Category Archives: WoW

SWTOR: Utilizing vanity pets and events

Confession time: I’m a vanity pet pack rat.

Vanity pets serve no real purpose. They don’t add stats (at least none I’ve seen). They just follow the character around the area.

Nevertheless, I can’t get enough of the things.

The other day I received my Tauntaun in SWTOR. He’s adorable. Look at that face. How can anyone say no to that?

The vanity pet collecting started during the first round of World of Warcraft. My friend gave me the duplicates she had and we’d go out pet hunting when there was nothing better to do. I didn’t have many on my little gnome Rogue, but it was fun.

The second round of WoW, when I played Horde, was different. I collected more than 100 of them by the time I quit. I know, I know. That’s a lot of time and gold. It didn’t matter what the pet was; I tried to collect it. The floating skull, a scorpion and a tabby cat, I had no criteria.

I didn’t have time to earn enough DNA samples to buy the Rakghoul event pets nor have I had a chance to look for the few out there that come from the eggs. There aren’t many in TOR yet, but let’s hope BioWare will remedy that. Monkey lizards, nerfs, crystal snakes and little destroyer droids would all be great to see.

Fun stuff like vanity pets and events give MMOs an extra “umpf.” Vanity pets are simply fun while events give people some to do that breaks up the monotony that plagues gamers. It seemed as if people loved the Rakghoul event. I didn’t mind it, save for the plague. It was rather annoying to have to buy vaccines for the lower level players all the time just to quest without interruption.

Little gaming events bring players together in another way. Years ago during Brewfest in WoW, I beat the boss so many times trying to help as many people as possible earn the mount. I’d lucked out and received it at the first drop. Shortly after that, it was time for the Halloween event. None of the people I typically ran with earned the flying broom mount, but it was fun fighting the Headless Horseman up at the old Scarlet Monastery.

These types of events encourage players that don’t normally associate to work together. PVP and PVE players want the goodies.

In addition to boss fighting, there’s also gathering of items, using wands, throwing petals and so many more activities available through WoW’s holiday events. TOR’s Rakghoul event captured a similar spirit.

It’s necessary to introduce new activities for players to do to keep subscribers (in addition to other issues). Bored players eventually leave.

TOR’s first event was a disease outbreak. Rather than make it a holiday, they went with a logical epidemic. The events don’t need to be galaxy-wide. What about a sabaac or other game event on Nar Shaddaa? Bring in the idea of Treasure Ship Row on Corellia and hold a weeklong festival. Events could be based around the planet’s lore.

The possibilities are limitless for both events and pets.

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Filed under MMORPG, SWTOR, TOR, World of Warcraft, WoW

SWTOR Endgame: What’s there and what I’d like to see

I quit playing World of Warcraft twice. The reason I quit both times were similar: it became boring.
I started playing WoW about a year before the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Between work and class, it took months to reach 70. After that, I hit somewhat of a brick wall. I didn’t like PVP (at the time) and the raiding group I was in was horrible. It wasn’t a question of skill. It was more or a problem with getting started. We’d schedule the time for eight and wouldn’t start until 10. Someone wouldn’t show (which happens), someone needed to do something “real quick” or half the group would go AFK at random intervals.
When we did get started, we could usually take down the enemies within a reasonable amount of time. The downside was that once the fight ended; there was yet another round of waiting. I’d talk to people who would clear Kara in a matter of hours while it took us two nights.
I tried raiding with other groups, but ran into similar problems. Half of us would wait 30 minutes for everyone else to show up, someone would leave without warning halfway through a fight or everything would implode. There’s no guarantee that a raid group is good. Sometimes a person’s off night costs the raid. There were very few times that I had a successful raid.

 

Wrath of the Lich King came out; I leveled up to 80 through the dismal Northrend and again found myself with nothing to do. Only this time, there was no expansion on the way. Between planning a wedding, finishing up my last semester of college and a general lack of stuff do, I quit.
The second time I played WoW, I only PVP’d. I helped with lower level raids for guild achievements but that was it on that front. I quit month later because TOR’s release date was approaching and I didn’t have anything to do. Rolling more characters to drag through the same quests I didn’t care about wasn’t appealing.
I don’t dislike raiding. When the raids went well or we were actually doing something, it was enjoyable. I had no desire to do it when I returned to WoW and don’t care to in The Old Republic.  I suppose that’s one of the reasons that endgame content isn’t nearly as a big deal to me as it is to others.
There is no doubt how vital good endgame content is. Without, there’s nothing for players to do once they reach max level. The content should pose a challenge. Because I prefer PVP, I’d like to see a 50s only warzone or something like that. Ilum poses all types of problems. Two days ago, Executive Producer-Live Services Jeff Hickman announced that players who took advantage of a bug on Ilum in the Jan. 18 patch would be punished in some way. Players were camping at the enemy bases after taking the various control points on the planet and killing to earn valor.
 Now, I completely understand why this would be frustrating. It makes it difficult to complete the dailies. Players who knowingly took advantage of the bug to increase their value levels rapidly were wrong. It’s fair to take back some of the valor those players earned unfairly. Neither party is free of blame. The players chose to take advantage of it and BioWare didn’t catch the bug in testing. Exploiting bugs happens in MMOs. It happens in console games. Thankfully, it didn’t take BioWare long to deal with the problem.
This issue brings Ilum to question. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s a PVP world. I want to know what’s going on with it because that’s the type of play I prefer. I don’t know what they should do with the world to make it better. Maybe placing most of the dailies in non-PVP zones would work, and then leaving a few in the open area. That way, players could at least complete some of their dailies.
It reminds me of Tol Barad. Your faction had to win control to complete a group of dailies. You could do the ones on the other side no matter who had control. Winning Tol Barad, at least on my server, was a pain. It wasn’t a good system.
I don’t know what a good PVP scenario would be for only 50s. I’m not a game developer. There needs to be something done, whether it’s fixing the problems on Ilum or bringing in a new 50-only warzone to give the max level PVP players something else to do.
At this point, I don’t think it’s fair to compare TOR to WoW. WoW has had years to perfect the game. There was a two-year gap between the times I played and I noticed countless improvements. New games have bugs. They don’t have as much content as ones that have been out for years. Players coming from games with lots of content and things to do, like WoW, may feel bored by the lack of options.
One of my favorite additives to WoW was the achievement system. Players could earn titles, mounts and other rewards by completing the objectives. The list is so long that it gives players plenty to do with their time once hitting max level. TOR is only a month out from the launch date. Players now are at the ground floor. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.
I don’t feel like I can predict if the game will succeed or fail. That it’s Star Wars will keep it going for a while. With the story and voiceovers, it takes longer to reach max level than other games. There’s enough to do 1-49. For casual gamers, they could play the game for a couple of months, working on characters until the endgame content matters. Some worlds you play for all classes, but those quests are broken up by the unique class story quests. In addition, you can pick different Light/Dark alignments to mix it up.
The hardcore gamers suffer. While they aren’t the main portion of the market, they’re still part of the customer base.
The most important thing BioWare can do right now to ensure the survival of the game is focus on activities for players to do at max level, be it a new warzone, releasing a harder raid or adding in some sort of fun system like WoW’s achievements. Or something else.
The main thing for people debating on playing the game should keep in mind is that it is fun. It’s an enjoyable game to play. There is enough content to do at the moment, what with leveling up the various classes.

It’s not perfect (no game is), but give it a little room to improve just as if every other MMO needs to do. The short attention span lifestyle hurts all games. Players want more and more at faster rates than the developers can do. At some point, consumers need to give some—and the companies should give back.

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Filed under Star Wars The Old Republic, SWTOR, World of Warcraft, WoW

Aubrey Plaza’s World of Warcraft commercial: hit or miss?

Have you seen the new World of Warcraft commercial featuring Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation)? If you haven’t, check it out. Even if you’ve never played WoW, it’s an interesting clip.

Aubrey Plaza WoW Commercial

Aubrey plays a woman whose boyfriend gave her World of Warcraft as a birthday gift instead of diamonds (as she states, he says she can mine diamonds). In the end, she becomes a gamer, her boyfriend feels as if he isn’t as important in her life and she dumps him.

I think this commercial is hilarious. Plenty of bloggers and others online have made various comments bashing the commercial saying that it follows the idea that a woman wants diamonds, she only becomes a gamer through a male significant other and that the commercial shows a consequence of gaming addiction. There’s no argument that the whole “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and a woman needs a man to game with stereotypes shouldn’t be perpetuated.

It works both ways. I’ve known men who became gamers because of women along with the scenario that occurs in the commercial. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. Blizzard’s best move at this point would be to put out another commercial starring a woman going on about her character without any mention of a significant other. It’s fantastic to see a female advertising the game. Perhaps Blizzard unnecessary felt that they had to ease into it.

Despite all of the studies showing how many gamers are female, it feels as if we hit a brick wall when it comes to media. Female gamers only join because a man invites them, female gamers aren’t as good as male and many other scenarios appear in various TV shows. The way to break this mold isn’t to create commercials or sitcom plotlines that show a woman acting exactly like a male gamer. Good female characters are not male characters with breasts. That’s not how it works. It’s lazy character development. Create a female character and make her a gamer. Have it fit her personality. She doesn’t have to sit in the basement, face covered in acne and eating Cheetos. It’s bad enough that gamer men are stuck in that stereotype. Do we have to add women to it, too?

The question remaining is who is the commercial targeting? I didn’t feel as if Blizzard was trying to convince me to play the game (taking out the fact that I’ve played it). It felt as if it was geared toward guys, suggesting that they buy the game for their girlfriend/wife to get her involved. Or, depending on your point of view, it was warning people what happens when you get someone too into gaming.

Overall, the Aubrey Plaza WoW commercial has done something- it’s brought the idea of female gamers to the masses. It wasn’t executed perfectly, but it’s a start.

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Filed under female geekdom, MMORPG, World of Warcraft, WoW

When "World of Warcraft" helps a marriage

Playing “World of Warcraft” helps my marriage.

A couple of times a year I see an article around the internet discussing how a husband’s gaming addiction resulted in divorce. Friends talk about how their significant other spends more time on their Playstation than with them. I knew one man, one of the most considerate people I knew, who ranted for 20 minutes about how his girlfriend wouldn’t get a job. She sat around and played MMORPGs all day and night. Yes, video game addictions exist, but not everyone who plays has a problem.

My husband and I play “World of Warcraft” together. It’s actually saved us money. Paying $14.99 a piece to play each month is cheaper than going out when we need something to do. We still go out, but not as much. It gives us something to do together. We don’t play every day, but several times a week. We tend to play PVP more than run raids or dungeons.

I wouldn’t call us “hardcore gamers,” even though we play a MMORPG several times a week. We don’t follow WoW news. We don’t know everything about the game even though we’ve played it off and on for several years. As we play, we pick up details of the lore, but neither one of us can tell you the whole story.

I suppose we fall under the “casual gamer” umbrella.

Could I become a hardcore gamer? Sure, but I don’t want to. Video game lore tends to exaggerate circumstances a little too much for me. I prefer to keep a touch of realism to the fandoms I follow closely.

At some point, BioWare will release “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” My husband has followed this game for years. And while I fully expect him to become a “hardcore gamer,” I won’t. As much as I love Star Wars, my passion lies in the post-ROTJ era. He wants to try all of the classes. We plan to roll two characters to run around together. My vote is on Chiss Imperial Agent. Anyone who knows where my passion lies in the Star Wars Expanded Universe can guess why.

More couples are playing MMORPGs together. It’s a hobby, that when managed correctly, can bring two people closer together. Those hours spent running battlegrounds or raids are an effective bonding activity. It takes some work to find a class balance between the two of you. For example, I know of a couple who ran as a healer and tank for years. When someone would criticize the tanking or healing, the other would jump to defend, regardless if the offending party was right or wrong. Often the group would break up and that was it. We tend to stick to DPS classes.

A stigma comes out when some players find out that a woman is controlling the character. I’ve been asked if my husband helps me play, or if I play because of him. The thought that I actually enjoy the game seems foreign to some players. Some players assume the reason I’m not a hardcore gamer is because I am a woman. I am not a hardcore game because I don’t want to be. It has nothing to do with what sex I am. I’d rather spend hours reading about the war with the Yuuzhan Vong or Corran Horn’s training with the Rogue Squadron than the details behind Deathwing the Destroyer’s return.

It’s all about choice. I play the game because I enjoy it and it provides my husband and I with a fun hobby. It’s better than sitting in silence in front of the television watching sitcom reruns. I can’t tell you the story behind the Lunar Festival or Jaina Proudmore, but I know how to be that “F****** mage” people rant about the battleground and that’s enough for me.

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Filed under Gaming, MMORPG, SWTOR, WoW