I took a look today out of curiosity to see just how little I’ve been on this blog this year. I knew it was low because of my inactivity as well as my jumping around from one game to another so much this year, but I wasn’t expecting to see just 2 posts for the entire year. I wrote one leveling guide which I never finished, even though I have both of the follow-up posts mostly written, and one post about changes to WoW heirlooms that are either on their way or have already gone live (I don’t know honestly, because I haven’t been playing or paying attention).
Today I figured I might as well write a quick post about what’s been going on in my gaming world and give you a bit of a heads up on where this blog might be going in the near future (if anywhere).
World of Warcraft
When Cataclysm launched my wife and I were playing WoW on a rather serious level. We had been raiding a lot in Wrath (starting to get a little burnt out), and the changes to the old world were just what a couple of altoholics like ourselves needed. Unfortunately, that left us in a very odd situation several months later when we had finally leveled “enough alts” to consider getting back into the end game content. By that time most of the guild was already fed up with dungeons and wanted to raid or do PvP which we weren’t ready to do since we had spent all of our time leveling low characters instead of gearing up the high level toons, earning reputation, and so forth.
The game took on a strange feeling at that point and while we still enjoyed the game, things just didn’t feel as…welcoming as they once were. Not that we were unwelcome to be there, it was just a really strange feeling overall. My wife started to play less and less and I started looking for something new to do. That was when I found SWTOR (more on that in a minute).
Eventually, we found our way back to WoW in MoP and once again we jumped on the altoholic train and went for a ride. Once again we found ourselves having a great time. Our guilds had almost all been destroyed by the cataclysm, so we had to find new homes for our characters. In the end we found great homes for our toons and we had a lot of fun playing with the people in both our Horde and Alliance guilds. Before too long though, my wife started to lose interest again and I was getting caught up in “projects” and kept losing track of time which was causing some issues, so I took a break as well.
Right now both of our accounts are inactive, and we don’t have any particular plans to reactivate them. I don’t know if it’s just another break for a while, or if this is the end of WoW for us. I really don’t know. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the game or the people that we hang out with there, it’s just not something we’re interested in playing right now. I also have a tendency to get really sucked into playing WoW, to the point where I sometimes stay up way later than I intend to which isn’t particularly good for my marriage or for my cubital tunnel damage in both arms.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
When SWTOR came out my wife and I almost instantly became addicted to this game. The story telling was so cool and so much fun that even though we weren’t really looking to make a serious change in our gaming habits, we stopped playing WoW all together for about 8 months because this game was just so freaking cool. Once again we were a couple of altoholics rolling tons of alts, and all of the different dialogue options and romance options made us want to roll even more alts than we normally would have; so that’s exactly what we did.
Eventually, SWTOR made the announcement that they were going free to play and the community really started going to crap both in game and out. There were some shining examples of hope here and there but the amount of negativity that swarmed over this game was just too much for us to handle. You couldn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone without people trashing the game, the company, or both. That was also right around the time that we started reaching max level on our toons, and having no interest at all in raiding, and suddenly the game’s design really became apparent and our attitudes changed.
If I could say only one thing about SWTOR, it would be that this game has some of the best gameplay you can find out there in terms of leveling your characters. Leveling with some amount of control over the overall story is amazing. The PvP while you’re leveling is great and there’s actually a fair amount of balance, and there are also alternative ways of earning experience such as space battles which most people either love or hate.
The major drawback to SWTOR from an altoholic perspective is that you have almost no variation at all in the leveling process. Once you leave your starting planet the rest of your questing is railroaded down the exact same sequence of planets (zones) for every other toon you create. There is a slight variation between the two factions, but it’s a very small variation (two planets swap places in the sequence). Your personal story does change from one class to another, but otherwise their limited options are incredibly limited which really wore me down quite quickly.
In the end, there were two primary things that pulled us away from SWTOR: the negativity surrounding the game prior to and during the F2P conversion, and the release of Guild Wars 2. I guess there’s really a third thing, that while not primary it is a big factor, and that’s their F2P model. Instead of giving you things to entice you to spend money on things, SWTOR decided to take things away from you and make you buy access to them. You aren’t really given an incentive for most things, instead you’re penalized if you don’t. That might honestly be a bit too harsh of an explanation, but the concept is legit. It’s not the worst set up where buying things makes you super powerful, but it’s more like they’re beating you into submission rather than enticing. It could be worse, but it still sucks.
After a few months we did make a come back to SWTOR and we had a lot of fun getting into new guilds once again because of their many server merges. Currently, SWTOR doesn’t offer the content that I need as an altoholic for me to play this game long term. We certainly intend to get back into SWTOR again and finish up all of the different class stories at some point. However, since we are not interested in end game content and there is almost no choice at all of where you go to level, this will never be our primary game.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 was a very welcome relief to the SWTOR situation. I jumped on board out of curiosity and it wasn’t long before my wife joined in as well. GW2 offered a wonderful leveling experience that was full of interesting things to do like jumping puzzles, vistas, and a slightly different questing system. The PvP was completely balanced from a gear standpoint (at the time, anyway) which was also very nice, and you got experience for doing almost everything (even crafting).
Exploring the world and just having a good time were the two main draws of this game. Even if we weren’t pushing to level, we could just run around and explore stuff for four hours, maybe gain a single level if even that, and yet we would still log off for the night feeling like we had had a great time. Being able to group up with people from different places and being able to join multiple guilds made this a great game for playing with friends from all over.
However, after only a few months of playing GW2, the game started to lose something for me. The main thing for me was that you learned the majority of your spells before you were level 10. There were some spells you would only unlock by skill points which gave you something to strive for, but your bread and butter spells were the ones tied to your weapon which you unlocked by using a weapon of that type to kill some mobs. After a few fights you mastered that weapon and you were done forever more. This really gave me a feeling like there was no progression being made. It grew stale to the point where logging on, while fun, was basically pointless. You could gain more levels, explore new places, and get new gear, but the main reason I love to roll alts is because I love all of the progress I’m able to make on them while I level. GW2 just couldn’t deliver that to me in the long run.
GW2 will continue to be the game that we go to for exploration and just generally having fun times when we want something light and fun. They also have one of the best set ups you can find for in-game stores. They sell fantastic looking costumes with fun abilities and the things that they offer are things that you want to buy, not things that you feel like you have to buy. They have a great set up for having fun. Unfortunately it’s lacking just enough of the things that I personally need to feel satisfied with a game, that it won’t be something I really sink my teeth into.
We gave Rift a shot way back in the day when it first launched. We bought collector’s editions and jumped in during early access and had a ton of fun. After a couple of weeks we went into altoholic mode and suddenly we were finding the low level zones empty of players and filled with invading forces that we stood no chance of beating and we immediately stopped playing. We didn’t look back from that point on until the recent free to play announcement. We had just been through a decent stretch of playing WoW and were in a bit of a gaming lull and I decided to give it another shot.
Rift going F2P meant that the low level zones were full of people again which made our re-entry much smoother, and on top of that they had toned down the invasions and such to the point that it’s not a big deal now if my wife and I happen to be the only players in the area. We don’t mind soloing or duoing rifts by ourselves these days. In fact, I sort of like it when we are able to defeat these things by ourselves. Not that I mind help of course, but I think it’s cool that we’re sitting here conquering things together that a couple of years ago pushed us away from the game completely.
Right now this is the game that we’re focusing on, and we’re both having a really good time. There’s just enough of that world exploration stuff that keeps my wife really engaged, and the crunchy character creation and leveling stuff that really gets me fired up as well. Their F2P option is fairly good, not quite on the GW2 level of awesome, but light years ahead of SWTOR.
As far as which games we’re going to play is concerned, the only games that I’m really looking forward to playing right now that have not been released yet are Hearthstone and Elder Scrolls Online.
Growing up I was a huge fan of Magic: The Gathering, and I’m really looking forward to giving Hearthstone a shot. I’m not quite as excited about it right now as I was a couple of months ago, but part of that is because I’ve tried to stay away from all the news about it as I don’t want to have the whole game spoiled before I even get a chance to play it myself. I don’t know that a digital version of card game will be able to hold my interest as long as the real thing, but I do want to give it a chance.
Elder Scrolls Online is something I’m really looking forward to. I’m currently avoiding information on it as well for the most part, but I’m still pretty excited. I haven’t played most of the games linked to Elder Scrolls, and the one game that I have played I only played for about an hour. However, I have really enjoyed what I’ve seen of this game and I can’t wait to give it a shot. When they announced that it wasn’t going to come out until 2014 sometime, I was pretty disappointed and that’s when I stopped paying attention as much as I was before. I don’t want to get so excited about the game right now when I can’t even touch it. I’ll jump on the beta if I ever get an invite, but otherwise I’m planning to leave this one alone until it releases.
What About the Blog?
I think at this point it’s safe to say that I’m not going to focus on WoW here any more. I stepped away while I was playing SWTOR, and I’m probably going to do that again now with Rift. I don’t think I’ll do much in the way of leveling guides, mostly because there’s just too many different combinations of souls and I don’t think that I’ll be able to say with any real authority that one way of leveling is better than another. As I typed that I thought of a couple of different ways that I could still post leveling guides, so we’ll have to see on that part.
I won’t be posting frequently, I think I’ve learned that lesson well enough over the last few years. I don’t have the free time now to write posts every week or two, and I don’t want to get into the mindset where I feel like I have to play because I have to blog about it. I don’t get paid to do this, so there’s no reason I should feel like the blog is an obligation.
For the near future, expect most of my posts to be focused on Rift. I’ll probably start out with posts about tips for new players, guides for macros, and so forth. Leveling guides may come in the future, we’ll have to see. As most of my readers know, when I write guides I like to make sure they’re packed full of details so that you know as much about playing the class as I do, and that really takes up a lot of time. It’s not uncommon for me to spend anywhere from 3-12 hours writing guides that cover just 30 levels worth of content. I could write simpler guides, but those you can find anywhere on the internet and I personally don’t find those kinds of guides very valuable myself so if I’m going to invest the time to write at all, then I’m going to make sure the investment is worth it.
Will there be more WoW guides in the future? Maybe, with a slight lean towards probably. It’s still one of the best games out there no matter how you slice it. They didn’t get everything right with that game, but they got enough things right that they’re still the top dog of MMO’s.
Will there be SWTOR guides in the future? Not likely. I don’t feel like the SWTOR community really uses them or appreciates them in the grand scheme of things, so I’m probably done blogging about SWTOR unless they make some pretty big changes to the game.
Will there be GW2 articles in the future? Probably not, with a slight chance of maybe. There won’t be leveling guides, but there might be other articles.
Will there be Rift guides in the future? There will certainly be some guides, but as I said a minute ago I’m not sure if there will be leveling guides.
As for the other games, we’ll have to wait and see how much I enjoy playing each of them. The blog might start to venture away from guides, guides, guides and go more towards gaming in general with a focus on guides. I would like to get back into the habit of writing more posts, but I’d like to kind of stay away from constantly critting you in the face with huge walls of text. As much as I actually enjoy writing 10,000 word guides, I just don’t have the time. I could make the time if I were to stop playing in order to write them, but I still enjoy playing more than I do writing so it always wins.
Alright, so today’s “quick” post wasn’t really that quick at all. I’m going to cut it off here while it’s still under 3k words. Anyway, that’s where I stand right now on the gaming front. Hopefully you’ll see more frequent posts in the future than four per year. In the meantime, I hope we’re all having as much fun as we can in whatever world we happen to choose.