It’s ArcheAge Time! My Vegan Farming Plan

The Head Start for ArcheAge started yesterday but I’m just today sitting in the queue to login for the first time.  I’m looking forward to hopping in and exploring this world again.  When I played in the beginning of Alpha, I had a great time. I played just enough to know that it was a game that really held my interest, and I decided to stop playing so I didn’t burnout before it launched for real. So here we are!  It’s the beginning of my new life in ArcheAge, and this time I have a plan.

I am going to make the game an experiment for me.  I want to play ArcheAge as a vegan, with my character’s actions mirroring my own desires in real life.  My plan is to be a farmer who uses no animal products, farming up crops & logs and trees and such to sell on the market and skill up.  If I own chickens, cows, goats, or other animals – they will be rescue animals from other farms and I will not use their products.  I will feed them and care for them only.  If I have to milk them or whatnot in order for them to stay happy (not sure about game mechanics), I will find a use for the milk that goes back into rescuing more animals.  I plan to only eat or cook materials that are 100% vegan.  And in questing, unless it’s absolutely required I am going to try to avoid killing animals (I’m not sure that’s even possible to be honest, so that might be the optional part of this experiment).

I think it will be fun to put limitations on myself and see if I can make this happen. If nothing else, it’s a  fun persona for my character that gives me some RP ability and some good stories for the blog.

Right now, I’m concerned because I’m not sure there will be land for me to start farming — so we’ll have to see when that becomes a reality.  I will be blogging about my ArcheAge experiment, so stay tuned for more!

I Refuse to Believe that MMOs are Dead

(First off, an apology.  I have basically all but disappeared over here, but life + work + other projects have come into play, and good ol’ CuppyVille has to sit aside while more important things come first.)

When we last spoke, I was pretty enamored with WildStar.  I even made some kind of proclamation on Twitter that it was definitely going to be my “main MMO” for months, and I canceled my WoW subscription for the first time in months.  But to be fair, by all accounts it should have been my main MMO.  I loved the world, the art style, my character, the combat, the housing, the crafting — literally everything about the game.  It had the polish that I love, a fresh fantasy/sci-fi hybrid feel that I was enjoying, some humorous elements, and ticked all the boxes on my mental checklist of “things I love about MMOs”.  I liked my Esper and I thought she was adorable and fun to play. I had a guild of likeminded people that I was playing with (fellow bloggers & feminists too) that should have kept me firmly solidified in the game.  But I got to level 16 and then just didn’t want to play anymore.

I’m not the only one who has talked about this.  That Angry Dwarf mentioned that he believes MMOs are habit-forming, and that once you break the habit they’re really hard to get into.  I think this hits right at home for me.  When I’m logging in nightly, I’m enjoying myself.  But if I miss a day or two because of real life, I lose my desire to log in and play.  And once the desire is gone, it’s really hard to rekindle the inspiration I need to log in and make any progress on my character.

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Liore offered up similar sentiments over on her blog.  She was super into WildStar and she’s always been a staunch supporter of a variety of MMOs, but she too has lost her desire to play the game.  She’s even gone so far as to declare MMOs as dead (which she clarified in the comments — she meant they’re dead to HER) and is no longer going to be playing them at all.  How has the industry gotten to this point where we have MMO community influencers such as Liore saying that they don’t even want to play MMOs at all anymore?

It’s gotten to be a joke with my friends — how long will Cuppy actually play any given MMO for?  An hour?  A day?  Maybe a week?  In that time, I’ll be tweeting and taking videos and making screenshot albums and joining guilds and writing about the game at length.  Completely immersed for the moment, but then I’m unable to stick with them.  For awhile I’ve been declaring that as some fault of my own, and sometimes I think my friends assume it is a trait that only I possess.  But if you read the comments on those articles, if you read Twitter, it’s not just me.  Sadly, I feel relieved about this because I’m glad to know that I’m not someone who is a “bad gamer” who has ADD who just can’t stick with something.  I mean, look at my gaming history.  I played EverQuest so hardcore for YEARS that I basically flunked out of my first semester of college while raiding with one of the top guilds in the world.  My love for these games (and blogging about them) is what lead me to transplant myself to California from Minnesota so I could spend the rest of my life working on them.  I ran one of the leading server forum communities back in the day for my EverQuest server.  I created fanart, fan fiction (yeah, yeah), videos, podcasts, went to fan conventions.  I moved onto WoW and gave that game a steady four years of my life as well, raiding throughout vanilla and TBC and flying across the country to meet up with my guildmates.  Clearly I possess the capability to devote myself to a game and stick with it, but why have the last few years been so full of malaise?

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Guild Wars 2 was a fantastic game. The art was beautiful, I liked the combat, and it was innovative.  I made it to level 25 and quit.  Lord of the Rings Online was always intriguing and had some systems that I truly admired (music, costumes, horses) but I couldn’t stick with it.  SWTOR wasn’t that great of a game, but I cared a lot about my Bounty Hunter’s story up until the day I didn’t.  FFXIV was AWESOME, but once I realized that I’d end up running out of quests when I want to do a second/third job, I felt exhausted with the idea of grinding and gave up before even finishing my first job.  ESO was a decent game with interesting stories, but I didn’t make it to max level there either. ArcheAge was a ton of fun in alpha (and I’m still planning on playing it) but one day I just decided I couldn’t keep playing it if I was going to have to re-do my progress when the game goes live. I have played EverQuest II off and on since launch and my highest character EVER is level 45.  RIFT never held onto me, even though it too was a good game.  Aion, TSW, Neverwinter, I’ve played them all and stuck with none of them.  You get my point.

But millions of people still play WoW.  New players who stumble across these games still love them.  I’m a numbers girl and I refuse to believe that MMOs are dead when millions of people across the world are enjoying them.  Is it possible that those of us who’ve been around since the beginning are just exhausted with the same game mechanics and can’t commit to something because everything is so derivative and we’ve already done it?  Wilhelm talks about how he’s having great fun in WoW right now because that’s where his friends & family are.  Is the MMO scene just too fragmented now, and since everyone is playing something different we’ve lost that sense of community with our real life friends?  Check out the r/MMORPG subreddit — it’s filled with people looking for a new MMO to play because they’re bored with the one they’re playing, and 90% of the people will be looking for a new MMO again within a month.  This is a rampant feeling, so how do we solve it?

I actually think the MMO world is very fragmented.  “MMO players” are lumped together into one bucket, but everyone actually wants radically different things out of their games.  Some people want choice, and sandboxes, and want to be able to change the world and leave a mark on it.  Some players want PvP and are passionate about it, but of those — only some want hardcore PvP where death matters and the others want to be able to casually dabble into PvP without too much negative consequence…and of those, some only want open world PvP and others want arena combat.  Some players want a life-encompassing immersive experience that commands hours per day, while others want to jump into a game ‘casually’ and make meaningful progress.  Some players want housing and farming, but only some of them want it instanced, private, and safe while others want it to non-instanced and take up physical space in the world.  Some players want to raid, and some of those want to raid with friends but others have no friends and want to easily connect with other people in-game and still accomplish end-game content.  Some players care about costumes, and pets, and collecting things.  Some care about achievements, and some completely hate them.  Some people read the story, love the lore, and even roleplay — while other players click through quests as fast as possible.  The list goes on and on.

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All of this boils down to the fact that no game, no matter how good it is, will appeal to all MMO players.  I read people like Tobold and Keen (both of which I respect quite a bit for their opinions) making sweeping statements like “choice should matter” that don’t really read as opinion pieces but instead as broad generalizations that are completely false as they pertain to my gaming style.  The fact of the matter is, that some people’s MMO preferences are in exact odds with each other.  One game can’t necessarily accomplish both.  And WoW is still a titan because it tries (and has succeeded) at mostly being everything to everyone.  Sure it misses here and there, but overall — it’s a game that rewards you for how you choose to play.  Other games are trying to copy that method, but without the budget and the longevity that Blizzard has been afforded, they’re unlikely to hit the mark on the nose.

Anyway, I’m rambling and I’m not sure where I’m going with this — other than to say that I think Liore, the Angry Dwarf, myself, and all the other frustrated and bored MMO players out there haven’t found the game we’re looking for because it either doesn’t exist yet, or it already existed years ago and feels archaic at this point. Just because these MMOs keep launching doesn’t mean we will like them — but we try them because “dammit, we’re MMO players” and they seem like they have everything we’re looking for.  But they don’t, they’re missing potentially small-yet-important elements of what makes an MMO stick with us.  I don’t want to say I’m done with MMOs forever because I have loved before and know I am capable of loving again. But I do need to start being more careful about how I’m spending my money, because buying every MMO on the market isn’t a viable strategy for me anymore.  Just because it looks good and people say it’s good, doesn’t mean I’ll think it’s good.  I am better off tackling my 200+ game Steam backlog than buying boxes of new games I won’t enjoy for longer than a week or two.

A Home of My Own

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Last night, I dinged 14 in Wildstar.  I know, I know, a week ago I was level 10 so obviously I’m not making that much progress.  Though I’m not as hardcore as other bloggers who have made it almost to max level already, I am really enjoying the time I have to spend in the game.  Between work, real life, and League of Legends, I am lucky if I get an hour to play Wildstar every night.  At level 14, you finally unlock housing.  This is a game changer here, folks.  I am going in basically blind because I haven’t done much research about the housing and I certainly didn’t get this far in beta.  That means everything is new and shiny!

After you ding 14, you can take a taxi to Thayd (if you’re Exile anyway) and you will get a quest on your Holocron about housing.  It takes you to an area where you can see samples of housing already built and then you can go to your plot of land.  I was so excited to see this HUGE area for basically unlimited building!  You get plots so that you can add different structures in different areas.  Since I preordered the game, I got this awesome Rocket Ship house which you can see in the background of the screenshot above.

I’ve been collecting “FABkits” which are apparently used to build structures on your plot, but I haven’t figured out how to use them yet.  You also get a daily 24 hour XP/rep-gain buff when you visit your home, so that’s helpful.  So far, the interior of my home is looking a little sparse:

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However, my costume is pretty rad isn’t it?  I think my Aurin looks so cool.   Another neat thing is that you can visit other people’s houses and check them out.  I saw some interesting things for sure, such as this one that had a full Lopp party on their plot!  How freaking sweet!

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Right now, I’ve been dealing with the fact that ever since the patch, my computer is having major slow down.  Sometimes it’s low FPS like in Sylvan Glade, but other times the game chugs practically to a halt, making it look like a slide show.  I was disappointed that this was happening during my first taxi into Thayd, so I didn’t get to experience the grandeur of going into the city for the first time.  I get it on log in as well, or when I zone. It seems like it takes awhile for the game to render in all the assets.  I’m hoping I don’t have to reduce the graphics settings, because I’m currently playing on Medium and if I go much lower, it’s not going to look as gorgeous as it does now.  My PC isn’t that old or anything, so I’m hoping this is just a bug that they end up optimizing and fixing.  I would hate if my computer makes Wildstar unplayable, because it’s basically my main game right now other than LoL.

I forgot to mention that I picked up crafting as well and decided to go with Architect because I want to be able to make awesome housing furniture and decor.  However, now I just looked at this chart and I see that I need to use materials from every single gathering profession.  Yikes.  I don’t make things easy on myself do I?

Have some more screenshots:

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League of Legends progress update

WildStar hasn’t been able to get as much love as I would have hoped, but it’s because I’ve been diving back into League of Legends.  For those who haven’t heard, I’ve been a contractor at Riot Games now for about a month, and it’s rekindled my love for League and my desire to keep improving my skills.

I’m still maining support, and my favorite champs to play right now are Zyra, Nami, Morgana, Lulu.  Lately I’ve been trying to learn a couple more roles proficiently since I am seeding in ranked and don’t want to be stuck doing a role I’ve never done before.  I want to become decent with at least 1-2 champions in each role.  The scariest for me is Jungle.  I’m going to try to lock down my Elise mechanics and also pick up someone else, possibly Hecarim or Maokai.  My ADC skills are also shoddy, but I’m trying to learn Caitlyn and possibly Tristana or Lucian as well.  I’ve been doing a bit of last hitting drills to improve my CS, but that’s definitely my biggest weakness right now.  I’ve also been playing mid a bit to improve my proficiency there, and have had some good successes with Vel’koz, Zyra, Lulu, and Swain.

Current Short Term League Goals:

  • Continue to improve my CS as mid, learn to time my roaming so I am comfortable doing it more often
  • Play more ADC and quit being afraid of it.  In particular, learn Caitlyn, Lucian, and one more (maybe Tristana).
  • Find 1-2 melee top laners to be comfortable with.  I need to get out of my ranged comfort zone. Thinking right now about either Rengar, Yasuo, Aatrox, or Vi.
  • Play more tanky supports.  Braum, Thresh, Leona, Taric.
  • Get ranked. Even if it’s Bronze V, I want to play more 9 more ranked games and get on the move with ranked.
  • Learn Jungle.  It would be great if the top laner I use could also do jungle (such as Vi, Aatrox) so I don’t have to learn champ mechanics twice.

 

WildStar Level 10 Musings

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For some reason I have been holding off on putting together a proper WildStar post, partly because I am lazy but also because it feels like I have scratched so little off the surface of the game.  Leading up to the launch, I’d read from numerous bloggers that WildStar feels a bit manic or frantic – things everywhere to do, everything vying and screaming for your attention as a player. For me personally, this is the game’s strength.  I have only played one race, one class, and one path up to level 10, and I feel like the world is huge and there is enough to do in the game that I will not find myself running out of content.  In a world where very few MMOs hold my attention longer than a week, this is a very positive sign for me.

I’m a wee level 10, which is certainly not high enough to write a ‘review’ of the game by any means.  However, I can comment on a few things that have stood out to me as particularly good or not-so-good.  Let’s start with the bad, shall we?  So far, I only have two qualms with WildStar. The first is that despite MMO technology having come so far in the past 15+ years, we’re still doing conventional servers.  While other games have innovated on this, bringing players together, Wildstar is stuck in the past here.  So far, everyone seems to be so spread out across different servers.  I ended up picking the Evindra RP server for my Exile characters, but I’m already feeling kind of sad that I’m not playing with coworkers or other friends from RL that I know.  But I can’t please everyone here — there is no megaserver, there are no cross-server circles or guilds, there is no quick seamless transferring or guesting a la Guild Wars 2 or RIFT.  This downside is magnified by the fact that launch queues over headstart on the popular servers were 6+ hours in some cases! However, I did join a guild with some Twitter folks & feministy blogger types called Chili & Cornbread, and I’m sure it will be funtimes.

The other negative thing that I have to complain about are challenges.  Challenges, for those who aren’t playing the game — are little mini dynamic solo events that popup and require you to complete an objective in a certain amount of time.  Most frequently, it’s “kill X specific creatures in 5 minutes” with X being a number that is greater than feasible with the amount of other players in the area and the lack of eligible population to kill for the challenge.  I find them frustrating and stressful.  Even when there are enough mobs to kill, I don’t feel like my dmg-specced Esper is able to kill the required amount. Perhaps they’re tuned for a group?  Or maybe I just need to come back when I am higher level, but that seems to defeat the purpose of these dynamic events.

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However, those are literally the only two things that I could find to complain about so far.  From where I am sitting, WildStar is a truly amazing feat by Carbine. I don’t know what I expected since I didn’t devote much time to the game in alpha/beta, but I’m pretty much blown away by the level of polish, the attention to detail, and the sheer beauty of the world that has been created here.  I care about the stories and the lore and I want to know more (which in contrast to Elder Scrolls Online just isn’t even a fair comparison — that’s how far WildStar exceeds all expectations here) and I can’t wait to level up so I can see the new areas.  The biggest thing to highlight here is the music.  The soundtrack for the game is just brilliant.  Each zone has several tracks based on where you are, and they fit the feel and the magic of the environment that you’re in.  They’re memorably, catchy, and truly a great feat to be proud of.  MMO soundtracks tend to be forgettable, but this one is definitely worth turning up the volume and turning off Spotify.

The other thing that WildStar has captured for me that I haven’t felt since WoW is the diverse feel of the different areas.  When you’re in Everstar Grove and you’re helping out the tree guy, everything about the experience has been crafted to make if feel like a unique experience compared to a different quest line in a different zone. This is hard to explain.  But each area FEELS different. The environment has a depth, personality, and character to it that makes you want to be there and find out more. The story matches the music that’s happening. The props in the world are detailed and tell a story as well.  The lighting sets a particular mood you’re supposed to feel at a given point in your character’s journey.  The pacing is good as well — you don’t linger too long in one place and outgrow it.  It’s like the difference between a zone like Winterspring and a zone like Feralas — totally different, rich in their own ways, unique and refreshing when you discover them.

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Paths is the most surprising bit of enjoyment I’m having in WildStar so far. I’ve only been a Settler but my husband has been a Scientist & Explorer so I’m getting a sneak peek at those as well.  I thought paths would be cheap diversions tacked on to the main experience of the game. But they’re actually so well-woven into the experience that you want to partake in them and they actually change how you feel about your character.  My Esper *feels* like a helpful contributor to the community, and I’m really enjoying building resources that buff my fellow Exile on Evindra.  I like how I can repair things and then Scientists can make things from it.  I love collecting the resources everywhere and it’s fun to help beautify areas.

I could keep going into detail about things I love, but there really isn’t any need to. I love the combat and the telegraph system.  I’m sure housing will be fantastic. I like my class and her particle effects. The world design is gorgeous. The humor cracks me up and is a really nice change.  The space/fantasy hybrid is a welcome change as well, and there are some memorable NPCs and stories. It’s lighthearted, it’s fun, it’s just so damn well done.

Basically, compared to a game like ESO, WildStar feels like a complete package with a pretty bow on top.  It has that top-of-the-line production quality that WoW has, and I can honestly say at this point that WildStar might be the game that replaces WoW in my heart….much as WoW replaced EQ.  That’s a bold statement considering I’ve never even ran a dungeon yet, but I’m willing to say it anyway. :)

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WildStar Begins!

Tonight’s the head start and I logged in to discover a 2 hour wait on the server I was going to join with coworkers (Widow).  I decided to join up on Evindra since I know there are a lot of bloggers and feministy friends from Twitter on that server, and it has the added benefit of being a RP server where lots of servermates from Wyrmrest Accord (WoW) ended up going.  I am going to bed for the night but feel free to add “Cuppy” on Evindra as your friend!  I am an Aurin Esper (Exile side) and I am only level 3 right now, but I think I am ADORABLE!

Looking forward to talking about my WildStar adventures here!

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Playing the Waiting Game Before WildStar

At this point in time, I’m not really playing anything.  I’m currently on a mini-vacation in Minnesota visiting family, and then when I come home I’m starting my brand new job (which I am STOKED about and can’t share details just yet).  I’ve unsubscribed to Elder Scrolls Online and I’m going to unsub from WoW until Warlords of Draenor comes out.  I’ve preordered WildStar and I’m excited to reserve my name.  And as of right now, I’m not going to play anything else.  I’m even avoiding the beta because I don’t want to have to re-play content and I already know that I’m super interested in the game.

Why WildStar?

A few people have asked why I’m interested in WildStar and I have a number of reasons.  I don’t think it’s a ‘perfect game’ – but I’ve never played an MMO that was.  Mostly, my reasons boil down to these factors:

  • It’s new and shiny, polished, and AAA quality.  These are kinds of games that I like to play.
  • It reminds me of WoW, but it’s fresh and vanilla.  I really enjoyed being in on WoW at the ground floor, learning the systems along with everyone, and tackling every bit of content that came out.  WildStar feels like the next game that I want to do this with.
  • The graphics are charming.  I’ve always loved WoW graphics, and these feel like WoW++, basically updated textures with the accentuated designs that I always have loved.
  • The combat seems more interesting.  Rather than just typical tab-targetting, both the healing, avoiding, and damaging uses a variety of ‘telegraphed’ spells and dodging, and it feels like a natural evolution. Not incredibly innovative, but just something different.
  • Housing. Enough said, really.
  • I like the setting. It’s sci-fi which isn’t something I normally enjoy, but I’ve warmed up to it and I’m actually enjoying that aspect of it.

So that’s why.  I’m really hoping this is the game that will entertain me for months and be my ‘main game’, but I also plan to play ArcheAge alongside it.  Both games really appeal to me for different reasons.  So now, I’m waiting for just over 3 weeks to dive into WildStar, which means it’s time to study up on the lore and the races and classes to decide exactly what I want to play!  See you there!