World of Warcraft: Time on my mind

I think that my experiment to dive into World of Warcraft’s economic scene and try to make money from it has been fairly successful since I started it earlier this year. Since I started it at the new year, I’ve made 1.5 million gold (about 500k a month, more or less) and cashed those in for eight WoW tokens. That was enough to get me the expansion and several months’ of game time, to the point where I’m subbed into the summer months.

I’ve decided to scale back. Initially, I saw it as a goal to see how much I could earn through a few proven means, but that ended up taking a lot of my game time away every day — like up to two hours. If I only get 2-4 hours to play a day, then that’s just too much and doesn’t leave me any time to enjoy this game, nevermind others.

So right now I’m doing a quick 30 minute run every day to grab herb world quests, bacon world quests, Broken Isle treasure caches, and doing the emissary quest on my Death Knight alone. That, plus doing the order hall missions, has been enough to keep around 10,000 to 15,000 gold coming in each day with auction house flipping, and I’m left with enough time to pursue other goals.

What are these other goals? Mostly just wrapping up as much in my quest log from Legion on my Death Knight, which this past week was focused on getting the Suramar campaign done and unlocking another allied race.

I pretty much put blinders on and powered through this campaign, because it was 100% World of ElfCraft. I don’t think devs realize how much they overdose on elves so regularly, but here we have a whole zone devoted to them — including their Super Magical City of Joy — and nothing that has happened has endeared me to their cause. Not even when they trotted out little elf kids like it was Christmas Eve or something.

My eye rolling muscles got the biggest workout during one particular campaign mission where we were trying to assault the palace of some Queen Elf Bee. She comes out and starts lecturing the forces arrayed against her, which turned out to be no less than THREE different sects of Elves. At this point I’m waving my arms wildly and going, “See? See? We’re drowning in these dumb elves here! What is wrong with you, developers?”

It kind of reminds me of when the Borg came on Star Trek. At first they were really popular and terrifying, much like elves. And when the producers realized this, they started shoving the Borg in our faces every chance they got for ratings.

I’m not going to be assimilated into the elf crowd. Oh no. I will resist to my last breath.

I haven’t even gotten my class mounts yet, although I’m kind of at a loss why, since I’ve finished up the order hall missions, gotten everyone up to 950, etc. It’s not like the game is going to let me know what I’m missing.

I’ll tell you, I am very much intrigued that Kul Tirans might well be playable and have Druids as an option. I’ve wanted a straight-up Druidic human option for a while now, especially because we’re still hurting for Druid races. The wicker-style forms look bad to the bone, and I can totally see myself leveling up one in the expansion.

It’s made me wonder how much we’ll have to do in Legion once Battle for Azeroth comes out. Like, so much of what’s at the endgame right now has to become superfluous later, much like how the whole garrison building of Draenor is today. Maybe just level to 110 then ditch the storylines and sacrifice your artifact weapon like a good boy or girl?

Let me tell you, this game has a real expansion reset problem. I’m half excited about the reset just for a semi-fresh start, and half frustrated with how it represents the negation of everything we’ve been chasing for two years. You’d think they’d let us keep something other than a handful of weapon skins, but… yeah.

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Pros and cons of single vs. multiple MMO adventures

As someone who has experienced a wide range of MMOs and gone through different phases in playing them, I’ve formulated some opinions on the pros and cons of sticking with a single game versus attempting to juggle multiple titles.

I’ll say for starters that I personally don’t favor one method over another. One, two, or several games all hold appeal for me at different times, and I don’t think I’ll ever settle into a single preference. It’s more situational — which games are hot right now, which are holding my interests, which have released new expansions or updates. Over the past year I’ve had periods where I’ve only played World of Warcraft day in and day out, periods where I was at just two games, and sometimes (such as now) where I’ve gone to four or five.

So let’s look at what the pros and cons are of the two main methods of playing MMOs.

Playing a single MMO

Pros

  • Never have to deliberate that day which game you’re going to play — you just know
  • You can really get to know a title and get deeper into it, including better knowledge of its systems
  • You can make faster and better progress
  • It opens the doors for more alts as alternative gameplay experiences
  • You get to spend more time getting to know your guildmates
  • It can be fun to dive deep into that game’s culture and community
  • You can pursue more long-term and grander goals
  • You are always at the top of content, ready for anything new that comes along

Cons

  • You set yourself up for a hard burnout down the road where, one day, you simply don’t want to play any more and find yourself in a gaming crisis of sorts
  • Or what if the studio shut down your game? Your world would implode
  • You fall out of touch with all of these other games out there
  • You chew through content faster than developers can produce it
  • You can get more upset over changes to the game and fall into the drama of the community that sees this as the be-all, end-all experience

Playing multiple MMOs

Pros

  • You feel more free to venture to where your whims and interests lie, especially if you’re a “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” type of person
  • You can choose a game that night to fit your mood and interest
  • You get more of a variety and experience a wider array of MMO “flavors”
  • You guard against burnout or an individual game’s shutdown by diversifying your gaming portfolio
  • By moving at a slower pace in any given game, you’re rarely running out of content and sitting there bored
  • You leave and return to MMOs without feeling guilty, especially when a game drops a new patch or expansion

Cons

  • You have to set some firm goals and be fair in your rotation or else face little to no progress made in any given MMO
  • You have to split your attention between multiple games, multiple goals, and multiple guilds
  • Obviously, you won’t get to know any one guild that well unless you’re part of a multi-game guild that uses a third-party social network
  • It can be a little difficult to give “fair” attention to your current rotation and swap between two or more games that night (finger memory!)

Battle Bards Episode 118: More starting zone themes

What are your favorite memories of those first few days in a brand-new MMORPG? Chances are that those memories are inextricably connected to the music of these beginning areas. On today’s episode of Battle Bards, the crew revisits starting zone themes to talk about the experience of those first critical steps in an online game — and the songs that connect us forever to that.

Episode 118 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Dun Morogh” from World of Warcraft, “Autumn in Ascalon” from Guild Wars, and “Silverwood” from RIFT)
  • “Emerald Falls” from Revelation Online
  • “Bleakrock Isle” from Elder Scrolls Online
  • “Ronfaure” from Final Fantasy XI
  • “Azuremyst Isle” from World of Warcraft
  • “Olvia” from Black Desert
  • “The Black Shroud” from Final Fantasy XIV
  • “Newbie Melody” from RuneScape
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Listener Notes: Hirvox and GeorgeWilson3
  • Jukebox Picks: “Main Menu” from Life is Strange: Before the Storm, “With Sympathy” from Gears of War 2, “The Descent into Spring Valley” from Nine Parchments
  • Outro (feat. “Isle of Refuge” from EverQuest II)

Project Gorgon: All the cool kids milk cows

All right, time to escape this prison island, recover my memories, and get sweet revenge upon the world as a whole!

Welcome back to the weirdness of Project Gorgon, where merely getting out of the newbie zone requires more work and brainpower than you’d think. The traditional way out is to learn teleportation (which is, obviously, a very useful skill to have). The skill itself is easy to learn, but finding out the coordinates of my destination requires some scouting around the island.

Before I leave, the game gives me this choice and plants a seed for future plot points. Very cool! I like how our characters are amnesic yet so many people know us and allude to extensive relationships and histories.

YAEEH! The second I teleport off the island, I’m greeting by this holographic crone. She’s one of the four that killed me on the character creation screen (seriously), but said that we were friends (sure) and I was a demon hunter (okay) and that a demon was taking me down and wiping my brain was the only way they could save me (I’ll buy that). Anyway, she tells me to investigate some stuff as a main questline and then fades out.

I go kill packs of pigs for a while by talking smack about their mothers. It’s relaxing.

Project Gorgon really does just… dump you into this zone with very little instruction. Welcome to Serbule Hills, which is sort of pretty if you squint just right. It’s quite big, especially if you’re slowly trotting around like I am.

The site of a walled town invites investigation, and so I head into Serbule proper. It’s here that the game’s performance took a steep nosedive. I wasn’t able to move or turn the camera without horrific rubberbanding and stuttering. It almost made it impossible to move around. I had a suspicion that a recent server restart had something to do with it.

Naturally, within one minute of arriving in town, I’m slaughtered by a pair of psychic mantises wearing bowler hats. Then I milked a player cow. And drank that milk. This game is Odd for Everyone.

At the local tavern is a poetry podium, which I assumed tied into one of the more interesting-sounding skills in the game: poetry appreciation. You can read how this skill can interact with crowds, presumably to bring players together to share skill points and bad limericks.

I want to remind everyone that this is an MMORPG that just came out in 2018. It has poetry appreciation. If this game would run for president, I would vote for it.

I bumped up my lore skill by admiring a painting that’s about the death of half the elves in a country. It’s now my MOST FAVORITE PAINTING EVER.

And it’s not a visit to Project Gorgon if you don’t see a player cow wearing a sun hat and standing on a sign.

As much as the stuttering performance would allow, I explored the town a bit and tried to figure out what I wanted to do first. The game and some friends pointed me toward Marna as a starting point. She outright taught me first aid as a skill, gave me some storage space (you spread your stuff around various vendors instead of a single central bank, for some reason), and bought my excess inventory. I picked up a couple of quests from her and will see what I can do to level up favor with her so that I can buy poison arrows and get more first aid kits, as well as gain more storage space and vendor gold (each merchant only has a certain amount of gold and will buy certain things, although Marna is special in that she’ll buy most anything but has less gold than other NPCs).

Next time? Quests for Marna. Marna forever!

DDO: Haywire’s Foundry

Yet again I’m called into a foundry to save the roguish Haywire, who repeats his M.O. of last time by hiding in a safe room and barking orders at me while I do all of the dangerous work and clean up his mess.

It does not endear me to this gentleman, let me tell you.

The last quest (for now?) in House K, Haywire’s Foundry is an incredibly long, truly frustrating, and occasionally brilliant dungeon that kept me on the edge of my seat for a straight hour. Inside its doors, I find that this warforged factory has gone bad as all of the golems have been infected by some sort of little slimy slug-things. My mission? Shut it all down and blow it up.

Easier said than done.

This is a “very long” dungeon, so you know you’re in for a slog. In this case, I had to explore and conquer two separate wings before even getting to progress further. The first wing was more or less a straight-forward path with tons of mobs to slaughter. Fortunately, the golems of this quest weren’t too tough and didn’t hold any surprises. Often I was able to snipe them from across the room, leading me once again to ponder how frustrating this game would be with a melee character.

In heading to the second wing, the game genuinely surprised me by having the floor collapse on me and send me down to my death in a long shift with lava at the bottom. Only my boots of featherfall saved me, giving me ample time to react and drift over to a tunnel in the side. From there it was a platforming nightmare to get back up to the top and carry on.

I HATE platforming in MMOs. Have I said as such? DDO has its fair share.

And because the mimic event was going on, a couple of the chests that I looted turned out to be monsters. I enjoyed putting them down swiftly and seeing gold explode out of them.

This is the sort of sadistic mission that you keep finding yourself thinking, “It’s not FAIR” when you see multiple jets of gouting flame, spikes coming from all directions, and golems attacking from above and below simultaneously.

After activating both unlocks, the “fun” really begins. There’s a brutal puzzle in this room that requires you to manipulate six rune wheels to unlock the center cage (and access a key). The twist? As you spin the wheels, you keep triggering more oozes to come down and attack. So this was about 30% puzzle solving and 70% taking breaks to kill oozes and mutter, “It’s not FAIR.”

I don’t have any screenshots past this room because everything happened rather fast from here on out. First there was a boss fight with a giant golem and seven close buddies. That was the EASY part. Then I hit the self-destruct button and was told that I had five minutes to get out before the whole place went up.

Initially I thought I’d just backtrack, but no — you have to go a whole new route which begins with YET MORE PLATFORMING over LAVA and ARE YOU KIDDING ME DEVS. Then tons of mechanical dogs attack. And the floor collapses. And there’s more random traps of flame. So I’m running and fighting and saying words that would increase the movie rating of this particular adventure, all while hoping that I’d get to the end in time. Because this quest loves to tweak the player, about halfway through this madcap dash Haywire yells at me that he’s going to slam down a blast door and I’d better get out NOW.

Long (and quick) story short, I made it. Barely. As in, I had about two seconds to spare in finishing the quest.

The good news is that the XP was more than enough to send me to level 11 (Rank 51), which puts me in a good position to start Ravenloft next week!

DDO: Made to Order

This past week’s Dungeons and Dragons Online adventure was the House K quest “Made to Order.” If you like fighting giant robots and having your butt handed to you on a silver platter, it’s the perfect dungeon for you.

The quest involves an inventor named Haywire who whipped up a bunch of golems in his foundry that have since turned against him. He’s not too concerned, being protected in his panic room and all, but now I’ve got to go rescue him from his folly.

Easier said than done.

Check it out, we’re fighting Cylons in this quest!

If the above picture didn’t tip you off, this mission is pretty hardcore. I think I have to resign myself to the fact that I’m done with the era of doing hard-mode dungeons solo, because even on normal mode, this quest was just brutal. It’s a long, looping path through a foundry filled with giant golems (clay and iron), packs of hard-hitting Dwarves, electrified rails, and scads of these nasty little landmine traps.

The traps were of particular frustration, because I was not getting the normal heads-up on spotting them until I was standing right on top of them. This could have been because the mission was level 11 and I am still just 10, but still, I hit far too many of these traps. My poor dog suffered the most of it, spending a great portion of the dungeon dead, and if I hadn’t brought a Cleric hireling along, there would have been no chance of making it through.

As it was, plenty of sections had me backwheeling and firing frantically as packs of mobs descended on my head. I also had the joy of getting to the final locked door and finding out that I had only three of the four required crests — I had missed the very first one and had to backtrack all the way down and back to the start. Go Team Me!

On the plus side, the Foundry was incredibly cool-looking. I kept looping through this middle section with rails and lava, and every time it pleased me with the visuals. The path design is pretty clever, as you start low and gradually loop and ramp up to the top, which kept this dungeon feeling tight and purposeful.

Hey, at least I’m not fighting in those dull sewers any longer.

The final fight… ugh. It hated me.

It pitted me against “ARN-01D,” a giant golem who is a cheeky take on Schwarzenegger’s characters, especially with his final line riffing on the classic “I’ll be back.” But at the time of the fight, I wasn’t laughing, because it completely felt unfair. It was me, this hulking monstrosity, and four additional golems in a rather small room.

I was down to a single application of my machine gun bolts, so very shortly after the start of the fight, I was in survival mode, backpeddling, firing, and just trying to stay out of the range of these golems. The only thing I had on my side was the fact that none of them could attack at range, although ARN-01D could lock me down with a powerful stun and blind if I got too close.

Hooray for me, I won. Take a moment to pat myself on the back for this one.

Probably my favorite part of the quest is after the boss fight when I approached Haywire’s safe room. He’s behind probably 10 different types of locked doors, and the game keeps opening them one by one by one by one by one until it just gets ridiculous.

Guess the guy is turning himself into a construct, but as someone who has at least theoretically done so to my own character through an enhancement, I’m in no position to judge.

Project Gorgon: Early access, fresh start

I have long held the position that I would finally commit to playing Project Gorgon when it reached a certain point of stability and development — namely, early access. Normally I’m not incredibly enthusiastic about early access, but Gorgon is different in that it’s been letting us play the alpha for years now and allowing us to retain our characters. Even now through launch will be character — but not item — persistence. So it’s as good of a time as any to start.

One thing I noticed from my previous brief excursions in the game is Project Gorgon’s new user interface. It’s sharp, my friends, and a lot better looking than the old functional but extremely crude-looking setup. I appreciated how easily I could resize the UI, resize windows, and reposition everything. It’s slick and money well spent.

While merging my new Steam account with my old Gorgon account allowed me to continue with one of the two previous characters I made (including one that had been stuck as a cow for a couple of years now), in the spirit of the moment I decided that it would be best to delete everything and start fresh. Alas, the faeries still aren’t in the game, and as soon as they are I know I’ll be rolling one. Until then, I’ll be boring human trotting around on the tutorial island.

As I previously — as in, 2016 — spent a lot of time on the tutorial island creating a guide for it, this early part of the game came back to me quite quickly. There wasn’t any linear path to follow but rather a series of self-ascribed quests, mostly to get all of the skills that I could unlock here. Anatomy, psychology, mycology, unarmed, bow, teleportation, and so on.

I wasn’t in a great rush. It was certainly nice to be back, and I didn’t have to wait long before I was invited into a welcoming guild.

While the new user interface was a wonderful addition since my last stint in the game, Project Gorgon still suffers from a couple of issues I hoped would have been fixed. No, not the graphics — I’m OK with the graphics. My two primary issues are the floaty jumping and the loose, disconnected combat. Both don’t feel as snappy and responsive as they should, with the former not seeming to operate in any gravity well that I’m familiar with and the latter featuring little bits of lag from input commands so that combat felt disassociated from my actions.

Another big change — BIG one, this time — was the newbie island dungeon. Previously there was a dungeon, but it was pretty small. Now we have this three-floor monstrosity of a public dungeon which was actually pretty fun to explore. There’s a lot of lore and little story bits here, and if Gorgon has taught me nothing else, it’s that you really do have to slow down and soak in this game’s details. Plus there are rats to tame (I love my rat pets!) and brain bugs for some reason and a dead tree that makes it snow.

The bottom floor is a somewhat frustrating maze that isn’t helped by the minimap. There is a treasure room in the back for those who persevere and light all of the torches, so it’s worth doing. Plus, I found out that there’s a sort of click-to-move auto-pathing system in PG, so if I was getting turned around and couldn’t figure out how to get on the other side of a gate, I would right-click the ground outside of it and my character would figure out the optimal path to get there.

Project Gorgon: Being snarky for a half-decade now.

Probably the most surprising part of this dungeon was that it connected to a HUGE spider cave. I definitely don’t remember this, and I was assuming that this cave was just a small little place to explore. Nope, it’s extensive and these spiders don’t mess around. I got killed a half-dozen times trying to map out this place, and at the end I found out that the exit actually dumps you into the game’s first main zone. So I guess there are two ways to get off the island now?

But I didn’t WANT to get off, because I had unfinished business. So I had to backtrack through the spider cave, figure out how to open back up the door (hidden switch, thanks general chat!), and crawl back through the dungeon to the top. It took me far longer than I would have liked.

I love this game.

Anyway, I’m about done on the tutorial island and ready to make my way in the game proper. I’m going to avoid guides for a while and just explore and see where the game leads me. I’ll probably turn into some hideous animal. I’m crossing my finger for bat.