To Write or Not to Write?

Casual Aggro, Dungeons and Dragons, Chronicles of Mystara, Paladin

That is the question. Well, it’s the question that’s been on my mind for such a casual blogger like myself, anyway.

I started Casual Aggro back in April of 2012 essentially as a way for me to take my hobby of gaming to the next level. I found myself in comments sections writing tiny novels as reactions to articles. You know the type. Not the ones that were being very critical, or trolling, but the ones that are just walls of text. Even if I was making a solid point, something others might want to read and comment on itself, I was putting a lot of effort into something that was mostly being passed over. The people seeing it had already read an article by a paid professional, why would they read my similar-sized (or sometimes bigger), amateur response?

So I joined the very first Newbie Blogger Initiative, sponsored by Syp the Mighty, and started this little page as a way to explore my hobby from a new perspective. But from the very beginning, I felt like an impostor. Here I was, some random MMO player, who didn’t even have that special of a perspective, just another joe-shmoe who thought that what he said could even compare a little bit to those who did this for a living. And in a way, even attempting to be on the same level as paid professionals felt like I was somehow insulting their profession.

At the same time, I had no realistic aspirations that I would ever be on their level. I already have a day job. I focused my education on math and science, not writing. I have, aside from the standard classes most universities force every student to take, zero experience writing. I would’ve much rather sat down and worked on a physics problem that took up three pages than write a three page paper. Because I felt like such an impostor my static friction, if you will, was much higher than I believed it would ever be. Just starting the ball rolling became a daily fight. And the days that I lost that fight, which were most days, I felt awful about it.

No Time to Explain, Existentialism

Basically this.

But I still wrote. Not every day like some other bloggers, and sometimes not every week. But I still put something out when I can. Some nights, especially after a long day, I felt like relaxing the way I already knew how. By playing, you know, games. So some nights it became a fight to play games or to write about them, and guess which usually won out.

When I did write, the reactions were… well, not exactly what I thought they’d be. I was writing to further myself, explore my hobby, and improve my own skills, sure, but when you put hours into a post, when you try your best, and get back in return only a handful of eyeballs? The return on investment seems not worth it. Seeing others celebrating hitting milestones that I knew I could never reach just hit me harder, and made me feel a little more alone.

Every month, though, is a new month and this is not just your standard month, this is Blaugust! The month of the Blog! So, let’s try this again, yeah? I’ve been picked up by the all-around geekery goodness site, Sub-Cultured, to be a regular contributor. Now being part of team the amount of friction already feels less and is so far significantly different than being alone. The success of my own site I never cared that much about, but the success of the group isn’t just about me, but the team’s success. And isn’t teamwork what it’s all about? Isn’t teamwork why we play the MMO genre in the first place? In fact, I’ve already put up a review of Star Trek Online’s new Agents of Yesterday to the site!

This explains so much, Octodad, Dadliest Catch

Or, it at least explains a bit of my absence, anyway.

So, if you’re reading this, and I sincerely thank you for still hanging around despite my lack of posts, maybe throw Sub-Cultured onto your Feedly as well. Expect posts from all around the world of geek, from comic books to television, from conventions to gaming, from current news to opinion pieces and all points in between. Who knows, you may even see little ol’ me hitting up a convention or two on *gasp* an official capacity!

But don’t expect it to be cultured, expect it to be Sub-Cultured.

// Ocho

 

P.S. – Alright, I just made up that tagline and I made myself groan when I wrote it. Still, though. Check it out. And as usual, a big shout out to Belghast the Prolific for once more throwing his leader hat in the ring for Blaugust. May it be a fruitful month of posts for all.

P.P.S – Now, to maybe work on getting myself onto a podcast or something of the like… I should really redesign this place, too. Maybe a new coat of paint, maybe a new door, couple of throw pillows… we’ll see.

 

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In a Secret Holding Pattern #TSW

The Secret World, Polaris

Funcom, you can drop the act now. Those countdown tentacles? Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone.

Last night I logged in to our weekly meeting of The Secret World, and only two others had shown up, Syp and TenTentacles. We briefly discussed what we could do between the three of us. We could run a scenario since the Flappy fight wasn’t going to start for a few hours or we could just farm some AP. Each suggestion was met with a huge wave of “meh”. We’ve done the Flappy fight to death by this point, we’ve done so many scenarios that we could do them in our sleep, and grinding AP doesn’t really sound appetizing either as we’d just be doing content we’ve already done over and over again. The low turnout to begin with also shows that we’re all feeling generally the same way.

In other words, until The Secret World’s Tokyo expansion is released, interest in playing the game at all is very low.

The Secret World, Bugs

We seem to be encountering technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Between all of us, our best guess consensus is that the first Tokyo zone is going to be dropping sometime in April, which disagrees with the tentacles. To release any later, though, would be crazy. Last time we checked Funcom still needs to make money and outfits and accessories (although some of them are pretty nice) just aren’t going to cut it. Unless they are just going to sit idly by on the sidelines and watch as The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar leech away all of their players, Funcom needs to start the hype train for Tokyo sooner rather than later, and start doling out information.

I mean, a more adult, gritty world where magic is real and you’re fighting demonic hellspawn are a few things that Elder Scrolls Online and The Secret World have in common. There are differences, sure, but the feel is similar enough to draw from the same pool of players. There’s a chance Funcom might be banking on TESO’s failure, which is a bad thing to do for such a huge IP. Even if TESO does the stereotypical boom at launch and 3-month dropoff, releasing Tokyo 3 months from now to compensate you wouldn’t find too many players left that were willing to wait. TSW is not World of Warcraft! Players aren’t simply content to grind for months waiting on the new expansion! Why am I even subbing? Give us some more info already!

And those tentacles above the Flappy portal meant to show how much longer until the portal is cleansed? Yeah, we know they don’t mean anything. You can drop the illusion now. I haven’t checked recently, but in the beginning when the Flappy fight was in full swing, based on the rate that the counters were dropping, it was estimated that the portal wouldn’t be cleansed until around October.

So unless Funcom steps in and alters the countdowns, like they did with the last portal, or finally give a release date for Tokyo, we’re going to be waiting in this holding pattern for quite a while.

//Ocho

Ultima VII is One Giant Reference to How Terrible Electronic Arts Is

Ultima 7

I’ve been following Syp’s playthrough of Ultima VII very closely, as it is by far one of my favorite games of all time, and remembered that Richard Garriott placed TONS of easter eggs in the game. Every party member of the Avatar’s group is some reference to someone Garriott knows, for example. Iolo is a reference to bowyer and composer David R. Watson, Iolo’s wife Gwenno is a reference to Watson’s wife Kathleen, Chuckles the Jester is a reference to one of the founders of Origin, Chuck Bueche, and Shamino and Lord British are references to Garriott himself. In fact, Sherry the Mouse is based off of one of his former girlfriends and the actress portraying Sherry at the Royal Theatre in Britain is dating Garriott’s alter-ego Shamino!

And all of these references are just the icing on the cake for us Ultima fans. They give nods to previous Ultimas played, to the developers themselves, and really added to the enjoyment of the game. However, it never occurred to me until recently to dig a little deeper. The deeper you go, though, the more you start to see something disturbing. Namely, Garriott did not like EA from the start, and he made that clear in Ultima VII.

Warning: I know this game came out in 1992, but SPOILERS AHEAD. Ye have been warned.

Ultima 7, Guardian, EA

— The Guardian Represents Electronic Arts —

The big bad menace of Ultima VII is called “The Guardian”. He is a huge red dude who wants nothing more than to enter the world of U7, Britannia, and destroy it. He accomplishes this by getting into the minds of the people, and pushing them to help the Guardian enter the world. Many worlds have already fallen to his evil. He is referred to by the wisps as “vain, greedy, egocentric, and malevolent”.

So how is the Guardian the representation of EA? The Guardian is called “The Destroyer of Worlds”. Origin’s motto: “We Create Worlds”. Also, Origin saw EA’s way of doing business as immoral. According to Origin, EA’s method was not only to make games, but also to interfere in others ability to do so. EA suing Origin probably didn’t help.

Ultima 7, Elizabeth and Abraham

— The Murderers Elizabeth and Abraham… E & A —

Elizabeth and Abraham are two figures that figure prominently in the storyline of Ultima VII. Elizabeth and Abraham are two of the founding members of the Fellowship, the pseudo religion the Guardian has a hand in, similar to Scientology, and travel from city to city collecting funds and convincing the important people to build Fellowship branches.

E & A seem well intentioned on the outside. Big surprise, though, the Fellowship turns out to not be on the level, and E & A help out in assassinations of those who speak out against them. E & A? Killers.

— “Create Love” is Slaughtered by E & A —

Inamo, Ultima 7, EAOne of the very first scenes of the game, the Avatar is tasked with finding the killer of a murder that has just occurred. The blacksmith Christopher has been ritually murdered. At the time, this was ridiculously graphic. He had been tied down, had his extremities severed, decapitated, and his blood filled in buckets. His assistant, the Gargoyle Inamo, was also run-through with a pitchfork.

What does Inamo’s name mean in his own language? “Create Love“. Who killed him? E & A. Yup.

— The Destroyer’s Power Over the People Comes From The Cube, The Sphere, and The Tetrahedron… EA’s Logo —

Might as well save the best for last. In the Avatar’s travels across Britannia he finds out that he needs to destroy three structures, “generators”, which give the Guardian his power. The Cube helps broadcast the Destroyer’s voice to his followers, the Sphere helps disrupt the moongates and trap the Time Lord in his prison, and the Tetrahedron helps to disrupt magic through the land.

The Cube, The Sphere, and the Tetrahedron are symbols of the Guardian’s evil. Remind you of anything?

DMazd0DWsAALzwO

// Ocho

P.S. In case you were wondering, here’s a  history between Origin and EA:

— The History of EA and Origin —

Origin Systems was created in 1983 as a way for Richard Garriott to capitalize on his game-making talents. Up until then, Akalabeth, Ultima I, and Ultima II had all been published by other publishers who took advantage of Garriott’s work.  The California Pacific Computer Company bought the rights for Akalabeth and Ultima I, and Sierra On-Line bought up Ultima II. It was issues with Sierra that caused Garriott to finally form his own company. Origin’s first game was the next in the series, Ultima III, which helped them to get through the great video game crash of 1983. From there, Origin produced further Ultimas IV, V, and VI, Wing Commander 1 and 2 and many other games. By 1988, Origin had about 50 employees under it’s umbrella.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate was released in April of 1992 and is greatly considered the pinnacle of the Ultima series. At the time, Electronic Arts was a big competitor of Origin. At one point, the bigger EA took Origin to court, which ended in a costly out-of-court settlement for Origin. Origin believed the games they made were works of love, and saw EA as trying to get ahead any way they can. In September of 1992, though, Origin was acquired by Electronic Arts.

Under EA’s banner, Origin went on to release a lot of great games like the rest of the Wing Commander series. However, the quality of the Ultima series started to drastically suffer. The last game, Ultima IX was, well, it was stunningly terrible. The storyline had been scrapped multiple times due to EA’s interference, the systems had been pared down to almost nothing, the majority of the team was pulled away to work on Ultima Online, and Electronic Arts would not waver on the release date. Ultima IX was not received well by the community, to say the least. Not long after, all games being worked on by Origin, like Ultima Online 2 and Ultima X, were canceled and Origin was shuttered by EA.

EA still owns the name of the Ultima franchise, as shown in their Free-to-Play, Pay-to-Win, iOS title Ultima Forever, which is a reimagining of Ultima IV. In my opinion, reimagining one of the greatest RPG’s of all time as an iOS P2W App is a huge slap in the face to the original and the series.

However, Richard Garriott has a new offering in Shroud of the Avatar, the “spiritual successor” to the Ultima series which features just enough similarity to not trigger any copyright issues. As far as can be concerned it currently looks like a successful endeavor having raised over $3.3 Million in funds, is extremely open about it’s production (as it should be), and has been having periodic Alpha weekends for it’s supporters. I have personally played in the first Alpha, and I must say they look to be on the right track. More than graphics and features, the Ultima games had a specific “feel” to them.

In one of the best compliments I can give to the game, Shroud of the Avatar has that feel.

P.P.S. – According to Mr. Garriott, the plans to include all the “EA is the root of all evil” plots had already been so ingrained within Ultima VII that EA gave them their blessings to continue with them in place. I couldn’t imagine if U7 had turned out any other way, really, so I’m certainly glad they let them proceed.

Richard Garriott, EA, Origin

Listmas 2013: For My 100th Post, My Top 10 Favorite Posts on Casual Aggro

Today’s list, in celebration of Listmas, is going to be one that is a little self-aggrandizing. Forgive me, but I think I have a little reason to celebrate: This, right here, is my 100th post!!

Alright, 100 posts is not a big deal to some people who post daily, who can make that number in a couple months. But that’s not how I roll, I’m certainly not as prolific, and writing was by-far not my best subject in school. In fact, I’d still find more pleasure in working on a math problem that takes up three pages than write a three page paper. I think I spend way too much time fiddling with my text, making sure it’s as error-free as possible, and overall I’m still pretty hard on myself.

Yet, I’m still here and still posting, because deep down I feel like I am making a positive contribution to this hobby. I feel like I am making a difference, no matter how small, to this burgeoning industry, and I’m glad to be a part of such a huge, positive community.

So, for your enjoyment, here are what I consider to be my top 10 favorite posts of what I’ve written so far.

Guild Wars 2

10) Really, Why Are There Levels in Guild Wars 2

To this day, I’m still not positive why there are levels in GW2. As a form of measure of character improvement, I know it’s been around for ages, but I still believe there are better measures. Abilities, Gear, etc. I had the thought a while ago, that the whole reason why we go through the gear grind is simply to make content easier for us. That those who want difficulty truly don’t really want it. A leveling curve, if you keep up with it, just makes all content feel like the same difficulty. I’ll have to write more on this later…

9) NBI: List of Blogging Do’s and Don’ts

I started blogging during the first Newbie Blogger Initiative back in May of 2012. Alright, 100 posts in 20 months, that’s still 5 posts per month, which is still pretty good. But when the second Newbie Blogger Initiative came around this past October, I was a veteran. I had seen the horrors of blogging, and came back with stories and advice to give. This was not only a post to help the New Newbie Bloggers, but an acknowledgment of how far I have come.

Star Trek Online, Vault, Shuttle

8) Time Gates and MMOs Don’t Mix

Star Trek Online, for a while, had the brilliant idea to make some content only available during a small period of time. This made no sense, especially for those of us who don’t play a game all the time, or play casually. Keeping players away from playing content is just a terrible idea. Thankfully, they came to their senses. The content now can be played at anytime, with benefits for playing at specific times. Much better.

7) A Personal Argument Against the Always-On Trend

 I love MMO’s, but one of the key features of MMOs is that you’re online while you play them. But for single player games demanding that you always have an internet connection just to play them, under the guise of DRM, where you get no benefits from the internet connection, doesn’t make much sense. If I need to be connected, give me a good reason to be.

Battle Bards

6) Top 5 Favorite Video Game Music Compositions, A BattleBards Inspiration

Confession: Music was a big part of my life for a long time. In high school, I sang in the choir, was a member of the select choir, was a part of the band, and was a part of every musical production. Out of high school, I initially went to a big music school, was a part of a prestigious choir, and learned a lot about musical composition. Then, I was a part of student-run theatre organizations, starred in more musical productions, and then got offers to start working in New York theatre off Broadway, which I did for a couple minor productions.

Nowadays, music is not so big on my list of hobbies, but I still have a deep appreciation for it. So, combining music and gaming in a podcast is like combining chocolate and peanut butter. It’s perfect. Syp, Syl, and Mogsy do the honors in the BattleBards podcast, and I haven’t missed an episode yet. One of these days, I’m going to write in and tell them my appreciation, but I think telling all of you fine readers and passing along their work is worth a lot more. So, if you enjoy podcasts, and you enjoy video game music, check them out.

5) Master of Orion and Syp: A Tale of Humanity

I do mention Syp a lot on this blog, but he was the one that initiated the Newbie Blogger Initiative, and so is a big inspiration for me. Syp was playing the game Master of Orion, and blogging about all the details of the epic battles along the way. I’ve never played Master of Orion, but during this series of posts, I was really drawn in. Mostly because he was using other bloggers names as the names for planets, and this added a fun depth of community. But, really, it showed why we love games that let us forge our own path, and that is that we can create our own stories.

Also, Mr. Joseph Skyrim over at his JVT Workshop is doing the same, but playing the awesome old-school game Darklands. Give it a read.

Shroud of the Avatar

4) Shroud of the Avatar, DRM, and Why The Gaming Industry Should Take Notice

Shroud is going to have a very open-ended way of playing their game. First and foremost, though, is exactly what the game is. Is it a single player game? Is it an MMO? What is it? The answer is a combination of both, but I think it’ll lean more toward the single-player. If you want to play Shroud, you can play without an internet connection single-player, you can play with a connection and still play single player, you can play solo where other community members affect your game, and finally you can play and have other players play alongside you. So, an MMO? Not really, but it’s a lot more than just your average single-player game.

3) The Best MMO Payment Model Ever

In this post, I take a hard look at payment models, and why there is such a passionate fight behind them. I weigh the positives and negatives of each model, and reason what would be the best theoretical payment model. Hint: It’s Buy-To-Play.

Perfect World, Neverwinter, Star Trek Online

2) For Love of the Grind: 5 Reasons Why We Grind

Grind. Even though it has 5 letters, it feels like a 4 letter word. Many people rail against it, and burnout of playing a game is largely due to how much grind that game makes you go through. However, if our games didn’t have grind, they wouldn’t be MMOs. Grind is a necessity in our games, but is also one of the worst forms of content. In this post, I go over reasons why we still grind, despite our passionate fights against it.

1) How MMOs Are Adapting the Psychology of Casinos 

Yesterday my wife and I drove down to Atlantic City to attend a timeshare presentation. They were very accommodating, but we didn’t fall for their tactics, which included loud music to prevent overhearing others, making a big deal when somebody signed up for one of the timeshares, trying to drive a wedge between my wife and myself so we would fight each other, and playing very specific music guised as background music. I think I heard “Let’s Hear it For The Boy” from Footloose multiple times. Dance music from 1984? Fascinating.

I’ve lived a short distance from one of the USA’s gambling meccas for my entire life, and they’ve just built a few casinos across the river from us in Philadelphia as well. So, when entrenched with the psychological tactics that the casinos use to try separating one from their hard-earned money, you tend to understand the tactics, see them for what they are, and either go along with them, or fight them. However, the same tactics these casino use work so well that MMO’s have picked them up as well. This post details a few tactics that both MMOs and Casinos use, and they may not be exactly what you think they are.

Star Trek Online

So, there you go. 100 posts. It’s been a fun journey so far, and one that I will keep up with for as long as I feel like I’m making a difference. Hopefully, I’ll see you at 200.

// Ocho

StarbaseUGC’s Purity and the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2: Electric Boogaloo

Lord of the Rings Online, The Shire, Hobbits

Happy October all!

October is a great time of year, one of my favorite months. The leaves are turning colors, pumpkin beers start lining the shelves, and the smell of campfires fill the air. It’s that fantastic time of year where I can have my windows open at home and not need the air conditioning or the heat, and all that is needed to stave off the cold on chilly mornings is a light longsleeve shirt.

It’s a great time of year to be a gamer, too. Game companies start ramping up for the holiday season, and with humanity’s retreat back indoors, content for our games is released like crazy to draw our attention their way. I remember back when I played World of Warcraft I took many breaks from the game, but when I returned, seeing the Halloween event in full-swing was common.

It’s hard to argue that the holiday that really starts the tide of content is Halloween. Lord of the Rings Online’s Haunted Burrow will most like be making a comeback, ArenaNet considers Halloween to be the biggest event of the year and always goes all out with the Mad King, WoW celebrates with candy, costumes, and headless bosses, STO releases the creepy episode Hearts and Minds, and the list goes on.

But this year, starting TODAY, October 1st, there are two big events that I want to make you all aware of and point you towards: The Newbie Blogger Initiative 2, the second coming of the event that launched a thousand blogs, and StarbaseUGC’s Star Trek Online Foundry Featured Episode Series, Purity!

Skyrim, Dragons, Fall

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2

The Newbie Blogger Initiative, or NBI, for short, is something that I hold dear, namely because it was what gave me the boost I needed to get me from being just a casual gamer, to being just a casual blogger. I kid, but as far as new experiences go, this one has been pretty awesome. The NBI opened me up to the larger game blogging community, has improved my writing and communication skills, has opened me up to new experiences, and has given me a new angle to view these games we play from. The prolific Syp gave us 2012 NBI Vets a headstart on blogging, a shot of eyeballs and advice, and now the favor is being passed forward.

A new Newbie Blogger Initiative officially starts today and will last all of October! This time around, Doone from T.R. Red Skies and Roger from Contains Moderate Peril have taken the reins, opened up a set of forums for new bloggers, and already the sponsors are lining up to offer their sage wisdom. At last count, 28 different game blog writers, with experience ranging from game development to professional writing to podcasting to being able to awesomely coordinate outfits and kick ass while doing so, have all thrown their epic head slot armors into the NBI 2013 ring.

So if you are on the fence about possibly starting up your own corner of the Internet, hopefully this endeavor is able to push you to give it a real shot. And really, with such a large, helpful community backing you up, you really don’t have anything to lose and quite a lot to gain.

Star Trek Online, Foundry, Star Trek

StarbaseUGC Presents: Purity

The Foundry in Star Trek Online often feels like the red-headed-stepchild of the game. The toolset enables all players to match wits with the writers of one of the most iconic IP’s in history, and tell their own story using the vast base of canon that has come before. On paper, it is a monument of epic proportions and is the glory of the Star Trek universe. In reality… not so much. Lackluster support from the developers and a playerbase that largely ignores it, it suffers. Without proper direction, finding user-generated missions that are high quality is no easy task. Thankfully, this is where StarbaseUGC steps in.

StarbaseUGC is a site designed for the Star Trek Online Foundry user. The site provides resources for both new authors and veterans alike, and should be the first place you go if you want to start the process.

To show their Star Trek prowess, StarbaseUGC launches today the first episode in a weekly story arc that will run until November 5th, a new episode every Tuesday. The episode “Purity: Of Denial” by Zorbane, will be available for all level 31+ Federation and Federation-Aligned Romulan Captains, and can be found from the Foundry tab of the Mission Journal. Check out the trailer below.

When Star Trek Online announced weekly episode missions, it was the next day that I purchase my Lifetime subscription. 3 years later, and they have come out with, what, four story arcs? I still consider my STO Lifetime a good purchase, as it has more than paid for itself, but their promise of weekly content has fallen by the wayside. Understandable, but still a shame. So I’m excited to see what StarbaseUGC is bringing to the Foundry and I will definitely be playing along (and reporting about it).

So will Zorbane knock the first chapter out of the park? Will Cerberusfilms be lifted to the level of minor celebrity?! Will Syp ever not sing a sea shanty over Teamspeak?!! Will YOU be the next breakout author of the Newbie Blogger Initiative and teach all of us a thing or two?!!! Tune in next time for the answers (maybe) to these thrilling questions!

Same Casual Aggro time! Same Casual Aggro channel!

// Ocho

Gilded Rage: Hunting Blingzilla [TSW]

Golem, Secret World, Gilded Rage

Alright, it’s my turn.

Guild Wars 2, Mini Moto, Super Adventure BoxSince my last update, I have switched off between two games, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. Guild Wars 2 has the ultra tricky Super Adventure Box going on for it, but since acquiring the mini-Moto pet, my goal for the event, my want to log-in has waned in favor of the equivalent of a Secret World Gold Rush.

Now, let’s be clear about this event. It looks very similar to the previous anniversary event, and that is because, well, it is. During the anniversary event, some problems occurred that Funcom simply weren’t able to solve. Namely, one of the rare pets, the Shem of the Lunar Metal, was completely unreachable by at least one of Secret World’s servers (note: my server). No matter how I tried during the anniversary event, I simply could not enter the necessary zone. This isn’t the first time Funcom has fumbled a Secret World event.

Shem of the Lunar Metal, The Secret World

So the Gilded Rage event is essentially a make up for the previous Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event. Hence why it is very similar. The golden Samsu Nasiru is just a gold colored reskin of Kaspu Nasiru, and appears in the same locations as the anniversary Golems. And because the Shem of Lunar Metal was impossible for some to get during the previous event, it was included on the drop list of this event. So high on the list, even, that I picked it up after taking down my very first Golem.

So, cheers to Funcom! They may have fumbled the ball during the Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event, but have once more picked it up and scored.  I remember last time I was very pleased with how they recovered from the End of Days Event fumble, and this looks like a good make-up as well. The only thing missing is that Guardians of Gaia Fusang lore piece… but I was informed that it may still be there. I haven’t been inside Fusang to see if that is true, so maybe I will attempt that tomorrow night and report back.

Tips and Tricks on Hunting Blingzilla

The Gilded Rage event will only be available until… well, they said two weeks after it started. Two weeks would be Friday, September 20th, but ending an event on a Friday (unless they have something BETTER planned for that day) is highly unlikely. Most likely, it will continue until Sunday, September 22nd to cover the weekend crowd. However, attaining all the loot our golden pinata drops is not difficult at all. For one, the coveted prizes, pets, pet pieces, and costume pieces will only drop one time per character and will not be duplicated on that character. So you don’t have to worry about getting repeat pieces of the Gold Pet puzzle.

Kirsten Geary, The Secret World, Blingzilla

Join The Illuminati, if for no other reason than the awesome mission text.

– First and foremost: Join the chat channel!

Like the previous event, which showed an outstanding level of community involvement, this event is no different. Once more, unofficial chat channels have been set up, spotters have been sent around TSW’s zones, and when a golem is spotted, the information is relayed back to the channel.

type: /chat join gildedevent

– Friend and Meet Up

Next, when a call-out is made, right click on the callers name and add them as a Friend. Hit Shift-F to bring up the Friends list, right-click on their name and select ‘Meet Up’. Once accepted, this will take you directly to the same zone, dimension, and server as the caller.

Shem of Solar Metal, The Secret World

– Look For the Giant Walking Hood Ornament

Kinda hard to miss, really. Old Goldy should be hanging out somewhere near the well you zone-in at. Just look around. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

– Beat Up On Goldzilla

He only has two tactics to watch out for:

1) He puts out a self-targeted AoE that, if it hits, will send you skyward and knock you out of the fight for 10 seconds. Run away when he does this as there isn’t any way to interrupt it. It may APPEAR to be interrupted, but that’s most likely just a graphical glitch and it will still hit. If you are susceptible, with no way to block it, just run or stay outside the blast zone.

2) A second AoE that will sap you of health and heal the golem. The health he steals isn’t really enough to keep up with the damage he’s receiving, but it still doesn’t feel nice. To avoid, either run outside the blast zone or “hug” him by getting within melee range. Also, this attack IS interruptible, so if it looks like it’s stopped, it most likely has.

– Profit

After whittling down his 17-18 MILLION hit points, you will receive a Side-Quest (Make sure you have a side-quest spot open before the fight!) to win the Genizah of the Solar Metal prize bag. To form the Shem of Solar Metal pet, however, it will take 6 different body parts, combined together. A list of all possible loot can be found here.

TenTentacles, Rowan, MMOGC, Twitter

It does sound suspicious if it’s phrased like that, doesn’t it?

– Cut Down on Lag

There are two ways to cut down on lag during the fight:

1) Kill your Spell Effects. To achieve this, just type this exactly into chat:

/setoption SpellEffect_DisplayLevel 4

This will kill Spell Effects and will give you a respectable 10-15 FPS on a decent system. To reverse it, just type a 0 where the 4 is.

2) Install Better Buffs, an official fix mod from Funcom’s GUI programmer. It may be included in a future patch, but why not get it now? It will cause your buff lists to not reorder so frequently, and help with interface lag. However, it hasn’t been fully tested, so if it conflicts with another mod or with the game itself, just delete it as per the linked forum post.

– Simple Ground Targeting

I’m placing this here so I have a location to remember it as well. Do you have any Ground Targeted Area of Effects and want to change them to Targeted Area of Effects?

Just hit ‘Shift-Ctrl‘.

That’s it. Now in the heat of combat (or, in this case, the worst Powerpoint presentation ever), you won’t have to worry about targeting your mouse on the right area, it’ll just focus the center of the AoE on your target and you’re good to go.

But Wait! There’s More!

My brothers and sisters in arms have also been in on the Gold Rush! TenTentacles has his writeup on Goldie Brawn (I see what you did there), Rowan is jumping for joy over attaining his faithful golden follower, Syp is seeing the extended middle-finger that are the Flares, and Mogsy is happy to be hanging with her Nugget. Did I miss anyone? I most likely did. Well, if I did, just yell at me and I’ll correct the error.

I can’t help but think, though, that this is just whetting the appetites for the upcoming main event, the prelude to Tokyo. After pushing Lilith back into the Tokyo portal in the last story arc, the siege of Agartha has begun and the Filth has begun to seep into the world’s core.

The question is: When will we be able to fight it?

// Ocho

The Secret World, Agartha, Tokyo, Bird

P.S. – Alright, but I can’t let Funcom off the hook for this one: A $100 Gold Tuxedo?! $100?! Since when is $100 considered a MICRO-transaction?! Look, I’m all for status symbols and understand that people can spend their money however they wish… but $100?! Come on!

P.P.S. – Notice how terms like Genizah, Shem, and Golem all appear in the lore for these Guardians of Gaia? Do they sound familiar? Well, Rowan, the loremaster for the Beyond the Veil podcast, has a great explanation of the history behind the lore and explains why the golems have a Hebrew origin. I highly suggest you check it out.

Master of Orion and Syp: A Tale of Humanity

“While I prepare for the usual Ysharros defense, Ocho is destroyed.  Again.  Seriously, Ocho?  Can’t you go a day without getting blow’d up?” – Syp from Bio Break

This is quite possibly the best quote ever. And to be fair, being blow’d up is what I do best.

To all of those who haven’t seen yet, a war of epic proportions is being waged over on Bio Break, a war deciding who, truly, is the Master of Orion. And the blow by blow details is surprisingly intense. I mean, we’ve all played them, those faction, strategy based games like Civilization, Sins of a Solar Empire, Heroes of Might and Magic, etc., but Syp is showing us tangentially WHY we find these games so fascinating…

We can create our own stories.

Isn’t that a big component of why we love MMO’s as well? I mean, most of the ones we see today are heavily story based, but yet within these worlds, we create our own narratives. MMO’s without the emphasis on story, like EvE Online, do a tremendous job of creating their own intrigue. EvE‘s recent War in Fountain is one of those stories, culminating in the largest online battle between digital spaceships in history. Even some of the bigger news outlets got in on the fun. But who hasn’t had guild or server stories? I’ll tell you a quick one…

The Red Shirts raid Stormwind and hold the Deeprun Tram tunnels.

My very first World of Warcraft character (and really, my only one), was an Undead Warrior by the name of Ocholivis… hence… Ocho. Anyway, one day early on in my leveling, I joined up with a guild of fantastic people called The Red Shirts. To show our solidarity, we all wore red shirts under our red tabard. This one single thing joined us together in one of the most tightly knit guilds I’ve ever been in. In fact, I still remember the names of some of my closest guildmates, despite it being almost a decade ago. Kant, Kalli, Krem, Thrym, Grimfear, Shugorei, Aiyanna, Thax, Dimensia… the list goes on. These names still mean a lot to me. As a guild, we ran dungeons, we invaded Stormwind, we partook in the endless PvP at Southshore/Tarren Mill, and we just had fun. As Horde, we were outnumbered about 5:1 on our server, but we didn’t care. Our guild was tight. Then… we all hit level 60 around the same time, and things changed.

There was a faction of the guild that wanted to raid and wanted the so called “phat lootz”. However, those of us who didn’t have the time to keep to a set raiding schedule due to real life wanted to keep the guild a casual, fun place. This caused a schism. A subset of the guild decided to break off and form their own guild, The Yellow Jackets, and they wore yellow shirts. Gang warfare ensued. A smear campaign against The Red Shirts was waged, infighting ensued. As more Red Shirts hit level 60 and felt the raiding bug, they left to join the Yellow Jackets. Some wanted to still remain friends and periodically join forces, but not all, and there was a lot of bad blood. I stayed faithful to The Red Shirts, but eventually the guild collapsed into a former shell of itself. For a time, I stopped playing WoW. The game simply stopped being fun for me.

The neverending Tarren Mill / Southshore PvP. Yes, back in 2005, before Battlegrounds and tokens and everything, THIS is where the Warcraft PvP happened.

Since then, I’m still not the raiding type, but the “story”, our own story, that that drama created is something I’ll never forget. What Syp is creating is not the same as an MMO’s drama, but it’s a microcosm of why we love the genre, and I highly suggest you head on over to give it a read.

Among the digital, among the 1’s and 0’s, we are drawn to the humanity.

// Ocho

P.S. – I don’t know if the Red Shirts are still around in any capacity as I’ve stopped playing WoW and switched servers ages ago, but if any of the old Red Shirt clan someday happen upon this post, drop me a line. It’d be great to hear from you guys again. 🙂

P.P.S. – Kinda sorta maybe related, but I wanted to share this as well. It’s the song “Come to Your Senses” from the musical ‘Tick,Tick…Boom!’ by Jonathan Larson. You might remember Larson from his most popular musical ‘Rent’. Well, Larson’s first endeavor, which won him a ton of Awards but was ultimately rejected by the Orwell estate, was a musical called ‘Superbia’, based on the book ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. This was the big number of ‘Superbia’, in which a woman feels she has lost her friend, whom she communicated with remotely through her headset and video. In the song, she reveals her love to the static-filled screen. … Through technology, humanity.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative – 1 Year Later

Would you look at that… a full year has passed, and Casual Aggro is still up and running. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are. Although I had a few warm-up posts, I claim the real starting date of this blog to be May 1st, 2012, when Syp of Massively and Bio Break started a movement to help new bloggers find their footing in this crazy interwebz.

So, Happy Anniversary to all my fellow NBI brethren! To which, I’m happy to say, there are many still around.

After taking a look at the full list of blogs posted back on May 30th, 2012, there were 111 new blogs formed during the initiative. I opened up every single one to take a look and see how many were still active (yes, I had 100+ tabs open in Chrome and my PC didn’t blink… this thing is a BEAST), and the results surprised me. One would expect a great number of these blogs to have slowed down or stopped updating entirely, and a great number did. However, a large number did not close up shop and are still updating today! In figuring these numbers, any blog that has updated anytime in the past month qualified as being “active”.

And, guess what? Out of the 111 starting blogs, 28 are still active today, giving a retention rate of over 25%!! So, yeah, I’d call it a huge success!

So, out of the 28, I’d like to spotlight a few of them as blogs that you should add to your RSS feed immediately.

Ravalation

Spearheaded by the fantastic Ravanel Griffon, Ravalation is all about the adventures and misadventures of her time gaming in Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. She is also the most prolific blogger in the entire group of 111, and her words jump off the page with so much energy that you can’t help but be a fan! I know I am. If you check out one blog from the NBI 2012 group, make sure it’s this one.

Most recent post: LOTRO’s 6-Year Anniversary!

MMO Juggler

If there’s a game-jumper who even out-jumps myself, it’s the MMO Juggler. Everything from Lord of the Rings Online, to Age of Wushu, to EVE Online, to Guild Wars 2, to The Secret World. You name it, he’s probably played it and has a comprehensive write-up about it. Now THAT’s dedication.

Most recent post: GW2 Lowbie Zone Exploration

MMO One Night A Week

No, I didn’t just pick Kanter‘s blog because he based his latest blog post after something I wrote (which I’m very flattered about, by the way). I’ve been reading his blog for the past year, and I love the premise as it’s a universal one: Not enough time, but a love of gaming. Although most of his gaming time is spent in World of Warcraft these days, a game I’m not too terribly fond of, I still like to hear about his exploits from the perspective of an uber-busy gaming fan.

Most recent post: MMOs and Gambling

Conveniently Placed Exhaust Port

Forgive me Jason, but I did not start following you on Twitter until today. However, I’ve been following your blog for quite a while!

For those of you who aren’t Jason, yesterday’s rant on Candy Crush Saga, for example, is a must read. Seriously. Go check it out. Jason mixes his impressions of games with a humor that is spot-on and 100% relatable.

Most recent post: The aforementioned Letter to Candy Crush Saga

Trust me when I say that these are not the only worthwhile blogs out there from the Newbie Blogger Initiative group. Here is a list of the remaining active blogs, please go and check them out:

Why I Game / Healing Mains / Stynlan’s Musings /  Neurotic Girl / Warp to Zero / Dreadblade / White Charr / FunSponge / World’s End Tavern / Wynniekins’ Adventures / That Was An Accident / Altaclysmic / The Adventures of Danania / Red’s Roid Rage / Bloodthorne / Unwavering Sentinel / Sephora’s Closet / Warlockery / Elfkina Vezicka (Slovak) / Beyond Tannhauser Gate / Noob Raider (Japanese) / The Delver / Geotia’s Letters

That’s a much easier list to swallow than the whole 111 that started.

So, again, I wanted to give a huge Thank You to Syp for starting the movement in the first place, and an even bigger Thank You to all of my friends, supporters, and readers who make me look forward to creating my future posts.

You all rock!

// Ocho

P.S. – I still can’t believe I lost the “Promising Star” Award by only 3 votes… to a blog that is not even active anymore! Ah well. So it goes…

Time Gates And MMOs Don’t Mix

I know I just posted an article on the how the MMO community can be a little negative, but as I pointed out, sometimes criticism is necessary. This is one of those times. I haven’t started seeing a trend yet, and maybe that’s because I just haven’t played as many MMOs to notice, but in Star Trek Online we’re starting to see content and missions hiding behind “time gates”. And excuse me for being so frank but they are a terrible idea.

A “time gate” is essentially a certain mission, dungeon, or other event that only happens at different times and only for a short period of time. A good example of this is the Vault Shuttle Event, in which you have five players, all in shuttlecraft, lead a mission into a space station known as the “Vault”. It’s the equivalent of a five person dungeon, but in very specific ships and runs at random times of the day.

I get it. If you have a specific event that only comes around at specific (and sometimes random) times, then your playerbase is going to spend more time waiting for those events to occur and the rewards given are going to not be as common and easy to acquire. This leads to completionist or loot-hungry players playing the game more often. More time in-game means more time playing, which means the possibility of those players spending more money. For a free-to-play game, players spending money is very important. See, I get it.

However, for players that do not have completionist tendencies to the point of disorder and aren’t as attached to one specific game, as I assume a majority of players are, this is not how games are approached.

Maybe the Guardian of Forever likes ‘Time Gating’! Get it?!! He’s the Guardian of Forever… looks like a gate… deals with time. You know what, just forget it…

Here is a possible rundown for this event: I fire up the game, check the missions that are available, see when the specific event I want to play is, stop playing, come back later at that time, find a group, and play it. Three big problems come up with this scenario.

1) I stop playing. For those of us with limited time on our hands to play games, if I shut down a game, there is little chance I’ll be opening it up again later on. I’ll play whatever game I have time to play now while I have time.

2) Come back later at that time. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing or what could possibly come up in between now and when the event is taking place! My wife could suddenly have a cheese fries craving, or a phone call from a friend with an extra ticket could lead to a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert in Delaware, or an impromptu campfire with s’mores, cigars, and whiskey. Every single one of these events has happened to me, and so if I’m playing a game, I want to play it now, not in the future.

Finally the worst, 3) Find a Group. Since these events seem to be at random times, scheduling to play the game with a group of friends or fleet-mates is a lot more tricky and so a lot of the time, playing the event would require getting into a pick-up-group. A pick-up-group is a group consisting of random players you do not know personally, and is one of the curses of the MMO world. Every once in a while you can get into a good pick-up-group that knows what they are doing and everything meshes well. Mostly, however, the group consists of opposite personalities, different playstyles, different response to authority, different experience, and different competency. So the pick-up-group has a much higher chance of failure. MMOs have different ways of dealing with the stress of pick-up-groups. Some offer more reward for being in them, some offer a convenient way to enter them, so when it fails you haven’t lost a lot of time, too.

By this time, my lungs were aching for air…

My idea (and as with any idea on the internet, please take it with a grain of salt) is thus: If you’re going to have time gated content to get the benefits that I described above, how about make the content soloable? If I’m playing, and it randomly pops up, I feel much more comfortable playing if it doesn’t involve other people. If I’m looking to play that mission specifically, 1 and 2 above still are in effect, but because it’s so easy to jump into and complete, I don’t feel as bad about missing the opportunity to play. Then, given a tiered reward system where the ones who play in groups get the best rewards quicker, I could still get the best rewards over more time. Not having to find a group to play it completely removes that stress, and then I would look forward to thinking “I wonder which random mission will be available tonight?”

As it stands now, I honestly don’t think I’ll ever play any of the time gated content in Star Trek Online. Every time I’ve been on since any time-gated content has been introduced just hasn’t been the right time and I’m not going to start scheduling my gaming time around the events. There are way too many great games that I could play right now that waiting for a specific time in a specific game just isn’t feasible.

I game on my time, not anyone else’s. Now, I’m not saying that I’ll never play it as there is always a chance… but who knows when that chance will be.

\\ Ocho 

P.S. – It has come to my attention that over on Syp’s Bio Break, Casual Aggro has been nominated for the Newbie Blogger Initiative title of “Promising Star, General Games and Geekery“! Woah! To say I’m floored is an understatement. This is a very awesome and humbling nomination, especially considering all the other amazing bloggers that joined in as a part of the NBI festivities. Just to be nominated is an honor. Thank you to all of you amazing readers, I can never thank you enough. You all ROCK!

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Month Wrapup

What a long strange trip it’s been. No, really, this month has been absolutely incredible.

The Newbie Blogger Initiative was essentially a month of tried and tested blogs promoting and sponsoring new and just-off-the-boat blogs, like Casual Aggro, all in the name of community, goodwill, and mutual interest. To call it a success is an understatement. My little part of the blogging universe has seen incredible numbers that still leave me gobsmacked. And I really have Syp to thank for all of it.

Without his initial support you, an awesome person who has taken the time to come and read my ramblings, would probably not have stopped by. However, I am certainly glad you have and I hope that you enjoy what you are reading. If you are, drop me a line! If you don’t, drop me a line, too, and let me know where I could use improvement.

If you have enjoyed my random insights into gaming today, you might also enjoy any of these fine blogs as well. This list is very comprehensive, but if one of them catches your interest, please give it a look. The author, karma, and I thank you.

New blogs to check out:

Sponsor advice posts:

That’s a serious list, right? I hope that in the coming weeks, I’ll be able to peruse all of them and then pass on some great stuff.

1 month down and hopefully many more to go.

\\ Ocho