September Gaming Goal: Chasing the Doomboard

The Secret World, Hell

Hell has such a fascinating story in TSW. Demons are misunderstood, and Angels are far from heavenly.

Do we really *want* the items that are proferred to us in MMOs? Or just the ability to pursue them?

The thought struck me as I finished up yet another losing El Dorado PvP match in The Secret World. I haven’t won a single match playing El Dorado yet. It’s a faction based, collect and hold items sort of PvP match. In all the matches I’ve played so far, the Illuminati haven’t won a single one. But at least I was able to check off another daily challenge. And that’s all that matters in the special item-of-the-month chase this time around.

That item is the Doomboard, a Hell-themed hoverboard mount. Is my character really that “Hell” themed? Not really. I don’t even think it looks that great. But… it’s an item to chase, and I do love The Secret World. So why not chase it? The chance to chase limited-time items isn’t one that comes around often in TSW, and any reason to play TSW is a good reason.

Secret World, Illuminati, Fusang Projects

Illuminati defending the Center Facility in Fusang Projects

The worst part is, though, I don’t even *like* PvP. I’m not a competitive person and beating my fellow players isn’t something I would actively seek out. But then again, grouping up with them isn’t something I’ve necessarily enjoyed, either. I’ll do it periodically, just to check out some content I’ve never seen, but grouping for dungeons in MMOs I’ve found is just as competitive as PvP, if not more so. Sure, you’re all after the same target and same goal, but gear discrepancies, different builds, or experience will still separate you into the gaming haves and have-nots. And some players will go out of their way to tell you how much they think you’re a “have-not”. Social PvP, if you will.

To get the Doomboard, though, PvP and Dungeon running are a must. So I’m heading outside my comfort zone and trying new modes of play, just as the developers intended. I’m all up for trying new things, and now I have some nice self-made-builds for when I head down into PvP or dungeons, so there is that. And I’m getting nice chunks of reward to keep making gear progress, so there is that as well.

Secret World, Shambala, PvP

Tried out Shambala for the first time, too. With a win, no less.

The next-to-worst part, though, is that I may not even get it. Because of my reluctance and inexperience in the highest levels of running dungeons and content, I can still only complete just a few challenges a day, which puts me at an uncomfortable amount of playtime to get the remaining challenges completed. But dang it if I still won’t try, comfort zones be damned.

If we all stayed inside our comfort zones, how would we ever grow?

Instances in the Real World

The Secret World, instances

If you haven’t noticed, I like like to draw a lot of parallels between gaming and real life. This is because the two are intrinsically linked, in my opinion, life being full of challenges, games being all about challenges, and we tend to recognize these patterns when we see them. The thought crossed my mind today about ‘instancing’ in MMOs and how I’m about to enter a real life “instance”.

Now an ‘instance’ in an MMO, to the uninitiated, is a part of the game world that is created only for you or your group. They are separated from the main game world by a portal of some kind, and have challenges placed within them in a confined area. These challenges cause the reward to be better than the outside world. Dungeons with a cap on participants and bosses that require multiple players, controlled story content designed to push the narrative further, a field meant for player vs player battles that can’t be affected or affect the larger game, instances come in many shapes and sizes and I can’t think of a single game that doesn’t have instancing to some effect.

So soon my friends and I are heading out on a vacation together to see two of our good friends get married, and my gaming mind can’t help but draw a parallel to an instance. The flight leaves around the time this is set to post and we will spend the next few glorious days in the sun-and-sin-soaked city of Las Vegas getting into as many shenanigans and malarkey as the city and our bank accounts will allow. Expectations are for copious amounts of potent potables to flow, culinary masterpieces to be ingested, and many a high and low strike at the chances of fate. It. Will. Be. Amazing.

 

 

This is not something we do all the time. For any of us, this is the first real major trip we’ve gone on as a group of friends,  so it’s definitely outside of the main “world” that we know, namely New Jersey. We leave by airplane into the world we’re not use to, and we come back by plane to the world we normally frequent. Lots of space has been made in our bags for the loot that we will inevitably pick up while we are there, and we know the experience will cause our two good friends to “level up” in their relationship, and will increase our own life experiences as well. We will all come back better than we left.

Enterprise NCC-1701-C, instances

I’d definitely take this ride over US Airways, though.

  • The instance “portal” –> The plane ride.
  • The space confines –> Las Vegas, primarily the Las Vegas strip.
  • The “challenge” –> To see our good friends married and to send them into their married life together in as epic a way as possible.
  • The “reward” –> The stories that will come from the epicness, among other souvenirs.

So this may be a roundabout way of saying this, but get out there and travel! See the world, see the sites! Get into trouble! Get a ton of great stories in the process and take those doors when they open.

You never know when these experiences are going to add up enough to take your life to the next level.

//Ocho

Improving MMO Dungeons #GW2

Guild Wars 2, GW2, The Searing

Over the weekend, the skies opened up and the gods of casual MMO players smiled down upon me.

In Guild Wars 2, I have recently joined a new guild called Fight Together, Die Alone on Fort Aspenwood that is significantly more active than my own. Thanks to the GW2 mechanic of allowing players to join multiple guilds, and thus still retaining guilds with friends, joining a second guild that had more than 1 person on at a time was easy and no mental strain. Killer feature.

Anyway, one of my new guildmates piped up to see if anyone wanted to join in on an Ascalon Catacombs run. Being as how I’m now level 50, technically my second level 50 in the game, and still have not run a single dungeon once, I said sure. Once grouped and near the entrance, I did as any good group member would and revealed that this was my first time, that I had not read up on anything ahead of time, and it was all new to me. To my astonishment, every other person in the group said the exact same thing.

Could this be? Was this real? I had to pinch myself. I thought I was the only one at this point! How is it, more than a year after the game’s release, that there isn’t only 1, but 5 people, randomly together, that have all never stepped foot into the game’s first dungeon?! The odds must be staggeringly high. Long story short, we wiped once, but for all intents and purposes we cleared it no problem, and had a blast doing so.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Ghosts

But it made me think of how rare a situation this was. Was it really rare? Was this just random happenstance or are there many many players who have just skipped over Guild Wars 2 dungeons? If that’s the case, a mere half-assed Looking For Group tool isn’t going to cut it, ArenaNet. Here is a simple suggestion to making dungeons a lot better, not just for Guild Wars 2, but for any game that has them:

Offer a Solo Version of Every Instance.

Now, straight up, this is the “casual gamer” in me talking. But I am truly sick and tired of having mob mentality dictate who should and shouldn’t be allowed to run group dungeons. Deny it if you want, but I’ve been deemed not worthy to run instances by a great number of other gamers. Why? Inexperience. It has happened in every single MMO that I’ve ever played. Every. Single. One.

It’s a Catch-22 if ever I’ve heard one. Haven’t run a dungeon? Then we don’t want you running it. I don’t always have the time to run instances, and the way I play MMO’s, it’s to experience the content first, then possibly look up if I’ve missed anything later. It’s this part, the experiencing it first part, that seems to be the trouble. The truth is, other players don’t want to waste their time in an instance with someone who hasn’t run it already, doesn’t know the dance moves, and doesn’t know the puzzles. They don’t want to hold their hand. And you know what? I fully understand that.

After the first couple of times, hand-holding others in every single instance I enter would get frustrating quick. Also, players want to maximize their gaming time, and failure in a dungeon, even once, is cutting into that efficiency. Suddenly, someone like me, who likes to experience the content first, someone who considers videos, build sites, wikis, etc. just a form of cheating and really taking away from the overall experience, is considered rude.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Charr

So here’s the solution: Offer every instance as a solo instance. Now, of course, rewards shouldn’t be offered in solo versions. None. The story and practice would be it’s own reward. It would give players that crucial experience that is demanded by the playing-majority and give those who want it the ability to see the storyline that is otherwise blocked by a grouping gate.

After running it solo a time or two, grouping up to achieve the phat lootz and rewards would be much easier. Gaining experience could be done on one’s own, without bothering anyone else. Now if someone says “Hey, I’ve never played this before, what does this boss do?”, they are the truly lazy ones, and have no excuse as to why they don’t know the dungeons already. I feel like this would make everyone more comfortable in running group content and the amount of people who would run dungeon content would increase dramatically.

Rytlock, Eir, Guild Wars 2, Ascalon Catacombs

After successfully running Ascalon Catacombs with members of FTDA, and everyone else having to log, I decided to give the new Looking For Group tool a try and joined a group for the next instance, Caudecus’s Manor. Once in a group, I was once more the good group member and told them that I had not run the instance before and it was my first time.

… I was quickly booted from the group.

So it goes.

// Ocho