MMO expansions

Kaylriene and Wilhelm and Bhagpuss wrote about expansions and I wanted to comment on the weekend and forgot. Then I typed a response to Bhagpuss and because it reached epic dimensions (for an answer) I decided to put it here instead.
Hm, I’ve long thought about this topic over the years and I don’t have a definitive opinion.
Back when I was playing WoW as my main (only one with real invested time) I was kinda looking forward to the expansions, but often already a bit wary because they would always change something for the worse. But ok, this could also happen in a major patch, or the new raid tier could be not as fun as the last one – I was hardly ever so fully progressed that I had seen and beaten all the content. I always had the goal to play all alts to max level, etc. (That’s an especially big one.)
But then I started playing other MMOs and I’m not really sure so much changed for me. Sure, I’m coming back to WoW only to check out the latest expansion (since 2014…) and haven’t stayed longer than 3 months since, but still. To me it always feels a little “moving the goal posts” and before I reach the goals I set for myself.. there’s a new expansion and the cycle begins. I am in no way teased by new shinies and I always hated the gear grind (apart from making the stuff I couldn’t do a little easier over time) – but just getting new stuff is zero motivation to me. I wanted to beat the bosses and gear was a means to an end. So in this regard I hated every new raid tier and especially every new expansion where it was: level, attune, farm reps, get gear, etc.pp.
Now I was *really* happy in SWTOR because I came later and could catch up with gear, but then with the latest patch you can get newer and better gear – this has killed every urge to log in recently (but ok, I’ve also wanted to play more WoW and FFXIV…) But yeah, those people having played SWTOR for years have really deserved some new stuff, so it’s ok, really. It just killed some major incentive for me to log in and catch up, that’s life – I did reach a lot of those goals in SWTOR I set myself. And without goals and achievements those games are quite a lot less fun for me.
Also I was always really happy when WoW was near the end of a patch cycle and I ran out of things to do, because then I had time to play other games for a month or three before the next expansion hits. Maybe I *am* a tad overenthusiastic about my main MMO – I don’t play it casually. I sink in every spare minute if there is stuff to do.
So… quite a bunch of words to go rambling in a totally wrong direction, given the three linked blog posts. Sure there are better and worse expansions, but my main problem is the cadence when they are hitting and if they are changing too much stuff. I wouldn’t be playing the game in the first place if it had a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed. Everything should always stay the same, get off my lawn, kids.
PS: Ranking of WoW expansions how I enjoyed them, for no particular reason: TBC > WotLK > MoP > Legion = Cata ~= BfA > WoD. Bit unsure yet where BfA stands.
 
Small update 2019-02-19: Telwyn also chimed in. Also a thing I totally missed talking about: “Vertical progression” expansions that are not moving the goal post (as I defined it), like in Guild Wars 2 or (apparently) EverQuest. I only experienced this in GW2 and I kinda liked it! I do love leveling, but it’s usually the first step in doing anything and a huge motivator, but sometimes not having to update the gear (that’s the step I hate the most) can be awesome. So I guess an expansion that does not increase the level cap once in a while can be a good idea.

Random gaming bits

I’ve not been home for a few days and thus didn’t have a lot of (or any, really) gaming time planned. But having a laptop with me and a stable, fast internet connection at the hotel for once I actually could download and play a little.
Monaco – it looks cool but again I stopped after the first tutorial mission, sneaking around top down doesn’t appeal to me at all it seems.
Templar Battleforce – again I gave it a second try but again it didn’t click.
Kingdom Classic – this is a weird game. The soundtrack is awesome but I gave up after two tries. The gameplay is innovative but annoying for me. Read up a guide and of course I had done most things wrong, making it less interesting.
Shadowrun Returns – as I loved the game back then I downloaded it again and grabbed a new story (Silver Angel, Seattle 2050) from the workshop. Played a good 2h. The music and art style are so cool.

Christmas shenanigans

Did I already rant how I hate December and all the stress about Christmas? Probably not here (at least this year) but it’s real. I stopped playing Destiny 2, I still haven’t resubbed to WoW.
Torchlight 2 was on sale the last days, so I finally bought it after some nudging. It’s fun, although I didn’t play a lot yet. The only game I was playing a little was SWTOR – but I’ll have a separate post for that, maybe sooner. At least now the real part of my vacation time starts, all the Christmas stuff is over now.

Autumn Gaming Goals

I saw quite a few people just continuing to post like nothing had happened (it’s ok, you can take a break now), and there quite a few gaming goals posts.
I don’t usually do these, but right now I have some stuff planned. But these are not really hard goals, more like “this is what I originally wanted to do when I fell into an SWTOR-shaped hole” – there will absolutely no “I managed to do X out of Y”, my conscience is clear 🙂

  • SWTOR
    • Already posted here – mostly achievements and a few Levels
    • Do I want to join a guild? Maybe. Would be cool to not play solo, but… Republic or Empire? What is my main? Do I want to raid?
  • WoW
    • My plan is to buy BfA and subscribe in the first or second week of October, because I won’t have time to play before that
    • If I do it, will I try to rejoin my Alliance guild as I did in Legion, only to go back to my Horde main characters soon?
    • If I start with Horde, do I stay with my kinda dead guild of maybe 5-6 active ones or do I search for a new one? Will I be disappointed like last time?
  • Dead Cells
    • I really should pick it up again, it’s fun – but it’s hard. Maybe I should really try to get a 360 controller going and Just. Do. It.
  • Game Boy Advance
    • Maybe I should pick this up again, maybe finish Pokémon?
  • GW2
    • I should really play again, shouldn’t I? Maybe if SWTOR loses its pull and I don’t end up subscribing to WoW.
  • TESO
    • Same thing, but it just didn’t really convince me, which is a shame
  • Quake Champions
    • Yeah, I feel really guilty here – it’s fun, I should play more!
  • Cities: Skylines
    • Bought this in August 2017 but I haven’t felt like playing this kind of sim/building game

 
But there’s also stuff I’d like to try, but for that I’d have to buy it first, so it’s out for now.

  • Nintendo Switch
    • I’d really like to try one with one or two games. Maybe Zelda, Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart, Dead Cells… but why bother, I have a 360 I’m ignoring.
  • FFXIV
    • This is the only MMO right now where I’m like “I want to try this, but I have no time!” – I really have enough MMOs available
  • Graveyard Keeper
    • As SynCaine put it, “Graveyard isn’t perfect […], but in terms of pacing and how it affects your enjoyment, its an improvement over Stardaw Valley IMO”

Gear as character progression

Telwyn wrote about gearing, and gear as character progression in WoW in detail. I wanted to comment, but this was one of those “loo long for a comment” posts very soon..
I don’t want to say I have a strong opinion on the topic, but maybe I have several, mixed, not-so-light opinions 😉
Just relying on drop luck sucks, it’s what I’ve always hated in raids in Vanilla and TBC, thus I found DKP a lot better. Show up more, get more loot. I also didn’t like Loot Council (oh, the raid leader’s favorite people get their best in slot items, but the people who show up 90% don’t get anything, and the slackers get showered in loot so they catch up…), but let’s leave those organized multiplayer loot systems behind and just talk about “gearing” in general.
If my toon has no means of getting gear outside personal loot drops and tokens.. I prefer a mixed system. I don’t remember seeing a full-on “there are only tokens” system, you always get a modicum of gear to drop and then collect some kind of tokens or points and can buy stuff for your missing slots, hopefully one per week, or at least more than one every 2 months (hello WoW, looking at you). I don’t want to feel pushed to run a heroic dungeon every single day to not lag behind, but ok, 1h investment per day can still be considered fine for a raider – bonus points if there’s a weekly cap and not a daily one.
This had worked kinda fine in past expansions, I bought some items for Heroic tokens, sometimes even the odd PvP piece (Was that Bracers/Belt in TBC? :P). What I absolutely hate the most was this “oh I bought it yesterday and now something of the same quality or better drops after I had saved up 2 weeks for that piece. Just let me at least sell it back for half the value or get rid of random drops altogether. This makes me literally furious, much more than not getting the item (or its too-quick replacement) at all.
Legion changed all that – at least for the Weapon slot. For the first few toons (and specs) I kinda liked it. One less thing to care about upgrading, or let’s say – there’s no real alternative, it’s just a nice, quick progression. On the other hand.. there’s no catch-up mechanic (IIRC there came one, a lot later, but if you -like me- don’t spend the first 6 months on your main, but play some alts, the catch-up mechanic was kinda meh. I had already invested a ton of time into my alts’ artifact weapons). But in general I really liked it. No more “should I really upgrade this to X when tomorrow something with X+1 might drop for me?” I can get carried away real quickly in pondering about weapon upgrades. As an aside, I’ve always hated the PvP gear grind. My suggestion had been for years: Let everyone buy a set for 100g/1000g or something equally low (free is fine as well) and then it’s 100% a skill game, and has nothing to do with gear anymore. Not sure if they ever implemented that to the fullest, but by that time I had (and still have) burned out on WoW PvP for a long, long time. (I was Rank 11 in vanilla and didn’t too to bad in TBC arenas, then I stopped).
Now, I haven’t played BfA, but so far it sounds ok-ish. But I’m not sure I wouldn’t have preferred to keep the weapon approach (but transmoggable, and maybe not one per spec, but 1 per class). Sure it’s boring, but it’s nice and handy.
This Azerite artifact? amulet? seems to be some kind of proxy to your /played and meaningful earning of a certain currency, so the longer you play (regarding contributing activities ingame) the more your power grows, just like with the weapon, but it’s more customizable, as it’s a different tier that’s not tied to a certain slot. I don’t really see this as very different, but I guess I’d have to play to comment, really.
Oh, and all this talk was now just about the mode of character progression via gear, there are some totally different models, which all have something going for them:

  • I like SWTOR’s datacrons – you unlock them account wide and every single one gives you a little boost, but I haven’t run the numbers how many of them bump you like 1 Tier of gear, if at all
  • I like EVE’s training mechanic a lot. If I am “actively playing” that month (in the monthly active user metric *cough*) I get to level something – I don’t have to be playing 24/7. This had the downside of never being able to catch up, but as total noob I’d say that after N years (N might be 3 or 7 or more) you won’t get better for a certain amount of ships, you can only really go broader, not deeper. Also there were skill injectors, which fixed this problem to a degree but brought others. Wilhelm had a good post about it lately. And yes, this is pay-to-win on a very basic scale. On the other hand, I once forgot to cancel a 3-month sub for EVE and while in any other MMO I would’ve felt regret, in EVE it was “ah well, time to queue up some of the nasty long skills, while I’m not actively playing”.

PS: Blaugust has started and this is my twenty-eighth post; and even after all these years, “eighth” is one of the hardest words of the English language for me.
PPS: Something I’ve noticed this Blaugust: the more I post, the more likely I am to reference one of Wilhelm’s posts. This time it’s even two – because between me reading Telwyn’s post and posting this, he wrote something on the topic as well. Gladly I’m not that philosophic and don’t even get started on the reasoning if gearing and character progression makes sense, I’m absolutely happy to just voice an opinion 🙂

Mixing Up The Gaming Diet

I might have mentioned it once or twice, but I’m really bad at mixing up my gaming diet. If you didn’t just stumble over here, you’ll notice I’ve been posting about SW:TOR for weeks.
There’s stuff I really want to try, or get back to, though:

  • WoW’s Battle For Azeroth expansion. I’m curious, I want to see the new stuff. Downside: might be sucked into a hole again.
  • FFXIV: I’ve read SO many good things about it, one of them is that I can play a single character and don’t have to create an army of alts
  • GW2: I’m still logging in nearly every day for the free gift, but I want to play again
  • So much for the MMOs, I surely missed some, but there’s also Quake Champions which is really fun… but it’s not the space fantasy opera MMO that I need right now
  • Dead Cells is awesome, but I saw no progress, so I kinda stopped.
  • EVE Online is something that was really fun, but I kinda didn’t want to commit to hours at a time for an op or mission running…
  • Project Highrise

PS: Blaugust has started and this is my twenty-sixth post if scheduling still works.

What Class Do You Refuse To Play?

Ocean Mariee asked an interesting question, Endalia chimed in and this topic got me thinking.
In Ragnarok Online I started with a Hunter, I liked it, but my preferred character was a Rogue. I also liked the other Melee DPS and didn’t really enjoy the casters.
When I started WoW I first rolled a Warlock, but after a few hours went for a Rogue again – who turned out to be my main from 2006 until 2014 and I didn’t really abandon him, I just tried another faction in Legion at first (Demon Hunter). My “main alts” were a Protection/DPS Warrior and a Resto/DPS Shaman. So I raided 90% as a Melee DPS (over the years) but I did heal a few progression fights and tanked in our non-main raids for years. So there’s not much I refused to play – but I absolutely did not enjoy the Monk – and I don’t know why. It’s my least favourite WoW class by a large margin, followed by DK and then Holy Priest and Fire Mage I guess. I liked Frost Mages and Disc Priests.
In GW2 I didn’t really enjoy the Elementalist when I tried it (for a very short time) and I haven’t really warmed up to the Revenant. The Mesmer is ok, but also not my favourite.
Now in SWTOR I equally like my Bounty Hunter, Commando, Sage and Juggernaut – but I only healed back at launch when I was briefly raiding, everything else is DPS – but I did notice I like ranged DPS a lot more in this game than in WoW. Of course sometimes it’s just magnitudes easier to not stand in the bad etc.pp (Melee DPS raider speaking, feel free to ignore me ;))
So is there a role I refuse to play? I used to tank and heal *a lot* but at some point I guess I decided to not be in the mood for random people in dungeons to be cursing just because I pull too slow or can’t heal them when they pull a whole room – I’ve never been one for the gear grind, so my toons in dungeons are usually a little undergeared, as I’m only doing them for gear and not for some “NEED TO FARM BADGES FOR 0.5% IMPROVEMENT IN MY TRINKET SLOT”. Yeah, so the last few years I was one of the people just doing moderate DPS – always trying not to be the worst, but usually not carrying the group, sorry other players.
If I get back into WoW I’ll really try to have at least one tank or healer geared as well and not do only DPS. IIRC I actually did tank on my Demon Hunter, just not the harder Mythics – I stopped too early in the expansion for that. I’m not doing any random dungeons in SWTOR right now anyway.
Did I forget any MMOs? I guess not. So I definitely refuse to change my main just because the group needs it, the benefit of mostly soloing or duoing these days. I guess it depends a lot on the game, in WoW I prefer Melee DPS over casters, in SWTOR I prefer casters over Melee or close-range DPS. In GW2 Melee DPS is fine, but for some fights ranged is like literally half as challenging. *cough* Tequatl *cough*
Oh, and I managed to get 70 on my Operative by finishing Yavin 4, Ziost, doing the Ziost and CZ-198 dailies. Good riddance, you’re now rewarded of being my GTN mule for Weapons to sell, I don’t plan on playing you for a while.

Level 70 Imperial Agent

 
Stay sharp, Evil Elvis
Stay sharp, Evil Elvis

PS: Blaugust has started and this is my twenty-second post.

Developer Appreciation Week Part 2

The Blaugust weekly structured format post is “Developer Appreciation Week” and I already made a post about that topic and mentioned an upcoming rant.
A big problem in the game industry is working too much and not being paid enough (and gamers being idiots), so I’ve decided very early on that I don’t want to work in games. I wish the industry was better for the people working there and I’m not upset if a game comes a year late, I’d prefer that to the poor souls working 80h weeks. But sure, I could do more – and maybe buy more games full price at launch, but if you scroll past my posts over the last few years you will notice I’m not really playing many games. I’d go as far as to say that I’m not the target demographic. I play a few games heavily, I even did that before MMOs were a thing. I’m also happy to pay a monthly subscription – but that’s a bit winner-takes-it-all, I’m then not buying other games for a while.
So I’d really appreciate if if game companies of a certain size would pay their developers enough money and most importantly stop the soul crushing crunch time.
This customer who buys your games (sample size: 1) usually doesn’t mind if anything gets delayed, as long as you keep the status quo of the game running. And if it’s not coming out yet.. maybe you shouldn’t have announced it a year early? How about announcing it and then capturing the hype from announcement until launch a few months later. Why would I care how I felt about your game last year? For indies it’s a bit different. If they’re a single person or duo or three people who do kind of bootstrap a startup as equals (and not abuse their employees)… sure that’s hard, but they chose this. They have all my support to do what they love, they just don’t get to whine about the world being a tough place. Feel free to see me as not eligible to comment if I may bot buy your game – but if I like it, I may buy it, but I’m not a games hoarder, I don’t even buy all the games I’m instantly excited about.
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my twenty-first post.

Developer Appreciation Week Part 1

The Blaugust weekly structured format post is “Developer Appreciation Week” and I do remember when Belghast first posted on that topic, years ago. And I applaud him for bringing that topic up.
That said, I drafted up a mega-rant on that topic yesterday, but I need to refine it, so here’s a list of things I really appreciate:

  • configurable key binding – I grew up with WASD and it just works[tm]
  • fullscreen windowed mode – I have Discord and IRC and whatever open. I like your game, but I’m really sorry, but I cannot use it exclusively, I must alt-tab.
  • for MMOs, an API like Blizzard’s battle.net API/Armory. I wanted to launch something with a lot of features like the well-known WoW sites for SWTOR back at launch, had a domain and everything – but they never let me access my characters’ data 🙁 Ragnarok Online’s euRO server also did this, it was glorious.
  • fix bugs instead of creating new content. I might be in the minority here, but I know how hard some bugs are to find, reproduce, and fix. You won’t hear me complaining about lack of new stuff in patch notes, but you’ll definitely hear me cheering if a bug I hit was fixed

Then again, these things are kinda the norm, so am I just ranting when they’re missing because I’m expecting them? OK, the first two are kinda standard but the third one is so rare I’d be really grateful!
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my sixteenth post.

MMOs and focus

Every time I read about people who can play (and enjoy) multiple MMOs at the same time (I’m mostly thinking of Syp, but there are others) I’m astonished. Whenever I tried to pay for 2 subs at the same time (and yes, that small amount of money is still a real argument for me, in the sense of “I’m paying this monthly sub, I better be playing that game”) I might hold up for a week of alternating, but at some point I’ll highly gravitate towards one of the games and use up 99% of my gaming time in that week or month or that game – I just can’t seem to focus on more than one. The only exception might be EVE Online, where it’s feasible to pay for offline training and only actively play a few hours per month, but I’m more thinking of traditional MMOs here. I’m mostly ok with that, but if I knew it would work for me, I’d be joining WoW’s BfA expansion now, because I’m kinda nosy. But I’m having a blast in SW:TOR and I still have Dead Cells and Quake Champions here, and I’m already neglecting those 2.
PS: Blaugust has started and this is my fourteenth post.