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Khek in Faydwer: Butcherblock and Crushbone

khekbbI’m not in the mood to get deep or controversial tonight so how about another Khek adventure?

Khek the Shadowknight is becoming famous in Norrath! I was recently highlighted on the SOE EQ2 Players article section for my Khek in Kunark blog entry.

Khek, the name that will be on the beaks of all beach-strolling parrots for times to come… If you want to know more about this legendary adventurer, venture over to keenandgraev.com!

Yay for Khek and all that stuff. Now on to the adventure log!

I took Khek over to Butcherblock immediately after finishing up in Timorous Deep. Having done much of Butcherblock twice already on Delbert (Ratonga Brigand) and Gnobby (Gnome Conjuror) the place was fairly fresh in my mind. Something I wasn’t prepared for though was the great additions made to the zone to accomodate the flow of Sarnaks coming in from across the ocean. You see, in Gorowyn there is a gryphon that will take you directly to the dock area in Butcherblock Mountains. Upon arrival you are greeted with about 4 quests and a few Gorowyn writs to kill x mobs. Grabbing them all I headed straight for the docks where I found an additional few new quests from a Sarnak who starts an enormous chain of quests leading you all over BB. Let me tell you now – complete them all and you will be rewarded with an amazing item.

khekbb2I’ve spent the past 2 or 3 days (I’ve lost track of time) completing quests at a very casual pace. I’m not really in a hurry to burn through content because I really do have a long way to go before I reach a level where I can start grouping more often with guildies and pugs. So at this comfortable pace it has taken me a few days but I have finally completed all the quests at the docks, west outpost, east outpost, and near the Lesser Faydark area. Finishing up the last remaining quests should land me at around 31 where I will make my way either into a dungeon or to Enchanted Lands…. ohh how I loathe Halflings.

Worth mentioning is my trip to Crushbone last night. I was invited to join with some other guild’s group to go on a killing spree and slaughter all the orcs we could muster in an hour’s time. I maed an entire level and completed two quests so overall it was a great trip and confirmed what I already knew: Crushbone is the best instance I’ve been through yet in EQ2. If at all possible I want to avoid Ruins of Varsoon because as a Sarnak I just can’t handle the roof scraping my skull as I run around – ugh.

I expect that my adventures will have a bit more flare once I reach an area I have not been before such as Steamfont. Until then Khek wishes you all a fair weekend!

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Mudflation

mudflationI just like saying that word… mudflation. From Wikipedia: Mudflation, a portmanteau of MUD and inflation, is an economic issue that exists only in massively multiplayer online games. Mudflation occurs when a more recently acquired or introduced item makes an existing item lose significant value. This is most common when a game releases a new expansion, which tend to introduce better items.

Hated by raiders and loved by the rest. The practice of introducing items that completely make the previous gear in the game look like a cracked staff is an interesting topic. Should an expansion make the months of hard work raiding nearly worthless? In Kunark SOE introduced many (maaany) new quests for the level 70s. These quests, even the starting ones, offer gear that is equal to or much better than the gear they (the raiders) just spent a year trying to obtain. A treasured solo quested item being better than a raid item that took 24 people months to obtain… that might sting a little. The reactions are a mixed bag as some are simply excited to see a new item on their character and others are having fits of rage over their now run of the mill bottom of the barrel equipment.

I see this as a good thing. Why? Because it places less emphasis on the gear and more on the experience of raiding (at least until everyone reaches max level again). Imagine if no gear dropped in a raid and you were simply going for the enjoyment of slaying the dragon. Would you still do it? Now that players know, or should know, that after an expansion their previous gear means little perhaps they will focus more on the enjoyment of the experience and less on the stress of gear. An enormous responsibility falls upon the developers to make the content really something to behold or else players will feel as I did when LOTRO introduced the concept of raid gear being equal to crafting gear but leaving their raids to be horribly dull experiences – wtf is the point?

Top end gear should be something to behold though. If you’re going to put in the time to complete objectives or raid an instance (and it really should require effort… not the assembly line approach WoW took) then the reward should be fitting. When an expansion comes out realize that your gear may be lackluster now but it represents accomplishment and something you’re hopefully proud to own. I like how in EQ2 they give the option to hang some armor on the walls of your home or display them in trunks or other methods. This allows for players to still showcase their stuff.

A major downside though to all of this is that even though a level 60-70 raid was fun it may no longer be run by anyone. EQ2 has done such a fine job of creating leveling content that there really is little purpose to stop what you’re doing and try to obtain a full set of raid gear. You might as well just continue enjoying the content and move on to the top level stuff. However, I personally encourage and hop when I am in the 60-70 range people will run these raids for fun and if you get an item then great but if not you at least got the see and challenge yourself to the experience. To me what was once the premier content now becomes additional content – not old content.

As a returning player to EQ2 and almost to level 30 with my Sarnak SK I can’t help but get a little pleasure from knowing that I suddenly became a little less behind everyone else. God bless mudflation, imo.

9

Group vs Solo, the epic struggle continues

Inspiration to write on this topic should be credited to multiple sources ranging from message boards and fellow bloggers to in-game chat channel discussions.

We all have our preferred approach that we take when we sit down to play a massively multiplayer online game. There are those of us who prefer to solo and those of us who can not stand to play a multiplayer game without the multiple players. I do not need to establish this point any further; or do it? Recently it has become clear that the line is once again drawn in the sand between players. For a while this epic struggle of group vs solo play was taken off the burner and attentions turned to raiding vs, well, not raiding. I now return you to your regular scheduled debate.

There are a few recent cases where the aforementioned struggle comes into play. With the recent release of SOE’s latest EQ2 expansion, Rise of Kunark, players are faced with the blatantly obvious approach to befriending the solo gamer crowd. Kunark is comprised of an enormous collection of outdoor zones or “overland” areas and a decent number of underworld. If you’ve taken the time to explore or read about the overland areas in Kunark you would know that the majority of all the content seen to far has been incredibly aligned with the casual solo player. Solo quests are abundant and absolutely the best way to currently gain levels 70-80, there is no camping, and the quests all yield incredible loot. Those are just a taste of the solo friendly additions in Kunark. Tipa from West Karana feels that in EQ2 grouping should always be more rewarding than soloing – but is that fair? I can see the point of view from both sides. Those who group often feel that this is normal for them. Those that solo feel groups can be hard to obtain or unreliable. So who is responsible for mediating this debate? It falls to the developers of the game and players alike. The developers need to create the content for both and declare that it is how it is. Then it’s up to the players to either accept it and like it or not. As for EQ2 it’s unclear at the moment for everyone as to whether or not the solo play will grossly outweigh the group content but one thing is clear – it’s called EverQUEST for a reason.

Scott Hartsman (EQ2 producer) made a remarkably sensible statement about solo questing vs group grinding and racing to the end.

“Coincidentally, I got a few great IMs from raiders lastnight on the subject, whose guilds pride themselves on being among the first to max level so they can rush straight into raiding. One of them sums it up really well: “This is the first time I haven’t had to spend the first weeks of an expansion mindlessly sitting in the same 6×6 room grinding. I’m actually getting to enjoy it. This is fun.” Another was more brief: “quest xp = <3"

EverQuest II is not a game about sitting in one place and grinding. You find the activity that defines the core of your game, then you make sure it’s the part you polish the most, then you make damn sure it’s rewarding. That activity is questing.

Levelling is a transitory activity. Level 80, on the other hand, lasts a long time. Regardless of whether dungeon xp is tweaked or not, two months from now this entire conversation becomes moot, and people have had a blast in the meanwhile

I mentioned there were a few cases of the group vs solo struggle. Pirates of the Burning Sea, set for release in early 2008, has taken an interesting approach to how they will balance the content in their game. Instead of clearly drawing the line between group play and solo play they have created a difficulty slider that will allow players to either make the battles easier or harder depending on how they would like their gaming experience to taste. As of now this is simply a conjecture but I think it’s safe to assume that if you find the group content lacking it would be possible to ramp the single player content difficulty way up and go at it with some friends. Heck, why not? While this system doesn’t work for every MMORPG out there (especially those that fall under the current fantasy formula) it definitely raises the question as to whether or not we’ll be seeing more choices being handed off to the player giving them the opportunity to determine their own fate and in a sense their own fun.

I don’t think it’s fatalistic to say that this debate will never end. It’s healthy for mmo’s to be under a constant microscope. That will keep the ‘ever evolving and changing worlds’ just that. As for me, well, I’m going to enjoy EQ2’s vast variety of content and I look forward to challenging or under-challenging myself in PotBS.

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My House is a very very very fine house

Woot for cheesy blog post titles!

My EQ2 house, or 1 room freaking tiny apartment, is coming along nicely… nicely as a zoo! I’ve claimed all the pets on Khek and placed them in the room to sorta live together. I think it looks like a pokemon daycare center or something – it freaks me out to enter and see them all just…staring at me.. *ahem* Okay so anyway I also took more screenshots that I thought looked neat of Khek and the area of Timorous Deep. There’s also the housing area for Gorowyn (main city in Kunark).

Today was mostly spent messing around with custom UI’s trying to find something that looks nice yet remains functional. I’m not a big fan of these enormous elaborate interfaces but I settled with Profitui which seems to meet my needs. I also use the EQMap addon which is a godsend. On top of that I spent a good deal of time running around Butcherblock like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do quests here and there. I’m level 23.5 now and moving slowly yet surely on my way. It’s ridiculous that I STILL can’t get a group on the most populated server. There are just zero people looking to group up these days.

More screenshots to come later and more adventures of Khek.

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MMO Calendar for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

This really deserves to be spread around to the gaming community.  Not only are these calendars great looking but they help kids.  I hear they had great success last year.  Best wishes to their cause.

MMO Portal Launches the Sale of MMO Calendar 2008 to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Wichita, KS – November 15, 2007 – MMO Portal is proud to announce that the 2nd annual MMO Calendar is now on sale!

MMO Calendar is an annual, non-profit fund-raiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

With the help of some wonderful MMO developers we have put together another one-of-a-kind calendar featuring original artwork from some of your favorite MMO’s. MMO Calendar 2008 includes:

  • Age of Conan
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online
  • Eve Online
  • EverQuest
  • EverQuest II
  • Guild Wars
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • Star Wars Galaxies
  • Stargate Worlds
  • Warhammer Online
  • World of Warcraft

As a special thank you to everyone that purchases a calendar this year we’ve also been given a bag full of prizes to give away! Upon placing your order you will be entered to win 1 of 10 prizes for each game!

List of Prizes

  • Age of Conan — Beta Key
  • Dark Age of Camelot — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • Eve Online — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • EverQuest — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • EverQuest II — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • Guild Wars — Copy of Guild Wars: Platinum
  • Lord of the Rings Online — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea — Beta Key
  • Star Wars Galaxies — 1 Month of Free Game-Time
  • Stargate Worlds — Beta Key
  • Warhammer Online — Beta Key
  • World of Warcraft — 1 Month of Free Game-Time

* 10 of each prize will be given away randomly per game. Odds of winning are solely dependant on the number of buyers.

Keep in mind though… even if you don’t win a prize in one of the drawings you still win. As always, 100% of the proceeds of the sale of MMO Calendar go directly to the amazing people at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, helping them in the fight for children’s lives. Is there a more noble cause anywhere?

Express your love for MMO’s and children all at once! This year’s calendar is only on sale through November 25th, so order yours today!

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