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Animal Jam Review

Animal Jam Review

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 9 January 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

As a gamer parent, spending time with your children and fostering their enjoyment of similar hobbies is important, but it can be extremely difficult with the number of children’s games compared to adult games—especially for MMO players. However, here at MMOGames, we’re going to give you some ideas of games to play with your children, and even let them begin their own adventures! First up, we’re going to take a look at National Geographic’s Animal Jam.

So what is Animal Jam (also referred to as AJ)? Animal Jam is a children’s MMO where they create and customize their animal avatars and “dens” (houses), adopt mini-pets, go on adventures, attend parties, and explore real life animals and other life sciences. The game itself is geared towards children ages ten and above—mainly “tweens”.

Upon entering the game for the first time, a cheery female voice over prompts users to choose from a small selection of stylized animals—such as a panda, rabbit, wolf, tiger, etc.—and then create a first and compound last name from pre-populated choices on a wheel, which can also be randomized (there is no way for users to create their own name from scratch).

Once a character has been created, children will create a username and password. Usernames are limited to specific words, with some that are unable to be used at all. For instance, I attempted to use “ggchestnut”, and found that “nut” was not a valid word that could be used as a part of the username, nor could leet speak variations (such as nu7) be used. It is a valiant attempt from the developers to help curb kids from acting inappropriately.

Next, children enter their parents’ email address, though if they have their own they could easily enter it themselves. Children must agree to the terms of service before jumping into the game, with a friendly voice over reminding them “don’t share personal information with anyone online, and remember, be nice and have fun!”.

Once your child signs up for the game, an email will be sent to the parent email address they provided—hopefully not their own. This email asks parents to provide consent for their child to play Animal Jam. If consent is not provided within fourteen days, the child’s account will be deactivated. Upon providing consent, parents will be prompted to create a parent account. From here, there are various controls that parents can turn on or off to limit what their child can do within the game with chat functions, trading, purchasing, etc.

The first thing children do is learn how to move their character by pointing and clicking where they want to go—much like any action RPG on the market today. Then children are prompted to customize their character’s colors and markings, and they are given a quest to show them how to utilize the emotes available in game. Users are then let loose in the world to explore.

The game is free to play, and utilizes two main currencies in the game—gems, which are earned by logging in daily, playing games, and completing adventures; and diamonds, which are a currency available to those subscribed. The subscription has a few perks including customizing nameplates, enabling past two character slots, and some costume unlocks.

Children can play by exploring the world, playing games, attending parties, or participating in adventures. Levels are something that aren’t necessary, as traditional MMO progression isn’t a big focus of the game. Completing adventures does, however, raise the character’s “Courage Level”, which didn’t seem to do much aside from bloat an achievement number.

Adventures required reading short amounts of quest text, and being able to move the character in an efficient manner to avoid monsters, or bring them to Venus Fly Traps to be eaten. The objectives were simplistic, but entertaining, and the story progressed in an interesting way, sure to keep the attention of many players.

Parties are another big draw of the game, and are a place for players to go to talk, trade, buy special items, and play games. Some parties are seasonal, such as the AJ Birthday Party. Most parties are available to free players, whereas some others are exclusive to those paying for membership. Some parties are also locked on the animals that can attend. They also offer special stores to purchase items for costuming and decorating player dens.

Community 6/10

While the game has a limited chat, which can be restricted even more within the parental controls, it seems that children know no bounds when it comes to bullying and sexual content. In my own experiences, sitting in the main city of Jamaa, I encountered numerous players spamming for trades and adventures. I also saw multiple conversations between players with abusive tones and foul language not filtered because the children put numbers in between the letters.

The one upside is that the process for self-policing is simple, and was used by the children in an empowering manner. Those being bullied were able to stand up to their bullies by asking them to stop, and then saying that they were going to report them. Assuming the players being bullied used the straight-forward reporting system, bullies were whisked offline scant moments later.

Safety 8/10

Animal Jam is committed to the online privacy and safety of children and is certified by the BBB CARU program. The Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit® was founded to promote responsible children’s advertising, and evaluates child-directed advertising and promotional material to ensure truthfulness, accuracy, and consistency. In short, the program aims to minimize the marketing and advertising of products to children—a big issue with many parents.

As previously mentioned, parents have an account where they can monitor things such as their child’s playtime, as well as regulate what children are allowed to do within the game regarding interactions with other players. This is a feature lacking in many games, and is something to be commended as an attempt to get parents involved.

Safety does take a hit from the volatile behavior of the community, however. If I were a parent, I would feel unsafe with my children being exposed to this online bullying, which is a large problem nowadays on various platforms.

Innovation 6/10

Animal Jam doesn’t break much of the status quo when it comes to games geared toward children. The game itself is a virtual-world counterpart to the National Geographic Kids magazine. The game itself is based around learning about flora and fauna in a world where they are disappearing and the environment needs help.

There are bits of educational content sprinkled throughout the game in various forms. You can discover creatures in the wild and receive a blurb about them. There are posters and museums that the characters can visit, and there is also educational video content featuring National Geographic herpetologist Brady Barr (host of Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr), and marine biologist Tierney Thys (a National Geographic explorer).

The games, some of which are educational, range from simplistic to age-appropriate for ten-year-olds and above. The simplistic games were more reminiscent of games that could be played with toddlers just learning to manipulate a mouse and keyboard and just discovering nature. In fact, I would offer up some of Animal Jam’s simpler games as wonderful free-to-play alternatives for young toddlers and pre-school aged children that are drawn towards the life sciences (with parental guidance and help, of course!).

Gameplay 7/10

While movement was easily explained at the start of the game, children (and adults) without experience in simpler virtual worlds, such as Club Penguin, may find Animal Jam confusing at first. As a gamer with experience in multiple MMOs, figuring out the system in Animal Jam was confusing at best, and irritating at worst.

Many times I would open up a new window to retrieve the Help site to check on what various things mentioned in the game were, or where I could find a particular UI element. The UI became easier to understand the more I used it, but the first hour or so was excruciating to try to remember where certain things were, especially if they were small elements.

Graphics/Sounds 9/10

Some children’s games have music that becomes irritating fast, for both adults and children alike. The music in Animal Jam, while simplistic and on the short side, was whimsical, and fit the different zone themes well. It was pleasant to listen to on loop for a decent amount of time, and was reminiscent of The Sims franchise. The graphics are cutesy and stylized and make the world feel more fantasy-like.

Value 8/10

The game itself is free to play, with reasonable membership options available, starting at $6.95 USD recurring monthly, to a year’s membership at $57.95. Gift certificates can also be purchased to add membership time onto an account.

The real value, however, comes from the content within the game that families can discuss, including using the community as a talking point for bullying, playing nice, and being safe in both the virtual and real world. Time management and gaming limitations are other skills that can be learned via Animal Jam, with utilization of the Play Timer feature in the parental controls.

Asking children what they’ve discovered in their journeys within the game is another wonderful conversation starter to keep in touch with your child’s gaming experiences in Animal Jam. Who knows, they may even teach you something about the environment and natural sciences that you didn’t already know!

Overall 7.5/10

As an MMO player looking to start a family, finding games I can experience with my future children is of importance to me. I would hope that most of my child’s play time would be with me, but I would feel moderately safe allowing my child to explore and adventure without supervision for limited periods of time due to the parental controls.

August 2019 Note: This post is (22/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
The Secret World Christmas 2015

The Secret World Christmas 2015

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 29 December 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

The Secret World launched its Christmas event for 2015 on Thursday, December 17th. The event will run approximately two and a half weeks; until January 4th, 2016. With Christmas hot on the heels of the release of Issue 13, there are no new Christmas missions available, but the developers have provided the players with a plethora of new items from two new bags including, but not limited to: a snowboard mount, new costumes, and two new companion pets–mini-Hel and Krampus.

While some fans are disappointed that there will not be any new content for this years’ Holiday season, there are still three events from prior years to go back to, and for newer players to devour.

The End of Days

In 2012, the world was going to end, according to the Mayan calendar–or at least our interpretation of it. Who wouldn’t decide to capitalize on such an event? Luckily, The Secret World did just that.

While the current version of “End of Days” is a series of quests, there are stories of various events that took place during 2012: hoards of undead shambling about and three giant harbingers of destruction that roamed the world. Now, players get a trail of quests to lead them to the final boss–Bolon Yokte’ K’uh, along with in-depth lore, and a tinfoil hat.

Completing these for the first time was exciting but a tad difficult. The quest location isn’t made obvious by a starting breadcrumb, and each consecutive step was slightly irksome to figure out. Amongst the group of new players I’m a part of, the consensus was that while the final boss is fun, and a tad difficult, the overall design of the missions and their lack of information definitely show how much the game has improved in both providing breadcrumbs and leaving enough open space to allow for exploration and puzzle solving.

Meet the Krampus

In 2013, The Secret World introduced a new event titled “A Mother of a Season,” which most players lovingly refer to as “the Krampus event”. The Secret World excels at taking real-world events, and mythology, and turning them into something new within the world the game inhabits. In this instance, they combined Krampusnacht with Niflheim and Hel.

Krampusnacht, also known as Krampus Night, is the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas when a wicked devil appears in the streets to cart away evil children to either drown them, eat them, or drag them off to Hell. There are variations to the tale and the way Krampus looks, but he is always a devil with cloven hooves, horns, and black or brown hair.

Throughout the world, players will find Krampus wandering about. After attacking them, the Krampus will attempt to run away back to Niflheim–an icy dimension of Hell within the game. In Norse Mythology, Niflheim is one of two primordial realms, the second being Muspelheim, a dimension of fire. Within Niflheim, players need to destroy multiple Krampus to discover the secrets to summoning Hel herself, whom in Norse mythology is a daughter of the trickster god, Loki.

These missions, as before, are lacking in breadcrumbs. It was difficult to figure out what to do first, especially considering there aren’t many missions outside of completing Niflheim and summoning Hel. The group consensus within the new players group was that it was too difficult to complete coming in with an average QL of 7.5 among us. After multiple tries, the group decided to go back to completing missions unrelated to the Holidays at hand, to possibly come back to later with some help from Sanctuary to complete as two groups instead of one.

A Magical Flute

Upon logging in, one receives a text message to head to the London theatre to partake in a viewing of Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute. Things go awry, however, and players are sent to Venice to discover clues within Saint Nicholas’ masonic tomb to stop an evil plot that is afoot.

This mission from 2014 capitalizes on what The Secret World is best at–connecting real-world objects to those within The Secret World. The opera in question, The Magic Flute, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and premiered in September of 1791 in Vienna. The plot revolves around a young man, Tamino, who is given a magical flute by the Queen of Night who turns sorrow into joy. The Queen’s servants send Tamino on a mission to rescue the Queen’s daughter, Pamina, from capture. Tamino and Pamina must then undergo various trials and challenges before they are able to escape and to bring about a new age of brotherhood to man.

The opera itself has ties to the Freemasons, Mozart himself being one. The opera is also influenced by the Enlightenment philosophy of liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, and fraternity, with large allegorical inferences within the smaller plot details. These influences scream to be used within an environment such as one developed in The Secret World.

This quest is not for the faint of heart, or those of lower QL gear. This warning has kept the rest of the newer players away from the Holiday event, knowing that if Hel was difficult, the Flute would be even more so.

Final Thoughts

As a newer player to The Secret World, there is still so much I am discovering in the game, and I am always excited to learn more of the lore. As I have mentioned before, the biggest selling point that brought me back to the game is the story-driven content that the game excels at. Knowing that I have all of the prior Holiday events available to me is an appealing thing, however, it is also sad that Christmas events don’t seem to hit a stride like the Halloween events do until the Magic Flute.

I can understand gating content, however, I would love to see these missions be adjusted to be a tad more new-player friendly. Whether it be lowering the QL level required to be more in-line with the QL 6-7 available in The Blue Mountains or making content more desirable. It feels as though something should be done to make things more accessible.

While the Halloween events were by no-means easy, they were something a group of newer players were able to complete without trouble, aside from being content-gated by not having started Kaidan. The Secret World can learn from itself by taking a look at its Halloween events, emulating what makes these great for new and old players alike, and then copying this formula into their Winter Holiday events.

August 2019 Note: This post is (21/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
The Secret World Halloween 2015

The Secret World Halloween 2015

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 31 October 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Here Comes Halloween

The Secret World launched their Halloween event for 2015 on Tuesday October 27th. The event will run three weeks; until November 17th, 2015. There are new quests, and all of the Halloween content from previous years is being reactivated so that players can experience it if they never have before, as well as repeat specific content they may have enjoyed previously. There is also a new dance and new bags available, and players will be able to purchase last year’s bags from the Item Shop for the dance and items contained within.

There are two new bags–one called Haunted Sundries which is available from participating in the event, as well as for purchase in the Item Store, and the Sack of Samhain Revels, available only from the store. They contain new outfits, masks, and other items, including the new Ghost Rider inspired motorcycle Romain “Tilty” Amiel showed off and gave away during “The Streaming Ones” on Friday October 23rd, called the Geist Rider Bike. It is worthy of any Ghost Rider fan, and is a rare item that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

This year’s event is called “The Seven Silences”, which focuses on a piece of lore and turns it completely on its head. It is impossible for Secretworlders to die, (some may call them immortal) and it seems that one has been able to commit suicide. It was also noted during the stream that there will be at least one tie-in mission to Funcom’s newest game also released Tuesday: The Park. There are already tie-ins from Solomon Island that link The Park to The Secret World, and this will be one more nugget for all the lore-fiends to devour.

Previous Years’ Events

In 2012, the first event, Samhain, included various missions (quests), achievements, and lore based around The Cat God. The mission chain began with an investigation mission, arguably some of the best quest content-type in the game, forcing you to search the web and build upon your knowledge of the world in-game, as well as outside of it. Kingsmouth residents have lost their cats, and in this world, it can’t just be that they ran away. Your role is to investigate what is going on, and from there, you’ll need to locate a portal so you can stop the summoning ritual and save Kingsmouth. For the moment, anyway.

In 2013, the Halloween event build upon the previous year’s events with a total of ten more missions to expand the story in Kingsmouth. So much for saving them last year! These missions deepen the stories of the characters within Kingsmouth, and delve into their past, and their present. The missions give us more of a window into the relationships amongst the inhabitants of Kingsmouth, and they are very interesting to complete.

Last year introduced a brand new Halloween event called The Broadcast, which focused around conspiracy theories related to numbers stations. Numbers stations are an odd duck with a cult following–they are radio broadcasts that utilize synthesized voices to read out strings of numbers, or incomprehensible coded messages that loop. Number station conspiracy theories have been referenced throughout pop-culture, including: Lost, Fringe, Welcome to Night Vale, and even Call of Duty: Black Ops. It would be only natural for The Secret World to join the following and create an entire story revolving around the conspiracy.

Why I’m Excited

As a newer player to The Secret World, I am excited to learn more of the lore in the game. One of the big selling points that brought me back to the game is the story-driven content, which the Developers of the game excel at. Knowing that I can complete all of the Halloween-related events from the beginning is a very appealing thing, especially since some of the past years’ content builds upon itself, and upon the general lore of the game.

There’s so much to enjoy about the game in general, one of my favorites being Investigation-type missions, where you must take the time outside of the game to complete research, and find tools (for instance a Morse Code reader) to help you on your journey within the world. There are no holds barred, and that makes the game extremely immersive and in-line with our day-to-day lives. The Secret World feels as if it could actually exist.

The developers don’t hold back when it comes to creating story in The Secret World, and they often re-use characters and locations to deepen the story and create, a deep and interesting world. There is a broad story behind these characters and missions, and these stories extend past the zones they are located in. The cadre of characters aren’t just named NPCs with fluff stories, but instead have a rich history behind them and their abilities, as well as how they came to be in the ever-darkening world that is The Secret World.

Why It’s The Bee’s Knees

The Secret World is a world full of intrigue, the occult, secret societies, and mysteries galore. It is steeped in horror and dramatic anticipation in many modes via storytelling, music, video and investigation. Every day there are ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night from a plethora of locales and sub-cultures–it’s Halloween every day in The Secret World.

While there are many games that create events inspired by Halloween, in many different fashions, The Secret World is the game that does it right, and does it best. The missions are full of depth, and not justa repeat of dailies and instances–there is a story worthy of any horror junkie out there. One could argue that if it’s Halloween every day in The Secret World, the game’s Halloween events themselves must be like Christmas.

August 2019 Note: This post is (20/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
WildStar Casual Friday with Chad Moore

WildStar Casual Friday with Chad Moore

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 12 October 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Lore is the foundation of every awesome game experience that you ever have. If you ain’t got lore, you ain’t got nothin’. – Chad “Pappy” Moore, October 9, 2015

On Friday October 9th, the Wildstar Casual Friday stream focused on Chad “Pappy” Moore going around and playing a bit on his Dominion toon, with Micah Whipple asking him questions about lore, and questions posed in the Twitch chat. Before this, however, Chris Thomas (@CRB_Buiden on Twitter), Lead Software Engineer, came on for a short time to give an update on the server stability issues that were plaguing the game at launch.

Chris said that while the game is getting more people, the additional servers have been helping a great deal. There have been no real queues since Wednesday, and the reports of lag are decreasing significantly. The extra realms are still just temporary relief for queues, lag, and helping to squash any bugs currently being found, and are helping the Developers get close to the stability and play experience that they want everybody to have.

Chris could only stay for a few minutes as he is still very busy trying to keep everything up and running well, but Pappy wanted to give a big “hats off” to the engineering team, “who’s really stepped up and gotten it done in the past week”.

Micah asked Chris when he planned on merging the servers. Chris replied that they definitely still plan to do so, but they don’t want to put a timer on it, yet. The goal at the moment is to provide a great play experience for everybody in the stability department, and make sure that this stability does not change when the servers merge together. As such, once they feel they reach this point, the servers will merge back together.

An FAQ was also launched recently on the WildStar Knowledge Base on how to remove Two Factor Authentication without Customer Service. While the article was mentioned on the stream, it was not mentioned that if you do remove the authenticator from your account, you will lose the bonuses attached to it (the free mount and XP bonus). Before leaving, Chris let everyone know that if you have lag, or are running into other bugs, it’s important for you to report these so things so they can be taken care of ASAP.

After Chris left, Pappy transitioned to the Casual Stream by stating that he was, “going to show you what an actual player does!”, picking on Micah for having only a low-level toon. Pappy was playing a female Mechari Stalker who was currently level 23 out in Auroria. He was about to jump into war with the Osun at the Fort Glory quest hub. Pappy had decided to roll up a Dominion toon because it was finally time to, “go out and take care of business”.

Micah posed various questions from the chat to Pappy throughout the stream, including the following exchange regarding his Vindball shirt:
Micah: Can we buy your t-shirt?
Pappy: This t-shirt is actually a limited edition 2009 Whitevale Walatusks Special Vindball Champions shirt from back in the day.
Micah: What is Vindball?
Pappy: A sport played on Nexus that may or may not actually become a reality at some point in the future.
Micah: By reality you mean…?
Pappy: I don’t know what I mean but that’s all I’m going to say about it!

Since Pappy was questing in the Osun area, Micah asked Pappy a bit about the lore of the Osun themselves. As you’re questing, you will find that the Osun were a creation of the Eldan, and something catastrophic happened to their civilization long ago. However, now that people are showing up on Nexus, they are coming out of hiding and trying to reclaim their civilization and their ancient secrets. Which we, the players, will need to stop or else things could get bad.

A viewer asked if it was possible to cure soulrot. Pappy answered that soulrot can be cured, although it is extremely difficult to do so, and most of the time it’s not something you can come back from. For those that didn’t know what soulrot was, Pappy explained it as an elixir created by the Osun Dark Witches to enslave the people they conquer, which you will run across multiple times throughout the course of the game.

In the spirit of banter (and probably just to give Pappy a hard time) Micah pointed out at this time Pappy had failed his challenge and “didn’t even get Bronze”, and Pappy argued that he was distracted by answering questions and talking about lore.

Other questions in the stream included the following.

Q: Are there any plans on future content?
A: They can’t announce that on stream, but they do have some planned events coming up. There is the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational coming up on October 21st, which may or may not line up with a date from a film intentionally. Pappy exclaimed, “It was just a coincidence that it just happens to be the same time!” There is no Thanksgiving event this year, and no current plans to do so, however any holiday could be turned into a game personification if there was enough interest in it. Micah also mentioned that Shade’s Eve is coming up starting on October 19th, and there were other events going on that you could find at the article on their website.

Q: When can I play as a Lopp?
A: Pappy said that he honestly never thought that the Lopp would have become as popular as they have been. He wants to personally have a Kurg mount so that he can hardcore RP his own Lopp Fur Trader vibe. Pappy also encouraged viewers to start a #KurgMount movement on social media, because he knows some people that might be able to, “make it happen”.

Q: Are there Aurin scratching posts?
A: Pappy wanted to know if the viewer was asking because “you’re an Aurin, or because you’re Dominion and trying to put the Aurin down?”

Q: Are you playing on a PvP or PvE server?
A: Pappy replied, “I don’t want that PvP stuff to get in the way of my story!”

Q: Which Lore is cooler–Exile or Dominion?
A: Pappy admitted that he thought Dominion lore is cooler, if he had to choose between just the two factions. “It’s super deep, if you really dig into it, it ties the story of Nexus together.”

Q: Are male Aurins the flashier of the sexes to attract mates?
A: Pappy said that Aurin males are the more hot-headed of the genders. The female Aurin are more of the, “Hey, let’s chill out and hang and have fun and be positive” while the males are more “OCD”. Male Aurins like to puff up their chests a little bit. He concluded that, “yeah, they might be a little bit like that”. Pappy himself has never played an Aurin male, though he does have an Aurin female Esper he got to about level 3. He mainly plays Granok Males for “obvious reasons”.

Some more banter ensued between Micah and Pappy, and various notes popped up during this banter.

  • They have new plans to feature the Cryoplex Arena SOON™. The arena itself is currently out, however they’ve made some changes to it, and the new “actual” version will be ready in a future patch.
  • Pappy feels that Kurtenacker is the most talented composer “maybe in the entire world, but definitely in the business”. There are more than nine hours of original music in WildStar, and you hear it all the time. Lots of players have mentioned that WildStar is the only game where they “leave the music on” because it’s just so inspiring, and every zone is so different.
  • Pappy explained what Tales Keys were as he picked one up. They are pieces of lore for in-game “pulp novels” called Tales From Beyond the Fringe that are all about the “cool stories that have taken place in the WildStar universe”. You can collect these throughout the world, and they all have custom covers done by the “super-awesome-super-talented concept team”. They also unlock posters in your housing decor.

Jeff Kurtenacker happened to be in-house, so he was brought onto the stream. He talked about how he loved writing and continuing the write music for the game, because it was such a diverse universe. “Where else can you write quirky user salesman car music versus epic space themes?” Jeff asked.

Pappy and Micah both had questions for Jeff, and Jeff provided some pretty interesting answers.

Q: What are some of the musical inspirations of Auroria and the Osun?
A: Jeff described the Osun theme as a lot of big, low brass. It’s slow and lumbering with lots of trombones and tubas, and meant to be powerful and dark when you encounter the Osun for the first time.

Q: When you’re creating music, are there any other ways to layer it depending on the situation?
A: Jeff explained there will be times when the Osun and Eldan themes get merged together that kind of depends on what’s happening based on the lore. The Eldan theme does appear in the Osun theme because they were created by the Eldan. Using crossover themes and weaving themes together from a lore standpoint is important to tell the stories musically. To tell where they came from. Jeff joked he also does this, “just to make sure I don’t get fired!” He also mentioned that the Mechari have Eldan themes woven into their music.

Q: Tell us about the Shade’s Eve music?
A: Jeff admitted that the Shade’s Eve music was one of the most fun things he’s ever worked on, especially since he got to express his “Inner Danny Elfman”, because The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of this favorite movies. He was able to take the Dominion and Exile themes and make them sort of “Halloween-i-fied”, which was a “real, fun challenge”. He was also able to give Shade’s Eve its own theme, so that the capital cities get their own music, and the actual Shade’s Eve Instance gets its own music. Jeff explained that it was fun to do something “different, creepy, and quirky” which isn’t something he gets to do very often.

The stream wrapped up with one final question for Jeff on what he’s been working on lately. He mentioned “Donatelli’s leaky tweet” where he posted a screenshot of “something he shouldn’t have”. He’s been creating some music for that that’s “mysteriously beautiful with dissonant tones,” and mentioned that “if you like the music from Farside”, which he described as spacey and ambinet, that you are “going to like this, because it’s like [Farside] but with a little more adventure.”

August 2019 Note: This post is (19/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
WildStar Launch Update DevStream

WildStar Launch Update DevStream

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 2 October 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

On October 2, 2015 WildStar’s afternoon stream went from the Casual Friday layout they’ve been exploring recently into a WildStar Launch Update DevStream with Chad “Pappy” Moore, Omeed Dariani, and Chris Thomas, Lead Software Engineer (who was excited to participate in his first stream). Chris is responsible for all the game systems (outside of combat) that the designers use to make neat things for the players, as well as all the server structure involved in the back-end.

The three of them wanted to do a stream today to make sure that the players knew what was going on behind the scenes with the issues they have been encountering. It was noted that the big issues of the past few days, lag and queue times specifically, have been due to a specific part of the megaservers’ process being extremely taxed with the high demand of players.

With no time for excessive banter, the team launched right into the biggest announcement from last night: the spin up of new servers. The developers didn’t want to add extra different servers, but instead wanted to add in new ones with the intent to merge them back together easily and quickly later-on. There is no current ETA on when the servers will be merged together because they want to make sure it works correctly the first time, and prevent any further bugs. It was briefly mentioned that there are Realm First achievements available on the -2 servers, because it was easier to leave them on than trying to turn them off, and creating characters on a -2 server will give you free extra character slots (which will go away when you delete these extra characters).

Players who have already logged in will be defaulted to the last server they logged in on, and new players will be defaulted to the lowest population PvE server, so double-check the server you’re on before playing to ensure you’re with friends.

These new servers are being implemented as a short-term goal to address the lag and queue issues players are experiencing as a whole, giving developers extra time to get megaservers up to speed (and size) for the player demand. The demand for the game is “unbelievably huge”, and Pappy exclaimed being, “blown away by how many new players want to play”, noting that the coding team is “working around the clock”. Omeed added in that they have everyone working in shifts, as the downtime is necessary for people to recharge and get some much-needed sleep.

Another issue that cropped up with the implementation of these new servers was an issue with the limited time free-transfers. There is currently a fix for this in testing. While transfers are something that has been detailed as a part of the business model for the game, Carbine is opening up free realm transfers in the interim to allow people to get on and play on the -2 servers as they would like. There is a comprehensive FAQ available on WildStar’s website for those interested in how to prepare their toons for transfer. It was also noted that there is a seven-day cooldown between transfers.

The “Character Loop Bug” was also discussed a few times throughout the stream for people joining late. There is a fix in the work for this bug. The reason it happens is there is some sort of issue on a players’ character when loading in (items not appearing, LAS issues, etc.) and instead of throwing the character into game with an error, they are being kicked back out onto the character-selection screen. During high times of demand this bug is more likely to happen, especially as it continues to happen to a larger number of people. Their best advice for now, until they are able to implement a fix, is to just keep trying, and keep in mind that the more people trying to bypass the bug can make the issue worse.

A few questions were addressed during the stream, including both the positivity and negativity of the community. First, the three on-stream Devs thanked the people in the community promoting positivity about the game, and being patient with the time it will take to fix some of these issues. The negativity was addressed by asking players to keep in mind that while a corporation can sometimes be a faceless entity, they themselves are people, too, and are working their hardest for everyone to get into the game.

Pappy discussed that the other teams who don’t work on coding are offering as much support as they can both internally and externally. They are volunteering to talk to people with frustrations; they are trying to respond individually as much as possible; and they are trying to be open, transparent, and as communicative as possible. If you hit up one of the social media channels for WildStar, someone will be in touch ASAP.

Developers are looking for specific feedback on two matters. First, if you are having issues filing a Customer Service ticket, and if you are having any Launcher crash issues. Omeed said to put in a CS ticket (if you are able), or get in touch with them via the @WildStarOps twitter, through Reddit, or on the forums.

Omeed stressed that while things are currently intense, MMOs themselves are a long-term investment, and that WildStar isn’t just a week-long game. The development team as a whole is trying to get the game to a state they want as soon as possible, but it may take a little bit of time to iron out specific issues.

August 2019 Note: This post is (18/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
The Streaming Ones: Issue #12

The Streaming Ones: Issue #12

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 15 July 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

For those not in-the-know, the Developers over at The Secret World have started putting together DevStreams(called The Streaming Ones) every so often, and talk about things like past content and how they designed it, as well as upcoming content. As it is a new LiveStream over at Funcom’s official Twitch channel, it’s still sussing out its format. Regardless, it is always entertaining and informative.

On Friday, July 10th, Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Lead Systems Designer Andrew Ryker got together and did a big reveal on the next issue release for The Secret World–Issue #12–entitled To The Dark Tower Below. The issue will be released in two parts–the first part coming mid-August, and the second part a “few weeks later”. The Issue itself will be focused around the Orochi company and what’s beneath the tower.


There will be two dungeons released in this Issue in two parts. The first dungeon is called the Manufactory, and we will encounter three bosses there. We got glimpses of the first two bosses (a tank, and Orochi balls), but we don’t know who the third one is. Just that we have met them before, and they are not happy with us at all.

The second dungeon delves into the bowels of the Tower and explores the experimentation that Orochi had been performing, such as Vampires and Lycanthropes. We got a taste of some concept art from both dungeons, and a “dungeon delve” of the Manufactory.

Both dungeons will also be available in both Elite and Nightmare (aside from Normal), and the Elite version will include new weapon skins, as well as QL 10.5 Blue gear to help get folks ready for the new content.

Raids and Lairs
There will be three free raids available with Issue 12 to everyone who owns the base game. There were also a bunch of exploit fixes, reward updates, and difficulty updates. The New York raid will remain unchanged, and the Eidolon raid will no longer need the puzzle pieces to unlock it. The Flappy raid will be returning as ten-man raid content (which had the viewers excited beyond belief)! The Nightmare versions of these three raids will be specifically available to those that purchase Issue 12.

Lairs are going to now provide extra bags and rewards for all participants to get more players involved. Those with the Lair keys will be able to summon an extra boss and personally receive more items from said bosses. The Devs are doing this in an effort to get more people interested in obtaining the keys.

The TL;DR is: All current currencies (excluding PAX) will be turning into Black Bullion. The Devs want to streamline what players do, (whether it be raids, revisiting old content, etc.) and help encourage the “play how you want to play” attitude.

They will, however, be adding in one new currency called the Mark of the Pantheon for endgame content, which will be the “new Black Bullion”. They will also be enstating currency caps both weekly and overall (total). All excess currency past the caps will be converted into packs, though no information yet on what those packs will entail.

Progression Cap
Gear will be getting a boost as well! The cap will no longer be 10.5, but will instead increase to QL 10.7 in the first half of the Issue, and from 10.7 to QL 11 in the second half of the Issue with Nightmares. Glyphs, however, will remain at current QL and are not upgradeable.

PvP Updates
Various PvP updates were also mentioned that will set the stage for Issue 13 where there will be more PvP updates. There will be an increase in powers in Equal Footing, putting players at approximately QL 11. To provide more interactivity and participation in PvP, there will no longer be passive boosts from holding objectives, and instead be approximately five-minute refreshes with different Missions to complete in Fusang. This, in turn, helps combat the AFK-PvP phenomenon. Updates to Venice (purple) gear were also covered, with changes turning it into customizable dungeon gear, putting everyone on the same level gear-wise.

New and Updated Features
There were a plethora of new and updated features introduced during the DevStream. These features will be free for everyone, and improve the quality of life for players.

First, the Social and Looking For Group (LFG) windows will be getting improvements, mainly so players begin to use them. You will be able to add specificly what you are looking for by using comments (e.g.: 10.5 LF18/18). It can be used for dungeons, cabal (guild) recruitment, parties, RP events, etc.

There will be a Dungeon Finder added in during the second half of Issue #12, allowing you to queue specifically for the roles you would like to fill, and the dungeons (and difficulty levels) you would like to complete.

The Devs are also removing dungeon lockouts for Nightmare dungeons to allow people to “play the way you want to play”. Want to grind out your Black Bullion up to the cap? Go for it! Have only one or two days available to play and want to do as much as you can during that time? It’s all yours to pursue!

A new feature, called Challenges are also going to be added in Issue #12. They will encourage people to do certain acts over others–sort of like rotating dailies, or the contract system in WildStar. The rewards from these Challenges will be tied to Pantheon Marks and Black Bullion.

Apparently, Tilty just doesn’t dance. No matter how hard other Devs try…

The build for Issue #12 will be coming to Test Live soon, and the devs would like to hear your feedback on all the new and updated features–especially all of the balancing that has gone into reworking the raids, dungeons, and PvP. So be sure to check it out and provide feedback!

August 2019 Note: This post is (17/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
WildStar Stat Changes: What We Know

WildStar Stat Changes: What We Know

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 2 July 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

After the “Road to Free-to-Play II” Live Stream on Wednesday, July 1st, Steven Engle (aka Meerkat), sat down for a Reddit AMA about the WildStar stat changes that have been discussed. While the information given to us is not the final word, nor the end-all-be-all on what will be implemented, it gave us, the players, a more detailed idea of what will be happening prior to Deep Dive articles.

You can find the original Reddit AMA here, but I will be summarizing questions and answers below. There were some questions answered in the AMA not related to stat changes that may be of interest to you, so don’t write-off the thread completely.

So, why is Carbine revamping the stat system? According to Steven, the current stat system is not intuitive, and has been considered a barrier of entry to many entry-level players. Aside from the unconventional naming conventions (Moxie), stats weren’t relative to the players from class to class. The team working with Steven had initially thought to just rename things to your typical Intelligence, Dexterity, etc., however they would then still have to change the relationships each stat had to each class. (For instance, again, Moxie.)

When asked why they couldn’t just tweak current diminishing returns (DR) and make Critical Severity worth taking instead of completely overhauling, Steven replied that tweaking DR would still allowing for Primary stats that affect balancing the classes overall, which is one of the other main issues they are looking to address with these changes.

The new stats we can look forward to seeing include: Multi-Hit, Glance, Critical Mitigation, Reflect, Intensity, and Vigor. Engle described them as the following:
Multi-Hit: The chance to deal an additional damage or heal hit at a percentage of the ability damage dealt or healing given.
Glance: The chance to reduce the hit by X% (No information on how X is determined provided). This is a tank-specific stat.
Critical Mitigation: Reduces the amount of bonus damage from incoming Critical Hits. This is coupled with a change to the combat formula and Deflect Critical, which will be discussed at a later date in a Deep Dive. This is a tank-specific stat.
Reflect: Return a percentage of the damage received to the target that dealt it.
Intensity: Increases outgoing healing, but also increases focus cost. For this reason, it will be primarily offered on gear at level 50.
Vigor: Increases outgoing damage that scales based on your current Health percentage. The scaling of Vigor is still to be determined, as the team will be looking for feedback once this goes to Beta.

There is no official word yet which stats currently in the game are making the cut and which aren’t. There is mention to stats like strikethrough and critical hit that may not be going away.

Those already runed at the time of the changes will be receiving tokens in the mail to purchase new runes through a vendor in the capital city. Engle mentioned that there will be a Deep Dive regarding this in the future.

There were also questions regarding “power creep”, which makes parts of the content trivial with the differences between gear of a fresh fifty versus someone in orange-quality raid gear. The team has been working to smooth out the power creep, and has been working with Timetravel to make sure that end-game content feels good, and that the curve doesn’t trivialize previous raid content as quickly. There will, however, be a tad of power creep for those in Datascape (DS) gear that seems inescapable for the current tier of content.

If you’re one of those heavy-armor wearers currently wearing some lighter armor based on the stats, you’re no longer going to be able to do this. Armor types are now going to be restricted to their respective classes (Heavy can only wear heavy, medium only medium, etc.), as the current stat changes will more than likely lead to increased gear competition, and the team didn’t want to leave any sort of imbalance or start extra competition. It was mentioned that for those currently wearing lower-armor tiers, the pieces will be converted into an appropriate raid-level item useable by the class. What this means in the fine print, however, has not been specified.

They are, however, giving “avenues” to some classes that will play well with some of the new stat abilities and AMPs, so that some classes may favor multi-hit, while others may want strikethrough or critical as a stat instead.

As for PvP gear, more information will be given when the team sends out other updates regarding itemization, crafting, runecrafting, etc.

Just starting a new toon, or having fun with an alt at the time of these changes? You’ll be happy to know that all items in the game will be transitioning over to the new stat system, so to coincide with the changes, the team has spent a great deal of time revising all of the gear offerings from quests, instances, vendors, and more to better cater to all of the class/role combinations there are.

So while we got a bunch of specifics, there are still a bunch of things up in the air, it seems. What’s the best way to deal with this? By constructively giving your feedback to Carbine as we follow the road to free-to-play, and participating in the Beta.

August 2019 Note: This post is (16/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
WildStar: Bay of Betrayal Walkthrough

WildStar: Bay of Betrayal Walkthrough

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 5 May 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

So, are you excited about Drop 5, and ready to try out the new Adventure, Bay of Betrayal?

You’ve come to the right place! I spent a bunch of time on the PTR focusing on just the Bay of Betrayal with some amazing guild members, and wanted to share my findings/strategies to make it easier for those trying the Adventure for the first time.

Before an information dump, however, it is very useful to note that you will need to be in a group you are comfortable communicating with. This is a very quick Adventure, and you can fail in as little as fifteen to twenty minutes if people aren’t communicating.

Also, don’t get discouraged if things don’t go right the first few times. Even in full raid-gear on the PTR playing classes/specs/roles we main on Live, it took us at least ten hours to get to the point we were in the video below. It is for sure a challenging place, but it feels highly rewarding to get through each challenge.

A disclaimer: We were so involved in things that we didn’t pay attention to spell names. It is that hectic-feeling of an Adventure, especially when you don’t have it on “farm”. I try my best to describe abilities and items. I will gladly edit this with correct spell names if people happen to have them.

First “Hallway”
Kill the mob attacking Herald Anku’mar (hur hur Carbine!) to start up the event, and talk to him to begin after his little spiel.

Keep your DPS (and if you’re feeling confident, your tank and healer) fully charged using the battery rods the entire time (your charge will diminish over time if you do not use it). You want to avoid as many mobs as you can to beat the two other “groups” to the next room. If you do happen to run into mobs, you want charged people (in turns) to activate the various items in the area. Jump spells are also useful to keep moving quickly after killing mobs.

Bombs – These look like a relic node. They will one-shot anybody, including a tank (unless they have a defensive cooldown running). They’re the most effective way to kill mobs.
Tether – There are rods that emit a tether. Most of the time the tether will aggro mobs once it is activated so you should be able to run away from them and leave them there.
Sentry – A folded-up robot that will activate and patrol, aggroing mobs to the best of its ability and smashing them. The second most effective way to kill mobs, as it will help you smash mobs if you have aggro.
Opportunity – There are other rods that emit a circle that provides an elongated Moment of Opportunity (MOO). If you are not fully charged, and you stand in the circle, you will not be able to attack. The best option is to have the tank drag the mobs into the circle, and then stand on the edge. Melee DPS will have to also stand on the edge unless charged.

First “Room” – The Augmented
This is an AoE heavy room. While you can use the Charge to mind-control the adds in the room, we found that just straight burning them down yielded better, and faster, results. This might change depending upon group makeup, gear level, communication, etc.

Mini Boss: Team Alpha
At this point, you have the opportunity to attack one of the two teams if you were fast enough in the first room. Avoid mobs getting to the team, and burn down the healer. We found that one of the teams had an Aurin Esper named Shan Barkheart, and encountered that team as the first group to kill both times we had this opportunity. We don’t know if this is the case every time or not. These are AI mobs, so try to focus down what is doing the most damage/healing like you would in War of the Wilds, or even PvP. The burn order depends on your group makeup, but we found that burning the healer down first made things ultimately easier.

Second “Hallway”
After burning down the team, you encounter more mobs while heading to your next objective. The birds put a debuff on that slows you, so make the most of all the bombs in the vicinity and destroy stuff and run.

Second “Room” – Varmintron and Gopherzoid
There is a battery in the center of the room. Designate two people to be the battery drainer/mind controller–one per boss. We obviously found that marking them and designating symbols was easier for communication purposes.

The object of this boss is to burn down both of them simultaneously, and then mind-control them simultaneously to have them dig a hole to the next area. It sounds simple, but the coordination took a while to establish, especially since the battery regenerates so slowly. This is why we designated two folks as the drainers. The bosses themselves are fairly tank-and-spank.

The battery will fill up three quadrants of the room, and you need to get into the fourth quadrant to stay safe. Once the battery has been drained, this will stop, but it is suggested to wait to drain the battery until the bosses are very low on health so the Charge isn’t wasted (remember, it goes down if it’s not being used).

Varminton casts The Canimid Express every so often where he burrows underground, comes back up, and then shoots a line of dirt and rocks out in front of him. Fairly easy to dodge. He will also cast Eldan Excavationand the group will get a warning that says, “Varmintron is tearing apart the terrain!”. These are huge circles that appear, and are a little more difficult to get out of, but didn’t seem to do too much damage so long as you got out in a reasonable amount of time.

Gopherzoid casts Whirlwind and you will get a warning that says “Gopherzoid is creating a whirlwind!”. He will focus on one member and slowly walk towards them. Easy to run out of the group so long as the person being chased keeps to the edges of the open quadrant. Gopherzoid also seemed to send out lines every-so-often, but it didn’t feel as frequent as Varmintron.

DPS them down until you get the group warning that they’re able to be controlled, and control them simultaneously to dig a hole to the next “hallway”.

Mini Boss: Team Beta
As before, you will have another opportunity to run upstairs and kill the second team if you completed the boss fast enough. Killing teams gets you more time to complete the Adventure, however, it makes the final boss stronger. This is an AI team, like before, so focus down as you see fit. We had a difficult time discerning who the healer was, so we ended up choosing to burn down Lia Zalkadec. From there, things seemed much easier to burn, so we assume she is the healer.

Third “Hallway”
This hallway is completely different than the first two. It requires a lot of communication with your team. Everyone should Charge up and have a jump spell just in case. One person will need to control the first thumper. A second person will need to control the second thumper, and a third person will need to re-control the first thumper just before the first person’s Charge dies. Having a fourth person control the second thumper before the second person’s Charge dies is also useful.

Congratulations, you’ve passed the first part of the hallway. Rinse and repeat all the way through the thumpers! As you can see in the video, we had a more difficult time on the second set of thumpers, but a few tank cooldowns and jump got us past them instead of having to do both sets again.

After the thumpers, rinse and repeat as you had before in the first two hallways–use the bombs and rods to your advantage. Especially since the Shamans do some wicked crazy telegraphs. You can take the third hallway slower than the others assuming you have beaten the other two teams, as it is no longer a race against time.

Third “Room” – The Elder Vault
This is more communication-heavy. We had a difficult time with this because of how short the timer is for selecting items. There are tether balls at the top of the room that you will use to jump to get the first panel. However, you will need to have someone control the middle pillar so one person can use the tether and turn off the Security Control Panel. From here, we had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to get through the red, and resorted to using a jump spell, cooldowns, heals, and a Scientist summon. Of course, we figured out it was much the same as the thumper hallway once we had gotten across. Go up the hallway and turn off the last panels.

Fourth “Room” – The Trial of Endurance
This is essentially a gauntlet. You want to burn down the mobs ASAP, because more come out constantly, and they can get a bit overwhelming with all the red on the floor. We didn’t try mind-controlling the robots, but think it is possible because of the batteries in the middle of the floor. However, you also need to drain the batteries to destroy the panel with the Charge.

Fifth “Room” – Security Hub Sigma
This is the final boss, Calidor Antevian. He’s a tad difficult at first, but we soon realized a pattern in his spells. There are four batteries around the outside of the room, and you will want to assign four people to them to drain for a specific phase of Calidor when he drains them to heal himself. You’ll also need six interrupts for this fight for a specific spell.

Variance Protocol – This centers upon one person. They will need to run out of it and other people will need to avoid the tendrils. Don’t waste your interrupts on this.
Point of Division – This needs to be interrupted with those six IA spells. This gives you a nice MOO to burn him down. If it’s not interrupted it will send very large lines out from him constantly until the spell has finished its channel.
Fractured Symmetry – We called this “Medic!” whenever he cast it. Because it looks like a medic spell. This was the most difficult part of the pattern to figure out. If you watch the video, you see it goes in a “waltz” pattern, almost. Run towards the side ramps for three beats, then back in for three beats. It’s a little difficult to describe, but once you see it (and practice it) it makes a bit more sense. If you get hit by this, it disarms you and does a fair bit of damage.
Siphoning Power – This is when Calidor drains the batteries. Send your designated folks out to drain them and then continue whacking on him. I suggest having the tank and healer as some of the drainers, and keep a DPS on him to help burn through the shield he gets while he casts this to make things easier afterwards.

August 2019 Note: This post is (15/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
To Start a New Blog?

To Start a New Blog?

This post is (14/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.

I’ve hit a point in Blaugust where I’m running out of steam. Not only just a lack of time, but a lack of topics (possibly tied to the lack of time, because I’ve tons of draft posts!). Well, I take that back, I have a bunch of topics I’d love to write about, but they’re more NSFW-related (games, comics, etc.). Yes, I swear a bunch here. Yes, I am beyond lewd. But there’s a line. There’s a line between “mature audiences” and “almost or actual pornography”.

I’ve been waffling for a few months on whether I should start another blog for those that cross the line into “almost or actual pornography”. I could work it into my NSFW job (click at your own risk) no problem. But then what about the posts I want to write about modding The Sims 4 to be dirty? Or reviewing an erotic visual novel I’ve been playing? Or what about reading that comic that isn’t quite NSFW but flirts with the line enough that I don’t want to write about it on this blog? (Unnatural. It’s Unnatural by Mirka Andolfo. Though Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic falls into this category as well.)

I don’t feel like there’s an easy answer to what I should do. I have a blog name idea, but I don’t know if I should go with free or a hosted domain for now. Especially since I want to try to figure out a domain where I can add sub-domains to link to things like my content sites.

Normally I’d just make a decision and run with it, but I feel like I’m at an impasse and am being extra cautious for unknown reasons. And I’m aggravated at myself for feeling so dang stuck.

Warcraft Flight Grind

Warcraft Flight Grind

This post is (12/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
This is about how I feel in regards to the flight grind.

I am one of very few left playing Warcraft right now that has yet to obtain flight. I’ve been ruminating on how to write about my feelings in regards to the current flight grind, but I really couldn’t come up with more than, “heck this bull” (except with much more colorful words).

The flight grind, right now, is ruining the game for me. The need to spend an hour per zone each day to grind out world quests and zone quests is time I don’t have. I was already feeling indifferent about the game (pepped up a bit by downing Azshara and seeing some more lore), but this feels like an anchor that I can’t untangle from.

Luckily, it seems I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Stroeb mentioned,

“Earning flying almost seems not worth it, and disappointingly punitive with the two new factions you have to advance…”

I agree that it feels largely punitive. Even more so when one cannot dedicate even a half hour of time per day to just doing the world quests in one of the zones. Then add on the fact that others begin to question, “You really don’t have flight yet?”

Kaylriene also commented,

“No matter how well designed these zones are, how engaging the core quest and PvE content, they will be lost for many players in a haze of empty, unfulfilling grinding. My core issue this time around, a similar one to Legion actually, is that the flying grind involves a lot of time spent not playing the core game of WoW. It has the skin of it – you do world quests in Nazjatar and the one daily world quest in Mechagon, and it has the same reputation increases that accompany a lot of WoW’s gameplay. However, many of these quests don’t focus on actually playing your character, and instead focus on minigames and other things – some of which are amusing, but many of which are not, and none of which are as fulfilling as playing your character in fresh world content.”

Her post in general is a pretty good summation of my feelings.

Even though Pathfinder is not a pointless endeavor (flying is super helpful), it very much feels like it. And it’s dragging what little enjoyment I had remaining for Warcraft into the toilet.