Pithy Insightful Commentary

30 Jun

Actually not.  Its just hard to come up with continuing variations on a “Weekend Update” theme.


The instance group is on temporary hiatus due to certain vacation plans, so while we are all about 68+, the slog up the final Hillary Step seems to be exactly that.  A slog.

We have been extraordinarily efficient in leveling almost exclusively via instance work once a week and only one other noninstance session each week which, particularly since the 2.3 patch, has allowed us to pretty much remain level appropriate for all instances with our modest play budget.  With the crack like concentrated xp that instance work has generated, its very hard to feel like you’re making any progress by “merely” doing quests.  Even more so when you’re running a group of more than two or three.

As Wilhelm, the Ancient Gaming Noob reported, we lifted our self imposed stay at level rule for our group since we were so close to 70.  Playing mostly with the group twice a week, I hadn’t really noticed how significant the solo bias has crept in.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m pro solo experience but I’m also very pro small group.

A week or so ago, I happened to take a Sunday– ostensibly a non-WoW day– to grind a bit to get over the hump to level 68.  Several of us were still stuck in the last half of 67.  In a matter of a relatively short time, I knocked out some green quests in Terrokar and Shadowmoon to get over the hump.  Others of our group, playing only during our “appointed” group times twice a week have failed to keep pace when doing non-instanced content.

No news here, but for the same amount of time that we play together, we make less progress than had we undertaken the same content for the same amount of time.  Playing with a group of three or four, we simply don’t make as much progress as a solo or group of two.

That’s frustrating.  Instance minimum is five but if I can’t make the same experience (or more) working together with a group for the same amount of play time, something’s borked.


So much for WoW.  Mrs. P and I logged into EQ2 for a brief session and managed to level and nearly get another as we scale the teens and try to remember how to play the game.


Like so many other bloggers, we took obvious note of Blizzard’s announcement of Diablo III.  Go them.  Despite the gameplay being so NOT MMO, I loved the original and will give them at least $50 as a nostalgia dividend.  If the multi works decently enough, I could see our WoW group trying to explore this game ad nauseum.


Given my state of boredom with the MMO space, I downloaded the Spore creature creator and spent some time playing with that.  Lots of fun and I’m very interested in seeing what the rest looks like.

One of our instance buddies mentioned that he had been looking around for something else and mentioned Sins of a Solar Empire. I started drooling at the possibility of rekindling an RTS night.  Before MMOs, RTS games (C&C, Warcraft, AoE, AoK) ruled our universe for years and Sins seems like a good opportunity to go there again.


I can’t believe the continuing “conversation” that has grown from Richard Bartle’s off the cuff comments “I’ve played Warhammer.  Its called World of Warcraft.”  or somesuch (I’m too tired to link the quote).  Raph Koster has weighed in and said that MMOs left more features of MUDs behind than they implemented.  A ridiculous quasi-historical discussion ensued on Raph’s site that seems to be racing to discover the Big Bang of the current MMO genre.  Most folks left it at  D&D was a major root influence from which all or most MUDs, MOOs, MUSHs, and later MMOs flowed.

So we owe everything to Gary Gygax’s Chainmail (R.I.P.) or Avalon Hill or Tolkien or Risk or Parchesi.  Meh.   Two questions go unanswered in all this conflated Gas Baggery:  1) Why hasn’t anyone innovated on the basic game mechanics in 50 years and 2) WTF happened to the single most distinctive feature of the table top gaming system that purportedly evolved into MUDs and MMOs:  the Game Master.

Absent the game master, the game is simply a ruleset, generally applied to static content.  No MMO to date has anything even close to the approximation of a real live breathing game master.  Therein lies the next generation my friends.

We can all learn how to kill Van Cleef as a staged, canned encounter.  Its the same whether its a group of 5 alliance mages or a mixed group of hordies or a level 70 warlock and 4 various classed noobs or whatever.  “Van Cleef pay big for your head.”  And you for the box and the subscription.  Make that encounter dynamic based on the level and mix of classes in the encounter– and what they’ve done in the virtual world then to date– and I’ll buy stock in that company.

Non Game

Finally, it warmed my heart to hear that the 73 year old Leonard Cohen stole the show at the Glastonbury Festival.  My faith in humanity may have been restored.

And the first tomato from my garden was harvested and it was good.

P out.

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Posted by on June 30, 2008 in General, World of Warcraft


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