Category Archives: Rift

That Dorothy Moment

I’m generally a pretty positive person. Maybe sometimes a realist, but more often than not I’m a sparkly unicorn of rainbow optimism. Which makes the recent game depression – for lack of a better term – that I’ve been going through so strange.

I think it’s a combination of several things. It kicked off when Sony announced that they were selling SOE, which then became the dubiously-named Gamebreak Daybreak Games, with the promise that it would be “business as usual”. Then came the layoffs, the changes, breaking away from Storybricks and the subsequent closure of Storybricks. Even Storybricks themselves communicated that if they had been successful in their purchase of SOE, they would have made deep cuts. While I’ve never been overly attached to SOE or the EverQuest franchise, it’s still a cornerstone of the industry and seeing it go through this is like watching Michael Jordan crash and burn on a basketball court.

Then came the revelations of a former Turbine dev regarding the development of LotRO. LotRO has been in a slow downward spiral for several years now, although in the past Turbine has tried to spin PR otherwise with little success. Still, hearing the stories of the behind-the-scenes of a game that I’ve been playing for years – the lost money, the dead projects, the poor decisions of executive management – it feels like it’s a miracle that it has made it this long. It’s still alive due to the sheer tenacity of certain developers, the best IP and lore you could ask for, and a dedicated, passionate, award-winning community, which was nearly decimated by the ineptitude of a former community manager.

Elder Scrolls Online, Archeage, & Wildstar all were less successful than anticipated. RIFT & The Secret World are still chugging along quietly – almost too quietly. World of Warcraft, the elephant in the room, had a gangbusters start to their latest expansion but has had questionable decisions since (selfie camera? really?). Guild Wars 2 is the one bright spot, with an expansion coming out in the near future. As far as AAA-level MMOs coming up – I don’t see any out there. There are indeed some smaller and indie-level MMOs in the works, but this is the first time in a very long time that there hasn’t been a “new hotness” coming out. This may not be a bad thing – the market is more than saturated already, with too many engorged albatrosses lumbering along with cash shops hanging around their necks.

Lest this be seen as unbridled criticism and despondency, let me clarify that it’s not. The developers, artists, production teams, community managers of our favorite MMOs are passionate people that pour their heart and soul into these games. Sometimes missteps are made, but it’s usually on the part of executive management – releasing games and patches too early or incomplete, making decisions based on what will give the fastest infusion of cash rather than on what is best for the game, putting in systems that are completely unnecessary or unwanted by the playerbase… all of which are sure recipes for disaster. The developers are trying their best to hit deadlines and trying to conjure magical experiences for us. But as Fredelas tweeted the other day:

As gamers, we all have Dorothy moments when studio curtains are pulled back and we find it run on wires and levers by mortals, not wizards.

I’m having that Dorothy moment. I’ve loved my time in LotRO, but now I wonder if it’s worth continuing to play – I see the age, the mistakes, the current state of the game and it smells like an injured gazelle on the Serengeti. The doubts cloud my mind but I’m contributing to the problem if I don’t play. Even if I try playing a newer, stronger contender, like Guild Wars 2, I feel guilty for not playing LotRO.

WTB a pair of ruby slippers, please.

10 Days to Go…

Ten more days… can we get any more excited??

Between the final server lists coming out, an utterly beautiful clip of a voiced musical piece from the soundtrack, and the stress tests that have been going on for a couple of weeks now, I’m totally stoked for he Guild Wars 2 launch. Is the hype machine out of control? Yes, it is. Undoubtedly. It’s not going to be a game for everyone, especially if you enjoy the traditional raiding end-game and/or gear progression. I doubt that it’ll be the MMO-Saviour that some folks seem to think, and it’s unfair to place it on a pedestal that no game will ever be able to live up to.

But for me, I already know that it’s going to be my go-to MMO for a long, long while. I feel it in my bones.

Guild Wars 2, even from the first time I played it in BWE3, immediately brought back those feelings that I had in classic WoW back in 2004, in a way that no other MMO since has been able to do. The feeling of wonder, of a huge world with all kinds of nooks and crannies and secrets and things to do and places to discover and ledges to jump off of and oceans to swim under – it’s all there, and it feels magical. The game has a ton of established lore and a great story to follow along with. The combat is surprisingly fun, fluid, and responsive, and the dynamic events are a blast. World bosses that show up periodically in the zones are a win, as are the instances with both story and explorable modes. The crafting – I love the crafting, with it’s discovery system and the ways that they’ve made inventory management easier. WvWvW isn’t my thing personally, but I have a ton of friends that are totally into it, and I’m sure I’ll put in some time there occasionally. The game is polished, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and everything about it just screams quality and depth.

And the lack of raiding/gear-progression? To be honest, it’s icing on the cake for me. I haven’t done the gear grind in any game since The Burning Crusade/Wrath of the Lich King. I’m so over that mode of gameplay – I much prefer the philosophy of being able to scale your level up or down as needed to play with your friends & do the content you want to do at the correct level. No longer do I *have* to run multiple instances every night to keep up with the pack, or else worry about getting behind. I don’t *have* to play the same game every night, running the same content night after night. I absolutely love this – I can take breaks to spend time with my family or play other games without feeling guilty.

So yeah, I’m a bit hyped. Forgive me, and just know that I’m not proclaiming it to be the end-all be-all MMO for everyone. It’s just an incredibly remarkable game for me personally, and it gives me those warm fuzzy MMO feelings that I’ve missed for so, so long.

But I haven’t been staying idle during the wait. I’ve been playing Rift in the meantime, though my subscription *just* ran out, and I’ll likely wait until 2-3 weeks after the GW2 launch to re-sub. They just announced that with a year’s sub you get a free copy of Storm Legion along with a mount, so I’ll almost certainly be taking them up on that deal – my WoW annual pass will end in September, and since I’m not planning on playing Mists of Pandaria, I’m more than happy to give Trion that subscription money. Trion is also experimenting with PvP normalization and breaking down the barriers to playing with the opposite faction, which is fantastic in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. It’s great news for my guild, which up to this point has had a guild on both factions – now we can just bring everyone together under one roof.

Also, I’ve really jumped back into Wurm with gusto over the past few weeks. We’ve been working on a few projects in our region – a new & improved clay resource, lighting up more of the area, helping a couple of new neighbors get their deeds set up & going, and improving our road infrastructure. I’ve been breeding (and selling!) horses like crazy in the meantime, and it’s getting to the point where I can pay for my deed just from horse and item sales in-game, so I’m very happy with this.

So right now my MMO line-up for fall is primarily GW2 and Wurm, along with a good dose of Rift when Storm Legion comes out. It works out nicely… one free sub game, one low sub game, and one sub game, all with very different styles of gameplay so that I don’t get bored. This fall/winter is going to be an amazing gaming season.

Decisions, Decisions

I’ve been trying to sort things out in my head regarding all the new MMOs and expansions that are going to be bombarding us this fall. There’s so many games on my radar and so little time.

The Secret World: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Has a unique modern-day horror concept, with great story and actual puzzles/riddles to solve. More of an MMO Adventure Game.

Rift Storm Legion: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Proper expansion, two new continents, more souls, player housing, among other things. Traditional MMO.

Guild Wars 2: Purchase Fee, No Sub Fee. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful game, with (from what I hear) a unique stumble-upon questing format and WvWvW. Oh yeah, and no sub fee. Traditional MMO with lots of twists.

Mists of Pandaria: Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Pandas. Monks. Asian-themed continent. Pet pokemon. Traditional MMO.

Wurm Online: No Purchase Fee, Sub Fee. Sandbox playground of choice.

Last night my husband and I were talking about all of the options, and in an ideal world, we’d pick two of the above and stick it out. I just don’t think that’s going to work this time though.

Wurm: is a no-brainer, it’s a sandbox unlike the others on the list, and it’s the yin to the yang of every other MMO on this list. $12/month for the two of us just to keep the deed going, and make that $24/month if we’re actually playing and need premium time.

MoP: is looking less and less likely for us – we’re just not that interested in Pandas or the new continent, and other games are far more compelling. Our annual passes run out in October – that day can’t come fast enough.

GW2: we just pre-ordered so that we can check it out during the next BWE – to be honest, I know next to nothing about GW2 right now, and I’ve been avoiding as much hype as possible, but the lack of a sub fee is attractive. We’ve already paid for it, so it’s ours whether we actually play it or not.

Rift X-Pack: I’m totally hyped about – after getting back into Rift recently, I’ve completely fallen head over heels for it. It’s finally a fleshed-out, substantial, complete theme park game, and it’s tremendously fun. $30/month for the two of us.

TSW: Here’s where it gets tricky. We’ve already got Wurm and Rift as sub games, but TSW offers something different as well. Here’s the thing: Mr. Moxie adores paranormal stuff like Ghost Hunters and The Walking Dead, and he’s been declaring TSW as being “that Scooby-Doo MMO” – a big plus in his book. We also love puzzle/investigation movies like Sherlock Holmes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or National Treasure. So the setting is right and the gameplay is compelling, but it’s another subscription-based game, and we’re not altogether sure that it is full enough or robust enough to hold us long-term. Then again, I felt that way about Rift last year, and after a year of development, it’s much-improved now.

All in all, if we played all four games that are catching our eye right now, we’d be shelling out about $320 in box fees, plus $85-$100 a month in subscription fees, unless we somehow stagger the games or alternate months. You have to consider play time as well –  cycling through 4 games at once is a terrifying proposition. I know, I know, first world problems.

Any way you slice it, this is a fantastic time to be an MMO gamer – there’s never been so many great new games on the market at the same time.



Back Into the Rift

While it seems like most of the MMO bloggers were nomnomnoming their way through the TSW launch deliciousness this weekend, I decided to set aside some time to really dig into Rift and get re-acquainted with the game. As some of you know, I played Rift at launch for a while, eventually leaving because the game world just didn’t seem to stick with me. I can’t explain exactly why, although I know that I wasn’t completely alone – many others expressed the same feelings at the time. Still, I’ve been a bit of a Trion fangirl ever since. More than any other MMO company out there, I feel like they really listen to the players and are genuinely interested in developing a great gaming experience for their customers. Free server transfers? Free mobile app that lets you keep up with guild chat out-of-game? Putting out new patch content at a blistering pace that is unmatched by any other MMO? GMs hopping into general chat to answer questions and get feedback? Yes, that actually happened Friday night on the Faeblight server. Pretty freaking cool.

I was able to join my first Instant Adventure after the 1.9 patch hit last week, and it was super-fun rolling through an open-world zone with a raid full of people, completing objectives in rapid succession. Even better was that since IAs are open-world, if I was out questing and a IA group came rolling through the area, I could join them with the click of a button. It struck me over the weekend that Rift has been successful at doing one thing that World of Warcraft has talked a lot about but has yet to really execute sucessfully – getting people out into the world. I play on highly-populated RP servers in both games, and while I might be lucky to see one or two other players out & about while leveling in WoW, I see other players all the time in Rift, even in the mid-level zones with no Instant Adventures yet.

It’s popular among some folks, particularly those who have played WoW, to say that Rift was and still is a WoW-clone (and boy do I detest that term). Rift certainly did take inspiration from WoW (and many other MMOs as well), but there are so many features that Rift has added over the past year that it’s really grown into being something very different. If anything I would argue that Rift is much like what WoW would have been had it taken a completely different approach to development over the years – essentially WoW in a different timeline. Rift has so many things that distinguish it from WoW other than just the rifts themselves… the Soul System, Chronicles, Instant Adventures, Mentoring, 3-Faction PvP, Artifact Collections, Puzzles, a Wardrobe (implemented long before and much better than WoW’s clunky Transmogrification feature), and coming with the expansion this fall, Dimensions, a type of player & guild housing. All this while still pushing out new raid and dungeon content, new zones for those at level cap, world events, and all the other things that you expect to see during the first year of an MMO, with a development speed and agility that Blizzard can only dream of.

All in all, I’m enjoying my time back in Telara so far. I still have yet to decide what guild to settle with for the long haul – most of the guilds that I was in at launch are gone now, and I’ve been guild hopping (which I detest, but sometimes that’s the only way to get to know a guild) between several guilds on various alts to find the guild that best fits – but I have it narrowed down to two, and one of those is looking far more likely than the other. That decision will likely be made tonight. I also really want to get a character to 50 so that I can participate in Conquest, Ember Isle, and other activities (not raiding! ew!) at level cap, and so that I’ll be ready once the expansion hits this fall, but that’s proving difficult because I’m bouncing between alts right now – I like them all! I really need to pick one and stay committed to it until 50 before alting it up.

Schizophrenic Gaming

This weekend was all about schizophrenic gaming – during my downtime I managed to play 4 games, sometimes in tandem, in a mad rush to try to get stuff done in three games, while beta-testing another. At times it left my head spinning as I jumped from game to game, much like a kid on Christmas Day trying to play with all their new toys. Time for a gaming update!

World of Warcraft:

I spent the least amount of time here, and to be honest, I’ve spent very little time here over the past few weeks. It’s a combination of pre-expansion doldrums and good ol’fashioned burnout, as usual. Most nights I log on to chat with guildies, fly around Stormwind a bit, and maybe do a cooking or fishing daily. I’m still on the fence about Mists of Pandaria – on one hand I’m hopeful for what it may bring to the game and there are a few little things that I think are really neat – specific new mounts, account-wide mounts & achievements, the Tillers faction, and so on. On the other hand, there’s just so much more with MoP that I feel fairly indifferent to: the pandas, Pandaria itself, monks, new raids, the re-vamping of Scholomance and Stratholme, and so on. This is honestly the first WoW expansion that I haven’t been absolutely giddy with excitement over. My annual pass expires in October, so whether I’ll be investing in MoP remains to be seen.


So this weekend I jumped back into Rift with the 3 Free Days that you get when you do the security update on your passwords, and it’s been a bit of an overwhelming experience. I jumped back on my little Rogue Bard on Faeblight, was immediately coin-locked (Yay! Thanks Trion!) and started trying to clean out my quest log & bags, getting re-acquainted with my abilities, trying to remember where certain important NPCs are, and generally wandering around with a confused look on my face. It’s been a solid year since I last played, so the amount of content and updates that have happened since then has been staggering – and that’s a good thing. I love how Trion has continued to plug away at pushing out updates so frequently this year and putting in features that encompass the entire spectrum of playstyles. I’m also super excited about the Storm Legion expansion – compared to the other expansions that are coming out this year, I’d say that Rift’s easily tops the others in terms of content and new features.

The Secret World (Beta):

There’s no NDA on the TSW beta, so I’ll go ahead and share my impressions here. I’m intrigued by the setting still – I love the modern conspiracy theory/paranormal theme they’ve got going on, and I love the non-traditional riddle and sabotage quests. Zombie-ridden Kingsmouth is about as close as you’ll ever get to playing The Walking Dead Online – shooting zombies and setting them on fire just doesn’t get old.

TSW feels like it’s been set up very well for future monetization. Given the lack of leveling and the way that skill advancement is set up, I could easily see them selling costume parts, new weapons/powersets, new zones/storylines, etc. My gut feeling is that TSW will be F2P in a year. It’s not a bad MMO by any means; it does have some rough edges but the setting and uniqueness of the game makes me think that it’ll have a small but loyal & dedicated following, and it’ll end up being a niche MMO. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, as long as Funcom has budgeted and forecasted correctly.

Will I be playing? Maybe later – probably not at launch. If it goes F2P, I’ll most definitely jump in.

Wurm Online:

And while I’ve been playing the games above, I’ve been running Wurm in the background, finishing up the landscaping and busily attaching bricks and mortar to my new workshop and inn. I’ll have a bigger update with pictures coming later!

Game Update. Also, Smores!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the games I’m playing, so let’s do just that!

LotRO: Things are good. I rejoined my original Landroval guild, Mar Vanwa Tyalieva. I’ve missed them greatly and was delighted when I found that the guild atmosphere is just as great as it was when I left. MVT is one of the premiere musical kins on Landroval, typically holding weekly concerts in Bree on Saturday or Sunday nights, and they will be performing at Weatherstock 2011. They’re wonderful, fun folks and I’m so happy to be back.

In other news, Miss Paislea is up to level 58 (or extremely close to it) and finally emerged out of Moria. She’s been beating on orcs along the Mirrormere the past couple of days, and it’s SO NICE to leave that monstrous stone maze behind. I’ll eventually go back and finish up the epic storyline there, but for now I’m enjoying the build-up to Lorien. Maybe I’ll hit 65 this year!

Rift: I’ve logged into Rift a couple times this week, and managed to squeak out two more levels on my Bard. I’m really just not that motivated to play Rift at the moment, which is really odd to me. It’s a very well-done game and I thoroughly appreciate what Trion Worlds is doing with the free character transfers and everything else they’ve done to treat their customers right. But for some reason, it’s just not grabbing me. I’ve canceled my 6-month subscription for now, though I still have several months left on it. I’ll still play occasionally and give it a chance, but unless something changes soon, I doubt that I’ll renew at the 6-month point, though I wish Trion the best. No bitterness here. 🙂

Wurm Online: I decided to take a break from Wurm. Much like Minecraft, once I got my property set up and in production mode, it lost a bit of the challenge. There’s still a TON of things to do there, but most of it is very time-consuming and doesn’t really work for me while I’m playing multiple games. I’ll likely keep my maintenance paid on my property to ensure that it doesn’t get claimed by someone else, because I’d really like to go back at some point. If I do sell, I’d like it to be to someone who appreciates the time, effort, and location and will love it like I do.

Guild Wars: Whoa, blast from the past time! I bought Guild Wars waaaaay back when it first launched. At the time I was playing City of Heroes and my supergroup there decided to pick up GW as a second game. I played through pre-Searing and really enjoyed it… then I saw the Searing cutscene and it really upset me. Seriously. I got so attached to pre-Searing Ascalon that once it was gone, I was no longer interested in playing. I logged off that night and said “never again”.

Until now. With the upcoming release of Guild Wars 2, I’m interested in playing through the campaigns and seeing just what Tyria, Cantha, and Elona are all about, so I bought a Trilogy box, and started a new account. Thanks to folks on Twitter, they advised me that I could trade the mini-pets from my little played but VERY aged old account to the new one, plus I get all of the perks from the Trilogy set. So I’m starting over and rolled a ranger, Riley McGhee, and am taking her through pre-Searing right now. Going back through that area is quite nostalgic at the moment, and at least I know what to expect this time around.

Because it’s awesome, I leave you with this:

I’m Baaaaaaack…

… and oh it feels SO good to be back in the blog again. 🙂

My self-imposed 40-day blog break is over, and while it was inconvenient at times when I was busting at the seams to talk about that days adventures, it was good too. It gave me a chance to spend more time with family & game to my heart’s content, so I can’t complain. Oddly enough, during this time my gaming took a weird and unexpected twist, so let’s see what I’ve been up to:

LotRO: I played a bit during the Spring Festival, just enough to get the new Spring Festival horse on my main, and started leveling through Moria. Paislea is level 52-53ish now, and who knows? I might even get her through Moria and to level cap before Isengard is released. Maybe. Moria, to be perfectly honest, at this point is not really one of my favorite areas. I tend to like more lush, green areas, and so far the cave thing is feeling a bit blah. Still, I’ll push through it one of these days, though I haven’t really logged on to LotRO in a couple of weeks.

Rift: Oh yeah, Rift! They had some sort of big event, and apparently a bunch of people missed the last part & were quite upset. To be honest, I found myself logging on and logging back off 5 minutes later during the event period, I just wasn’t feeling it. Missed the whole darn thing, and haven’t been back in Rift since.

Wait, what? I haven’t been playing LotRO OR Rift? Let me explain.

For a while I had been bouncing between Rift and LotRO, even before Rift officially released due to the beta. While both games have a completely different atmosphere and look to them, they are both ultimately very similar hotkey MMOs. They play similarly, have similar objectives (get quests, do quests, level crafting, get gear, etc.), and I found myself doing pretty much the exact same things in both games. I got a bit fried, and I wanted to try a game that was completely different. Something weird. Something different. Something open. Something… sandboxy. Even if it was something that I didn’t stick with long-term, I needed a change of pace for a bit. I thought about Eve, but I’m not really a spaceship fan.

Enter: Wurm Online.

I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but well… it was love as soon as I stepped into the game. I’m not going to go into all the details here, that’s for tomorrow’s post, but I’ve been gleefully playing it ever since. About a week after I started playing, my skeptical husband tried it, and he got completely hooked as well. We each now own individual but adjacent deeds on the Freedom server, & have started building our empire!

::queue Pinky & the Brain music::

Anyways, more about that tomorrow! It’s good to be back!


The Gaiscioch Family Presents: The Telara Saga

And we already have our first server-wide event planned for Faeblight! This is a message from Foghladha, the GM of The Gaiscioch Family, and is reposted from the Faeblight server forums:

Hail and Well met champions of Telara, I would like to formally welcome you all, both Guardian and Defiant to engage in this 22 week server wide public event. Help defend your homelands for the invasions that plague our land or engage each other in battle to the death. The Telara Saga is upon us.

Beginning on Tuesday, March 8th at 6PM PST (GMT-8), The Gaiscioch Family presents their Telara Saga, a 22 week adventure which Begins in Silverwood and progresses all the way to Freemarch through 11 battlefields. The Guardian forces will march each week a step closer to the gates of Merdian. On the 22nd Week, we assault the heathen city of Meridian and kill the 8 Champions of the Defiants, Sylver Valis, Padma Ultan, Brother Damon, Rodan Ismos, Dacia Ultan, Kaspar Massi, Orphiel Farwind, and Asha Catari.

Here is the Full Season One Schedule:

MAR 8 & 15th: Securing Silverwood
MAR 22 & 29th: Advancing to Gloamwood
APR 5 & 12th: The Battle Rages in Scarlet Gorge
APR 19 & 26th: The Securing Of Scarwood Reach
MAY 3 & 10th: Troop Training in Moonshade Highlands
MAY 17 & 24th: Setting up Foreign Operations In Droughtlands
JUN 7 & 14th: Securing Resources In Iron Pine Peak
JUN 21 & 28th: Scouting The Lands of Shimmersand
JUL 5 & 12th: Testing Our Strength In Stillmoor
JUL 19 & 26th: Advancing Our Front Line in Stonefield
AUG 2nd: The Siege of Freemarch
AUG 9th: The Battle for Meridian

Over this 22 week campaign we will be taking on Rifts, Invasions, World Events, and most importantly cleansing the heathen Defiants from the lands. We will build our forces, equip them with the best gear we have to offer, and prepare for the battle of the ages to sever the head of the Defiant beast. This event series is design to introduce players to the world of Telara, give them the help they need to understand the mechanics, and expose people to the joys of large community driven events.


WHO: All Players of Faeblight Server. Defiants Engage us to your hearts content. PvP Centric folk feel free to have at each other. The PvE folk will be closing Rifts, Invasions, and World Events while the PvP Centric fight to secure the lands against foreign invaders.

WHAT: A 22 Week Public Community Driven Event. Ventrilo Will Be Provided for Guardian Players.

WHEN: Every Tuesday starting on March 8th and running through August 9th, 2011. Event begins at 6PM PST and continues until 9PM PST.

WHERE: 2 Weeks In Each Zone leading up to the Siege of Meridian.

HOW: We will be forming in the town where the previous week ended and marching our way to each region. All Ages welcome to participate.

ABOUT THE GAISCIOCH FAMILY The GaiscĂ­och (Pronounced: Gosh-Kia) Family began as a social gaming community in the industry pioneering MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. We began on the Nimue server on November 11th, 2001, with a focus on creating a fun and enjoyable community for players of all ages and skill levels.

With our roots firmly attached in the Celtic Mythological Cycle, the GaiscĂ­och hold honor, respect, integrity, and fellowship, over hierarchy and dictatorship. Today the GaiscĂ­och family spans many games, sports, and social circles.

We are a social casual gaming community with a relaxed approach toward gaming. We allow our members to play how they want, when they want, as long as they want and do not constrict them with quotas or requirements. It is through gaming, athletic competition, and social interaction that we forge new friendships and relationships.

The Gaiscioch Family has been coordinating large scale public events for nearly a decade. We focus on creating fun and enjoyable events for players of all backgrounds. Community development is our primary objective.

If you have any questions please feel free to shoot me a private message or stop by:

Slan Go Foil!
Ceannard de Gaiscioch Treubh

You got your PvP in my PvE-RP!

Several years ago, I started up a new Alliance Priest on a brand new PvE-RP World of Warcraft server. Since it was new there was an influx of population, including a surprising amount of roleplaying PvPers, most of whom played horde-side. They became known for rolling into Astranaar, Goldshire, and other lowbie Alliance areas and picking off NPCs and questgivers, and the Alliance quickly worked out a system to be able to easily get levelcapped players into those areas to defend them. On off nights, the Alliance would seek their revenge, steamrolling into the Crossroads. Eventually Tarren Mill & Southshore would be the prime PvP location of choice, and many, many epic battles were had there.

The crazy thing was that even though we were participating in open world PvP on a PvE server, there really weren’t many complaints. The roleplaying community was strong in those days, and it seemed perfectly reasonable to include PvP as part of that roleplay. Both sides were quick to defend their lowbie hubs and players… again, part of roleplay. Alliance and Horde were not tea-time best buddies. They hated each other, and though their players got along perfectly fine out-of-character, they loved nothing more than to kick some opposing-side tail in-game. As a server, we all knew each other, friendly rivalries were formed, and we would gather on the server forums at the end of the night to congratulate each other and laugh over our defeats.

I’ll never forget one night in particular. Some guildies and I were roaming in Elwynn forest and found three Tauren taking out NPCs in the tower next to Westfall. They were flagged. We, the lowbies, weren’t. But instead of flagging first and then attacking, we “blue-flagged”; that is, we attacked while still in PvE mode and getting the first shot in with no warning. We defeated them, but we also never heard the end of the way that we did it. That, my friends, is where I learned about having honor in the way you PvP.

See, it wasn’t that we defeated them… they were out looking for PvP. But you know in the Karate Kid movies where both fighters bow to each other before the fight? That’s a sign of respect and honor. Flagging up first would have been the respectful thing to do. It seems like such a little thing, but it can make all the difference in your out-of-game relationships with your fellow players.

This concept of honor in PvP extends to other PvP situations as well. I still enjoy open world PvP, but play almost exclusively on PvE or PvE-RP servers. Why? First off, yes there are some times that I want to be able to quest safely, without worrying about being ganked at any time, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. Second, if you want open-world PvP, there are ways to find it, even on PvE servers. I’ll admit that I’m not opposed to heading over to an opposing quest hub and stirring up a bit of trouble within reason.

Here are my personal rules of open-world PvP:

1. Attack quest hubs, but don’t kill all the quest NPCs at once. Give them time to respawn so that non-PvPing PvE questers can still turn their quests in and aren’t completely held up.

2. Don’t try to “take over” a lowbie quest hub unless there are defenders there. The goal is to get defending players of the appropriate level to show up, not to hold up questing PvE players for hours.

3. Don’t attack lowbie players. Even if they’re flagged. If they’re more than 5 levels below me, I’ll let them go on their way, even if flagged, unless they attack me first. There’s no honor in killing a level 10 if I’m level 50.

3b. The exception to the above is in the case of a major battle between two sides… if there is a hectic epic PvP battle going on, I’m not going to pay attention to the level of the players in it. Enter (and flag) at your own risk. Or if a level 30 is terrorizing a level 10 quest hub. Yes, I will defend my side’s quest hubs from attackers, no matter the level.

4. Look for world PvP in the zones that correspond with your level. If you want to PvP, you want it to be a fair fight, and that means with people of a similar level.

5. Don’t camp. At all. Ever. Go on with your business unless your opponent seeks you out looking for another fight.

Some would probably suggest that this is carebear PvP, and they might be right. Perhaps it is. But when I do PvP I want to do so in a way that will have both sides saying “/em salute” rather than “/em pee”. Unfortunately it seems like die-hard PvPers and die-hard PvEers both antagonize each other, when actually they’re both perfectly valid playstyles and not everyone falls neatly into one of those two camps. There are many, many players that enjoy both PvE and PvP.

I also have to give Trion a big high-five for implementing an auto-flag toggle. Now players who absolutely do not ever want to PvP don’t have to even risk getting flagged, and that’s a wonderful feature.

Odd Phenomenon

It was Spring 2007, and I’d been playing World of Warcraft for almost 3 years. I enjoyed it greatly, but a pal started telling me about this really awesome new MMO developed by Turbine and based on Lord of the Rings. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that at that point my only exposure to LotR was the Peter Jackson movies, but I was still interested. I played in the beta, bought a Lifetime membership and ended up playing the game for about 2 months.

I ended up leaving LotRO so soon because I felt like the world itself was just kind of drab and boring… of course at that point the only MMOs I had ever played were City of Heroes and World of Warcraft, so I had problems adjusting to a more realistic & subdued art style. It was beautiful for a game world of course, and I would fully admit that even then, but for some reason it just didn’t click. It felt like something was missing.

Fast forward to 2010: I pick LotRO up again and start over, this time getting a character up into the higher levels and completely falling in love with the care and attention to detail that Turbine put into their version of Middle-Earth. Everything from the different music themes in each zone over the course of the day, down to the littlest details from the books, is absolutely perfect and immersive. It has housing & appearance tabs & plenty of fluff. I love spending time there.

What’s a bit worrying is that I’m feeling a bit about Rift the way that I felt about LotRO in 2007: The gameplay is similar to games I’ve played before (which is good!), the world is beautiful, the rifts are fun. I like Rift. I think it has great potential, and it certainly has many features that I like. It has faeries & angels & evil elves (kill them!) & fantastical creatures & crafting & pets & collections & all sorts of goodness.

But something seems to be missing. The hook, if you will.

The thing is, I’m sure that it’s not missing. It’s there, I just haven’t found it yet, or it hasn’t found me. And while right now I’m kicking myself for not sticking it out with LotRO back in 2007, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be doing the same thing in 2014 with Rift if I don’t give it a fair shot as well. I don’t think it’s a Trion issue. It’s a Moxie issue.

It may be that there is so much hype before new games that there’s no way to avoid the inevitable letdown. It may be that with new games you feel pressured to “gogogogogogo”, to borrow a term from a popular MMO, and you forget to stop and just take it all in. It also may be that we’re so busy analyzing game mechanics and dissecting every last detail that we completely miss the big picture, the panorama that the developers and artists have created for us. We miss the forest for the trees.

The other strange thing is that while Rift still feels a bit alien, I also find myself really wanting to log in and play, even though my playing right now consists of just bouncing around Argent Glade and Sanctum. Perhaps I just haven’t put enough time into the game yet, or maybe it’s that I can’t get invested in a character that is going to be wiped in a few days.

How long does it take for a new MMO to feel like “home”? Do some games just fit instantly while others take longer? Does hype & over-analysis play a role in this? Does it work better if we go into games blind, with no expectations, and just experience the game as a complete newbie rather than as a grizzled-and-jaded MMO veteran?