RSS

Category Archives: Ambermist’s Challenges

My favorite things about games

December is here and so is another challenge from Ambermist of Tastes Like Battlechicken. Sadly, it is also probably the last monthly one she will be ensuing due to other commitments. If anyone else picks it up I will do try to rise up to the challenge too. In any case, here is my thanks to Ambermist for these. They have been fun and a good exercise for the good ol’ brain cells. :)

Anyhoo, this month the challenge are a few questions but all about the same theme: Our favorite things on games. I will just copy the questions she gave about it for organization’s sake and because it makes it easier to write it in a more coherent way.

What are your favorite things about gaming in general, or about your favorite game specifically?

I guess my favorite things about gaming in general would be, in no specific order, exploration and story.

Despite my love for exploring places in game I don’t think I am the typical explorer type. At least not the way I think the typical explorer type is. In my definition they are the type to throw caution to the wind and just go some place because it is there. If there is danger in the way they will just deal with it somehow. I also imagine they are the type to pay a lot of attention to details, to the point of being able to paint a place they’ve seem while blindfolded.

Myself, I would define as more of a cowardly looter type of explorer. What I mean by that is that I like to explore but only after I feel confident enough that the risks to do so are manageable. I don’t mind a few deaths or defeats in the process but I also don’t like to do something if I believe the odds are near impossible or if it would cause too much hurdle. As for the looter, I guess my main motivation to explore, at least dungeons and such, is more to see what kind of cool stuff is in there. I won’t leave any corner or creak unturned until I am sure I got all the cool loot in a place. I guess that was ingrained on me by my early years of JRPG where it was common to go inside someone’s house, break all their vases and search their drawers for any kind of loot!

Some times I act more like a typical explorer though. My best memories of Morrowind (one of my favorite games of all time too!) were about stumbling into some cave entrance, abandoned temple or something similar. Then just entering to see what was inside. A lot of times I had to make a speedy retreat. But there were some cool times where I found some quest, some notes telling the story of what happened there or just some interesting decoration where I would imagine what the place was used for.

Because of that habit one of my favorite Morrowind mods was one that was conceptually simple, yet cleverly implemented, a chalk mod. That mod allowed you to put symbols or even write a message (in a kind of clunky way given the limitations) on walls or floor. With that mod I would mark places I had already explored, places I couldn’t bother to enter at the time but should come back later or even make signs inside dungeons so I wouldn’t get lost. Simple in concept, yet useful and very immersive! :)

As for story… I am pretty happy either with linear or multi-branching, full of decision-making stories. In both cases what is important to me is that the story and the gameplay don’t be at odds. For instance, if I know I am close to a boss fight, making my way carefully to a good position to start the fight in then a cutscene happens where my character for some stupid reason goes out in the open to have a chat with the boss and stays there after the scene is over then I will be very annoyed. It also annoys me when the character says something in some cutscene, like “Killing is bad!” then does something that completely contradicts it during gameplay, e.g. he says “killing is bad” yet murders every goon in the way without blinking.

Though none of that annoys me as much as given a false choice. That is the kind of no matter if you choose A or B, the only difference will be, at best, some different lines of dialogue. And the game doesn’t even do much of an effort to hide that.

When story works though, it can be one of the most wonderful game experiences ever. My latest one in that area was “The Walking Dead” by Telltale Games. Not only they do make a good job of making you care about the characters you meet they also made the decisions feel hard and to have heavy consequences. It is the kind where you think “Well, if I chose X back then would character Y be still alive?”. Of course, not all the decisions are life-or-death ones like that but they all feel meaningful.

What keeps you coming back?

I guess it is the same thing that keeps making me reading books. Each game is a new world, a new experience. I also just dislike not seeing the end of story or leaving things unfinished. This last one can be a bit more fuzzy. Sometimes what I felt unfinished can be not getting a character to max level in a MMORPG other times it might bee to see a different ending of a game. Then there are a few games where I just like to play because the gameplay itself is fun. Terraria being the latest example of playing just for the gameplay. :)

What makes you smile?

I think I already answered that one in a indirect way through the other answers. I will just add another point. I really like a game where the rules are just as simple, elegant and full of interesting choices. This is a very hard thing to achieve. From the top of my mind the only games achieved this recently was Civilization V and XCom. Not surprisingly they are both from the same company, Firaxis. Guild Wars 2 gets very close too, which is amazing considering the complexities of MMORPGs. I just don’t say it achieves it completely because there are a few things that confuse me. Although I admit I have yet to really make an effort to deal with that.

I guess Terraria could count too, in terms of interesting choices.

When the bee stings and you’re feeling bad, what is about gaming that makes you smile?

There are a lot of times where I feel weak and unable to change things. In games at least I can feel like I can make a difference. Even if it is just to save a virtual world that will disappear as soon as I turn the computer off, and the emotions the characters display are just scripts read by professional voice actors, it still feels nice.

It also feels nice when I can help someone in a MMORPG. Even if it is just to give some hint, share some information or be there for a dungeon run. I rarely do those things though when I am in a bad mood since when I am like that it is best for me to be alone least I whine every 3 words or end up snapping at someone for no reason. But remembering the good times help to cope with those feelings.

Bonus Challenge: Tell me something awesome that happened to you this year!

That was to see my friends get back together to play Guild Wars 2. I met almost all of them in Everquest 2 but over time they all scattered to other games and it was hard to find one that we all enjoyed. Although recently they have been scattering from Guild Wars 2 (including myself!) for a reason or another, at least with its buy-to-play model, I can always twist their arms ask kindly to do a dungeon run or something like that for old times sake. Something that would be more complicated in subscription-only games or even some so-called “free to play” games.

***

Well, that was it for this challenge! I hope everybody have a wonderful christmas and an even better new year! :)

P.S.: I know that I am not the most prolific blog writer out there but in case anyone has been wondering about my silence lately…. it is just that I haven’t been in the most sociable moods for a while. Hence, haven’t been feeling much like writing or even playing MMORPGs. My mood is a little better now but not by much. So things might be quiet on here for a little while longer. Hopefully not for too long now. :)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Ambermist's Challenges, Everything Else

 

Tags: ,

It is personal to me

I almost skipped this month’s challenge from Ambermist of Tastes Like Battlechicken. The challenge of this month is basically telling about someone (or several someones!) who did something good that left some kind of mark on you.

What makes this tough isn’t so much the lack of good acts I’ve seem while playing games (or even outside it) as much as thinking of one that could be turned into an interesting narrative. Even the one I am just picking now might not fit quite well with the challenge. It is one of those that got etched into my mind and perhaps might be an interesting story to tell. Even then this post might be a bit scattered all over the place as there are a lot of different emotions attached with this memory. Well, with all my memories of those times actually. Anyhoo, let’s  get to the story.

It all happened back in the old days of Lineage 2, when things were harsher, death was much more of a big deal at all levels and so on. I was just minding my own business as always when suddenly one of our clan mates said that he was just PKed by someone outside the gates of Dion. When I got there, my clan leader and a couple other members were already there. Apparently the PKer was some permared who had just gotten to one of the safe borders in Dion, thus standing in a non-PvP area.

They were already arguing about it with the PKer justifying her actions along the lines that it was “just for fun, nothing personal”. To which my clan leader replied “It is personal to me.” then proceeded to challenge the PKer for a one-on-one duel. I don’t know how the duel ended as they just ran away from town while fighting each other, all I know is they settled the dispute.

All that by itself isn’t that much of a big deal. It happens all the time in Lineage 2 even to this day. What stuck to my mind though were those words spoken by my clan leader “It is personal to me”. There were just a lot implicit  things behind those words. That she would stand by us, no matter what. That our problems were her problems. That if we ever attacked that she would always come to our defense or, at a worst case scenario, to avenge us.

Again, perhaps that may not be a big deal, just something natural for a guild leader to do. In fact I was even fortunate to find some great people later on, in Everquest 2, who had that kind of attitude (you know how you are. ;) ). But at that time, at that particular moment with all the tension going on because of the PKing, it really stuck to me.

I’d like to say that since then I’ve tried to live up to those words. Unfortunately I can’t say I did. I am still too egoistical, too much of a lone wolf, too impatient with other people, too bitter, too disillusioned. The best I was able to achieve was trying to do the same for the few people who were very very kind as well as patient to not let that side of me to turn them away. The gods know I keep giving them plenty of reasons for that. So when they go through difficulties it is not simply their problem. It is something I will try to stand by their side, to give any support I can. Because it is personal to me.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Ambermist's Challenges, Lineage 2

 

Tags: , ,

The Everhoarder

Just some of the bags… You don’t want to see the rest. Or the bank.

This month’s challenge by Ambermist of Tastes Like Battlechicken is one that I am pretty sure a lot of MMORPG players are familiar with: it is about our collections. No, not that collection of cool stuff we gathered while playing and that are proud to show off to other people. It is all that stuff that ends up cluttering our banks and bags and yet we can’t let it go because “it might be useful some day” or some variant of that phrase.

To me it took a few games to get to that point. In my first years of MMORPG I was pretty ruthless, only keeping things I had immediate use for or that were actually collectable stuff. Then on Lineage 2 things started to change a little since due to the terrible crafting system and harshness of the game back in the days, it just made sense to hoard materials. Since all gear was completely tradeable it also made sense to stash them away for a future character or help out a friend in need.

My private warehouse in Lineage 2. Just part of it for lack of space… heh… get it? Lack of space? Ok, that was terrible….

On World of Warcraft it wasn’t too different. Usually I kept only rare materials or common ones I knew I would be using with another character’s crafting profession. Anything extra would end up in the auction house.

Then Evequest 2 happened. It was the game that turned me into a true MMORPG hoarder. It all started innocently enough, just like all the other MMORPGs, just saving up on rare materials because there was a lot of value to them, either to make mastercrafted gear and adept III spells or some of the furniture for housing.  Then there was the collectables, or “shinies” as the people usually call it over there. They were little glowing things on the ground you could gather, add to your collection and turn in to a NPC for some XP, a bit of money and occasionally some item too. Some of those were rare, so rare to the point of being worth a good bit of coin. If you knew what collections were cheaper or easier to complete it could also be a way to burn through a few levels, thus skipping the necessity of doing the same content for the 30th time when you made you made your 5th alt. Then there was the master quality spell books. Since Everquest 2 has various levels of quality for spells and getting a luck drop (or being dirty rich) was the only way to get master quality it made sense to save it for any prospective alt.

Some of the stuff Rakuno collected throughout his time in EQ2

All of those paled when I found my true addiction within Everquest 2: house decoration. Again, it all started simple enough, just collecting event items and those made with rare materials. Events then started to increase at a pretty fast rate, bringing with them more and more types of furniture. At one hand, this gave us decorators a lot more cool stuff we could build with. On the other hand it also meant a lot more hoarding since a lot of those items were so good, so flexible that we would use a lot of them. And if we run out of any of those items it could mean waiting months of even a year to replenish our stock. The other option would be to buy them from another player for a lot of money.

One of my “warehouses” in EQ2. It only doesn’t look that messy because it would take a whole gallery to show the horrors of it.

By that point banks and bags just weren’t enough anymore to hold all my furniture. So I just copied an idea from other people, made an alt, got an empty house with him and just threw all my rare furniture there. To make the rest of this, a little shorter, eventually they allowed each character to own multiple houses. This was pretty good too as just one house wasn’t cutting anymore to stash all my the furniture I was collecting for my projects. So I started to make multiple “warehouses” to stash it all. I even got to the point of separating between “warehouses” where festival stuff was stocked and one for those common furniture I reused a lot and even gave access to other friends to just go and grab it.

Oh, and just so people can see how bad things became, every time I mentioned my bags were full, my friends would joke it was because of all the couches and what not I carried around with me! Which wasn’t necessarily untrue if I was on my ratonga and was recently working on a decoration project….

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Ambermist's Challenges, Everquest 2, MMORPG

 

Tags: , ,

The Man Behind the Ratonga

…. or would it be the ratonga behind the man? Hmmm….

If you are wondering what the hell I am talking about, it is this month’s challenge by Ambermist of Tastes Like Battlechicken. The idea is basically to give a peek about the person behind the blog. Sadly, I skipped last month’s challenge which was to tell a story involving a MMORPG of our choice. Unfortunately, I could not think of any interesting stories to tell. There were sure lots of epic or funny moments moments in my MMORPG history but nothing that led itself well to an interesting narrative. This month however is a  topic I can write something about that I hope might be interesting to somebody.

So, here are some facts about this guy who writes this little blog:

  • I am a brazilian. Or if you want to get technical about it, half-brazilian, half-japanese. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about japanese culture. Or even eat japanese food. I know, it sounds strange but my mother is the most pragmatic woman I know. So I guess she didn’t see much point in teaching those things to me and my older brother. She is also second generation, with my grandparents from her side being the ones who were actually born and raised in Japan. The part about food though is my fault since I am terribly picky about food.
  • My grandparents, from my mother side, never learned to speak portuguese. Yet somehow I was always able to get along pretty well with them. Sadly they passed away when I was still a little child so I never got the chance to learn japanese to actually talk to them. Ah, well, I will always have the best memories from them, despite the language barrier. :)
  • I learned to speak in english in a course for it outside school at… 11 years old, if I recall correctly. My mother thought it would be one of those required skills to get a good job in the future (she was right). I didn’t abandon it without completing it though since I got really tired of all those silly stories they make you read in those kind of courses. Plus the years were starting to drag by. I learned enough to get by myself though so the rest of my english was honed through lots of reading of tabletop RPG books (which were pretty much never used), games and reading websites.   Go internet!
  • I wasn’t confident in my english skill until I started to play MMORPGs. I can read and write without issues. But listening and speaking is still hard for me. How hard? Well, this is how people in voice chat sounds a lot of times for me. To be fair I am pretty sure I sound the same when speaking english.
  • I started playing video-games back at the Atari days (whenever those were. It is been too long). Although I don’t think I really got into them until the Super NES and a little game called Final Fantasy VI. That was the point where I really started to get interested into all things gaming. Before that it was usually platformer games or action games (I forgot the actual term) which could be played by two players with my brother. On the PC it usually was strategy games or adventure games.
  • My first real MMORPG was a little known title called Fairyland. As far as I know it is long gone by now.  I think it was originally produced taiwanese company whose name I don’t remember anymore nor who did the american version of it. Anyway, as the name implies it was a game where all the quests were based around fairy tales. It was interesting to see how they turned some fairy tales into quests. It also had an interesting pet system, where pets were like party members. Pets also had elements so having the right pet for  the  right battle could make things a lot easier. Oh, combat was also turn based in the same style as Final Fantasy VI.
  • The name Rakuno was one I made up when I started playing Everquest 2. Originally my intention was to make my ratonga my “main” character. After much pondering about a name, I started to try thinking about things that would have to deal with stealing since ratongas have a natural tendency toward kleptomania. Eventually I thought about the word gatuno (a not very common word for thief, robber, etc. in portuguese. The most common word being “ladrão”).  Change a couple letters and voila! New name that sounds original enough.
  • I chose a ratonga to serve as my person on this blog because they are the coolest race ever. If I had god like powers I would use it to put ratongas in every game in every MMORPG! Thinking well, maybe I just should use such powers to transform humans into ratongas. The world would be a much better place  that way.
  • On a random note, it has been dang cold here lately. In a related random note, I never seem snow! Well, ok, I’ve seem it on TV and movies. But you know what I mean!
 
13 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Ambermist's Challenges

 

Let me introduce you to…

So, this is it. The final challenge set by Ambermist of Taste’s Like Battlechicken. This week she tasked us with finding 3 blogs that participated in the New Blogger’s Initiative, aka the NBI, and give at least one reason we like each blog. Sounds easy right? Well, that is what I thought at first too. Then I realized that no matter how awesome the three blogs I end up choosing are, I will still feel bad about it. There are just  too many awesome blogs that are participating on it for me to just pick three!

In fact, let me point out to a list of the blogs participating on the NBI. There is one list here, categorized by topics, made by Windsoar of the Jaded Alt blog. If you prefer a handy list with each author’s name and tweeter, Shadowspnd of World’s End Tavern made one for newbies and one for sponsors. Check out the rest of their blogs too while you are there! :)

Alright. With that said, let me introduce you to three newbie blogs that have caught my eye for a reason or another:

The Butterfly Gamer

http://leelubutterfly.wordpress.com/

Everyone probably met that one person that can’t stick to a game for very long. Perhaps that might even be your case (it is certainly mine!). Apparently the term for these kind of people is “butterfly gamer”. And as the name of the blog implies, The Butterfly Gamer is the journal of one such person.

Right now, leelubutterfly is trying to stick to just one, to get to the level cap on Aion before Guild Wars 2 is released. It is interesting not only because of her writing (and screenshots!) but also to see her discover new and interesting things about Aion as she goes along. As someone that just started out in Aion it is interesting to see the experiences of another newbie in the game.

Of course, I am also interested to see what other games she will end up playing too. I guess that makes me a butterfly reader?

Ravalation

http://ravalation.blogspot.com

If I had to describe Ravalation in a few words it would be “a feast to the eyes”. Not only her posts are filled with beautiful screenshots (some times with her own drawings too!) but it is all accompanied with very interesting text too. It is like a combo of pure bliss!

Right now Ravanel is writing about Lord of the Rings Online, Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic. I highly recommend her blog to anyone interested in any of those games. :)

Kemwer Game Blog

http://kemwer.com.br/

While I do have a preference for blogs about people’s personal experiences playing games, I do also like a good discussion about them. Kemwer has been one of those blogs I have been finding myself reading just for that purpose. No matter the topic of the post it is always with a very intelligent and well articulated argument.

His blog (correct me if I am wrong, please, Kemwer!) seems to have a slant towards Guild Wars 2 right now. Though he certainly doesn’t limit himself to just Guild Wars 2 and has made a few posts about Diablo 3, Torchlight 2 and even some more general discussions about MMORPGs.

Wait! There is more…

Ok. So I can’t pick just three after all. Let me list three more blogs before ending this post. But to keep with the spirit of the challenge, in some sort of twisted way, I will just list them and let you find out by yourself what makes them great! It probably won’t be too hard. :)

They are also blogs that are participating on the NBI although as sponsors. Without further ado, here are three more great blogs that just make my day whenever they update:

Nerdy Bookahshttp://nerdybookahs.wordpress.com/

StarShadowhttp://suzitastarshadow.wordpress.com/

LotRO Fashionhttp://lotrofashion.blogspot.com/

My biggest thanks to all the ones I have listed, and for those I could not, for all the entertaining reading so far. Here is looking forward to  reading even more posts! :)

 

Tags: , ,

Alts? I have no alts! All my characters are my main!

Or so I usually say. In practice there is always a character I end up playing more than the others or who earned a special place in my heart.

So, on this week’s challenge, posed by the lovely Ambermist of “Tastes Like Battle Chicken”, it is exactly to talk about those characters. Which I will do with the utmost joy. Because characters are like our own children. Give us an excuse to talk about them and we’ll do it all day!

In my case it will be two of the characters that have a very special place in my heart. They are probably the ones I spent the most time playing on and growing with during my MMORPG career. If you can call playing MMORPGs for years a career that is.

Also, I apologize for the lack of screenshots. This is a post that screams “Fill me up with screenshots!” but I found out I have no good screenshots of Rakuno to post. Alas, I find myself still having to do my little EQ2 protest so I can’t even log in to take a decent screenshot of my beloved character.

Anyhoo, in order of creation here are my “mains”:

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Why You Do What You Do: Week 2 Challenge

So, this week Ambermist over at Tastes Like Battle Chicken gave us a new challenge. It is the “Why do you do what you do?” which is basically to answer with a picture… uh…. why do you what you do! She was nice enough to give us the option to answer it with text too. You know, just in case there is someone graphic challenged. *coughs*likeme*coughs*

My original intent was to actually answer it with a picture. I suck at anything graphical however. Even stick figures. So as the week went by I realized I had less and less time to try making even a decent picture for this challenge. Time for plan B then which is to write it!

With that said, this is my answer to Ambermist’s challenge!

Boldly going where no man has gone before…

… except for those who were already subscribed or were the developers. *clears throat*

Anyway, that phrase sums up one of the things I love about MMORPGs, the feeling of getting into a completely new world, with its own history, its own conflicts, nations, rules, etc. The more open the world in terms of exploring and strong lore, the more I like it. Ok. Perhaps not completely open. Some guidance is always nice so we are not totally lost wondering how things work. I guess my version of a good open world would be open enough so you can go off exploring on your own, being rewarded with finding spots for cool stuff like spots to harvest a crafting material or some neat lore detail. A bad world implementation would be one where you feel you are just going from point A to B doing a laundry list for some soulless NPC.

Another way for me to explore worlds is through alts. Since usually each class has its own feel, they each bring a different way to experience the world. For instance, fighting through the mobs of a quest  with a tank will feel very different from a mage who in turn will feel very different from a rogue and so on. The more unique the mechanics of each class the better. And with that it can be refreshing to play the same parts of the game again.

Lastly, one aspect I didn’t expect to fall in love with but makes me sad isn’t more common in MMORPGs, is housing. The short version of the story is this: MMORPGs nowadays are for the most part pretty static. However housing is your little part of the story of the world that can definitely change. It is only limits are your imagination, in-game resources and time. With those three it is a way to leave your mark in a world that will never change until the developers decide it must do so. For a longer, more incoherent, rambling of the subject there is this and this post. There may be some redundancy between both posts and they are as rambling as it comes…. I blame it on often writing at times when I should be sleeping.

Of course, all these aspects could be, and often are, done better in a single-player game. This can make spending money on MMORPGs hard to justify. What with all the money you have to spend on the game box, expansions and subscriptions. Indeed, I even left a few times because of that reasoning. However there is one good reason I still find myself enjoying MMORPGs despite that. And that is people!

Six degrees of separation?

I am a soloist. The type who hates forced grouping and avoids PuGs like the plague. Though even a soloist like me some times needs to interact with other people. Be it to get a party (even a PuG!) to achieve something or indirectly through trading. With this new friendships end up being formed. :)

Another cool thing is that MMORPGs are probably the most equalizing of the hobbies. It doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, fat or thin, rich or poor, male or  female, all that matters is your skills as players. Yes, I am aware that some times those things may be brought up and some people will make an issue out of it. I am fortunate however to not have met any such person so far. I hope to never meet one of those either.

MMORPGs are also a proof that no matter what your country of origin is, everybody is pretty much the same. They all have the same victories, the same challenges and the same worries. The only thing that really changes is the name of the country and the language spoken. Yes, I know there are also a few cultural differences that may pop up from time to time. I however don’t think they matter. If they do it is actually in a good way, a way to enrich our cultural knowledge. The only really thing that sucks is time zones. But that is beyond anyone’s control.

I honestly can’t think of any other hobby where it is just as easy to bond with other people as in MMORPGs. And in the end that is pretty much why I end up playing them more than single player games. :)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Ambermist's Challenges, MMORPG

 

Tags: ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers