The last cupcake

freebothat

Today is the last day for my most beloved MMO, Wildstar. I’ll be there tonight when the servers go down. It’s the least I can do, to stay in that amazing world until the last possible second.

Wildstar’s demise wasn’t really a shock to anyone, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. I spent last night wandering around the world, checking in on all of my characters, and watching the players chat with each other for possibly the last time. I was reminded that Wildstar has more character than any other MMO I can think of, and certainly more than my next 2 most-played MMOs put together.

pregame

Thayd was party central right up until death rained down upon us

I still remember the beta for this game, and how much fun we had as those servers shut down in preparation for launch. The shutdown tonight will be a bittersweet echo of that  event. I met a bunch of amazing folks while playing, and made a lot of fantastic memories. This blog wouldn’t even exist if I hadn’t gotten so excited and wanted to share my love of Wildstar with the world. Some of my favorite MMO memories are of building my housing in this game, or participating in its huge, complicated, telegraph-tastic raids.

Did you ever play Wildstar? What are some of your favorite memories? Will you be there tonight when it goes dark?

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Time flies when you’re not gaming much

I haven’t been posting much at all for the past month. It’s not some sort of blog ennui, it’s just that I haven’t been gaming nearly as much as I usually do. It started with the decline in my WoW time. While I found the leveling far better than I anticipated, the rest of the expansion has been decidedly not for me.

The next drop in my game time came from Diablo 3. I was happily chipping away at the season journey, but the fuss over the announcement of Diablo: Immortal sort-of soured me on the franchise for the moment. I tried picking Torchilight 2 back up to get my action RPG fix, and I enjoyed it for a few nights, but it didn’t last. I am too excited about the upcoming Torchlight MMO to get invested in an older game.

As a distraction I booted up Subnautica, which always makes me happy in the way only a game full of weird sea creatures can. I started a new game which was probably a mistake, since I got bored of re-treading the same content and wandered off after only a few nights.

Since then my nights have been mostly filled with knitting and watching the Great British Baking Show, which makes me feel too much like an old person for comfort. The only game I am still playing regularly is Dragalia Lost. After years of playing various games on my phone, they still don’t feel like “real games” to me. Mobile games squeeze in around other things in my life, a few minutes here or there, on the couch or riding in the car. They don’t have the same weight of something that requires me to go up to my office and boot up my PC. I have this weird gamer guilt, that I should be playing something “real”, but mobile has fit my life perfectly recently. With the holidays coming my free time is getting even more fragmented, and 5 or 10 minutes of distraction is about all I can manage. This realization makes me even more excited for the new Diablo game. All the fun of Diablo without being chained to my PC. Count me in.

Blizzcon Postmortem

Well Blizzcon this year was definitely a thing. I’m going to ignore all the pieces that seem perfectly cool but aren’t for me, like Overwatch and HotS, and focus on the big things that I feel strongly about. And boy do I feel strongly. It’s a testament to Blizzard that even after all the time and frustration with some of their franchises, I still care enough about them to wish they were better.

I’ll start with Warcraft. There were three prongs for this franchise, two of which are banking solidly on nostalgia. The Warcraft 3 remaster seems pretty cool. I never actually played any of the Warcraft games before WoW, so I could see myself trying this out just to see some of those pivotal lore moments. It’s not anything I was hoping for, but I might still buy it out of curiosity.

The second piece of Warcraft news wasn’t very new but still makes me happy. WoW Classic development is moving along, by all accounts the demo was as painful and wonderful as I had hoped it would be. The timeline for release seems reasonable, and I’m sure will be perfectly calculated to keep people subscribed to WoW during a content lull in the modern game. Most importantly, it will be on that same subscription. Your $15 a month will buy access to both versions. This is a pleasant surprise. For me I think Classic might become my primary MMO for a while, but it will be nice to be able to duck into BfA also if the mood strikes me. On the flip side, I appreciate that this arrangement will let people dabble in Classic if they start getting bored of modern WoW. It will keep the overall subscription numbers up, and will keep the Classic servers more populated that they would be if they required an additional fee.

I’m more and more excited about WoW Classic all the time because I’m realizing that the current incarnation of WoW is just not for me at all. Nothing about the announcements for the new content in the works for BfA was that appealing. I still haven’t seen the full Uldir raid, so it is hard to get excited about a new one. I dislike the faction conflict and the set-up for Sylvanas’ eventual downfall, so the cinematic just made me sad. BfA is a game for an audience that doesn’t include me. I think the existence of WoW Classic is the key that keeps me from being unreasonably sad or angry about that fact.

Speaking of unreasonable anger, it’s time to talk about Diablo. Diablo fans have been running on the fumes of hope for years now. This year the franchise seemed to be getting a place of honor at Blizzcon, instead of being relegated to the kiddie table or ignored completely. You can understand that we were pretty excited. Obviously there was going to be some kind of big announcement. Unfortunately, we did not get any of the things we were expecting.

Diablo Immortal is a game I want to play. It looks fun, and it fills in a gap in Diablo lore. Cool! It is also deeply disappointing as a major Diablo announcement out of Blizzcon. Why? Because it is a mobile game. By definition it will be less complex, less hardcore than a pc or console offering. Because it looks backwards into Diablo’s history instead of forward with new story. And because it came without the merest sliver of a hint of motion on the core game, the thing the fans have been invested in for years even in the face of Blizzard’s occasional neglect.

I completely understand the anger and frustration of the assholes who stood up during Q&As and were inexcusably rude to the devs. I’m unhappy with this situation too. But lashing out is not useful to anybody. I’m a weird Diablo fan, because I want more of the full deep experience on the PC, but I am also super excited to try a more casual mobile offering. I would have been legitimately hyped about Diablo Immortal if it had also come with a promise of more “traditional” Diablo. Instead, this announcement seemed to say “you get Diablo Immortal instead of more actual Diablo”, and that felt terrible. I get that they aren’t far enough along with anything to say much, but a simple “we’re working on this” would have gone a long way. As things stand I am 100% sure I will at least check out this new mobile offering, but I’m desperately hoping for some pc Diablo news sooner than later. At least I still have the Torchlight MMO to look forward to.

So that was my Blizzcon. It was filled with lots of things that aren’t for me, and the realization that even the franchises I love from Blizz seem determined to move away from me too.

Gracie update

I’ll be writing my monthly gaming goals post in a day or so, but I wanted to give a more general update since it has been a bit since my last post. Real life has been interfering with my gaming time quite a bit for the past few weeks. On top of that, my interest in games has dropped sharply, other than for mobile games. The combination means I don’t have a ton to talk about here.

I wish I could pin down why WoW went south so fast for me this expansion. I was skeptical going into BfA because I didn’t love the core theme, but the Horde-side leveling content really won me over. I had a blast through leveling, and was having fun doing dungeons with friends. I’m not sure what killed the fun fastest – the stress of healing M+, the boring re-hash of world quests, or the failure of islands and warfronts to remotely live up to the hype we were sold. I still have a week or two left on my subscription but nothing is motivating me to even log in. The most WoW I’ve played in weeks was to finally run Dragon Soul for the last time on my rogue to get her legendary daggers. Yes, old content from Cata is more appealing that the current expansion endgame right now.

Coupled with the disappointment of WoW is the wet blanket that Blizz has thrown over my hype for the Diablo franchise. With the coveted post-opening-ceremonies timeslot at Blizzcon, lots of people were hopeful for a Diablo 4 announcement this year. Sadly Blizz has already warned us to tone done our expectations. I’m still hopeful that we’re getting some kind of new content for Diablo, even if it is just another character pack for D3 like the necromancer. I’m perfectly happy to keep throwing money at the game to keep development chugging forward if they at least keep giving me something new to be interested in once in a while.

Meanwhile I’ve been mostly poking at Dragalia Lost, which I can do while chilling out on the sofa and watching TV. It’s a nice change from being isolated up in my office all the time. I’ve also been reading for fun instead of chewing through my reading challenge list. I re-read all of the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire to prepare for book 12’s release (spoiler: I liked it). Now I’m re-reading The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson since the sequel to that comes out today. The Traitor Baru Cormorant was the only book I’ve read in the last 10 years or so that I was so engrossed by that I immediately started re-reading it the minute I finished it for the first time. I’m hoping the sequel lives up to it.

Another D3 season

Blaugust took a bit more out of me than I had realized, and I’ve been pretty scarce around here this month. Whoops. I have been busy gaming, mostly focusing on stress reduction and occasionally doing random dumb things with my friends. That includes old raids for transmog and mounts/pets, running LFR and snarking about how terrible it is, and my main focus in the past week – killing demons in D3.

Season 15 is about a week old, and I’m much more engaged than I expected to be. It is hard for me to tell whether I’m going to bounce or not in any given season lately. Sometimes I just do the minimum to get the cosmetic rewards, other times I’m pushing all the way through the season journey ranks. I think this time around the combination of the luster fading from WoW’s new expansion and growing Diablo hype surrounding Blizzcon have made me much more excited to play than usual. I am really hoping for a big announcement this year, either a major new expansion or an entirely new D4 would make my Blizzcon.

As for this season, I think the fact that I arbitrarily chose to level a necromancer instead of a demon hunter is also helping keep me more entertained than usual. I don’t know the class as well so I have to focus a little more, and I don’t have all the builds and gear memorized so getting legendaries feels more exciting because I’m seeing new things. I’m also more motivated to farm good gear because I don’t have a completely ancient, augmented necromancer waiting for me in non-seasonal like I do with DH. The things I get this season might actually not get broken down for parts when the season ends.

I went with the Rathma + Jesseth build since Rathma’s was the free set this season, and it’s quite powerful. Once I finally got all the pieces for the build I rocketed through greater rifts and pushed up to 70 with no problems. Well, I died a lot, but I killed things so fast that I still had no trouble beating the timer. It did take me an unusually long time to get all the key legendaries I needed for my build this season. The two necromancer-only rings were the most elusive, which was frustrating because the circle of buy-one-get-one-free skeletal mages is really crucial. I finally had to resort to some degenerate behavior to force it to drop. Specifically, that ring has a minimum level requirement of only 11, which allows a nice trick to work. Instead of gambling at Kadala at level 70 and having a chance of every ring in the game, I leveled a new baby necromancer to 11 and gambled with her instead. That meant I was drawing from a pool of around 3 possible rings, instead of whole endgame loot table. This technique works best for items that can drop at very low levels, but if you find yourself in the situation where that one thing you need just won’t drop, it might be worth it to try.

Now that I’m all decked out (and have unlocked the possibility of primal ancients) I’m working my way through the season journey. I’ve cleared through Champion and just need one conquest to finish Destroyer. I definitely plan to get through Conqueror, and hopefully drag my buddy Belghast through with me since he still has a few stash tabs to unlock. The conquest choices this season are not some of my favorites. I plan on grabbing avarice first, since with the double bounty box event this season it will be very easy to cheese that one. The next easiest is probably the thrill, since I’ll have lots of paragon levels and high level gems to make GR45 less painful with or without a set. After that the realistic options are either masters of the universe, which requires leveling and farming gear with a second class, or boss mode, which will be very hard with only one or two people.

We’ll see if I keep my momentum this season or fizzle out before finishing. For now I’m still having lots of fun!

Friends and ponies

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What do you do when a dear friend has an extremely bad day? You help chase their troubles away with nostalgia. We went to ICC for fashion and fun, but lo and behold this beauty dropped. I’ve run ICC so many times I was starting to believe Invincible didn’t really exist, but there it was. Personal loot actually awarded it to me, and on any other day I would have squealed loudly and kept it without question. But since I was only there in the first place because of my buddy, I opted to roll for it. He won fair and square, and I handed it over gladly. It was such a ridiculously lucky find and I hope it really helped him feel better. I don’t get to keep those particular pixels, but I do get to keep the awesome memory of hanging out, having fun, and laughing about this stroke of luck.

October Daye

I’m taking a break from my reading challenge list to do some comfort reading. Specifically, I’m starting up my approximately annual re-read of the October Day series by Seanan McGuire. I discovered McGuire a few years back, by way of one of her other series under the name Mira Grant. That meant I was slightly late to the party on the Toby Daye books, but I’m a voracious reader and they are short, easy reads.

The biggest problem is that McGuire has obviously made some sort of dark pact or is secretly some sort of actual fae who doesn’t need sleep, because she is a hugely prolific writer. I often try to re-read all the Toby books every time a new one comes out, but it’s difficult. She’s now up to twelve books in 9 years. I anticipate at some point I’ll just have to keep endlessly cycling through them because there will be more than I can read in a year. Honestly I’d almost be okay with that – I find them hugely enjoyable. The main downside to that is I wouldn’t have the time to read all the other novels, short stories, poems, etc. that she publishes in a given year, much less anything by other authors.

The last time a new Toby book came out I only read the last 4 or 5 books, so this is the first time I’ve re-read the whole series in a while. I find the early books keep getting better in the context of the full series. They stand find on their own, but some of the characters and storylines they introduce get fleshed out later. McGuire has a long story in mind and it’s quite fun to go back and see how things were set up to pay off years down the road. The biggest of these payoffs happens in book 8, and it is a revelation going back to the beginning and re-reading in light of what happens there.

If you like urban fantasy that can be fun and not permanently grimdark, and that also doesn’t always focus on the main character’s sexual escapades like some other similar series (a pet peeve), I highly recommend giving these a read.

Here’s all the books in the series so far:

  • Book 1: Rosemary and Rue
  • Book 2: A Local Habitation
  • Book 3: An Artificial Night (Note: This might be my favorite book of the series).
  • Book 4: Late Eclipses
  • Book 5: One Salt Sea (My other potential favorite)
  • Book 6: Ashes of Honor
  • Book 7: Chimes at Midnight
  • Book 8: The Winter Long
  • Book 9: A Red Rose Chain
  • Book 10: Once Broken Faith
  • Book 11: The Brightest Fell
  • Book 12: Night and Silence