Daily Archives: May 12, 2011

Finding My Gaming Bearings

Step 1 – Place All Eggs in One Basket

Step 2 – Lose basket

Part of my motivation to cover the Sony hacking disaster is that this year saw me invest heavily in Sony products and services.  In the last two months:

  • The instance group departed Azeroth for a run in EverQuest II Extended
  • Potshot and I went off to explore old Norrath on the EverQuest Fippy Darkpaw progression server
  • I purchased a PlayStation 3
  • I was even starting to play one of SOE’s Facebook games, Dungeon Overlord

So you can understand if I seem a bit fixated on SOE’s ongoing “not today” posts on Facebook.

This SOE downtime has brought up two questions.

  1. Where should I spend my gaming time?
  2. What should the instance group play?

The second is for another post, as we’re still working on that. (Is it Thursday already?)

But as for the first… what to do?

The problem is that, when I am in the mood to play a particular game, it is tough to divert that to a different game.  While at a high level it is easy to look at all of these MMORPGs and bemoan their sameness, when down in the game at the individual character level, I find that they often feel completely different to me.

And so Azeroth is no substitute when I want to play in Norrath.

I managed to prove that by logging into World of Warcraft on Friday night.  My account has actually been cancelled, but since I chose the quarterly billing plan it has yet to lapse.  I wonder if I count among the 600K subscription deficit WoW is facing post-Cataclysm?

I decided to log on and run the Children’s Week quests for my main, on whom I collect companion pets.  While they changed up the quests a bit, I felt like I was going through the motions.  Yay!  I got a pet snail.

That done, I got out my level 74 druid.  He is in the thick of WotLK content.  But running quests were not cutting it.  I ended up healing for a random Dungeon Finder group, but we got Violet Hold.  Not a bad instance a guess.  You get a random boss.  But not very challenging as a healer.  Nobody died.  People leveled.  The tank told me I did a good job.  But I wasn’t feeling it.

Over the weekend I played World of Tanks.  It is fun, but I cannot play more than a couple of matches before I have had my fill.  That is both its strength and its weakness for me.

I also played a bit more Combat Mission: Shock Force.  Some more warm up for Combat Mission: Beyond Normany. (The demo for which is now available I hear.)

But that doesn’t scratch the MMO itch.

Then I saw that Potshot was over in Lord of the Rings Online.

I thought perhaps we could find something to do.  Or maybe I could at least get a little closer to Moria.  I bought that expansion… what… two years ago now?

I got out my hunter, Silinus and entered Middle-earth.

It is always pretty here...

Nice landscape, but would the game hook me?  I looked at my quest journal to see where I had last left off.

I was in the Trollshaws.  I had some fish.  I had to talk to an NPC about what to do with them.

While I had totally lost the thread of what was going on, the NPC was close by, so why not start with that.

Fish.  He needed the fish as bait.  But bait for what?

The Bait is Set

He was trying to catch someone or something that had been lurking around.  Something stupid enough to wander up and take a pile of fish, and not very fresh fish at that (they’d been in my bag for the last six months), place next to a brightly-lit window next to a house with a couple of people standing out in front. (I know he told me to hide, but I just stood there gawking.)

What could we be looking for?

Could it be?

Yes, indeed, we were trying to trap Gollum.

Loves those fish

A particularly unwary, and thus out of character, Gollum, but Gollum none the less.

I cannot believe I stopped on this quest line one step away from seeing Gollum.

You don’t actually catch him.  Instead you chase him around the country side at a brisk walk until he climbs up some rocks and cowers just out of your reach.  Then you get mugged by an orc, at which point Gollum disappears.

And you even know the orc part is coming.  Gollum mentions it during your stroll across the country side.  And the orc does not so much mug you as stand there and wait for you to invite him to attack you.

All in all, a very silly quest indeed.

But also engaging enough to give me some momentum in the game.  I ended up gaining two levels since I started out this past weekend, bringing my hunter up to level 43, just 7 levels shy of Moria.

That also pushed me to the point of being done with the Trollshaws, which was, frankly, one of the things holding me back in the game.  Some of the sights are fun, but all in all it is not on the top of my list of favorite LOTRO zones.

Instead Silinus, my hunter, will be headed off to a new (for me) zone, Forochel.

Facebook Ad for a Pirate EverQuest Server

Or private server, if you prefer.

I am not sure which is technically more correct, but when in doubt I always go with “pirate” in a headline when I have a choice.

There is, and has been for almost a decade, a private EverQuest server community out there based on an open source EverQuest server emulator called EQEmu.

I have no idea what SOE thinks of this.

Certainly, if this project were emulating World of Warcraft, lawyers would have been involved almost right away.  And Sony itself is no stranger to litigation to protect its interests, real and perceived, so I find it interesting that these servers have been running for as long as they have been.

But I have to imagine that part of the implied truce between the emulator community and SOE, if such a thing can be said to exist, is that the private server community keep a low profile.

So I was a bit surprised to see this ad on Facebook.

Okay, it is just a Facebook ad and not, say, a billboard planted on the 805 at the Miramar Rd. exit.

No, not this at all

But it is an ad.  And it is no doubt a targeted ad set to display to those who have “liked” EverQuest on Facebook.

Certainly the Shards of Dalaya picked an opportune time, and not on accident I am sure, because right about now anybody who likes EverQuest sure isn’t playing EverQuest… at least not with SOE.

And even Sony’s legal department is probably tied up with more pressing issues.  There are a lot of government entities out there who are demanding answers from Sony right now.  They will be busy for months to come.

So maybe this is a canny move by a private server to get a few more players.

But that assumes that my theory about a need to keep a low profile is true.

Does anybody know what SOE’s stance is towards these servers, the people who run them, and those who choose to play on them?