Crafting the DDO way?

ScreenShot00103

I’ve pretty much stayed away from crafting in its current form in DDO.  Mostly I am not playing enough to see the good out of the lack of investment I can offer this new grind. I have been curious about it, but not enough to give it the needed attention it deserves. When Player’s Handbook rerolled week before last, I thought I would give it a try.   I wanted to see if I could make items that would benefit our non- twinking party as we leveled up.  I am also curious as to whether or not it is so expensive as to be out of range for new or casual players.

The team is passing me as many items as they dare to.  We’re broke again, so every copper counts.  Letting go of some of the items to give me to deconstruct might prove our undoing as we get higher up in level.

I took a jog over to House K, and entered the crafting hall.

craftingisinbeta
craftingisinbeta

The Beta message cannot be ignored.  It pops in the middle of your screen.  You have been warned.  Keep this image in your mind.  You will be referring to it later :)

I’d poked around from time to time, and knew enough to surmise I would need to decon items before I could craft.  I had also seen the crafting bound and unbound shard stations.

I plunked in every single item the group had passed my way.  It equaled a whole lot of nothing once I was done pulling off essences.  I was a little disappointed, but valiantly walked over to a bound shard station and cranked up the machine.

I made a total of 3 shards with the items I had pulled off our loot.

We just dinged level 3 on our new babies Wednesday night.

My crafting stats are 2/1/2. *rolls her eyes*

ScreenShot00102
ScreenShot00102

All I can say is this crap better get fabulous and fast!  At the rate I am going, the party will be broke, I will have no return in craftable loot to offer my team for their sacrifice, and I will have carpal tunnel from cranking the dang machine.

I am not completely sold on this system.  It’s laborious.  Fact is, I need some help.  I am overwhelmed by the process.  I can figure out which shards I can make by placing the essence's in the book one at a time. It’s tedious to say the least.

What I feel I NEED is a good recipe book with the end item being the beginning and the ingredients underneath.

The DDO compendium is trying to accomplish this, but to be honest, it is falling short.

crafting doodad
crafting doodad

The recipe book is listed via nick names.  I can’t tell what I am looking at until I go digging into the links.  For instance, I was wondering if I could make some secret door clickies for our group, or maybe featherfalling items.  I need to go through all the links to see what the recipes actually do?

Basically, crafting in DDO sort of stinks right now.  They have been making some changes slowly.  It is getting better, but boy it’s like watching molasses drip off a spoon.

I think it’s sort of ass backwards.  In every other type of crafting I have ever undertaken, I have known what I was going to make, and I searched, farmed, or created the needed material/ingredient to make XYZ.

In DDO, I am making the material/ingredient then figuring out what I can do with it?  Does this make sense to anyone else?

Why do I need to make a bazillion useless shards in order to level?  Why am I sinking our hard earned plat into something I can’t get anything out of until I am broke, tired and frustrated?

Every crafting system has a grind.  It is a component of the art.  If you want to be good at something you have to practice.  I am not calling that into question.  What I have an issue with is making a bunch of BOUND shards I am not going to be able to do anything with!

And then there are the mistakes.  In the current patch  (10.1) that has gone up on Lammania, they made a ginormous “error.”  They adjusted the higher level recipe’s to make them more challenging to generate the craftable top tier loot.  From what I can gather, they added a bunch of raid loot as ingredients.

The forums are on fire discussing it.  Madfloyd has already spoken on the forums addressing the issue.

madflyodscrafting sacrifice
madflyodscrafting sacrifice

I stopped reading the forums a year or so ago when I realized there was little constructive discussion going on over there, but I peeked over on the lammy thread today to see what the general consensus was. I discovered flame after flame, threats, angst, and nerd rage.

I felt a little ill after I left the thread.

If you are going to cancel your subscription to DDO over crafting, please do not let the door hit you where the good lord split you.   In fact, here, let me throw down some grease to hasten your escape.

If you are angry, be angry. I can accept that, but I am not sure what there is to be angry about other than a mistake being made and then caught on the preview server.

* Will the patch go live? At this time, it will.  Will it matter? I don’t think so. I think everyone has gotten their knickers in a twist over something trivial in a system that is in BETA.

Also, you are entitled to absolutely nothing.  Turbine doesn’t owe you diddly.  You rent time on their servers for your own enjoyment.

That said, I would also like to point out that Turbine does not wake up in the morning and ask themselves how they can piss off the entire community in one foul swoop!

My hope is that this will all blow over.  The community roars from time to time, but it dies down.  Crafting is here to stay.  It is still in beta (remember when I told you to keep that screenie in your mind? This is your sign!), and I expect lots of roller coaster ups and downs as the system is refined.  Everyone wants it to be successful, both Turbine and players alike.

If you have a link to a crafting resource guide, pop it into the comments below. I would love to highlight it here on the my corner of the interweb, and I'll let DDOcast know about it.  I could really use the help as I slog through the current crafting mess.

If you have trolled over here to make much ado about nothing, please be aware I liberally apply the ban hammer to nonsensical bitter diatribes left on my site :)

Game On!!!

madfrespondsagain!
madfrespondsagain!

* During the process of writing this post Madfloyd responded to the Community with a further update. The patch will not go live.

Player's Handbook makes babies in DDO

newbabies

Player's Handbook has been playing the same character's for about 234 weeks. Here is an old screenshot I found of us from 4 and a half years ago (and about 4 rigs later!)

originaltnt
originaltnt

It has been one of the most fun gaming groups I have ever been a part of.

Since we capped a while ago, we've found ourselves trying to find new goal ingame.  It's been hard.  While there are still some things we have yet to accomplish, we've touched most everything.   We are still having a good time, but we might have been a little bored.

We decided to do something kind of crazy tonight.  On a whim, we made babies.  We didn't just want to roll new characters.  We wanted the new children to challenge us in new and interesting ways.

So...

We rolled a 1d8 for a new race.

1 halfling 2 1/2 elf 3 human 4 1/2 orc 5 dwarf 6 elf 7 warforged 8 drow

We then rolled a 1d11 for our class.

1 - Fighter 2 - Ranger 3 - Paladin 4 - Wizard 5- Sorcerer 6 - Rogue 7 - Favored Soul 8 - Cleric 9 - Monk 10 - Bard 11 - Barbarian

Meet the children!

Goritrix
Goritrix

Goritrix, whose father was a dwarven arcane archer, looks more like his human mother. He's chosen to follow the Sorcerer path.

wonall
wonall

Wonall is a full elf. We are still trying to figure out how a human and an elf didn't make an half elf, but whatever the case, he's chosen to sing the exploits of his battle cleric father as a bard.

Omiena
Omiena

Omiena surprised us.   The drow showed up at the exit of the grotto and told us she was the daughter of a once great rogue. I have sent a missive to the halfling Keylet Undoall    for further clarification on her daughter's shocking turn to the healing arts.

Zeffley
Zeffley

Zeffley the Sorcerer looked a little out of place shifting back and forth on his feet outside the tavern.  Rowanslash, his human mother, had disdained magic of any sort.

Rowanshadow
Rowanshadow

Rowanshadow, who's father Borgii never lost his crush on Rowanslash, came out of the shadow's of the cave's exit to try and pick Randall's pocket.  A rogue down to her very human toes, she's learned to never let an opportunity slip away from her.

Rhasorca
Rhasorca

Rhasorca scared the small group on Korthos Island.  A large Half-Orc carrying a flaming great axe, we thought him a barbarian come to aid us in our quest for coin.  He quickly let us know he was a Sorcerer who couldn't get the need to pound on kobolds out of his system.  We questioned him on his parentage, and with some trepidation he explained his Paladin father Rhaid had adopted him when he was a baby.

With introductions out of the way, the young ones marched off into a nearby crypt to clear it of evil.  They finished their first quest without trouble, other than the rogue blowing her very first trap box o.O.  The intrepid bunch made their way into the Village Storehouse.  In a matter of minutes, the party split up and found themselves over matched by a Sahuagin foe.

Wearejustthisawesome 6-29-2011 9-32-57 PM
Wearejustthisawesome 6-29-2011 9-32-57 PM

After brushing off their foolish defeat, they regrouped and mastered the dungeon as a team.

Without a true meat shield, they carefully picked their way through the quests on Korthos Island.  By the end of the evening, they gained a new level and took a break in the tavern to tell stories of their own bloodthirsty adventures and knock back an ale or three.

Now here's a final twist to keep the children on their toes.  Every level they can roll the dice to see what the fate's offer them.  Roll carefully children.  It's a tangled web you weave, and the consequences cannot be undone.  Should you reject the roll, you may continue on your current path to fame and glory!

Goodluckbubblesplayershandbook 6-29-2011 11-33-29 PM
Goodluckbubblesplayershandbook 6-29-2011 11-33-29 PM

Like their parents before them, the group thinks bubble heads are good luck :)

***

Between outright bursts of giggles and questions about builds, the night turned into a renewal of all the reasons we love DDO, and playing DDO together.   I can't wait to find out what kind of trouble the group of us find as we work through the game's content again.  Not to mention, I have no idea how an unbalanced group, half of which are sorc's, is going to tackle the upper end content!  I almost can't wait to find out :)

GAME ON!!!

This plat farmer took more than a pair of shoes…

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Zeff mentioned to me he had to adjust to my pessimism when we got married.  I am trying not to be disturbed by that statement.  Of course, he is completely correct.  If there is a glass in front of me, it’s isn’t half full or even half empty, it’s dry as a bone. Friday was one of those days when the glass wasn’t just bone dry, it had shattered into a bazillion pieces.

The Air Conditioning went out at the house, and we didn’t realize until bedtime.  I will swear to you I saw heat waves at the top of my stairs when we climbed up.   I got everyone moved downstairs to sleep.  The beagle loved it.  She has a thing for sniffing at the front door and barking every 2 or 3 minutes. It made for a great 6 hours of rest, not.

fire_warning
fire_warning

We all woke up around 6 am.  First thing I do every morning is check my email on my phone.  I saw I had several facebook messages, and clicked over to see what was up.  There were several from both my Kin Leader and one of my favorite Kin mates in LOTRO.   “If you see this, get online. You are being hacked.”

After my heart left my throat, I tried to repeat the information to Zeff.   Between stammers, I noticed I had missed reading the beginning of the message thread.

I hadn’t been hacked, Zeff had.

He took the news better than I had for the previous 5 minutes.  He checked the email on his phone and saw a message from Turbine that he had been perma-banned.  We read in another message that at least two of Zeff’s character’s had been deleted.  Our Kin leader had been fast on his feet.  He watched Zeff’s officer character log on at 2:51am for a couple of minutes and then leave the Kin.  Smelling something fishy, he put in a cheating/hacker ticket.  The spawn of satan had time to delete one more character and was on his third when the GM locked things down.

We had a Kin Rift raid scheduled for 9 pm est Friday night.  I figured there was no way the shattered glass could be glued together for raid night.

While I tried to figure out how to reconcile the news, Zeff dressed for work, poured his coffee and told me he would be sure to call someone about the Air Conditioning.  He then kissed my forehead, and went to work.

After he left, I sort of stared at the door expecting him to come back in at any moment.   I sure wasn’t feeling the TGIF!   I spilled my drink all over my T-shirt, dropped my breakfast on the floor, and forgot to turn off the stove all before 8 am. Friday officially sucked.

After he got home, we started trying to figure out what to do next.   Zeff called Turbine when the phone lines opened at noon, and after an identity check, they told him they would unlock his account within the hour.  He would need to put in a ticket for each character that had been deleted, as well as a ticket for what items he could remember each character having.

I watched his face when he was able to log in, and saw the shock register when his character list came up and both his almost capped character’s were not there.

online-hacking
online-hacking

We rebounded and he started getting on with it.  He put in the two missing character tickets, and started going through his other character’s to see if they had been touched.

Within another hour his two deleted characters were back.  He began compiling the list of things he was missing.  It’s going to be a long slog.  While Zeff is rather organized, it’s hard to remember everything.  It’s also hard to prove you had the items to begin with.

Turbine will try to replace things that they can prove you had.  Items that were destroyed or sold can be tracked.  Other things are too hard to pin down.  They will try and give you a general reimbursement based on your character’s level at the time of the hack.

We noticed that the deleted character’s retained reputation, barter wallet items, and the equipped gear they were wearing.  All his other Legendary Item’s on the two characters were wiped. EEEKKKK.  Think twice before you log out with a fishing pole in your hand!

I have in the past complained about the bound higher end gear which was unable to be sold.  I regret my verbal rant.  The only things Zeff retained were bound items the Plat farmer bastage was unable to sell quickly for hard cash.  I am really thankful for that.  Getting the character back nekkid would have been horrible.

We are still waiting for the reimbursement package, but I think it will take at least a week.  I think that’s smart of Turbine, by the way.  I think Turbine is aware memory is triggered in dribbles.  A player isn’t going to notice their XYZ with fire defense is missing until they go to run content which requires fire defense.   It will take a few days for Zeff to have a more comprehensive list together.

How did they get into his account? We really don’t know.  A TON of gaming sites have been hacked lately.  Zeff isn’t sure if he had reused his game password on any of the sites, but he could have.  We both spent hours Friday ensuring we changed password’s to be unique for the gazillion logins we use.

I have to a HUGE shout out to Turbine.  They not only froze Zeff’s account DURING the hack, they were really quick to reassure him of the steps necessary to fix some of what had been taken from him.  The customer service simply rocked.  It’s scary to have your account information used by an outsider.  Turbine did everything they could to make the situation more bearable.

Our Kin mates were smart.  They knew Zeff’s habits and what was out of character.  They ran to his house to try and get anything out of it they could before it was cleaned out or sold due to the character who owned it being deleted.  They quickly demoted Zeff’s character’s to protect the kin chests.  Most importantly, without their common sense, the hacker would have had time to further decimate the account.  Zeff could have logged in to having zero characters.

I am grateful for a lot of things.  My Air Conditioning is back working.  My t-shirt wasn’t permanently stained.   I remade breakfast.  I didn’t burn the house down.

Zeff made the Rift raid, and it was the first win we’d had with an almost exclusive Kin group.

Battle cheer ending!
Battle cheer ending!

I won the housing item. It's one I have coveted in many a front lawn in my shire neighborhood.

See my big sword!
See my big sword!

My glass will always be empty.  It is just the way I am built, but I can celebrate the moments of joy when they come my way.   I can try to keep my eyes open to the good things, and be less quick to embrace the dark side!

Take the time today to look over your current security for logins, passwords, firewalls, virus protection and so forth.  Don’t be the next victim.  Every one of us who are derelict in our own safety feed the Plat Farmer monsters a little more.  Don’t support them.  Don’t buy from them.  Don’t put other gamers at risk with your own laziness.

Basically, don’t be a tool.

I am inserting my favorite Plat Farmer video below for your viewing enjoyment.

If I ever meet the little prick in a dark alley, I am gonna kick him in the nut sack! Bloody Plat Farmer raping ass hat.

*mumbles to herself as she retreats away from her computer for a sanity check*

Game On!!!

Mad, sad…trying to find glad

hindsight
dragon age 2 pic
dragon age 2 pic

It’s been a tough year of gaming at my house. The wonders and joys of Dragon age were pillaged by the limp Dragon age 2. Mediocre at best, this is one sequel that should have been left to bake a while longer.  I salivated over Dragon age at Gencon the year before it launched.  I played all the add-ons, beat Origins, and wished and wished for more.   I should be careful what I wish for in future.

I’ve managed to battle my way to halfway through the game.  I can say definitively, the lack of an overall story arc robbed Dragon Age 2 of the biggest thing Dragon Age was given raves for…A  STORY!!!  Without the necessary writing bits and bobs, you were left bereft of character motivation.  To be honest, I just don’t care if I ever finish this one.

Even a facebook game couldn't save my inattention to Dragon age.  I won't call it a waste of a tie in, but they could have just released Dragon Age Legends and made me happier. At least it has some bones to it.

Dungeon-Siege-3-box-art
Dungeon-Siege-3-box-art

I’ve been watching Dungeon Siege 3 for a while.  It’s been on the radar.  I still remember breaking a mouse in anger with a battle in Dungeon Siege 2.  How could I resist a third installment?

I downloaded a demo to my xbox the other day.  After 20 minutes, I quietly turned the machine off and wished I could erase the entire experience from my brain.  It is a poorly executed mish mash of bad voice- overs, poor AI pathing and I won’t even discuss the story.

Mass Effect 3 looks flipping beautiful, but I can’t have it this year. *sniff sniff*  I thought I was going to get it for Christmas.   Here’s a tasty trailer to whet your appetite.

There has been no release date set for Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I don’t think I am going to get this one this year either.

Ditto for Diablo 3.

I would still be playing Everquest 2, but between being hacked personally, and the entire company being hacked debacle, I simply haven’t the urge to turn it on.

Dungeon’s and Dragon’s Online is exploring crafting.  Growing pains can be painful, and it’s my feeling this is still very much in an incubation stage.  Epic’s haven’t become any more exciting.  The level cap is still 20. I am still NOT going to reincarnate. There is just very little for me to do right now.  Player’s Handbook still meets once a week to play, but even we are running out of juicy things to sink our teeth into.  I am hopeful there will be SOMETHING to make me blissful for this MMO soon. Please?

( As an aside, if you are willing to do the input, you can participate in the new Cannith Crafting Cookbook.  Please be aware the content appears to be edited by players, use at your own risk!)

I finished Fable 3. This has to have been my favorite out of the entire Fable series. I am sad it is over.

By the time I reached the month of June, I wondered if anything was going to get me hot for gaming.

la noire box
la noire box

I’d seen the advertisements for LA Noire.  I knew there had been a lot of buzz about it.  Rockstar is getting a reputation for taking the impossible and making a profit from it.  Did anyone ever think a western video game would perform like Red Dead Redemption has?

I’d been amassing some Best Buy bucks, and realized I could almost get LA Noire for next to nothing.  With trepidation, I put the disc in my Xbox.

I then played the game for almost 50 hours in a week’s time.  It’s fun, distracting, interesting, full of the flavor’s you would expect from a Noire film live and in your face.  I’m even finding some of the achievements interesting.

For example, you need to find 50 golden reel film canisters scattered throughout the world.  I found this link to the list that included the actual movie DVD fronts.  How cool is that?

I drove though through the city in a Chrysler Woody and instead of stopping off to investigate a murder; I sat in the car to listen to the radio.   It was a Jack Benny piece, and I just wanted to hear the entire thing.

I am also back to playing Lord of the Ring’s Online.  I have managed to make my way in Moria, and I haven’t had this much fun in an MMO in a while.  I’ve been exploring the LUA plugins, listening to A Casual Stroll to Mordor, writing guide posts for my Kin and redecorating my house with every trophy I can win.  In case you think I don’t love LOTRO enough, here is a pic of the framed map about in my study.

DSC00879
DSC00879

By the way, I completely missed the entire Digital River versus Turbine Rise of Isenguard pre-order mess.  I think I want to buy the 50 buck package, but I am in a waiting pattern atm.  If you are receiving those cancellation emails, don’t panic. I am sure Turbine will get it all sorted before launch in September.

I’d hoped for some really juicy stuff out of E3.  I can say nothing piqued my interest.  It seemed like a rehash.  I don’t want to buy a new Wii right now.  Xbox is taking the entire Kinect thing a little too far, and poor Sony could do nothing to erase the exceedingly bad luck they have had this year.

How is your gaming year looking?  What’s got you excited?  Please share it with me, and maybe you will help get me re energized for a game I didn’t know I would like!

Game on!!!

When your game goes offline...

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cock block
cock block

Sometimes, despite our favorite game's best intentions, things go pear shaped. You get home at the end of the day, and switch on your computer and meet the ultimate cock block. DDO had some problems with their downtime yesterday.  Patch 9.1 over worked the hamsters, and the game didn't come back online until almost 6pm est. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't until very late in the afternoon, I even noticed the servers were down.  Absolutely no one on twitter had said a THING about it.  It could be all the gamers I follow have jobs and real life stuff, but it might also be, we simply weren't paying attention.

We were the minority however.  When DDO is down, the forums heat up.  By the time I hit the downtime thread, it was past 3 in the afternoon.  The thread had grown to over 600 replies ranging from OMG DOOOOOOM, to I want my money back. Devs did a pretty good job of keeping the community abreast of any information they had.  It would have been nice if they utilized their facebook and twitter.  I try and stay as far away from the forums as much as possible these days.  I get my news via updates to my phone.  If you aren't reaching me there, you don't exist.

I think I must be mellowing.  I was completely unaffected by the downtime, and in fact, began laughing about the number of "my life in ruins" posts splattered over the boards.

DDO's downtime was a minor blip in my day.

Possibly because the entire SOE mess took downtime to a new event horizon! I still play EQ2 when I have time.   When I heard about the hack to the Play station Network, I thought "How sad" and moved on with my life.  It didn't affect me.  No big deal.

server
server

It wasn't until I got a tweet the next day or so that I realized SOE had taken ALL of their games off line.  They had no expectation of when they would be back. The ire of more than one gaming community quietly smoldered.  I think some were convinced Sony was running their games on an ENIAC. Accusations abounded, blame mounted and people generally lost their minds as the downtime ticked into a week.  SOE had been hacked, user information had been stored on a server that lacked adequate security.  Besides being irked about the their favorite game being offline, customers were worried about what information had been accessed by the hacker and what to do about it.

(I will put a short note in here to remind my gamer friends.  We live in an interconnected online world.  If you are not taking steps to protect your personal information, you are playing with fire.  Check your credit reports yourself every six months. Sign up for protection with one of the myriad of companies that offers it. Be in front of the accident, not watching it happen in slow motion while your hands are tied!!!)

images
images

Sony tried to stay in touch via facebook.  With their network down, there were no forums for the horde of angry gamers to flock to.  ZAM saw more traffic and commenting than it had seen in a coon's age.  Facebook comments went into the thousands.  It was just nasty. The entire gaming community watched the train wreck.  I think you had to be living under a rock to miss this one.  How was it going to affect Sony games?  How many subscribers would they lose? What would they offer the players as a "feel good" to try and retain them?

By the time the second week rolled around, I was half convinced this whole thing had to be some sort of crazy dream I was stuck in.  It was like ground hog day.   I'd wake up, check my tweets, and see Sony had said "We regret we will not be able to get our games back online today..."

When the games finally came back online, things were kind of anti climatic.   Jef Reahard over at Massively, asked if SOE owed compensation over the fiasco.  I know as an EQ2 subscriber I received a free 30 days, plus a day for each 24 hours period the game was offline, for a total of 45 days free.  I thought that was more than adequate.  In game perks are going on now through May 22 which includes all City Festivals, Double XP, Loot bonuses, races and more. I don't feel they owe me much.

hamster_powered_computer_xsmall
hamster_powered_computer_xsmall

DDO certainly didn't owe me anything for a patch taking all day.  While I might tease about sending them some Hamster food to keep the servers running, it is simply a fact of gaming.  Sometimes, through no fault of my own, I am not going to be able to log into my MMO of choice due to technical difficulties. If you are finding the downtime's send you reeling, you might want to check yourself.  Are you really missing an online game so much your life is negatively impacted?  I will caution you that you may be giving a game more power in your life than it deserves.

Gaming is an escape.  Like any other hobby, if it begins to intrude on your everyday life in an alarming way, you need to pull the plug for a few and step back. I get angry over changes to my games, I feel passionately about my characters, my game's storyline and the people I spend hours every week battling evil with.  I hope I have come to a place where I can turn the power off and do something else for a few without feeling the shakes for my MMO of choice.

What do you find yourself doing downtimes?  How attached do you feel to your MMO? Like Jef Reahard, I want to understand why you feel you need to be compensated for unexpected downtime.  What's your beef?

The video below has been linked to on my twitter and facebook for weeks.  I am linking it below for those of you who may have missed it.  Plus, I just like the darn thing :)  

Who are you really in an online world?

female-male-symbol
social-media-and-gagets-2
social-media-and-gagets-2

I’ve never really thought a great deal about the people around me in an MMO.  I tend to take things at face value.  Present yourself as you want to be.  It’s a fantasy world.  Create your persona, and live it out in a pixilated Shangri La . With the advent of guild websites, facebook, twitter, email, cell phone texting and the seemingly endless ways we can all communicate with relative ease, I have begun to see my online friendships blossom into beautiful bonds I cherish.  When I filled out a reference sheet for my resume recently, I realized almost everyone in my life I have met online in one way or another.

Sociologists are having a field day studying the data.  Real life relationships are blending into the online world.  People date each other, befriend each other, and some find the online world is easier to navigate than the real one leading them to be stronger in their communication than they would be sitting across a restaurant table from a real life person.

What is it about an MMO that lends itself to this strong bonding?

chimpanzee-cute
chimpanzee-cute

As humans we are subject to the same mammalian characteristics as our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, the gorillas and chimpanzees.  We are social animals.  Like our cousins, we “created complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups.” (Wikipedia)

When I read the above, I realized I could insert any MMO’s tag line in there.  Each MMO world is purposefully built to mimic the real one.  Developers take pains to create more and more “life-like” avatars, create a stable economy, systems for competitive and cooperative play, and so forth.

When I am playing with my friends in an online world, I can tell a lot about who they really are simply by being around them.  Some players are highly competitive, some are super helpful, some will set themselves up to be their guilds crafter for xyz, and others are quiet content to move around the periphery of the family/guild.  There is an endless scope of personalities peppering the online worlds.

After spending between 20-40 plus hours per week with my online guildies, I can tell you who will be willing to help me go through a tough dungeon, who is going to be a prick about the loot, who is going to enjoy the run, and who is going to get mad and rage quit when things don’t go their way.

It isn’t a surprise to me when I find myself drawn to certain people.  I met my husband in an online MMO while he was in another country serving in the military.  My best friend I met on a website for Navy spouses.  Several really important relationships in my life started with the DDOcast podcast 4 years ago.   I have a girlfriend through my DDO static group who adds joy to my life on a daily basis through emails and facebook games.

I live more socially because of my online life, than I do in my real world.  I am not terribly outgoing by nature.  If I had my way, I would only leave my house when it was on fire.  I don’t have dinner parties, or have friends over for gatherings.  I am not an entertainer.

But through my MMO’s, and the friendships created within them, I have an outlet for keeping up with life’s celebrations.  Births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, bad hair days and crap relationships.  It’s all played out in the guild chat daily.

How much do I share with people I meet in an online world is up to me!  Many outside my guild in several of my MMO’s don’t know I am actually female.  I generally don’t use voice chat unless I am comfortable with the players I am with.  While I play female avatars almost exclusively, you can’t always assume the person behind the female avatar is actually a female.

I am happily married.  I tend to talk about it a lot.  In fact it has been pointed out to me that in my MMO worlds, I am generally a super happy, friendly, outgoing person.  This could not be more counter to my actual personality.  I generally don’t answer my phone.  I am exceedingly private.  I don’t share my day to day dealings with anyone really, excepting my partner.

So which one is the real Rowanheal?

Both.  I am a complicated.  I am human.

I had a friend come to me a week or so ago in the wee hours of the morning to talk.  They had not realized how close a bond would be created when they started playing an MMO.  They felt they had misrepresented themselves and needed to let me know who they really were.  What they told me didn’t change how I thought of them.  They were still the outgoing, funny, generous person I knew them to be.  If anything it deepened my respect and awe at who they are.

That world blending I spoke about earlier has come home to roost.   Not always in a good way.

sticks and stones
sticks and stones

The same social stuttering we suffer in our real world has grown in our online ones.  The arguments over Race, Religion, and Sexual Orientation are discussed with little thought to who those words might be offensive or hurtful.

With the anonymity pervasive in online dealings, people can find themselves overwhelmed with a case of verbal diarrhea and vomit their beliefs all over those around them with little consequence to themselves.

I won’t say it doesn’t belong in an online world.  We are human.  Who we are is carried with us wherever we go.  We are immensely honest really.  If you are an ass, you are going to be an ass in an MMO.  *shrugs* It’s just the way we are built.  We have an inability to hide our core beliefs.  They rise to the surface like oil floating on water.

I am just going to ask if you would let some of it go while you play.

I like what the Buddhists have to say on the subject.  Be who you are authentically, but be careful not to let it hurt those around you.  We are here to learn how to be better than what we were born as.

And let’s face it, based on the studies done by the The Genographic Project, we are ALL related by blood despite our Race, Religion or Sexual Orientation.

So who are you really? Is who you are in an MMO how you want to be seen? Are you making strong relationships with the people you play with every week?

I am interested in hearing what you are experiencing.  So let me know!

Game on!!!

Are you celebrating Update 9 in DDO?

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I haven't been looking forward very much to Update 9.  My guild on Argo has been wailing and gnashing their teeth for days over the changes coming.  One of my favorite wizards TRed  in to a Favored Soul over the balance pass to spell casters.  Most of them have been hoarding items to use in crafting into overflowing back packs and banks.  Once wind of the changes to power 5 weapons hit the forums, it became a blood bath. I've stayed away from almost all of it.  Perhaps its that after 4 years, I have seen these cycles of nerf/balance come and go.  It's always labeled as the Apocalypse.  People scream in rage, cancel their subscriptions, and write a rant good bye post for the carrion of the forums to pick over.

Stormreach continues to thrive in spite of the wave upon wave of discontent.

I logged on Wednesday night wondering if the server's would stay stable and if the content was actually working correctly.  Our Static group wanted a go at the new quest chain, and we were very close to getting our airship!

I had a few hiccups logging in, but after a restart found myself plopped into the marketplace.  My group had already sniffed out the new quest giver in the Harbor, and we were off to play through the new quests.

What I saw of the new chain has me creeped out and giggling all at the same time.  The  new monsters are right out of a nightmare.  The atmosphere of fog and the driving music makes your sword quiver in your hand as you look around a building and wonder what you will see next.  I jumped a few times as a monster materialized out if a hedge.

There has to be a repressed mad scientist over at Turbine.  The theme of this quest pack stunned me with its depth.  The storyline is easily followed and the added newspaper stories strewn through out the quests add to the immersion and story telling.

The quests themselves are not very difficult.  The casual player should have little issue enjoying this gem of craziness.

I played my sorcerer.  I knew there had been some major changes to spells and specifically the sorcerer savants had been unleashed to the masses.  I checked my enhancements straight away and realized I didn't have any of my old fire/ice line anymore.  I didn't bother to figure out what I wanted to do with him.  I will play with a few of the spells and see what is going to fit as a new skin.

Overall the word on sorcerer savants seems to be split 50% for and 50% against.  As usual the DDO participants can't decide if they like it or hate it.  I am reserving my opinion for now.  I am not happy about being raped, but I am hopeful I will find a new place where I can happily scorch the baddies of Stormreach into oblivion.

One thing I did notice , and I really disliked it, was banishment.  I have used this spell a lot on my sorc.  I loved it.  If a monster made the save it was no big deal, I would just try again.  Last night when I hit banishment, if it failed it did damage.  That isn't terrible, but I garnered more agro than I meant to before I realized what was happening. I also think the cool down timer for banishment seems to have increased in duration.

Firewall is completely pointless in it's current nerf state.  Considering I have been playing a fire/ice specced sorc for 4 years, getting used to these changes might take me some time.

The power 5 weapons have all had a face lift.  I find it kinda funny these changes have all come when crafting hits DDO for reals for the first time ever, but I am getting ahead of myself.  Back to the weapons.  Some people are considering it a nerf, while others are optimistically calling it an "interesting" challenge.

Disruption, Banishing, and Smiting weapons have had their hit die caps and saving throws removed. These weapons now do 4d6 damage on a hit, and kill an eligible target on a confirmed vorpal hit (natural 20) if the target is below 1,000 hit points. If the target has more than 1,000 hit points, they will take 100 damage.

I have not thrown away my weapons.  I am holding on to them.  I noticed with banishment it means I am doing more damage than I would have been before, but I am still not convinced this was right headed.

Crafting has arrived.  Rejoice... oh wait, what in seven hells is this?  Ohhhh right.  It's crafting DDO style. *throws up a little in her mouth*

I don't know if you have tried crafting or not.  If you haven't you aren't missing much.  If you have, you may wish you could have the memory removed from your brain.

I have no idea how it was placed in the game in it's current form.  It's beyond quirky.  Items bound to character, the difficulty navigating the recipe book, and the multitude of crafting stations have left even the most hardy player shaking their heads.

I would like someone from Turbine to explain to me how you can have a simple system for leveling and creating items in LOTRO right down the hall from DDO developers and yet we got this ludicrous overly complicated crafting system?

No one in my static group wanted to play with crafting.  I hadn't mentioned a peep about my own feelings on the subject, but asked if they wanted to see it and judged the reaction to be less than luke warm.  We are all level 20.  We are not going to spend our time nor our scroll money crafting.

Meh.

I will say the place for the Crafting hall is simply beyond odd.  It's sort of been plunked down in House K.  I don't want to know what the bankers are thinking about the fact it's moved in.  I am sure the dwarfs are talking amongst themselves and formulating how much rent they can charge.

The stylization of crafting is pleasing to the eye.  Look, did you see? I said something positive about crafting.  That's it, that's all I can do for the good.

I am in hopes crafting will see some major overhauls.  When you enter the crafting hall, you are warned the system is currently in beta.  I am praying to the gods it means the entire thing can be burned to smithereens by Velah and they can start over. *facepalm*

Turbine packed a ton of stuff into Update 9.  I am sure I have missed some of it.  I've hit most of what were highlights to me.  Not everything was a home-run, but overall I think they did a smashing job.

And to solidify the celebration for update 9, our static group leveled to 20 and we bought our guild ship.  I think we were beyond excited to have made this milestone.  it took 6 people, once a week for 2 -3 hours, almost a solid year to earn level 20.  For those who thought it was too high a benchmark, I have to say I was proud as heck when we stood on our ship for a group shot!!!  What an accomplishment!!!

ScreenShot00006
ScreenShot00006

Let me know your thoughts, questions and criticisms of the new update.

I am off to make some sweets to eat while watching the Royal Wedding. I will then take a nap in preparation of watching the launch of Endeavor. It's a packed day with some LOTRO thrown in somewhere!

Game on!!!

Raids, end rewards and me

Online-Stopwatch
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ScreenShot00065

My guild wanted to run an off raid night Evon6 yesterday.  I logged over to Rowanheal and ran up to talk to Barrow D'Kundarak about his dragon problems.  The confused dwarf  pointed to the green and gold check mark above his head.

DOH!!!

*cue dramatic sigh*

I'd forgotten to get my end reward, AGAIN!

It's happened to me a few times over the last couple of weeks.  I don't know what my issue is, but I can't seem to remember to click for my end reward before switching characters for the next raid on the list.

I used to use a web based online raid checker for DDO, but unfortunately it seems to have died.  The web page will no longer load :(

So while the guild went off to face Velah, I started hunting around for a new solution.  I went through a couple before I found one that works well for me.

The Automatic Raid Timer Spreadsheet feeds my need to be super OCD about my characters, while facilitating a reminder to pick up end rewards.  I am staring at my copy now while waiting for this mornings maintenance to be over, and I am noticing I didn't take my end reward for my rogue's crafting run of the shroud yesterday!!!  I know I didn't take it because the line for Thirteenth Eclispe is blank.  *facepalm*

Below is a screenshot of what a blank spreadsheet looks like.

automatic raid timer checker
automatic raid timer checker

Things you need to know about the spreedsheet.  You will need to have a google account. The template uses the google documents scripts, so set one up if you don't already have one.  The data is pulled from Myddo.  There is no need to enter any kind of passwords or anything, so you don't need to worry that someone is trying to get nefarious account information.  If you use more than one account, you will end up with two spreadsheets (which is what I have done.)  It will keep track of raid timers, number of completions, and epic timers.

And it's all in one handy dandy place that is self maintaining :D

The link I provided includes image instructions to set the spreadsheet up, how to publish it if you want the document to be web based, and instructions for contacting the author if you have problems with it.

How do you keep track of your raid timers?

*preens*

In other news, lookie what I pulled on a run through Epic Von 3 yesterday!

ScreenShot00064
ScreenShot00064

*giggles*

I have a level 10ish Barbarian I am leveling up.  Guess who is going to use this scroll? :D

I am off to do a few taps runs  on my Sorcerer before I tackle real life.

Game On!!!

Gleanings from Pax East 2011

paxeast2011

It's the weekend of Pax East 2011, and I am stuck at home.  Like most of you, I have been aggregating bits and bobs of news from the various gaming outlets. What follows is my attempt to pull together what I've found online into a cohesive article.  I can't comment on the validity of all the news since I wasn't there to hear it myself.  It's the interwebs, and the interwebs lie.  So if I were you, I would take some of this with a grain of salt!  Also, I am giving credit where credit is due!  Check out the links and see where they lead you :)

The DDO news has been a little light this year,  but there has been a few nuggets of DDO smexiness dropped at the con.

Check out DDOcast today for the  "LATEST FROM PAX EAST!  Live on Ustream - Ep 208 Sat, March 12th @ 3PM EST (650) 336-5424" via @DDOcast's tweet.  Steiner Davion volunteered to cover as much of the con as he could in one day for DDOcast.  He tweeted a lot of news, but I am sure he kept a few things back to share on the live show today.

Here is a short list of what Steiner teased his twitter followers with yesterday.

  • New crafting System coming with regular item deconstruction
  • Update 9 has a horror theme
  • Update 9 in April
  • A new House ward with favor coming later this year
  • Crystal Cove event reappearing in March
  • New challenge system coming this year , including a 3 minute Crystal Cove Challenge.

Steiner had the good fortune to win a Lifetime Membership to DDO via a contest Turbine ran at the con.  Look at him preening in this photo he posted on his twitter!

Steiner wins again!
Steiner wins again!

Jerry Snook tweeted a link about Lorehound having a video interview with Fernando Paiz!  You have to see this!

Producer Glin and Lotro have both been tweeting about G4's Morgan and Adam being at the Turbine booth to record. I am not sure what show it will be on, but I already have X-play set to record on my DVR on Monday. Hoping someone will announce when it will air.

There was also a nice pic posted by @Lotro with Morgan and Adam at the WB/Turbine booth.

turbine booth at pax east 2011
turbine booth at pax east 2011

Producer Glin and Madfloyd interviewed with Ten Ton Hammer. The article is not going to be out until after Pax East 2011, but I am keeping my eyeballs peeled for more details about what's happening in DDO this year!

If you want LOTRO news, and I know @Zefflon has been glued to his twitter feed for Pax East 2011 LOTRO news, please check out A Casual Stroll to Mordor.  They tweeted a live feed to Turbine's keynote this morning, and have been working hard at the con gathering all kinda of yummylicious gaming news.  Oh, and @Zefflon is reminding to mention to all you LOTRO fiends out there that the Echoes of the Dead mod will be released on March 21st. So get ready for some new LOTRO goodness.

P.S. By the time this goes out, I should finally have added the Mod 8 to Rowanheal's Quest list. As usual all mistakes are @Zefflon's fault, and I will take credit for everything that is perfect :D

Game on!!!

The Shoe Thief

missingshoes
hacked
hacked

It happens to most of us at one time or another.  Despite our best efforts, an enterprising little snot hacks into your game account.

It hadn't happened to me in a game I play live.  I had my blizzard account hacked many moons ago.   I was already out of the live game, so other than being a little miffed, I laughed about it.

Tonight I logged into EQ2 to play the last few hours of the city festival in Kelethin.  I wanted the new doors and a desk that is only available a couple of times a year.

Nothing appeared amiss at first glance.  I'd logged out previously on the winter festival island, which had since ended, and had been logged into a bank in town.  I didn't think anything of it.  I made a run out to the city festival tents and looked up to see how much plat I was carrying.  ZERO!  I thought about it for a minute and wondered why I had to zero plat, and zero gold.  Maybe I had sent some of it to my alts for housing or crafting needs?

I wasn't alarmed.  My bags weren't especially empty.  I ran to my house, and while I didn't see everything I thought I had, I knew I had done some redecorating for the holidays.

In the back of my mind, a little niggling itch kept screaming to be scratched.   I ran over to the bank to see if maybe I had accidentally put my money in the shared bank.   No such luck.  Increasingly concerned, I flipped over to my alt to check things out.

missingshoes
missingshoes

I wasn't wearing any shoes.

The truth conked me on the head.  I'd been hacked.

I sat staring at my laptop stunned for a few minutes.  Breathing way too fast and with my hands shaking, I yelled at Zeff to come over and look.  I didn't believe it really.  I  had to be seeing things.

He agreed with my assessment using small words to penetrate the panicked haze swirling around me.

With a few minutes, I had googled how to call Sony.  They quickly flagged my account, changed security things and gave me instructions on what to do next.

I called my bank, called lifelock, and got a new email address.

I'll be honest.  I am not an overly emotional chick.  I cry occasionally, but not often.  I don't remember things like most "normal" girls do.  I seriously have to pull out my blackberry to remember when my wedding anniversary is.  I am not going to remember your birthday unless some contact program tells me.  I'm just not made that way.

Being hacked shook me a great deal more than I expected.  While I am missing all the money on my characters, and a few items, it wasn't the ingame stealing which scared me.  Someone had access to my account, my name, address, last 4 of my credit card, and my email address.

How much could they use it?

Ok, while I may not be over emotional, I can make a mountain out of a molehill.  I went upstairs to talk it over with Zeff.  He's pretty good at realizing when I need a chill pill and not terribly shy about letting me know it!

He thought I should check my other MMO's.  After a few tense minutes where visions of empty bank accounts the universe over threatened my "only cry occasionally"  rule, I verified Stormreach, Middle Earth and Azeroth were unscathed.

The pondscum had only touched my EQ2.

Lifelock assured me my credit hadn't been touched.  My bank has a watch on my credit card.  I learned how to make a new email address and sync it to my blackberry.

All in all, I spent 4 hours making phone calls to secure all my data.

In all probability, the spawn of satan who hacked my account spent less than 5 minutes causing all this frustration.

It's about 3 am and I have changed my passwords to everything I can think of.  I am now using a program that creates a password for me each time I need it.  While not hacker proof, it's better than I had before.  Some 11 year old with an iphone can probably hack  me in a nano second, but I feel better none the less.

I have never had my home robbed.  I have had my purse stolen and car stolen.  Neither scared me the way the account hack today did.  The interwebz truly have created a level of interdependency that leave me open on all sides to attack.   I spent a few hours feeling like the details of my life were hanging out for anyone to use.  Hackers tend to share information.  If you get on their list, they tend to come back.

I am not overly preachy, but I am gonna get on a soapbox for a minute.

Obviously, I don't know how to keep you from being hacked. I do think there are lesson's to be learned from the negative experiences of life.

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600px-no_sign2svg
  • Don't over share.  You don't know who is on the other side of the screen name.
  • Don't share ANY password with ANYone.
  • Don't open attachments.  How may times do you have to hear this before you stop doing it?
  • Don't use your account name as your forum or community name.
0808-0710-2914-4641
0808-0710-2914-4641
  • Do rotate your passwords.  Yes, it's a pain in the arse, but trust me, tonight's marathon of convoluted automated phone menu's is more of a pain.
  • Do have anti virus, firewall and security software and understand how it works.  Having it, but turning it off because you don't know how to open or close a port, why your firewall is blocking your internet, or the computer does an auto update while you are gaming and it irritates you,  isn't an excuse.  Ignorance never is, learn it.
  • Do have a clue how to check your credit, call your bank or delete yourself from your online life to protect your data.    It's your job to know how to facilitate a needed change in an emergency.

Keep in mind, you can do all the right things, and bad things are still going to happen.  I kept my password safe, rotated my password every so often, and didn't share it with anyone.

Sony says the majority of their hacks seem to be occurring through email.  I am not sure how it happened in my case.  My email was hacked a few months ago by the fabulous gold farming maggots over in china.  I am not sure if these two instances are in any way related.  I DON'T know how they got in, but I am trying my level best to ensure I don't give them a second opportunity.

How much of your life could some nefarious hacker glean from your email?

Use more than common sense.  Be paranoid.  I'd rather be a little circumspect than go through this again.

Sony does have a policy in place that replaces my missing items.  I was lucky my characters were not deleted.  Not all games are so forgiving.  At this time, and to the best of my knowledge, if you are hacked in a Turbine game you are up a creek without a paddle.  Get hacked, get sad.  I had a kinmate in LOTRO who had to restart his lotro characters twice due to hackers who stripped him and deleted most of his characters.

Pay attention to those little notices your online game blasts through email and the log in screen.  If they start mentioning account security, take the hint and check your account, and change your password.

Want another surprise?

They didn't change my password at all.  The hackers took what they wanted and left it.  I don't know if they were hoping I wouldn't notice for a while, or if they were just lazy, but I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Hacks happen.   Hackers suck.  Be careful out there.

I sent out the this tweet earlier this evening.

I would like to send a YOU ARE NOT WELCOME to whomever hacked my EQ2 account. Please enjoy the fruits of my gaming. *shakes her fist*

By the way, why did you take my shoes?

Game on!!!

DDO Epics and you...

I thought about titling this article "How DDO bends you over, screws you hard,  and you ask  for more!" Too much?

I don't think so.

I've played 80 or so hours in the last week and a half.  Yeah, I got a little too into DDO, but I was really trying to put a "pin" in what the heck is going on.

I logged off tonight frustrated.  The game simply isn't what it used to be.  Before you stop reading, I am not going off on some odd rant again.

Give me a few lines to explain myself.

Natural cap has been reached at level 20.  To further progression in DDO, the game has added two things.   Epic dungeons, and the ability for True Resurrection.

In 4 and half years of playing DDO, I never capped a character.  I liked being in the sweet spot in the upper levels where I could play with people leveling up, or with people capped.  Plus, when DDO went into a slump with mods, I kept the last level or so open in front of me as a carrot.  I always had something to look forward to with my girls.

Last weekend I capped Rowanheal.  Rowanshadow was capped a few weeks before.  I now have 2 characters to experience the high end content with.

Before you all start clapping, I teared up when I capped Rowanheal.  I am not going to be TRing her.  I simply don't have the patience needed to mess around with replaying her story.   Her last chapter now revolves around her loot table, regurgitated Epic Dungeons, and short raids.

And I am not the only one.  It seems the "cap a toon" flu has been spread equally through out the population.

Not only are most players in a hurry to get to the Epic level, they are playing in ways I can't even enjoy.

My guild needed to pug out a couple of spots in a shroud run the other night.  The party leader spent the better part of 10 minutes MYDDOing the applicants, making fun of builds and rejecting those who didn't live up to  expectations.

It's not just happened once either.

I simply cannot fathom the schism shattering the player landscape.

Most of the players I've been around are members of some alliance channel.  They use it rather than the LFM to fill groups, network and trade.

I had heard whispers players were using myddo to check players out, were abandoning the LFM panel, and were generally becoming insular within their own cliques.

To my own befuddlement, it's all true.

Hey, I am not a huge proponent of PUGing.  It's not an aspect of the game I enjoy.  I have to admit though, I felt for the people who were being summarily rejected by their build, lack of gear or guild affiliation. It stinks of a level of elitism even I can't embrace.

I've had a chance to play both my healer and my rogue in Epic Dungeons and raids.  I remain unimpressed.  Epic equals supersized.    There is no real need to meet the content with any real surprise or joy.  The reused dungeons with massively inflated monsters are simply boring as heck.  It's like revisiting your least favorite relative over and over again and hoping they give you a present.

epic dungeon chest
epic dungeon chest

Epic dungeon's drop scrolls, shards and seals used to upgrade items in the game to Epic power.  The best part of an Epic chest is the pink token inside.  I love the glowing pink shafts of light streaking from inside the chest.  It's about the only nice thing I have to say about Epics.

If I thought green steel had ruined the game, Epic loot has taken it one step further.

I had hoped Epic dungeons and loot would offer some kind of balance to an other wise bloated end game in DDO.

Instead I found monsters with insane hit points, blanket immunities and quite possibly the worst loot drop rate in the any game.

I have also been told you either TR, or you run for Epic's if you want to viable as a player.

So either I am going to spend hours rerunning content with a character to garner a few more stat points, or I am going to spend hours grinding for Epic drops.

Either way, the story has come to a grinding halt.

I ran 5 epic raids, and about 15 dungeons between both characters.  I managed to get 1 scroll, 2 seals and a shard for an item I don't even have.  I don't foresee being able to craft an epic item in the near future.  Not unless I decide to play 40 or so hours a week and grind myself into oblivion.

It hasn't all been bad.  I've pulled my first +3 tome on my rogue.  She promptly ate it. So yummy!

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ScreenShot00035

I pulled my first set of spectral gloves.  I was excited until I was told they really needed to be Epiced.  *sigh*

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ScreenShot00044

I also got a flawless red dragon scale, Amara's ring from TOD,  and enough plus one tomes to fill my shared bank.

I really want to enjoy DDO again.  I want to play with friends and have a fun time battling in Stormreach.  What am I missing?

I know I like to play DDO to be social, to play a good story line, to take my girls to the next level.  Is the only thing left to me the Epic grind or the TR train?

Is it me?  Is my attitude keeping me from finding pleasure in the game? Am I coming at this from the wrong angle?

I can log into EQ2 or LOTRO and solo through a beautiful story while chatting with friends.  I can play WoW and grind end game gear in a month.

What is going on in DDO?  Where is the story leading? Why the painful grind for end game gear? Why the boring raids that can be completed in an hour or less?  Where is the EPIC adventure in all of this?

I have some wonderful guild mates.  Several of them I truly enjoy and trust.  They are joyful people who spend the time to give to those around them while maintaining an eyeball for their own game goals.  I want to catch that disease.  The one that keeps people logging in day after day and playing.

I have also been told, not to complain without having suggestions.

So, in that vein, I would like to see some changes to the landscape in DDO.

Epic simply needs to be revisited.  It's lack of "Fun factor" cannot be overstressed.  Giving a mob more hit points and spell points does not make them Epic, it makes them fatty.  The Epic loot table needs to go on a diet as well.  I visited the DDO wiki page to look over what's available.  It's so huge it makes garnering an Epic item way more trouble than it needs to be.  "Epic" levels need to be added to our characters.  The PRE's are simply not enough to make up for natural progression.

Lastly, let's add some real raids.  This is the only game I have ever played where a "raid" just means you have 12  people instead of six.  There isn't any real flagging to a raid, there are no keys, shards, multiple raid groups or true adventure to any of them in the game atm.  I've run raids with 40 or so people, taken more than one play session to beat the dungeon and worked really hard to make sure I was useful to the raid groups.  We need something in DDO to make all this Epic, TR nonsense useful.  Give me something with oomph!

Mostly though, the people in DDO need a reminder this is a game.  Stop hating so much.  Stop rejecting people.  Stop making an ass out of yourself.  You are not bad people.  Some of you are just behaving badly!

Maya Angelou says "When you know better, you do better."  So just do it already.

I am hoping some of you will comment with suggestions of what you would like to see in the game. with what you find enjoyable, and ideas for how I can beef up my game play.  Tell me what you are doing and why you like it. We all play for different reason's, with different goals in mind, with different mindsets.  Explain yours to me, and maybe I will light on fire for the way you play!

Game On!

What makes you stay in your game?

I realized last week while looking through my budget, I am currently subscribed to four MMO's.   I started looking at my games and trying to make choices.  Holding onto four games is a little ridiculous, besides being a drain on my pocketbook. At the moment, I am subscribed to DDO, LOTRO, EQ2, and WOW.  That's a lot of games, and I can honestly say, I don't have that much time to play and give each game justice.

Since 2007, I've used Xfire to track my games, time played online, and to keep in touch with friends.  I swung by their website to look up the data and see what I am actually playing.

xfire time played
xfire time played

In peeking over my profile, it appears I spend wayyyy too much time gaming.  Xfire doesn't even keep track of my Wii, or Xbox.  Kinda scary when I think about it.  By the way, my total time online in computer games sits at 3,413 hours. O.M.G.

lh_ddo_community_play_weekend
lh_ddo_community_play_weekend

I've played DDO the most hours. 1,811.  That's a ton of time to invest in a game.  I've been visiting Stormreach since December of 2006.  That's four years of making friends, moving servers, joining guilds, leaving guilds and all the assorted drama that comes with an MMO.  What keeps dragging me back to DDO?

The biggest factor keeping me hooked into the game is  my static group.  Four of us have been together since the beginning 3 or so years ago when we were level one, didn't know each other and were playing character's in a whole new way.  Now we exchange Christmas cards, babies are  talking children, and our lives are intertwined by meeting once a week to blow off some steam and enjoy time together.

I have never left the game entirely, but I did stop playing actively on my home server for about a year.  My friends are what drug me back into game.

Generally, I play DDO when I am feeling chatty and social.  It's not a game I play solo.  I play with my guild or with my friends.  I don't PUG.  Pretty much that is a hard and fast rule.  I would rather short man a quest than run with people who may make the quest more work than fun.

DDO offers  Free to play options, has maintained the game for their subscribers and has an E-store.  It lacks Player housing, mounts and any kind of cross server chat amongst players.  There is little avatar customization offered in game, and it's limited to items bought in the E-store. Crafting is bulky and exceedingly limited.

It is rich with a grouping style that has continued to morph in mostly positive directions as changes have affected the game.  Recently added guild housing has ramped up this social aspect of the game, pretty much for the better.  The game also boasts a strong storyline, an active combat style and the best character build customization I have experienced in any MMO.

DDO stays on the list of games I am going to play in 2011.

LOTRO-logo1
LOTRO-logo1

Next up is LOTRO coming in with 558 hours.  I haven't actively played LOTRO since it went free to play in September of last year.  I've logged in a few times.  Mostly to pay for my beautiful deluxe hobbit hole house I lovingly decorated.  I have a guild mate who bugs me on facebook to log in and play.  I just haven't found a reason to stay more than moments online in ages.  Zeff has been playing a lot of LOTRO.  I have watched him and heard the music in the background as I am playing other things.  It has tempted me, but I haven't fully commited to playing again.

LOTRO has a free to play option, solid subscriber options, and an E-store.  It has guild housing, player housing, mounts, and good avatar customization.  You can add limited mods to the game with LUA scripting.  The game has a solid crafting system.  You can easily solo through the game,  but there are ways to group up and play with others.  I generally play LOTRO solo or as a duo with the hubby, but have grouped up with guild mates to run the tough dungeons.   Character builds are through a skill tree type set up, and therefore not terribly creative.  The four festival's are one of my favorite pastimes in Middle-Earth, and I gather up all the cosmetic items and fun frothy beverages with zeal!

The best aspect of this game is the storyline.  If you love Tolkien's world, please do yourself a favor and load this game.  The graphics are stellar, the music gripping and the the quest lines easy to follow and enjoy.  The combat style is a combined active and tiered gambit style.

If you have never played an MMO and are wondering where to start, I would really suggest this one.  The playerbase is almost as rabidly protective of the game as DDO's, and I have generally found them helpful and encouraging.

Still, I think LOTRO will need to be parred back to a free to play game this year.

925__580x299_destiny-of-velious
925__580x299_destiny-of-velious

EQ2 ran third with 281 hours.  I was amazed I had that many hours  considering I only started playing last fall.  I simply love the game.  I love the varied storyline's, avatar customizations, mounts, guild housing, player housing, good versus evil alignments, festival's, different mods you can add and the overall varied and spicy flavors this game has to offer.

If I can think of it, I can do it EQ2.

My first MMO experience was in Everquest years ago.  I have a lot of fond memories of that game, and I still have a friend or two hanging around I originally met in Norrath.  Playing Everquest 2 is like coming home.  While there are many new fangled things in EQ2, I can't help the feeling of familiarity with the lore of the game.

It offers free to play options on free to play servers, subscriber options on subscriber servers and a very limited E-store.   The crafting is fully functional and delicious.  Player housing is the most customized I have seen in any game to date.  It can be soloed, but offers grouping options.  The graphics are 7 years old, but continue to be updated.  It's not as pretty as LOTRO or even DDO, but it's still pretty enough.  There are many events in the game, covering all the holidays and then just some monthly city events and such dotting your time online.

I would not suggest this game to the first time MMO player.  It has a major learning curve.  The combat is a combo of gambits and action.  The character builds are cookie cutter, but the avatar options are awesome.

EQ2 stays on my list for games to play in 2011.

wowcataclsym
wowcataclsym

Lastly Wow with 54 hours.  I am really new to this game, and I am not sure I can give a full thumbs up or down.  I will say if it offered a free to play options, I would use that method.  It has a plethora of mounts, crafting, cosmetic pets and cross server chat.  It does not offer guild or player housing.  The grouping system for dungeon's is one of the smoothest I have ever seen.  The graphics are cartoonish, but livable.  It lacks any kind of character or avatar customization.

I have to be honest in saying I am only playing this game for a friend.  It's probably not something I am going to stick with.  It really doesn't offer me the things I have been looking for.

Maybe I simply haven't been playing it long enough to find the nuances.

It's staying on my play list for 2011 on a limited trial basis.  I fully expect by summer to be out from under it.

In looking at my games, I can say I have a pretty strong idea of what I like and what I don't.  I want to be able to customize my character whether it be in it's build or in it's overall appearance.  I really like housing, both guild and player based.  I like the fluffy festival's that add both some fun and a level of immersion to the reality of a MMO world moving in time and season.  I don't like to be pigeon holed into a cookie cutter unless there are other outlets for my creativity.

Most of all I like story.  This isn't a true surprise to me.  I am a voracious reader.  I like to follow characters to see where things will go, and one of my favorite play styles is a light role-play element in a game.  All of my character's have a back story, and I am rather disillusioned when their builds or looks are messed about with by the developers of a game.  Even in my MMO worlds, I am adverse to change.

I know there is a level of individualism even in our MMO worlds.  So what is it you look  for in a game?  What keeps bringing you back  hour after hour? What turns you off a game?  Let me know!

Game on!!!

The WoW I'm a Cow Experiment

After years upon years of World of Warcraft bashing, I took the plunge.  Hello, my name is Rowanheal and I'm a cow, er, Tauren...oh please people it's a cow. An old gamer friend of mine has been waxing poetic about WoW forever in a day.  I've received phone calls, text messages, Xfire messages, IM's, emails and so forth listing all the reasons I needed to experience Azeroth.  I finally rolled a 1 on my will save and decided to give it go when Blizzard ran a special on the digital download.  $5.00 for the basic game.  It was less than the price of a meal at my favorite greasy fast food chain.  If I hated it, I could at least save myself from the constant "Please come play WoW" invitations.

He did some kind of personality/class quiz over the phone with me while I waited on my game to download.  I am apparently the perfect druid.  Considering I've played a druid almost every time I roll a character for PnP, this wasn't a huge shock.

I was then given a list of 30 or so add on's that were simply REQUIRED to play WoW.  My head was spinning around,  and I had yet to create a character.  I joined Curse.com and began the process of downloading all the add on's.  I wish Curse worked with other games.  It's a fabulous little program that keeps track of all the add on's and let's me know when they have been updated.  I'd like it for EQ2, DDO and LOTRO.

I would love to give you all a feel for what all of the add ons actually do, but to be honest I don't have a bloody clue.  I can say I am using the Spartan UI, Carbonite, Auctionator, Hear Kitty, Zelda loot, Bagon, Healbot, Scrap,Deadly boss mobs, and a ton more that I can't keep track of.  I think they help this n00b understand a little more of the technical side of the game.  Probably.  Perhaps it is just muddying the waters.

Before I would even log into the game, I attached an authenticator to my account.  I have had gaming friends who have messaged me about how their accounts have been stolen.  In fact, when WoW came out in 2004, I bought a box and tried the game.  I lasted for 3 days before I clicked DELETE.  That account was stolen 4 years ago by a gold spammer.   I know because Blizzard was nice enough to contact me with my perma ban :D

After trying to create enough security to keep even the CIA out of my WoW account, I pressed play.

I was told I would be a Horde player since my friend was.  There are two factions in WoW.  Alliance and Horde.  I  don't know why they don't like each other.  I don't know how there came to be two sides.  I only know I am horde.  *shrugs*

I'd been counseled that in order to make a raid worthy druid who could tank and/or heal, I would need to be a Tauren.  I dutifully built, named and logged in with the new character and realized I was a cow!

CowMount
CowMount

Yeah, it's a cow on a horse.  It's hard to get immersed in a game when you're a cow.  I simply don't have the roleplaying skills to convince myself a cow should even be walking upright, much less riding a steed.

I found the starting area easy enough.  I can button punch with the best of em, and I was soon through the starting area into the great big world.

It was about level 10ish or so where I began to lose grounding in the game.  Friends power leveled me through dungeons, flew me through the world, and held my hand periodically. At the time of this writing I am level 64.   I have seen very little of the game outside of the dungeon system.

I will say, the random dungeon engine is pretty darn fabulous.  You can queue up for a dungeon from anywhere in the world.  The finder connects players cross servers, cutting down on the dreaded wait time for a group.  If you are in a party,  you will go into the random dungeon and be joined by enough members to make a group of 5 for the instance.  It's a painless and beautiful thing.  I adore it.

The experience and gear attained through the dungeon system has made questing seem like a HUGE grind.  I can't do it.  I might for an hour while doing laundry or making dinner, but as soon as chores are done, I'm going to do a dungeon.

My biggest fear for WoW had been the pervasiveness of douchbaggery.   I can say I've been there, done that and I need a T-shirt.  It truly does suck butt to be in a dungeon and have the little twerps utilizing their new found curse vocabulary,  whining and generally making an ass of themselves.  What helps is the ability to vote as a dungeon group to kick the little brat so you can get back to soaking up insane xp and loot.   It's doesn't happen alot, and I can say if there are a ton of under 18 peeps playing WoW they are good players who know how to shut up.

I am currently playing my druid as a feral kitty.  I can DPS like a mad woman.  Being able to shapeshift into my kitty means I don't have to stare at a cow's behind the entire time I am gaming.  Not to mention, she's just terribly fun.  I've found the rhythm to bleeds, rips and shreds.  I can pop out of being a kitty to do a spot heal or two if things seem to be going south in a group.  I can rez.  I love the versatility.

Kitty
Kitty

I can also shapeshift into a bear and a bird.  It's just cool.

Bear Tank
Bear Tank
Birdy
Birdy

So am I enjoying it?

I am for the most part.  I knew going in I was going to use my experience to write a series of articles for the website.  The Great Cow Experiment. :D  My uncommitted play style maybe allowing me to simply poke the big WoW beast thus avoiding being consumed.

I am not getting the shakes to run to my computer and play WoW.  I did however buy all the expansions including the newly released Cataclysm.  When I hit level 60, I wanted a flying mount, so I just pressed buy and got on with it.  I play maybe once a week for 6 or 8 hours when my friend has time to duo.  It's not MY game, but it is a game I am playing and I refuse to be ashamed of it.

Is it going to stop me from playing DDO?  Not a chance in hell.  It just hasn't hit my sweet spot like DDO continues to do.

Am I seeing the appeal WoW holds over 12 million players?  Not really.  I haven't reached raid level, nor am I geared to raid, so maybe I will feel the pull once I hit 85.   I'll let ya know.  For now, the skinner box in WoW is an epic fail.  I am playing because I am enjoying playing with an  old gaming pal, and I like ripping things apart with my kitty.

Stay tuned for more on my cow in the coming weeks as I learn my way around Azeroth.  It's turning out to be quite a ride.

Game on!!!

Holiday moves are for idiots!

*** Warning Warning This post briefly speaks of gaming... mostly it's off topic. Read at your own risk. You have been warned!!!*** I don't have a whole lot of choices in my current life style. To some of you this may seem a genuinely odd way to live your life. To my military spouse partners in crime, this is our normal. I try and not bemoan my lack of control. Really, I mean it. I have quietly found a place of deeply rooted acceptance that involves gallons of ice cream, chocolate, vats of wine and may include me being dragged kicking and screaming into this quasi reality.

Three letters have haunted my dreams. PCS! For those of you lucky enough to remain uninitiated, they mean Permanent Change of Station. In other words, you are moving.

I have, perhaps slowly, begun to get a wee tad better at change. Probably. Ok, Zeff says I still suck at it, but I think I have improved by leaps and bounds.

Here's the short of the process. The Navy says you are going to move. They then give you the tiniest list of possibilities which is sorta kin to a presidential election form. Bad, worse and OMFG! They give you several months to get used to the idea of your soon to be arrival in the seven rings of hell while they bury you in paperwork. You are then instructed to hurry up and wait.

After recovering from the carpel tunnel they've foisted upon you, you begin gathering your medical records, dental records, vision records, pet records, fill out your change of address form, turn off all your current utilities, set up new utilities... you know the usual. None of this was unexpected. It's part of moving. While it's full of unexpected delays, hours spent on hold listening to really bad elevator music and trying to figure what option will get you an English speaking human person, it's not horrible.

You clean out your closets, refrigerator, and give away a lot of things that seemed important at the time, but now are a burden and will only add to your weight total.

Yes, weight total. You are given an allotment of weight you are not to exceed. I spent hours wondering how much of my library of books, gaming paraphernalia and so forth was going to cost me in overage!

The movers arrive, you pack up and move on. In my case tearfully. I left behind good friends, awesome food and a level of comfort in a southern state I hadn't felt since leaving Texas. Bleh!

But enough whining.

Now, to add insult injury, you don't get to pick when you move. We happen to be afflicted with the awesomeness of our moves occurring in December.

I would like to state for the record before I move forward that I am still married to Zeff. This maybe because he is a saint. Or I am...ha ha ha...nah!

The top three stressors in a relationship maybe job changes, moving, and the holidays. I was handed a trifecta of joy wrapped in brown tape.

Liquor Drive-Thru
Liquor Drive-Thru

We arrived to snow in our new state. I kinda ignored the snow as I gawked at the Drive thru liquor stores on the side of the "emergency snow route" highway. Nothing says welcome home like drive thru alcohol?

For the first time in my life, I didn't have any say what so ever in my home. I mean zero. Zilch. Nada.

I was ASSIGNED my little slice of the good life by an officious clerk with the personality of malt o meal. I was told it was 4 bedrooms 2 bath. After receiving our keys we opened the door to 3 coffin like bedrooms and 2 bath like spaces. Don't look at me like that. I can't turn sideways in my own bathroom!

I valiantly shoved down my rising panic as Zeff pleadingly asked if I like our new home. There was no way my queen sized bedroom furniture was gonna fit in the teeny tiny "master like" bedroom. My sectional was never going to fit in the front door.

Most importantly, there was no room for 2 PCs, desks, our shelves upon shelves of DnD books, Dwarven Forge sets, mini's, dice, empty computer boxes for every game we have bought in the last decade or so, and the dog.

I resisted the urge to down a fifth of vodka and get a plane ticket to anywhere. I told him it was simply wonderful. I loved it. Hey, it wasn't a complete lie. The place has hardwood laminate "like" floors downstairs. It has a kitchen. I have a backyard and deck to shovel snow off of.

I am trying to ignore the hideous brown plastic molding crap attached to every base board, the paper thinness of the walls, that I have to be a contortionist to brush my teeth, and that my neighbor has a two year old who screams most nights.

It's marital bliss :D

Look, we survived moving at between Thanksgiving, our anniversary and Christmas. I have a roof over my head and my husband hasn't killed me. I think we are doing pretty swell.

I am including below a small gallery of photos of the new place from before the movers arrived. This is mainly for my girlfriends who have complained bitterly about my inability to get these photos posted so they could save me from my decorating phone calls, but enjoy it as you will.

Moving 2010

, posted with

vodpod

I am writing this post from my desk which is squeezed so closely to Zeff's I could use his monitor as mine. Our bed fits in the room by the barest of margins. They had to shove my couch through the back door. I wasn't over my weight allotment and only most of my furniture needed to be wood glued, nailed, screwed and held up with hardback books.

I am a survivor :D

Yes Zeff, I like our new home.

Game On!!!

P.S. Just to prove I can handle all manner of change, I took the plunge and started playing World of Warcraft. I have lost my mind. If found, please return to sender.

Post Turkey day EQ2 fun...PINK Dragon's

Just a quick post to check in.  I am still trying to recover from my day of deliciously over stuffing myself :) The hubby has been in and out.  Every time he's been home, I have bothered him about building an aquarium for my Wood Elve's  study in EQ2.

I had read some articles on how to accomplish this feat.  I also know my own limitations.  Zeff is more patient than I am.  So I totally conned him into building one for me.  I won't tell you how long it took him on Saturday.  Suffice it to say, it was a while :D

aquariumeq2
aquariumeq2

We had to run all the quests to get the plushies for the tank. That was not an easy feat, but we managed it. It looks pretty good, no?

I then moved on to creating an outside garden.

mygradeneq2
mygradeneq2

I will have to run more moonlight enchanments to get a few more trees and such.

Lastly, since I did nothing but talk about the color pink a few weeks ago on DDOcast, I want to show off my pink dragon. I have bought one for each of my character's houses. I simply adore them. Someone remind me why I can't have one of these in DDO?

mypinkdragoneq2
mypinkdragoneq2

******* DDOcast Episode 195 is out for your listening pleasure! I missed this week's show, but SteinerDavion and Burrbaby join Annefried for an awesome show.

DDOcocktail Hour took off a week for the holiday. Hoping they are back this next week for some yummy listening.

Pop Culture in your game?

I was running through Everquest 2 the other night with the hubby when I ran across Adam and Jamie. I laughed long and hard.  They are mad scientist tinkers up in the Steamfront Mountains.  I ended up making a few test dummies and helping  destroy them.  It was like being in a mini Mythbuster's episode.  I loved it.

Untitled
Untitled

It got me to thinking though.  How often am I picking up on Pop Culture reference's in my games?

Let's talk about DDO.

Apparently the Dev's have a thing for hiding references in quest name's.  My favorite has always been Mentau the Fleshmaker.  If you can't figure out what that references back to, watch the short video below.

The dev's also seem to have a penchant for rock songs.  While researching references for this blog, I ran across post after post on the DDO forums talking about how the Vale quests were all Rock songs, the Depths quests use footballer's from Manchester United, and the text from Wiz King "I'm a god, why can't I live on" from the song Powerslave by Iron Maiden.  I've noticed some of these references, but to be honest, they weren't in my face glaring.

One  I have never run across and just learned about is that in Dirty Laundry an enemy  recites the Black Knight's lines.  I have to go run this one now and find it.  I must.  I can't wait to giggle over it.  Just in case you are a n00b, there is a video below of the the Black Knight.  If you didn't know this, you should turn in your geek card >.<  Just saying!

I learned that the big giant banker in Meridia is named for Andre the giant.

ScreenShot00016
ScreenShot00016

How about this one?

arnal swarts
arnal swarts

I never caught it.  I seriously snorted water when I learned about it this morning.  I am gonna have to hire him tonight in my static group and see if anyone notices :D

I called a friend who plays WOW.  He knew about Haris Pilton.

haris piltob
haris piltob

I think the end rewards for her speak for themselves ;)

An acquaintance pointed out Ricole Nichie to me.

ricole nichie
ricole nichie

I think there are probably gobs and gobs of pop culture reference's sneakily hidden around our favorite games. Some are more obvious than others. I blissfully seem to miss the majority of them, and it took some work to pull some of them up for this blog. Maybe I am so super immersed in what I am doing it doesn't register for me. Probably it's more likely I am simply not going to catch an Iron Maiden song line, or the soccer players :D

What have you noticed in your game? Are you running through a quest when you stop swinging to laugh at some obscure line of dialogue? Does it bother you to see them in your game?

They don't bother me. It doesn't pull me out of the game, nor does it in anyway get in the way of my enjoyment. In fact, it strongly adds to things as I pay a little more attention to what is going on around me.

***

DDO Cocktail hour episode 36 is out and ready for your listening pleasure.

It is somehow a week before Thanksgiving. ACK! I don't know how this happened. How is it almost time for me to put up a Christmas tree and get completely bloated in my yearly binge eating marathon?

I am off to try and right some wrongs in Fable 3. I am Queen, I roll like that :D "Off with her head"

Game on!!!

DDOcast build guild gets an Airship!!!

I haven't had a ton of play time lately for the DDOcast build guild.  This morning however, I made an exception.  I saw on my twitter we had made level 20 and could go Guild ship shopping! The Fat Halfing has been built and flies in the sky above Stormreach.  It was bitter sweet having the ship.  I think we all wished Jerry could have been around to see it happen. :(  It's secondary title is the Mockduck in his honor!

I haven't really messed around with the guild ships.  I've been on one before as a guest, and my new guild on Argonessen has one, but pretty much I was a huge N00b.

The experience had a few icks.

Number one... there is purple paint, but no pink paint.  What's with the Pink hate Turbine?  Hmmm?  Explain it to me.  I am insulted, pissed off, otherwise super snarky about purple being on the list but not pink.  Bite me!!!

Number two...When you put down an item it cannot be moved.  I was super new to how the hooks worked.  I bought the guild a mailbox on in the DDO store, and plunked it into a slot.  I then realized it looked goofy and wasn't terribly accessible.  I went to move it and couldn't.  I am going to guess this has something to do with the timers on the items, but seriously, the decorator in me cringes when I look at the mailbox :(

Number three...Astral Diamonds.  Really???  So they cost a butt ton of real cash in the store.  I bought us a set of 100 to put towards a lvl 25 ship upgrade.  2500 points gone in one go.  Seemed a little out of whack to me.  Luckily, since I boycotted the store for a year, I had points banked, but I wasn't sure how more full time players were handling this issue.  Are people really upgrading to the storm glory ships?  I know since the changes to Update 7, Astral Diamonds are dropping in chest, but I have heard the drop rate isn't all that awe inspiring.  *sigh*

Those are really the only complaints I have.  The ship is simply fun.  I would love to see  some fluffy items besides just the paint.  Maybe some paintings or something that depict DDO events that can be hung in the cabin, or some pots of flowers.  I don't know, it needed a little oomph :)

If you haven't had a chance to delve into the guild airships, take a look at DDO wiki's write up.  It's pretty accurate, although it needs to have the live prices adjusted.

We managed to get some decent itemson board.  I am just smashing in some pictures below.  Super excited to learn more about how all of this works.  I am hoping there will be further improvements to the system.

In further celebration, I am re-embedding Wandering Monster's parody of "I'm on a boat!"  Enjoy :)

DDOcast 193 is up.  Give a listen as they discuss Update 8, the Mabar Ban hammer and Sig talking FOREVER in a crunchy language I don't understand!

DDOcocktail hour 35 is up as well.  Be sure to pay attention to the Bonus Content for more Drama Llama action!

I am off to grab some dinner and maybe clear off my DVR.  Who knows, maybe I will get some gaming time.

GAME ON!

Drama Llama's

I haven't been playing DDO full time in many a moon.  Most of you know this.  Maybe some of you didn't.   It's more than a choice about playstyle, business model's and reaching the level cap. I made a conscious choice this past year to simplify my social life.  If you were a friend who sucked up extraordinary amounts of my time without  giving anything back, you were slowly weaned out of my sphere.  If you tagged me repeatedly on facebook with whiny notes about how you needed a new gun in some myspace or facebook game, I hid your status updates and then deleted you.  If you were a whiny brat on a forum, blog, podcast or in my game, I squelched you.

I decided 2010 would become the year I played assassin in my own life.  My kill count grows large as I rack up the sneak attacks on unsuspecting window lickers.

My new diet resulted in some unexpected casualties.

One of the greatest and dismal parts of an MMORPG remains the community.  You can choose to participate as little or as much as you want.

Forum_Troll-thumb-312x445-68506
Forum_Troll-thumb-312x445-68506

Historically speaking, forums are the dredges of a community.  Vocal proponents of one persuasion or another can wile away their hours trolling threads.  Typically they pounce with claws extended into the fleshy meat of a good discussion to throw in their two cents.  Often this results in derailing of the original topic, hurt feelings, and perhaps a locking down of an otherwise innocuous chat about builds, weapons, spells or how much a developer has ruined their good time with a new patch.

In years past, I spent part of most days reading, learning and laughing at the DDO forums.  I enjoyed the byplay with people, keeping up with the news, and I will admit to making a bowl of popcorn to watch threads implode.  I started finding myself getting overly upset with the negativity on the forums.  With my new found rogue super power, I took dead aim and lopped the head off the beast.  At first I found myself twitching for my fill of vitreous word play, but after a few weeks I recovered from the shakes.

Game wise, things had come to an impasse.  I didn't enjoy playing anymore.  It took me a while to identify what had pulled me out of my delicious love of Stormreach.

People.

Expectations.

In other words, DRAMA!

It started slowly.  A guild I belonged to had a set of players who seemed to insulate themselves from everyone else.  They raided together, rolled new toons together, and seemed to synchronize their watches into a rhythm that left the other 97% of the guild scratching their heads.

Eventually, it lead to most of us spending a good portion of our game time listening to the yelling of a raid leader who reminded us how little we knew abut the game, our builds and how inferior our gear seemed to be.  People I had enjoyed a few hours everyday with began to log on less and less.  Some left, others simply quietly rerolled toons and placed them in other guilds or servers, and still others found the need to violently vent their ire within the guild itself.

While I never felt entirely left out because, let's face it, I am simply too loud to ignore, I would turn on my computer and hover over the launch game button.  More often than not, I found something else to do.  Thankfully in the past year or so a bunch or really fun games hit the shelves.

In the end, I didn't log onto any of my main toons on Argonessen for a year and a half.  The world didn't come to an end.  I didn't find myself nostalgic for much either.  While I missed a couple of my characters, I discovered I could continue their stories in other ways.  I'd spent upwards of forty hours a week with a group of people and could only find a soft spot for two or three I actually wanted to reconnect with.

I have never been good at accepting bullies.  Our guild leader's rabid pack of fans had begun to leave players out of runs they felt they weren't skilled enough for.  It irked me. I have a habit of championing the underdog whether they want it or not.  One evening suffering from a bout of verbal diarrhea, I ticked off the pack.

I knew in my own gameplay, I had rearranged real life events to make a raid night or make sure a player got flagged for the content.   If we were in the middle of a run and I needed to start dinner, I'd end up letting an hour go by and ordering pizza because I didn't want to be the piker who left the group needy.

Yeah, I obviously needed an ego check.  In the year and a half since I have been gone, I haven't heard from any of the people from my old guild.  No one seemed to wonder where I went.  Well ok, maybe they were listening to the podcast or reading the blog, but that's really only my own ego trying to justify my past behavior.

One of my best girlfriends remained in the guild and funneled me information on what everyone was up to.  Seemed to be the same story over and over again.   After a while, I would nod and make appropriate noises, but I wasn't really paying attention anymore.  She put up with the guild for six months after I left before finally getting a belly full herself.  Unlike me, she didn't abandon the server, she took her toons out of the guild and joined another.

It created a wave of discontent.  She felt her time had been wasted on people who didn't care about her.   It took another six months before her new guild imploded and they split off into another.

Which lead me to reexamine my own feelings.    Are we that sensitive to community around us?  How much of who we are in real life is bundled up in how well we perform in a fantasy world of pixelated avatars?  Why in heavens name do we care so much what another player we have never and probably will never meet thinks of how we play a game?

Apparently, we care a whole heck of a lot.

When DDO launched the store,  a common group question for any spell caster became "Why are you out of mana when you can buy pots from the store?"   In a bad run someone would buy a shrine or rez cake.  People were now being judged on whether they paid to play or were running around free to play.  Who you were in game seemed to be tied to your wallet.  Just another way to segregate people into "haves" and "have nots."  Really, all it equals is more drama.

It's not just happening in MMORPG's.  I heard from an acquaintance not  long ago her husband had spent $250.00 on a facebook game.  Firstly, I was pretty much unaware you could spend real life money on  a facebook game, but ok you can.   Secondly, they now sell cards for aforementioned game in target, gamestop, bestbuy and some convenience stores allowing you to be reminded you haven't harassed your entire friends list with repeated spams about farmville in at least 2 hours. You now can have that extra special plot of land you've been coveting.

I'm shocked and pretty much unable to justify spending actual real dollars on a piece of gear, potions or a top hat.  Maybe free to play bothers me more than just the underlying reasons I've mapped out in past posts.  Maybe I don't like being judged on how much money I am willing to spend.  I pay my subscription and work hard towards goals.  I snipe people on the auction house buying low and selling high to make in-game cash.  I learn the quests, the story, equipment and builds.

And I left it all behind because some jerks took away my feel good.

I am obviously really needed the time off.  I feel like shallow hal discovering it's not what you look like, but who you are that matters.  In leaving, I hit myself below the belt, and didn't even realize I'd completely underestimated myself.

First off, I encourage everyone to go on a rogue assassin campaign of your own.  Can you really know the 1000 people you have friended on facebook?  Are the forums of your game of choice adding to your life or taking you for a ride?  How emotionally tied are you to who you are on the interwebz?  Does it really matter if you have the newest and greatest item in your game of choice?  Are you less of a person if you walk away from a quest because your spouse wants to watch some sappy show on tv?

Is the drama it all creates really worth it?

I am back on Argonessen.  Slowly, I have added a couple of toons to a new guild.  It'll have drama.  They all do.  Loyalties will be tested and there will some sort of popularity contest at some point.

And I'm gonna ignore it all.  I want to play a game and wile away a few hours.  If I don't like you, I will probably not say a thing.  If you pick on someone, I am gonna find a way to drop your soul stone off into deep lava.  If you create drama, I am gonna squelch you.

In the great social experiment of 2010, I've figured out gaming really is fun.  I have less friends than I thought, but I can count on the ones I have.  I am not near as angsty as I used to be.  Life is too short.  You just need to enjoy your life.   As an added bonus, I actually like soloing.  Plus, I am kinda good at it.  Who knew?

So in short, leave the Drama Llama to look for greener alfalfa sprouts in someone elses barn.  You're worth it.

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DDOcast 2.0 launched with Annefried at the helm.  I joined them for their first show, along with thebrute, and had a blast discussing everything from crunchy builds to my favorite fashion item.  Give a listen and support them in their new venture.

I am still obsessed with Fable 3.  I think I am giving myself some form of game controller carpal tunnel.  I may need an intervention.

Game on!!!