Category Archives: Rift: Planes of Telara
Yes,Victor, you games-meandering bastard.
You’re playing or trying TOO MANY freaking games.
You have Borderlands 2, Dark Souls PC, X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and Morrowind (using the Morrowind visual enhancer) to tide you over on the non-MMO front.
Then you have an active sub to LOTRO, which you don’t play actively, and WoW, which you’re having trouble connecting to reliably.
AND you got a year’s membership to Pirate101?!
WHAT THE BLOODY HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!
Now you’re considering getting The Walking Dead and subbing to RIFT and getting the Storm Legion expansion? I mean, I understand wanting TWD, but you could never stick to RIFT!
And you want to go back just for the freaking housing?! What the bloody, bloody hell is churning around in your head?
For the love of all that is finger-licking good, like fried chicken, curb your purchases, at least till November.
Victor’s Meandering Mind.
I don’t ever remember stepping into a quantum accelerator, but I do remember sitting in front of a computer, writing this blog post, mostly because I’m doing it right now.
It seems that I’ve become the epitome of a quantum game leaper. Or hopper. Or Hip-hopper.
The point is this: I spent a month and a half in LOTRO and currently have a three month sub there. I switched to RIFT for five days, then moved to The Secret World for two weeks, then Star Trek Online for one week, and now I’m contemplating going to EVE Online to round out the pre-GW2 time.
At the same time, I want to maintain a sub to The Secret World, mostly because I want to see what Ragnar and Funcom do with their commitment to monthly updates. So… we’ll see what happens.
For now, I’ll keep leaping, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each leap will be the leap home.
Between the two jobs I alternate between when it comes to writing and the games I tend to play and the other developments in my social life, I think I have it pretty good.
Thing is, for the past few years, I think I was in a bad place mentally and emotionally, without really fully understanding what was causing it. In one sense, I knew it was loneliness, because the loneliness crept in so bad sometimes that I played games less for enjoyment and more as some kind of numbing agent. I played games because it was part of my routine, and because it was a routine I controlled, I felt in control of something in my life when other stuff was out of my ability to control.
Gosh, that was a meandering sentence… anyway.
I think I’ve finally come to terms with the realization that where I am now started because of my first job, how it ended, and how I responded to it.
Way back in 2008, I was let go from a video game newswriting job that I really felt comfortable in. It was my first full-time job, and I think that in some respects, I was devastated by it. It was something I was good at, and I couldn’t control my keeping the job even if I was good at it.
After a short stint in a call center, I felt I needed time to figure out what I would do.At the time, silly me thought that it was a good time to go back to the only place I felt comfortable in and had some control over, which was in school. I wanted to learn how to teach.
I did well enough in my classes, but I knew there was something wrong. I kept thinking that I was here, doing this, simply because I was buying time for myself. At the same time, I didn’t feel like I was moving forward and I also didn’t feel like I was actually good at teaching.
So by late 2010, I had basically shut down on a few fronts. When the classes were over and the requirements needed to be passed at the end of the term in March, I procrastinated, I moved inch-by-inch, and eventually, even though I had all the data needed to pass the requirements, I didn’t complete it by March 2011. What did I do? I got a job and played RIFT’s beta, then when simply playing RIFT became too much of an emotional butcher’s knife to my conscience, I changed games.
In 2011, I switched jobs more than I ever had. I had a total of four jobs (five, if I take my two current writing jobs separately). I tried phone support and eventually left from anxiety issues. I wrote product specifications for stuff sold on a website. I traded that job to write stuff for a start-up website, and was let go six weeks later. Then I got a job writing Amazon related news and along with that came a shot at writing a column for MMORPG.com.
Through those two jobs and the friendship of Cassandra, whom I got to know through blogging, I was given a chance to get back on track. For once, I felt like it was okay to lose control, because somehow, if I worked hard enough at it and took an opportunity when it presented itself instead of being scared all the damned time, it would work out and right itself again.
This comes full circle now to today, because I just realized that I’m playing RIFT again, and it’s going to almost be a year since those requirements I needed to send in would force an auto-fail of my classes.
I talked to my advisor in one class, who is now the head of the Education department, and she’s willing to help me out in getting back on track to finish my Masters. I just need to grab the data and do the analyses and write-up for her class, and then find out how to resolve the issue with the other class. Something tells me I might fail that second class, because I have no idea how to get the requirements for that one resolved, but the one where my teacher’s supporting me?
I will get that done on time, and it’ll be good work. No amount of RIFT play or other games will stop me from finishing my Masters, even if I have to take a class again. I just need to work my butt off, and get in gear.
It’s time to take control of my life again, and to not let the failures dictate the majority of my life.
I have written this piece with no particular logic in mind, so the thoughts here are mostly emotional responses to the games I’ve played. Apologies to anyone who feels slighted by any poor word choices I have made here.
In August, I played a total of four MMORPGs. There was Rift, Xsyon: Prelude, Everquest 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. Each MMO I picked during that month seemed to have one thing in common that wasn’t actually particularly common: they were all in a weird state of upheaval.
To my knowledge, my playtime with Rift was spent more on July during the Waves of Madness world event, a prelude to the arrival of patch 1.4 during the first week of August. When 1.4 came around though, I spent a few days and felt the change did nothing to keep me enthused: slightly revamped soul trees, PVP additions, and the addition of stuff for high leveled players to do, while definitely useful for keeping the 50s entertained, did nothing for me as a level 30+ player who wanted something he could own.
On a whim, I then bought and subbed to Xsyon for a month, hoping that then lure of terraforming and nearly limitless crafting would make me want to stay. This game is in a state of upheaval, even within its playerbase, because aside from crafting and killing four creature types (that’s what I was told) and dodgy PVP, the game was about barren of things to do as, well, a post-apocalyptic Lake Tahoe would probably be. Two days later, the unsubscribe button was promptly pushed.
I played Just Cause 2 for two weeks afterwards… that was a fun distraction. but a completely different thing to discuss.
Following some documented troubles with subbing to Everquest 2, I managed to get in a subscription and play before Game Update 61 became available. While the changes to the game as a result of the update did not greatly impact me (I even completed the Beastlord prelude quest that came with the update), it troubled me how everyone else felt bad because of how this game update was handled, prior to and during its introduction into the game. This was a state of upheaval that affected me because it hurt a playerbase that loved the game more dearly than I did, so I opted to temporarily try something else this past week so that the developers could remedy the situation accordingly.
To that end, I chose Final Fantasy XIV to occupy my time. So far, I am finding that not much has changed since I last played, but from my experience, what has changed has been important and it’s revitalized that love I’ve always had for the potential Final Fantasy XIV had to please people.
There are two things that have consistently gnawed at me during my time playing FFXIV. The first thing that tore at my imagination is the fatigue system of ability gain, and what it would be like to have that abolished: would it make me want to play more of the game, less of it, or the same amount as a result? The second issue that ate up my brain was the panic of playing a combat class: simply put, the system they had in place when I last played made me feel like a sitting duck because I was always waiting for Stamina to recharge to perform an action.
Patch 1.18 removed fatigue from the game’s leveling system, allowing casual players like myself to enjoy leveling up while not penalizing those who wanted to spend more time developing their characters further. It also ushered in the beginning of sweeping changes to the entirety of the battle system, beginning with the revamping or outright removal of specific skills and the abolition of the Stamina system, as well as adding something most MMOs take for granted these days: auto attack.
I see four upheavals at work here in these four games. There is an “upheaval” which is more of a small quake that did nothing but agitate the PVP playerbase and ruffle a few feathers (Rift). There is an “upheaval” that is more like terraforming, in that it is deliberate and slow to progress and, ultimately, rather like watching grass grow (Xsyon). There is an “upheaval” that wounds the playerbase severely because it came hastily, and with repeated, significant aftershocks as the world attempts to right itself (EQ2). Then there is the positive “upheaval,” in which certain foundations are taken down, and the ground is broken again to usher in a determined rebuilding and restructuring of faulty foundations (FFXIV).
The change happening in FFXIV is astounding, because the plans are being laid out in developer letters in a way that informs everyone of a concrete, long-term plan for rebuilding. I know other developers are open with their plans for a game, but for me, seeing someone literally explain how the foundations for a new “home” are being built, (specifically the plans for patch 1.19 that were written on August 15, and for 1.20 and 1.21 that were written a few hours ago today) with a projected timeline and explanations as to the reasoning behind specific actions, is a very positive way of introducing change to a community that has already suffered from the pain of a nearly a year’s worth of disappointment.
They’re revamping the battle, experience, and mob claiming system, adding new modes of transportation, introducing further tutorial quests, creating additional, unlockable job classes through questing, and making crafting more accessible and more fun (THANK GOD) to a wider range of players by simplifying certain crafting processes. They literally have a monthly plan that they are working hard to follow, and they have an excellent team that translates these producer letters so that they come out on the same day they’re made worldwide (at least, that’s the impression I’m getting). These guys have waaaaaay more discipline than I could ever imagine from myself.
The funny thing is, they know this upheaval and rebuilding is going to hurt. In a post made yesterday regarding the revamps coming to claiming and engaging enemies, producer Naoki Yoshida wrote (translated into English, obviously),
I want to make it clear now that I believe there is no way to settle this argument in a way that everybody will be 100% satisfied with.
In this one sentence, I feel the burden of being a producer, as this translation would imply that he concedes that the changes the current team is making will not please everyone and potentially please no one. He even goes on to explain what he thinks various portions of the playerbase are thinking:
This is an extreme example, but even for non-online, stand alone games, there are players who enjoy completing the game even if they use cheats to obtain all items or max out their levels. However, other players feel that this is a waste of time and that it defeats the purpose of buying the game. As such, this is a difficult issue to address.
In MMOs, there are players who would like help with leveling, because they want to play with other players as soon as possible. There are also players who would like to help new players level up, so that they can play with them. These players don’t want strong restrictions on power leveling, nor to be confined to parties with major level differences.
In contrast, there are players who believe that, “Players grow together with their characters,” “If other players are power leveling, leveling up becomes meaningless,” “Power leveling will become a necessary part of the game,” and “Power leveling will disrupt areas for proper party play.”
Even without considering RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit, this issue is the cause of a lot of friction. For online games, RMT and people who level up other players’ characters for profit will both certainly exist, so they must be considered. This is a good point of discussion, but opinions will vary based on perspective, so it is difficult to reach a definite conclusion.
He then explains their current battle plan for this particular system, acknowledging that not everyone will be pleased, but also explaining that the team is doing something for people with a particular mindset and explaining that mindset to everyone:
…as a current generation MMORPG we would like to do something about,
“new players who would like some help, because they want to play with their friends as soon as possible, as well as players who are willing to sacrifice their own time to help out new players get involved in the game quicker.”
To return to my metaphor, the upheaval is painful, but the reasoning behind the rebuillding process is there, and he hopes everyone will accept the mindset they have in order to make the game fun for more people.
To a gamer with my mindset, this certainly reads in a tone that I’d want every developer to adopt when they know they’re not going come into opposition from the fanbase (which is to say, “every developer out there”). As a result, I’m excited to see their development plan come to fruition, which is a lot more than I can say for the way EQ2’s most recent upheaval came to be seen.
In trying to come up with a worthwhile title for this post, I’d basically exhausted my mind thinking of a title that did not have overt references to this particular science fiction franchise.
I think using my name in reference to a portion of the canonical space in that universe fits the idea of an unorthodox title.
What’s this all about, you say?
Well, I still have a sub to Rift, and I was thinking of cancelling the sub and not letting it renew since it’s a three-monther, so I was trying to find a game with a sub that I could enjoy casually as an alternative to playing Final Fantasy XIV.
I had settled on two possibilities before bed: heading to the stars courtesy of Star Trek Online, or going dystopian with the help of Fallen Earth. While I had played Fallen Earth previously, my connection issues with the game made it rather unplayable and turned me off from purchasing the game this round. As such, Star Trek Online became the de facto winner in my mind for “next MMO to try” when I got out of bed.
I’m currently downloading a patch for the game, but I’ve settled on a course of action that should be quite interesting.
If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that my favorite Star Trek series has to be Voyager, and it’s not because of Jeri Ryan playing Seven of Nine. It was because I thought Captain Janeway was an awesome Captain who upheld the ideals of the Federation in the most trying of circumstances, and because Robert Picardo was an excellent Emergency Medical Hologram.
Well, because of this, I’ve decided to take the long road and play a Science Officer who uses a Science-based ship, working my way to get the equivalent of the Voyager spacecraft and eventually retrofitting said Voyager-class spacecraft into its final form by the end of the series.
As members of the game community come up with new, exciting stories on the Foundry, I’ll also be taking a look at them and hopefully reviewing them for you. That said, I’m in no rush and, so long as I have FFXIV and STO to keep me company, it should be an interesting couple of weeks here over at Games and Geekery Headquarters.
There’s just one thing though.
What the heck do I name my first ship? SUGGESTIONS MOST WELCOME!
I was reading Beau Hindman’s latest Free for All column earlier and a thought occurred to me that I wanted to put in writing. In Hindman’s post, he was, in part, discussing how the free-to-play movement can be seen as the latest experiential phenomenon to take hold to the world of MMO gaming.
While free-to-play games have had a long-standing history in the realm of MMO titles available to the world, there’s been this stigma that a free-to-play MMO is is some sort of lesser being in the realm of gaming, that it is relegated to the realm of “inferior” products. We know now, through experiencing various MMO pricing models and hybrids of such models of payment, that high-quality and “less-than-high-quality” MMOs can be found in all points of the pricing spectrum.
Now, you may have noticed that I’ve placed quotation marks on some of the negative modifiers in the previous paragraph, and there’s a good reason for that. It all goes back to my personal belief that I, as an individual, have my own preferences and mindsets in life and I cannot truly say that one thing is absolutely abhorrent for everyone. Even the basic ideas of death and poverty or the basic emotions of joy and sadness are so wildly divergent in what they mean to people (such as in terms of what constitutes certain ideas, or what triggers an emotion).
As such, a corollary to my personal belief would be that the “bad” game does not exist. There are simply games that fewer people enjoy and games that a larger group of people enjoy. The sweeping generalizations that Syp recently talked about regarding gaming have to be taken out if we are to better understand why people can feel similar emotions when faced with completely different and possibly opposing stimuli.
For instance, let us take stock of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV and Trion Worlds’ Rift.
When I first installed Final Fantasy XIV on my computer, I played for four or five hours and pretty much left the game entirely because it did not capture my attention. Information on the game and its various activities was scarce, and if you were the type of gamer who honed his skills on World of Warcraft, the lack of question marks to indicate quest givers would drive you insane.
On the other hand, when I first heard of Rift and played the beta, I was also not thoroughly impressed, until launch grew closer and I realized it was essentially a highly polished and technically proficient game with an intriguing storyline. If you check my Rift articles here on Games and Geekery, you’ll notice I meander between thinking the game is “meh” and thinking the game is awesome for having tanks that can self-heal.
If you fast forward to last week though, you’ll notice I barely posted anything. The simple response to this is that Rift could not hold my attention and I was madly searching for a game to occupy my free time. On Saturday evening, I decided to play Final Fantasy XIV again on a whim. I created a new character, rolled on a new server, and looked for the old guild I was chatting with online about the game. I played FFXIV for, as it happens, 14 hours straight that day (a feat that only happened once previously when I went raiding in vanilla WoW).
This week, I was reading through other blogs, and Elementalistly’s entry on how he feels about Rift kind of got to me. It wasn’t that I was offended by his post. Quite the opposite really.
You see, I was beginning to feel the exact same thing he felt when it came to Rift, only I was experiencing what he was feeling with Final Fantasy XIV, the game Elementalistly and I once both found to be less than stellar.
When I compare the two games on a purely technical level, I find Rift to be a clear leader in terms of customer-centric accessibility and polish. Final Fantasy XIV is not perfect, and still remains free-to-play so long as Square Enix deems the game to be in a state that is below their standard of what a good game should be.
Despite this, however, I know that there are people like myself who currently feel about Final Fantasy XIV the same way that Elementalistly feels about Rift. We’re all having fun in the games our preferences and predilections lead us to, and it shouldn’t matter how much you play, how much you pay, or how off-beat your tastes are.
The important thing is that you are happy with what you’re doing, whether it’s when you’re playing an MMORPG, when you’re writing that fantasy novel masterpiece about the adventurous marmot with nunchaku, or when you’re enjoying Direct TV Specials in the comfort of your home.
I’ve been reading up on the recent security issue that Trion Worlds had with Rift. For the most part, I’m quite amazed to see the devs patch an exploit within two hours of someone finding it and talking about it on the forums. Not only was it fast, but Trion Worlds found the exact exploit with the help of this White Hat-wearing individual who was the first to discover the issue.
ZAM’s Rift site has an interview up with the white hat, named ManWitDaPlan, and here are some choice quotes from the fellow regarding security in this day and age of digital wonders.
Security is fickle. It’s finicky. It’s nitpicky. It demands attention to the minutae but will chastise those that cannot also see the big picture. And it punishes the slightest mistake or miscue or omission with the greatest severity.
Rift stands the best chance of dethroning WoW that I’ve seen of any contender to date, and not strictly because the game brings something new/special to the table. After all, Rift is derivative of all that went before it, just as WoW was, and as Ultima Online was of MUDs/MOOs, etc. all the way back to the first games writen for computers.
A key, and often overlooked, part of the equation is how the game is run, how the GMs interact with the players, how involved the developers are with the playerbase, and whether the game’s producer fosters a real sense of community for and with their customers. After all, a game is only as good as its developers make it and its players play it. Trion is striving to do right on all counts, and that puts pressure on the whole MMO world to do it better, whatever “it” might happen to be.
And my Favorite Quote:
Trion hit this like Jackie Chan channeling Bruce Lee, which is what you do when you find an exploit. No playing the blame game, no whining, just find and fix and slam the door on the hackers. “Crush the hackers, see them driven from before you, and hear the lamentation of their women!” (Apologies to Ahnold for that…)
I am quite in the mood for some retail therapy at the moment to soothe my frayed work-related nerves. Mostly, I’ve gotten a yearning for virtual worldliness, which I think requires some explanation.
I have a couple of ideas in mind to fulfill this need I have to acquire a new feeling of homeliness.
The first idea is to go back to Everquest 2 or perhaps even try EQ2X because that’s the one place where I can really enjoy the housing system. I could try EQ1, but that game is beyond my patience level, seeing as I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by newer games. I just need to figure out if I intend to play long-term to end-game, or craft myself a storm and build tons of housing items.
The second idea is to play EQ2 or EQ2X and Rift at the same time, so I can get my housing fix and my current MMO hotness fix.
The third idea I have is to give Games and Geekery a new home, by purchasing a domain name and finding myself a good host (to this end, I’m thinking of going with Arkenor’s host, called Arvixe).
Unfortunately, I’m too emotionally invested in all these ideas to be able to think things out more clearly. You’ve seen how… fickle… my gaming preoccupations can be. Perhaps you can offer some good advice for me as to what might be a good course of action.
Heck, you may want to even offer me a different game to play.
Just comment with your thoughts so I can have something to think about. Thanks.
Insert statement about game forums generally being a Star Wars Quote about scum and villainy and hives.
Counter written introduction in order to place emphasis on important point of post.
Post point about the coolest forum threads being meta, and how Rift now has its own meta-thread about negativity and doomsaying from players.
Mention that the Dev Tracker subcategory has a lot of mentions from amused members of Trion staff.
Post the written post hoping that people will find this very short, meaningless post interesting and worthy of comments and love.
Feel lonely about the fact that time is spent writing such a post which has no inherent value other than self-referential and self-deprecating humor.
Cry in bed.
Posing some questions to you folks before heading to work. Maybe you can add an answer or two here to echo any sentiments I’ve put up?
Question 1: What is the current recommended Black Garden PVP Spec for Clerics if you have the eight main souls? My current PVE setup is Justicar/Shaman/Purifier but I’m hoping to change that with a PVP role.
Question 2: How many of you folks have a bugged quest on the Guardian Silverwood zone called The Care and Imprisonment of Changelings? I can’t seem to pick up the quest items from invasion bosses, which is a bit annoying, and I’d love to complete it before I move out to the Gloamwood.