Conan Had an Anniversary and No One Noticed

Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary for Funcom’s Age of Conan. They’re celebrating it with the release of the Hyborian Tales: Shadow of Vanaheim content pack. Far as I could tell from my Twitter feed and my Google+ circles, no one noticed whatsoever. Even I didn’t find out until later in the evening. Kinda sad, really, especially when many of appear to get a kick out of being semi-on-top of MMO “news” or developer releases.

But even here on my own blog, the last time I wrote about Age of Conan was in 2010 when they announced the offline leveling mechanic. I like the game. Always did. It just never got any traction with me because not a single one of my online friends played the game and I never bothered finding an AoC-native guild.

Sometimes I wonder if AoC would be more successful if they did yet another revamp — this time to Buy-to-Play (B2P) like The Secret World? Maybe not, since Funcom can’t seem to catch a break (see their 2015 Q1 Financial Report) and even their latest LEGO Minifigures Online is proving challenging to monetize. The report states they will be converting LEGOMO (ha! — I could easily make a parody of a Styx song… but I won’t) to a B2P model as it’s F2P model isn’t working out and TSW and AoC are still the company’s biggest moneymakers.

I have an idea. Well, a concept. The nucleus of an idea.

I’ve already committed my summer — MMO-wise — to Elder Scrolls Online and The Old Republic. Perhaps in the fall or winter, I’m thinking I’d like to try to connect with at least 6 other like-minded individuals within my little social network spheres and setup a “static” group. Meaning we only adventure together. Which therefore means everyone will be at the mercy of my schedule, something I’ve been very much against doing to anyone else, but for this idea I don’t see any way around that, unfortunately. What I’d like to do is ideally take our low- to mid-level characters (no sense starting new ones and prolonging things unless everyone else insists?) and try to get through all the Age of Conan content, including the dungeons, though not the raids.

I know some people still have fond memories of Age of Conan, I wonder if over the coming months I could convince enough people to make a temporary stop to fully enjoy the content the game offers?

Reloaded: Double-Barreled

I don’t get me, sometimes. Really, I just don’t. I’ve been in an MMO Malaise yet again for quite some time now. I did re-subscribe to Elder Scrolls Online a few months ago when they announced the whole Buy2Play and Console Character Transfer stuff. I logged in once when I first re-subbed, ran around town, logged out. Think I logged in again maybe a month later, and did the same thing.

I just haven’t been in the mood whatsoever for the “traditional” MMO, or MMO questing, or much of anything else.

Then last week one of the big discussions on Google+ was that Star Wars: The Old Republic brought back their 12x XP for Story Quests. The MMO Hopping Bandwagon jumped right on that, and for reasons I’ve yet to explain to myself, somehow I wound up over on my BioWare account page resubscribing to TOR despite less than zero interest in actually playing an MMO.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Mind you, I never disliked TOR like some people have. I had a few gripes with the game — and still do — but overall I thought it was a perfectly fine take on the traditional MMO, and for my two cents all the cinematics and voiceovers make me want to do the side quests whether or not I or my character care about the side quest narrative. I think the main reasons I’ve stopped playing so quickly in the past are two-fold: The previous times I was headed into an MMO Malaise phase and TOR just happened to be the last straw that broke my camel’s back, and that the guild I joined imploded, which is typical for MMO Blogger Guilds in my experience.

This time, maybe the MMO Malaise is wearing off and I’m coming into a more positive mindset where MMOs are concerned because TOR is really clicking with me this time. I’ve been doing every side quest I can find interspersed with my Sith Warrior’s story quests, learning more about how some of my class mechanics work and how gear modding works so my Juggernaut is now quite the badass! He finished up Balmorra yesterday morning and is continuing his story on Nar Shadaa, currently at level 29 and very happily using Malavai Quinn as his new questing companion. I’ve only had Vette up til now and while she’s fun, I spend time after every fight using the Channel Rage ability to heal my Juggernaut for the next fight. Quinn is a healer companion and a darn good one so far; I haven’t stopped to heal myself a single time since Quinn joined the crew.

I’ve learned quite a bit the past week, and now that I’m leveling up and getting more abilities I’m starting to sorta-kinda get what I hope is a decent tanking rotation down. One major derp I had yesterday was very impulsively deciding to get into crafting. D’ravendaar previously had Bioanalysis (gathering) and Biochem (crafting) but without looking anything up whatsoever I decided no, Synthweaving sounded cool because D’rav uses the Force after all so why not craft his armor? So I switched. Then I heard about Artificing, which is crafting stuff for lightsabers. Ok, he definitely needs that, so I switched again. Then two things happened back-to-back. First, I used my head after the fact and remembered TOR is a traditional MMO, which means “themepark” which therefore means the best gear is from dungeons or raids, not crafted. Then I was taught about moddable gear because I just happened to hit the right level to start using some then learning that gear can stay with you because the mods you install determine the gear’s level. Then I asked Google what crafting profession is best for Juggernauts. You guessed it: Biochem for potions to help keep me alive, and of course by switching professions, I just lost all my progress! So a trip back to the first two low-level planets was in order to gather materials to re-level the crafting and gathering skills. In the meantime, I used commendations on the Imperial Fleet to get mostly orange moddable gear, only missing a couple pieces now, but could not for the life of me find a main-hand lightsaber. A player offered to give me one so we grouped up, he visited his bank and brought me a brand-new “level 1″ orange quality lightsaber and I promptly went to the mod vendor and cranked the lightsaber up to my level with tanking stats! He hung out for awhile giving me more tips and answering my questions. Friendly players for the win!

Only thing I haven’t done yet is group activity: Heroic quests and Flashpoints. I think I’m comfortable enough with the skills to be able to pull it off now so those are on the agenda for next week when I get back from work. That’s really the only downside I see to choosing this class: tanking is stressful for me, especially for public groups where players brutally and viciously blame the tank for every little thing. Healing is way less stressful. I never really understood why groups evolved to have the tank lead the group, either. Back in my “vanilla” World of Warcraft raiding days, I could lead just fine on my healing-spec druid because she was standing out of the way. Tanks are friggin’ busy, who has time to handle the aggro, the positioning and lead the entire group or raid while being face-first into a huge boss’ torso? I was the same in my Lord of the Rings Online hardcore days, I could lead wonderfully with my Lore-master because, again, she’s out of the way with a way better picture of the overall fight than being down in the middle of it. I would even make some of the pulls because I had long-range but very low-damage abilities and could position myself to have the mobs pulled directly to where the tank wanted to pick them up. Those were the days… But whatever, now everyone relies on the tank to do everything for them. I’d love to have a friendly guild, and maybe that will have to be on my agenda too. The 12xp is rumored to last until Autumn so the current plan is to maintain the subscription til it’s over, then decide where my headspace is and whether I want to continue or move along to something else.

Elder Scrolls Online

Talk about unexpected! As I’d mentioned above, I’ve been subbed to ESO for two or three months now but the most I’ve maybe done is complete one quest? TOR was down for a patch and maintenance this morning and for whatever reason my mouse wandered over the ESO icon. I stuck with it for awhile and did a few quests on my Templar. I never really had a plan set in stone for that class other than I wanted to be able to do my quests and switch to heal in groups. The Templar seems like a very amorphous class which can handle pretty much every Trinity role, and consequently I’ve had a mismatch of light, medium and heavy armor pieces and primarily using a bow to hopefully kill things from range. I have a little time using one-handed plus shield but I stuck mostly with the bow just like in Skyrim.

I was getting by with the bow and all my whatever-the-hell-drops gear but that’s about it. A lot of fights were very close, with me barely getting off a heal plus using my healing potion quickslot. But at some point the bug hit me again and now I have an interest in actually playing ESO! I suspect this is also two-fold: first, because my Templar is DPS and Healing so the stress level is so much lower for groups, and also because the console launch of ESO is coming next month. Either Bethesda or Zenimax Online Studios had a promotion going on last month where PC players who had pre-ordered the Imperial Edition (that’d be me) could get a console edition for a mere $20 so I jumped on that for PlayStation 4. On PC I’m still in Belghast’s Stalwart guild but that guild has also imploded except for me and one other guy. On PS4 I’ll have all the AGE guys to guild with. Either way, I now own both and the game is B2P so far as I’m concerned I can switch back and forth, just my PS4 character won’t have the same progress if I continue playing on PC as well.

Anyway, once the bug hit me to actually try playing the game, that entails actually learning a bit about the class too and being more effective that merely “getting by” with the bow. I went with the Omega Templar leveling build by Deltia, one of ESOs most prominent livestreamers on I asked how to respec and got several offers to teleport me to a nearby city with the appropriate shrine to respec my skills. I picked a player, and that ended up being a great decision because not only did he give me the teleport and show me exactly where the shrine was, he also gave me tips on playing the class and the game overall, then looked up that Omega build and crafted all the gear on the list at no charge! All that took an hour or so between the initial answering my question about respec, handling the teleport, fielding my questions than switching to his main to craft all the gear, switching to his other alt to craft me two stacks of food for magicka buffs then traveling back to me for the trades. I mean seriously, in two days back-to-back I hit the jackpot for finding awesome, friendly and helpful players. Gives me a little bit of hope for the genre’s playerbase yet after twelve years of cynicism crusting over my soul.

So, completely out of the blue, I just got a double-barreled whammy of MMO goodness! Guess I know where I’ll be spending my MMO time this summer now! Oh, I still have plenty of other non-MMO games I will keep in my rotation on both PC and PS4 but I’m oddly happy at being taken by surprise at playing MMOs again the past week! Two of them now! Told ya, I just don’t get me sometimes…


Expansion Time! Heart of Thorns


So, today was the big announcement at PAX South, broadcast live on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel. The “mystery” of Heart of Thorns has been solved: it is indeed the first expansion pack for Guild Wars 2.

New zones! The expansion’s story is set in the Maguuma Jungle, which had some great areas in the first Guild Wars and which was added to in the Eye of the North campaign. Guild Wars 2 has a few areas of the Maguuma Jungle, and the Heart of Thorns expansions looks to add an additional three areas.

New professions! Well, officially one new full profession: the Revenant, a heavy armor-wearer to even things out. Each armor type will have three associated professions now. It remains to be seen how the Revenant will actually play, but lore-wise, he channels the powers of long-dead important Guild Wars 1 figures from The Mists and uses that power for his skills. Two figures mentioned were King Jalis Ironhammer, the last king of the now-extinct dwarves who performed the Rite of the Great Dwarf before leading the final attack on the Destroyers at the finale of the Eye of the North campaign, and Mallyx the Unyielding, one of the demonic Margonite overlords who ruled the Domain of Anguish in the Nightfall campaign. The focus on spirits as well as Rytlock’s blindfold in the trailer makes me think the Revenant will be a sort of amalgam of the Nightfall’s Dervish and Factions’ Ritualist classes molded into a sword-wielding soldier.

Additionally, each class will have specialization paths which will open up new weapons and skills. Hopefully HoT will ship with multiple specializations, but the ones announced today are that Rangers can specialize and become Druids (whose ancient home was the Maguuma Jungle for some Guild Wars 1 Lore Points) and wield a staff, while Necromancer’s will have a specialization that lets them wield a Greatsword.

New focus on World vs World and a new WvW map. I’m not usually a PvP guy in MMOs but WvW was one of the few types that ever looked fun. I never really tried it yet since I don’t have a level-capped character in GW2 nor do I have a group of regulars to run with but hopefully if I manage to “get” GW2 and make it a usual game in my rotation I’ll get to WvW as well.

Guild vs Guild! GvG was the only type of PvP I ever played in GW1 because it was waaaaaay less elitist and hardcore, and because I played a Monk who in Arena PvP would be the first one the enemy team would kill but in GvG Monks weren’t focused on nearly as much for whatever reason. And as any GvGer knows, you can’t have Guild vs Guild without a Guild Hall so those will also make an appearance in the expansion!

No level cap increase! No gear reset! I’m glad to see ArenaNet sticking to their original GW1 guns and their current “no grind” philosophy. What they are adding is additional means of specializing your class and crafting so you can still have meaningful progression without the usual bandaid method all the vertical progression MMOs continue to use.

All in all, this sounds like great news for the game! I have been playing a little here and there the past week or two. But I’m also still struggling to discover… actually what I’m struggling with is identifying what I don’t “get” about the game. I’m having a hard time figuring out what I want to do as my end-goal. Some games I just level and leave, other games I invest myself enough in the character and game mechanics that I want to do end-game dungeons, etc. But given that I’m not really sure GW2 has an “end-game” per se I don’t really have a specific goal in mind. I haven’t had the opportunity to do a single GW2 dungeon, however, so I don’t know if they are still the “chaotic clusterfucks” I believe were the words used to describe them? I guess I just don’t know what there is to do at level cap besides repeating all the Hearts I’ve already done? I haven’t fully decided on a class I enjoy either. I originally made a Guardian because I was told that was the closest thing to a Monk class which is maybe true in spirit but not in gameplay. I have a Ranger alt which is certainly easy to play and keeps me out of the big melee “circle of sparks” that is beyond me why ArenaNet hasn’t done something to fix by now.

Finally, just one passing comment. I don’t understand why in some crowds there’s this massive disappointment that Heart of Thorns isn’t a free expansion. I may not know much about GW2 but I’m a GW1 player from the get-go. ArenaNet invented the Buy2Play model you all rave about. That means you buy the expansions. Duh!

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

So today the big bombshell everyone is talking about was Zenimax Online Studio’s (ZOS) announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO, because the letter T doesn’t exist in Tamri… err…) switching it’s model from Subscription-Only to Buy to Play (B2P) with Optional Subscription, known as ESO Plus, alongside the long-awaited release date for the console editions of the game.


Buy to Play (B2P) isn’t nearly as ubiquitous a business model as Free to Play (F2P) but I welcome this particular shift. Guild Wars 2 launched with the B2P model; indeed practically invented B2P with the first Guild Wars. The Secret World also switched from subscription to B2P. There isn’t a specific console MMO with this model so for now Destiny (not truly an MMO) will have to be the closest analogy.

How does Buy to Play work? Pretty much like any standard non-MMO game, actually. You buy the initial game, so there is that initial barrier to entry unlike F2P titles, and you play it as much as you want whenever you want. You’re not paying for access to the game like a subscription does. There is usually a shop to buy cosmetic and convenience items (does not apply to Destiny) for a virtual currency bought with real-world currency. Updates and patches occur normally like any other MMO, but Expansions are now considered DLC. Zenimax has not yet detailed how the game will be handled for players who do not own DLC, but it should be fairly innocuous as it’s a live game in a shared virtual world and not everyone will the the DLC at the same time, if at all. I’m expecting it to be handled similar to Lord of the Rings Online where the Expansion have separate patch notes for all players then notes specifically for those who own the expansion.

Virtual currency? Perfect World Entertainment games all have “Zen.” Guild Wars 2 has “Gems.” The Secret World has “Funcom Points.” Star Wars The Old Republic has “Cartel Coins.” TERA has “En Masse Points (EMP).” Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have “Turbine Points.” Sony Online Entertainment has “Station Cash.” Zenimax is calling their virtual currency “Crowns” and will put the shop on ESO’s Public Test Server (PTS) next week for current subscribers to check out what’s on offer, get a handle on what Crowns are worth, and provide feedback to ZOS.

ESO Plus? That is their optional subscription package detailing the incentives for members. In addition to the Guide to ESO Plus I linked above (and here again) there is a FAQ with specific information on membership perks.

  • Access to all DLC for the duration of membership
  • Exclusive character progression bonuses for the duration of membership
    • 10% bonus to experience point gain
    • 10% bonus to crafting research
    • 10% bonus to crafting inspiration gain
    • 10% bonus to gold acquisition

There are 30-day, 60-day and 90-day membership subscriptions, allotting 1500, 4500 or 9000 Crowns respectively at the beginning of each membership period. Until the test shop gets pushed to the PTS next week, no one knows what 1500 Crowns is actually worth however. Given that Lord of the Rings Online gives 500 Turbine Points per month and Star Wars the Old Republic gives between 500 and 600 Cartel Coins per month (depending on membership period) I’m going to hazard a guess that the prices will be a higher number than we’re used to seeing, but the actual Point-to-Dollar ratio should be equivalent to other titles.

Before I sat down to write this post, I watched Zenimax Online Studio’s livestream on Twitch (archived here) where they gave their spiel on the business model switch, talked about what they mean by B2P (exactly what I said above), talked about how so-called “Pay2Win” won’t be an issue, showed some of the cosmetic costumes that will be in the shop, and also demoed some PS4 gameplay footage. Costume-wise, this reminds me of what Guild Wars 2 is doing with their shop, although I’m extremely new to coming back to GW2 so don’t quote me there. They also said convenience items such as Health potions (I forget the ESO names but there were three types of potions) will be in the shop but they are equivalent to medium potions in-game; player-crafted potions will always be better.

They also specifically said there will be no Crowns to Gold trading, nor will shop items be tradable. I noticed Guild Wars 2 lets players trade Gems for Gold. Cryptic’s games use an intermediary currency earned in-game (Astral Diamonds for Neverwinter, Dilithium for Star Trek) which players can trade for Zen, or vice-versa. For now, ESO will lock all Crowns and items purchased with Crowns specifically to your character or account.

There will be a Character Copy available for current PC players to copy their character over to the console version, but console cross-play will not be available. Each platform will remain in its own walled garden.

Personally, I am looking forward to the PS4 edition. I enjoyed ESO quite a bit but I did not (and still do not) have the free time to justify a monthly subscription, and to beat this dead horse again, ESO requires me to use the mouse constantly so it aggravated my old Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) in my right wrist more than a normal MMO would (so do Neverwinter and TERA but not as much). I liked the tweaks to the UI that the console editions have. The livestream did not show any chat, but I did see a little tab where you’d normally expect a chat box to be, so I’m guessing the chat box is minimizable (Star Trek Online does this too and I love that feature!) since font size must be increased to account for the distance between couch and TV. Consoles will have voice chat for your group, but also public “Say” range chat. I’ve played a few console games that have similar features and, in concept it’s a great idea and will probably work fantastic for ZOS and their in-house testing. Live, however, we’ll have kids singing, playing music, swearing, belching, screaming trade offers and just generally being the exact reason people don’t like public voice chat. So I’m already tempering my excitement for the PS4 edition with the knowledge I will likely spend most of my time in private Party chat to avoid the Douche Mouth Factor.

See you in Tamriel (Unlimited!) in June!

One Month In

I completed my Initial Operating Experience (IOE) at the new job a month ago. Since then, I’ve flown one day. Two legs. That will probably change this week, as I’m on for 6 days. 5 remaining, since I didn’t get used today. I’m at the bottom of the totem pole on what’s called Short Call Reserve, which means I have to be in base (Philadelphia) so I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice if they call. But Short Call guys are the last choice; Long Call Reserve guys get the open trips that are known in advance. I only get a call if someone calls in sick, or stuff like that. Why am I bothering to say this on a gaming blog? Because I’m sitting around a “crash pad” a damn lot bored out of my skull. I have my PlayStation Vita and my new laptop: Acer V7-482PG which plays games pretty decently – when it plays them. I’m possibly exaggerating, but it feels like I’m running 50/50 on whether or not it will play any given game.

I have plenty of little-played or unplayed games on Steam and Uplay. Games I enjoy, but I typically get distracted with an MMO of one sort or another when I’m on my desktop PC at home. I have difficulty focusing on non-MMOs on PC for some reason, which is where the PlayStation 4 or Xbox 360 come in. Here, though? Yeah, let’s load some stuff up on the laptop!

Company of Heroes, a 2006 RTS technically plays, but the models won’t animate, and the soldiers have no textures and remain in their T-pose. Which means I won’t play it like that. Company of Heroes 2, however, which is known to be graphics-intensive plays perfectly fine. Oh well.

I don’t “get” the 4X genre at all, but for whatever reason I want to. I’ve owned Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion for several years and have never managed to even complete the tutorial. Mostly because I spend too much time fighting the camera control to actually play the game. The laptop won’t even run the game. On a side note, I did attempt twice this past week at home to play the very first tutorial, probably the seventh time since I’ve owned the game. I can sorta-kinda see where there would be some appeal but once again I spent way too much time fighting the camera and getting angry. The combat seems kinda boring too so, I dunno, I think I may just call that one $30 down the tubes and move on.

So I bought Age of Wonders 3 which I keep hearing is a cool 4X game. It plays pretty well, although it reminded me very much of Might & Magic Heroes VI which I also own and enjoyed a bit last year. However, that won’t play on the laptop. Not even sure MMH6 is even considered 4X? Regardless, I guess I can switch between that at home and on the laptop I can do AoW3.

I also bought Endless Space. I know, I know, everyone and their monkey’s uncle raves about Endless Legend but that’s yet another fantasy 4X and since I already own two, why not try a sci-fi one? Runs great on the laptop so far, but turn-based games just get to me. That applies to MMH6 and AoW3 also. In combat, fine. But if not a damn thing is going on, why do I have to click the End Turn button? Just friggin’ do it already! I watched a few YouTube vids on Endless Space and the combat looks to be quite cinematic, hopefully more what I’m looking for versus Sins of a Solar Empire. But I haven’t had a combat of my own yet. In fact, I’ve had what seems to be an inordinate amount of turns where I had nothing to do except click the End Turn button. Yeah, I’m more of an action or real-time gamer, so that just seems “off” somehow and leaves me feeling that multiple turns went wasted even though I clicked all my systems and planets and didn’t see anything I could do. Like I said, I don’t “get” 4X yet. The one disappointment with Endless Space is that there is no campaign or story, it just throws you into generating a galaxy seed then go forth and… 4X yourself.

Oh, speaking of Might & Magic Heroes VI, I also bought Might & Magic X Legacy last year on Uplay. I never thought for a second I would like one of those first-person dungeon crawl games. I didn’t like them back when they were the hotness in the early 90’s. But somehow this one had a certain je ne sais quois and it plays wonderfully on the laptop so who knows, maybe I’ll actually get to finish it sitting around here.

Divinity: Original Sin seems to play fine on the laptop. That’s one I would really like to start, but I would very much like to try cooperative with a friend or two. Not sure if that will ever happen, though.

Finally, my two favorite isometric Action RPGs both play perfectly fine on the laptop as well. Marvel Heroes 2015 and Path of Exile. I’m trying to talk one of my co-workers into installing both of these so we can duo.

Then some MMOs. Of course, I have the Arc client so I can play Star Trek Online which runs really damn well so far on the laptop, though I’ll add the caveat that I haven’t played any of the more intensive group content with it yet. Also Neverwinter appears to run at a great framerate, but I had to take a more noticeable hit there on graphic fidelity than I did with Star Trek. Finally, I had mentioned in my 2015 Gaming Goals post that I wanted to return to Guild Wars 2 and see if I could “find the fun” in that game. Holy crap does it run awesome on the laptop! I still don’t “get” GW2 but my aforementioned co-worker will be getting it soon so maybe we can duo some stuff and I can learn what the dealio is with this game finally.

Also, a bonus for laptop gaming at a Philly crashpad: it’s friggin’ freezing up here, even indoors, so the CPU/GPU heat while gaming is awesome!


I am always the first to admit that my blogging has slacked off in recent years. Especially in light of social media such as Twitter a few years ago, and more recently Google+ where full blown conversations occur on a daily basis. It became far more interesting to participate there than to spend hours writing a blog post that a fraction of those same people would read and most likely not comment. The “rent” was due on this server last week, in fact, and I thought long and hard about not renewing it. But what the heck, the past few months have been all about starting over, so who knows, maybe I will again find that spark that originally got me blogging about games and a few of my other interests so long ago.

WordPress Stats:

To rub salt in the wound, WordPress tells me I only made 16 posts in 2014. It’s not midnight yet, so this will technically be the 17th. Not much readership over those 16 posts. My second Destiny Alpha post was the most-viewed at 61. 6 comments was the most any single post received. I can spit out a 30-second post on Google+ any given day and get more than 6 comments. So it’s not hard to question the whole blogging thing. But let’s not get too down and depressing into “blogging is dead” territory. My Feedly is still filled daily with my usual circle of bloggers I’ve followed for years.

Aside from finding that “spark” to blog again, I’ve noticed I don’t have or take the time to write those in-depth nitty-gritty break-it-down-to-the-numbers posts that I used to. Honestly, my gaming these days tends to be for pure enjoyment, not analysis with a small dose of enjoyment on the side. I run around with a couple guns in Destiny and shoot anything that moves. Not a whole lot of thought going on, and no need (for me, anyway) to try to analyze the stats and min-max whatever could be min-maxed. I haven’t had time to “really” play MMOs either, which are the genre it can be most tempting to bury oneself in stats. But now that my training is completed, I can get back into gaming in my spare time.

My MMO Gaming in 2014

As usual for the past few years, Star Trek Online was my single most-played title, followed by Neverwinter.

I did start off the year with a lot of Firefall, though. I really enjoyed the game, it’s mechanics, and the larger events and invasions were truly a blast. Even though I spent most of the time ungrouped or “playing alone together” it’s those times when open world events occur and players flock from all over to that one area to fight cooperatively that still brings that fresh “this is why I play MMOs!” smile to my face. The various Battleframes each have their own unique playstyles and I enjoyed switching between them, though my favorite ‘frame remains the Bastion. Dropping all those turrets and blasting stuff… ah yeah! I supported Red 5, supported Firefall, spent probably $200 on a Founder’s pack once they started talking about releasing the full game… Then they did. In the process they turned the big level-less sandbox-ish shooter into something else. Now the world is split up into level-bracketed areas. Now there are freaking levels! LEVELS! What the hell? I haven’t managed to muster the interest in logging in at all. Maybe that will change in 2015. I certainly hope so – I’d like to get some enjoyment out of my money.

I did briefly subscribe to a couple MMOs in 2014. The Old Republic first, just to pick up on my Sith Warrior a bit. I do technically enjoy SWTOR, but I found myself extremely disliking any “traditional” questing model MMO this year. I did gain a few levels on that character and tried a few Flashpoints which I enjoyed quite a bit, but became aggravated that the more useful tanking skills are still several levels away. Single-target tanking becomes difficult and not very enjoyable when nearly every pull is a group and there’s little I can do to hold aggro on more than one mob. But still, once I feel I might be “ok” with traditional questing I would like to return to SWTOR.

The Elder Scrolls Online was the other subscription. I didn’t get very far in the game due to my job and everyone else in the guild was flying through the content. Again, here’s a game with “levels” which are a horrible, horrible mechanism when it comes to playing with friends or guild-mates. I did enjoy the Elder Scrolls-style questing, and mostly appreciated the minimalist Skyrim ripoff UI except for everyone’s primary complaint: it’s impossible to tell friends and guild-mates from anyone else. I did not get to participate in the PvP but from watching livestreams it seemed like it was fun and I was interested in picking it up if I ever got to level cap. Who knows, maybe I will give it another go. I’m particularly interested in the PlayStation 4 version if they ever ship the console edition of the game.

Speaking of traditional questing MMOs, I finally picked up Lord of the Rings Online briefly, after being on hiatus for what? 3 years? 4? I got my Loremaster into Rohan with the specific goal of getting the war steed. That just seemed so cool in my head. Went through I don’t know how many zones, completing all the quests, gaining several levels. Then I achieved my goal – I got my war steed! In true “the grass is always greener” form, turns out it was way cooler in my head than it is in the actual game. It sorta-kinda works from a game mechanics perspective and the “mounted combat” is functional. The “driving” is absolutely atrocious, however and that well and truly ruined the experience for me. There are some bits of what appears to be “group war steed” content in the form of open world events (I think?) but here I am coming back into the game a couple years after the Rohan expansion so again: levels ruin everything. All the players are in the new level-cap zones. No one was in Rohan doing much of anything and certainly not the “group mounted combat” stuff. So I gave up all over again, and my Loremaster is parked in lonely Rohan until next time.

Hopes for 2015

I won’t do a “resolution” because those are the first thing to get thrown out with the trash on New Year’s Day, right? So I’ll just rattle off a few off-the-cuff hopes that I have for myself and my 2015 MMO gaming.

Return to Neverwinter. I returned a bit for the Tyranny of Dragons bit, which is a lot of fun plus I’m still catching up on the previous expansions that I missed out on at the time. I’m in a new guild that is very large and always active, chatty and friendly. But I was also starting my training so I wasn’t able to put my full effort into really learning the nuts and bolts of what had changed, and especially into doing the more difficult dungeons to get better gear. When I get more gaming time, I’d like to fully invest in guild dungeon runs and maybe finally learn some PvP!

Find the Fun in Guild Wars 2. It’s gotta be there somewhere? I was such a Guild Wars fan, and I had such high hopes for GW2 and then… this pointless mess appeared with the “Guild Wars” name attached to it. Pointless. That’s the most common thought I have when playing the game. I just don’t see a point to any of it. An awful lot of people play and love the game, so there is obviously something I’m missing? I never feel that I am “required” to enjoy a game that others do or vice-versa so I am unable to put into words why I feel this way about GW2.

Regain Online Social Confidence. So many factors have all contributed to me losing that social enjoyment of playing online. My job keeping me away from home most of the time. Me jumping from game to game, making it difficult to make in-game friends. Plenty more I won’t get into here. But I’d like to regain that enjoyment and the self-confidence to be more social while gaming online with friends. That’s the whole essence of gaming right there, and I’ve managed to let go of it to more of a degree than I am comfortable with. As we get older, life becomes so much “meaningful seriousness,” so why not balance that with “meaningful fun” in our downtime? Work hard to play hard, right? Smile This applies to non-MMO multiplayer gaming too. For that matter, even tabletopping!

STO Casual Resource Farming Results

As I stated in my post last month, while I’m in training for my new job I wouldn’t have much time to actually play any games other than maybe (maybe!) my days off training. That pretty much held true as it turned out, so the main goal for October was to run an experiment tracking how much each of my KDF “doff” (Duty Officer) farming alts actually earns over the course of one month of casual use. By “casual use” I mean login once per day guaranteed (in the morning before I go to class) to run my typical “doff route” and if I have time, optionally twice per day (after dinner in the evening). No more than that.

I wasn’t sure how to present the numbers and what to count, however. Brian joked (at least I hope he was joking) about a spreadsheet with graphs. I don’t even know how to do that! What I decided on was: Energy Credits, Dilithium, Contraband, and Commodities then how many of those commodities are needed for the current projects we have in progress in our Fleet Holdings. We’re a very small, very casual fleet. Our Starbase is Tier 2, and roughly 50% to Tier 3. Dilithium Mine is Tier 2 and coming up on 70% or more towards Tier 3. The past month or two has seen an increase in activity and even a few new members and we’ve made a lot of progress in a short time; probably more progress, especially on the Mine, in two months than in the past two years. The other two holdings, the Embassy and Spire are both Tier 1 and roughly 50% towards Tier 2.

So, today is the 31st and the numbers are in. However, I did manage to throw a few glitches into the mix, but I still have good enough numbers to work with. The first is a simple one: while I did mention counting R&D materials in my original post, by the time Oct 1 came around, I’d forgotten about that so I didn’t clear out the farmers’ R&D inventory to have an accurate count. On the flip side, I really didn’t bother concentrating too much on jobs that gained R&D materials anyway, other than a handful of blue-quality ones. Starfleet characters get the same projects as KDF for those resources, so I didn’t see a need to concentrate on them when I could focus on resources that Starfleet has a dramatically more difficult time acquiring.

In couple weeks prior to the Delta Rising expansion’s launch, STO had a Bonus XP event going, so I ended up creating two more KDF doff farming characters because they would reach level 11 to unlock Duty Officers much faster. I made one standard KDF, the other Romulan. Both of them ended up throwing a huge monkey wrench into my routine, but for different reasons. The KDF one has so far encountered some sort of technical glitch where he never gets a promotion when he enters a new level bracket. He’s now level 34 but still in his original ship, which tops out at warp 5.72. He takes twice as long to travel and I have to get packed, get breakfast and catch the van to class so I ended up getting very discouraged to even do much with him. A lot of the time I’d only run him through two sectors instead of my full normal farming route. The Romulan, on the other hand, is crippled due to content-gating: you must play through a certain number of missions in order to unlock the ability to travel to all the sectors. The point of a farming alt is not to play missions, so I still haven’t made the time to run the next few missions to really get him on his way. Obviously, low level farming alts have the same low profitability as any other low level character. Low tier gear vendors for much less than high tier gear. Other low level problems were: marauding acquires prisoners, which are wonderful to sell them off to labor camps for dilithium. However, the Forced Labor Requisition project doesn’t unlock til level 22, so you end up with a brig full of prisoners and nothing to do with them. You can mail them to your account and hopefully use them in other projects on other characters, or just dismiss them. Also low level characters simply don’t have very many duty officers initially, so they can’t do as many projects, and all the initial duty officers are common quality (“white”) and have a much higher failure rate on the profitable jobs. So, low level farming can be somewhat frustrating.

Noob Numbers

The new KDF farmer was level 18 on Oct 1, and level 34 today. He ended up earning 190,993 Energy Credits and 28,740 Dilithium. 190 Contraband. A total of 1871 Commodities, 826 of which are in demand in our Fleet Holding projects.

The Romulan started at level 21, and is also 34 today. He ended up earning 88,322 Energy Credits and 17,576 Dilithium. 42 Contraband. 461 Commodities, 139 of which can be used immediately in Fleet Holding projects. See how being limited to two sectors limits the projects he’s able to do, limiting his total earnings? Once I take the time to play his missions to open up the rest of the game, he’ll be a fine earner but for now my best advice is to not make a Romulan farming character.


The other mistake I made was on one of my five primary farming alts. Two mistakes, actually. Apparently while clearing out everyone’s resources so I’d be able to count their earnings, I forgot to clear out her Energy Credits and Dilithium. Then, about a week into October when she did her first Starbase run to vendor stuff to clear inventory space, I stopped at the bank and realized she had several commodities that could be used to complete some Holdings projects right then. Which was my normal thinking. That’s what farmers are for, right? So before I caught myself, I put all her commodities in the bank and the in-demand ones into the account bank. So, I will post her numbers separately since her EC and Dilithium count will be higher because I didn’t clear them, and her commodities won’t be the full amount she actually earned.

She has 674,405 Energy Credits and 151,753 Dilithium. 177 Contraband. 1,767 Commodities, 693 of which can go into Fleet Holdings.

Hard Numbers

That leaves four of my five primary farmers to work with. I’ll post their totals and averages, then the total earnings for all seven farmers.

  1. 574,730 EC; 75,978 Dilithium; 155 Contraband; 1834 Commodities; 826 in demand
  2. 762,014 EC; 68,438 Dilithium; 305 Contraband; 2800 Commodities; 1046 in demand
  3. 561,184 EC; 53,498 Dilithium; 338 Contraband; 3062 Commodities; 1366 in demand
  4. 686,057 EC; 61,118 Dilithium; 329 Contraband; 3143 Commodities; 1078 in demand

Using those four characters, the average comes out to: 645,996 EC; 64,758 Dilithium; 2,709 Commodities; 1,079 in demand.

The difference in earnings mostly comes out to factors such as: the quality of duty officers, the number of successes (and crits!) versus failure and disaster (even worse because those duty officers go to sick bay so are out of commission for a day and can’t be used). I don’t spend any Zen on increasing the duty officer capacity like the hardcore farming players do, nor do I spend their dilithium or energy credits getting better quality duty officers. I only run the occasional duty officer job that will hopefully acquire a new higher quality duty officer whenever that farmer alt has them available. Even then, I’m often dealing with failures or disasters so come up empty-handed. But that’s one of the differences between casual doff farming like I’m doing versus the hardcore guys who spend hours and hours each day maximizing their earnings.

Total Earnings

The total income of all seven duty officer famers came to:

3,537,645 Energy Credits; 457,092 Dilithium; 1,536 Contraband; 14,938 Commodities; 5,974 Commodites I can use immediately for our Fleet Holdings.

All in all, I’d say that’s not bad just for logging in once per day and running some duty officer jobs! The dilithium alone should be able to finish up both of our current Upgrade projects and a few more.

Expansion Anxiety

So, in MMO-land, I did end up canceling my Elder Scrolls Online subscription last month. Not because I didn’t enjoy the game – I certainly did, although I will admit to not often being in the mood to actually log in. That also wasn’t ESOs fault, just a general malaise over a more traditional MMO experience that went across the board. I still have those hardcore-ish urges, but every passing year it gets easier and easier to resist them. But the dungeons in ESO did look interesting, as did the PvP, and you guys knows I never say much nice about MMORPG PvP. But here I am with a new job and a 60% pay cut, and for at least two years my gaming time will be curtailed.

So, decision time. I’ve always really enjoyed Star Trek Online and Neverwinter. I’ve decided that given what my life is going to be for awhile, those two MMOs would probably offer the best of both worlds: the ability to play in short bursts if need be, and plenty of queued group content.

As it turns out, both games have upcoming expansions as well!

I just saw on the Neverwinter launcher yesterday that Module 5: Rise of Tiamat is coming soon. My impression of this one is that it’s not necessarily a stand-alone expansion, but more of a continuation of Module 4: Tyranny of Dragons. I took my break from Neverwinter shortly after Module 2: Shadowmantle launched. I’d visited the Dread Ring but hadn’t progressed very far in the campaign. Even now, I haven’t completed the campaign to unlock the dungeons. Icewind Dale (Module 3)? Forget about it! I’m still in Tier 1 gear (still lacking the head piece, too) and while my Gear Score is (barely) above the 10K requirement, I can’t do anything at all in Icewind Dale so I’ve given up on that until I can get Tier 2 gear. That and Devoted Clerics need a balancing pass anyway to boost both dps and healing, in light of the recent Scourge Warlock class. But I’m really digging the game, and I’m in a very active and friendly guild. Having a blast running around quite literally slaying Internet Dragons with the Module 4 campaign, and I’m very close to unlocking the first instance. Good times, and very excited to face Tiamat, one of the most iconic dragons in D&D history in the Module 5 expansion.

Star Trek Online also has its Delta Rising expansion coming next month. I’m very torn on this one. Content-wise, it seems like a fantastic expansion to look forward to. New stories in the Delta Quadrant, new queued content, a revamped queue system with an even more challenging difficulty level, new captain specializations, new bridge officer types, a revamped Intrepid ship (my main ship this whole time, except for STFs), both exterior and interior to finally fit with the actual Voyager canon… this sounds fantastic, right? Except for one thing: a level cap increase, and the accompanying gear reset. Tier 6 ships. One of the most endearing aspects of STO has always been that anyone can play ships and wear outfits from their favorite show’s era. There are plenty of Original Series fanatics out there, wearing the 60’s garb and tooling around in old ships. Plenty of TNG, DS9 and Voyager fans, such as myself with the Intrepid as my primary “RP” ship. Oh sure, I have a whole fleet of other ships to choose from, and I have several geared up for specific content but for story stuff or doing stuff with my fleetmates, I’ll be commanding from the Intrepid bridge, thank you. But now they’re introducing Tier 6 Intel ships, which are an all-new design. The Klingon ships look pretty cool, but I play Federation. I’m not overly keen on Romulan ships period, but they look ok. The Federation Intel ships, though? I guess out the of the three, the escort is the best looking one. But I play a Science captain, so even though I can have a blast in an escort, that career path doesn’t get the maximum performance (dps) out of those ships. And that Science Intel ship? FUGLY!

There will be an upgrade path for our existing Tier 5 ships, which will run approximately $5-ish, however that upgrade is only good for a “Tier 5U” (Upgraded) quality, therefore will not allow the extra Tier 6 abilities and Intel bridge officer. This has been an extremely controversial sticking point for many players, including myself. I’m not jumping on the “Doom Rising” bandwagon, but I’m certainly not happy that I feel “forced” to abandon the ships that brought me into the game in the first place. So for myself, Delta Rising has me both excited for the new content and new mechanics, but also a feeling of sadness and trepidation for what I fear will happen as a result of Tier 6 Intel ships. All I can hope for is that months down the road, Cryptic will allow us to fully upgrade our ships to Tier 6.

STO Project Coming Soon™

Just finished Day 2 of Basic Indoc for the new job. Just wanted to check in with the blog and announce that, assuming I have the time to login to STO daily next month, that I plan to conduct a casual experiment.

I’ve always been terrible about “accounting” in MMOs, but next month I will attempt to track the total resource income of my little army of KDF “farmers,” meaning characters I created for no other reason than to acquire resources from the Duty Officer system. The Klingon Defense Force faction has a vastly superior pool of duty officer assignments to gain various resources compared to the Federation, which has caused players to sometimes refer to the KDF as the “Klingon Dilithium Farmers.”

So, my goal over the course of October is to track the total resources my little gang of farmers can acquire and transfer to my Federation main character for use in our Fleet Holdings. Starbase, Dilithium Mine, Embassy and Dyson Sphere Spire. The most easily obtained resources will be dilithium, energy credits, contraband, commodities, and basic raw materials which are the new ingredients for Research & Development (ie. crafting) formerly known as “data samples” under the old R&D system. There are two resources which farming alts are less able to supply: Fleet Marks and Duty Officers. None of my KDF farming alts are in fleets; there is no reason to because they do not exist to actually play, only to farm resources. I can technically farm civilian colonist duty officers on either faction every 24 hours, but the KDF side can convert them into dilithium more frequently than I seem to be able to do on the Federation faction. So I generally consider dilithium a more valuable resource than mailing colonists across factions, which sounds cruel saying it like that. The only way to generate Fleet Marks is to play queued content, and as I mentioned, those alts do not exist to be “played.” Their ships have no gear, they have no skill points assigned, they’d be useless in a fight. So for a teeny casual fleet like ours, Fleet Marks are definitely a bottleneck because we have to login and have the time and desire to play the content which rewards Marks. Dilithium has traditionally been a bottleneck as well because, being so casual, most of the fleet doesn’t have much dilithium to spend. I’m the only one who occasionally goes on hardcore-ish dilithium grinds to build up my stash.

So, that will hopefully be my little accounting project for October while I’m in training. I doubt I’ll have much time to actually play any games, so just being able to login every day and run my farming routes should hopefully be enough to let me unwind a bit.

Gaming Questionnaire

I haven’t done bandwagon-style “community” blogging in forever and a day, so I thought I’d do Jayla’s Gaming Questionnaire, which I suspect is really just an outlet to not-so-sneakily get some of us to admit our age. Smile On a side-note: I can’t even remember that last time a blog post has continued traffic seven days after the original post. Usually any given blog article has a lifespan of three days — tops, so congrats to Jayla (and yay for me discovering a new blog to add to my Feedly) for this one.

  • When did you start playing video games?
    I don’t remember the exact year but it was during the early or mid-70s.  So there, I just admitted my age. Feel free to #GOML now, ya whippersnappers.
  • What is the first game you remember playing?
    Pong. The arcade game Pong. Later Atari released a home console of Pong and I’m pretty sure my family owned one, which led to us owning an Atari 2600 console (originally called the Atari VCS).
  • PC or Console?
    Yes. Smile I love both. I go in phases where I will play heavily on one for months, then switch to the other, or sometimes even play both equally. Some types of games I feel better playing on a console — specifically, playing with a controller, which PCs are also capable of, but also playing on a couch sitting back rather than at a desk sitting forward, so it’s not just a hardware issue for me.
  • XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?
    Oy. I’m an Xbox-kinda guy at heart. I prefer the Live infrastructure for multiplayer and Microsoft overall has done a better job of keeping the service online than Sony has. However, for the current generation hardware, I defected to the Sony camp and got a PlayStation 4 because a software patch can’t fix inferior hardware. Though, honestly, both consoles this generation are running inferior hardware.
  • What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
    Ouch. This is a tough one. By what metric do I define “best?” Hours played? Favorite memories? Even using that one, my list would be extensive. Tell ya what, for this one I will cheat and just say the Mass Effect series as a whole. I don’t get to finish very many games, and I usually have a thing about not getting a sequel in a series unless I’ve finished the earlier games. I happily played through all three Mass Effect games, even playing the first one twice and most of the way through the second on on a replay. Red Dead Redemption gets a second place vote for being an excellent game overall, as well as the first Rockstar game that I thoroughly enjoyed finishing.
  • What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
    Brink. Hands down, Brink. Holy fuck what an absolute piece of shit that game was. Absolutely nothing worked the way it was supposed to. I have only two “good” memories of Brink: First was the night Aaron, Paul and I got together on Xbox Live and finished the campaign (for the achievements mostly) purely out of spite, trash-talking the game and the developers every moment of it. Second was the next day when I took the game to GameStop and traded it in.
    Since this has been primarily an MMO-oriented blog over the years, I’ll add EverQuest II as my worst MMO. I’ve owned some turds, Warhammer Online coming to mind as a piece of crap game in a piece of crap engine by piece of crap developers but even then, when WAR was being shut down I at least logged in a few times to try to figure out what was supposed to be so great about it. But EverQuest II still stands out as the single MMO box purchase I regret. I would much rather have my money back.
  • Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
    Does “most MMOs” count as an answer? Winking smile This is the age of the “three monther” after all, and for me most are lucky if I get past three days. No? Ok, seriously then. Oh, let’s see… well there was Oblivion which I famously finished out of spite for 100% completion but didn’t really enjoy it, much to the consternation of The Elder Scrolls fans in my circles. Final Fantasy 7 comes to mind. I’ve never truly enjoyed JRPGs and for FF7 that was purely a “jump on the bandwagon” thing for me, trying to understand why J-stuff (anime, manga, JRPGs, etc.) was so popular among gamers (“gamers” at the time being the readers and writers of video game magazines like EGM back then) but not with me. I primarily played FF7 to watch the cinematics, which were great at the time (though incredibly crude and primitive today) and try to understand the story from that because the in-game dialogue didn’t exactly do a great job of relating a story. Pretty sure I lost a few IQ points just from reading the dialogue, actually.
  • Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
    There are several, as I tend to march to the beat of my own drum and I like what I like, screw you all. But the moment I read this question, two games immediately popped into my mind so I will go with those. First is The Saboteur. Ever since the Battlezone games, I was slightly fanboyish toward Pandemic Studios even though a lot of their games afterward were highly flawed, or EA rushed them out the door. Probably not even the same developers who worked at Pandemic. But I felt The Saboteur was their greatest post-Battlezone achievement, and a fitting swan song for the studio which EA shuttered after The Saboteur’s release. It was also my very first 100% Completion on Xbox 360 which I am very proud of. The second game is Halo Wars, which was the swan song game for Ensemble Studios, and which I’ve written about a few times, most notably the game’s three year anniversary and also a brief Q&A I did with the developers at that time. A console RTS? The “PC Master Race” [insert rolling eyes and a coughing fit] laughed at the idea. But it was wonderful. Wonderful! Even now at 5 years old, Halo Wars has a healthy online community on Xbox Live.
  • What are your favorite game genres?
    Role-playing games and shooters get the “favorite” spot, hands-down. Those are broad terms, however. Not every RPG is anywhere near the same as another, and the same applies to shooters. And that’s a great thing! So many variations and categories within each genre to appreciate (or not).
  • Who is your favorite game protagonist?
    There have been a number over the years. Lara Croft, for example, sold me on the idea of having a strong female lead and there have been some great Tomb Raider games, especially with the new rebooted series. But I will have to crib from a previous answer and go with Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect trilogy. The Mass Effect series had some fantastic characters, and regardless whether you went with a male or female Shepard, leaned toward Paragon or Renegade paths, you gave a damn about Shepard and his/her crew and about saving the galaxy.
  • Describe your perfect video game.
    This would normally be the perfect question for a video game blogger, but I feel I’ve done it already in years’ past and as I write this answer today, I am uncertain that I even have an answer today. What I wanted a few years ago is most definitely unrealistic now, given my real-life demands on my time and not wanting to devote all my gaming energy to a single title. That hardcore, raider, open-world, yadda yadda guy is still in there yelling loudly to be heard, but as long as I’m being honest about my age bracket (see the first question above) I may as well be honest with myself that just because I “want” something doesn’t mean that’s something I “need” or can even commit to. Because if there’s one thing Real Life has eliminated, it’s my ability to commit to much of anything outside of work, because my work schedule is so hectic.
  • What video game character do have you have a crush on?
    None. Oh, sure, I can do the Guy Thing and “check out the pixel tits on her!” or whatever, but that’s not something that carries any legitimate emotional weight the way having a “crush” does.
  • What game has the best music?
    Another “best” question I cannot answer. The days of chip music are long gone and these days even the biggest piece of crap game has a professional composer writing the soundtrack. A shorter list might be “What game has the worst music?” But I’ll bite. I say Guild Wars. As in the first one. You know, the one they ripped 100% and plopped into Guild Wars 2? (That may, in fact, be one of the reasons GW2 doesn’t resonate with me? All that time and they didn’t contract its own soundtrack?) Jeremy Soule has done some fantastic work over the years on various properties, but I still love his GW soundtracks, especially some of the Factions themes.
  • Most memorable moment in a game?
    Oh gosh. So many! A successful campaign against the opposition in Air Warrior on GEnie way back in the day? Our guild harboring a non-guild Jedi friend from bounty hunters in Star Wars Galaxies? Pretty much all the big raids I did in World of Warcraft? And again in Lord of the Rings Online? The first time I took down a Scarab in the Halo series? Even the time playing Frontlines where Paul snuck up on me in a tank (!!!) and shot me in the face at point blank range still gets a belly laugh.
  • Scariest moment in a game?
    That depends on how I’d define “scary,” I guess? Most games aren’t “scary” per se, they go for “startles” instead. Back in Resident Evil where you enter the mansion and the first time the dog jumps through the window? Scared the pants off ya, didn’t it? Screamed like a little girl, I’ll bet. But that’s being startled, not being scared. One other time comes to mind, which was the first Tomb Raider game back in the day, where exploring Atlantis you climb Lara higher and higher until you can’t even see the ground anymore. It’s not so much “scary” but I definitely got that “holy shit I’m up so high my stomach is feeling queasy and my nutsack just turtled itself” feeling.

    Most heart-wrenching moment in a game?
    I’ve got three answers for this, in chronological order, because I’m OCD like that. First, when Sephiroth killed Aerith in Final Fantasy 7. You’re just shocked that it happened at all. I mean, that came out of nowhere. Sephiroth is falling, aiming at Aerith and you’re like “No. No way. She’ll move.” But no, Sepiroth goes all stabby then you’re shocked all over again. Did you see what you think you saw? No way. Then it happens: Aerith’s Theme begins playing during the cinematic and you know. You KNOW. It happened. And with that knowledge came the tears.
    Second, toward the end of Red Dead Redemption. You’ve spent all that time playing John Marston, getting to know and like the guy, then he makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his family. A very emotionally moving experience.
    Third, the goodbye scenes in Mass Effect 3. Oh, gawd! Everyone has their favorite crew members and those will be “the best” but just on an overall level, you’ve spent three games recruiting and getting to know all these awesome characters and now you’re saying goodbye because you know (or at least highly suspect) that your Shepard is about to sacrifice himself to save them all. If you didn’t get at least a little teary-eyed during any of these scenes, you are dead inside.

  • What are your favorite websites/blogs about games?
    Easy: none. Smile I have all my blogs in Feedly and the state of so-called “journalism” in the industry is so pathetic that it’s a rare event when I have any respect whatsoever for anyone who attempts to label themselves that. Almost everyone has a moment to shine, but they’re so few and far between that I rely on social media friends to link them rather than following any sites myself.
  • What’s the last game you finished?
    I don’t get to finish many games these days, so the most recent was Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon over the summer. Wonderful single-player shooter heavily laden with over-the-top 80s references.
  • What future releases are you most excited about?
    Well… as I mentioned recently I’m about to start a new job and I’ll be back to bottom of the totem pole with even less time to game than I already have, and less money to buy them. That being said, I’m looking forward to Destiny (already pre-ordered) on PS4 and Shadows of Mordor, though I’m not committed to buying that one brand-new. I have such a backlog of games, plus the handful of MMOs I play, that the smart thing to do would be wait for a price reduction or wait a full year when the GOTY version with all the DLC comes out.
  • Do you identify as a gamer?
    Absolutely, but very infrequently among “muggles” because as big as the gaming industry has become, it still has a very negative connotation among the general public either for “games are for kids” which is so untrue it’s not funny, or being a “waste of time” which is incredibly hypocritical when you consider the people who say that spend a ridiculous amount of time watching television (passive entertainment) like sports and/or “reality tv.”
  • Why do you play video games?
    Various reasons, “fun” being at the top of the list. From there, it depends on the game. Some games I like being challenged. Some games I play for the story. Some I play for the social aspect, whether it’s a co-op game with friends or chatting with guildies and strangers in an MMO. Some games I continue playing either for completion factor or progression. There are a lot of types of games, therefore a lot of types of reasons to play them. But in the end, all games are supposed to one thing in common: FUN. No one should be playing a game they don’t find any fun in.