Thursday, March 23, 2023

Welcome To My Island

Yesterday I did something in an mmorpg just for the simple fun of doing it. It's surprising how rarely that happens. 

So much of the hobby revolves around doing something either to get a reward or to make a number go up. Leveling. Running dungeons for gear with better stats. Raising faction or reputation. Improving skills. Earning currencies. Even questing or following the storyline often ends up being more about the xp or the rewards than finding out what happens next. 

And then there's blogging. For me, these last few years, playing games has often been as much about finding something to write about than having fun. 

Obviously, it's been fun as well. I'm not a masochist. But if I'm honest, I can't say fun is always the prime motivating factor in the choices I've been making, not unless you count the fun of writing the blog posts afterwards. Which I do.

For once, though, I found myself doing something mostly because I felt like doing it and that something was choosing where to live. As I explained the other day, Mitsu (Nee Lana) was about to be kicked off her server, Kaladim, to go live on Antonia Bayle, so before she was pushed (The server merge happened yesterday.) she jumped; to Isle of Refuge.

As I also explained, this led to her having not only to change her name but also move out of her comfortable inn room in Temple Street, a district not zoned for housing on IoR. I also mentioned that, since the old restrictions on Kaladim were no longer any kind of concern, Mitsu was free to raid the account's Claim vault for anything she fancied, as well as help herself to whatever she needed from the Daybreak Cash fund.

Boy, did she ever! She spent a highly satisfying half hour going through everything in /claim to see what was worth having. I should do a whole post on that, someday. After almost two decades, there's an astounding amount of stuff in there, some of it available to every character I'll ever make on that account, a lot of it extremely handy for a character with limited resources, one who's chosen to go to a server where she can call on help from no-one, not even the other characters on the account. 

Of all the claimable items she looked at, by far the most essential had to be the Patchwork Pegasus. I wrote about the pegasus back in 2016, when it was offered as an inducement to get people to make a character on the first ever event server, Race To Trakanon

As I said at the time, "I couldn't resist the lure of a free flying mount for every character on my account" and I'm very glad I didn't try. A free, flying mount is one thing but this is a free, flying mount you can use at Level 10. Most ask that you be at least Level 85.

As I was looting the /claim stash I considered the possibilities for a new home. There were a couple of very impressive options available to me for free: either the vampire lord Mayong Mistmoore's ancestral home, a vast, cavernous castle set on a clifftop over the sea or the entire Isle of Refuge, the complete starting zone.

While the idea of living on the Isle of Refuge on Isle of Refuge had a certain recursive appeal, I know from experience that enormous housing instances like either of these can quickly become overwhelming. I've already tried both and it hasn't been a great success. The scale is just too intimidating for a casual decorator like me.

Instead, I decided I'd dig into the Daybreak Cash and buy Mitsu a Prestige home more suited to her diminutive size. That led to me spending over an hour at the Prestige Homes portal in Freeport, alternately looking up properties in the cash shop and then using the portal to take the Tour so I could find out if they were worth buying.

I was quite struck by the Personal Planetarium, a single, vaulted room with a gorgeous display of bright tilework representing both the day and night sky. The problem there was access. There are galleries all around the upper tiers that would make excellent sleeping and living quarters but there aren't any stairs and flying mounts don't work indoors. I could, of course, buy or craft stairs and install them but it would be a bigger decorating project than I care to take on just now.

I considered all of the smaller houses I don't already own on other characters but none of them took my fancy. After a while, when I still hadn't found the right home and swapping between the Store and the Tour was starting to annoy me, I wondered if perhaps I wouldn't be better off buying a house in Freeport instead.

Another half hour trotting around the streets, knocking on doors and asking to see inside and I remembered the problem with EQII's original housing stock: no windows. The only houses with exteriors are flagged for guild use, which wouldn't be a problem on my main server, where my personal guild is Level 167; for Mitsu, the required Guild Level 50 is far out of reach.

It was around this point, entirely by chance, that I made a discovery. You can browse, tour and buy all the available Prestige homes directly from the housing interface. Even better, it shows two screenshots of the property, plus terms and conditions, making it easy to eliminate unsuitable accommodations without the need to visit. When the heck did they add that? And how did I not know about it?

Using the upgraded facilities I was quickly able to narrow my choices down to just two: Tinkerer's Isle or Rum Runners Cove. I was going to visit them both to compare but after I'd seen the Isle I knew I didn't need to bother with the Cove. When you find the right property, you just know, don't you?

Tinkerer's Isle is Steamfont's Gnomeland Security Headquarters, relocated from a mountaintop to an island. It includes the four GSHQ buildings plus, for some reason, the Steamfont Observatory, which towers above everything in the most impressive fashion. There's also a beautiful, sweeping sandy beach and a number of grassy plateaus, studded with pines. There's even an extensive area of ocean included, should you want to practice your swimming or construct an underwater lair.

It's also outdoors, so flying mounts are allowed, meaning every part of the landscape is easily accessible. Sizewise, it's right in the sweet spot - big enough to feel spacious but not so big you couldn't imagine using it all. It's potential personified and I'm very happy to have taken possession of the keys.

It is odd that I've found myself doing all of this with a minor character on a new server but that's the kind of thing that happens when you cut loose from the bonds of purpose that usually tie you down in games like these; when you start doing things just because  you feel like it, that's when the magic happens.

I used to do it lot. I wonder when I stopped. And why?


  1. I'm totally NOT into your musical tastes, and yet for a split second I thought this post was somehow related to Caroline Polachek, which has been a successful addition from my latest off-the-path musical exploration. On the other hand, owning an island as a home looks interesting... not enough to try and dig into yet another MMORPG, but it's cool. (And this reminds me I should be sweeping/cleaningrepairing the homes I stil haven't given up in Chimeraland, there's a lot of thought and effort invested there even if I haven't played it in any meaningful sense for months)

    1. Sorry for the late reply but I just wanted to say good spot! Yep, the title was ripped from Caroline Polachek, who has featured in music posts here a couple of times. I also keep thinking of my house in Chimeraland, which is indubitably a much better game than some of those I've been playing instead but also very much not as straightforwardly relaxing, which I guess is why it's slipped out of the rotation. I'll probably get back there some day but not quite yet.


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