Appearances

Back when I was playing the Realm Online there was a dye feature. You could tell who’d been playing the game awhile as they’d be running around in flesh colored robes and wielding a huge purple stick. Dye color was a status symbol, the earliest wave of tier gear. Looking back, I think dyes were so popular, not for their fad value, but because there was such a limitation on clothing style and personal appearance. It was damn near impossible not to see yourself every screen as you wandered around the landscape.

I wasn’t very good about using dyes myself. You could pretty much be guaranteed to find me with a black suit of something chain-mail like. I’ve been pretty poor about keeping up with my own appearance in general. I did spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to track down my swashbuckling hat for my red mage in Final Fantasy, and various tiers during my time in Warcraft, but I could always argue that I did it for the stats. My lack of interest in actually bothering to transmog gear would back this up…

If it hadn’t been for Guild Wars 2. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s not much variation in actual gear appearance from class to class. As a hunter, I tend to get dusters and tall boots (no heels, thank you very much) and call it a day. However, the variation in coloring is dramatic.

 

While I don’t change my colors every single day (honest!) I do swap around my color palette quite frequently as the general outline and shape of my clothing changes or I just get tired of the same old thing. There’s three things that I really enjoy about the way dyes, and appearance in general have been adapted in GW2. One is the ease. The pane above is from my character screen which I can access at any time, anywhere in the world. It makes fiddling with my appearance intensely gratifying as I can instantly do a wardrobe change.

Another thing that is fairly fun, if very random is the discovery of the dyes themselves. They are a simple lootable item, but you literally have no idea when, where or how your color palette will turn out as you start a new character.

The last thing isn’t really dye specific, but I have found to be quite shocking: I have yet to see a clone of myself. I haven’t exactly chosen a look that’s out of the ordinary–I’m a freaking blonde bombshell, right? Yet, I haven’t seen another player with my exact look (even if I’ve seen my hairstyle now and again). While much of this has to do with the character selection process, I think the bulk of this has to do with clothes.

Like I mentioned earlier, there isn’t actually that much variation in cut of clothing style by class. Hunters tend to have one style, guardians another, casters a third. And while the first thing we notice about another character is their clothes, it’s very hard to peg someone as a certain level or progression point in the game, or even to find a matching set of clothes from one player to another.

 

 

The dye system is an integral part of this unique appearance of players in game. Each item of clothing can be dyed in several fashions which allows for very distinct looks from player to player. While I could live without this feature, and I have in game after game, the ease of access makes it a very fun addition to getting a new item. I never have to look like a multi-colored vagabond unless I choose to. I think the downside to this array of color options is the very lack of variety in actual clothing design. I can imagine that item styles are limited in order to handle the variations in color schemes and body types that a person may choose.

However, after having the heavily detailed armor styles of WoW and the simple but color rich gear in GW2, I think I would take color customization over fancy epaulets in future games. Because of the cumbersome time/gold sink that is transmog, there is a lack of variety from tier to tier among players, resulting in a homogenization and twinning that can take away from the immersion of the game. It wasn’t until I didn’t find a twin of myself that I realized how fun it can be to be unique, not because of accomplishment per se, but just because I am unique, a player with singular tastes and sensibilities.

[GW2] Social Aspects

Although Syl’s recent article on Guild War 2’s end-game have absolutely nothing to do with my subject, they did remind me that this is a post I wanted to write. I’ve seen the argument (sorry I’m link poor on that one) that the on-the-fly-fellowship model improves the social life of the MMO.

How does that work? How does not having to communicate make you more social? How does it make you connect with other players? It doesn’t. In the *almost* month I’ve been playing GW2, I can count the total number of things I’ve said in a chat channel on one hand.

Now, I’m willing to take the bulk of the blame. I’m very happily wandering around the world and discovering little nooks and crannies. I’m sure there *is* some way to actually scroll in my text box, but I haven’t taken the time to figure it out. What can I say, I’m a little anti-social on a good day. When I have been social in MMOs, it’s primarily been the result of group content. I had to communicate to function in a group setting.

While I don’t have any quibbles about not having to be social in order to enjoy an MMO, I do have a major quibble with saying that I’m enjoying the “social life” of an MMO. Auto-grouping doesn’t encourage me to do group activities and it sure doesn’t encourage me to actually interact with my fellow players. While I have enjoyed the group encounters I’ve taken part of, the absolute self-reliance that players are encouraged to embrace has left gaping holes in the mentoring you often see in new MMOs.

Let’s look at one of the encounters I took part in. The boss did a stomp. If you weren’t dodging during the stomp, you died. Pretty simple. You could spot the new people by the ring of death surrounding the boss. Since we’re not a “group” in the traditional sense, it doesn’t really matter to the bulk of people that these folks are dying. We’re all self-reliant, they’ll figure it out or just die a lot, right?

Chatter in the area was either:

  1. Melee can’t do this fight (lies! I was melee!)
  2. Rez me (it doesn’t matter that I’m right under the boss and you won’t actually have time to rez me before the stomp again)

 

It was rather frustrating to be a part of. Since it was my second time at the boss, I’d figured it out, and actually had enough time to look around and see the circle of death. I realized how nice it would have been if someone else would have done what I did: explain how the fight works. Moving on to new zones and new encounters, I saw this pattern repeated again and again. Sure, people were talking, but it was generally the same crappy bullshit you get in any forced group. As much as I’ve complained about having to struggle to form groups, or to keep groups together, the very fact that I must depend on other group members for a minimum set of time made me want them to succeed. As a result,because I was invested in my fellow players, I’ve formed a lot of great relationships in a multitude of different communities. Now that’s what I call being social.

The GW2 model, at least for outdoor auto-group type raiding doesn’t make me invest in others, which means I have less reason to want to talk to them, help them, or form relationships with them. As a result, I fail to see how we can say that the GW2 model encourages socialization. It might encourage you to enjoy “group” content, but that’s a story for another day.

[GW2] Lost and Found

I didn’t have a lot of expectations heading into Guild Wars 2. I’d seen it popping up in my feedreader fairly regularly, and it had been recommended to me a couple times during the beta testing stage as something that might interest me, but I haven’t actively been seeking a new game per se. However, late last week I made one of my infamous impulse buys and plunked down some cash. No monthly fee, just buy the box? Sold.

Although there will be quite a few screenshots tucked around in this post, you won’t see one of my first character. I was going to break the mold, I was going to be a rebel, I was not going to roll a healing plate wearer or a ranger. No way, no how. I went for a Sylvari Mesmer, a class that promised spellcasting and sneakery.

What was I thinking?

By the time I had reached level 5, I had discovered that I didn’t need to spam my auto-attack to get the 3 hits… it handled itself quite nicely being an auto attack. But the clone system (see soul shards) that I could never manage to get past 2 were doing horrible things for my blood pressure, and I threw up my hands, called it a day, and completely went with my personal trend: plate-wearing healer incoming.

For the rest of the weekend I went gallivanting around the countryside as a Charr Guardian. Now, I thought they were a cat-like people until my husband felt the need to exclaim “rabbits!” over my shoulder, and now I can’t get back to my initial catty reaction. They do have this funny little nose twitch that just screams “looking for carrots.”

 

I discovered that each weapon came with it’s own baked in skills, and that additional skills were limited by a combination of skills tests and leveling. I discovered that the crafting system, while easy to get started with is going to be difficult to master. I loved that anything that I could mine, pluck, or chop I could harvest without restriction. And I discovered my passion and I daresay my addiction: exploration.

Exploration points aren’t all just run to the right part of the map and done (although those are there too). To completely discover an area, you meet skill checks, help out residents, and find your way into various nooks and crannies.

Platform experience of some kind definitely comes in handy as you attempt to reach these delicious mini-maps which play a nice cinematic of your local area.

The questing experience, frankly, didn’t feel like questing for much of my time spent over the weekend. Sure, you do tasks, sometimes very silly or fun tasks that don’t really have anything to do with world domination or staving off the same.

 

But there’s no “run to quest-giver, do task, run back to quest-giver, get another task” repetition involved. You get into the area where a task is located, it pops up in your quest log, and when you finish you get mailed some cash and a thank you. You don’t even have to get to a mailbox–you can access your mail anywhere. Same with world events. They just happen in a very Rift-esque manner but without the constant joining and dropping of parties. You just show up, do your job, and move along.

All in all, having finished my 2nd complete map yesterday, I’m thoroughly hooked, and waiting to see what the next zone will bring.

 

The MMO Tab

Hello everyone, this is Joshua “Riknas” from Riknas Rants. I regret to inform you that Windsoar has been kidnapped by Illidan in…wait, no that’s not it… I mean Windsoar’s home is under siege by the Lich Ki- that doesn’t sound right either.

Okay, I’ve got it. By right of conquest, I have defeated Windsoar and taken the Jaded Alt blo- okay, this sucks. Forget it.

Windsoar said I could write a guest post on her blog and here I am. Go figure.

Today’s topic is about your internet browser, for instance, the one that you’re viewing this blog on. Be it Safari, Firefox (woo!), Chrome, or even Internet Explorer, all of these modern browsers are capable of tabbed browsing now. This turns out to be far more convenient than back when we wanted to see a new website without switching pages that we would have to boot up another instance of your chosen browser. Even now, I can already sense you thinking of clicking to your next tab to look at explicit material (that’s right, I can tell)… HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, WE’RE NOT DONE YET.

So, you can play MMOs, and can you can look at multiple tabs. Have you thought about actually playing an MMO while browsing the internet, without having to minimize the program? Well, get this. You can. Pretty cool, right?

Cooler than this at least.

That said, browser based games have been around for years. The original Runescape actually came out in 2001 roughly the same time as Anarchy Online. Now, that’s not to say that they were actually on par with the capabilities of games back then, because they definitely were not.

Behold my 2D-looking glory!

However, they have come a very long way since they first were developed, and while they will never be on par with that of games that you need to install, due to the nature of the technologies, they are not something that should be dismissed out of hand. Take a look at what we can get now.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place? Try lava and a dragon.

And of course, Runescape is definitely not the only browser MMO out there. Ogame is a fascinating strategy sci-fi game that focuses on number crunching and resource gathering while expertly disguising it with planet images, pictures of massive turrets, and most importantly, spaceships. It relies heavily on player dynamics with people colonizing planets in new systems, building defenses, exploring space, and forming grand fleets. You can also pick whichever aspect of gameplay you prefer and focus on that. You can elect to either become friendly with other empires, or declare war on the first poor sap you find. Actually,  there are a surprising number of sci-fi browser games, especially ones involving twitch-based space combat. Games like Battle Star Galactica Online and Dark Orbit immediately come to mind.

Along with that we have the infamous Evony, which generated a great deal of controversy with an advertising campaign that relied heavily on images of scantily clad women (No, I’m not linking those)…which had absolutely nothing to do with the game itself. Even so, no one can deny the game’s success, as it has since evolved into “Evony: Age II”. Despite that, their methods of self-promotion remain ridiculous, as they go on to say that, “It’s a free browser game and takes only 5 minutes to learn, and is extremely fun.” Whoa, this game is fun? Well hot damn, sign me up!

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!!!!!!

And with all that said, I suggest you click open a new tab, and check some of these games out.

Riknas, signing off!

[D3] Day 1 Q&A

Although I imagine Error 37, and my subsequent spring fling with CTRL-V, will take awhile to fade from my first impressions of Diablo 3 going live, I did get the opportunity to create my Witch Doctor yesterday arriving alongside my husband’s Wizard outside of New Tristram. We only managed to claw ourselves up to L11, but I must say that what the beta promised, the final product delivered and I’m thoroughly enjoying my return to Diablo’s playground. I don’t imagine that I’ll be hitting nightmare any time soon (unlike some people I know) but as a returning Diablo player, I expected to be running the ropes rather smoothly; however, I did have a few questions crop up, either myself or from others getting ready to start playing. Since I obviously cannot be alone in my derp (wishful thinking) here’s Wind’s self Q&A.

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Diablo 3 Auction Houses

Diablo 3 AH is a game changer in every sense. However I’ve not seen a lot of analysis and if possible, even less since the rates have been announced. Sure people have been gasping and saying “Two AHs?  What does it mean!?” for months now but that doesn’t really count.  So here’s a bit of analysis:

The Diablo 3 AH will be very different from current expectations now that the rate structure is out. It’s a fair bit more expensive than expected.
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Star Struck

I really hate that moment when you have to go back and redact a statement. These things happen, but sheesh, here I am, promising to never hold a glowing condom in my hand, and… well…

Fear my light stick!

It happened. In my defense, I’ll say that I didn’t pay for the honor of holding a glowie stick and leaping around like a nut. Guild-mates and their random desire to be nice to people can have unintended consequences.

So instead of working on my 9k achievement score, or enjoying the wonders of Skyrim, I’m running around the galaxy doing good… or evil. Depends on the day.

As a Skyrim aside, don’t you just love when you put an arrow in someone’s eye and they wander around mumbling, “Hmmm, I thought I heard something. Oh well.”

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Thoughts About RPGs (Blame It On Skyrim)

As I think I briefly glossed over in a previous post, I joined the hordes of gamers who flocked to Skyrim. It’s been awhile since I played an off-line RPG, with just me, the wanna-be hero growing into myself and pitting my fumbling skills against bandits, giants and dragons galore. I must say, it’s been bloody fun. A single-player RPG offers a different experience that an on-line RPG which no matter how successful or inventive can ever duplicate with complete accuracy. I’m not here to quibble over the detriment of either genre because of the existence of the other: despite the RPG in each title, they are fundamentally different experiences, and here’s why. Continue reading