NBI Talkback Challenge #4: Gaming Sin-ulations

Zyngor | Friday, May 29, 2015 0 Comments
The final Talkback Challenge as part of the 2015 NBI extravaganza posed an interesting questionnaire to wrap up the month, thanks to Joseph Skyrim. Essentially, we'll be running through a question inspired by each sin, and see how much people want to hurt me (and possibly immolate) by the end.

LustDo you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?
I don't particularly take the character models into concern when deciding if I want to play a game. Generally my choice of games, such as MMOs, are those that are either free-to-play (F2P), or cheap enough that I have been able to pick up. That being said, it does not particularly bother me if the male or female avatars seem a bit...expressed in certain areas. My choices in character creation are rather dispersive from game to game, especially if I plan on having multiple characters.

Take, for example, a game like TERA - a F2P Korean MMO that indeed utilizes extra curves in some areas, paired with fairly skimmed outfits. I knew this before playing around with the game some, and it did not particularly bother me to start playing a female Sorceress. I had prior played with a Baraka Slayer (genderless race). Do I hate seeing curves? Of course not - I can't help my male craves! Still, it is not a driving focus for me to choose crude over prude - that is mainly a financial thing.

GluttonyDo you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?
I've seen responses to this kind of question in the past from others, and many seem to talk about how they have hundreds of unfinished (or unstarted) games in their Steam library. In my case, whether it's a blessing or a curse, my backlog is much smaller. As I kind of mentioned in the previous question, my current financial status keeps me from spending much on games. Generally, unless I have a gift card or something along those lines, I won't be buying any new games to add to my list.

This is a driving force to me playing MMOs, especially those in the F2P market. These kinds of games have constant additions of content, and are nearly impossible to truly "finish."

GreedDo you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?
If this is referring to a hand out by the developers/game itself, then as long as I have inventory space, I'd likely accept it, even if it entices doing an activity I'd likely not do. Take in case LOTRO, where they will occasionally run a Hobnanigans event - basically field hockey with chickens as the ball. It was fine to play the first time it came out, but has since not coaxed me to bother playing it since (this goes for many players, it seems). The game entices the player with a travel map to the location every time they log in/level up. This results in a hefty amount of maps by the time the event finishes, and at 7 copper selling price per map, I could make a whole silver-ton of coin! /sarcasm

If this is talking about a player hand out, I generally keep myself self-sufficient in MMOs, and generally do not accept them (not out of principle, but out of lack-of-need).

SlothDo you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?
No, I can't think of a case where I have intentionally went AFK with the means to leech from others. I have had to go AFK while in a party, but that was mainly for /bio reasons, and it'd just be a break for the party.

I'm generally not a heavy party player. If somebody needs help with something, and I have both the ability and time to assist them with that task, sure I'll give them a hand. If I don't help them out, it's generally either because I simply don't have the time to assist, or perhaps the situation is unique that I know the player is a bit of a ruffian. I'm not out to help the jerks, but that would generally be a very small portion of that game population.

WrathEver get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?
This is a simple and straight-forward one - nope. I rarely get angry or upset in a game/MMO, and even if there is a brief moment of frowny-face, I wouldn't let that spill out into chat/voice.

EnvyEver felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?
Admittedly, sure I'll feel jealous at times that my "end-game" is a bit lacking. I can get myself to max level, but my general sense is that it was the journey that took me there, not what I expect to find at the "finish line." I do tend to try and inspect or check out the kinds of gear that some can attain, and compare them to what I have at the time. Perhaps this causes a bit of drool to slip from the corners of my mouth - you caught me. I don't take end-game all that seriously, so I do not generally make a habit of trying much of it out (unless I have friends with whom to try it out).

Do I think they are cheating? Nah, I tend to think the best of people, so I generally won't raise an eye unless there is some kind of evidence pointing to an obvious exploit at hand.

PrideAre you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?
Nah...doesn't matter to me. I don't group up much, and as long as it looks like the party members are doing something, all G to me. If they are under-performing because they don't know the mechanics (and I do), I'll do my best to steer them the right way. Gotta start somewhere...

Well, I guess that wraps it up. Even if I only ended up doing two of the four Challenge prompts, they were both a good time. Thanks to those who came up with these ideas, and to the NBI for incubating us new and wayward bloggers into meeting other interesting and fun bloggers. Hopefully I continue to keep up with the casual blogging, and not let it go wayward...again. Cheers!

NBI2015 Talkback Challenge #3 - Origin Montage

Zyngor | Wednesday, May 27, 2015 0 Comments
With the finale of May just around the corner, the annual Newbie Blogger Initiative event is nearly finished for the year. There have been several writing prompts offered to its participants, referred to as "Talkback Challenges." Much like extra credit opportunities, these are completely optional opportunities for the crowd to reply and coalesce their own ideas on the prescribed topic at hand.

I did my best to get around and read several of these posts, and they seemed to all be very honest and thoughtful replies. I also felt I should probably get around to replying to one of these Challenges myself, but alas I found the first two (Gamergate & Early Access/Kickstarter) to simply be topics I would not be fit to post a response. Ultimately neither had much of an impact on me (sorry to say, but it's true). With a handful of days left, I would like to try and reply to the third and fourth response.

I'll start with the third prompt, and perhaps do the fourth in another post.

"What made you a Gamer?"

This prompt was issued by Jaedia, who wanted to know how we came to identify ourselves as a gamer. Cue the origin reel!

I don't have a terribly descriptive backstory that led to my interest in games. I was not a console gamer in my youth (nor am I much of one now), but I did enjoy my time spent in the computer lab in my elementary school. Whether we were learning the controls of the keyboard or printing our own doodles out on that nifty continuous stationery (with the rippable sides), it was always something I anticipated.

This also included the times we had free time, and were allowed to play some of the various educational games loaded on the machines. Yep, I suppose the system played its part to assist me in my joy of being a gamer. Notable titles I remember included Math Blaster and Word Munchers, both which had memorable avatars and just enough enjoyment mixed in with the calculating & pronunciating to resonate on the gamer frequency.

Bringing a PC into the household later assisted to fuel those tendencies. I now had the power to enter a plethora of virtual words to embrace my gamerhood...or at least once I finished my schoolwork, and before bedtime. I was not a highly prolific gamer, to my recollection, so it was mostly either games that would come in some mega-pack with a PC (such as Rogue Squadron), or maybe the occasional game received from a holiday.

As I aged a bit and was allowed to keep one of the old PCs in my room, this brought out the night owl in me, and I could now game into the peak hours of solitude. Paired with the introduction of the Internet to the home, I could now find games online (especially freeware titles) to try on my own machine. I also got pretty heavy into playing Diablo 2 at the time, both online and my own offline campaign. I found RPGs to be a pretty awesome genre, as I could get a lot out of them, and the replayability complimented my overall lackluster game collection.

Since then, the Internet became a much bigger part of what made me a gamer, as I got into communities (ie forums) of other gamers and creative types. These were safe havens of anonymous folk (some which I got to know more than just a username) that opened up channels of fairly like-minded communication. There were my people, and they all rocked. You can also certainly desensitize yourself to a certain extend from trolls and the other evils of the Internet by spending awhile and learning what the nameless world has to offer, which I think has helped in dealing with the world of multiplayer gaming.

So there's my story. I think that from the start, having started playing non-competitive titles kinda trained my brain over time to take on gaming as a casual (and at that time, learning) activity. While I have had my streaks of playing around with something like an online shooter, those tendencies to compete in gaming aren't really prevalent. Just play the game, and I'm sure I'll do my best to make a good time out of it to compliment my gamestyle. If it's not my cup of tea, there's so much out there that something inevitably becomes a better fit.

And I'm Free, Free Fallin' - #NBI2015Safari

Zyngor | Sunday, May 24, 2015 2 Comments
Rico just noticed he left the stove on...good thing he left it in a Panau refinery

Today I leapt off the tallest peak in the lands. The virtual land of Panau, that is. As part of Murf's on-going NBI Safari 2015, my third submission is a Landscape shot of protagonist Rico Riguez soaring off the highest peak in Just Cause 2, an open-world action title by developer Avalanche Studios.

Most of this game will have you attempting to outmaneuver and overthrow the existing dictatorship, guns a-blazing and grapple hook a-...grappling. This part may feel familiar to one of the other kings of the open world genre, Grand Theft Auto. The story is most definitely not a strength of Just Cause 2, but then again, I think story in open world games are merely a small push to get the player out of the door and. Ultimately, it's the feeling of getting yourself lost in the world that is really the focus.

Getting lost in open world titles like this one and Far Cry 3 take you from the civilized GTA and out into the jungles and mountains. There is definitely something serene in rifling through the foliage, perhaps stalking some prey (as you will find in FC3), or finding the tallest peak and soaring untethered (eventually activating that parachute at the latest moment...or somehow being able to grapple to a surface from hundreds of feet, unharmed).

I do intend to complete as much of the content in JC2 as possible - open world titles are an ideal magnet for completionists. The actual storyline may have been a bit lackluster, but there are still a TON of outposts and collectibles to deal with, and should I happen to helicopter past a scene like I did here, it's hard to pass up abandoning that chopper (sorry, Arnold) and taking a thrilling leap to the next target.

Run...It's a Stampede! - #NBI2015Safari

Zyngor | Saturday, May 16, 2015 1 Comment
These fellows are quire the Mumak-illers!
As part of my second Safari shot, I shall be rolling with The Scariest Place category to accompany several Mumakil (or, being a hobbit, I suppose I should say Oliphaunts?) that have taken an interest in my gal. One even started barreling down on me - it's a good thing I take leg day seriously! Don't mind the ring over their head - I must have forgotten to disable that option before taking the shot (it just means they're part of a quest).

While Mumakil themselves are not evil, their enslavement by the Haradrim certainly causes them to be feared by most. If one of these oversized peanut-lovers are on your tail, it's bad new's bears for you. Although, if you are Legolas, it's basically a playground at Chuckie Cheese.

We have seen creatures like the mammoth in LOTRO, but the latest area of the game, East Gondor (Update 16) introduces this big papa of four-legged creatures in Middle Earth. Another shot below (not part of the Safari...more of an outtake) shows what happens when you try to mess with a Mumak without the use of your UI. I quite enjoyed the limbs captured in the image (and yes, it's over 9000). Ripperoni pepperoni!

First Lemme Take a Dwarf Selfie - #NBI2015Safari

Zyngor | Monday, May 11, 2015 9 Comments

Isolation can be a powerful tool in an MMO, especially one based off a world as rich as Tolkien's. As part of Murf's Screenshot Safari NBI2015 challenge, I have chosen to snap a Selfie from one of my LOTRO challenge characters, Crabori, as he channels his rage atop Amon Sul in the Lone Lands.

Crabori's not gunna win any friendship awards anytime soon. Adjectives like 'grouch', 'curmudgeon', and 'frumpypants' have been used by those who've come across his path. Due to his loathsome nature, Crabori has decided to refuse his service to aid or join the folk of Middle Earth with their various inquiries. Instead, he aims to improve his skill with the blade in the simplest way possible - slicing down the baddies, and then dicing up some more.

In a nutshell, Crabori the Champion is not permitted to start or complete any quests. There are a couple exception, such as having done some in the intro as required to get through, and there maybe a couple FAR later down the road such as a minimal route to get Legendary Items and whatnot. Otherwise, he cannot start/complete Epic or zone quests, and instead must gain experience through enemy kills. He will also be going at it alone, unless he happens to meet a real jerk to bond with along the way.

Gearwise, I will try and keep him as self-sufficient as possible, in terms of using the resources he earns to fill things out. As such, the gold he earns from selling to a vendor (or selling something he finds on AH) or marks from deed(s) can be used as he wishes, including buying something through the AH (as he's only dealing business with an auctioneer). The true challenge is being able to stomach the amount of landscape kills required to get him the suitable amount of experience; it'll definitely be an on-going here-and-there campaign. He is currently sitting at roughly level 26.5 (out of the 100 current level cap).

This was really just a way for me to mess around with something different, accompanied with my admiration for just going out there, killing something, and seeing what the RNG loot table has in store for each kill. As long as I continue to try and keep my weapons up to shape either via AH (if he has the gold on him) or skirmish camp (if he's got the few marks built up from deeding), or possibly lootbox (permitted to open them, as long as he's got his own key and box), it'll be doable but extremely arduous.

Thanks to Murf for the neat challenge - from what I have seen, there are some really neat-looking shots and description so far! It's not too late to join - hit up the link in the first paragraph for a description of this event.

LOTRO U16 & Progression Soup

Zyngor | Thursday, May 07, 2015 2 Comments
After a lapse of kinda-sorta not really playing much LOTRO, other than logging in and having my character pretty much idle while I alt-tabbed to watch some Twitch streams, I decided to try and jump back into checking out what the latest Update 16: Ashes of Osgiliath had to offer. And by "check out", I mean know exactly what I was looking for, because, you know, the Internet already told me everything. *inserts obligatory high-five to all the cool people in the LOTRO community*

My guard's LI post-imbuement
Even before proceeding with the mindless automatic task of opening up the store and dishing out my "currency-de-plume", Turbine Points, to purchase the East Gondor pack (as I usually do with any new content update, proceeded by a *doh* when it immediately goes on sale), I was rather intrigued by the new Legendary Item (LI) imbuement system. The original intention when Moria came out in 2008 of having our own "Sting" that would have leveled up with us from the start (around level 50) had been replaced with a constant deconstruction and creation of a new LI every 5-10 levels, and imbuing with U16 seems like a decent attempt toward finally perhaps scratching toward that long-lost objective.

As it now stands, imbuing an LI (any kind except bridles) can only be done on level 100 items, after which some legacies may change around, and you'll basically be required to get it some levels to even up with your pre-imbued LI. Eventually it'll surpass the power of your pre-imbued LI, and you may continue to level it further. I'll spare the details, because like every LI update, it's pretty darn confusing to get the handle on exactly what you as the player should be doing. Long story short, my Magikarp turned into a Gyarados (ok, that was a little extreme, but you get the gist). Check out a nice comprehensive guide like Dadi's imbuement guide here for more info, and take note on the preparation tips for getting your non-imbued LI ready to be imbued.

Anywho, I think one of the reasons the LI imbuement first piqued my interest over the new game content may have had to do with the lack of progression we've seen in the last couple of updates. Specifically, the kind of progression that interests ME (because it's obviously all about me, fus ro duh). I'm talking about actual character progression (levels, hard-coded stat boosts, etc), over gear progression. Yes, I know I just spent two paragraphs talking about "evolved weapons", but that was more aimed toward it being a modified game system than a new gear "check". And, for the sake of not having to be using my brain cavity sponge much, I'll gracefully separate "gear progression" as a means of "character progression". 

LOTRO last saw a level cap raise from 95 to 100 in July 2014, and has since seen several new areas come out while keeping the level cap at level 100. There also does not appear to be any plans for a level cap raise this year, or at least is not "in the cards," according to EP Vyvyanne.

Fine, keep us at 100. But how about adding some form of sideways progression in LOTRO that is not merely upgrading gear through instances? I'm not exactly the instancer-type. Basically, introduce something akin to RIFT's Planar Attunement (PA) system (seen below). Once a character in RIFT hits 50, they can start filling an additional experience bar with its own juice. Fill it up, and you'll earn a point to spend on one of several element-themed trees (as long as there's somewhere to spend a point, you'll need getting PA experience). Each perk on its own is rather minuscule, but pair together the amount of earnable perks with the fact the PA experience is shared across all characters, and you have plenty of opportunities to accrue some nice horizontal character progression that will take you well beyond hitting the level cap (current 65 in RIFT), Perhaps additional character trait tree points in LOTRO, like we've seen before?

Still, I did buy the East Gondor quest pack and start questing up a bit, along with continuing the Epic story. I cannot say much about it yet, as I am only toe-deep into the new quests, It's always good to see some familiar faces, and I hear a certain Gondorian ranger might make an appearance (suck it, Boromir). Story has always been a strength of LOTRO, as you could probably figure by the IP, so I expect it'll keep the e-tale going well.

Bartle Test categorizations
I only recently found out about the Bartle Test, an analysis of various player types that exist within multiplayer games (probably most relevant to MMOs these days). You can take the test yourself here. Not surprisingly, I fall under the Explorer branch (83%). The test via that link also gave me a 53%/53% split of Achiever and Socializer, and a mere 7% Killer. I'd likely think myself as more straddling the line of Explorer and Achiever, and perhaps this is why I'd like to see more means of sideways progression in MMOs so that I may continue to delve into quests in new areas at max levels, while earning some form of credit to further my character's abilities.

Did you take the Bartle Test, or are already self-aware of which category you'd fall under? Also, does whatever respective MMO/game you play offer a means of sideways/horizontal progression to accompany the main goals of character advancement? Feel free to share! 

Newbie Blogger Initiative: Age of Run-On

Zyngor | Sunday, May 03, 2015 4 Comments
This stealth blogger creeps along swiftly, keeping the reticule on target. His bow is poised, arrows dipped in the appropriate toxin made 'specially for the intended target. His mind isn't even thinking about the mandatory chest at the end of the dungeon, though now that it's been mentioned, I think he only needs a couple more gems to make that overflowed urn in the homestead a deadly avalanche of wealth.

He is the wayward blogger, and his prey is the ubiquitous Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI), a courageous group of accomplished and apprentice bloggers. Though this is a completely new beast for this lone hunter to tackle, he thinks that his legendary and almost again double maxed sense of Stealth can follow the NBI and perhaps do some ninja-like blogging of his own. Crouched, he approaches closer to the camp of bloggers, and reaches back to grab an arro....LYDIA! What are you doing here, go home. Yes, I know I know, honor to me. Get outta here...

Anywho, yes it has been awhile since I posted anything here. Then I saw the mention of the NBI starting up in May, and with the dizzying spell of the #Beleffect washing over the World Wide Web (it's a viral inFUNction, I heard), I figured perhaps I'd give it a shot, or at least pretend to play along on the sidelines.

As was the case with Blaugust, I'm not totally sure what to expect heading into this. I am not necessarily looking to promote my blog, but to rather experience the events as part of the NBI. To start off, I have decided to shorten my blog title from "The Life of a Pleasant Gamer" to simply "Pleasant Gamer" to embrace the brevity. If it works on Twitter, it's gotta work elsewhere!

The premise of my blog is pretty much the same. I am a non-competitive gamer with a low budget - if ramen noodles were an MMO, I'd probably be waiting until it went F2P to try it out. Though LOTRO has been my top MMMO of choice, I have lately been playing around with a bit more variety (and not necessarily "popular" titles). Basically, if they build it (and make it free), they will come...though Hello Kitty Online was a tough pill to swallow.

So to all participants of NBI - have fun! You should most definitely check out the Newbie Blogger Initiative (yes, we're still waiting for the Hulk to arrive...he said "ME HUNGRY" and was last seen at Cici's Pizza) and sign up as a newbie/mentor. If I can cobble together these words, you so can so you.

Sorry if this first post mentioning NBI is a couple days late - that real-life thing happened, causing a bit of a delay. I was told that deleting lifesystem32 would take care of the problem, so I'll give that a shot and call WebMD in the morning.