Written by | Posted November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm A Girl and her Dog

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

Can you hear me now?
comment 2 Written by on January 16, 2012 – 8:08 am

Parallel context posted recently about the seeming dearth of people in leveling zones. You should go read the post, because it struck a chord with me.

I’ve been trying to level up Ancelyn, my warlock, and it’s been a very lonely adventure. Feralas had only three players in the zone on Friday evening. Even Outland has been mostly deserted, leveling Annata usually means being in a zone with fewer than 10 other people, many of whom outlevel the zone and are there to farm something, or to help speed-level a friend or alt.

Seeing that, and reading Redbeard’s post, I don’t wonder what’s in store for the leveling game in Mists. Blizzard’s re-do of the original world for Cataclysm provided a new leveling experience, for sure – but it’s a disjointed one. It used to be that you moved forward in the game from “old to new” as you leveled. Now you’ll complete the Plaguelands, where it’s obvious the Lich King is gone, only to later encounter him, alive and well, in Northrend.

The original zones did a good job of not being tied specifically to an end game – they were non-linear, often having quests that traded back and forth, which was occasionally a pain in the ass, but also helped the world feel more connected. Azeroth didn’t feel like it was always gearing up for a big fight against any one bad-guy – the raid instances were their own separate story that you didn’t encounter until you were at or close to level 60. Moving to Outland was a normal progression, because Illidan really only made a lot of influence in Shadowmoon Valley, and you didn’t see Vashj (just lots of Naga) unless you actually raided Serpentshrine Cavern.

That got a lot of criticism at the time, because people had trouble finding a connection to Outland – which I understand partially (it was a huge environment jump), but moving into Wrath, Arthas shows up a LOT. There is no question that Northrend is the home of the Lich King, even if he’s already been killed. And now that the original world has been revamped, a lot of the content is both extremely linear and oriented towards Deathwing. Some areas aren’t (Hinterlands, Arathi Highlands), but Annata’s entire leveling path through the southern half of Eastern Kingdoms was related to the Twilight Cult and Deathwing.

So the leveling chronology is just weird now. Outland isn’t so bad, because it’s easy to level there without having a feeling of “time” in the greater story – but hitting Northrend after doing Eastern Plaguelands is just /weird/. There are also fewer leveling paths now that the quests are streamlined, so it’s harder to choose a totally different experience for each character.

Once Mists hit, it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes or if Blizzard will stick with the Big Hero fighting the Big Bad Guy style. I know I’ve had a lot of trouble caring about replaying the Cataclysm zones – I have two characters stuck at level 81, and I leveled one of my 85’s entirely through Archaeology. (Which is probably another reason the original leveling zones are quiet – you can level entirely through PVP and LFD.)

So we’ll see. Mists will revive the leveling game again, at least for a short while, but I can’t help but wonder if Blizzard would’ve been better not putting so much of the end bosses in the actual questing of the game. Supposedly Mists will be less heavy on the “Big Bad” style of storyline, so perhaps it’ll be better at being immersive in the new zones.

I’ve got more thoughts on linear questing too, especially as it relates to Star Wars, but I think that’s another post.

Hope for the Best (part 1)
comment 1 Written by on January 14, 2012 – 1:44 pm

And so it begins – Aely and Arrens’ adventures in the far reaches of the Galaxy. It’s really good to be writing fic with Arrens again (to be fair, he wrote most of this, I’ll take most of the next part – Shared writing duties are awesome.)

Master Sideth looked at them both from the far end of the table sternly. “Arrens, Aely, I’m afraid you leave the Council little choice in the matter. While several on this Council would have you removed from the Order completely, your records are exemplary, your histories within the Order equally so…with the exception of this blatant violation.” He rubbed his fingers on his temples and looked weary.

The two Jedi stood silently, hands folded before them.

“What would you do were the roles reversed?” he asked.

Arrens spoke first. “Master, I’m afraid I cannot answer such a question without bias. Know that I have never before felt the Force flow through me with such strength and clear-minded purpose than when I have been with Aely. I will continue to maintain the tenets of the Order and hold no one person above another. But my feelings for her will not subside. As such, I will abide by the rulings of the Council, whatever they decide.”

“You walk a dangerous path, Arrens. It is fraught with temptation by the Dark Side – temptation, I fear, you have not felt in all your years within the Order.” Sideth looked to Aely. “And you? What would you have me do?”

Aely sighed. She looked at her hands for a moment, and then directly back at the Council. “I do not know. I know only that every Jedi has struggles to remain on the side of the Light, and it seems this will be mine. I will not abandon the Order over this, nor will I abandon the strength of my own knowledge in the Force. That strength led me here, I can only trust it will lead me forward.”

Sideth looked around the chamber at the other ruling members of the Jedi Council, who all nodded as one. “Then it is decided. We will not remove you from the Order. Not as yet. You are, however, to be removed from your posts within the Temple. You may have no interactions with Padawans without approval from myself and the other members of the Council. So that we may ensure your path down the Dark Side does not continue, you are to report to us regularly regarding your whereabouts and your dealings with others. I would encourage you to assist the Republic in its dealings with the Empire; they have much need for the healing arts in some of the galaxy’s more remote outposts. See where the Senate needs you most on Coruscant and proceed from there. But effective immediately, you are to pack your things and leave the Temple. Leave no word to your students, Arrens. Nor you to your patients, Aely. We will find suitable replacements for you both.”

The members of the Council stood together as Master Sideth delivered his final words.

“May the Force be with you both.”

Immersion and Community
comment 1 Written by on January 11, 2012 – 10:54 pm

So right now I’m playing both WoW and SWTOR. This is interesting, in that if I have the “dunwannas” for one of them, I can easily play the other. Also, I am approximately a peon of no consequence in SWTOR, so I don’t have two raiding schedules to keep up with. I do have two RP schedules to sort out, but so far that’s been OK.

What I’m learning, though, is what it is that makes an MMO “work” for me.

Turns out, I need two things. I need immersion, and I need community.

Immersion, for me, is the ability to “get lost” in a world, for it to kind of swallow you up so you become really involved in the world itself – regardless of quests really, though quests help. Community is both RP and OOC – both are important.

The reason I have learned this is because both games are feeling somewhat stilted on both counts right now.

In Star Wars, the community is squeaky and new, but also already established. I’m playing almost entirely with people I know already, but our characters are unfamiliar (to us and to each other) and there’s a good deal of “figuring things out”. The world itself is also giving me trouble, as it’s hard for me to get “lost” on Coruscant, since it’s essentially a technology warren instead of an outdoor “new world” like location. On top of that, people are generally quiet in channels – something that is also plaguing our WoW community right now. And I’ve had trouble, in general, with immersion in WoW since the world got rearranged for Cataclysm. It was easier once I was leveling a new character, but I still miss being totally sucked into the game the way I was in Wrath (and, to some extent, BC and Vanilla).

Neither of these have easy answers. I can’t change the game, and I can’t force my community to go back to what it was at an earlier date. I’m hoping, though, that with some emphasis on rebuilding RP and our OOC communication, I can at least re-engage with what we do have right now.

Introducing the Space Annas
comment 4 Written by on January 5, 2012 – 12:38 pm

Ever the alt-player, right now I have three characters on Lord Adraas in Star Wars, all under level 15. Considering I have nearly two full accounts of WoW alts, plus a myriad who have faced the deletion squad, I guess it’s not that surprising.

Aely’s by far my most advanced character, but I’m having fun with all three.

Aely, a Jedi Sage, whose new backstory I am working on currently.

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Annata, a Mirialan smuggler scoundrel who hooked up with Jeb, the leader of Coruscant Trade Company, for fun and profit. Also a chance to murderize the Empire.

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And Ana’leth, a Zabrak Jedi Sentinel with an eye for danger and a penchant for fighting first and asking questions after.

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Very First Impressions

November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …

A Girl and her Dog

November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …

Counting down to Warlords

November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …

Elevation

October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

Introducing the Newest Anna

June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm

So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …

Deconstruction

November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm

Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.

The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.

Yva Darrows was their first target.

Tirith and Aely were their second and third.

They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …

Patrol

November 13, 2013 – 9:59 am

The cathedral bells stop ringing overnight, except for chiming the hours. Three bell strikes, and Angoleth padded softly around another corner of the Cathedral District, staying carefully in the shadows. Trained ears picked up Mogget’s soft breathing – nearly inaudible …

Riders in Lordaeron – Memory

November 7, 2013 – 1:33 pm

(Written by Jolly, Tarquin, and Annalea)

The highlands of Lordaeron were not for the faint of heart; be it the putrescence of the Scourge’s long-lingering remnant, or the rock-strewn hills and valleys that made farmers out of only the most …

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