Follow the meme

Just thought it would be fun, and because I always like to follow the crowd, I decided to follow the meme.

First MMO Played?
WoW...back in the days when I got the 10 day trial off of PC User nd started my entire MMO craze.

First Character Class/Role Played?
A dwarf Warrior which I player to about level 15 in WoW

First MMO Subscribed For More Than A Consecutive Year?
Technically my Dad was subscribed to it but there it is...

First MMO You Fell In Love With?

WoW wasn't really a love, rather an obsession and huge fun. LotRO would probably be the one where I stopped one moment and thought 'I really love this game'

First Guild You Really Felt Attached To?
Unfortunately I have a pretty bad experience with most guilds, but I did join an epically fun guild in WAR which closed down after a few months due to lack of players.

First Character/Game You Leveled To End Cap?
LotRO, Dwarf Hunter, possibly to only level 50 Dwarf hunter in the game. It was a huge achievement for me as at that time I played very little, but managed to get there in 9 days play time, which was very quick compared to the average time for most players.

First “Wow” Moment In A MMO?
Probably in LotRO. I had a rubbish computer at the time and so could only play the game with the very lowest quality possibly, in a way this was good because I wasn't distracted by the visual candy. I remember completing some quests in the Epic book line in a great group and I was thinking 'Wow, this is the most fun I have ever had.' To this day I haven't had more fun then I did at that time.

First MMO You Burned Out On?
Probably LotRO, there wasn't enough content at the cap except for the major instance which my guild didn't run often enough.

First MMO You Followed Avidly Prior To Launch?
WAR, I had such great hopes for that game. Someday I hope to return with that same excitement.

First Time You Felt Truly Noobish In A MMO?
Lets just skip this question...

First MMO You Went Alt-Crazy In?
WoW, had four crazy twinks and about 3 other characters

The Warlords open beta

Open beta for The Warlords in out in an hour or so. Have no idea what it is but as I just received an email informing me, I must have checked it out at some point.

In to the action

What is a video game? I would describe it as a unique medium that is designed for enjoyment through interaction. Interaction is the key point here, as it is one thing which only video games can do on a level unavailable to text and film. Unless it is 'choose your own adventure' you are just along for the ride in a book and the same is true for a movie. The reason why so many people love games is that they are a way to escape reality and to do something that they cannot in real life. The problem is that games today rely so much on the surroundings, setting, and visual aspects of the game that they often neglect the story, and it is a shame. Games have huge potential with interaction in a story or in a world outside the player's own.

In MMOs this problem is particularly prevalent as nobody has yet figured out how to make it that the player can change the world they live in. Often, even if they can, it is temporary such as keep and city captures in WAR. But do we really have to change the world in which we play to achieve a level of interaction with the story? LotRO relied a lot on instance-based storytelling which gives the player a great sense of interaction in the story as they were driving it forward. The problem with this, however, is that when you come out of the instance you are left standing in the real world as if nothing had happened. However, interaction I believe doesn't mean you have to change the world, even though it certainly helps with immersion and authenticity.

Take Baldur's Gate for example; there was little in the game that you would do that changed the landscape or destroyed half a city; something permanent. The interaction was in the complex relationships within your group and NPCs in the world. People responded to you in a different way if you did a certain thing for them, or against them. The problem when transferring this concept to MMOs is the mindset of the player. Very few people read quest text anymore, most of the time they just look at the objective, or just run to the big red blotchy area. Hiding the quest objectives in the quest text would certainly help resolve this. Once again, this presents another problem. With players all of a sudden reading closely the quest text, the writers really have to step it up to make it interesting enough for the players to continue along with this more complicated quest system. Partnered with the fact that there are thousands of quests in MMOs it is going to put a lot of pressure on them.

A way to fix this would be less spammy quests, but longer quests with more objectives, quest chains and such that give a lot more experience. Thus writers can concentrate on making these quests a lot more awesome, and the player can have greater interaction and immersion while not at the expense of his/her leveling speed. Interaction is a key part of gaming so developers should try to capitalize on the fact that they have an expansive, thriving world and draw the player into it.

Choose your own incentive

What is your incentive to keep playing a game? Do you want to find out what happens at the end? Do you want to see how powerful you can get? Do you believe that the game begins at the end-game? Do you just want the shiny loot? Are all your friends there and you want to catch up so you can hang out? No matter what a MMO does, in the end you, the player, will decide for him/herself as to what they are looking forward to, and a justification to keep playing. Incentives will no doubt change over time, as you achieve new things in the game and discover new aspects, but ultimately it is you that drives the game along.

Every MMO should have content ready and waiting for the eager players to consume when they finish leveling, its a given. However what I'm finding more and more often is that the devs don't really tell you (The player) what it is you should be looking forward to until you actually hit it. Therefore you are often going to get it off the internet or from guildies who spent their lives powering to the top. Incentive is a big part of MMOs and when the devs don't give you any idea of what is to come then your only incentive then becomes to find out what is at the far end of the tunnel. That isn't right. You shouldn't be looking forward to finding out what you are going to be doing, because for that to work well then you need to be having a brilliant time leveling up, otherwise it won't sustain you.

In RoM I am losing my incentive to get to the top as I discover more and more about what is ahead of me. End-game in RoM is focused on raiding which is great, but from reports from others who have already been there and done that I'm beginning to get the idea that the end-game is just another grind. Thus my incentive to keep on playing went from looking forward to finding out what I was going to be doing, to looking forward to more grinding...

I have complained about this before but to me this is the most important aspect of an MMO. Today's MMOs have a reputation of a lot of grinding before you reach the end-game which is meant to be the most fun. So when you begin a new MMO and find out that the next few weeks is going to be mostly monotonous grinding, you need to be aware that the end-game is going to be super awesome!!! Nevertheless, I look forward to the day when MMOs have incentives to keep playing throughout the whole leveling process not just solely sitting at the end-game. (Which may not be the great in the end anyway!)
I think I better quit RoM because all my posts have turned into grinding whines. :P

Grinding: your second job except you're paying for it

Do we owe anything to game developers? I was thinking about this the other day when I remembered one blogger saying that he felt it was important to stick with a developer (or in this case a MMO) because in the end it will be rewarding, or something along those lines. It seems people are also doing this with WAR with people barely playing, but still waiting out for some new content to be released, with their monthly sub still ticking away. Why do we feel an obligation to keep on paying, hoping that it will get better? In my view, when a game stops being fun then its time to drop it. Most people have jobs and it hardly seems logical to come home and pay for something that you don't enjoy.

People say that often there are bumps where the game is no fun, but once you get over that the game really shines. This is fair enough; games cannot be perfect the entire time, but its up to the developers to decide how long this period is going to be. In RoM I am really beginning to feel slightly hopeless when a guildie told me that I would need 1.9 million experience to get from 49-50. At the moment I think I need a bit over 300k to get to 37 and its already taking me long enough. I'm sorry, but why is the leveling stage so long? It would be understandable if this was a pay-to-play game as the devs would have wanted subscriptions to run as long as possible. But then, once again, it brings up the issue of these non-fun periods. Seems to me like nearly the entire game is a period which isn't seen as 'fun'.

I think the figure of people who got to the higher-end raiding in WoW before Wrath was something like 1%, I'm guessing that this is probably an accurate figure for the amount of people who will get to 50 in RoM, let alone 50/50. The incentive for powering through all those levels is the end-game raiding, but I've heard from various people that this is just another grind: a gear grind. People see higher lvl toons running around in their shiny gear and wish they could look like them. They just think if they grind for a few months more, then they can get to the top and begin getting that gear. Turns out they have moved from one grinding aspect to another and the end-game is not much different. Hmmm, maybe I need to take a break from MMOs for a while. :P Get back to my roots and play some Baldur's...

In review

Well, looking back at my previous posts yesterday I reckon I was getting pretty mad towards the end of it. I didn't manage to play for 24 hours, in the end it was less then 20, but nevertheless it did seem to take a millennium. By the time I went to bed I had gone 40 hours without sleep and when I woke up this morning I felt even more tired then when I went to bed. 40 hours may not seem like a huge amount, but I got to bed at 9 most nights and sleep for at least 10 hours every night, so it was quite a long time for me.

But lets talk about the game. I never really got bored of RoM as nearly the entire time I had some quests to do, likely thanks to Frogster adding a whole lot of content to the 30-39 bracket. At one point I just dedicated a few hours to grinding out 100 pieces of meat for my 10 daily quests. Towards the start I did pretty well for myself and didn't die once, and then all of sudden they came fast and furious. A few times I was killed by lag, once I was killed by an elite guy in a quest which I didn't realize was meant for a group, and I was also killed by an area with an INSANE amount of mobs. I'm talking about having to kill about three mobs to move a tiny distance, and these mobs were tough, very tough. As quests get sparser it grows more important to be able to hand them in without 70% of it going to your experience debt.

Throughout the whole time I completed innumerable amounts of 'kill x' 'collect x' quests but there was a good variety of mobs which kept it relatively interesting. I've said it before, but I must be different to a lot of other people because I prefer the 'kill x' quests to any other. I'm starting to think that I have already developed a habit of thinking that these quests will give more experience. At the moment mobs about two levels above me give approx 200xp, with mobs my level giving 100xp. This is tiny compared to the quests which require me to kill these mobs which doll out 8-13k experience. I enjoyed my time a lot, when I got utterly tired I put on an audio CD which got me through the tough times, and overall I went from 29(almost 30)/25 to 34(almost 35)/25. If it took that long to level that much, then I'm pretty apprehensive about 40-50 :P

Oh and:

My record is 22k :D

Its done (8.15pm)

After its ups and downs, distractions, and hallucinations I can now finally lie down and relax. I am done. Nothing else matters now. It was fun most of the time, at others utterly frustrating but ultimately rewarding. (???) OK, I can't write any more, I will talk more with more elaborate explanations of the goings-on, and expect a video soon. Lastly, you know all those people who tell you not to do this kind of stuff? Listen to them. And then do it anyway.

Rprtng n (2.15pm)

WAIT! Its not over yet! Only six hours to go. Unfortunately RoM decided to work again so once again I was drawn into the game. I'm really beginning to feel that the deep plot and storyline that follows the quest-lines are what keeps me coming back, and perhaps had a hand in forcing me into this stupid decision. I'm also finding the combat is incredibly varied, even if you only press THREE BUTTONS FOR HOURS ON END.

Soemthing, something, fail (11.00am)

Just got back and logged into RoM. Was immediately hit by 5k ping and a Cyclop monster on steroids. I helplessly hit a few buttons and waited to see if anything registered. I got my answer a minute later when I caught up with time and found my poor self once again KBL (Killed By Lag) something that is becoming all too frequent in this game. RoM is just getting unplayable for me during any time when other people are playing. Weekends are unplayable, and the holidays are likely to be unplayable and this is just ridiculous. Something needs to be done about the stability of the servers and there certainly should be more to accommodate the large interest in the game. I picked 'International English' as my ideal server type-thing but all the servers available to me are located in Europe....???
The amount of times I have been KBL is obscene and what makes it worse is the experience debt which is just getting bigger and bigger and taking longer to burn off. /rage
Thus I am abandoning my 24 hour vigil of RoM, and widening my horizons ie. playing Stronghold with my brother. Ah well, finally I get to play something that I am good at :D

reportign in (sometime around 9)

OK, taking a break to go to Church on Easter Friday. RoM was getting ridiculously laggy to the point where it was unplayable so hopefully by the time I get back it will run smoothly. Don't worry, I'll make up for it.

Repoorting in (7.15am)

Gone is the cold, cruel dark of the night as the sun rises and life begins once more. Have spent a lot of time riding around on my 1-day mount which is a life-saver. I think the problem is now enduring the game for another 12 hours, rather then the actual sleep deprivation/tiredness. Stupid impulsiveness and sibling rivalry. Going to have brekkie now, and strive forth again. Ah the wonders of sleep deprivation. Oh, I dinged 33 in the past while and about to ding 34.

Reporting inners (5.15am)

Ah, the joys of an early morning start. I recently finished grinding 100 pieces of meat for 10 daily quests ready to hand in later in the day. I'm feeling pretty samey once again, although I am barely halfway through this. Man, this isn't so hard! I thought being a hardcore gamer meant dedication, sacrifice, and stuff...doesn't seem that hard. Hmm, I feel slightly let down now, I thought this was going to be tough, but I am starting to wish that I had picked some other game then RoM. Time to make meself some brekkie. My marathon seems slightly tame now because some of my guildies have been on a lot longer prior to when I got on and they are still playing. *sigh*

Reporting in (3.15am)

6 hours. Sort of. Wireless didn't start working for quite a while so only played an hour or so since my last post. Feel pretty much the same as last time. Nothing to report. Began to listen to my audio book. Wow, this sounds like a space ship captain's log, or someone on twitter. :(

Reporting in (1.15am)

Well, leveling has slowed down a lot, as I finished that massive bunch of quests. I've been listening to a bunch of Garrison Keiller CDs which has kept me going. I don't feel too tired, just a slight headache. I have found a great daily quest to do, so will probably farm that one over the next hour and a bit ready to hand in when the dailies reset. I'm starting to yawn a lot. Also, my wireless connection is stuffing up, so it is taking a bit of time off playing RoM, so hopefully it will fix itself soon.

Reporting in (11.15pm)

Four hours down. Last few hours have gone pretty quickly, but am already starting to feel quite tired. I've turned the gamma on the computer down as low as possible to avoid killing my eyes. I haven't been listening to a lot of msuic as I don't want to get a headache, so att he moment am just playing in silence. I do have, however, an audio book which I'll pop in when I start to go mad. I might have a hot cup of tea now, and quickly put some washing in the machine before I get back to it. Have leveled 3 times so far. (Mind you, was about 1% off a ding when I started.) :D

Reporting in (9.15pm)

Two hours in and not feeling too bad. I had to wait a while a sthe game needed a couple of patches and so started an hour after I intended. Have had a good supply of quests so far and just then picked up a massive amount as I reached a new quest hub so hopefully levels will roll past fairly quickly. Too bad I don't like coffee because this is going to be a long night. :P

This is going to hurt

Well, I have gone and done it. I blame it on my brother. School has finally finished for a few weeks and the first thing I have gone and done is got myself into something crazy. This morning as I was about to leave for school my brother arrived at the house. Turns out he had spent the whole time at uni studying to death for a test. Naturally a bit of sibling rivalry started and suddenly I found myself locked into doing something stupid. Owing to my brother, I am going to be playing RoM for 24 hours straight.

I mentioned doing something crazy in a post earlier, and this is it. It might seem like something that isn't too original or insane as others have done before me but consider the fact that I generally spend about 2 hours playing on average. I am going to start at 1800 hours today (Thursday) and finish at 1800 tomorrow. Don't worry, you will get in on all the action as I will make a quick post every 2 hours, and later I will put up a vid onto youtube documenting this. Its going to hurt, and I'm afraid I will fall asleep in the middle of the night, but we'll see how we go. One day I will look back and laugh at my stupidity and certainly remember RoM with utter loathing. :D

So, I'm off to stock up with energy and water/rest before my marathon begins in a bit over 2 hours.

RoM Review (Design more-so)

I have decided to share with you guys the two-page review that I did of RoM as part of my design-my-own-mag project. I quickly typed up the review so it needs a lot of editing, but the main thing I wanted to concentrate on was the design of the review. Here is the first version of the review;

I wasn't completely happy with the colour scheme there as I thought there was too much white in the picture, and the text was a little overwhelming. So after a bit of tweaking I got this:

Much happier with this one, but still there is a lot of room for improvement!
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