself pining for the good ol’ days when I fought alongside my Alliance brethren, but for the most part my “serious” gaming days are behind me. No more all night 16player Halo matches (and we were all in the same house. That’s right kiddos! No wimpy Xbox live in the early days!). No more power-leveling another character to level 20 in WoW. No more super smash bros. gaming tournaments. No more weeks spent just going to school and gaming.

Don’t get me wrong, I still game. I indulged in a night full of zombie killing in Left For Dead a month ago (splattering zombie guts all over the wall really helps getting over the girlfriend who suddenly decides she wants to become an ex-girlfriend….ahh coping mechanisms), but now I look forward to playing simpler games like Bloons Tower Defense 4 on my computer or some of the arcade-ish games on the PSN like Super Stardust HD.

I can’t really say for sure what happened. The transformation changed when I arrived at college, and I became a “yo-yo gamer.I guess I suffered from “the grass is always greener” mentality. I owned a Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, and a Mac computer when I went to school. The following summer I sold all my gear (including my classic consoles like NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis) and built myself a sweet gaming pc because obviously if you want to play the really good games you need a PC. Enter the yo-yo effect. My euphoric delusional state lasted all of two months before I yo-yo’d again.

Time to face the music. I’m a console kind of gamer. I like to sit on my couch that has worn out springs. I like to play games on a big screen, and no I don’t count a 24 inch monitor as a big screen. I like the feel of cheap plastic making my palms sweaty after six hours of intense button-mashing. Like I said, I’m a console kind of gamer. Yadda yadda yadda, fast-forward fastforward, and now when you come visit me you’ll find a PS3 in my living room. I love it! It’s been a great machine. I would even classify it as a prized possession, but now I find myself in grad school and I show pride in my PS3 by allowing it to collect dust in the corner. Feel the love buddy.

Now by way of Freudian analysis, I have isolated several key factors that are to blame for this recent gaming abstinence. I have no money. I have no time. I have many new important responsibilities. All truthful and possibly accurate answers, but ultimately, I have no desire. So what will become of my long lost hobby? Is my current state of affairs simply a matter of my circumstances or is there another more subliminal transformation occurring?

What about you? Where does gaming fit into your life now, and how has it changed over the years?

Surf Report – 12/14/09

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Welcome to a Monday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

Check out my blog post entitled Intake.

.: Life :

Christmas Checklist:

Is your…

Tree set up?

Mistletoe hung?

Christmas shopping done?

Or: Are you…

Tired of the music/ tired of the noise?

Tired of all the shoppers/ of bratty girls and boys?

Hang in there!

.: Gaming :

The sweet story that is Maple Story is no more. I happened to make it through one play session and then never touch the game again. Ever.

Positives:

  • Amazing graphics/ fun art design.
  • Low system requirements.
  • Free-to-play.

Negatives:

  • No compelling storyline to draw the player in.
  • Poor/ non-intuitive control scheme.

The thought of having to play this game compelled me to renew my World of Warcraft account. I started a new character, Orup (Tauren Hunter), on the Stormscale server. Now at level 7, I am trucking along through Horde territory. Hit me up if you want to play!

That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

Why Pay Monthly?

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The standard $15 admission to most MMO’s is one that I would gladly say goodbye to in a heartbeat. Spending $50 to outright buy a game in the beginning and then maintaining the game at $15 a month is simply insane. Why would anyone pay a developer/ publisher monthly for something they already purchased for $50? Server maintenance, free monthly updates (until your eventually hammered with a $40 expansion), and customer service are but a few things that come to mind.  But why pay monthly at all?

  • Community: Paying $15 a month automatically grants access to a moderated community of fellow gamers. The riff raff (gold sellers and various spammers) are kept at bay (theoretically) by the monthly pay.
  • Brand: Allegiance to a particular licensed brand can often prove to be costly. Take World of Warcraft for instance. Ones interest in playing in the Warcraft world online (outside of the battle.net hosted Warcraft RTS) comes with a $15 a month cost. For an individual nostalgic over the Warcraft license, the monthly cost is not seen as a deterrent.

Is the cost of a movie night with a friend worth the associated community and brand? No. There has to be more to cause an individual (in this author’s opinion) to surrender some monthly cash.

  • Quality:The monthly fee required for most MMO’s ensures a quality that is unfound in free-to-play MMO’s. Words to spark a civil war by. I believe that $15 a month brings to the table expectation, by the consumer, for a refined product. Though this is not always the case as some companies seem perfectly happy to take money without improving their games (SOE). Other companies, such as Blizzard Entertainment, continue to refine and polish a game (WoW) that is now five years old. Quality has a price my friends, a price now listed as $15 a month.

What about games such as Guild Wars you say? Community, brand, and quality are alive within the game and there is no monthly fee needed to play. On this matter, I would like to note that no other game follows the Guild Wars model of pay-per-expansion (if you want to upgrade the game).

In the end, sometimes it is best to bite the bullet and take it like a man. So quit your whining! Community, brand, and quality come at a price. Like it or not, the days of free are over. Publishers and developers have seen the income MMO’s provide. A virtual goldmine my friends; a new gold rush for the modern era.

Notes –

Different subscription models:*

  • Free-per-expansion: Guild Wars (not really an MMO)
  • Free-to-play (but make sure to visit our store!): Maple Story, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, and Free Realms.
  • Monthly: World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, & Final Fantasy XI.

*not an exhaustive list by any means

Videogame Addiction Center Opens in Britain

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Internet Addiction

Reminds me of something I would have seen in college.

Yesterday, the Telegraph reported that Britain’s first videogame addiction center opened.

Mr Dudley* believes treating game addiction needs a different approach to “conventional” vices like drink and drugs.

”Obviously this is the very early stages of researching how many youngsters are affected,” he said.

”But I would stick my neck out and say between five and ten per cent of parents or partners would say they know of someone addicted to an online game.

”However, you can’t simply say to a 23-year-old male ‘you should never use the internet again’. It’s just not practical.

”So we go through all the issues surrounding gaming use and ensure there are triggers through which an addict recognises their usage has become a problem.

”Behavioural shifts include users becoming agressive, with chaotic lifestyles that result in irregular eating and sleeping patterns as well as social exclusion.’

”I don’t know anybody else who is treating such cases in this country. There’s no helpline.”

Having spent a summer of my life playing World of Warcraft from dusk till dawn, I can personally attest to the power of videogame addiction. If you find yourself living and breathing videogames 24/7, I encourage you to talk to someone. There is a difference between living in a virtual world versus playing videogames as a hobby. No duh, huh.

(*Brian Dudley, the center’s chief executive)

Asheron’s Call Celebrates 10 Years

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Asheron's Call 10th Anniversary10 years ago, I stepped through the portal into the lands of Dereth. As a beta tester, I remember spending hours chatting with friends, watching sunsets/ the virtual sky, and adventuring forth into the unknown.  Asheron’s Call (AC) marked my first introduction to the world of the MMO.

In the years following AC’s launch, much has changed in the virtual landscape. EverQuest is no longer the reigning MMO champion, the Warcraft universe has expanded into World of Warcraft, and the sequel to Asheron’s Call, dubbed Asheron’s Call II, has come and gone.

With all the changes in the MMO landscape, Asheron’s Call is still the only game—to my knowledge—that features an allegiance system. This 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.

Unlike a fine wine, MMO’s do not age well with time. MMO’s are all about refinement. Each new MMO takes (hopefully) the best ideas from what has come before and melds them together with new ideas. Sometimes this creative process works on an epic scale (World of Warcraft) and other times fails tragically (Star Wars Galaxies). In the end, I think we can all thank Asheron’s Call and developer Turbine for helping to blaze the trail to bigger, better, and more forgiving online experiences.

Happy 10 Years Asheron’s Call!

May ye die eventually and honorably.

Amen.

Have a memory from Asheron’s Call you’d like to share? Post in the comments.

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 4

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To MMO or Not.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 4. Know When to Quiteth…

Sad to say, but all things must end and MMO’s are no different. If your preferred MMO has become more of an obligation than a joy, it’s time to retire your character. I myself have also fallen into this most deadly of MMO traps, prioritizing my game obligations above my real life ones. Luckily, I have never lost anything as dramatic as a job or a relationship over it.

Near the end of my MMO playing career I found myself dutifully logging in simply to administrate my guild, check my crafted auctions, and run dungeons, only to fall asleep at the keyboard as I waited for someone in my party to return from AFK (away from keyboard).

Sure guilds, crafting, pvp, dungeon running, and all the social aspects of MMO’s can be fun but they can also be draining, sometimes making us gamers lose sight of what’s really important in life

Are MMO’s evil? Heck no! Just realize you’re playing on a slippery slope.

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 3

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To MMO or Not.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 3. Know thine Commitment Required…

Casual Player Friendly” is a buzzword in the online gaming world at the moment. What it means is, the developers want to make online games just as accessible to those players who can only manage a couple of hours a week versus the hardcore “who needs a social life?” players and gold farmers. Unfortunately, as most MMO’s now stand, soloing isn’t very viable for long. Sure all MMO’s start out easy enough but they are designed to require group play before you can access the higher tiered areas, dungeons and epic items. Designers implement this to help build a lasting social experience (and keep their customers paying the monthly fee) but it also means you must rely on others if you really want to advance.

I can remember more than once in Everquest 2 having my paladin spam for an hour, “LFG, PALLY, HEALER!” to finally fall into a half-baked PUG (pick up group) that fell apart the minute a member’s mother called them to dinner.

Of course one can join a guild to avoid these kinds of problems, but then again you have to deal with personalities, and often petty rule sets that have little to do with actual game play. I recall, in WOW, running Molten Core ten times with a guild as a “probationary member.” I was of course allowed to take part in killing the awful beasties (and dying several times in the process) but rolling on items was a right that only went to “Senior members.” I believe becoming said “Senior member” meant you had to know the guild leader, “Chuck,” and spot him for pizza and beer at least twice.

Not all guilds are that elitist but most of the well equipped ones have some kind of lame hierarchy that you must agree to. In addition, these guilds maintain fairly intensive “raiding schedules” that are considered mandatory and will eat up your social life. Your best bet is to find some real life friends and start your own guild with your own timelines for doing dungeons.

Continue to Commandment 4

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 2

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To MMO or Not

.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 2. Know thine Cost…

Sure $15 a month (the usual price) doesn’t sound too bad, but if you’re going to stick with the game for any period of time and be fairly successful at it, the cost adds up. If you’re spending $15 a month for 12 months, that comes to $180 per year. That’s not counting the initial cost of the client software (anywhere from $20-$60). Of course if you can afford this continual pay cycle then go for it, but if I were to put my favorite single player video game of all time (Thief: Gold) next to the most popular MMORPG on the market right now (World of Warcraft) the difference would be immense. Here is the cost breakdown:.

Games Initial Cost YEARLY COST after initial purchase EXPANSIONS COST TOTAL COST after 3 years
Thief: Gold $39.95 $0.00 Fan missions and expansions are FREE. Still only the initial $39.95 and it’s still fun!
World of Warcraft $19.99 12 months @ $15/month = $180 $40.00 $600.00! (That’s right! All those monthlies add up…and it doesn’t count future expansion costs).

I’m not trying to say MMO’s are a waste of money, but they’re not exactly a cheap ticket either.

Continue to Commandment 3

To MMORPG Or Not To MMORPG, That Is The Question: Commandment 1

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To MMO or Not

Saying you’re thinking about trying out a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) is akin to saying, “I think I’ll start a crack addiction today.” Well, maybe its not all that bad. Certainly the media has overblown the woes of ex-Everquesters and WOW (World of Warcraft) fanatics who flushed their jobs or marriages down the toilet for more “raid time,” but there are a few things to consider before getting knee deep in all the virtual hack ‘n slash fun.

Being an ex-WOW addict, an ex-Everquest 2 addict, an ex-Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) addict, and a casual user of a myriad of other MMORPG’s has instilled in me certain commandments that should always be followed before shelling out that monthly fee…

.: The MMORPG Commandments :.

Commandment 1. Know Thy Parent Company and Its Track Record…

I don’t care how flashy the graphics are, or how much “phat lootz” may be attainable, if you don’t read up on the company that is producing the MMO, you are doing yourself a major disservice. Case and point: Star Wars Galaxies.

What started out as a wonderful rock solid “sandbox” type MMO became an uber turd fest within three years of its initial launch. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) realized it couldn’t support the innovative character classes, and instead of doing something logical (like hiring more designers and developers) they simply ditched half of their professions. Instead of listening to the growing tide of criticisms for this move on their official message boards they deleted and locked posts. As expansion packs were added, more and more bugs crept into the basic game play, many of which are still unresolved, and then right after their last major expansion, The Trials of Obi-Wan, they reworked the entire combat system and nerfed the remaining classes. These nerfs were given official names like “Combat Upgrade” and “New Game Enhancements.” When asked about these changes, Jon Smedley (henceforth known as Satan) simply replied, “We went for more iconic and Star-Warsy game play and characters.” Nowadays SWG is a wasteland only occasionally frequented by level 1 Jedis and retarded Wookies.

I’m not saying SOE is the worst online gaming company in the world but their less than stellar customer service and short term vision for games (i.e. little to no work being done on any IP except Everquest) has lost them many a customer. Reading up on the forums can save you a headache later on. Try, for fairly unbiased reviews.

Continue to Commandment 2