A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

There's a land you promised us! Deliver us to the promised land...

As mentioned before, when I go quiet, it’s usually because things have settled into a comfortable happy rut. The same old games routine leaves nothing new to comment on.

MMO Population Blues

Wildstar seems to be undergoing its first month blues, what with one blogger announcing they’ve canceled their subscription and another commenting on how the online population appears to have dropped.

I don’t know, perhaps it’s disinterest and perhaps it’s just pragmatism, but I can’t really bring myself to be concerned one way or the other.

Guild numbers and roster counts don’t really mean anything, in my opinion, except to show that attrition always takes place over time.

In two years of GW2, I’ve seen my two main guilds bounce up and down in online players: offline members ratio and all it really says is how well each guild is doing in time – was there anyone actively recruiting, was the leadership active or did it go dormant, did anyone clean out the guild roster lately of people who lost interest in the game, etc.

They certainly didn’t reflect anything regarding overall game population numbers, considering that the best period of activity one had was when the other was almost dying, and vice versa.

The megaserver change that GW2 dropped on us is more sneaky in comparison.

I logged on today in Divinity’s Reach and consciously reveled in the fact that there were some 30-40 people running around just near the Trading Post and Bank area. “See,” I told myself, “GW2’s doing great! Look at how many people there are online!”

Then the more cynical part of my mind stopped me and said, “Ah, but don’t forget that this perception is due to the megaserver.”

Which is true and somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, imo. Crowds beget crowds. Someone who needs a social atmosphere is inclined to stay logged on if he or she sees people around them. I’m sure Tarnished Coast would be able to pull up a similar kind of number without the megaserver, but we’d probably lose those players from less crowded servers who can’t transfer off.

As for Wildstar, welp, the only ones who knows the real numbers are the devs. So let’s see how they react in the days to come. What they do or don’t do will reveal just how important they regard keeping subs, creating new subs or selling CREDD, and what their strategy is in regards to the casual/hardcore divide and earning revenue.

I’ve decided I really don’t care that much either way about the typical MMOs any longer and am just watching all the various rants from the peanut gallery and chomping down on popcorn.

GW2

I don’t need a promised land made up of dreams and future MMO sandboxes.

I’m already THERE.

I’ve been there for close to two years now. It’s not PERFECT, but it’s been comfy enough to be a home.

If I didn’t have GW2, I’d find somewhere else to settle down. The next best thing.

Probably A Tale in the Desert. Or Guild Wars 1. (City of Heroes did fine for 4-5 years running before things became a little too static and too traditional for comfort.) Wherever.

Point is, there’s so many games on the market that if someone couldn’t find something to satisfy or suffice, then the problem is probably less with the game and more about how someone is in a more nomadic than settler frame of mind.

So what have I been doing on the Guild Wars 2 front?

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Dailies. My ritual gathering of nodes and iron ore because it’s fun.

A significant amount of Dry Top geode farming because I’m in love with the Ambrite weapons and it sort of has the meditative fun of a zerg-y champion train with more sophistication in the strats used for each event, without the utter boredom of a sequence that a bot could be programmed to perform.

Totally in love with this greatsword.

Totally in love with the Scorpiones greatsword.

Say hello to mah lil friend.

Say hello to mah lil friend.

I look forward to each recipe I get to ever so slowly buy.

I stalled out on Episode 2’s achievements due to the reputed bug in the Concordia instance and haven’t gotten around to moving beyond that. Perhaps later or when the next patch arrives. At least the stress is gone from it not being temporary content.

I poked around in the next part of the Dry Top area, since I more or less stumbled into it while hunting Lost Coins, and indulged the explorer part of me.

There's some really lovely landscapes in the next section...

There’s some really lovely landscapes in the next section…

I popped in on the Triple Trouble Wurm today, after a long time of not showing up because I got bored with the boss. Got lucky and managed to taxi in. Things went super smoothly and a kill was obtained. And you know what made me smile?

There was a little level 49 standing right in front of the Wurm chest, going “holy crap, I don’t know what just happened, I just got this game a week and a half ago, I was just here and people were saying get into Teamspeak…”‘

Then he put on his shiny new Wurm’s Bane title.

He had 449 AP.

I don’t begrudge him a thing.

This, my friends, is the beauty of Guild Wars 2 and open world raids.

It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t max level. That he didn’t have crazy gearscore or what have you. He didn’t have to spend a month or two ‘getting attuned’ or jumping hoops and matching schedules to get into a raid guild just to ‘earn’ the right to be there.

He’s never going to forget his first wurm kill.

He’s going to remember the rush of all the people around him. If he has the slightest interest, now or later on, he’ll recall the TTS guild website where he can sign up to be a member.

He’ll have one hell of a story to tell to anyone who asks how a level 49 character got his title.

(To a lesser extent, similar things can happen with guild missions. I joined my NA guild today for theirs, and for the guild challenge, the 20-25 of us DIS managed to gate crash CERN‘s Save Our Supplies disco party of 50+ and 10+ commander tags.

One lone unguilded wanderer walked by and did a double take, commenting on the size of the guild. All CERN, of course, ours is small. 🙂 That’s one way to meet an active guild… though there’s always the trouble of seeing if they’re on the same server as you.)

DOTA 2

I got my sleep schedule twisted around a little trying to catch the International.

I faithfully caught the matches on the weekend live, then found myself getting sleepier and sleepier on the last two days and gave up, resolving to watch them later.

If anything, I have to commend Valve and the DOTA 2 crew for the sheer spectacle of the event. There’s big money involved, and no effort is spared to make it -feel- grand.

Seriously, watching DOTA 2 is a game in itself.

If you just pop on over to the website, you have the choice to watch every match with the main audio, or using the newbie stream.

The live video stream stalled a few times during the broadcast, which led me to experimenting with DOTA TV, aka watching the match from in-game itself.

It boggles the mind how intricate it all is.

dota2tournaments

There’s matches galore from what seems like a dozen tournaments.

Scroll down, find the International, and you can download replays of every single match. Not to mention, watch and set an option to automatically spectate live games.

dota2international

Inside the game, which had upwards of 200k clients spectating during one International game (presumably at least some of those were bots hoping to get lucky drops), you could pick from 4-5 audio streams in various languages.

The highlighted scroll is the newcomer's stream.

The highlighted scroll is the newcomer’s stream. Kinda nice that they made the effort to guide people like that.

The camera itself is configurable. Let the caster show you the action from his or her point of view. Or you yourself manually follow along whatever you wanted with your own free camera.

Or chase/follow a game from each player’s perspective, which is no doubt useful for learning how to play a certain hero by watching how the pros do it, or if you have a celebrity crush on a certain player or whatever…

Quite a few exciting games out of the International this time around. Pretty much every time a once-champion team got knocked out of the running was thrilling.

One of the best turnarounds was the second match between Cloud9 and VG (July 20, starts about half an hour into the stream) which rather nicely illustrates the ebb and flow of these snowballing DOTA games, where one team can start out pretty strong over the other team and by the end of the match, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.

I still keep wanting to play the actual game but always keep getting turned off by the reputed toxicity of MOBA players (aka a complete 180 from the GW2 community) as well as the amount of -time- it would take to learn enough to get past the gatekeeping layer of impatient ‘blame-others’ players.

Maybe if I wait long enough, the devs will figure out a way to manage the culture. I hear LOL has started outright banning toxic players.

Blaugust

In blogging news, Belghast is challenging bloggers to write a post every day for the month of August.

I’m kinda looking forward to the extra posts I’ll get to read from participants.

I’m probably not going to participate as I’ve more or less settled on a comfortable 1-3 day pace for myself, but it’s a good idea for those who haven’t yet tried the experiment of writing at a habitual pace.

When I first started blogging, I definitely made myself post once daily or every two days or so. It’s just a way to both make a commitment to yourself to post as well as get your blog out there to readers and search engines to pick you up.

(I have gotten slightly more lazy since then, and allowed 4-7 day lapses, but I do get antsy if I haven’t made any kind of post for a week or more and the self-nagging starts up until a post is made.)

Who knows, if the conversation picks up, I may find myself unable to resist getting a word in and posting more myself. 🙂

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6 thoughts on “A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I’m in the same boat as you where GW2 is concerned as I posted a while back. It’s not, by a very long chalk, my ideal MMO but it has a trick of being “just enough” that, together with the non-existent barrier to entry, has made it one of my most consistently played MMOs ever. To be completely honest, though, if Mrs Bhagpuss wasn’t playing it as her main MMO I would have been playing it a lot less for most of this calendar year. As soon as she logs out I tend to take the opportunity to switch games.

    The population/popularity of GW2 fascinates me. I am as certain as I can be without seeing the actual figures that the game is doing very well indeed. My evidence for that is the very high number of brand-new players I see in starting/mid-level zones asking endless newbie questions. Map chat frequently ends up in a huge discussion between people who have only been plying for days or weeks.

    Then there are the endless returnees, turning up after 3, 6, 12 months playing other games. The ever-open door policy means no-one can ever really quit GW2. The most you can do is not be actively playing. Only this week our original first-phase WvW CinC turned up out of the blue. Haven’t seen him online for more than a year. He’d only been back a day and he was tagged up and commanding again. Stuff like that happens all the time.

    And finally, there’s the server list. I’m on NA servers so I don’t even play prime-time but when I bring up the server list to guest somewhere there are usually three or four servers showing “Full” and all the rest bar two or three on Very High. It’s virtually always like that and always has been.

    On the other hand, if you fiddle your settings – friends/party/language/guild rep/server etc and try to instance hop it’s very hard to find more than a couple of different instances of any map under the Megaserver. With in excess of 3.5 million boxes sold and maps capping at around 100 players, shouldn’t there be dozens and dozens of instances of each World Boss map up at any given time?

    It’s too hard to figure out but I find it more and more intriguing. Comparing GW2 to WildStar, though, is really apples and oranges. As I said, GW2 never really “loses” any player. With no sub and no real vertical progression barrier either, anyone who hasn’t played for a few moths can drop back on a whim and be right in the middle of whatever the current hot action is. Once someone decides to cancel a subscription, that’s a very much more significant decision and one that takes another significant decision to reverse. And even then there’s the question of catching up to a gear-based end-game that may have moved well out of immediate reach.

    With both games being NCSoft and that company having to give conference calls and public statements we’ll get to see some pretty direct comparisons soon. That’s going to be interesting.

  2. j3w3l says:

    Yay.. at least I was popcorn worthy

    Oh and I’ll have you know you made me succumb to gw2 once more and it’s downloading while I sleep tonight

    • Jeromai says:

      Hooray! *flings more popcorn*

      I would be happy to sPvP to celebrate your return and sate your desire for blood – I figure two necros going at each other would make for a LOT of bleeds…

  3. Izlain says:

    I need to try GW2. Of all the complaints I’ve made about other games, someone invariably makes a positive comparison to GW2 and says I’d like it. I’m buying a box as soon as funds permit.

    • Jeromai says:

      Hooray! *flings even more popcorn*

      Feel free to friend Finder Blazebane when you get around to getting it running. I’m on the Tarnished Coast server, which has an uncomfortable way of becoming full very often. The main mentality is that of an RP server, being chill, mature, having fun, tolerance of others weird quirks and all.

      J3w3l’s on Jade Quarry (unless she moved when I wasn’t looking) and that one’s not half bad for WvW either. The other T1 server is Blackgate, which also has a tendency to be full. Both are slightly more achiever oriented and powergamer-y, imo.

      Sea of Sorrows and Fort Aspenwood are also places to consider. A T2 server generally has a bigger mix of smaller groups roaming in WvW, along with zerg fights.

  4. […] I’ve decided that I want to start at that total ground zero on a game that I’ve always admired and enjoyed watching the pros go at it, but never felt I had sufficient time to learn and do it any justice, DOTA […]

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