Archive for Diary

Ennui and the Coming Days

Posted in Diary, Fun with tags , on August 30, 2010 by Natarumah

Well, it seems that even I am not immune to the “End of Expansion Fatigue”, despite my best efforts to keep myself entertained. PvE-wise, all I could hope to gain is Heroic Lich King or Halion, and to be honest it does not draw me half as much as the earlier content. It seems a lot of hassle for little gain. Leveling Alts also seems more like a chore, and without access to the Beta, all I can report is second-hand info – but mind you. I will report it if it’s awesome.

Perhaps then, it might be an idea to devote some time to the other online games I play or have played, give my view on them and why I keep returning to WoW…

Guild Wars (GW)

Having bought all expansion packs for GW and having played it off and on for five years, I must say that this is a great “time waster” game. There’s very little pressure, balance is merciless, and the game is huge. I quite enjoy the Ranger with its traps, supporting my team with a Warrior/Paragon or destroying my foes with my Necromancer/Ritualist.

The downside of the game is that it is not very graphically impressive, and that some of the missions leave you quite easily destroyed if you happen to take the wrong combination of henchmen with you. Worse still, some players display worse AI than the henchmen…

All in all it’s a game I play once every few months, since it’s free anyway, to kill a few hours on. The lack of pressure and the shorter size of dungeons also makes that I don’t have to worry about raiding guilds, progression, or better loot. At max level gear, that’s what it is and has been for three expansions.

Age of Conan (AoC)

To me, this is a completely mixed bag. I love the class design, the graphics are very good and the atmosphere of the place simply oozes through its pores. But fighting is very frustrating using the combo system. Clicking your ability and then directional arrows is very uncomfortable. I leveled an Assassin to 50 and found to be not quite as daunting as people warned me it would be, although you could feel the lack of survivability even with Lotus abilities. When you hit 50 you get another level 50 character for free, which became my Tempest of Set. This was AoE and Survivability heaven, but I could not help but feel my performance was lacklustre.

I decided not to renew my subscription, because it simply wasn’t involving enough to keep me in. It was great for wasting some time, but it was not worth paying the money for. The dungeons were uninspired for the most part, just dungeon maps with mobs in them, with little interaction or puzzles. The few dungeons with more challenging content just seemed to be that way because there was no guidance whatsoever.

So if the game ever went Free to Play I might consider going for it again – I love the graphics and the atmosphere – but it did not draw me in with regard to the Dungeons. Also, the Guild system where you have to build a keep for which someone has to devote a profession to build, as well as enormous Guild resources, seemed to me a waste of time. The advantage of no Guild Housing is that you can join and leave Guilds as you wish in WoW, instead of feeling remorse on how many resources you put into your pretty castle.

Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO)

Lotro is a different league altogether. The graphics are very good for the environment, but players and NPCs are pretty damn ugly. It was impossible for me to build a character that was beyond “passable I guess” in looks. The number of options to customize your character with was also very limited, and hair styles seemed to be shared between all toons of all races.

The gameplay itself is pretty easy to learn, although it takes some time to learn to handle the more difficult classes. The learning curve is pretty forgiving, but by the time you start running into Elite Undead you discover that you might want to stick in the lower level areas for just a little longer. So far my favorites have been the Champion and the Minstrel.

I haven’t played Lotro long enough to glimpse more than the first fourteen or so levels of Champion, but it did get repetitive quite soon already. Fortunately, if you are a Roleplayer this game has tons of goodies for you! You can actually play musical instruments, and you can sometimes find a band of PCs playing in front of the Prancing Pony in Bree, recreating the Middle-Earth variety of the latest pop songs. There’s a million outfits, and a clever system that allows you to look the way you want, but have the gear you need. Imagine wearing T10 but looking like T6? That’s what is in there, and it’s a great way of handling look and feel of a character.

There’s even a profession or two devoted to the leisurely gamer – fishing has its rewards, most of it being as relaxing as the real-life sport. Then again, you can also choose to farm vegetables or pipe weed and become famous at the market! There’s always something to do if you want it. This game tops WoW in the immersion department, but has far less excitement.

Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO)

This is a recent addition to my little addictions. Until it went Free to Play, all I could see was D&D ported to the PC like a half-brained copy of Neverwinter Nights. In addition, the most awesome things of Eberron were either removed (Artificers) or were premium options (Warforged, Drow).

Well, when it did go Free, I decided to give it a go. I mean, what the heck, I love D&D and it is still Eberron, so I am sure something good will come of it. Well, it did, sort of. Kept me from logging on to WoW this week it did. You see, despite its initial appearances, it is not a “fun little game”. It is a statmonster worthy spreadsheet on legs with a two-handed axe. It’s a minmaxer’s heaven. And if you feel like a curmudgeon, you can do most of it alone.

First off, building your character will take half an hour at least. Between choosing class, skills and feats (most of which cannot be changed later on barring high-level options) you will spend 10, and then you will spend another 20 getting your toon’s appearance just right. It may seem odd, but there are quite a few faces that can be built using just the limited number of options you have to choose from.

As a Free player, I can only have 2 characters – currently a Level 4 Rogue and a Level 1 Cleric. My Rogue’s pretty much a gearmonkey which I am moving towards getting the Assassin prestige enhancement. My damage is not too awesome on the whole, but when I get behind foes or my Bluff check comes through, they drop like flies. The best part about the game are the dungeons, which have a lot of mobility in them, traps and little puzzles. It made me feel like I was playing Tomb Raider crossed with Tenchu.

The bad part about the game is that Guild system is, again, horrible. Guilds gain levels, you spend oodles of cash on an airship, only to find out you have to pay gigantic upkeeps to keep your crew and facilities – not fun. If your Guild is not large and active, forget about that awesome airship.

So what’s to come?

When Cataclysm comes, I am sure my enthusiasm will be rekindled. Whatever I fancy to play, I have enough level 75+ characters on my Server to pick from. Plus I will make space for a Goblin – a mean one. And I will probably love Archaeology as well, so at least my time-wasting is covered too.

So far it seems that GW and DDO will be my standbys in time of boredom for now, especially now that I have figured out in DDO I can do dungeons to gain favor to gain Turbine Points to buy more dungeons *wheezes* to gain enough favor to unlock the Drow race on my server. Whew.

I did the math (honestly, I have a spreadsheet!) and I will need to build six characters on five servers and level them to twenty to do it (including using True Reincarnation on my Main three times) so I will have quite some work ahead of me in the coming years. Yay!

So what do you pass the time with when not on WoW? I heard Aion is the pretty blonde with no brain (err, no Game I mean) and that Warhammer is a rather unfriendly game, so haven’t tried those. Star Trek online seems to me like it could never beat the Next Generation series, but convince me and I’ll give it a go.

I’m always looking for some less-grindy and less-pressure games to keep me occupied in between.

My top 10 WoW moments

Posted in Diary, Fun, Shadowpriest with tags , on March 22, 2010 by Natarumah

Sometimes you hit a point in World of Warcraft where you grow blase with everything – the scenery isn’t as engaging anymore, the raids are less fulfilling, and your Xth minipet is stuffed inside your pocket, never to see the light of day again. It’s all too easy to lose yourself to the grind, to value achievements and progression more than your own fun. So, time to reflect on some of the best things I have experienced in World of Warcraft over the last four years.

10 – Getting Natarumah her flying mount

I don’t know about you, but the first things I did when I picked up my shiny griffin over at Shadowmoon Valley was zoom around for a few minutes, and use the Insert and Delete button to make loopings. I even aggroed some casters at Blade’s Edge so I could do loopings while tracked by Arcane Missiles. The first one is always special, and it gives a feeling of freedom that is hard to put into words.

9 – Killing Algalon

Not many did it on our server, and this fight was hair-raising. Worse than the fight itself was the list of things that could go wrong, and the people complaining how hard it was. The fact that Blizzard put in the “I feed on your tears” achievement made it all the worse for me. I was nervous as hell, but after three weeks of tries we got him down.

I even went a little insane and bid DKP on the Reply Code Alpha. The ring reward was nice, but I wanted the satisfaction of being the one to send the “All okay down here, guys!” message over as well. It felt glorious.

8 – Completing Glory of the Ulduar Raider

Finishing Ulduar until it was empty of all things to do – our top priority in the weeks before ICC was released. We were trying to get people as many Drakes as possible, because you never know when they would be removed as a reward. Thinking back, things seem a lot more simple now – but back then Freya+3 and Hard-mode Thorim (I have to MC the adds? Oh nooooeeessss!) seemed impossible at times.

7 – Becoming World Explorer and Loremaster

I loved seeing places, and in an effort to explore all of Azeroth and Outland I have seen some outlandish sites. It’s hard to pinpoint sometimes when sometimes is truly discovered, and there’s a lot of hidden places in WoW that are really nice to see.

Some of these are now inaccessible, such as the airport strip near Ironforge, or the room of upside-down sinners near Karazhan (neither of which I had the pleasure to see myself) but I can recommend anyone to visit the dancing Troll village on the border of Winterspring – it’s quite a fun place to make some screenshots to prove you were there.

Azeroth’s a big place, be like a tourist! Feel free to take some time to do something that gives you no direct benefit outside of some fun and relaxation. Do the quests, read the stories, and a simple game can turn out to have deep meanings…

6 – Getting my Warlock a full set of T1 (Felheart)

Call me crazy, but many of my toons are projects. I had the imagine in my mind of a Human warlock wearing the complete Felheart set. And so I built myself a Warlock, that’s how it goes. Now she’s level 80 and has reasonable PvP gear (I rarely do heroics on her, and I am still practicing being a Warlock) but she has the full T1. And I love the looks. The old stuff was still the good stuff.

5 – Completing my personal economy

I am a big fan of being as self-sufficient as I can, so I try to get as many professions as I can to merge on my main and alts. With 4 alts and a main having all major professions except for Leatherworking, I feel like I have reasonably completed the goal of being my own internal economy. Sometimes it is more expedient to buy mats or products on the AH, but I don’t need to (except for leatherworking leg patches, but those are not a must except for my tank) – I could play the game at a competitive level even if the AH was completely empty.

This means I need money only to get me stuff I want (pets, mounts, powerleveling alt’s professions) – raiding alone provides enough money to continue raiding. This also implies my gold balance only goes up, and it does so even if I am not putting stuff on the AH or doing daily quests.

5 – Getting Anathema

It all starts with a trip through Molten Core to get the Eye of Divinity, and being given the gift of an Eye of Shadow (Eliya was kind enough to send me his) leading to an epic quest of…healing? Oh gosh you have to be kidding me! Yes kids, Shadow was for PvP back in the days, so to be an epic priest you were healing. And while Benediction can be turned into Anathema, you still need to do the healing quest to get it.

Ouch. I have tried this quest for ages, since I had no experience healing whatsoever. I hardly knew what those buttons were doing on my bars anyway. I couldn’t tell my Greater Heal from my Resurrection, and Flash Heal looked sort of like that too. Finally, I did manage it and was delighted to be granted the right to wield Benediction. Of course, the moment the questgiver wasn’t looking I turned it into Anathema and never changed it back!

4 – Epic Showdown of law and chaos

I was once a member of the RP guild “The Dark Embrace”. The concept of the guild was that we were evil cultists, and had many schemes and manipulations going on under the cover of being respectable members of the community. The kicker was that other RP guilds could request our involvement in their own storylines, making us a bit of a “Guild for hire”. This was an established and well respected guild, and it was quite a blast to interact with the law-abiding Mountaineer guild (Dwarves who protect Ironforge and the Dwarven District), the Scarlet Missionary (More mild-mannered Scarlet Crusade members preaching in Stormwind) and various guilds of criminal and lawful intent.

Our big showdown was at the Gates of Ironforge, where ranks of Mountaineers tried to take down us crazy cultists, even as we sent in unwitting allies, mindless Homonculi and summoned creations. Some of us were slain, never to return, others were salvaged for a greater good. And of course, a Shadowpriest worth her salt never shows up in the flesh – only the Shadow will do. That was two full hours of fun and entertainment trying to outflank and outwit a group of intelligent players – imagine a relatively slow PvP fight if you will. Even up to the very end it was unclear who would win.

After this, RP never got to be quite as refreshing, and the Dark Embrace eventually dwindled in size and disappeared. But they are spoken of even to this day, and I am proud to have been involved. If RP would go back up to these standards and levels of fun, I’d be up for it. That’s why we play games right?

3 – Recognizing my Fail

When I first started playing, one of the earliest toons I built was a Troll Shaman – laugh all you want but I have never been able to level a Shaman after that. I knew nothing of the game, and was trying to get along with whatever I could. I was an Elemental Shaman, because I liked Lightning Bolt. I loved all the lightning and Storm spells. I had a shield, because it protected me, and I felt special because only Plate classes could use one.

But I died a lot, and I didn’t like it. So I got Stamina gear – lots and lots of Stamina gear. So I ended up being a Shaman who cast Lightning Bolts with no Spellpower (none!) and enough Stamina for my health to eclipse that of the tanks back then. And I still wondered why leveling was sooooo slow.

Yeps, I failed pretty hard back then. But it was fun! There was no stress, no raids, no need to achieve anything. Plus, I was the only person around who had 300 Alchemy at level 35…

2 – My first dungeon: Naxxramas

Let me tell you beforehand that I was once terrified of instances. Scared as hell, couldn’t cope. It felt like a high-pressure situation, lots of chance to die and minimal benefits. Why go into dungeons when you can just quest to level up and be done with it?

I had reached level 63 and hadn’t done any dungeon in the game yet – no instance, ever, on any of my characters. I had the misconception at the time that even Deadmines would require you to be an Elite player, and that certainly wasn’t me! And then, people from Unity started a Naxx run – the level 60 run, mind you. They were inviting people from other guilds because it was supposed to be fun, and so I got dragged in along with half a dozen friends. I think we cleared four bosses or such, including Patchwerk, Grobbulus and some of the Spider Wing.

It was immense.

Here I was, never been to a dungeon, being allowed straight in Naxx! With suckage gear, no skill, and being a Shadowpriest! I wasn’t even asked to heal. I can tell you that this was very special back then. I had the time of my life. I started doing instances when asked, and even started raiding at level 70. And that leaves me here today, being a member of Unity (the guys I had seen as my idols since level 34 on) and raiding ICC. That’s a long, strange trip right there.

1 – Blood Elf vs. Draenei

I sometimes like to challenge myself, and when TBC was launched I had long tired of my dumb Troll Shaman and my slow to level Protection Warrior. My Feral Druid was stuck in Feralas at level 35 because I wanted to learn a Leatherworking specialization but couldn’t get through the level 43-43 mobs without dying. I left her in the woods in a fit of anger and decided to do something new.

TBC saw the introduction of two new races, the Blood Elves and Draenei. I liked them both, and was eager to build one of each – A Draenei Priest (because shadowpriests were overpowered in PvP, I always got beaten by them so I wanted my taste of being uber) and a Blood Elf Warlock (because it just seemed like the right thing to do). Now, the BE had the advantage in that I already had Horde toons to support it, and I knew my way around a bit. The Draenei Priest had a considerable disadvantage in that it meant starting from scratch with no support, guild or people I knew.

Then I met Eliya – I was level 34 or so, he was level 60 and doing raids. Over time, he became my mentor of sorts, teaching me things about Shadowpriests, how to gear and what to look for. He listened patiently to my rants and gave me advice when I thought I’d never understand how those slow DoTs worked. At about level 40 I had a complete set of Shadow Weave in the bank, waiting for Natarumah to level up and wear it. As you can guess, my BE Warlock never made it.

Had things be different, had I not received such support from someone who was passionate about Shadowpriests, I would never have leveled Natarumah to 70. I would never have joined the Naxx raid that sparked my love for dungeons. I never would have understood the mechanics of the class. I would never have started this blog (and if I had, it’d probably be something like “Cursed Blood” and be about Warlocks) which allows me vent my love for writing and researching.

Without #1,  number 2 through number 10 would never have existed.

Conclusion

Life, even in a virtual word, is made up of the threads of fate. These threads form webs, where each intersection is a given choice at a given moment. My character, my blog and my experiences to date all result from a single, almost arbitrary choice. How different would it all have been, had my choice been another.

Do you remember moments in the game very fondly? Have you encountered similar game-changing situations? What makes you smile whenever you feel like the game has grown dull?

Diary: Anchorites of the Void

Posted in Diary, Fun, Roleplaying, Shadowpriest with tags , , on August 18, 2009 by Natarumah

Shadow PowerFor thousands of years, my brethren were among the Eredar. Children who grew up with whispers in their minds, allowing them to see the intents of others, to read and control their minds. They had insight beyond renown, yet were quiet and withdrawn. Then came Sargeras. He corrupted two of my people’s great leaders, making them generals in his infernal army. And yet, some remained, with hope in their hearts and the future in their minds.

Now known as the Draenei, fugitives, we fled the world in shining ships aided by the luminous Naaru. And the whispering children would be the guides across this great black Void, to places where we could hide for short periods at a time. No one questioned how we knew the Void so well. No one questioned where we took us. We were oracles, navigators, and caretakers.

Yes, caretakers.

For even the Naaru have their dark secrets, that which they do not wish to share with their allies. And we knew. They claim that they do not wish to burden their allies needlessly, but in doing so they have allowed openings in the armor of truth and honor they wear, for us to use. For you see, when the Naaru grow weak and their light dims, they become of the Void. Their mind devolves and turns to destruction by shadow, causing pain and suffering. They go into exile willingly, entombing themselves alive until their light burns bright once again. And in their tombs, it is only we that hold them company.

Like mothers tending to their sick children we read them stories, whispered tales to them we heard whispered to us before. We shared with them our darkness, knowing it would be safe with them forever. Then the Blood Elves found us. No one questioned how. They boarded the vessel we had arrived in, near the distant world of Azeroth, and sabotaged it beyond repair. No one questioned how they knew how to do it. No one perceived our hand in this, the whispers of intuition we shared.

For you see, we had arrived at our final destination. There was no longer a need for a vessel to travel in. We had come home.

This is the first installment of a series of diary entries detailing the Anchorites of the Void. While originally meant as a background story for my character during RP, I found that it nicely fills in a number of gaps in the story that is told during the Burning Crusade. In sharing it with you, I will also continue this story on into the events of Wrath of the Lich King, and perhaps even the next expansion if I get enough hints and inspiration. ^_^