I get it, Guild Wars 2, you want me to be max level before participating in any events. But then why did you give your game a really high max level? Something happened between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2 that changed, and I’m not talking about mechanics. I’m talking about the overall philosophy. In Guild Wars 1, max level was truly the beginning of the game, and getting there was really just an extended introduction. 90% of the content happened at level 20, which was reached in a few days. Progression was based on acquiring new abilities, finding item synergies with your playstyle, learning tactics, and just becoming a better player. In Guild Wars 2, levels actually mean something. However, the grind to get there is long, and the gear is significantly more important. Up-Leveling to max doesn’t make you strong enough to do the content, and Down-Leveling makes you still overpowered. In a game that feels like it doesn’t need levels AT ALL, why is max level the only acceptable place to be? And why is it such a grind to get there?!
I thought I was wrong, I thought not all content had to be at max level, and sure, the Super Adventure Box is a good example of GW2 content that doesn’t need to have levels attached, but that’s the only one I’ve seen so far, including the Halloween content. “But, Ocho”, I hear you say, “When you’re in the Halloween instances, you’re up-leveled to max level, you noob!” Up-Leveling, however, did nothing to make the content anything more than an exercise in futility. I did finally finish off Bloody Prince Edrick, but not before downing him on my fifth attempt, which took about 25 minutes each, with all my armor broken.
Faced 1-on-1 with a level 80 mob, with myself up-leveled from level 60, with decent level 60 gear, caused every single mob to be a crap-shoot at survival. 1 mob, no problem, depending on it’s strength. 2? Almost certain death. With Edrick, the battle was just futile. If he got within arms reach, I’d be dead. The mobs he spawned at different stages, spawning 4 or 5 at a time, where a fight with more than 1 was certain death, caused me to become very familiar with the corpse run. His healing to full in between each stage? Ridiculous. My only real attack, since Elementalists can’t switch weapons mid-fight, was an earth spell that reflected projectiles. By essentially hitting him with his own attack, once every 30 seconds, and running away, I was finally able to defeat him.
I’ve heard the fight is NOT supposed to be this tough, though. So what did up-leveling do? It certainly didn’t level the playing field. In fact, it made the fight about the most un-fun it could be. It wasn’t a challenge, it was a chore of throwing myself up against a wall. Up-leveling essentially did not do what it was intended to.
Down-leveling, though, doesn’t work as intended, either. At level 60, if I head to the beginning zones, I’m able to faceroll content and make dynamic events trivial. There is no challenge. Why do you think these champion farming events are going on in the starting areas? The ability to completely wipe-out low level content is ridiculously easy at max-level, even with down-leveling.
Not all of the Halloween content is bad, though. The Mad King’s Clocktower? Awesome. Tough, doable, and everyone can do it with enough practice. Costume brawl and Mad Inquisition? Also awesome! These are fantastic diversions, but they’re not the Halloween main courses on offer.
So, again, Guild Wars 2, why even bother with levels? Why put in this level-gate at all when artificially moving up and down is pointless? Sorry, ANet, your Halloween events in the past even made WoW’s look weak, but this is not the quality I remember from Guild Wars 1. I completed it, but it gets a solid “meh”.
And because of this, next time you have an event in a week or so, I’ll be less likely to join in.
P.S. – But now I’m off to see what The Secret World has to offer, and my expectations are really high. I hope it can deliver…
This post was set off by the one, the only Ravanel, on her post based on Lonegun’s post about who, and who is not, playing MMO’s correctly, based off a Massively article by Beau. Got it? Good.
Beau’s article, in a nutshell, focused on the recent decisions to offer max level characters to new players of TERA and Everquest 2, and he loves the idea. Offering them, though, sparked a bit of controversy. You see, because some gamers don’t like the fact that absolutely new players are capable of playing at the highest levels, without having to earn their scars through the leveling process. These players would not be as skilled or know their characters as well as those who have gone through from Level 1.
They are offering these free high-level characters as incentive for players who are fans of playing end-game content, without the arduous process of power-leveling. Lots of players have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and the results have been mixed. Some love it, and feel that now the entire game is accessible to them, instead of just a tiny portion, where others feel that they have been given too many options, and little direction. Getting a free high-level character is similar to eating at The Cheesecake Factory, you see. Suddenly having 20 pages of menu items is a little overwhelming.
Lonegun think’s the idea is madness. He posits that the process of leveling a character from scratch IS THE WHOLE POINT of playing MMOs. Afterall, these MMOs are created worlds with deep lore and exploration which open up as you progress through the game’s narrative. Without the leveling process, why even play MMOs?
“In my opinion people who are, “bored with the slog of leveling” are not true MMO gamers.” – Lonegun, The Rant: Leveling is a Grind
I can totally see where he is coming from. I mean, that’s why I play video games. To me, video games are an entertainment media meant to be consumed, just like books, or movies, or TV shows. We give them our time and money, and in return we are told a story. Opposed to the others, though, video games give you the opportunity to interact in the story’s world. In MMOs, the leveling process fleshes out the world, and gives a metric ton of story. After getting through the content, you feel more connected to the world and your character.
Ravanel, however, took offense to that. She, on the other hand, sees the leveling process as merely a stepping stone. She wouldn’t pass it up, herself, the first time around, but it’s not the part of the game that she enjoys the most. As like many, she feels that the endgame is the part that derives the best gaming experience.
“What I truly love about MMOs is endgame. The challenge of getting a group together and get the best out of yourself, combined with the comradeship that emerges in a group when doing things together. This is what makes me log in with enthusiasm and keeps me interested in an MMO.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer
How can one argue with that? Take a look at the biggest MMOs that have been around for ages and what do you see? A solid, well defined end-game. LotRO, WoW, etc. You get to max level, you grind dungeons for gear, and then you grind raids for the best gear. It’s a template that runs deep in the MMO genre, and you can’t deny that it works as a great mechanism to keep gamers not only playing, but subscribing to play.
“I do not believe we have found the ‘true MMO gamer’ in Lonegun’s leveler, though. In fact, I do not believe either the leveler or the hardcore end gamer necessarily represents the ‘true MMO gamer’.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer
I believe, though, that I have the answer, and it is much simpler than any of that. MMOs are a great boon to the video game industry. They are games where you can have character progression, player vs player combat, hard challenges, and easy grinds. Games where you can be told an amazing story and tell your own story. Games where you can corner markets, become a notorious pirate, hit the jackpot, form lasting friendships, and experience a world that never stops changing. We play MMOs for all of these reasons. In the biggest entertainment industry in the world, MMOs exemplify why we love gaming to begin with: there is something for everyone.
A True MMO Gamer: Someone who enjoys playing MMOs, no matter the reason.
It truly is that simple.
May of 2012. It was a crazy world then. TERA had just launched, The Secret World was still in beta, and Aion just went Free-To-Play. Crazy. (Thanks to Syp for the timeline!) Also, the Newbie Blogger Initiative was in full swing, and Casual Aggro was a new and fledgling blog, waiting to be read and judged by the masses.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course. Over that time, a lot has surprised me, and I’ve learned more about myself than I ever thought I would. Mostly, I’m shocked I’m still writing. Seriously, usually I would have flaked out on something like this ages ago, and during a rough period where I got sick and depression got the better of me, I did end up taking a 2 month hiatus. But it didn’t knock me out, or mean that I was done. I may have been downed, but I pulled myself out and came back for another round. I may sometimes be a flake, but I’m also stubborn.
So, here is an outpouring of accrued knowledge I’ve gained over the past 17 months, far from the multi-year’s worth of experience of others, but I hope it’s still something that you can take away from.
Write Down Your Ideas
You never know when inspiration is going to strike. Brilliance is going to strike at 2 AM, or on the drive home, or at the bar, or on the disc golf course, and if you think you’re going to remember it, you’re taking a big chance. What you might remember in the future might be different, or changed, it won’t be the brilliant flash. So, write it down! Thankfully, there are many ways to do this. Smartphones all have note apps, notecards work, any spare piece of paper, really, just write it down!
Game blogging doesn’t happen all alone, it takes a village to raise a blogger. When one of us succeeds, all of us succeed. Just as a store’s employees are some of their biggest customers, the majority of eyes that will be on your blog are other bloggers, but that’s okay! Your audience and word of mouth will be your biggest promoters, so join in on that. Get yourself a Twitter account, and use it. Find other bloggers, retweet or repost their stuff, comment on their articles and read them, really read them. Now, you can’t read them all, and that’s okay, too, but following the old “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” rule, you can’t go wrong.
Spend A Good Chunk of Time on Your Title
The number one thing that will draw people to your post, whether it’s from others blogrolls, from Twitter, or any other site, will be your title. So, spend some time on it. Make it compelling, make it something you think others can’t resist reading. Think about why YOU click on any link, and work on your title from there. But then you should follow the next point…
Stay On Topic
If someone clicks on your link because they expect topic A, you shouldn’t hand them topics B and C. Give them A! So stay on the topic you promised. If I visited a site and the post ended up being something different than the title, I wouldn’t be reading it for much longer.
Widen Your Gaming Experience
People like to read about others new experiences, mainly because starting something new is risky. I was never big on grouping, and am mainly a solo gamer. This hasn’t changed, but I have started grouping a lot more, and it’s still outside my comfort zone. But that’s okay. Try something you would never imagine yourself doing: PvP, Raid, Roleplay, play a popular military shooter or a new indie game. Just try new things, and tell us all about it.
Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery
Trying to find a truly creative source for your blog is difficult. Really difficult. Those that do it are working on a whole other creative level. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other’s sites. For example, all of my screenshots have roll-over text, ala XKCD. My blog’s main image switches and shows game images like Bio Break and Kill Ten Rats, and I try to use a lot of screenshots like Massively. If it works for them, it might work for you. However, signing my posts is something I’ve made up. Not everything needs to be borrowed from others.
Make your RSS Links Easy To Find
Google Reader may have shut down, but just because it has, that doesn’t mean Rich Site Summary feeds are dead. Far from it. They’ve just switched providers. Currently I have my Feedly looking at 100+ gaming blogs, and even this is nothing compared to other bloggers. So, the easier you make it to find the RSS link on your site, the less there is in the way of having someone add your blog to their RSS aggregator. Also, if you have a podcast, make that link easy to find as well! I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to want to subscribe to a podcast, but then find out the podcast has no direct RSS Feed link. Even if it’s only on iTunes, there is still a way to find that link. The more barriers you take down for others to reach your content, the more they will read it.
Write When You Have Something To Say
Updating frequently is a good thing, and is a good thing to strive for, but if you’re writing “just to post something”, you’re doing a disservice to your readers. If you’re writing just to have SOMETHING, namely your quality is going to suffer. Some blogs post very rarely, but if all of their posts are high quality, it doesn’t matter if they post once every two months, you’ll still be more likely to read it. On the opposite end, if the majority of your posts are the writing equivalent of “white noise”, even your loyal readers are more likely to pass it over.
Promote Yourself, But Be Humble
Imagine you’re in a car dealership, and you’re looking at a brand new, 2014 Blahdeblah. The salesperson comes over and tells you “Oh. This car? Well… it doesn’t get the best gas mileage. The seats aren’t that comfortable, and after a few miles, the engine tends to make a funny noise.” Are you going to buy the car? Most likely not. Be proud of what you write! Promote it! Tell it to others! Let THEM be the judge of your quality. There is a time for self-deprecation, but when you’re promoting your blog, that isn’t the time. The other side of this is that you don’t want to go too far into arrogance. It’s not as fine a line as you think, though it is easy to cross sometimes. Humility will draw others to you, arrogance will push them away.
Write What You Want to Read
More than anything, you’re writing for yourself, and your target audience is essentially YOU. So, write what you would like to read. Your style, be it long prose, or short thought-provoking pieces. Nothing but screenshots, or haiku. If you find what you’re writing interesting, that will show and improves the chances that others will find it interesting, too. If you’re passionate about your topics, that passion will flow, and your target audience, other gamers like you, will see that.
Be An Elitist Jerk
Are you the 1% of the gaming elite? The kind of player that actively looks down on other gamers they deem beneath them? Do you frequently find you seriously use the term Noob, Scrub, Welfare Gamer, etc.? Then why are you writing? Who do you think your audience is going to be? The other 1% of gamers? No. If all you’re talking about are top raids, and how you have to carry everyone else, all you’re doing is stroking your own ego. It’s tacky and arrogant. Get over yourself.
Seriously. Writing is not my number one skill, but even I know how low this is. I can’t think of anyone who has done this in recent memory, and it’s not a rampant problem, but just don’t do it. You know what is good? Quoting others, linking to other sites that you find info from. Always give credit to your sources. Always. Even if you’re just writing a discussion piece off of some other blog, give credit to the source as inspiration. They’ll appreciate it, and be more willing to pay attention to what you say. It’s just good karma.
Be Hard on Yourself
If you miss a week or two, eh, it’s no big deal. I started off writing this blog and put myself on a strict once per three days schedule. This lasted… pretty much three days. For days I would see it on my calendar: Write a post! Overdue! I was being hard on myself, but it didn’t really push me to write, it pushed me to NOT write. I was just being hard on myself for not living up to my own expectations. The schedule I wanted to post wasn’t the schedule I could actually post, and it depressed me, and caused me to take a month long break. I was simply being too hard on myself. If you don’t live up to your own expectations, give yourself a break.
Be Negative Without Constructive Criticism
Rants will happen, and a rant from time to time isn’t going to hurt, it’s only human. But if all you do is complain, and don’t offer suggestions on how to fix the problems you see, then you’re quickly going to gain a reputation as a complainer. A “This game sux!” post just looks immature and trolling, and nobody is going to take it seriously. However, if you post what you think is wrong, and offer ways to fix them, or examples in other games of where something works, you might even become a force of change.
Apologize For Taking a Break
This is hard to avoid, sometimes, and the best of us will do it periodically, but when you apologize, the assumption is that you did others wrong. That others are dying to read what you say soooooo much that you not posting has wronged them in some way. When you apologize for taking a break, the true person you’re really apologizing to is yourself. And like I said earlier, don’t be so hard on yourself. Plus, if a blogger is constantly apologizing for not posting, it takes away from what they’re posting about. If you plan on taking a break, maybe consider taking on guest bloggers, or just not mention it at all. If your readers consider your posts high quality, it won’t matter the time in between posts, they still want to read it.
Again, this is common courtesy. If you don’t like what someone else posts, don’t flame it, use it as counterpoint. Attacking others will quickly push your readers away. But actively reading a post you don’t agree with and writing your side of the story creates discussion and civilized debate. And isn’t that what we are, a civilized society? A rule to live by: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
So, there you go. My hope is that, even with all the grains of salt you are taking with this post, that there is something here that will assist you. I may not have been blogging for a long time, but I have learned a lot, and if I can even help one other blogger with this post, just one, it will make it entirely worth it.
This shot was taken during our weekly group get-together in The Secret World, in which we decided to run the dungeon Hell Fallen on Elite. As you can see, we made it, with the Ascendant having keeled over behind me, but he REALLY didn’t give us a lot of room to finish him off.
I really don’t have much to say on the dungeon itself. It was my first time running through it, we wiped a couple times on the tricky Engine Tyrant fight, but we pushed through it. Although I didn’t run away with any good loot, I’m able to check this Elite off my list and am one step closer to fighting the Gatekeeper.
Overall, though, what made the run fun was simply the people. Couldn’t run it with a better bunch and I heavily agree with Rowan’s sentiments, more than anything it truly is awesome to have such a great group to run around with.
So Syp, Rowan, Ten Tentacles, Scooterz, Mogsy, Maric, and the rest, I owe you one.
Signed, your resident dungeon noob,
P.S. – It appears that ability is called the “Electric Smoke Grenade”, and he carpet bombs one side of the room. Huh. Good to know for next time! A guide of Hell Fallen can be found here. Thanks, Dulfy!
This is a “Talk Back Challenge” post, created for the Newbie Blogger Initiative. This sort of post is designed to encourage conversation about a broad topic and to entice conversation about the topic. One of the New Blogs on the Block (NBOTB), Away From Game, has been tasked with writing about the same topic. So, once you are done with my post, please go check theirs out. Or now. Whatever works for you. I’m easy. If you are coming from the NBI pages, feel free to comment, or write a piece of your own and link back. As always, thank you for reading!
First, a universal truth: The shortest distance between any two points is a straight line.
The reason this truth is so universal is it not only applies to Euclidean geometry, but to the world at large. The easiest answer is most likely the correct one. When walking, our collective feet naturally create the pathways that make the most sense, even if it’s not on the pavement. Scientists look at patterns found in nature, and they resemble patterns we use or could use in our lives. In other words, we will always take the easiest path to achieve our goals. Keep this in mind.
Guilds are the primary social structure of these MMOs that we play. We use them to chat with others, to share resources, and to run group-oriented content. But what is our motivation for joining them? Is it because we are social creatures and that we feel that our addition to a guild can make the overall guild better? Or, really, do we join them for purely selfish reasons?
Except Damianus, and whoever that Ambrose fool is, it’s all about the Need!
Time and time again, I’ve seen that MMO gamers have proven themselves to be selfish. I mean, just take a look at the picture on the left there. I took that in Star Trek Online just a couple of days ago. In a random group with random strangers, for an event that lasts less than a few minutes, almost every single person, on every piece of loot dropped, when given a choice of whether to “Greed” it or “Need” the item, chose “Need”. Did they really need it? No, of course they didn’t! In a random group, hitting “Greed” on a drop, in this case, was literally handing the loot to someone else.
With loot being one of the primary paths to success, having more loot is the straightest path to our goals, even if that involves skirting the social mores of fairness. If our goal is to reach the top level fastest, we will take Experience Boosters, or only do the missions that reward the most Experience points. If our goal is to make the most money, we will farm the most profitable materials we can sell to others, we will manipulate the in-game auction house to corner the market on goods, and we will essentially spend our gaming time eeking out the highest Gold/hour ratio we possibly can. And if our goal is to get all the best end-game gear, only obtainable through grouping and raids, we will join guilds that make this process easier.
So if our collective gaming goal is one of selfishness, that we are just trying to improve our own characters, why do we form guilds at all? In my opinion, we form guilds paradoxically because it raises our individual success. If, in a dungeon, you join a PUG with random players, they are more likely to exhibit behaviors found in the above Need/Greed example. A random group is less likely to complete the dungeon in the first place than an organized group, and then when loot drops, they are less likely to be fair about it’s distribution. An organized group is significantly more likely to be fair in it’s loot distribution as well as it’s competency, thus improving individual progression chances.
This is even more evident when players drop a guild they are in and move to a big raiding guild. On an example I have made previously, once guild members reach the upper echelons, and the current guild they’re in isn’t giving them any more progression, they will generally seek greener pastures that will.
This should be no surprise, though, as it is also found in nature:
We’re used to thinking of social groups as fundamentally cooperative entities, but with some kinds of groups, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the best-known biological theory of herding, William Hamilton’s “selfish herd” idea, proposes that herds are the result of individuals trying to ensure that other members of their species, rather than themselves, will get eaten by predators. – Michael Price, From Darwin to Eternity
“Get eaten by predators” may be extreme, none of us are eaten by a predator when we lose a loot roll, but the execution is similar. At the end of a boss fight, a piece of loot can only be distributed to one individual. That individual significantly improves, but the group only improves if that one individual continues to play with them. The choice, ultimately, is in the hands of the player.
Now, I could just have this stance because I haven’t had the best of luck with guilds in the past. They would either demand ridiculous amounts of time, or have almost zero activity that made staying in them the same as not being in a guild at all. And now? With my transitive nature, the best guild I’m in is one with players in multiple games, with Twitter our primary contact. So it goes.
I know this isn’t the most efficient manner of getting loot, but then not all of us join guilds just for the loot alone.
This is why Free-To-Play is my model of choice. It’s not because I can’t afford to pay a subscription, it’s simply because, when not confined by a subscription, the onus of quality and pulling players in falls onto the developers. This leads to events, and lots of them.
For the past month I’ve been ping-ponging between The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and Star Trek Online because of these events. Guild Wars 2, of course, has it’s content flowing continuously with something new every 2 weeks. However, not being max level, most of the new content is not aimed at me. So Guild Wars 2 has fallen by the wayside to make way for the following:
- The Secret World’s Whispering Tide – The path to Issue #8, The Venetian Agenda, and the prelude to the opening of the new Tokyo region. It looks like Phase 3 is ramping up TODAY as per tweets from Richard Sonnac seem to imply.
- Star Trek Online’s Crystalline Cataclysm Event – Our favorite giant, destructive snowflake is back and asking for a beating. In this 10-man instance, the Tholians have suddenly showed an interest in the Crystalline Entity, possibly being due to their species being of similar composition. The Tholians, though, are bad news, and as such, they all need a good whooping. Until October 21st (according to the game launcher), a daily beating of the entity gives a metric ton of Tholian marks, and a 50,000 dilithium pot.
- StarbaseUGC’s Purity Foundry Series – Part Two of the Purity Series, Purity: Of Thought by Bazag, has already been released, and it adds a decent amount of back-story to the Obani, Federation, and Sajan people.
And then you know what’s coming up, don’t you? The Superbowl of MMO Events: Halloween.
Guild Wars 2 is looking like it’s kicking it’s usual Halloween event up a notch, which seems impossible as it was already at 11. This year, instead of the event simply focused around the Mad King, instead we will be seeing Prince Edrick take center stage in the “Blood and Madness” event. I’m seriously excited to try the Clocktower jumping puzzle, and even if you’re not max level, it sounds like there will still be plenty to do.
The Secret World is also kicking their Halloween celebration up a notch by bringing back the Cat God event from last year, which is going to be new to me, but then adding on something that sounds amazing: Stories from Soloman Island. Soloman Island is one of my favorite MMO locations ever, competing with LotRO’s The Shire for top spot, so I CAN NOT WAIT to check this out.
I like to try new games, but I don’t think I’ll be able to leave the grasp of these events for quite a while.
This is for you, Syl… and you as well, Jeromai.
For your reading pleasure, here is a collection of MMO haiku, made up on the spot. Random, creative, MMO-based poetry goodness. If you’re feeling creative as well, how about starting up your own site, or joining up with other writers? It’s not as hard as you might think. Enjoy.
Fiction or Real Life?
Friends we meet in game are real.
I level crafting,
but can’t make good leveled gear!
Why is this useless?!
Knights, Templars, Castles.
The sword was overpowered.
Still true to this day.
“Hey! Big bad boss guy!
Look at my big armored butt!
… Whoops… I lost aggro.”
“Captain, it’s the Borg!”
“My tribble is in the bank.”
The Bad-Ass Templars,
I love Guild Wars 2.
It’s like walking through fine art,
with mass violence.
One more special mark,
until I’m finally done!
Wait… there is more grind?!