The last cupcake


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.


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?

Farewell WildStar


 Raiding selfie.

The news broke yesterday that NCSoft shut down Carbine Studios and soon WildStar will be closed forever. I have so many feelings about this announcement, yet I almost decided to avoid writing about it. Why? Guilt, I suppose. I still have the WildStar launcher on my machine, and still log in about once a month just to look around, but I haven’t been playing it in any substantial way in over a year.

The game remains my favorite MMO of all time, but I’ve had a strange relationship with it toward the end of its life. I stuck around through some of its rocky times, even when almost all of my friends had long gone. I found a few different guilds, and sometimes even just stuck it out completely on my own. The point at which I left was when the writing on the wall became too clear to ignore. Once the staff had been reduced, and the flow of updates essentially dried up, it became hard to stay invested. I was in some sense trying to save myself some heartbreak when the game shut down by stepping away, and I guess it partially worked. Unfortunately I still also feel like I contributed to this sad outcome by giving up instead of staying a stalwart cheerleader. I know that my love of the game and extremely modest influence on my friends and readers wouldn’t have made enough difference to keep the game going, but I still feel like a bit of a traitor anyway.

Now that I’m faced with the certainty of WildStar’s looming demise, I’m not sure what to do with myself. On the one hand I would like to visit again, take some screenshots, and explore all my old favorite places. On the other hand I kind of want to keep all the amazing memories of the game intact without being colored by the lens of “this is the end”.

I send my fondest well-wishes to all of the Carbine folks who are now looking for new work. The WildStar devs to me were always the gold standard of positive interaction with the community. I hope everyone lands on their feet.

Finally, WildStar is the reason I have this blog. It’s the first game I got excited enough about to start writing, even creating guides. Here are some of my WildStar posts that give a timeline of my experience with the game:

Why Housing? – The exact moment when I discovered the magic that was WildStar’s housing system.

Farewell to Beta – The last chaotic moments on the beta servers were a fantastic party.

Healing on Nexus – WildStar’s healing was pretty different from any MMO I had played before.

I Leveled Up, Cupcake – I got my first character to the level cap and the whole world was opened up before me.

Strain! – WildStar’s early content patches were very meaty and fun.

Nexus is My Home – A few months after launch, when all the hype was starting to settle down, I was happily settling in for the long haul.

So Long, Moonshine Laboratory – An archive of my first major housing project in the live game.

Mega Madness – The game was less than 6 months old and we were already preparing for server mergers.

Relaxing for a Change – By October the game had gotten quiet, and my amazing launch guild had become “a ghost town”. I started looking for a new guild.

New Life – The server merger successfully made the world feel populated again.

Patchmas Eve – WildStar had a major content drop at the same time as some other MMO was launching an expansion that I wasn’t thrilled with.

Comings and Goings – The first time I wrote about coming to terms with the guilt of playing WoW instead of WildStar.

Zero to Hero – Announcement of WildStar going F2P brought me back to the game for a bit.

Raiding! – After playing the game for a year I finally got attuned and had the chance to raid.

Farewell to Blaugust! – I participated in Blaugust 2015 so there were a ton of posts. I’m most proud of the Shiphand Buddy series of guides that I made. This also marked my brief stint writing for a bigger fansite, WildStar Core.

RELOADED – WildStar went F2P. It had some rocky moments but I was happy to be invested in the game again.

Shade’s Eve – Still one of my absolute favorite holiday events in any game.

Cash Shop Complaints – With F2P of course comes a cash shop. WildStar’s shop was definitely far from perfect.

Sense of Community – Thaydfest, a completely player-run in-game event, was one of my favorite experiences in WildStar.

Rune Woes – Gear and end-game progression is a tricky subject in pretty much every MMO. Updates to WildStar’s system didn’t seem to improve things.

Space Case Blues – WildStar suffers from poorly implemented random loot crates.

They’ll Have to Kick Me Out – A round of layoffs at Carbine did not spell good news for the game.

November 2016 Gaming Goals – I had to start making goals for myself to play WildStar because I wasn’t spending much time there otherwise.

Weekly gaming grab bag – I mention WildStar and their newly-implemented post-level cap progression system. It felt daunting to a casual player trying to get back into the game.

After that last post, in April 2017, there are few mentions of me actually playing WildStar on the blog. I still constantly bring it up when comparing other games to it, because it did so many things right with its customization, fashion, and housing.

Player Housing Wishlist

A few days ago Alunaria asked me in the comments what my ideal player housing in WoW would look like. I figured it would be more fun to answer with its own blog post, because I’m also curious how you folks would answer this question.


There’s a lot of things I love about WildStar’s housing, and would definitely steal those for my perfect player housing.

  1. Full control over item placement. Great player housing must allow for player creativity. For me that means lots of cool housing decor, and the ability to move it, rotate it, and scale it in any way I want. “Hook” systems are frustrating. Let me place all my decor freely.
  2. Multiple ways to acquire decor. WildStar’s decor can be crafted, earned through repeatable activities, dropped from mobs, and gained through quests. Decor should drop in pretty much every type of player content so there are always new items to discover or chase.
  3. Some pre-built set pieces can be nice. WildStar gives you choices for when you didn’t feel like building your own buildings from scratch. Having some modular pieces like pre-built houses is great for people who want housing but don’t want to micro manage every inch of their space.
  4. A reason to go back there. Like WoW’s garrisons, WildStar lets you earn some resources through your house. Unlike garrisons, the amount of resources never completely removed the need for gathering in the world. Also WildStar lets you choose other useful things for your plot, like portals to zones you like, or mini-dungeons you can run for fashion or more housing decor. No matter what, there should be some benefit to having a house.
  5. Social controls and social events. I love that WildStar lets you choose who can enter your house, and what they can do there. For example, you can let your friends  harvest your resources, and you can set it so you split then so you both get a benefit when they visit. I would also steal WildStar’s use of housing during seasonal events. Visiting different housing plots to trick-or-treat at Halloween is something every game should do!
  6. Housing should be accessible. You don’t have to be anywhere near the end game to unlock housing in WildStar, and it doesn’t cost very much to get started. I know WoW loves to add features specifically for new expansions at the level cap, but housing should be something like pet battles, that everyone can hop into right away. Save some fancy decor until higher levels if you have to, but at least let folks get their foot in the door early.

ffxiv_02202018_143132There’s also some housing ideas I like that aren’t stolen directly from WildStar 😛

  1. The ability to have both guild housing and player housing. This one is basically taken from FFXIV. Have a guild space that also lets players have a small personal section in it. This way folks who don’t want to mess with housing can still have a cool place to hang out for RP and guild events.
  2. Dynamic neighborhoods. This is my dream feature. I’ve got no idea how to make the tech work, but what I would like is something like FFXIV’s housing districts, but without the crazy prices and housing scarcity that is so annoying in that game. I’d like an instanced zone with 20 – 50 houses set up in a reasonable neighborhood that you can wander around. Unlike FFXIV, all the plots would be the same size, and you’d just pay to upgrade your house or the number of items you can place on your plot. Your neighbors would be semi-permanent, but to keep it feeling lively if someone hasn’t logged in for 60 days someone active or new would get moved into their spot. Maybe you could bypass this for people on your friends list, or in your guild. And if your neighborhood is feeling lonely you could request a new spot near a friend. You would never lose your house from inactivity, and people wouldn’t have to wait for someone to move out to find a plot. You’d just end up with a new neighborhood if you’ve been gone for a while.
  3. Housing districts in lots of different zones. Don’t just give us one size fits all housing. I want to spent hours agonizing over whether I want a fancy apartment in Suramar, a peaceful treehouse in Moonglade, or an underwater grotto in Vashj’ir. There should be lots of different housing districts to fit lots of different player tastes.
  4. A choice to link alt housing. I have lots of characters, but not a lot of time and energy to make an awesome house for each of them. Let me choose if I want to let them share a house. Maybe my main wants to have her own big fancy place with all her raid decor, but everybody else could share one cool house instead of each having a mostly empty space.

Most importantly, I would want assurance from Blizzard that if they add proper player housing they aren’t going to abandon it at the start of the next expansion. Garrisons and Order Halls are neat, but it was sad to leave them behind as soon as the next new thing arrived. If they want players to get invested in housing and be creative, the players have to trust that all their hard work isn’t going to get swept away.

Expedition Buddy: Quiet Downs

Note: This post was originally published on the now-defunct Wildstar-Core. Although it will be a while until Shade’s Eve starts back up again, I wanted to archive this here for posterity.

Quiet Downs is the Shade’s Eve seasonal expedition. It is a great way to earn seasonal goodies like decor, costumes, and mount flair! To get the most enjoyment of the spooky ambiance, I’d recommend trying it once before reading this guide. Spoilers ahoy!



What: Escape from a spooky forest, and discover the spooky mysteries of the town of Quiet Downs.

When: Only during Shade’s Eve, available at level 10.

Where: Thayd/Illium

Gold Timers: No overall timer, but there is a 5 minute timer to find the fountain in the first section.

Expedition Buddy Says: This expedition has 3 major sections. First, you need to escape the woods, then investigate the town, and finally wreck up an evil lair. Let’s get started!

If you are doing this for the daily quest you currently need to enter through the portal in Thayd/Illium for it to count. Otherwise you can use the group finder to queue like any other expedition. After the cutscene, you will spawn in a very dark wood. There are multiple different spawn locations, which are chosen randomly. If you enter with a group you will likely all spawn in different places and have to find each other. Your goal is to make it to the fountain, which is roughly in the center of the map. To make it extra difficult, your minimap works but doesn’t highlight the fountain, and pressing “m” to bring up the full map will show your location but not any of the details of the terrain.

This dark ominous path actually leads directly out of the woods

This dark ominous path actually leads directly out of the woods

This is the part where you’d probably like me to tell you exactly how to find that fountain, but since the starting locations are always changing and everything is super dark that’s very difficult! I will tell you that you are aiming for the center of the map, and that the fastest path is often slightly hidden or small. The fountain is also slightly higher up than the starting points, so keep an eye out for changes in elevation. There are a few places where the “correct” path might involve a switchback up a small hill. If you start running into bear traps you’re getting close! It will probably take you a couple runs to learn the maze, and that’s ok! The other helpful thing is that after the 5 minute timer expires, the Angel will start helping you. Just follow the big glowing will-o-the-wisps and they’ll lead you to your destination.

Your flashlight, Anti-shadeling flare, and signal beacon

Your flashlight, Anti-shadeling flare, and signal beacon

You’ll also lose access to your normal abilities for this section. Instead, you have 3 new ones, a flashlight, a small anti-shadeling flare, and a signal flare/beacon. The flashlight is your best friend. It will illuminate a small region in front of you and help you avoid the many many traps and dangerous plants on the ground. It will only last for 20 seconds, and then you’ll be stuck in 5 seconds of darkness waiting for it to recharge. The flare will stun shadelings and buy you time to escape from them (more on this in a moment). The signal beacon places a large pillar of light that in theory should help your companions find you. In practice it is still pretty difficult to see from a distance.

Shadelings are jerks.

Shadelings are jerks.

Shadelings patrol the darkness, and you need to avoid them as best you can. If they catch up to you they’ll turn you into a shadeling too, and you’ll need to use your one ability to attack one of the ghostly humans wandering the woods. Placing an anti-shadeling flare will stun them, but use them wisely since you only get two. Yes, there are more boxes of supplies scattered about, but they are generally not worth the time to open versus just getting the heck out of the woods.

The good-for-nothing Mayor of Quiet Downs

Mayor Goodthorpe. He’s a very bad man.

Once you make it to the fountain, you’ll get your normal abilities back and the rest of the instance is much more normal. Talk to the mayor and two other citizens of the town, and then you’ll be presented with a choice. You can either help the villagers prepare for their “celebration” or you can help Eva Courtly investigate the town. Your choice determines your tasks in this section of the instance. In order to get the achievement for killing all the villagers you will need to do both, and specifically you’ll need to get the attention of all of the patrolling villagers in the “Investigation” pathway.

Your four potential "guests of honor"

Your four potential “guests of honor”

The objectives of both pathways are very clearly marked on your map. As you near the end of this section you’ll have to fight some townsfolk and also the Mayor for the “Helpful” pathway. Once that’s done you’ll be heading down into the underground bunker at the northwest edge of town for the final portion of this expedition.

The last phase of the instance is a straight up dungeon crawl. You need to kill 22 cultists, and have optional tasks to kill the 3 plaguebearers and destroy their equipment. If you’re lower level or undergeared, be sure to pull carefully. The groups of cultists can spawn in slightly different locations and it can be a bit easy to catch too many of them at once. Bringing lots of interrupts is definitely helpful too. If you are alone or with only one friend they will not have interrupt armor which makes things simpler.

Stay away from those bubbling pools of green goo.

Stay away from those bubbling pools of green goo.

You may notice bubbling green puddles on the ground. These will spawn shadelings if you get too close. Most of them can be avoided if you are careful. There’s also plenty of lore to be found on your first time through, so be sure to check out all the hallways if you are interested in filling your lore log!

The man of the hour.

Jack Shade himself.

Once you’ve completed your objectives, it is time to enter the morgue and finally face down “Jack Shade”.  The fight has 3 phases, with bits of dialog in between. If you manage to interrupt most of his abilities the fight is nice and easy. If not, fortunately the Angel will sometimes turn his spells against him and help heal you. After you kill him, he has one last trick in store for you. The whole underground lab is rigged to explode and spread the shades. You’ll have to run straight down the hallway as fast as you can while avoiding the clouds of disease spreading around. Once you reach the end the Angel helps you escape and you’re all done!

Differences between normal and vet: None! There’s currently only one version of this instance. If you’re below level 50, you will get scaled up based on the ilevel of your gear.

I love the epic feel of the plague tanks exploding around you as you run down this hallway!

I love the epic feel of the plague tanks exploding around you as you run down this hallway!

Other Thoughts: This expedition is quite a lot of fun! While it is technically soloable even on lower level characters it can be difficult to do so. You are much better off grouping below 50. You can run the instance as many times as you like to keep earning goodie bags and shade silver. A gold run will earn you 50 shade silver (62 with the subscriber bonus). Even if you get turned into a shade, as long as you find your way out of the woods in the time limit you can still get gold. You’ll be riding that Shade’s Eve hoverboard around in no time!

Solo Dungeoning

I finally got myself back into WildStar on a regular basis this month. I’m still having trouble finding purpose on my max-level main, but I’ve been doing what I love most and running expeditions. The last time I played with any regularity was right when the Arcterra content was launching. Because of that, I never played through the Vault of the Archon story dungeon. Now I have fixed that oversight.

The Vault of the Archon is the second max level story dungeon, and it is focused on solving the mystery that is uncovered at the end of Omnicore-1. As an Exile, I got to journey alongside Deadeye Brightland and Dorian Walker in search of Eldan secrets. To be honest, the whole thing was worthwhile just to listen to the banter between these two characters. There’s a mechanic where you have to scout ahead and secure safe spots for everyone, and each time you clear a new one they have a small conversation when they catch up to you. On my first playthrough I didn’t do all of the side content so I only saw a small part of their interaction, but the second time I made sure to clear the entire place just so I could hear them talk. I would love more of this kind of storytelling in games please.

As for the dungeon itself, it wasn’t super challenging in my out-of-date raid gear but it was fun. If I want a real solo challenge I’ll be getting one in their next update anyway with the new expedition and “Mythic +” style scaling difficulty. Doing all of the optional exploration in the dungeon for a gold medal was pretty time consuming but now that I know my way around I’m sure it will speed up. There’s way more encounters in this one than in Omnicore-1 if you do a full clear. Running both of these story dungeons back to back took up an evening of playtime but did a great job of reminding me why my heart will always belong on Nexus.

What I’m Playing: August 7, 2016

Hooray, I made it through the first week of Blaugust! WoW has definitely been my main focus, but some other games have still been on my radar too.

World of Warcraft: This is where I spent most of my time this week. I got my legendary mace on my forsaken priest, but otherwise have mostly been playing alliance side. It makes me frustrated and sad, because I just plain like the horde races and story better, but at this point absolutely all of my friends are playing alliance so there’s no escaping it. Once again I find myself really wishing WoW would just add cross faction play already, even if it were tied to battlenet friends or something. I already have prepared myself for the inevitable point in Legion where I get sick of being alliance and go back to level my horde mains all alone. I guess it is a good thing I like alting.


LFR gets a (mostly deserved) bad rap, but sometimes you luck out and it’s nothing but Gamon and rainbows as far as the eye can see.

Anyway, I’ve been doing a little LFR on my druid and wandering around on my baby spacegoat mage and enjoying it. I’ve been using the baby mage as a chance to really see the low-level alliance quests, and to knock out some of the individual zone loremaster achieves that I never did. I got the overall loremaster achievement and title back before Cataclysm, so there’s a lot of quests I’ve never seen before. See yesterday’s post from Felwood for just one example.

FFXIV: I want to be playing this more, but WoW is really taking up too much of my time and attention for me to bother. Over the past week I’ve logged in for raid and pretty much nothing else at all. Don’t get me wrong, raid time was amazing and probably more fun than all of the time I played WoW put together, but we only raid 2 hours a week. I had been hoping that raiding on a schedule again would reignite my drive to log in more and upgrade my gear and such but it didn’t work out that way.

WildStar: I’m going to come clean and admit I hadn’t logged in to WildStar in a couple months. That just felt wrong, so when WoW got hit by a DDoS attack a few evenings this week I logged back in to WildStar. I didn’t do anything new and exciting, just a couple of expeditions. It still felt amazing and comfortable, like nothing had changed. I will be trying to spend at least one night a week poking around in this game again, because it remains my favorite MMO of all time.

Diablo 3: Season 7 started on Friday! The response to this season seems to be very low compared to all of the previous ones, but I’ve still been playing and having a great time. On Friday I got to play with some friends that I haven’t hung out with in way too long, and had a blast leveling together. This season was the first time in a while that I didn’t get to 70 on the first night, but that was all on me because I decided to get some sleep instead. I hit 70 and completed the first 5 chapters of the season journey yesterday, which included the cosmetic rewards and the full free class set of gear (after chapter 4). Since that was my entire goal for this season, I don’t know if I will stay invested or not, especially with the pre-Legion WoW event coming on Tuesday. A lot of the goals for the stash tab this time around feel easier, but also grindier, and I’m guessing I’m not going to bother when there are new shiny things to distract me in other games.


Chipping a tiny hole in the faction wall

The first dev connect for WildStar has ended and the results are in. Here’s what Pappy has to say about the changes coming for factions in WildStar:

  1. We will be dropping the Content Finder faction barrier.
  2. We will be allowing players of both factions to communicate openly with each other. There will no longer be a faction filter in chat.
  3. The faction barrier for open world grouping, housing, social systems, and guilds (which includes Arena teams and Warparties) will stay in place for now.

Well that’s very disappointing. Depending on where you sit on the faction issue, you can find reason for complaint here, or reason for hope. My opinion is that I would have liked to see the faction wall go completely out the window. I want to be able to play with my friends on either faction without having to reroll a new character, and I want to be able to inhabit social spaces with them without restrictions. Unfortunately these changes do none of that. Let’s see what we are getting out of this.

1: Dropping the content finder faction barrier. I understand this choice. Queues can be long, and this will help shorten them. I do think it will feel incredibly weird to be randomly dropped into a group with the other faction but know that there’s no way to reconnect socially with those folks once the run is over (see point #3 below). It may feel a bit jarring to end up in a mixed group if you are a strong advocate of the faction wall, and it is almost made worse by the fact that there’s no lore or social context at all for this. Basically the only place in the game where mixed groups can happen is in a random group setting.

2: Removal of faction filter from chat. This is such a non-issue for me I don’t even know what to say about it. There’s been chat mods and even workarounds in the built-in systems that have allowed cross faction chat since launch. The people who really wanted this already have it, and the people really don’t want it are going to be annoyed at having it forced on them when they’ve chosen to avoid it up to now. It should make coordinating world boss groups easier at least since everyone will be able to understand each other.

3: No changes to open world grouping and social systems. Well shit. This is what I really was hoping for, and now it feels like xmas is canceled. I wanted changes that would let me play with my friends no matter what faction. I was hoping to be able to check out the other faction’s housing, or to convince my dommie friends to join my awesome guild. The housing thing especially frustrates me since it seems like it would be straightforward to add an “Exiles only” toggle to the housing settings to appease folks who don’t want dommies stepping on their lawns or in their private RP areas. Housing is such a bastion of community and creativity which absolutely does not follow strict faction, lore, or even genre restrictions, so it makes me sad to see it stay closed off.

I have spoken with some faction purist folks who are upset about these changes because they wanted the walls to stay in place as-is. I almost feel like this result is bad for both of us. For them, they can be randomly placed into groups with the opposite faction with no context and no way to avoid it. For me, the only faction crossover is happening in a place that I don’t spend any time, since I usually run group content with friends not random pugs. I really think opening up the social systems would have been much more preferable. Those who want to play with their friends or meet new ones while questing or grouping in the world could do so, while the faction purists could choose to keep their guilds and personal social spaces to one faction only. There would be no forced grouping with the other faction. I believe enough in the lore team of WildStar to give us interesting reasons why this could work, and I believe enough in the player base that they could continue to create social spaces and events that make them happy.

I hope that this is not the final word on this issue. These dev connects are an interesting way to gather feedback, but I hope there continues to be a dialog even after the decisions are made. One of WildStar’s greatest strengths is the way the devs interact with the players, long may this continue.

P.S. Don’t forget to check in on the new dev connect, they’re asking for feedback on race/class combos!

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.


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.


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!

A Fog is Lifting

Apologies for the quiet around here in recent weeks. I was in the grip of a very strong introvert phase where I just wanted to hide from the world, and just as that started to abate I had to travel for work and was without any (non-mobile) video games for a while. Woe. My isolationist fog has mostly lifted now, though, and I’ve been bouncing around between multiple games to try to carve out a new direction for myself.

Taking a break from a MMO usually means spending way too much time figuring out wtf happened to your inventory and quest log when you return and this time was no different. I wrestled with my very large number of alts in WoW for a few days and mostly got everyone back into usable shape. I’m just not sure what exactly they will be usable for. I’ve made some plans to level on a new server to join a casual raid group with friends, but my main activity in WoW right now seems to be logging on to 1000 alts and making gold from their garrisons. I have a horrible compulsion to do this even though I am actively thinking “this is boring and awful and I want to be doing literally anything else right now” the whole time. The problem is that I know this cash cow is almost certainly going away soon, so I feel like I need to take advantage of it while I can. At this stage I’m sitting on 5 or 6 months worth of WoW token game time, far more than I had planned for. Somehow I need to let go of the notion that I have to maximize profits every day and just play for fun or I’m going to need to step away from WoW for a few months to recharge. As maddening as it will be to lose this revenue stream, I will honestly be thankful when these missions finally get nerfed and I don’t feel like I have to compulsively deal with 12 garrisons twice a day every day.

While my WoW interest is fading, my WildStar fervor has been renewed. My bag space was far worse after my short hiatus, but easier to fix since I only have 3 max level toons. I’ve decided to take advantage of the new PvP changes and flag myself while doing my dailies and it has been pretty rewarding. The few times I’ve run across a flagged Dommie we peacefully went our own ways without getting into any trouble. I’m sure once the PvP servers merge with us there will be more peril but for now it has been really great. I never imagined that I’d play a MMO and happily flag myself for PvP out in the world. Major kudos to Carbine for giving useful rewards and making the threat of imminent doom worth it! Now I just need to decide if I’m going to try to chase a few pieces of the PvP seasonal cosmetic gear, or if I’m going to focus on PvE goals for a while instead.

Finally I stopped briefly back into D3 for a few hours. Again, my inventory is a giant mess. I think at some point I was running with friends and just throwing every legendary into a stash tab to sort out later…but then never sorted it or got rid of anything. At some point I need to go through everything and try to return it to some semblance of order, but for now I just want to get back into the swing of things. I’ve officially completed all of my goals for the season! My add-on goal is to try to unlock the extra stash tab, but that requires a lot of extra effort and will definitely need some help from friends. I did manage to complete solo GR61 which is a personal best, so this season is a success whether I get that extra bank space or not. Maybe it is better if I don’t get it, that just means even more junk to sort through the next time I take a break…

Costumes, Costs, and Consistency

I had an interesting conversation with some folks last week that started because of the cost to swap specs in the current WoW: Legion alpha build. It got me thinking about the various costs and restrictions associated with the activities I enjoy in MMOs, how they differ between games, and which ones really rub me the wrong way.

For example, I love the cosmetic system in WildStar. It is flexible enough to let you unlock the appearance of almost any item in the game regardless of whether you can equip it or not. The costs come from unlocking more outfit or item appearance slots, and purchasing and applying dyes. It mostly feels fair because it is a somewhat rare event to make a whole new outfit. Once you have one put together you can swap to it at any time for no cost. It does highlight a major inconsistency though. Item appearances get unlocked across your entire account, but dyes do not. The system that seemed so flexible and amazing on your main suddenly feels unnecessarily restrictive on your alt. Somehow having one part of the system account-wide while the other is not feels worse than restricting the whole thing. The overall system feels unfair because the restrictions are not consistent.

This brings me to the upcoming changes to WoW’s transmog system. The announcement at Blizzcon touted account-wide transmog, and that got me really excited! As people asked for clarifications and folks got their hands on the alpha they discovered the restrictions. Sure, unlocks are account-wide. And they are going a bit above and beyond by unlocking the appearances of quest rewards for all the quests your characters have completed. The big caveat is that for item drops you can only unlock the appearance of gear that is appropriate for your class/armor type. This severely limits the usefulness of an account-wide transmog system, and potentially really frustrates RP-ers who routinely equip multiple different armor types to achieve a particular look for their characters. The excitement of account-wide transmog feels suddenly hollow if I still need to run an old raid on a character of every armor type to unlock all the appearances I want.

Now this is the part where some folks might speak up about all the potential reason why the system is good this way. I just really want to highlight the huge inconsistency in how the rules are applied, and that is what makes it feel so frustrating and unfair to me. Here is an example. Say I have a pally (plate wearer) and a druid (leather wearer). To get full use of the transmog system I have to collect appearances separately on each. Meanwhile, my buddy with a rogue and druid (both leather wearers) only has to run something once to unlock items that can be shared with both of their characters. It is this situation that puts the lie to claims that the limitations are good for the “prestige” of earning an appearance, or that it encourages replayability or generates content. When two players experience vastly different restrictions just because of the classes they happen to play, that’s simply not fair and it makes me just angry enough to rant about it here on my blog for a few minutes.

There have been hints that the dye system in WildStar may indeed eventually become account-wide. I am not nearly so hopefully about that sort of change for WoW’s transmog system. It is funny how restrictions on a non-vital system like cosmetic wardrobes can still generate really strong feelings from the player base. Mostly, I just wish that the devs would try to make sure everyone has a level playing field.