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Haven’t seen you in a few millennia. Give me some tassel!

I’m back from my mini-vacation / leave of absence from the computer, and I wanted to just kick things back off with a good ole fashioned rambling.  Before I begin I want to first say that I missed blogging.  Occasionally I’ll take a day or two off from posting, but I haven’t gone this long away from the blog both mentally and physically in some time.  There are times when I question whether or not blogs are a medium worth continuing in this niche, but in the end I know that I enjoy spilling the digital ink of my thoughts here for you all to see way too much to ever stop.

I’ve been to Disneyland more in the last few weeks than I have in the last 20+ years. The experience as an adult has been quite different than those I remember from being a child.  Everything is smaller, simpler, and slightly less magical.  As a child the walls of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle towered above me.  Now, I can see the facade.  I can see the green mesh on the walls hiding the chain-link fences.  A boy on his father’s shoulders screamed at the site of one of his favorite characters during the parade pleading for that character to give notice.  I looked and saw a guy in his 20s wearing a costume performing a choreographed and generic wave.  Although one illusion is destroyed, others do remain.

The park as an adult still has an atmosphere.  I appreciate the smells, the visual beauty, and the quality Disney has put in to making the park look and behave a certain way.  Attention to detail is key.  From almost any direction you look while standing in the park, Disney has thought of creating an experience.  That’s why I can go to Disneyland and still enjoy myself.  Sure, the rides are fun and I love the Disney properties, but those aren’t as fun as sitting down at a restaurant in New Orleans Square and taking it all in.  Now whether that’s worth paying $96 a trip (or buying a pass) is sometimes hard to swallow…

See the comparison I’m trying to draw?

I found myself comparing the experiences I’ve had at Disneyland as a kid vs. an adult to those experiences found in MMOs.  There will always be that ‘first’ MMO. There will always be the magic of MMOs from days past, and as much as I reminisce about those days they are most likely going to remain fond memories.  However, unlike Disneyland, MMOs are failing to keep that feeling consistent throughout time.  Disneyland for that little boy I mentioned earlier is just as magical or more so for him today as it was for me 25 years ago.  MMOs aren’t better today, nor do they maintain that level of experience or magical wonder and immersion for first-time players.

There isn’t enough attention being given to the entire experience in modern MMOs.  Developers are pushing hard to make the best rides possible or manipulate the ticket price.  They care more about pushing people through the ‘park’ to get them on the rides now than they do letting the players roam freely and consume the ‘park’ as they choose.  Someone like me can go to Disneyland one day and want to ride Indiana Jones, but tomorrow I might go back and wish to simply partake of good food and see shows.  My experience doing so at Disney is always going to be exceptional.  Those choices don’t exist in most MMOs, and when they do they rarely offer the same level of satisfaction.

I’ve had some good thoughts and experiences lately that I’m eager to put to the test in MMOs that I play.  I hope to drum up some great conversations soon — after I get back to playing some games.

15 Years of EverQuest

everquest-15-year-infographic

Fifteen years ago my friend asked if I would be interested in seeing something no one has ever seen before.  “I am a tester for this game that’s not really a game… it’s like a world that I live in.  I’m a Paladin of Freeport and I’ve met other real people who also live here.  It’s like The Realm but in first person.  It’s like I’m in the game!”  That was the first and only time I have ever experienced a paradigm shift in real-time.  Everything I knew about video games felt like a grain of sand compared to what was unfolding in front of my eyes.

Suffice it to say, you all know the rest.  EverQuest changed the world.  It changed my world.  I was 14 years old when EverQuest launched.  I think I ditched half of high school to level my Dark Elf Necromancer.  I’ve shared #MyEQStory and many other fond memories over the years of my in-game adventures.  I’ve compared games to EverQuest and used it as the benchmark for just about everything since.

EverQuest 15 Year InfographicThis infographic brings back some intense memories of EverQuest beyond just the game.

I remember standing in the East Commonlands tunnel on New Year’s Eve.  We were all wondering what would happen with the Y2K bug.  Most of us were kids.  I remember the same question was asked in OOC chat 100 times: “Does anyone think we’ll lose our characters at midnight?”

Back in 1999 almost no one at my high school had a computer of their own.  A few had computers in their home.  Maybe half of the kids had the internet.  My family was always online from the moment it was able to be in a home for personal use.  I think my dad’s work got it for him.  In fact, I remember when our internet company contacted us threatening to shut us down for using our connection with them to run our own ISP.  They told us no one could use the internet this much.  My dad had to tell them, “You don’t understand.  My son plays this online game called EverQuest.”

I remember having to beg for a graphics card to play on our home computer.  My dad took me out to Babbages in the Mall and we picked up some Voodoo 3D extreme card or something.  I clutched it to my chest the whole ride home, knowing only  how precious the magic inside this box was — it would unlock the gates to EverQuest.

I may not have been an adult at the time and found my wife or gotten a job from EverQuest, but I was part of that group of kids just old enough to realize what was happening.  I’m almost 30 years old now. I grew up on EverQuest.  To this very day I am still testing EverQuest.  I’m still playing EverQuest. I’m still planning on playing EverQuest.  That really is pretty cool.

Rain, Pokemon, and stuff

We’re finally settling back in after having our roof leak in the big rain storm Socal had this past weekend.  You see, we normally do not get rain here so when even a little bit lands on our roofs they seem to leak profusely.  Having to vacate our game room, we were left with no other recourse than to watch copious amounts of Netflix.

We finished up binge watching Eureka and started Warehouse 13, but the star of the weekend has to be Pokemon.  Netflix now has the original season (which has like 50 something episodes), a few of the movies, and some later seasons.  We used to watch Pokemon every morning before going to school.  We’ve played them all.  Sorta.

I have this really bad habit of playing all the Pokemon games with the best of intentions of beating them, but I always get lost somewhere around the halfway point.  I’ll eventually finish up Pokemon X/Y.

Anyway, the series is awesome.  Watch it.  The first episode always gives me goosebumps as Ash stands up and defends Pikachu from the Spearows.  Graev always says, “What valor…”

Okay so enough of Pokemon.  Tomorrow morning our review of South Park: The Stick of Truth will go up so look for that.  I’ll be playing Grim Dawn (sort of a Titan Quest spiritual successor) to give you my thoughts, and the rest of the week should pan out from there.

Merry Christmas to Our Readers

Nintendo Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas to all of our readers around the world!

Our Nintendo Tree is once again bathing our gaming room in delightful holiday colors as the sound of gaming fills the air.  We have a lot planned for you to read over the next few days including our favorite games of the year, biggest regrets, and New Year’s resolutions as we end 2013 strong! We hope to see you all back here soon.

Best Wishes,

Keen and Graev

 

P.S. If you get anything cool be sure to let us know!

Happy Halloween 2013

FFXIV Halloween

There’s a tradition here at Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog to use Halloween as an opportunity to look back at years past and see where we were in MMORPGs.

In 2007, when we first started the tradition, we were playing EQ2 on Antonia Bayle,  2008 was spent in Warhammer Online,  2009 we were grinding in Aion, 2010 was spent in World of Warcraft,  2011 we were waiting on SWTOR and likely also flying brooms in WoW, and  2012 was in Guild Wars 2.  This Halloween I’m enjoying the spooktacular ambiance of All Saints’ Wake in FFXIV while Graev celebrates his evening playing Hearthstone.

Square did a nice job with their first major holiday event.  All of the major cities have very traditional ghoulish decor, and the storyline they let you walk through is cute.  The best part of all, however, are the costumes.

FFXIV Ghost Costume

FFXIV White Pumpkin