Posted in General

What your MMO character’s hair color says about you

When it comes time to create a new character, it’s inevitable that a choice of hair color is part of that experience. But what does your MMO hair color say about you? For the judgey among us, here is an easy-to-access chart:

  • Black: Obviously, you’re evil incarnate and your hair matches the tar-black soul you harbor. Also, black goes with everything.
  • Blonde: Do people pick blonde? I always thought this was a myth…
  • Light Brown: You’re spunky and adventurous, ready for good-looking kills with a chipper quip afterward.
  • Dark Brown: Your character is the fourth kid of seven, denied admittance to a good school and sent off “adventuring” to free up a spot at the family table.
  • White: You’re not old, oh no, just a very young and desirable hero who wants to make a strong impression of future potential.
  • Grey: OK, now you’re old and you’ve just broadcast that to the entire virtual world. But at least you can get into taverns for discounted dinners at 4:00 p.m.
  • Blue: You’re going through a phase. You’d rather not be asked about it.
  • Pink: You’re channeling the Spirit of the Girly-Girl, full of power and cheeky whimsy.
  • Red: You’re a guy making a girl character that you wish would meet you and fall in love with you in real life. Good luck with that.
  • Purple: You fell head-first into a grape press and decided to lean into that look.
  • Bald: You’re amazing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Posted in General

Where’s the next generation of retro classic consoles?

In my office, I have three classic consoles hooked up for my kids (or, occasionally, myself) to play: the NES classic, SNES classic, and Genesis mini. They’ve proven to be a great investment, especially the SNES one.

But have you noticed that despite amazing sales, especially in Nintendo’s quarter, everyone just stopped making these things? The NES Classic came out in 2016, the SNES Classic in 2017, the horrid PlayStation Classic in 2018, the NeoGeo Mini in 2018, the Genesis Mini in 2019, the TurboGrafx-16 Mini in 2020. It really seems like this promising well dried up really quick and not, I suspect, from consumer demand.

After all, there’s plenty of additional products that could be made along these lines. Not only are there tons of consoles that haven’t been touched yet — the N64, Dreamcast, Saturn, GameCube, Jaguar, whatever — but all of the ones mentioned in that second paragraph could very well usher in a second edition with different games. I’ve often lamented that the SNES Classic is missing some of its biggest titles, like Turtles in Time and Chrono Trigger, and those could be headlining games for a future installment.

Even more than that, I wish these retro consoles would join the modern era by allowing us to buy and download titles into them. We all know Nintendo could make a mint by continuing to sell games through an expandable SNES or NES Classic, but nah, they’d rather ignore that path and go this weird route with the Switch’s subscription service.

I tell you, this sort of ignorance and stubbornness is what drives gamers right into the arms of emulators, and I don’t blame them. When gamers are holding out wads of cash, willing to buy older games that they love, and a studio ignores them, then of course they’re going to look elsewhere. It’s a stupid loss for the studio.

Posted in Elder Scrolls Online

ESO: Adventures in Ebonheart

Elder Scrolls Online occasionally uses creative scripting to kick off quests, and an example of this is in the city of Ebonheart. Upon entering it, this dark elf dude ran up to me all frantic for me to talk to him. I ignored him — I was on another quest at the time — and the game kept winging him at me in unexpected quarters. He was like a movie serial killer, if that killer was polite and a little more than insecure. So I kept ignoring him, because it amused me to see an elf grovel so.

So there’s a nearby Covenant invasion, and the only hope is to pull the Nords and Argonians together to help fight it off. But both sides aren’t speaking to the dark elves — no comment — and it’s up to me to be Diplomacy Police. Weeeohh weeeohh. Along the way, I stopped to admire a small player band belting out hits.

The Nords said they’d only join the Pact if I defeated three of their best — while completely smashed on mead. Me smashed, not them smashed. Other than a funky screen effect, I didn’t see any drawback to this. The head Nord guy said that there was a suspicious dark elf that came by not too long ago trying to bribe them to leave. Hmm…

The Argonians are having a rougher time of it, as some dark elf (HMM) is poisoning their precious Hist tree. I help fertilize it — not with my own bodily secretions, please understand — and then check out this elf that they caught. It turns out its a patsy, set up to take the fall instead of Rhavil, the guy who’s masterminding these disruptions.

After following Rhavil around, we discover that he’s working to pave the way for the Covenant. A quick fight later, and all is well — the townspeople have unified against a common threat. Yay me.

Posted in Retro Gaming

The Curse of Monkey Island: Rings, floaties, and curses

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1997’s The Curse of Monkey Island. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

I don’t know if you have a gaming bucket list or not, but on mine, I really want to finish certain classic adventure game series that I had never played or played fully through. I’ve accomplished this with Space Quests 1-6 already, while series like King’s Quest and Monkey Island remain undone. And with that motivation, I’m going to be making my way through the goofiness that is 1997’s The Curse of Monkey Island.

As we start this latest tale, Guybrush Threepwood is found floating out at sea on a bumper car. There’s a great running gag here where he’s writing about his wishes for fresh water, bananas, and even grog with a fresh chicken while those things float by without him noticing.

Clearly, there’s a huge visual change here from the first two Monkey Island games. We’re no longer in pixelart territory, but rather a very whimsical cartoonish, hand-drawn style. Other than the flatness of the characters, I really dig it.

The game proper begins in a pirate ship where Guybrush has to figure a way out. Good ol’ Wally the cartographer is firing a cannon and I’m over here trying to figure out how to interact. There’s a new type of context-sensitive mouse interface that uses a gold doubloon to show the different actions you can do on items. It’s very in-character.

Wally explains why he’s working for the feared undead pirate captain LeChuck — namely, empowering motivational seminars and audio books-on-parrot (“Which taught me all the key pirate phrases, like ‘Who’s a pretty bird?'”). I can’t help it, I’m already laughing out loud.

Guybrush talks Wally out of the pirating life and proceeds to use the cannon to blast all of the boats of undead invaders heading toward the island fort. One of the survivors of this massacre is Murray, a rather evil-minded talking skull who looks really, really good in hats.

“How can you see without eyeballs?”

“How can you walk around without a brain?”

Right as Guybrush uses a cannon to blast his way out of the hold, LeChuck is messing around with an enchanted cannonball — and the two events end up capsizing the ship.

Guybrush, a man of action, cuts his way out of the upside-down ship with a diamond ring and reunites with his one true love — Elaine! Cue a speech that had me giggling once again, especially as Guybrush ends it with a marriage proposal (while wearing a floatie).

Even Wally survived! And it’s a good thing he did, too, because he notes that this particular ring has a rather nasty curse on it, but of course Guybrush wouldn’t be dumb enough to propose with that. Right? Right.

And thus as Elaine winds up to smack Guybrush for being an idiot, she turns into a giant gold statue. No, Guybrush, she’s not going to be happy about this. Very few women would be.

Posted in World of Warcraft

WoW Classic: Welcome Burning Crusade era!

While I had to wait longer than expected to log into the Burning Crusade pre-patch last week — thanks to extended downtime and a monster of a queue — by Wednesday I was able to jump right into those warm waters and start swimming. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Classic was fun. But I’ve always been more nostalgic for the expansions.

The biggest relief was being able to make my Draenei Shaman (along with half of the population of the game, if the starting zone was any indication) and start her journey to 70. I had forgotten just what a huge step forward the starting zone flow and quests were, because we’d gotten re-used to the scattershot quest design of vanilla. Here, it’s all bunched together with lots of useful rewards. I really, really like these opening zones.

And my greatest fear didn’t come to pass, that it would be so incredibly packed that I wouldn’t be able to get quests done. Maybe Blizz is doing a whole lot of layering or whatnot, but by and large, I haven’t been fighting people for quest mobs or objectives. Just pleasantly packed with a lot of idiots yelling in the world’s looking for group channel.

Let me disable that…. one sec…. there we go. Ahh. My sanity is restored.

I have started her on a leatherworking journey and started to give thought about how I can obtain a non-elekk mount in the future. Out of all of the things I like about the Draenei, that race’s mount is not one of them. It’s just a big, fat, ugly elephant. No thank you.

I was also overjoyed to get my Warlock’s felguard back. I don’t care if SL/SL is the superior build, there’s nothing you can say to make me give up my tanky axe bodyguard. He’s going with me through the entire expansion, and we’re going to rock it.

Yeah, it kind of stinks how little time we have left to get ready for the Dark Portal opening, but ultimately for me, it doesn’t matter as long as I don’t get into this mentality of keeping up with the rat race. I’ve already decided that I’ll start alternating play sessions between my Warlock and Shaman, giving me a nice variety of experiences while pushing both of their progress forward.

Anyway, it’s going to be a really fun summer!

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Online

DDO: The party to end all parties

It’s time to dig into the Fables of the Feywild quests, but after setting my spirit bind with Mr. Unicorn Beard here, I couldn’t figure out where the first quest was sending me. Ultimately, I had to hunt around for a map to the expansion, which did end up pointing me the right way.

The Endless Revels starts out with a party that’s been out of control for too long. Satyrs are raving nonstop in a comatose guy’s home, so it’s up to me to clear them out. I can already sense that this expansion is going to have me beat up a lot of mythical creatures, like the pixies and gnomes in this cottage, and I am cool with that.

While this quest may have a lot of combat, it’s actually structured a lot more like your typical adventure game. To get the satyrs to leave, you have to accomplish a chain of tasks that result in changing the name of the cottage (and thereby voiding the contract that allows the satyrs to party there).

Now it’s time to go on the Wild Hunt to find one of the hags, Beatrice, and see what she might be able to tell me about Lord Arden’s unnatural slumber. On the way, I took this fantastic picture of a giant trying to brain me.

The hunt itself was a wide-open swamp with a whoooooole lot of mobs to kill. It got tedious after a while, to be honest. The point was to track down Beatrice, kill her, and find whatever it was she’s looking for. She mentions in her mutterings that it’s what could help Arden — as if she actually wanted to help him? That was hard to say.

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons Online

DDO: Heading into the Fables of the Feywild

It’s been a good long while — nearly two years — since I played Dungeons and Dragons Online. Honestly, that shocked me. I thought it had only been a year, but nope, it’s been since August 2019. The only time I’ve been logging in since then is once a week to grab my golden dice throw. As a result, I’ve accumulated a whole lot of stuff — and two levels’ worth of XP boosts.

So I figured a return of sorts might be in the cards, at least to go through the most recent expansion, Fury of the Feywild. My initial momentum to do this was arrested when I had to spend a good hour or so getting my inventory sorted and my character leveled up.

The expansion starts with this mysterious and colorful house that’s plopped right into the middle of the harbor. It’s very much out of place — and that’s not even considering the fact that it was dropped onto someone. A wicked witch, I’m guessing.

The interior of the hut is really trippy, considering that half of it looks flipped upside-down or sideways. I’m told by the Gatekeeper that I’m needed to chase some hags into the Feywild and figure out what’s happened to some powerful codex pages.

Welcome to the Feywild adventure zone! It’s a huge color and tonal shift from Eberron, like you’re stepping into a whimsical storybook.

And there’s a floating castle, of course. Just don’t walk out the front door without a floating potion or umbrella or something.

There wasn’t any explicit direction where to go at first, no initial quest or anything, so I just kept following the path that wound through this wilderness zone. I came upon a satyr doing a stage performance.

Hey! This place looks like it might have quests! I do feel like the artists should’ve put a few more towers in there. You know, go for the Guinness World Record or something.

Posted in Elder Scrolls Online

ESO: Halloween in May

Stonefalls questing this week started off with jumping into the Crow’s Wood public dungeon. I actually ended up loving this place, largely due to its “Halloweeny” vibe, with giant bats, dilapidated cottages, and a vibrant purple sky.

After making friends with the crow court, I dug down into the mystery of the place. A Dark Elf son had traveled here to find his missing father who, as it turned out, made a pact with the Crow Mother to stay with her in exchange for learning secret magic. He got the magic, tried to renege on the deal, and got trapped anyway. So the big choice here is to kill the Crow Mother and free him, convince him to uphold his deal, or kill them both. I made him stick to his word, because a promise is a promise.

Next up was a trip to the Emberflint Mine, where I helped a guy un-crystalize his Argonian companions. And kill a Daedra, because every quest in this game ends with “and kill a daedra.” For an encore, I cleared out the Emberflint delve, which was another charming mine filled with OSHA-disapproving lava.

It’s kind of uncommon to see two delves so close to each other, so I head to go check out Mephala’s Nest. It was a spacious underground ruin with enough bookshelves to make up a small town library. I love me ESO bookshelves, what with their chances for a random skill point. And despite the name of the delve, the boss mob was called Grizzled or somesuch.

It was finally time to venture into the city of Ebonheart and its plethora of quests. I started with “Night of the Soul,” in which the spiritual leader of the town was experiencing a faltering faith. In true MMO fashion, I was asked to go pray to the gods on his behalf. Such lazy NPCs, these are.