– Est. 1981

I am Xanuusus of the Stormreapers! The State of MMORPG; Part 3

Leveling / Questing

The quote I used in the title of the post was from the first Druid Epic quest in EverQuest 1. I spent the better part of a month on this quest, not the entire time I was in the game but it definitely took a month to finally gather the resources (people to help) and factions to complete the quest. The quest involved a lot of running around, gathering materials, killing rare spawning mobs in various zones, it was actually a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. At the end of the quest I received a "Naturewalkers Scimitar." A sword that when held glows and shimmers in the shapes of leaves. Druids don't really even use weapons, but this was SPECIAL. Because I worked so hard for it and it meant something. This quest gave nearly no experience what-so-ever. It wasn't about that. I mentioned it in one of my previous entries and I'll say it again, the game was about the journey and not the destination. The game was fun to play and highly rewarding from early levels.

The above is true for other games as well. From what I have gathered people that played Asheron's Call had similar experiences and so I will not make the mistake of comparing EQ to WoW, but instead the modern MMO vs. Older.

Today's MMO players don't have the patience, we're spoiled, and I lump myself into this category as well. The only thing that matters is how much experience you get, how fast you level. If your quest log isn't full of absolute garbage grind quests you aren't playing the game efficiently. Kill a boar, kill a panther, kill a spider, kill a genre. This last week I have been playing WoW with my girlfriend. It's her first MMO and her first REAL video game in general. She's doing really well with her shaman, sometimes she forgets she can cast and melee at the same time, sometimes she forgets to do both but overall we have only died twice as a duo because of something that was completely our fault. (It's our fault because if it was her fault I would be sleeping on the couch.) Occasionally she'll show a little irritation with the amount of questing involved in WoW. Everything is a quest, and if you're not on a quest you're wasting time. Sometimes she will say things like "another quest?" or "this bitch has another quest!" Better still, she'll sometimes ask me to go into the depths of some random cave or some random keep just to see what's in there or find some challenge that is not found frequently outside of dungeons.  The reason I mention this is because I was very reluctant to introduce her to my favorite gaming genre on a game like WoW because it spoils the player, making leveling easy, constant quests for some trash loot and massive amounts of experience. However, because of these sudden outbursts from her, and sudden urges to explore I am very hopeful and relieved that she will also be a player that seeks to be challenged. Maybe when the genre finally has a proper rated "M" game that is challenging and rewarding to play she will be ready for it.

Enough of the rambling; This is what mature players want.

  1. A game without kids shouting and talking about their penis in the auction channel.
  2. A game without kids.
  3. A game that is challenging to play and is rewarding when you succeed, but does not necessarily have to be a huge time sink. We have jobs too.
  4. Rewarding quests that have depth and tie into some sort of lore.
  5. A reason to explore that has nothing to do with a quest log.
  6. The ability to level while doing so.

If I'm wrong, feel free to tell me. But I have a feeling if you've been around long enough to remember EQ you're going to agree. I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing WoW, I'm actually having a blast playing it again. Mostly because I'm playing with friends this time around and we're having a lot of fun together. The game is a good game, it's just fairly easy and it attracts an audience that is undesirable. I'll say it again, the game should be a journey, fun at all levels and rewarding at all levels. Slow it down a little bit and add quality content. Make new loot and gear usable, not just throw away because you'll out grow it in a week.


Lvl 6 Mage LFG. The State of MMORPG; Part 2

I recently had a friendly back and forth with someone on the forums about why people must compare WoW and EQ. His point was that the demographic is different and so the games are different. I'll concede this point, the target demographic for EQ was a more mature audience as where the demographic for WoW is EVERYONE. That being said I am not comparing the two games. I am comparing the different types of games. I feel the need to do this because there aren't any games around that target the mature audiences. Companies are creating these games and failing because they are trying to appeal to everyone.

With that out of the way I will get on to what I intend to talk about today.


When talking about skill I need to tread carefully as it is not my intent to piss anyone off and if there is one subject that will do that, it's skill. The skill set required to play an old EQ style MMO vs. a new WoW clone is very different. I'll start with a little story about learning curve...

When I reinstalled EQ recently I had been playing more modern MMO's for years and really not finding the amount of joy I had been searching for. I entered the world with my level 1 Erudite Mage and immediately ran outside to the port area for a little nostalgic exploring and saw a familiar sight. A shark in the water under the pier. I looked around my interface for a few minutes remembering where everything was and finding my spells. The game doesn't do everything for you, so I had to memorize my spells and put them on my spell bar manually.  Once done I thought it might be fun to cast my Burst of Flame on the shark. I remember from the past that these sharks are around level 30. **BAM** My burst of flame hit the shark for 1 damage. The shark then swam very quickly to the edge of the pier and ate my face in a single attack and I was dead.

Granted, that's a serious pathing issue. However, I'm level 1 and that shark was a red con level 30 and I have no business messing with it. My point is that this thing is in the newbie zone and served the purpose of teaching (or reteaching in my case) the player that being safe is entirely based on your actions.

After re-memorizing my spells I embarked on my next adventure. The newbie leveling zone on Erudin is Toxxulia forrest and my first victim was a grass snake. I did a quick con on the snake, even fight. I can take him no problem. I ran out and started casting and stabbing at this snake, it used almost my entire mana bar to kill the bugger, but it wouldn't get that far. Half way through the fight I was attacked by a kobold that was a red con, meaning he was at least 2-3 levels higher than I was. "This is freakin' brutal" I said to myself as I sat re-memorizing my spells. My mistake here was fighting this creature on his terms, in his territory in the middle of the damn woods. It's dangerous out there, you need to be careful and I was on my next try. I grabbed a decaying skeleton that was of an even con, pulled him away from where other creatures may be roaming about and successfully killed him. I rested for a few minutes and did it again.

By level 2 I have already learned a healthy dose of fear and fear is what drives skill improvement early on in the game. Later on you apply this fear in different ways. Learning to pull and kill creatures (mobs) while grouped with many different character classes and knowing their individual roles, knowing what they are capable of so that you don't exceed the groups abilities. These skills are also valuable with modern MMO's except they come much later in the game and are nearly completely irrelevant early on.

Without putting the fear of death into a player you really remove a lot of fun that could be had. For instance, my girlfriend who has never played an MMO until recently said "I want to play a game that scares me!" This was said while we were running through the zone destroying everything without the fear of death. Afterall, it's not like we'll die and have to run a long distance to our corpses. It's not like when we die we'll actually lose anything of value, like time or experience.

I will say this, modern games do well with the end game. There is relative skill involved in a raid, it would just be nice to have players develop these skills BEFORE they are needed on a raid. Grouping at lower levels would accomplish this.

NEXT: Leveling / Questing


Hail, Fippy Darkpaw’s corpse. The State of MMORPG; Part 1

It's no secret to those that know me well that I enjoy my video games. It's also no secret that I enjoy a good MMORPG from time to time, and that I played EverQuest for a number of years. No secret, but certainly not something I talk about much these days. I'm ready to talk about it now.

I recently had an itch (bolstered by a healthy dose of nostalgia) to get back into MMO's again. I have a group of friends that play World of Warcraft, and so I reinstated my account and started playing with them. I also installed my old EverQuest client and for purely nostalgic purposes started to play a little EQ as well. There are a few things I have noticed about these two games that I could not properly identify when I played them years ago because I was playing them one at a time. Now that I have both installed I think I can properly articulate why certain players still yearn for an EQ type game over a WoW type game.


When I quit EverQuest it was a difficult decision, which is why I came and went so many times. (To the dismay of one of my really close friends that helped me every time I decided to make a come back just for me to quit again soon after. This a shout out to Jim/Fazin) It was not difficult because I missed meditating, or spawn camping for hours for a single drop I needed to complete a quest. It was because I had made friends with a group of people. When I installed EQ last week and made it to the Qeynos newbie area from Erudin, I spent some time looking for someone to bind me at the gate. For those of you unaware, in EQ you had to bind yourself in a safe area because when you die this is where you'll pop up. Naked. You must then run from this bound location, naked, to retrieve your corpse and all of your equipment. Binding is not an ability everyone has, only select classes and so I had to be social to find someone to bind me. I had a few conversations with people during this process, which made the time spent meditating between battles bearable.

Combat is also much slower, as is leveling. This is a huge reason why so many people knew each other on any given EQ server. If you're a casual player you'll spend a couple of days in the newbie area, and then possibly a week or more in the intermediate area. During this time you'll see familiar people. You'll have an opportunity to talk to the same people several days in a row, group with them (out of necessity). You must rest between battles, this time is spent chatting with your party or your guild further building on your relationships. In a starck contrast to all of this there is World of Warcraft.

When my friends and I started playing WoW again recently, I had already played EQ for a couple of days, and so I was of the "cautious" mentality when approaching combat. I quickly remembered that this was a completely unnecessary tactic in most cases and moved on to the "I'm a Level 3 Demigod" mentality and pillaged everything in the path of my warlock. My friends and I ran through areas that were meant for players of our level and simply killed everything in a 5 square mile radius in a matter of minutes without rest, without the need to actually be grouped, but we did anyway. If we had not been in Ventrilo we would not have spoken a single word because there is no time when you're constantly running around junk punching hapless Quilboars in the testicles. During our sprint through the newbie zone I ran into a couple of other players who asked to join our group, not because they needed to but because we were killing everything like a plague and they wanted in. The sad part is we just ignored them. Because they would just slow us down and we wouldn't be in that area long anyway. In EQ if someone wanted to join your group, or god forbid someone asked you to join theirs you would jump at the opportunity because without them you were doomed to a night of meditating and killing things one at a time. "One at a time?! WHAT?!"

I'm not saying EQ is better than WoW. I'm also not saying WoW is better than EQ. They are from a completely different era of gaming. EQ is from a time where the game is a journey, it's an epic journey of risk and reward. When you achieved a milestone it was such a sense of accomplishment because you worked for it. You perservered and overcame obstacles and you came out on top fist pumping like a frat boy in a New Jersey night club. Now we have games like WoW where the mentality is that things must happen quickly. The game is not about the journey, the game is about reaching a destination, the end. When you get to the end it is only then that you can start playing the game or raiding. Everything between the newbie zone and the end game raid content is just filler, a vehicle in which you must ride in order to get you to the end.

It's sad, really. I'm a grown man now, and I don't have 16 hours a day to play a video game in order to accomplish mundane tasks. But I really miss the community that games like EverQuest brought. Maybe one day a developer will come along that can make that happen again.

Note: It has just become apparent to me that this will need to be done in multiple parts.

NEXT: Skill


Puerto Rico!

WARNING: The following post is graphic intensive. If you are using a 56k modem, jump from the nearest building. On your way down ask yourself why you have neglected technology.


This is coming late, but I really had fun taking photos in Puerto Rico. We were only there on a cruise and for a very short period of time. At first I was a little discouraged that I would not be able to take many photos there because we were docking at night. Luckily, I brought a tripod with me on our vacation! BAM! Tripod, remote shutter release, my Canon, and we're in business. My business is stopping every 5 minutes, setting up the tripod, getting in peoples way, pissing off my girlfriend... and business is good.


This photo was taken with my Canon 50D. The photo inside the photo was taken at the fort in Old San Juan by our tour guide. The picture was just... meh... but the photo of the photo is something we'll put on the wall.

Photo of a Photo, Old San Juan

I dropped down this ledge to get a good shot of Suzette, I thought it was a great composure. That photo is further down, but the one you see here is a photo Suzette took looking down the ledge at me as I was composing the shot of her. It was taken with a Point and Shoot Canon SD750.


 Here is the photo I was composing in the above shot. I love how the shadow on the wall almost gives you a second perspective on the image.

Up the Ledge

I love this next shot because the silhouette of the palms really grasps the emotion of the scene. This was overlooking a beach from a cliff a couple hundred feet up.

Dark Palms


Downtown Old San Juan. At first I dismissed this shot and it ended up in my discard pile, but the more I looked at it the more I really felt like this was a candid shot of a local and less of a shot of downtown.

Candid Local


These dogs were growling and playing with eachother in this back alley while tourists such as myself were walking by not too far away.

They pay no mind to the tourists until one of them stops with a camera and tripod to take a picture.

Dogs in the Alley

This is where it gets scary. The dogs started running toward me in the middle of my second photo. I waited around for as long as I could until I was in fear for my life and had to snatch up my camera and haul ass.

Turns out they probably just wanted some food, but that doesn't make it less scary.

You can see the blur of the dogs on the left side of the frame.

Dogs in the Face

Filed under: 2010, Photography No Comments

iPhone 4 and iOS4 – This is why Apple is genius.

When Apple released the original iPhone in January of 2007 they knew exactly what they were doing. They knew where the device would be in three years. The original had a 2 megapixel camera, no flash, impossible to take photos in low light situations, no multitasking capabilities. The 3G model seemed to have have some hardware upgrades, updates to motion sensing but it was more of an iPhone 1.5 than an iPhone 2. The 3GS is where the real marketing genius starts becoming more apparent. Again, the 3GS appeared at the time to be more of what the 3G should have been, making it the iPhone 2, instead of a true 3rd generation device. At this point we still have no flash and no multitasking, however we did get an upgrade on RAM to 256mb and upgraded processing power, but overall the general consensus was that there was not much of a difference.

Now, we have the iPhone 4 and the new iOS4. The iOS4 is the new Operating System shipped with the iPhone 4, and it became available to all previous iPhone 3G and 3GS users  (as well as the iPod Touch) today. Right about now you're probably asking me to get to the point. Well here's the marketing genius of it all; Multitasking will only be available to 3GS and iPhone 4 users. Now we understand why they would release the 3GS with upgraded processing power, but very little noticeable difference. 3G and all previous versions of the iPhone will be discontinued. Not only has the release of the iPhone 4 driven sales for brand new devices, it has also driven sales of the 3GS, which will soon be the only previous generation iPhone available. Can't afford an iPhone 4? The 3GS will soon be $99, and it multitasks! (finally) There has been absolutely no reason for them to give us a flash or multitasking until now. The big competition is the Droid Incredible, and the new iPhone has all of the same features as Verizons new devices, and more. 

I'm calling it now. iPhone 5; Expandable memory.

There are a ton more differences between the 3GS and the iPhone 4, I have only touched on a couple of them to point out that Apple had a very in depth and layed out marketing strategy. Check out the following videos to learn more.

Filed under: 2010, Technology No Comments