Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Short Attention Span

So, what have I been playing? Reading through my back pages it would appear that I've turned into some kind of Jekyll and Hyde character, at least when it comes to MMOs.

Most of the time I'm a mild-mannered GW2 steadfast. I play GW2 every day. Literally every day. There can't have been many days since the game launched back in 2012, other than when we've been away on holiday, that I haven't at the very least logged in and done my dailies.

What's more, I do my dailies on all three accounts. Every day. Never missed one. I have it down to a fine art now. The dailies pull from a random pool and I know just which ones I can knock off in a few minutes.

Reently I've tended to have late starts at work so I've been doing two accounts before breakfast and the main account in the evening. On a good day I can do all three in twenty minutes.

I have no reason to be doing the dailies other than I like doing the dailies. All the stuff I get for doing them just goes in the bank or the currency tab. Little ever gets used.

Everyone expects the Asuran Inquest.

Other than that I've been doing all the new, short LS3 lead-in events as they've been added. Those have been a lot of fun. Really looking forward to LS3 now, as well as the reveal for the setting and theme of the next expansion. Surely that has to happen soon? I hope we go to Crystal Desert to see to Kralkatorrik, which seems to be the way things are pointing after our recent outing to Blazeridge Steppes.

These new big, open world events gave me a nostalgia for the good old days that I didn't think were all that good back when they were just the days. I've been picking away at the final couple of Achievements for Triple Trouble and I've been seen (and heard in map chat) at Teq and The Shatterer.

Most of my GW2 time isn't spent in PvE at all. I spend countless hours in WvW, partly because Mrs Bhagpuss lives there pretty much full time and partly because it remains one of the best log in, have fun options in MMOs.

They should totally put me in charge...

Anet's ongoing attempt at revitalizing the format and balancing the matchplay remains a work in progress at best. Tier 1 was averagely awful for a few weeks after the Great Linking but things have settled down a lot and now it mostly feels like any other rather lopsided match of the last three years, of which there have been all too many.

I doubt whether any of the levers ANet can pull will turn WvW into anything more than an echo of what it once was and a shadow of what it could have been. My feeling is that the game mode as it stands is irreparably broken and they'd need to change so much to fix it that they would be better off just scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

That said, if huge fights featuring hundreds of characters flinging massive AEs in all directions and lots of scrambling around battlements as you heroically fail to defend structures against overwhelming odds is the kind of thing you enjoy then WvW will give you that with admirable reliability. That does indeed happen to be the kind of thing I like so it's working for me.

That's my Dr Jekyll day face. Late at night and on days when I'm home and Mrs Bhagpuss is out at work, I turn into Mr Hyde.

Okay, no I don't. I play EQ2 and Dragomon Hunter. In one I'm a three foot tall rat dressed like Steve Martin in Three Amigos and in the other I appear to be a twelve year old girl with a rabbit, riding an otter. It's hardly the dark side, is it?

Not so fast El Guapo!

So, yes, I am still playing Dragomon Hunter. Who'd have thought? I could be playing Black Desert. I could be playing Blade and Soul - I certainly gushed about both of them enough earlier in the year, but I'm not. As has been the way of it for longer than I like to remember, my enthusiasms for these bright, new MMO worlds has failed to sustain itself long term. Instead I'm playing this quirky little F2P because I happened to read about it on Noizy's blog.

So far I'm level 19 and doing fine. Last night I started to get to grips with crafting. I upgraded my armor and weapon. DH has a gear system far less arcane and abstruse than Blade and Soul. It reminds me of the later version that City of Steam used, which I liked a lot, once I understood it.

I don't get on well with the combat controls. A hotbar clicker that insists you right-click is just wrong. Nevertheless, I'm able to use them well enough that last night I went into the Level 18 Main Quest instance, which was flagged "Hard" for me at a level below the optimum, and beat it without dying once. Levelled up twice doing it and came out overlevelled! Hell of a fight it was, too.

Game hopping to the newest shiny while still carrying on with my old favorites has really been a trope of this blog since it began. It's not pretty but it's been going on long enough that I can no longer deny the evidence of my own authorship.

Did we do that, Pollock?

I've written prolifically and enthusiastically, in bursts, about The Secret World, ArcheAge, Villagers and Heroes, FFXIV and more. For a while every other post - sometimes every post - is about whichever latest craze I'm on. And then it all somehow drifts back to GW2 and EQ2. Those are the mainstays.

Yet I never really abandon any MMO if I ever enjoyed it. I always mean to go back and often I do. Right now I'm on the verge of playing Blade and Soul again. After a flurry of recent blog posts mentioning it, I'm even reconsidering Rift, the MMO I considered my "main" back when this blog began.

Honestly, I could play almost any MMO. I'm not proud and I'm not fussy. I am still minded to buy Legion and give WoW another go. Gnome hunter! (That's a Gnome with a pet, not someone who hunts gnomes. Sorry to disappoint.)

I'm also still playing Celtic Heroes on my tablet. It's very good. Better than I expected even and I already thought it was pretty good. I'm level 19 there as well. I tend to play it in bed for half an hour if I'm not in the mood to watch YouTube.

We get housing, right? This is my house? Oh come on!

Why it's had so little publicity even when people have been complaining about the lack of good mobile MMOs for so long beats me. It's been around for years and it's a complete, full-function, classic MMO. I imagine it waving and jumping up and down, yelling "Hey! Over Here!" while everyone just goes on talking as if it wasn't there.

The other "MMO" I've been playing a little is, of course, Landmark. According to Massively OP, which seems to be fast turning into the "We're so bored with MMOs we wish they'd all just die already so we can write about something cool again" site, Landmark bombed on Steam and has a peak concurrency of 125 people. I'd link to the story but I don't want to encourage the negativity.

Certainly DBG seem to have no interest whatsoever in selling it. Even the in-game cash shop wasn't working last time I logged in. That's a first. I managed to have a lot of fun all the same, and for once I wasn't finessing one of my truly awful builds.

Continuity! I think we have a problem!

A trip to one of the underground caverns found me staring at a really impressive Science Fictional structure teeming with Novatech heavies. I spent the best part of half an hour fighting them and it was very surprisingly enjoyable. 

Despite the limited combat options I found myself using some old school EQ tactics, pulling mobs using line of sight around structures to break up groups, as well as as some very non-EQ tricks like grappling to a vantage point and hanging off a high ledge to pick off mobs from above. They used to call that "perching" back in the day and you could get banned for it. Here I think its legit. And if it isn't, I don't think anyone cares.

I also reinstalled and patched up NineLives. I might get back to that soon. When I finish this post and have a coffee I intend to install EverQuest and The Secret World on my new PC. EQ I am very long overdue to go back to and The Secret World has the museum coming soon. That sounds like a really excellent reason to check in with The Templars again. I wonder if I have back pay due?

Have you taken your Joy today?
There's even an outside chance I might play a couple of non-MMOs. No Man's Sky is an option and Keen inadvertently alerted me to what looks like one of the more interesting takes on the Survival genre in We Happy Few.

I've never played a survival game. Maybe I'll start there. Early Access comes to Steam in July. If I go for it expect a slew of gosh-wow blog posts and then radio silence.

Followed, inevitably, by more posts about GW2.


  1. I'm a one game kind of guy, with such limited playtime I do have. OK, right now it's two. I play Destiny weekly to get my free boxes (login for 1, do POE for 2, do a PVP match for the third) and that is just habit, about an hour, hour and a half.

    Mostly though it's the division. Just the single player part right now. It's a fun story line. I need to make my "what I like about the Division" post soon.

    I always have EQ ready to go (but unsubbed, I only sub if I forsee plenty of gaming time available in the future), and TSW which is my favourite single player story game that has taken me 3 years to get to.. Egypt. That is because I only play it when I am not playing something else. And right now I am.

    Amazed you handle all of those and then some. I have a ramp up time to get in the groove of a game before I can enjoy it fully. You definitely play the field. Impressive!

    1. I'm fortunate in that I find game systems come back to me very easily once I've learned them. I installed EQ on my new PC today and logged in for the first time in over six months and within minutes I was heading out to a zone I'd never visited before (still loads of those at the higher end) to do a quest. It was like I'd never been away - until the DDoS started and the server crashed.

  2. "I doubt whether any of the levers ANet can pull will turn WvW into anything more than an echo of what it once was and a shadow of what it could have been."

    I don't even remotely have your amount of playtime in WvW and GW2 in general; from my point of view I always thought of GW2's WvW as "LOTRO's open world PvP, but then better" (or "what LOTRO's Ettenmoors could have been, had the developers put time into (open world) PvP"). I enjoyed the time I spent in WvW, even though I had no clue what was going on.

    So, as a nosy GW2 tourist: in what way is WvW irreparably broken and how did it used to be better?

    1. Balance, basically. There is none. Players cluster, either around extrinsic "nodes" like where they live or who they know (time zones, guilds) or intrinsic ones like the new reward tracks or Karma.

      Instead of anything like a roughly even spread that allows for competitive matches we mostly have asymmetric combat, where servers with a very high population in one time zone play a server with a low population at that time and vice versa. Meanwhile a great mass of players who have little or no interest in representing a particular World slosh around, transferring to whichever server they think will give them the fastest, easiest wins. Currently that's Blackgate, which was locked for transfers until ANet brilliantly linked it with Eredon Terrace and left ET open for weeks.

      Add to that the split between people who want to win matches (the PPT crowd) and those who want "good fights" and/or Guild vs Guild, which has created the kind of toxic divide we've seen for years in PvE between Raiders and non-raiders, casuals and hardcore or any other self-defining polarities and you get a very uneven experience for everyone.

      And to cap it all, the replacement long ago of Worlds in all other forms of the game in favor of a global, self-organizing megaserver removed the entire supposed basis of the matchmaking process. Server pride is an anachronism now but with nothing to replace it the game mode is in moral freefall.

      If ANet really plans to run GW2 as their only actively developed product for a decade or more, as they have stated is their intention, they probably should bite the bullet and remake WvW from the ground up, preferably as a faction-based war with no fixed servers at all.

      As for how it used to be better - more server pride, fewer server transfers, a lot more people and a lot fewer non-WvW rewards. Also rose tinted spectacles!

    2. The whole game feels like it's in moral freefall right now. I can't even bring myself to talk about it.

  3. I think you're actually fairly typical of most of us core MMO fans. We're all digital tourists, and we all love jumping on the next big thing, but I've found that most people seem to ultimately gravitate back to one or two core games.

    I've had lots of MMO flirtations over the years -- right now I'm getting way more sucked into Landmark than I expected to be. Sometimes these flirtations have lasted months (GW2, Neverwinter, ESO, and Aion to name a few), but in the end, the only games that have held my attention long-term are WoW and TSW.

    1. Yep, as an explorer archetype I can't resist seeing new things but I also play these games for relaxation and there's nothing like the old familiar when it comes to kicking back after work. Interesting to hear Landmark is getting its hooks into you - I do think it has some charms!

  4. I picked up Landmark this weekend, I also was unable to access the ingame Marketplace, despite being able to access it outside the game using my account in a web browser. I opened a ticket on Sunday afternoon, Daybreak responded to the ticket within 3 1/2 hours, had it fixed by Monday afternoon (about 24 hours after the ticket was opened on a weekend, but likely other tickets had been opened earlier on the same issue). I'm curious to see how much further development resources Landmark gets, but they are providing support, at least to the Marketplace, heh! :)

    Speaking of development resources, as well as mobile tablet multiplayer, this E3 announcement of cross-platform compatibility for Minecraft and Minecraft: Pocket Edition has caught my interest. I funded Crowfall on Kickstarter mainly for their cross-platform vision with tablets and computers rather than interest in their gameplay. The recent soft launch of Dofus Touch for iOS and Android, which I understand is the complete Dofus MMORPG moved from flash to tablet, also has my interest with their turn based approach and a mature game.

    1. I'd also like to see a great deal more real cross-platform play. I'd love to be able to log into GW2 on my tablet and chat and use the Trading Post, for example.

      I played Dofus very briefly. Didn't get on with it but I can see it working well on a tablet.

  5. The writer for We Happy Few has a blog here: http://complicationsensue.blogspot.ca

    I used to follow it years ago when he was a screenwriter in LA, but he moved to Canada (Montreal) and moved into games in the last few years.

    - Simon

  6. Please keep doing your thing - I learn about all sorts of both current never heard of mmo's and existing ones here. Celtic Heroes - good stuff.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide