Liebster Award Questionaire!

Apparently, I’ve been nominated for Liebster award — which means that Belghast has tagged me with the task of answering some questions on this here very blog!  Since I’m still trying to get back into blogging, this is a good opportunity for me to do some thinking and lay down some words for y’all.  Thanks Bel!

Bel’s Questions:

What are the three major elements of your ideal video game?

This is a fun question, but man – it’s kind of difficult.  Because I have a few favorite types of video games and sometimes they have absolutely nothing in common.  Sometimes my ideal video game is a fun roguelike where I don’t have to pay too much attention to the story and I can just die over and over.  Sometimes my ideal video game has a lot of competition.  And sometimes it’s a sprawling RPG world.

But I’ll say the first is probably story.  Story is important to me if I’m going to be attached to the game and feel compelled to write about it and engage with it outside the game. It’s what draws me in to the characters and the world and the lore, so it’s why games like WoW and Dragon Age and Mass Effect really appeal to me.  The second is collection.  I love collecting things in games, whether it’s minipets, quests, gear, achievements, you name it.  Having this feeling that I’m amassing some giant stockpile of ‘stuff’ is just always fun for me.  The final element for me is character design.  My ideal video game has fully fleshed out characters with detailed backstories who are believable, diverse, interesting, and preferably female. =)

What’s the origin of your blogging name?

Cuppy is the name that I choose for most things nowadays.  It stemmed from Cuppycake, which was the character I chose for my Undead Priest in WoW when I made her back in 2004.  I decided that I wanted the most cutesy sounding name because it would be ironic compared to my ugly Undead character with her jaw hanging off and her bones sticking out.  Since then, Cuppy has stuck.  My original MMO blog was Cuppytalk and I’ve chosen to keep the name ever since.

What is your favorite biome?

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Easy.  Jungly Forests.  Not dark scary forests like Silverpine, but forests like Feralas. Lush, green, full of vines, hills, random flowers.  Bright green palette.  A place where I’m more likely to find whimsical critters than big baddies.  Mushrooms and butterflies rather than icky swamps.

What is your favorite genre of movie?

Documentaries, actually.  I watch a TON of documentaries.  Basically anything that hits Netflix or Amazon Prime, I’ve seen it.  I love dark, gripping, chilling ones mostly.  Things about illnesses, crime, psychiatric disorders, class and war issues, things like that.  I also like docs about occupations I know nothing about, or about food & nutrition, politics, you name it.  Some of my favorites include Virunga, Dear Zachary, There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane, man….the list goes on.  Love them!

How did you get started blogging?

Well, technically — I wanted to join in the MMO conversation so I started Cuppytalk in 2006.  Then I got a job in the industry in 2007 and stopped blogging as much, but I enjoyed evoking debate and starting shit.  I don’t know why, but being adversarial was always my thing.  Picking fights and such.  I was fiercely opinionated about games, but all that has been tempered since actually joining the game industry and seeing how things REALLY work. ;) But before that, I wrote on MySpace blog, LiveJournal, Xanga, you name it. I’ve always enjoyed having an ‘online diary’ of sorts.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

My fondest memory is probably the day I found out I was getting my first horse. I was 11, and I’d been taking riding lessons since I was 6 and daydreaming about horses ever since.  I was spending all my waking hours at the barn, wishing I had a horse of my own.  I used to write a diary on a typewriter, pretending I had a pony or horse and making up stories about it.  Finally, my mom worked out a deal to get me a horse through her employer, the St. Paul Police Department, which had a mounted police program.  What she didn’t realize was that the horse was a reject.  He didn’t work because he was…well…kind of crazy.  I used to fall off of him all the time, but I loved him to pieces and he basically made my childhood a dream come true. I don’t have a single memory of him, but Rocky crafted my preteen and teenager years and I still to this day have to own a horse to be happy. :)

What is your favorite in game “mount” and why?

I don’t know why…but I don’t actually have one.  I really like the plain ol’ horses, like some of the LotRO horses and there’s even a horse or two in RIFT that I really like.  WoW mounts tend to be too fantastical for my liking, but just  having plain horses and ponies would make me happy.  If I had to name one though – it’s my Sparklepony. I remember when that horse went for sale it looked like it would be limited, like they only had so many to sell and if I didn’t pay $30 or whatever for it – I’d lose my chance forever.  I love that thing and still ride it in WoW to this day.

Do you collect “mini pets” in game, and if so do you have a favorite?

Yes, I do, but not nearly as obsessively as others.  In WoW I collect them, and my favorite is my Fluxfire Feline that I got from the Gnome? starting area.  I love it because it’s robotic and cool and it’s a rare, and it just seems like a cool pet.

Cats, dogs, or something else?

Horses. But I also have three dogs (two Boxers and a Min Pin) and I love them to pieces.  So let’s just say ALL ANIMALS.

Describe your relationship with your automobile?

Eh, it’s a car.  It’s a hand-me-down from my husband (though it’s nice..it’s a 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback) but it’s not the car of my dreams that I would pick out.  But it’s a good car with good gas mileage and it makes a good barn vehicle with the hatch.  I don’t have a name for it or anything.

What role of the holy trinity of tank/dps/healer fits your personality most?

Oh jeez. Probably dps, because I’m frantic and clumsy and I tend to do damage everywhere I go.  I’m loud and front of the line though too, so maybe tank?  And I also am deeply empathetic and care for people, so maybe healer too. I don’t know, I think I break the bounds and kind of represent all of them. =D

Well, there we go!  These were fun to answer, but I have to admit that I don’t really know anyone to tag.  I don’t follow a ton of MMO blogs anymore, and the ones I do have mostly already been tagged.  So, I’ll just leave it here and enjoy reading the posts from around the blogosphere!

The Point of WoD, or, the State of WoW

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There’s a post from the amazing Anne Stickney over on Blizzard Watch that felt so interesting, so important that I wanted to highlight it here.  (Aside – can I just say how happy I am that Blizzard Watch exists and seems to be continuing the kind of steam the team had at WoW Insider?  So relieved!)

Which is why it’s so weird that right now, standing a little over three months into the expansion, I am desperately looking for a story that simply is not there. It’s even more strange because the leveling experience from 90-100 was so good — but once you hit level 100 and finish all zone quests, the narrative simply peters out. Draenor is a world that reeks of history, untold stories and mysteries that have yet to be discovered, much less solved, but we are floundering in our garrisons looking for some kind of meaning to it all.

Yes yes YES!  This!

I love World of Warcraft, I always have.  One thing that has always driven my desire to play the game is the story that is so huge, so sprawling, so deep.  I love the world, the characters, the backstories, the lore, the setting, everything.  The Warlords of Draenor concept as an expansion felt incredible to me — a chance to go back and see some of the big characters from days yonder, big figureheads from WoW lore pre-WoW.  It felt like Caverns of Time on steroids, an entire expansion of cool characters doing awesome shit, and how could I not stand behind that?

Levels 90-100 were so compelling, so fabulous.  The questing didn’t feel tedious, because I wanted to know what would happen next.  The cutscenes were downright magnificent and the story drove the whole leveling experience.  Now, at level 100 — I’m just unsure what’s next.  I find myself hand-wringing in my garrison, brainlessly doing chores and sending my followers out on supposed exciting journeys that I get to share no part in.  The apexis dailies are monotonous and not story-driven at all, the Highmaul raid and Blackrock Foundry are so lore-light that they feel like simply ways to improve my ilvl with little else to get invested in.  There’s no more story arcs, just hints and glimpses and bits and pieces of disconnected unfinished stories with supposed badasses lingering in the world without a threat.

Which is why I’m bored.  I’m not logging in much anymore, because I’m not really just interested in filling bars and meters and ticking off boxes without a story to encompass my actions.  And it’s why FFXIV is appealing to me right now, because if there is one thing that Square Enix excels at, it’s story. But I don’t have the immense love for the mythos of Final Fantasy as I do for Warcraft, so I know I’ll be back.  Patch 6.1 doesn’t seem to be bringing enough to excite me into coming back, but perhaps a content & story driven patch 6.2 could bring my excitement back?  Maybe when Tanaan drops and we find out more about Gul’dan?  I don’t know.

Rejoining the Blogosphere

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Hello Again

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged regularly. I’ve never stopped gaming, but for some reason Twitter has become the main place that I talk about that part of my life.  I do miss interacting in comments and having a sort of ‘living memoir’ for my gaming experience, so I’ve decided to commit to blogging on here more often.  I don’t really expect to devote time to long-winded prognostications about the industry and where it’s going, but instead just blab about my experiences and thoughts on whatever game(s) I’m currently enjoying. So, hello again!  I feel glad to be home.

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Exploring Eorzea

Since Warlords of Draenor launched, World of Warcraft has been my main stomping ground.  At this point, I’ve grown a bit fatigued with the whole thing and have been searching desperately for another MMO to get lost in.  Since Belghast and Jaedia and a smattering of bloggers have found their current home in FFXIV, I decided to join up with them.  The highest I’ve gotten in FFXIV was about 22 or so, just high enough to get my chocobo on my Lalafell White Mage.   This time, I’m going Scholar, so I started with Arcanist and have been having a good time so far.

Every time I peek my head back into FFXIV I am enamored all over again with the look of the world and the charm of the characters and dialogue.  Belghast said something in Free Company chat about how FFXIV is one of the best and deepest games that does a piss poor job of presenting things to players, and I think that’s pretty spot on.  I’m thankful that I have a FC to ask questions of, because things aren’t presented with a pretty bow all the time.

We’ll see how long it lasts, but so far I’m really enjoying myself.

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Forge.GG

There’s a new service going around that’s like part social network for gamers, part streaming service called Forge.GG.  I just got my invite today and haven’t tried out the streaming yet, but the service seems slick and the UI is nice. So far, I’m kind of underwhelmed by the quality of the streams that are being uploaded though.  They don’t make the games look all that great, so we’ll see if I stick around.  Feel free to follow me if you’re on Forge!

My opinions on Hatred and Valve’s decision

Twitter’s character limit leaves me unable to express my opinions on this, so here’s my thoughts on the game Hatred and its controversy.

I would never play this game. I think its content is disgusting, and I wouldn’t be able to handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood.  I play games for fun, and this game would not add fun to my life.

It’s not the only game I won’t play.  I also won’t show games that glorify or show graphic depictions of animals being killed.  I think games like Big Buck Hunter and the animal killing parts of Far Cry 4 are disgusting.  See the above, where I talk about how I can’t handle the graphic violence of murdering innocent victims in cold blood, whether non-human animals or human animals.  Our society might be desensitized to one, but to me – they’re in line with each other.  I also won’t play games like Consensual Torture Simulator, because the subject matter is just not for me, and that’s okay.

I don’t care that Hatred is on Steam.  Just because I would not personally play this game, doesn’t mean I don’t think anyone should.  It might be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t have an issue with Super Columbine Massacre existing either.  Until we can decide what kind of content is straight up ‘illegal’, I think there are too many grey areas to draw arbitrary lines in the sand (see the Postal vs. Hatred arguments).  The internet is full of horrible things, most of them skirting the rules around what’s allowed.   One can make decisions to completely avoid it, and their internet experience isn’t ruined.  Big Buck Hunter is literally about murdering defenseless animals for sport, which I find absolutely abhorrent.  But, it has every right to exist and I’m fine with that.

If Valve are going to moderate Greenlight games, they need transparency.  It’s just the right thing to do here.  If companies are relying on your platform for their livelihood and you’ve established yourself as the place to publish your game for massive success, it’s good business to be transparent about rules and regulations. I’d expect to see a detailed description of the moderation process, including what kind of content is straight up not allowed on Steam, and what appeals process there is (if any), and how many ‘strikes’ a game gets, etc.  Even though they made the decision to restore Hatred to Greenlight, what about the next game that crosses the line even further?  There’s always someone trying to push the barrier further and further, so it’s in Steam’s best interest to be transparent about this stuff before it happens again.

They need to moderate their forum cesspit.  This isn’t really debatable for me here — right now, the Hatred forums are filled with comments from people who are demanding that the developers add DLC which allows them to murder Anita Sarkeesian and other “SJWs”.  Apparently the responsibility for moderating these forums has always fell with the developers themselves, but that feels like Valve trying to avoid the extra overhead of watching all those forums for inappropriate content.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — that’s the responsibility you assume when you open online forums.  If you’re not ready to police the boards for unsafe, inappropriate, illegal, or harassing content – you shouldn’t have boards.  Right now, there is blatant hate speech taking place on Steam’s platform and they can’t abstain from all responsibility for it. This stuff is disgusting, and needs to go.

Long Time, No Post

Oh hey everyone, I totally forgot I have a blog. ;)

(Just kidding, I would never forget about the 5 people who read this!)

In all honesty, I’ve been blogging elsewhere about non-videogame things, and until Warlords of Draenor was released I’ve been spending little time playing games because I’ve been busy with work and things.  I’ve been back in WoW for the past couple of months, scrambling to finish bucket list items I’d been wanting to do (achievements, killing Garrosh, getting my heirloom weapon, transmogging, running old raids) but now that WoD is live – it’s all fun and games in Draenor.  Can I just say that I’m loving this expansion?  I just dinged level 100 yesterday on Thanksgiving, and I’m currently exploring all the fun there is to do in the end game.  I feel like this expansion has so much to do, so much depth to the gameplay that I’m being pulled in so many directions and I love it!  The story and the quests are just fantastic. Here’s the state of my experience as it stands right now.

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My Garrison

Garrisons are an amazing addition to WoW.  I managed to remain completely unspoiled throughout the beta, and I’m super happy that I did.  I had no idea what to expect out of my garrison and so far it’s blown me away.  I love the followers (I’m so attached to them) and missions, and having my own personal herb garden and mine, and bank and vendors. It’s like my own little antisocial home in WoW, and I’m totally down for it.  I’m not 100% solid about my decisions on my buildings because I didn’t really read any guides.  I have a level 2 herb garden, fishing shack, and mine, and a level 1 storehouse and stables, a level 2 Scribe’s Quarters and Lumber Mill.  I have three empty spaces right now because I’m lacking the garrison resources to build anything new, so I have to optimize my follower missions better.

Alts

Of course I leveled my Restokin Druid Treetopsy first to 100.  My Shadow/Disc Priest Jiraa is only level 91 and has her garrison, though I haven’t had a moment to think about playing her since the second day of the expansion. I have a level 90 Hunter that I boosted who hasn’t even journeyed to Draenor yet, and all other alts have been forgotten.  There is so much to do on Treetopsy that I can’t imagine juggling multiple characters!

Questing

I feel like getting to 100 was incredibly fast. Way faster than it took me to go 85-90 in Pandaria the first time. I finished Frostfire Ridge, Gorgrond, and Talador and only did half of Spires of Arak.  I have all of Nagrand left to check out!  I also have to finish all the exploration and bonus achievements, along with

Proving Grounds

I completed Bronze Healer and Silver Healer, but Gold Healer is way too hard for me at my current ilvl. I’m completely out of mana at the end and barely beat Silver.  I need to get better gear and come back for this!

Pet Battling

I am so so so so behind on this.  At some point I need to devote a ton of time to grinding out some great pets, finishing the Azeroth & Pandaria pet trainers before moving on to WoD, and need to get the pet menagerie so I can do pet dailies.  Argh, so much to do!

Tradeskills

I maxed out my Herbalism and I am slowly grinding up Inscription. I’m thankful that my husband doesn’t need herbs for anything so he sends me all of his herbs in exchange for my ore.  I’m fine with that! =)  It means I can mill all my herbs for work orders and daily cooldowns and hopefully I will have my inscription staff soon!

Gear

I’m sitting at ilvl 582 right now. A long cry from being able to do Molten Core or any of the heroics.  However, considering I have a ton of quests left in Spires of Arak and Nagrand, and have all the level 100 dungeons left to do, I think I’ll be just fine and I’ll enjoy the gear grind.

I’m going to try to chronicle my fun in WoW more often here.  For the meantime, have some screenies! =D

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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.