Totally as a fluke, I recieved no fewer than three Scrolls of Ressurrection in my email yesterday. I’m not sure why some friends suddenly felt it was “Liore Should Try WoW Again” day, but when serendipity speaks like that who am I to not listen?
The Scroll acceptance process was well explained and fairly quick. I had to log into my Battle.net account (after remembering my password), and I could select which Scroll I wanted to accept. The home server and faction of your Scroll-giver is also your free transfer location, so choose wisely!
After accepting a scroll I was presented with a list of every character I have on every server, along with an explanation of what services would be provided if I chose to “boost” that character. Some, already on the same server and faction as my Scroll-giving friend, were only eligible for the auto-levelling, while others were eligible for the whole package. I also had the option of logging into the game and creating a new character, and then returning to the Scroll administration page to level and transfer that one.
I won’t lie — I spent about 20 minutes pondering what to do with my newfound powers. Both of my level-capped characters are on Boulderfist Horde with some real life friends, while the bulk of my lower level alts are on Uldum Alliance with the (mostly defunct now) WoW branch of the Cats. I knew I wanted to focus on PvP with this character, so probably Uldum Alliance was the way to go. But should I stick with a Priest, the class I can play in my sleep, or should I venture into untested waters? Concerns about the game aside I love playing a priest, but I had certainly spent my share of time looking at other healing classes with envy in PvP. I’m so squishy, and some more cooldowns would be nice…
And that, children, is how I became a paladin.
I logged into the middle of Stormwind and unleashed a flood of achievement spam on people, including each level decade from 20-80, epic riding, and first aid. I was asked to select my preferred spec (Holy, Prot, or Ret) ahead of time, and my paladin appeared in a full set of (unenchanted, ungemmed, unglyphed) green gear appropriate for holy, and my hotbar and keybindings were set to “your most useful spells”.
Amusingly enough I actually didn’t get around to DOING anything with Clothie yet as by the time I fixed my mods it was already getting late. I know much of the concern around the new Scroll offer was over the fact that magically levelled characters are probably lacking the experience to play well in group content, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly true. Being dropped into a brand new, almost level-capped class is a little daunting, and were I to queue as a healer in an instance I would be a total menace. Suddenly the fuzzy newbie tooltips that I mocked on my priest (“This spell heals things!”) are useful. Apparently I accumulate something called “Holy Power”, which looks a bit like Tactical Advantage on my Operative in SWTOR, and of course there are the all the Auras and Hands and things.
The plan now is to just hurl myself into battlegrounds between 80 and 85, and apologize a lot when I let people die. My advice to any WoW players out there is that if you see Clothie the Dwarf Paladin on your team for the next few weeks, run. Or at least tell me where my heal buttons are.
The inspiration for this post came from two other posts that I don’t even want to link to, because giving them hits seems wrong. One was a post by an MMO blogger about how all feminists are part of a cult of angry man-haters (and the ensuing comments about how much people hate those crazy bitches). The second was a post by a video game correspondant for a well-known news site who wrote that “geeky” women shouldn’t try and stand out in a crowd or they’re just fake geeks doing it for male attention.
Seriously, what the hell people?
If you read this weblog with any regularity you know I’m a feminist and I’m not afraid to drop 600 words of social justice theory on you at the slightest provocation, but that’s not what I’m gonna do right now. Instead, I wanna talk about the main way I personally try to be more understanding about the world, instead of just getting upset and writing crazy insular posts about how everyone who I don’t like is a slut.
Are you ready? Here it is: My experiences are not everyone else’s experiences.
Pretty much my favorite phrase in the whole world of rhetoric is “anecdotes are not data”. My personal experiences and stories other people have told me during my life and shit I see on television does not equal the entirety of human experience.
For example, I have never been harassed in a scary, overtly sexual manner in an MMO. I’ve had some people try to good naturedly push the line, but never out of anger or as a power play. One of the big arguments against the original plan for RealID was that using real names on the official forum would expose people who were victims of stalking and other scary sexualized harassment. If I’ve never been harassed in that way, does that mean I didn’t support people who objected to RealID for that reason? Does that mean I think Apple Cider’s story of harassment isn’t real or significant? Of course not!
I was the guild leader and occasional raid leader for a heroic raiding guild for quite some time. Thanks to recruitment methods and just guild culture out of the hundreds of people I’ve recruited over the years only 2 or 3 at the most ever had a problem with having a woman as “the boss”. Does that mean that women raid guild leaders are a common occurrence, or never experience any struggles with being respected? No, of course not — hardcore raiding is infamous for its general “get back in the kitchen” culture. It may not have held back my raiding experience, but that doesn’t mean no one else has ever found themselves in the position of not being listened to or being marginalized in a raid group because they’re a woman.
I had a really good discussion in IRC this morning with a guildie about PVP in MMOs. He was explaining that what he’d really like to see is PvP where no advantages are granted for the time invested — basically a Team Fortress 2 mini-game in an MMO. And to be honest, my very first response was to get my back up. MMOs are all about time investment! I like to invest in my character and be an achiever! What is this “everyone is a winner” crap!
But.. hang on. My guildie said he’d like it to be an option, not the final word in online PvP. Okay, so maybe a game could cater to both of us. (In fact, I believe GW2 will do this, but that is for another post.) But.. well, now that I think about it, why would it have to cater to both of us to be acceptable? There are a ton of MMOs that grant superiority based on the time invested. Why couldn’t there be one game that just has “casual”, TF2-style PvP? Must every game cater to my whims?
Of course not. Despite my bad attitude and PvP experience I am in fact not the final arbiter of what a “real PvPer” is, just as being a woman or a geek does not make me a final arbiter of what a “real woman” is or a “real geek girl”.
Take a step back, everyone. Are you assuming that your life experiences are the same as everyone else’s? Or that yours are more “correct” for some reason? Perspective is your friend. Go get some.
If you’re following the news about Guild Wars 2 you probably already know that there was a beta test this past weekend for gaming press and a few fortunate others. As of 6am PDT this morning the media are able to talk about most things they saw during the beta weekend, while non-media people — like, say, a Canadian hobbyist who runs a weblog about gaming — are still legally obligated to not speak about their experiences in any way or to even admit that there was a beta.
So, what I have for you today is a curated selection of the media response to this weekend’s beta. These hopefully paint a picture of a game that adds detail in areas that previous MMOs have ignored such as character creation, of a PvE game that is strongly reminiscent of RIFT, and that World vs. World is the jewel of GW2 and will be the core of its success. Or so I’ve read. Enjoy!
On Character Creation:
“I always love a good, in-depth character creation system, as there’s a joy in spending a good amount of time making exactly the sort of character you want to play. Unfortunately, most MMOs have stripped this process down to the bare basics, which is why I’m pleased to announce that it’s actually a mini-journey in and of itself in Guild Wars 2.[...]
[The appearance settings] is the screen where you’ll probably be spending the most time, fine-tuning your looks until you’ve sculpted the character that suits you best. There’s a dizzying array of options here, starting with a basic height slider and physique selection. Be it muscly, hairy, thin, busty, or sculpted, there’s a good-looking option available (no overweight or ugly people allowed through Tyria’s customs, I guess). Charr get the extra option of fur here, and Norn can select from a fine display of tattoos.” – Justin Olivetti, Massively
On Skills and Traits:
“As you put points into a trait, these skills become unlocked. So let’s say you spend 5 trait points into the Strength branch. The first skill you unlock has you do damage at the end of a dodge roll. It really changes how you play the game. It takes a defensive move, and turns it into an offensive tool for the warrior to use. To show how this is different for other professions, the Necromancer has a trait skill that summons a minion after completing a dodge roll. This makes the roll even more defensive for the Necromancer, as it allows them to escape and use the minion to get the enemies attention. This really shows how the traits can fit any play type.” – David North, MMORPG.com
On Questing and Events:
“The game follows the traditional MMO path of having a central story mired in sidequests and grinding. Really, all the sidequests ARE grinding, as they’re less of the “fetch” variety, and more of the “help this person slay enemies in the area” type. [...]
Leveling needs to be a bit more regulated however. The main questline constantly kept telling me that I was a few levels below where I should be to proceed, but I’d completed all the grinding areas that were supposed to help me level. The fact is, you’ll need to constantly be doing quests above your level, or else you run out of things to do.” – Paul Tassi, Forbes
“What separates these from regular MMO quests is that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you help. Each area has its requests, and you just pitch in along with anyone else who happens to be around. Everything adds a blip to a bar, and when that bar is full, you’re done.
This makes a massive difference. You never have to worry about kill-stealing, because Guild Wars 2 happily shares the credit with anyone who helped. You never find yourself standing around waiting for a particular item to respawn because there’s always (at least so far) another two things you could be doing instead.” – Richard Cobbett, Rock, Paper Shotgun
On World vs. World:
“I would have to say, however, that the absolute best part of my time in WvW was being involved in a fortress siege. Madness! Sweet, glorious havoc! Catapults fired everywhere while castle defenders rained hell from the battlements and the infantry of both sides duked it out in front of the keep’s gates. It was one of the most intense, edge-of-my-seat experiences I’ve had in quite some time, and I absolutely can’t wait to do it again.” – Matt Daniel, Massively
I haven’t posted much here in the past few weeks, I know. For a large part of that time I was at the bottom of the Mass Effect 3 well. After finishing, I needed a few days to sulk about the ending. (Yes, I did literally stomp my feet and declare that I “hated all video games now”.) Now I’m off on a mini-vacation and won’t be back until Monday!
A few weeks ago Syp over at BioBreak complained that MMO blogs are mostly very concerned with the details of the industry and game design, and seem less interested in talking about what they’re actually playing. I thought it was a good point, so let’s help fix that a bit:
Mass Effect 3: Sigh. You already know that I didn’t like the ending, but the rest of the game could not have been better. Don’t be scared off by all the hubbub — the only reason people are so upset is because the rest of the series is so good.
Mass Effect 1: So now is the point where I admit that I haven’t finished ME1 before. I know! I’m a philistine! When I’ve picked it up in the past I tried to play it on Hard mode and just became frustrated with the 2005-style inventory and squad AI, not to mention driving that most hated of vehicles, the Mako. This time around I put aside my gamer pride and am just playing it through on Easy for the story and.. lo and behold, I’m having a much better time. I still can’t resist being a paragon redhead FemShep, though. Anything else just seems wrong.
RIFT: I popped into RIFT this week to check out phase 3 of the Carnival of the Ascended event and do the quest to collect my third token towards the event mount, a giant clockwork spider. Tomorrow the carnival games are over, apparently, and the new more war-oriented phase 4 will begin, so I will be back in Telara soon to check it out!
SWTOR: Bioware MMO-space took a backseat to Bioware RPG-space last week, but I’m back now. I feel like I’m in a bit of a holding pattern until patch 1.2 hits, honestly, although the recent patch that increased warzone medals for healing is very pleasant. I got to see (although not kill yet) the penultimate boss in Karagga’s Palace and collected the mats to make my first reusable buff stim. On the whole SWTOR is a lot more casual for me — I raid for 2 hours a week and log on 3 or 4 nights. I sort of miss the old pull that I felt in the heyday WoW, but this suits my life much better for the time being.
Draw Something: If you don’t already play this, it’s essentially Pictionary for mobile phones. Half the fun is the fact that I can’t draw worth a damn and my “flamingo” just look like a fat duck with one leg.
I believe I have something pretty exciting in the works for next week, so until then enjoy the weekend and play on. :)
(note: no spoilers in this post)
“Some people have argued that in Mass Effect 3, BioWare has delivered something different from what it promised. This is irrelevant. In its role as both an art object and a consumer product, Mass Effect 3 remains the property of its maker. As a final product, it is the expression of those who created it, and its sole objective is to be consumed–not re-created–by its audience.” – Laura Parker, GameSpot
“There are some things that don’t make a ton of sense—can someone explain the actions of the Normandy in those final moments?—but many of the complaints about the game’s ending ring false, and show more about video game fans than they do Bioware.” – Ben Kuchera, Penny Arcade
In my opinion the most interesting aspect of the whole Mass Effect 3 ending has been the line it has drawn between (many) game journalists and (many) players. A lot of players are angry about the ending, even raising almost $70,000 for charity in an attempt to get the attention of Bioware. The response from a number of the popular gaming news sites, however, has essentially been to tell players to settle down and stop whining. It’s a fascinating divide.
Are the professionals right? Honestly, it’s hard for me to tell as I’m one of the people who are dissatisfied with the ending. I wouldn’t have complained if I stumbled into a traditional happy ending, but I don’t think I’m unable to accept sadness or dark themes. And there are some definite weird plot holes in the final moments that even the pros agree were poorly realized.
On the other hand, as usual the internet has managed to take everything to extremes. There’s telling people that you don’t like the end of ME3, and then there’s filing a complaint about it with the FTC or threatening Bioware employees with violence. I have no truck with those people, though, and neither do most gamers.
However, the repeated argument that games are untouchable art and players are just entitled whiners is, in my opinion, ivory tower nonsense. It reminds me a lot of the response of game developers and publishers in the face of criticism about DLCs: both groups are telling consumers that they should stop worrying their pretty little heads about the details and just keep consuming. We bought a game, not the right to an opinion, apparently. If we are upset about the ending it’s because we just can’t understand it.
I am happy to argue in favor of video games being art as much as a television show could be art, but what the journalists who use this argument ignore is that the most artful game available for sale in the world is still very much a good in an extremely active market. (Oddly enough the only news site that seemed to understand this was Forbes. Yes, I’m linking to Forbes.) These journalists apparently think that players are sullying up the genre with our coarse insistence on making a game a consumer product, but that shows remarkably little understanding of real world context.
We buy games. Can you review the Mona Lisa on Amazon? Has there ever been a multi-million dollar advertising campaign for Rodin’s The Thinker? I will agree that games are an art form completely independent from their critical success and perceived commercial value when Michaelangelo tries to sell us a Sistine Chapel DLC.
What these big news sites have written off with a wave of the hand as “entitlement” is in most cases actually just being an empowered consumer.
Is the ending of Mass Effect 3 automatically terrible because a lot of players say it is? No. Popular does not equal correct. However, it’s foolish for professional gaming journalists to write off player opinion because we apparently just don’t appreciate good art. In this day and age games are a commodity, albeit an artful commodity, and trying to pretend otherwise just alienates players and makes you look out of touch.