A Return to the Frosty Lands of Midgard

After trying the ArcheAge beta for a few days I decided that I had no intention of dropping $50 or more on a founder’s pack for that game, I would rather wait until it fully launches in a few days and play for free, even if  that means not having first crack at the best land or whatever benefits come with the head start to the game.

I based my decision on the fact that this game, at least in the early levels reminded me a lot of SWTOR, mostly due to the voiced quest givers and story driven content, but I get bored of that so easily, but I will return to the game and go past level 30 to experience the higher level content.

I was playing wow and enjoying pvp b.g.s, trying to get my hunter to level 15 so I can do dungeons, when I saw on Sophie Breca’s channel that she had done Dark Age videos with info on the Broadsword patches to the frontiers and it made me reminisce about the game that I decided to resub on the spot, after all with newer mmorpgs on the horizon, you never know how long we will have these classic worlds to roam in.

So from now on, I will pick a classic game and a new game to play on a monthly basis. For september it will be Dark Age and ArcheAge. The above video of returning and modern mmo gamer monkeys experiencing this classic game made me even more nostalgic and I hope to be documenting my progress with my midgard toon for days to come.

I hope all you gamer monkeys come along for the ride, even better, roll a toon in ywain and join me in Midgard!

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ArcheAge beta musings day 3

ArcheAge character in beta

Well after two days in the ArcheAge beta I can honestly give my opinions on the overall gameplay, whatever that’s worth to any of you gamer monkeys at this point.

After spending close to six hours on and off in the game and rolling two characters, I was pretty weary of the pve grind. Yes, the game is smooth and looks very pretty using that Cryengine 3 engine but overall, once you get past the excitement of character creation and the thrill of sharing a vast open world with all of those new players, it’s a pretty long grind until you can do anything cool like pvp or naval battles, or housing. I could be wrong but it seems the great stuff comes in the later levels, which may be true for most games, but I just don’t think I have the patience for another grind heavy game.

There are pvp zones on the map, but I am not sure they can all be accessed by newbies.

RIFT for example, that’s a similar styled game but the difference is warfronts and the rifts in the open world actually made for some relief from the drudgery of pve questing. In a game like wow, you only need to gain a few levels before Warsong Gulch opens up to you, granted you may be too low level to make any impact in your bracket, but at least you can work your way to gear up and enjoy this facet of the game.

Maybe Dark Age of Camelot ruined me for other games with their RvR and b.g.s but this game doesn’t have anything close to that system, at least not thus far. In DAoC for example, you can do quests and explore the world and get into some really neat instances, but ArcheAge, though more advanced graphically is not nearly as fun because it feels too linear on the PvE. In fact, for a game that advertises itself as a sandbox mmo, the sandbox elements, at least in the lower levels, are few and far between.

Take another mmo I love: Dungeons and Dragons Online. Now granted, Turbine’s game is pretty unique ad it is mostly instanced and designed for group play and not for solo playing, but that’s a game which though not as graphically advanced as AA, allows for smooth grouping and which is always a blast to play for someone who loves to group. For a pvp guy like me, even the fact that pvp is notable absent in DDO is not an issue, given the fact that is not the focus of either D&D or DDO by extension.

A.A. gives a player what most mmos like wow give them, satisfaction with easy leveling, while a game like DDO only has 20 or 30 main levels, but there are ranks so it’s really a longer leveling experience, but holistically a more rewarding experience, especially to those who played the 3.5 ruleset in which the game is loosely based upon.

I did join a low level “raid” of sorts but it was mostly boring with other players one shooting the mobs. I think I would be happier with a game that looks as good as AA and which has interesting and fun instances like DDO and DAoC. Sadly, that game doesn’t seem to exist yet.



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ArcheAge beta musings Day 2

ArcheAge game screenshot

The ArcheAge beta rages on. I finally downloaded all 19 gigs of the game and logged on for the first time to try it out yesterday. I have to say that it was very cool to see so many gamers giving it a whirl and Trion has done a good job of putting together an expansive, engaging and immersive world in my opinion.

I decided to roll my Nuian on the Aranzeb East U.S. server. It really does not matter what race, class, faction or even server you pick at this point in time because after the beta the servers will be wiped for the headstart on Sept. 12 so I decided to just have fun, explore and try out various classes.

After only a few hours of game play I had already leveled up to General rank (level 6 or thereabouts) and had found myself a nice mount. I think the devs have done a superb job of making a sandbox game, although there are still the familiar elements of the traditional themebox mmorpg. Questing still follows the conventions of yellow question mark NPCS and there is a linear progression through the newbie zones and beyond.

I managed to rack up close to 300 labor points, then I left for work. After I got back, I was less enthusiastic about being in the game because the population had dwindled quite a bit (natural considering it was later in the day) but I find that unless I am in a group, my interest in this game, as pretty as it looks, just isn’t 100 percent there.

I know there is still a lot to do and explore however, so I won’t pass final judgement or even make a final decision about buying into the head start, until I join a guild or try out crafting and some of the other features offered in the game.

Xannziee from 7 Days a week reports similar findings of exploration.

Other gamers and bloggers seem to be split between this game, Wildstar and ESO and other games.

Those interested in joining a guild should check out our companion blog where I am detailing the various guilds currently recruiting in all the game’s server before launch. Also, Etaew who does such a fantastic job of updating on DAoC has a great development tracker on the site. Then there is this from Junkies Nation.

I have also been playing DDO, wow, Age of Conan and Neverwinter, though the last one less and less because I find myself bored when I can’t queue into pvp arenas, so it remains to be seen whether ArcheAge will trump them all. For now I am having fun testing things out in beta if you see me in game holler at your man (hordemaster!)

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With ArcheAge on the horizon I look at wow nerfs and DAoC updates

Dark Age of Camelot b.g.

Ye ole battlegrounds on venerable mmo Dark Age of Camelot

While Trion announced that ArcheAge is being released on Sept. 16, the open beta begins tomorrow and I am highly tempted to become a sponsor to begin testing it out early, albeit after all the early beta events. Just not sure I want to dump $50 into an untested game, no matter how high the hype is as I have been burned before with trial runs. However, I have not really played a game from beta since the start and the idea is appealing, especially since I have been looking for an alternative to my D&D games as many of you gamer monkeys already know.

I did roll a new hunter toon on wow because the expansion is only a few months out and I though starting out with a new orc character from level 1 might be fun. Things sure have changed since I last visited Durotar though including these disturbing wow nerfs:

Scorpions and other mobs in Durortar in the valley of the trials (horde starting area for orcs) no longer aggro, at least  not in the early quests, and neither do the vile familiars outside of the Burning Blade Coven.

I remember when they used to gang up on you but now that leveling is not the primary part of the game, raiding has become the focus,  so end game is what most players log on to do. I wonder why we need to level at all?

Oh yea, with Warlords, I guess you won’t have to if you don’t want to since you can start a character at level 90.

Just about all the mobs are nerfed and it doesn’t take much to kill them!

If I remember correctly, I read on mmo champion a while back that hunters don’t run out of ammo like they once did.

when I was a wow n00b around 2008-09 I can’t remember how many times I died starting out, but today I was able to level 10 levels without even tasting death once!

if you are in a cave or instance like the Burning Blade coven, in case you are too dense to find the mini boss by yourself, there is a skull on the map which marks your target,,,how lazy can we be? Wow leads you by the hand and is so by the numbers, you feel like you are on autopilot going through the linear quest lines. Yet, I go back because it is so familiar to me and because I like the lore in the game.

At least in DAoC Pve, the mobs will still attack you if you get close, and the color con system ensures that if you want a challenge, you can attack a higher level monster. In wow, there is no con system, all the mobs are there for window dressing and as quest fodder.

Speaking of DAoC, a lot of changes occured in that game when Braodsword Studios took the game over from Mythic. Some of the more significant include:

Damn I miss Dark Age of Camelot, I may have to resub and roll a toon on Gaheris.

Posted in ArcheAge, Dark Age of Camelot, world of warcraft | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’ve Got ArcheAge Envy

archeage mmorpg character designs

I have come to the realization that I need a new mmorpg to play. While I have been dabbling with both Neverwinter and DDO concurrently since the summer started, and since the new D&D 5th edition RPG was rolled out from Wizards of the Coast this summer, something feels off and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it until now: I need that feeling that comes with the fun and excitement of playing a new game.

Yet, I have been both wishy washy about which current mmorpg I should settle in as my third option besides my D&D mmos and more and more I have been wanting to play Trion’s ArcheAge, a desire reinforced by some friends that are regularly playing and blogging about it.

The blogosphere has been relentless covering ArcheAge since beta events first rolled out and I even got a free key for last weekend’s 5th event, but it was too late to participate.

Mike from Casual Aggro opined that the game doesn’t actually need testing since it’s already been released in Japan for the past year, and Korea for the past year and a half, but rather than concur, I realized this is the way mmorpg development and marketing is rolled out nowadays: build word of mouth for a game, then release it on a closed “beta” and let people slowly try it before rolling it out en masse. Sony is doing the same for EQNext with Landmark.

The Healing the Masses blog had an interesting perspective on ArcheAge, advocating trying out new elements in gaming vs. the tried and true and the status quo. “Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you want but at least it will be a new experience and something more than the repetition of the familiar and predictable.” said the author of this post. 

I am inclined to agree, even though we all find different elements of gaming to enjoy in the various fantasy milieus we inhabit, if we get stuck in a rut, it can be hard to try out new elements or to think that something different may be for us.

Inventory full was not impressed with early forays into the game saying  “It’s definitely not any kind of sandbox, the questing is meh and I don’t think I’ll be staying there long.” It remains to be seen whether I share in the evaluation of this hyped sandbox game.

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Can Wow’s next expansion save an entire industry?

wow expansion art warlords of Draenor

As detailed on many a mmo news site, yesterday Blizzard revealed the release date for the next wow expansion Warlords of Draenor. The title drops on Nov. 13 of this year. As my summer internship is coming to a close soon, I may find myself with a lot of time in the next few weeks for playing some games, at least until the end of summer.

I have not been playing wow recently because my blood elf got caught in sort of a loop in his latest quest and I have been too lazy to get him out of it, so he is stuck at level 8 just shy of being eligible for pvp.

The question that has been bounced around all over the web is will this new expansion rekindle an interest in players to revisit the World of Warcraft? It seem sort of silly to bemoan the state of one of the single biggest games in its genre, a game which still brings a lot of revenue for Activision/Blizzard, but the truth is that wow has to compete with new games like ESO and Wildstar and it relies on the game’s lore and some hard core players to do so. Still articles like this one are representative of the gaming industry’s curiosity over the future of both wow and the mmorpg genre.

While blogs like Alt:ernative Chat are all about wow and posted this informative post about changes in the game coming in the expansion, most mmoprg bloggers out there are either too disappointed with wow to care about the next xpac, or too immersed with their own mmo realities to notice.

Those that did like the Ancient, for example, have posted interesting thoughts of late, like the ancient’s recent allusions to altholism rules.  Mr and Mrs. Wow have the rundown on the anniversary event. I didn’t even know there was one planned but I should have guessed if DAoC would have one that wow (a much bigger title in terms of subs) would also have one in the works.

The thing is, if I was someone looking to invest in developing a mmorpg or even running a website or project, I would be concerned not just with the state of wow (steady but dropped a number of subs) but with the lackadaisical state of the entire genre.

As proof I give you this chart from google trends:

mmorpg popularity chart by google

It clearly shows that mmorpgs peaked in interest or popularity (or at least Google searches dealing with the genre) right around 5 years ago, which is coincidentally when I started playing and looking at blogs, and have been pummeling ever since. Contrast this with MOBAS:

moba popularity chart by google

This is a striking difference and a reason why LOL seems to have overtaken wow as the most popular online game. Is there any way we can reverse the trend? What are some factors which have led to this noticeable decrease and is it too late to do something about it? Will Warlods of Draenor not only “save” wow, but invigorate an entire genre? Only time will tell.

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Running around Telara with Xannziee

game characters dancing in the RIFT

Xannziee from 7 Days a Week and I have have been exploring RIFT together gamer monkeys. Well today was actually our first outing together but I believe it went well and it will be the first of many weekly adventures to come which will be chronicled in both our blogs.

We are a couple on the Seastone shard, so if you run across us in game, do be sure to drop by and say hello. The above shot is from us dancing and having a wonderful first outing in the shard and in her dwelling in that dim.

Our plan is to level our toons together and maybe get to do some PvP after max levelling. At the moment we are enjoying each other’s company and also enjoying the levelling experience.

This experience has me thinking more about community in mmos. There is so much segmentation and fragmentation of the mmo community, almost as much as there is on social media channels, that it makes it hard to group sometimes or to play in a virtual world with a friend. However, when you do find someone who enjoys the virtual world with you as much, it can be rather fun and magical or both.

It may be worth noting, from a pure sociological level, that Xannziee and I are nine hours apart due to the time zones and therefore finding free time to play with each other has been especially challenging, though we made it work.

It used to be a lot easier to group on WoW, but now all you get is affirmation of your role or if you do something wrong when you are in a dungeon or on the b.g.s. This is why I enjoy DDO because DDO requires you to group with others in order to play the game and I find the ease in which you can do this (via the LFG tool) to be very satisfying.

This is why it can be so difficult for gamers to detach themselves from their alternate realities whenever an mmo world dies. This is documented in a very thought provoking and intelligent post from Contains Moderate Peril this week.

Looks like I have found the mmorpg that I can play with some friends when I am not busy soloing my Warrior for PvP in wow or slash and hacking in Neverwinter. The former I play mostly for the chance to gear and fight in b.g.s while the later I play to see if the gameplay will get more interesting past level 10.

I found that my EQ2 guild is full of level 95s, too high skilled and busy with raiding or max level content to help my lowly toon survive, that even though I get the perks of a guild hall as a member, I don’t often have too many people helping me to power level me. This is one reason I stopped playing regularly.

So for the time being, I continue to alternate my gaming time from RIFT to Wow to Neverwinter, and since Syp is doing some DDO this month, I am motivated to play with my old warforged or to play a new toon this week. Looks like it will be a fun August. Hope the rest of you are having fun too, whatever game world you inhabit gamer monkeys.

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