RIFT Impressions 1.1

Standard

"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.

Confessions of an MMO Tourist: Cataclysm Edition

Standard


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!

Searchlight – 5/3/10

Standard

.: Top Searches for 5/3/10 :.

1. dungeon hunter ending – Dungeon Hunter was a great time waster. My biggest complaint was that the inventory system seemed needlessly complicated. Otherwise, the ending was satisfying for what little story there was.

2. cozyquest itunes – CozyQuest will forever be a dream unrealized by its creator. Deal with it.

3. auction house external site warcraft – While this feature has yet to be launched, I’m at least interested to see how popular this feature will turn out to be. Will work as we know it be forever altered? Probably not.

4. character slots on asherons call –  One (1)

5. guild wars 2 blog – here

Celestial Dreams

Standard

Dreams do come true, in World of Warcraft, thanks to the recent addition of the Celestial Steed flying mount.  Celestial Steed? A new flying mount? Your probably asking what I did to obtain such a elusive piece of the heavens. Well, I can tell you that I did not:

  • Complete an epic quest
  • Slay a 1000 Murlocs
  • Or, visit the Galactic Temple high above Darkshore (surely you’ve been there!)

No, dear readers,  I simply paid $25 for this amazing downloadable addition — I love you Blizzard! –. I honestly think that the starry night sky shines brighter; that the very heavens gleam in approval of my new epic flying mount. Eat your heart out haters!

My horse from the Twisting Nether, Josie.

Still there? Good. I have a confession to make, I really didn’t spend $25 on a virtual horse. Why? Well…

  • $25 is almost as much as paying for a 2 month subscription.
  • You could buy 2 1/2 Pandaren Monks for the price of one girly-looking horse named Sparkle Fairy.

While I understand the want/need for downloadable content (money!), I just cannot bring myself to spend $25 for a virtual horse. For those of you who have, shame on you! You are supporting a practice that developers do not need to get used to. So quit it! NOW! You don’t need Sparkle Fairy. At all. So move along. NOW!

Cold Nostalgia

Standard

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.

Bridging the Gap

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard


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?

Standard

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.

Dungeon Found

Standard

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!

Standard

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).

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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

World of Warcraft Armory

Standard

WoWArmory

Press Start:

Another late night in the lands of Azeroth has left you bleary eyed at work. Time seems to have come to a stand still, much like your morning commute had earlier. The caffeine that had once enabled you to drive to work has long since left your system. Just six more hours until you can go home, sleep, and repeat this cycle for another day. Trying to stay awake, you distract yourself from the mindless tasks at hand by logging into the World of Warcraft Mobile Armory (link will open iTunes) on your iPhone/ iPod Touch. A few quests away from hitting your characters next level, you sit there and calculate talents, peruse future item purchases, and check your guilds calendar to see what the raid schedule is for this week.

World of Warcraft Armory

Ideology/ Worldview:

All your base are belong to us. Translation: Look your already giving us $15 a month to play our game, why not spend some more time (for free of course) in it?

Mobile Talen Calculator

Interaction/ Gameplay:

Nothing fun here…move along.

Calendar

In the End:

The World of Warcraft Mobile Armory is a well refined reference tool for those seeking to study talent, armor, and character upgrades. Being that it is free, I do not see any reason why someone wouldn’t download this app.

 

Highly polished but lacking elements that expand the World of Warcraft experience (access to the Auction House, etc.).

– Level of Impact –

Low: Little to no impact unless your in love with World of Warcraft. 🙂