Tuesday, May 31, 2016

All About You : NBI, EQ2

I don't mean to jump the train to blogger's ennui but yesterday I did find myself coming up oddly short of a peg on which to hang my usual Sunday post. Nothing to do with a disconnect from the games or writing about them. Nothing to do with lack of desire or interest or enthusiasm. All of those are present and in good order.

It was laziness, that's all. I had several ideas rolling around but all of them would take a few hours to polish up to a post and it was Sunday and I'd been working all week and I mostly wanted to kick back, run around Norrath and Tyria and not have to think too much. 

So I spent Sunday morning in Skyshrine, working through the heroic signature questline there and Sunday afternoon and evening in World vs World. Doing not very much of any interest or importance to anyone, even to me.

I remember when the Withered Lands update arrived and Skyshrine along with it. Mrs Bhagpuss and I worked through the long, complicated solo questline that took us from where the griffin from Thurgadin landed to where the griffin to Skyshrine takes flight. It seemed to take forever. It probably took at least a couple of weeks. It might have been a whole month.

When you come to a new zone that's been added at level cap there is often a step change. Your old gear doesn't really cut it any more because everything past the first starting area has been tuned for the new normal. Progress slows to a crawl.

I like that. I find it encouraging and motivating, even when, as with Withered Lands, the step is a high one.

As well as slowing leveling down by a factor of five, Withered Lands was the update that introduced Advanced Solo zones, modified versions of Heroic (aka full group) Dungeons tuned for at most two players, more normally one player and an NPC Mercenary. When we finally got to Skyshrine we stepped into the contested (aka  open world) dungeon, where our backsides were neatly packaged and handed back to us by the first few mobs, as expected. 

In the olden days that would have been an end of it. I remember, for example, how The Hole roadblocked our progress in the Sentinel's Fate expansion back in 2010.

Advanced Solo changed all that. In modern EQ2 the EQ stands for equality. Equality of opportunity. No-one has to miss out on the art department's hard hours just because they don't have any friends. We all get to stroll through the galleries, together or alone.

So, I'd seen all the sights before, which is why I didn't take any screenshots yesterday. Usually, if I'm thinking of a post I'll take some shots for insurance but I was feeling lazy so I didn't bother. Plus, neither Withered Lands nor Skyshrine is much of a visual feast. The clue is in the name as far as the outdoor part goes and Skyshrine itself is one of those maps where someone thought it would be a good idea to use a filter, in this case a dark, red filter that makes everything look dull and smoky.

That aside, I had enormous fun, working through the questline from the wiki walkthrough, one-shotting whole groups of heroic Awakened with my bow, thanks to the mighty multi-attack and crit bonuses from my overlevelled gear, burning through bosses long before they could pull any of the tricks the wiki warned me about.

I do purely love being overgeared and overlevelled for old content, especially when I was badly undergeared and underprepared for it when it was new. It's one of the greatest strengths of the MMO genre.  

I can't begin to count the number of times knowing I'd become powerful enough to do something that was out of my reach before has brought me back to an MMO for another few weeks or months. Indeed, now that we have had the opportunity to compare, I prefer it as a gameplay model to the kind of always-at-level scaling that's becoming the norm.

So, I pottered through Skyshrine for a few hours and when I'd had enough and my bags were too full I meandered back to GW2, where I did my dailies on three accounts and then spent the rest of the day in WvW. Which was quiet. Very quiet. Didn't take many screenshots there, either.

It was all thoroughly good fun but it didn't give me much in the way of inspiration. All day as I played I had it in the back of my mind that I "ought" to be posting. I very nearly always post on Sundays, usually in the morning. But I didn't want to. I was feeling lazy. 

I toyed with a couple of ideas for slapping up something short but I couldn't come up with anything that seemed like it would work so in the end it got to be evening and I hadn't posted and I knew I wasn't going to and that was fine. I don't have a schedule. I don't want to have a schedule. If I don't feel it I'm not going to do it.

Tomorrow is the start of this year's NBI although posts related to it have been popping up all over the place for the last couple of weeks. This is one of them. Sort of.

There is, to my way of thinking, altogether too much angst around the hobby right now. The hobbies I might say, both playing MMOs and blogging about them. If there's one message I'd like to put across to anyone about to take the plunge it's this:

It's YOUR blog

You get to decide when you post, what you post, how often you post, whether you post. I can't speak for the other platforms but in Blogger at least you also have a measure of control of who can comment and even over who reads everything you write. 

Yes, you can have a blog that only people you invite can see - a bit like guild chat I guess. I don't recommend that but it's a thing, if you want it. The important part to remember is

It's YOUR blog.

It doesn't belong to your readers or your commenters or The World. It doesn't belong to whoever owns and operates the platform. You can pick it up and move it somewhere else if you want and if one day you find the game's not fun any more you can take it down and that's an end of it because

It's YOUR blog.

And because it's yours you can skip a day or a week or a month or a year and then, when the mood or the muse takes you, you can spin it back up. You can opine on the burning issues of the day or burble on about your characters or what you're doing to the back yard (Hi, Belghast - I really like those posts, by the way...). 

Just because you got into blogging via the gateway drug of reading MMO blogs doesn't mean you have to write about nothing but MMOs (even though I do). As I think I mentioned

It's YOUR blog.

Write about what you want. Write when you want. Write how you want. And if you don't want to write then don't. 

It's a lot less stressful that way and a lot more fun.


  1. Interest during NA prime time has waned as the blobs take their toll. BG and TC coverage is all-pervading and all-seeing. We've been running them in circles completing dailies, taking camps, and ninja-capping paper objectives with the occasional good fight. That's about as much as we can do at this point given the lack of tags and the desire to return to T2 where the engagements will presumably not entail engaging equal forces and having the entire map show up minutes later.

    1. We've had some amazing sessions on full defense mode during EU prime. We held Garrison for three hours under constant pressure on Sunday evening and slaughtered countless BG in lengthy battles for Hills. It hasn't been all bad but yes, T1 with Stackgate isn't working for anyone but the carpetbaggers and KTrainers. I don't think TC are enjoying it any more than we are.

      It's going to take 2-3 weeks to drop to T2 and that's if DB manage to win every time. If they take weeks off too then they will fall away from under us. Even when we do drop we will most likely bounce back up. Wild cards are the best hope for a better match until the scoring changes come in and shake up the established order.

      Or until ANet re-link servers. What happens when the bloated ET gets de-linked from BG and re-assigned will be interesting to see.


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