Last night was… interesting.
Things started off normally enough. I was playing my latest alt, Eszti the Knight of the Blazing Sun on Phoenix Throne, and my partner in WAR crime Ardua was trying out an Ironbreaker (chopping off knees and then kicking them in the head!). While we were bouncing around T1, we were seeing periodic zone announcements from T4, mainly concerned with the Elf lands falling to Destruction, although at least some of that seemed to have to do with the servers hiccupping and crashing people out. When the final T4 Elf zone fell, there was some anticipation that this would mean a city siege.
…and then my internet died. It does this sometimes, but only when it would otherwise be needed to be working.
When I get back online, I get an e-mail from Ardua which essentially says, “OMG ALTDORF SIEGE!!1!” So it was time to get Kaeleni out and see what I could do to aid the cause of Order defending the capital city and the king.
Sadly, it turned out that the answer would be, “Not a whole lot.” I’ve never participated in a city siege before, and after last night I sadly have to say that I still haven’t. Because hardly anyone seemed to be able to get in. Order massed around the door to Altdorf from Reikwald, trying to go through and being put into queues for instances. Mine was numbered 214. People were crashing and then finding themselves unable to get back in. If people were getting into their city siege instances, they weren’t going in with the rest of their warbands, and in the end it seemed that people were getting in quicker if they weren’t in a warband at all (Ardy, being a lucky Dwarf, actually got into his instance so he can actually tell you what it looks li if he decides to blog about it). And this was on the Order side. Gods only know what Destruction was going through.
And then, just to make things better, a little popup came up informing us all that the server would be coming down for “Emergency maintenance” in 10 minutes.
And then my internet died again.
So there you have it. From what I’ve read this morning about last night’s events, this was pretty much the typical story for what happened last night on Phoenix Throne (minus the crappy internet). Also, from the looks of things. the server issues continued even after the emergency maintenance, and so Altdorf’s siege didn’t go too well for either side. All in all, not a particularly stellar experience of city sieging.
Hopefully the next one will go better.
Last night (or much more accurately this morning, as I was playing with people for whom midnight didn’t happen until it was light outside my windows) I hit 50 with my Illusions/Force Field Controller on City of Heroes. This is in fact my fourth level 50 in the game, but this particular 50 kind of meant something to me, as Imagika is pretty much the “oldest” (relatively speaking; she’s an anthropomorphic personification/imaginary friend who looks and acts like a six-year-old girl) character I have in the game. She’s been around since Issue 1 (or maybe 2); long enough to have seen and been played through the very first Winter Event (when all the Winter Lords were purple regardless of the zone and the term “WL farming” first came into use), from before zones like the Hollows and Striga Isle were in the game, long enough to have gotten all the anniversary badges (and even the special 5th Columnist gladiator badge)… Basically, she’s been with me through pretty much all of the game. This also means that she’s taken a little over 4 years to get to 50, which may be some kind of record (of my other three level 50 characters, one took a year, one took two-and-a-half and one took about six months. Make of that what you will).
So now that she’s hit 50, what am I going to do with her?
Simple answer: keep playing her. I’ve never really “gotten” the mindset that I’ve seen others have, that once you hit the level cap with a character there’s nothing more to do. In CoX, there’s still plenty of TFs and the like that I can bring her along to (my next planned stop for her is to get her on a Statesman Task Force and even go for the Masters), and there’s always the fun of roleplaying her with other people, whether they know what she (and I, because I have a wicked sense of humour in these situations) is like or not. Actually, it’s kind of more fun to spring her on someone, so that they suddenly find themselves trying to have a logical debate with a six-year-old for whom the usual laws of reality don’t apply.
Right now in WAR, my highest character is (only) 30, so she still has a way to go before she hits the level cap, especially the way I play. Right now, I don’t know what I’ll be doing with her once she hits 40 – it might be that my system won’t be able to handle full on fortress and city sieges, and so she might get more or less “semi-retired” due to that. Or I might be there every weekend, frantically healing everyone in range until my eyes cross. We shall have to see.
But it’ll be fun getting there regardless.
One thing I do wish that Mythic would fix some time soon is the random ways in which scenarios “pop” when there are nowhere near enough people on one or both sides to play.
Let me set the scene. I’m playing on my 14 Magus, Sareini, and queuing up for scenarios. The box for Phoenix Gate pops up, and I head off into it. When I get there, however, I find that I’m not just the only one in my team, I’m the only person on the Destruction side. Versus a grand total of two people on the Order side.
Seriously, I ask you; in what kind of world is that considered a balanced or even viable scenario? It was just the three of us on the map for nearly three minutes before other people started joining the scenario, but during that time the “This scenario is currently unbalanced…” message didn’t appear once. Now granted, this is something of an extreme example, but it still happened, and I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve joined a scenario only to discover it to be severely unbalanced on one side.
I really don’t think I’m asking for much if I want this to be fixed at some point in the near future, am I? I mean, I know that the devs are up to their eyeballs in stuff that needs to be looked at, tweaked, altered and fixed, but can I at least hope that this is one of them?
(Oh, and for anyone who’s interested, after people actually started joining the scenario – on both sides – Destruction actually ended up winning by about 100 points by the end of the 15 minutes. Not too bad considering the way it started out.)
Years ago, when I was learning to drive (and didn’t that turn out well?), my brother gave me an important piece of advice.
“Never teach a loved one or family member how to drive.”
I’d like to expand that advice to cover teaching them how to play MMOs as well now.
Last night Mr Sareini tried playing a Slayer. He wanted me there with him to “advise” him on what to do and where to go.
The problem is really quite simple – Mr Sareini and I have very different playstyles. I like to go slow through things, reading every quest I pick up, opening the Tome of Knowledge to read what I’ve unlocked, checking the map regularly to make sure I’m going in the right direction… that sort of thing. Mr Sareini, on the other hand, approaches the game as though it’s a race. He hurtles from one place to another, barely stopping to check anything, has to be reminded to visit the trainer to pick up new skills when he levels, never even looks at the ToK, and wanders blithely off in random directions because he thinks they’re “short cuts”. One of his “short cuts” last night took him over a cliff, despite my telling him that he shouldn’t go in that direction; another took him straight into the Greenskin warcamp. He also refused point-blank to have anything to do with RvR and Scenarios; this is because he’s come from MMOs where ganking the lowbies in PvP was heartily encouraged (*cough* EVE Online *cough*), and he was under the impression that the same would be true in WAR. It took me three hours to explain to him about how his rank would be bolstered to level eight in Scenarios, so people wouldn’t be able to gank him (or at least, not with any level of ease). He’s also taken being antisocial to a level approaching high art, and so he tends to not want to play with other people very often. I love him dearly, but my gods, he was driving me crazy last night.
The most ironic thing about last night is that my WAR account was originally *his*. Mr Sareini is the one who’s collected and played the tabletop game for nearly 20 years (you should see our living room), and he was the one who was more excited about the game when it was first announced. But when it actually came to playing it, he found that he wasn’t that interested, and the account fell to me. With the introduction of Slayers, he’s found himself interested in playing again, and so he’s testing it out again. To be fair to him, his method of playing is actually quite suitable to playing a Slayer (Step One: “CHAAAARRRGGGEE!”), which is a plus, but I can’t watch him playing for too long because I start to get dizzy from all his sudden changes in direction. I’ve told him that if he decides to keep playing this time, he’s going to find it impossible to avoid things like RvR or other people, and his only response was to grumble at me and then ask for another coffee. We shall see how this turns out.
This is, I admit, not really the best outcome, but then again I’m not sure there was a ‘best outcome’ in this, short of Mythic magically creating new players to play on Ostermark. However, giving people who have characters of different factions on both Ostermark and Phoenix Throne the option to transfer their characters from either of those servers to Vortex is certainly a major improvement on the original plan.
So now the only decision is, where are my Ostermark characters going? If I move them to Phoenix Throne, I have to move my Destruction characters to Vortex. Or I could just move my Order characters to Vortex and leave the Destros on Phoenix Throne. My decision is going to depend on where my friends are going, but one thing I’m already noticing on the forums (not that they’re in any way indictive of the server populations as a whole) is that both ‘destination’ servers think that they have an overabundence of Order already, and don’t want any more. This makes me feel… well, somewhat unwanted, for lack of a better term. After all, for some of us this move came completely out of the blue, we didn’t want to move, and now we’re being told that people don’t want us there anyway. When you consider that MMOs need a strong community to be successful, having players feeling that they’re not wanted by the other people on their new server is not going to work well.
Ah well. I still have to make sure that I can even transfer characters while my account is inactive (I can’t wait until I get my account back up, as the Phoenix Throne transfers to Vortex will only be till Friday so if I go that way I need to move fast), which will be a whole other level of fun…
“You hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability…” – Agent Smith, The Matrix
Now, normally, I try very hard not to freak out at every decision that devs and game-makers make with my games. When everyone cried that Archmages were gimped, I disagreed and kept playing mine. I grit my teeth and bear through the graphics glitches and teething pains of new games, and I do it with a smile. But this… this I’m afraid I have to complain about.
When WAR launched, it had 5 (edit: 6, but everyone knows I can’t count)servers that were designated “RP”. Plenty of choice for those of us who wanted to do that. We started off on Tor Elyr for Destruction and Ostermark for Order, and all was good.
Sadly, it quickly became clear that there had maybe been a little bit of an over-estimate in how many roleplayers were actually going to be playing, and so some of the RP servers were woefully under-populated. So the decision to do server transfers begame, and Tor Elyr was one of the ones chosen. No problem, I said, and hopped my Witch Elf over to Avelorn.
Then Avelorn was deemed to be “mergable”, and we moved again, this time to Phoenix Throne. I even had to change my Witch Elf’s name for that one (a minor gripe, but somehow “Lumisa” doesn’t feel the same as “Lumi” did.) All the while, we were feeling some relief that Ostermark was still going strong, as it ended up being one of only two RP servers in the whole server list.
And now we have this news, and I’m sorry to say, I have that terrible feeling of annoyance and dispair in my stomach. Now, I’ll admit that I’d been noticing how… quiet Ostermark had seemed of late. I’d actually had a post planned about my experiences of that, based on a Saturday afternoon I’d spent logged in on my level 30 Archmage waiting in vain to see if anything was going to happen in T4 – anything at all. Even someone saying, “Hello? Is anybody out there?” in Region chat. But that post was going to be more about the sporadic nature of the action, as at the same time I’ve been part of huge, multi-grouped warbands, taking keeps and not bothering with names. So there obviously wasn’t that big of a population problem or imbalance. Hell, it could just have been that everyone was still in bed when I logged in.
But now it seems that the Devs have effectively given the last rites to Ostermark, and the only decision left is what server to move to now – Phoenix Throne, where I have my Destruction characters, or the core server Vortex (and from looking at this, I can already see that my Archmage isn’t going to be keeping her name regardless of where I go. Perhaps a small annoyance in the great scheme of things right now, but hey, I got to level bloody 30 with that name, and I don’t wish to change it.)
Reading the thread linked at the top, you can see that people on both servers aren’t very enthused about this announcement. And who can blame them? Phoenix Throne is a good server, nearly always busy, true – but does it really need or want another influx of server refugees to clog things up some more? For those of us who are somewhat casual players, playing for an hour or two where we can some days, the prospect of queuing to get onto the server (which was suggested as a possible outcome of this mess) is not an appealing one. I’m not even going to try touching the faction imbalance issues that many have been talking about, as I haven’t played enough (okay, any) RvR in T4 to know anything about it, and the rest of the time I’m a “small details” rather than “big picture” player, which means that I’m usually content with just concentrating on one scenarion or zone at a time.
I’d like to hope that I’m not an RP elitist either – one of those idiots who sneers at anyone not speaking in authentic dialect in Region chat all the time, never mind in Team or Local – but I’m also not happy about the fact that there’s now only going to be one “official” RP server for the whole game, especially when you can only play one faction per server. It means that a lot of people are going to find themselves making a choice about what side they want to RP on. Not to mention that the poor people on the Vortex server are about to get confused and/or very irritated very quickly (in fact, you can see here that some at least aren’t too happy about it)
I don’t know what I’m going to be doing with my Ostermark characters yet (and by extention, my Phoenix Throne ones). I’m currently waiting to hear back from my friends about what we’re going to be doing. And hell, right now my account isn’t even active (damn the need for money!). But really, at this point all I can say is that I don’t think this is going to end at all well.
I have a confession to make.
I’ve been playing another MMO over the past couple of days.
My WAR account ran out last Monday, and I was going to have to wait to get the money to re-subscribe. Real life sucks like that sometimes. I’ve also not been very well lately, with the end result being that I’ve been sitting – or rather moping – around the office while Mr Sareini’s been working, looking and failing for something to do (we ran out of Fringe episodes a couple of days ago, and the DVD rental people aren’t sending the Criminal Minds discs fast enough). So on Friday evening Mr Sareini took pity on my – or, more accurately, came to the end of his rope – and asked if I wanted to try playing Pirates of the Burning Sea, his current MMO of choice.
The easiest way to describe PotBS is to say that it’s kind of like EVE Online, only with pirates, wooden boats and sea travel (and somewhat less mindless PvP ganking, or at least not as much that I’ve seen). You can choose to play a pirate or a member of the British, French or Spanish nations, and after getting to customise your character in ways that I’ve previously only really seen in CoX (it was really that impressive) you’re off to sail the… well, not quite the seven seas, more like that area around Florida, the Bahamas and Mexico where all the pirates hung out in the 18th century.
You start off with a pretty basic ship, but you can upgrade as soon as you really want to, usually by stealing another ship off someone (nearly always NPCs) in naval combat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it took me a while to get the hang of that, as you have to take factors like distance, wind direction and where in a turning circle in relation to your ship your target is, and I can get lost running in a straight line in most games. But I appear to have gotten the hang of it, and am currently at level 14, sailing a Dolphyn Heavy Ketch, “The Decomposing Composer”.
…why yes, I have been listening to Monty Python lately.
I don’t know if I’m going to become enamoured enough of this game to get my own account seperate from Mr Sareini’s (for one thing, that would mean having to start all over again with a character), and I’m not going to be ditching my other MMOs for it just yet, but it’s certainly an interesting little distraction. Especially since it’s so different from what I’ve been playing up till recently.