Reprint: Denier Comment of the Day, November 30, 2012 Friday, Nov 30 2012 

Denier Comment of the Day, November 30, 2012 from Uknowispeaksense.

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So long, and thanks for all the hits Monday, Nov 30 2009 

Well, the posts have stopped for a reason… I’m going to close up this blog.

Overall, I’m pleased with the result: some good stats, and clearly people enjoyed some of the content. Some posts I’m pleased with, others weren’t so good.

But really, it was an experiment in attempting to put out content on a regular basis. I’m thinking of creating another one, but with a different theme/subject. Two reasons I’m closing up shop here:

1/ In the end, I think there are other blogs out there doing a better job talking about MMOs in general. Tobold, Biobreak, Keen… all great blogs and well worth reading.

2/ Time – I have barely enough time to play one game, let alone more and write a blog.

Still, it was much more of a success than I hoped for. Watching the blog stats climb from a few a day to hundreds was great.

Thanks for stopping by, hoped you enjoyed your time here.

Guild mate: defining a new form of relationship Friday, Sep 25 2009 

What do the following words conjure:

Friend, spouse, lover, workmate, team-mate, colleague, buddy, father, mother, mentor, partner, husband, wife, grandmother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, mate, nephew, niece…

We know what these words signify: forms of relationships. We know intuitively what it means when someone describes another person as “a friend”, “their husband” or “my son”.

The very use of those words conjure expectations about the nature of those relationships. Parents should be loving, workmates professional and team orientated and friends should be interested in your life.

In some ways we are defined by our relationships to others. We draw identity from being a “good father” or a by being a “supportive friend”.

The phrase, no man is an island is very much true. We thrive when we feel part of a group or a community. Evolution shaped us in this manner. We all crave, need and desire interaction with others. It what makes us human.

But what does this mean in the context of online gaming?

Social networks: the foundation of all MMOs

Instinctively we search out relationships and communities when we enter virtual worlds such as WoW, Aion and WAR. These virtual communities are fuelled by our ancient, instinctive desire to group and share our experiences with others.

The basic unit of social organisation is “the guild”, a collective of players who agree to group, share resources and form a community of interest. Guilds are made of “guild mates”, players form an association very much like the medieval guilds of old.

But what do you call the people you play with, and how do you characterise your relationship to them?

Defining the relationship is important, as it sets your expectations. You know what you expect from your spouse. But what do you expect from your guild mate?

What’s in a name

Well, let’s start with definitions. I searched the internet for a definition of the term “guild mate” but could not find one.

So, I thought I’d create one myself:

Guild mate (noun)

1. An individual member of an association of players in a massively online game (MMO).
2. An individual within an MMO you frequently play/group with.
3. A person with shared interest in online gaming who a player frequently interacts with.

Variations: guild member(s), guildie(s).

I think that’s about right.

Guildmates are very much like sporting team-mates.

You have a shared interest, or passion in a particular MMO. You frequently group to run dungeons or complete quests. What do you value in your guild mates? For me it’s skill, communication and respect.

However, it’s important to remember guild mates are not (always) friends. You can spend years grouping with some one and not know anything about their life. You may not even know their real name, just their avatars handle.

Are these relationships real?

Yes, as real as any others I’ve listed above. But they’re new form of relationship, peculiar to the internet age. A person can be a guild mate for a few weeks, months or years. But what links you is the interest in the game.

The term “guild mate” characterises a new form of relationship spawned from the world of online gaming.  

With time, a guild mate may become a friend. If not, don’t worry. 

What’s important is enjoying the shared experience of running Naxxramas in WoW and flipping a Keep in WAR.

So, what do you guys think? What are your expectations for your “guild mates”?

Achievements in WoW: a tool for discrimination? Monday, Sep 21 2009 

Achievements in WoW are often cited as being fluff: somewhat worthless and having little impact on the game. At best, they can reward the player with titles and mounts. Some have become notorious for their impact on player behaviour.

Viz the “What a long, strange trip it has been” meta-achievement. Completing all WoW holiday related achievements will reward the player with a Violet Proto-Drake, a rare flying mount with 310% speed.

How Blizzard created and manages the achievement has been controversial… still players have some choice in pursuing “What a long, strange trip.” I’d like the Drake, but I hate WoW holidays.

But have achievements had any other impact on the game? From what I’ve observed: yes.

The impact on PuGs: the new discrimination

Achievements are subtly changing the end game experience, especially when it comes to a players ability to jump into Pick up Groups (PuGs).

Groups now use two benchmarks to filter out players: gear and achievements. It’s now common to ask prospective party members to link a instance/raid achievement as proof of their ability to run it.

Previously, you could only trust the word of the potential PuG member if they’d run a particular instance/raid. Achievements provide proof. Thus, more and more I see the following “Looking for Member” (LFM) spams in the general channels:

LFM H 25 man VoA must link achievement…
LFM heals/tank 25 Naxx must link achievement…
LFM H ToC must link achievement…

It seems to be a real issue with Vault of Archavon groups: once a a faction takes control of Wintergrasp they can run VoA. Who you get in your party can be a real mix.

PuGing does has it’s risks. It’s great when you find a really good tank or healer. It’s disastrous if you get the Huntard, Deathnoob, Ninja Looter and Offensive Jerk.

Achievements offer groups a somewhat legitimate way to sort the wheat from the chaff.  But PuGs are a great way to meet new players, pick up recruits for your guild and fill otherwise empty raid/instance spots.

Now,  I’m a fan of the PuG. Over the last few months, my Naxx group had to PuG empty spots. Doing so has allowed us to recruit some great members, and my Friends list is much expanded.

A vicious circle?

To be honest, I’m in two minds about this development. Having run a raid group, and relied on PuG’s I can see the sense in asking players to link their achievement. But a reliance on achievements as a measure of effectiveness may disadvantage catergories of WoW players:

  • The newly capped level 80 wanting to make the transition to endgame raiding and running Heroic instances
  • The player not part of the large guild that does not have regular raids or instance runs

Some members of my guild – both good players and reasonably equipped – have noted they can’t get into VoA groups because of very strict gear and achievement requirements. These are players with substantial Naxx, Heroic and grouping experience.

It’ creates a vicious circle: it’s hard to get the Achievement if you don’t have it.

Gawd, two months ago I’d barely grouped let alone stepped into Naxx or VoA. If I didn’t have a large enough – and supportive – guild, I’d have little chance of meeting the requirements for some of these groups.

So another subtle form of discrimination has entered WoW: you’re judged on both your gear and achievements. If your the casual player looking to run endgame content, or someone in a small guild, you might just find it that much harder to be accepted into PuGs.

Too much of a (MMO) good thing… Monday, Sep 14 2009 

Jeebez, I’ve got four MMO clients sitting on my hard drive! Yes, you can have too much of a good thing:

  • Aion – downloaded for Beta, waiting for Australian launch this month
  • Dungeon & Dragons Online – downloaded DDO client over the weekend since it went F2P. Have been testing the Paladin class.
  • Warcraft – been playing for four years, this one ain’t going anywhere
  • Warhammer – still there, but I have not logged on for six weeks… hmmmmm

Do I only play MMOs?

It would seem so. I really don’t play any other PC games. Nor do I own a gaming console. I tried Fall Out 3 earlier in the year, and enjoyed it. But I missed the interaction with other players. I brought Empire Total War earlier in the year, but the client was so damn buggy it kept crashing. I love the Total War series, but my disappointment with such a buggy product put me off the game. I’ll go back to Empire over the summer, when there should be sufficient patches available to ensure it’s stable. Oh, and I have some more free time.

So, I really need to focus my energies. What are my options?

Aion

Waiting to see of this one lives up to the hype that’s been currently generated. Curiosity about what I’ve seen/heard and the chance to explore another MMO is what compels me to keep this one on the hard drive.

DDO experiment

I downloaded DDO to conduct an experiment: comparing and contrasting the Paladin classes of DDO and WoW. Rather than doing a strict review of DDO, I thought it would be fun to play both games from the newbie Paladin perspective. First article in series soon.

Warcraft

I’m committed to WoW. Still offers the best all round gaming experience of all the MMOs I’ve played.

Warhammer

What to do, what do… (drums finger on table). I’ve not been inspired to log back into WAR. I’m not sure why, but nothing is really compels me to return. My poor little Warrior Priest is languishing in Tier 2, unloved and unplayed. I may go back this week to see if I’m inspired by the game once again. If not, well…

Yes, there can be too much of a good thing

Given DDO has gone F2P and has the potential to offer me some gaming variety I just may have to say goodbye to WAR. Time to cull…soon.

Gosh, how many fantasy based MMOs can a person play? As a gamer I’m really spoilt for choice. All of these games have their charms. Yet realistically I can only dedicate time to two games. Even a single MMO represents a sizable commitment.

WoW will stay, no argument there. DDO has potential as it’s free. Of the other two, have to wait and see. Simple economics may dictate the outcome. Really, more than two monthly subscriptons fees is too much.

It’s got to be wee elves and dragons…

But I will stick to worlds offering dragons and wizards. Other themed MMOs simply don’t interest me:

  • Space, meh.
  • Super heros? Eek!

Damn it, give me a sword a shield anyday.

Being off you game… cont Monday, Sep 7 2009 

Well, our gquiter came back to the fold. Yep, they overreated.

And fellow guild officers been very supportive of my decisions. You know, even on the interwebz people can be nice. I’ve only actually met a few in RL, but these guys our good friends and guild mates.

My Greatest hit and the blogs that inspire me Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

Number one with a bullet

The article the seems to generate the most interest is my exploration of how WAR failed.

Week after week it’s gets the hits. Good to know this one has some life. Good to know what interests people as well.

I’ll be shifting the emphasis of the blog more onto the games themselves and less on my personal ruminations on life, the universe and everything. Less EMO, more analysis commentary sprinkled with my usual wit, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

My blogging heros

While I may not be a games designer or journalist, I have a blog and I’m not afraid to use it. This is what I love about the whole Web 2.0, Age of Facebook and interwebz. The ability of us amateurs to publish.

It was reading other MMO inspired blogs that got me thinking I’d give it a go. Some of these include:

There are quite a few others as well, but these are some of the ones I try and read everyday, and if your interested in reading other MMO blogs I’d recomend them. Plus, they’ve been around longer than and have a larger reading audience. One day, one day…