Welcome back! The holiday weekend is coming to a close, and that means it’s back to games and back to blogging. I think now is a good time to give you guys a conglomoblog with details on what I’ve been up to and where I see things going in the second half of 2015.

Right now there just isn’t a log going on in the MMO sphere. MMOs really are my bread and butter, but over the last two years I have really embraced other avenues of gaming. I’m hoping to see 2016 be a year for MMOs, but that’s a discussion we’ll likely have 6 months from now. In terms of MMOs, you know I am still playing on the EQ progression server and dabbling in ESOTU.

What I’m playing

My two main go-tos right now are Assassin’s Creed Unity and Splatoon. My wife and I are playing Unity together and easily over 25 hours in with a bit more to go. She loves the history, and I love the gameplay of being an assassin in a semi-open-world. I have to say though that Unity is lacking compared to Black Flag and the Ezio series. I just bought Assassin’s Creed Rogue on Amazon (on sale for $9.99 on PS3); Rogue came out at the same time as Unity but received no marketing at all and is actually heralded by many reviewers as one of the best in the entire series. I will definitely write up my thoughts on Rogue upon playing.

Splatoon remains some of the best fun I’ve had on a console. Nintendo has provided continual FREE updates to the game since launch including more weapons, maps, game modes, and special events. The word I would use to best describe Splatoon isn’t a technical term like “FPS” or “Shooter” — Splatoon is a playful game. I hope the attention Nintendo has given to the online game here translates into their new online service coming soon.

Where I want to go…

I’ve decided just now as I write this to hold off on telling you in this post my plans. I’m going to turn that into a post for tomorrow morning. I’ll just throw a teaser in here and say it’s something I have wanted to do for some time but haven’t had the time or the freedom to do so until now.


Daybreak’s Horrible Kunark Poll Decisions


I’m having a blast on Ragefire. I still play every day, and I am leveling my Magician with plans for multiple alts in the works. I’m stocking up gear for those alts and preparing a plan that could easily last me another 5+ months without Kunark.

Well, the results of the Kunark poll are in and I am not too happy with how Daybreak is handling things. You can find the entire post here, but I’ll break it down for you.

On both servers, the 6 month option got the most votes by far, meaning a very large percentage of you like things as they are and want to continue on that path. Ragefire’s second choice was to unlock Kunark ASAP, but Lockjaw’s second choice was to unlock Kunark after 3 months.

Awesome! This is how I voted. I want to extend classic as long as possible. Glad to see the 6 month option won by far.

Here’s where it gets really good.

With such a significant portion of the active players on these servers voting to keep progression slow, we will not be changing both servers. We plan to keep Lockjaw on the six month schedule that was originally voted for by the populace at large.

For the other half of players, however, we are going to decrease the wait for Ragefire to vote to unlock Kunark from 6 months to 3 months. The voting period for Kunark will thus become available on August 23rd and end on September 6th.

What the …. ? You literally, verbatim, just said that on BOTH servers the 6 month option got the most votes BY FAR. Your words! To top it off, they “investigating” server transfers… does that mean there’s a chance they won’t be possible? Even so, why would I leave the server community I chose to join and stay on since day 1.

Why are we voting? Seriously. That’s TWO polls where the players spoke and Daybreak chose to ignore it and go there own way. You combine all of the other options in a poll to say, “Oh it looks like the winning vote doesn’t win after all.” You throw out the results of your own poll while Holly Longdale puts her foot in her mouth by showing what the executive producer of EQ really thinks about the vast majority of players.

“What we don’t want to do is instance raids, which is what casuals want us to do because they want to fight Nagafen. Casuals shouldn’t be allowed to fight Nagafen… that diminishes the achievement of others. That’s part of the challenge: You have to be better than the other guy; you have to be more strategic that the other guy.”

I’m sorry, are you then insinuating that a dozen people boxing multiple Mage accounts have more strategy? Is sitting at a spawn 17 hours a day to kill the mob in seconds a challenge? Have my 161 hours (some of that spent afk) in the first month been too casual and undeserving?  Casuals should absolutely be allowed to fight Nagafen. If instead of playing my own way I had decided to go the route of raiding, I STILL would not have been able to kill Nagafen due to how the server handles the kill, yet I would be more “hardcore” than several people who have participated — several of the mere handful of people.  Where do they find some of these people who say crap like that?

EverQuest, specifically my experience on Ragefire, is amazing. The devs, however, have proven they are disconnected from the players and are running a very amateur show. If Daybreak continues down this road I probably won’t last long. I enlisted to play on the 6 month per expansion server. I’m not interested in playing live EQ, and that’s where this server is quickly going.

Calm, Spontaneous, and Relaxed

My gamer profile: Calm, Spontaneous, and Relaxed.That’s what I scored on the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile survey. Seems to match up with how I personally view myself and my playstyle. Too much action and I get worn out, too much repetition and I get bored, and I prefer to avoid the intensity and just relax when I play.

Keens' Gamer Motivation Profile

Really thinking about this being my motivation, is it any wonder that I am so turned off by new MMOs? Every new MMO that comes out boasts some new intense raid or non-stop action. Blowing stuff up, constantly combat, no downtime, competitive PvP, repetitive leveling/endgame/everything, you name it and it conflicts with calm, spontaneous, and relaxed.

The relaxed virtual world is a thing of the past. The new worlds are all about constantly pushing players forward. Standing still is not something a new MMO can handle because players are treated like sharks and must keep moving otherwise they’ll die.

Players don’t “hang out” anymore. When someone is hanging out it’s because they are waiting in a queue to do something. Usually the idea of hanging out is seen as wasting time, and very undesirable. To be anything but active is considered a negative game experience, and something to avoid at all costs.

Some of my most memorable experiences in MMOs are the times when I was sitting in my house in Ultima Online crafting, or roaming caves and mining ore with my friends. I fondly remember the time I spent in Star Wars Galaxies as a musician and a dancer sitting in the cantina in Theed or being a chef and experimenting on different alcoholic beverages to find the right recipe that would sell to other players and make me millions.

Spontaneous is another beast altogether. If you think about it, being spontaneous in a modern/new MMO is almost an oxymoron. You’re told what to, how to do it, and how often it should be done. You’re put in lines to complete things, limited on how many times you can do those things, and told when it’s no longer necessary to repeat that process.

We talk a lot here about what MMOs have lost over the years. Add to the list the ability to create a world where players can be calm, relaxed, and spontaneous. Such traits are indeed (as seen in the chart) indicative of a social and immersive game — the very type of experience we lack. There might be a recipe for success somewhere in figuring out how to bring those traits back.

Whew… that EXP loss


MMOs can bore me. In fact, they can bore me quite easily. I get bored of MMOs all the time. What MMOs typically can not do is frustrate me or give me that moment of pure grief where I’m literally sliding to the edge of my seat clinging to my mouse for dear life.

I had such moments recently while playing EverQuest. I dinged level 37 and decided to try farming Hill Giants for some spending money. The giants conned anywhere from yellow (above my level but not more than a few levels) all the way down to blue (a few levels below me). Giants being a little stronger than most mobs are typically harder than their con. I stuck to the blues. I pulled a giant and suddenly had another giant on me. I died and de-leveled back to 36.

I decided to try my hand at this again after spending a little bit getting back to 37. I tried again and succeeded for several pulls, but died again when for whatever reason a blue giant completely wrecked my pet and outran me to the zone line. I died literally one step, less than one second, from safety. I died and de-leveled back to 36 — again.

Screw that. I’m going to Guk to get my level back and get some more exp! Sure enough I made it to level 37 again and even 12% in. I’m in the clear! Or so I thought. The cleric went AFK and we all died. Yep, I de–leveled back to 36.

While infuriating, and eliciting squeals of angst, I did not lose my desire to play EverQuest. Overcoming this two day ordeal of fluctuating levels has strengthened my resolve to keep pushing on. I’ll tell you what I’m not doing: Going back to giants. I’ll wait until level 39 when I get my next pet and I’m strong enough. I’m also going to be more careful about joining groups with certain people.

Some people may look at a scenario like I have described above and think that such an ordeal is horrible and not fun. Some may even call the game ‘bad’ because of such mechanics. When I died and lost exp that was absolutely not fun. But being able to lose exp makes the rest of the game more fun. That danger makes surviving more rewarding. There’s a level of thrill associated with success that I absolutely can not find when there is no opposition to my success. Does that make the game bad? I haven’t had this much fun in a while. If this is torture, chain me to the wall.

The Island of Forbidden Dreams

King of Red LionsOccasionally I dream about gaming, and sometimes my gaming dreams are incredibly real and vivid. I think it happens when I eat too much dairy before bed…

Last night’s dream was a weird one for sure. Graev and I were looking for a place to explore or hide — I can not recall which because even now I think it may have been both. We were looking at a map of the world trying to find a place to go when we saw this cluster of islands off the coast of Massachusetts (these do not actually exist). The islands were not labeled on any modern map, but when we dug deeper into historical maps we saw that one of them was named The Island of Forbidden Dreams.

We set sail for the island on our boat that resembled Link’s ship King of Red Lions. As we got closer to the island things felt different. The world did not feel the same. In the distance the island came into view and what we saw elicited nothing short of a “woaaaah cool!” response. The Island of Forbidden Dreams was a real-life version of Minecraft. Pirate-like structures resembling something like Melee Island out of the Monkey Island games rose from the cliffs (see our blog’s header image above for a visual cue).

When we docked at The Island of Forbidden Dreams we cautiously looked around but saw no one. We began interacting with the world as though we were playing Minecraft. We quickly started moving blocks and exploring. We found a few pirate outfits and, keeping with the theme, we dressed ourselves like Guybrush Threepwood. The island and harbor were a mix of Tortuga, Booty Bay, the village on Melee Island, and some jungly place. Very cool.

Melee Island

Things start to blur together from here, but somehow we found some signs — yeah, the wooden Minecraft ones in the ground — indicating that other gamers had been here before and that they were planning to come back. “We can’t let them take our island,” Graev said with gusto. We began building cannons, guns, fallback points, and fortifying our position. We were not going to let them take our base.

Night fell. Torches were lit. In the distance a blocky-like fog began to roll in. We heard dreadful (yet cool) pirate themed music seeming to come from nowhere. Other people began pouring onto our island armed with all sorts of swords and minecraft inspired pirate outfits and weapons. When we would kill some of the people they would pop into pieces like minecraft blocks exploding or leg people falling apart. It sounds gruesome but it was very cartoon-like and PG in nature. We fought a tough battle and somehow I think we won.

The dream transitioned to some weird tribal council like you’d see in Survivor. Graev and I were pirate kings and having to choose our spoils from the battle. We got to vote them off the island and keep their stuff. My wife insists I include this part… Chris Harrison (host of the Bachelor/Bachelorette) was the one leading the council. When we had voted the pirates off the island we also had to vote their pirate princesses off. We had to pick one to keep and the other two had to battle to the death. It was weird… anyway…

The Island of Forbidden Dreams was ours!