A little privacy

You’ve all seen me ramble about some of my social anxiety issues before, but Blizzard has brought it all back to the surface again. In patch 7.1 there’s a new Quick Join feature that allows your friends to see that you’ve joined a queue or a group finder group and easily join you. In theory this can be great. In practice I’m not sure this is something I ever want to use. I’m too timid to randomly join anybody who was starting a queue, I would rather pug than impose on my friends. Conversely, sometimes I want to pug, for the goodie bag or because I’m feeling antisocial. If a friend asks to join either I have to tell them no and feel bad, or let them join and then I’m not doing the pug I wanted to do. At least if you queue for a Call to Arms (goodie bag) it will not show you as available for Quick Join. Maybe I will start only queuing for things that are Call to Arms, honestly that’s not super different from how I play normally. Still, I will continue to shout this from the rooftops: Give us a damn invisible mode already Blizzard.

This also complicates getting mythic or M+ groups for people without a lot of friends on their list. Now any group that forms has a higher chance of filling up with friends-of-friends before strangers get a chance to sign up. This means if you have a huge friends list your chances of doing more mythics just increased, and if you have few friends it will be even harder to get a group. Just add regular mythics to LFD already Blizzard. This Quick Join tool is solving a much less pressing problem, and causing new ones.

I’ve been slowly working my way back up to a friends list with nearly 20 or so people on it, which is about 20 more people than my anxiety could handle before. If this new tool becomes a problem for me, I’m back to either purging my friends list or just running away from the game again. I get that this is not a problem that most people have, but I also know I’m not alone. It would be nice if Blizz ever once gave any indication that they acknowledged people like me exist and have valid concerns.

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It’s Blaugust Time Again!

It’s the first of Blaugust and that means that once again I’m going to be attempting to post something here every day of this month. Looking back on last year’s posts it is surprising to me how much my gaming habits have changed, and how much they’ve stayed the same. You can bet I’ll still be talking about things like D3, WildStar, WoW, and Final Fantasy XIV, but hopefully I’ll be mixing things up with new games too. Lately I haven’t been invested in any one game enough to attempt writing guides like I did for WildStar last year. This makes me sad, but also relieved. Those things are a lot of work!

This year I’m going to try to repeat my “Screenie Saturday” and weekly “What I’m Playing” on Sundays so my weekends don’t get too bogged down. I pledged to write every day, but this year there’s no win condition or prizes so I won’t have to stress myself out if it looks like I need to slow down or take a break. Not that I was really doing it for those reasons last time, but it is nice knowing I am doing this 100% to motivate myself and for the sense of community this time around. If you’re interested in revitalizing your blog, or even starting one from scratch, jump in and join us!

They’ll Have to Kick Me Out

 

By now most folks have heard about the bad news. In a classic “bury bad news on a Friday afternoon” move, NCSoft laid off as many as 70 of Carbine’s staff last week, and canceled WildStar’s China release completely. Other folks have already laid out most of my thoughts on the matter (see Gamer Girl Confessions and Notes from Nexus for example), I can’t help but ramble about this a little here too. Don’t worry, I got most of the swearing out of my system on Friday night.

ws_beta_end

I saw the world end once and I survived. I’ll always stay until they kick me out.

I’ve said before that Nexus is my home and while a lot has changed since I wrote that post the one constant is that I haven’t stopped playing WildStar. I’ve gone through phases of playing other games more, sure, but I’ve had an active subscription since launch and I intend to keep it that way. Right now I’m all paid up through the end of this year. After the news on Friday though, I’m just hoping that the game is still here that long. The layoffs are heartbreaking, but for the health of the game the cancellation of the China launch is the most worrying to me. It screams that NCSoft don’t have any faith in the game, and worse, it completely removes the potential for revenue from that new market. It also has the secondary effect of destabilizing the current player base, both by causing some folks to abandon ship, and demoralizing those of us who remain. Combine that with NCSoft’s record of shutting down under-performing MMOs and the outlook is grim.

I’m looking forward to hearing from Pappy as promised next week, hopefully sooner than later. He absolutely needs to help calm the players’ nerves and I don’t envy him having to do that at a time when I’m sure the remaining Carbine staff are incredibly stressed. It is vital that he convince us though, because if people believe the game is truly heading for maintenance mode or worse they will stop spending money and make all the prophecies of doom true.

anniversary1

Everything feels like panic and chaos. And candy-coated rowsdowers.

I still support WildStar and Carbine’s awesome staff. Nowhere else have I seen such a lovely, committed group of devs who happily engage with the community on a daily basis. I want to support them with my wallet too, but as a broke student I’ve got to be careful about my finances. Convince me that the game is still moving forward with short- and long-term plans. Reassure me that the game I love will still be here this time next year. There are so many mysteries on Nexus that I want to solve and new places I want to explore and I’ll happily pony  up some more money for fancy hats or new dyes if it helps keep the doors open. But first I need to see clear goals and not hollow PR-speak. We’re all looking to you, Pappy, I’m with you til the end!

D3 Season 5 is Coming

What a difference just a couple days can make

Last season’s look

Diablo 3 for me is a very relaxing way to spend an evening. The changes in the game since the Reaper of Souls expansion released have been hugely positive for my enjoyment of the game, and the addition of “Seasons” has made it far more evergreen. That’s why I’m super excited that season 5 is starting up this Friday. This post is all about the reasons why you should be excited too.

Everyone with any interest in D3 will be playing again for a little while. D3 can be enjoyed solo or with friends (or strangers!). If you are the sort who prefers playing with others, or if you just like having people around in-game to chat with, a new season will deliver. Some folks are planning to accomplish as much as possible and will be online and ready to go as soon as the season starts, but even very casual folks will be enticed back to check out the new goodies over the next couple weeks. The start of a new season means D3 is going to be as full of friends as it can possibly be.

There’s a level playing field for new folks and veterans. Been thinking about taking D3 for a spin but annoyed that playing as a noob when your friends have maxed-out characters is really unsatisfying? Or just want to switch to a wizard but feeling bad about all the time and effort you spent grinding gear for your monk? A new season wipes the slate clean. Everyone will be starting from scratch on Friday, at level 1 with no paragon levels, gear, or gold. It is a great time to play with others and not feel like you’re behind, or to try out a new class.

New content livens things up. My D3 playstyle has been to level and play a ton when a new season launches, and then just casually hop in once in a while after a month or so has passed. Part of the reason why it still feels good to come back and get invested again is that there’s new content to discover each season. This time around I’m especially excited to try out the new set dungeons, special challenges that become available when you equip all of the pieces of a class set of armor. Most of the time I pick one build and stick with it for the season, but I can see this addition might get me to try out lots of new things just to play with every set.

Cosmetic rewards are always cool. Every season brings new cosmetic goodies, from character portrait frames to pets. Sometimes there are even cross-promotional rewards, like last season’s HotS mount, although I’m not aware of anything like that for Season 5. Completing a basic set of tasks like leveling to 70 and completing rifts and bounties will unlock the main rewards. If you want extra bragging rights, you can aim for additional challenges that reward fancier versions of the season’s portrait frame. This time around you are also guaranteed a full set of class armor for one class for the season. That should make getting hooked on the new class dungeons a breeze.

So that’s my blatant attempt to convince you that you should hop back into Diablo 3 this weekend. My goals for this season are to top my best solo greater rift from season 4 (rank 45), and to at least attempt all of the class set dungeons for Wizard. I really want those beautiful wings for beating all of the class set dungeons (for every class), but that seems like more of a long-term project. Why not join me for some demon-slaying fun?

Marketing Bullseye

You may have noticed it has been a bit quiet here for the past few weeks. Between a lot of RL events and a general sense of wanderlust (mostly being dealt with int Fallout 4), I’ve been slacking on my WildStar time. Fortunately, they’ve managed to grab my attention back in a huge way.

What more could you ask for?

WildStar has just announced a new upcoming event: Space Chase! This one seems like it was custom made just for me. The short version is that it is an event where you can run shiphands expeditions to earn currency to buy cool housing rewards. Have I ever mentioned how much I love shiphands expeditions? Because I really really love them, even if I can’t stop calling them shiphands. Old habits. The best part is that the currency for the event can be earned by completing any level-appropriate expedition. That means everyone above level 6 (or 14, I guess, if you actually want to use the housing decor) can get in on the fun.

The rewards look pretty darn sweet, and include parts for building your own custom spaceships, NPC space cadet decor, and even housing music unlocks. Some of the coolest items appear to be from random in-game store boxes, which I’m not the biggest fan of. However it looks like they are sticking to their plan of having all store items be trade-able, so I’ll be stalking those music tracks on the auction house.

The Space Chase event runs from December 9 – December 18. The perfect timing to keep everyone busy until the Protostar winter holiday event begins. Who’s ready to chain-run expeditions with me?

Last Call for Shade’s Eve Contest

WildStar’s Shade’s Eve housing contest ends today. You have until tonight at 11:59 PDT to submit your screen shots for a chance to win up to a year of signature service and a fancy midnight equivar mount.

Still spooky

Still spooky though.

My free time and building skills didn’t quite manage to create a reality that lived up to the idea I had for this contest. I won’t be around enough tonight to do much more than take a couple screen shots, so I’m debating whether or not to enter at all. I think I will try though, because even though I don’t have much hope for a prize I do want to make sure they get good participation. I definitely want to see more contests like this in the future! I should probably start planning my Xmas-themed plot right away, but I’m one of those folks who gets grumpy if I see Xmas decorations before (American) Thanksgiving, so I guess it will have to wait.

Want to check out my spooky house? Visit Gracie Moonshine on Entity and let me know what you think! And let me know in the comments if you’ve decorated at your place, maybe I’ll stop by to trick-or-treat!

Shade’s Eve!

ShadeseveAs far as in-game events go, Shade’s Eve is the real deal. For folks who expect some decorations and a couple quests out of their holidays, well, you’re kinda right…

Thayd is decked out for the holiday.

Thayd is decked out for the holiday.

But you’re also going to be a bit under-prepared for what WildStar is throwing at you with this holiday. The capital cities are decorated. And I don’t mean just a couple pumpkins sprinkled around. The entire city is completely decked out in seasonal decor, and even the lighting and music have been changed to suit the mood. I actually got lost in Thayd, a city I’ve been running around in for over a year, because the atmosphere is so very different and the whole place felt new.

There are also daily quests. They are relatively standard fare, but with that extra WildStar flavor. My favorite one has you go trick-or-treating at other people’s houses. For 50 silver you can put out some candy of your own. There’s a bit of a trick to this quest. There are several different types of candy, and you need to collect one of each. That means people are constantly calling out in housing zone chat asking for and offering different kinds of candy. In some games I could see this being awful really fast, but WildStar’s housing chat is notoriously helpful and fun, and so far everyone’s been working together to make this quest a breeze.

I love that you can run around in a spooky corn field.

I love that you can run around in a spooky corn field.

The other truly amazing piece is the quest that sends you into the holiday expedition (mini-dungeon). Most other holiday events I’ve experienced in games tend to send you to either a one-and-done boss in a box, or have some re-skinned portion of an existing dungeon set up to match the theme. WildStar instead has gone all-in and made a complete experience jam packed with atmosphere and lore. I’m hoping to put a guide together soon so I don’t want to get into too many details here, but I absolutely loved the expedition. I also think the devs made the right call by adding level scaling. It allows characters of almost any level (above 10 I believe) to group up and run it together. I soloed it on both my main and my fresh 50 engineer without too much trouble, and also ran with groups of 3-4 guildies of varying levels and it was still engaging, fun, and about the right amount of challenge.

Pray the Angel finds you there.

Pray the Angel finds you there. Or not. She’s kinda creepy too.

There’s a final note I want to make about this event as it relates to WildStar’s F2P model. I think they did it right. There are only a handful of items that are store exclusive for the holiday: the skeletal warpig mount, the haunted house fabkit, and the shade’s eve dye pack. The mount seems to be standard MMO cash shop mount fare. It is not for me but the value for the price seems fair. The dyes were a must-have, but were cheap enough to pay for with omnibits and can be applied to every character on my account so I’m happy. The fabkit is pretty sweet, it allows you to basically have a second house (a haunted house!) on your plot, and you can even fully furnish it as you choose. However, it suffers from the standard issue all fabkits have, which is that if you decide you don’t like the location or want to swap it out for something new it is gone forever. Since it is a one-use, one-character purchase (and fairly expensive too), I don’t think it is worth the cost. If they ever change those kits from single-use to something you learn and can re-use I would probably buy one myself.

All of the rest of the shade’s eve goodies can be purchased with Shade’s Silver. You earn this from dailies and from running the expedition. I ran quite a few times last night and if there is a daily cap on that currency I didn’t find it, and I earned enough to purchase the hoverboard already! Even better, it looks like most of the items can drop from the instance goodie bag. I would recommend holding off on any big purchases until later in the event, since you might get lucky and get one for free! I managed to snag the pet last night and since that was one of my must-haves I was super stoked.

I hope you all have a fantastic time with Shade’s Eve! And if you are still waffling about whether or not to try WildStar? There’s absolutely no better time!

PvP on My Mind

In my so-called hardcore WoW raiding days I stayed as far away as possible from PvP. Sure, I saw the potential benefits, like building better situational awareness and reaction times, but I couldn’t stand the culture. It didn’t help that at the time the folks in my guild who did a lot of PvP were some of the most obnoxious members of the raid team. The few times I tried it back then I got berated by my own team and murdered by the opposition and never felt like I had the chance to actually learn what I was supposed to do.

I never did end up PvPing much in that game, with too many entrenched “experts” and understood “best practices” to bar my entry. As I’ve picked up new MMOs over the years I have given PvP more of a try, and found that it can actually be enjoyable. The best scenario for me was always games with a healthy leveling bracket. This gave me some time to learn the battlegrounds and get acquainted with strategy and abilities without the hard wall that comes at the level cap. The wall of opponents with maxed out PvP gear can make learning so miserable that you give up without even giving it a fair try. Leveling brackets tend to normalize gear and are often more about skill and maybe which abilities you’ve learned at  your level. It makes the playing field much more even and let me tell you, losing a close match is way more fun than getting completely wrecked.

All my friends are dead. This did not end well.

Walatiki Temple in a rare moment of calm.

Anyway all of this is just setup for the fact that I actually find myself enjoying PvP in WildStar. I tried some while leveling and managed to learn the battlegrounds and some vague sense of strategy. I even wrote a “guide” that is just vague enough to still be relevant today! Then with the advent of the contracts system I gave it a shot on my level 50 character too. I was happy to see that a few days of being insta-killed was enough to buy myself a minimum amount of gear and then suddenly I could actually even be useful!

Fast-forward to the present, when I found out that there’s a new PvP season and all my hard work from before can now be upgraded by spending a few gold at the season 2 vendor. Sigh. At least the sweet armor has been unlocked for my holo-wardrobe.

PvP gear this season in WildStar has an interesting twist. The basic gear can be purchased for gold, which is awesome. This allows new folks and people playing catch-up to get a complete set very quickly. The next stage of gear can be purchased for a modest amount of prestige. I’m currently filling out my set, and it feels like something that can be reasonably done in a few nights of play if you are mostly focusing your time on PvP. Again this seems totally reasonable. A week of dedicated PvP should get you relatively caught up, but still not on par with the hardcore PvPers. That last step requires imbuement items and an awful lot of prestige. Each slot of gear (excluding gadget, weapon attachment, implant, etc.) can be upgraded by using a couple imbuement items, each of which costs more than (sometime double) the original item cost in prestige. Upgrading improves the quality of the gear and adds a rune slot, but doesn’t change the item level. This is the step that separates the real cupcakes from the mini-muffins or whatever. I guess I’m as bad at baked-goods analogies as I am at PvP.

The real reason I want to pvp

The real reason I want to pvp

This long slow grind seems potentially soul crushing for someone who is not super great at PvP. Part of me wants to just throw my excess prestige at pets and costumes and then run back to questing and expeditions. However, I find I’m often really enjoying PvP in spite of myself, and each new piece of gear (and the survivability that comes with it) keeps adding to that enjoyment.The slow and steady rate of progression is a nice counterpoint to the randomness of chasing gear from raiding. It also really helps that there is a chance to win the imbuement items from both the winner and loser goodie bags from doing battlegrounds. In fact I won two of them in a row by some miracle last night.

WildStar’s first in-game event since Free-2-Play launched begins tomorrow, and just happens to be a bonus prestige event. I’m suddenly finding myself really looking forward to it. This upcoming event not only gives me a bit of a speed pass to PvP rewards, but it will also hopefully bring in even more people to the battlegrounds. The very best part is that this type of event can attract people with some interest, but doesn’t “force” non-PvP-minded folk to queue for any reason. With a little luck, that will lead to an influx of people who actually want to be there, and maybe even enough new folks to actually make me look good for a change.

Are you interested in learning to PvP in WildStar? Are you planning to participate in the upcoming prestige bonus event? If you want a buddy to hang out with and maybe laugh at, leave me a note here or on Twitter and we can fight the Dommies together! Or at least check out this helpful guide over at WildStar-Core to get yourself started!

RELOADED

Fancy Bug Mount

Fancy Bug Mount

Last night I dutifully logged into the WildStar stream to join in the fun and hype in the last hours before launch. My plan was to hang out until the cinematic was revealed, then head to bed. Yes, it is kinda sad, but being an adult is often sad. However, one of the giveaways on the stream turned out to be a chance to access the game an hour early. I and 999 other folks from the Twitch chat were able to log in and beat the rush.

I ended up using that hour mostly to claim all the goodies I had unlocked, and to get all my rune tokens out of the mail. Not the most exciting thing, but it needed to be done. Plus I got to run around in the crawler mount pictured above an hour early. Totally worth it.

What's not to love?

Disco snail gets me

Instead of going to bed like an adult, I ended up playing not just for my bonus hour, but another whole hour after the actual launch time. There were definitely some rocky patches to this launch. Once the servers were truly opened the lag got quite bad at times. While expected, that was still disappointing. Worse though, was the bug that caused some guilds to completely disappear. Folks who logged in planning to chat with friends and guildies all night found themselves suddenly alone. That was being addressed in an emergency maintenance as I was getting ready to leave this morning, so no WildStar for me until I get home from work!

Hopefully they get all the bugs sorted. The WildStar hype is real right now and I want it to translate into tons of new players, not internet rants about a rough launch. I know I’ll be eager to hop back in after work. Hopefully coffee and excitement can compensate for my lack of sleep until then!

Countdown to WildStar: Reloaded

Less than 24 hours until WildStar goes Free to Play! If you’re reading this on September 28, the patch is now available for download!

I’ve been mostly avoiding WildStar for the past week or two. I tried to get my affairs in order as much as I could, and once the market board was shut down I figured that was a good sign that I could step away and refresh. This way I will be at maximum hype levels when the patch hits and the world changes.

The Farewell To Evindra dance party

The Farewell To Evindra dance party

The last time our little world got upended this much was for the Megaserver merger. This screenie is from the night before the merge. (Shoutout to all my Evindra friends!) Coincidentally, it was also the night where I got recruited into my current guild.

Last night's party

Last night’s party at an even fancier club

The party last night was fittingly even bigger than that one. Which makes sense since we’re welcoming a ton of great new updates instead of saying goodbye to our server. I’m feeling similar nervousness about this big change though. We’re about to be the center of attention for a while. Soon tons more people will be running around checking out this awesome game. I’m hoping that the trolls move along quickly, and that the game ends up getting a huge boost. WildStar is my main MMO, and I’m looking forward to being able to share my love with even more people. I know a bunch of my friends who tried it and left are planning to come check it out again and I can’t wait to play with them after months of absence.

No matter what happens, I’m excited as hell. See you on Nexus, cupcakes.