Shift-down, Darkfall!

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Like…. car speak. Not a keystroke. Dear god, don’t hit that keystroke whatever you do. Unless you like male porn. Damn you tricky indy game developers!

It’s been a while since my last update and I’m pleased to report that, contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead. I won’t bore you with more bland yet dubiously wordy descriptions  of “QQ IRL sux”.

So what have I been up to this nearly two weeks since our last visit? Well, the big thing is that I’ve stepped back from Darkfall a bit. Much like with WAR, this isn’t because I’m not satisfied with the game. It has more to do with the amount of time I have to play it. In truth, I had a regular ball playing when I was able. The forced grouping gave me better experiences in an MMO than I’ve had since I first started.

The problem is that, due to the forced grouping, other people come to depend on you more than in most games. In a lot of cases, it’s hard to step away because, if you do, you’re letting your team down very likely leading to their deaths. Now, this wasn’t all the time but it happened just enough to become an issue.

Really honey, just 5 more minutes! *whip* *whip*

No, realistically, it’s not all that bad but right now it’s more difficult for me to play the game and progress that way I’d like. I’m still keeping my subscription because I love Haven and the crew I run with. I just won’t be around as much.

I’ve turned back to PvE games more of late. They allow you to step away and come back, which is something I’ve realized that I require. I’m the forced casual folks. Ain’t that a bitch.

So, I’ve stepped back to WoW a bit, yet I’m finding the taste more stale than I recall it being. I’ve had bursts of fun trying to earn enough money for an epic flyer but I know that when I get it I’ll be left wondering “what now?” WoW is really just “something to do” which, in my opinion, isn’t a great reason to play a game. Still, it’s what’s there.

The Argent Tournament is okay. I’m not as riveted as some people are with it. It follows the usual WoW formula of daily, daily, daily, rinse, repeat x amount of times, loot. When WotLK first came out, I found myself wondering (initially based on the amount of available dungeons, then based on raid difficulty) whether or not it would last long enough to keep people satisfied. Now, months after release, I firmly believe it won’t. Unless Blizzard surprises people by releasing the next expansion much quicker than this last, people will be looking for reasons to quit.

Here’s your announcement, WoW has peaked. Their new design philosophy is good for the very casual but it’s deviated too far from what kept the game interesting to so many. There’s no longer anything elusive. It’s all there for you – except there’s no longer any intrigue.

LotRO is another one I’ve come back to in true minimalist form. This is about how it happened, I log in, kill a mob, and level four times. Schweet! Except I don’t know where to go, so I think I’m just going to follow the book quests and see where they lead me. Here lies the bandwagon and here I am hopping on.

I’ve been gaming a bit more and enjoying it. Maybe I’ll use the last of my WoW mana and conjure up some energy to write more often. Remember, add FoW to your RSS reader 🙂

Anywizzle, that’s my update. If you’re interested in catching me in-game, I play Malgos on the Earthen Ring (Alliance) server on WoW and Ralorn on the Landroval server on LotRO. And Cryptic Shadow on Darkfall.

Beh!

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Battle for the Skeleton Crypts

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The most exciting gaming experience I’ve had in a long time happened to me the other night on Darkfall and perhaps it will help shed some light on what its players find so appealing. Let me share it with you.

 

A few members of my clan and I decided to go out and farm for some gear. There was about five of us to start. We began by going out to the tree city of some lizard-like spell casters. Even though the cast mana missiles at us, they still hit like trucks with their swords. We fought them for about a half hour picking up pieces of banded armor and a few rank 20-30 weapons. We decided then to head out to an ogre camp nearby.

Unfortunately, the camp wasn’t marked on the exploiter map, and we wound up wandering into a crumbling skeleton city. As we approached, mana missiles started flying at as from the walls. We made our way in, using line-of-sight to avoid taking damage. As we approached, we battled a few melee warriors. They didn’t hit as hard as the lizard-men, so by boxing them in we were able to hack them down fairly easy. Reaching the outer wall, we noticed a glowing pink bubble not unlike vanilla Dalaran in WoW. It was a portal.

 

Figuring “what the hell?” we all clicked on it and entered. We found ourselves in an underground crypt, rife with crumbling walls and cobwebs. Right off the bat, we ran into an armor rack and all of us netted some decent studded leather gear. Making our way in, a flood of skeletons rushed at us from the first hallway. Our tank stood his ground against them, holding them back from our more squishy party members. We pulled out our bows and staffs and did out best to burn them down. The task was harder than it would seem however because the mobs would run back the way they had come whenever they found themselves in danger of dying. We didn’t want to rush after them, into the black unknown, and find ourselves facing a particularly nasty enemy. So we waited, letting them come to us, until we had slaughtered them all. The walls of the tunnel were splattered with blood.

 

We made our way through the tunnel and into the next room. It was small and circular with another hallway leading to the left and a spiral staircase leading downwards. As we approached the tunnel, another group of skeletons came out at us, this time five of them instead of the initial three. One of them was named and had a nasty hit to him and a lot of health. Still, we fought on against their “attack, retreat, attack, retreat” behavior until the named mob had died. Four still remained.

 

Then, out of nowhere, four orcs came rushing up the tunnel behind us. Instantly, the dungeon became a lot more exciting. We had a lot of gear to lose, real risk, and real reason to fight with intelligence and strategy.

 

They caught some of us off guard. Thankfully, we had an extra man on them and were able to push them back to the hallway. It was narrow, so not everyone could get to the front line of battle. You could fit maybe two people shoulder to shoulder, yet we found that we could jump and rain arrows down on their heads.

 

They fell back to the room before and made their way up a stairwell. They recouped above as we did the same below. Then, again, they rushed down and attacked us again. Battles in Darkfall last a lot longer than in other games so you can stand and fight for some time without dying. This amounted to a very heated battle, health inching ever lower, but we held the upper hand.

 

Until they pinned one of our members against the wall and took him out. They had their backs to us as they tried to loot. This was bad for them because players take so much more damage to their back than front. They couldn’t stand that way long enough to loot and soon rushed back upstairs. One of our members quickly gathered our clanmates things.

 

Before long, their entire group rushed back down the stairs and, literally, jumping on top of our heads took our blows and ran by, right into the unknown room our last group of mobs had come from. We didn’t know if they died at first (we hoped they had) or if they knew of an exit in there.

 

We made our way in, fighting mobs, frantically searching for their dead bodies. We found none. They had made it out, unwilling to fight us four on four, they ran back home to pout.

 

We continued on to in the dungeon to find a chest containing 3000g. Quite the haul. The whole time this went on, we excitedly talked on ventrilo about how this dungeon experience was more exhilarating than any of us had ever had.

 

Another member of our clan, wanting in on the fun, commented on vent that he was on his way. It wasn’t long after when we heard him worriedly exclaim “OMG, there’s tons of orcs up here killing all these skeletons!”. He rushed to the portal, already being attacked.

Thankfully, he made his way in. Several of our members started back to the beginning of the dungeon to meet him in case any orcs should follow (which they almost surely would).

 

At about this time, I had to go… regretfully. The night was growing long and the fiancée was beginning to doze on the couch. I wish I could have stayed for just a little bit longer but I had already stayed on an hour longer than I had planned. It was just that much fun. Spouse aggro, on the other hand, isn’t that much fun so I think I made the right decision.

 

Still, what a night. This is the kind of thing that Darkfall brings to the table. And after having such experiences with your clanmates, it draws you closer together as a group. It builds memories that live on in your gaming past so one day down the line you can nostalgically talk, “Hey, do you remember that time…”. I wish more games would break from the norm and do their own thing instead of trying to please everybody. The market would be better because of it.

Bringing Something New to the Table

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself feeling the gaming itch more than usual. This is probably because I know I won’t be able to play as much as I’d like in any circumstance. So, I satisfy (yet also intensify) this urge by listening to gaming podcasts and keeping up to date with my favorite blogs.

 

Perhaps unfortunately, some of the best podcasts I’ve found deal exclusively with WoW. The Instance is one of my personal favorites, not so much for the game they cover, but for the good humor and persistent charisma of the hosts. As one could imagine, after listening to enough WoW talk, I got the urge to log in to the game again.

 

It didn’t help that two of my best friends had been after me to roll a Death Knight on their server. So, I did. It was a funny thing though, when I logged in, I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was missing. It was the same old game I’d always enjoyed except it… seemed more hollow somehow. Then I realized, for the first time ever, I was in the exact opposite situation as I’d been in multiple times: even though I was playing WoW, I really wanted to be playing Darkfall.

 

I’ve felt that way at some point in time in almost every other MMO I’ve played because WoW is where I got my MMO start, and we all know how powerful that old draw can be. It’s that nagging, not-quite-satisfied feeling you get that lets you know you’re truly torn with what you want; the essence of a shallow gaming experience.

 

I’ve gone through several burn out periods in my WoW career but I’ve never really felt the same way as I did while playing my DK. It’s not the WoW is a bad game or that it’s not fun. I think that it’s because Darkfall is so incredibly different, it offers something totally separate from WoW.

 

They are two games in the same genre but in two wholly different classes. WoW may offer a good story and fun quests but Darkfall offers you true adventure and the adrenaline rush that real risk brings. WoW gives you dungeons and raids but Darkfall gives you a more complete group experience because the best parts of the game can only be completed with the help of others. There are no quests in Darkfall but that’s not to its detriment because players matter and create every bit of the politically intricate story you can follow by the hour. We are the heroes and the villains, friends and foes, driving the game forward.

The mechanics are so incredibly different too. I found myself hitting the shift key to try to make my DK sprint only to remember that there was no such option in WoW. It also took me a second to get back into the control scheme of the game. I longed for the ability to swing my own weapon and moved my camera into the first person perspective.

 

Yet, the longer I played, I got back into the familiar groove and started to enjoy to eloquence of timing your attacks just right, figuring out the perfect rotation, and really working the character to its maximum potential. I had fun again.

 

But that cloying feeling remained and, on top of that, I started to miss having to tackle objectives with guildmates. I now know what everyone says when they call WoW a massively single player game. It’s multiplayer by choice whereas Darkfall is by design.

 

After my romp through Azeroth, I decided to keep both my WoW subscription and my Darkfall subscription. This was a big choice for me because I’ve never been able to justify keeping to subs active for any length of time. Yet, in this case the two games offer experiences so starkly different in almost every respect, I can feel comfortable making the investment. I don’t buy in to the idea that everyone who plays WoW is a carebear or that Darkfall is only for the PvP-junkies. It’s possible to enjoy both because you take something different away from each.

 

When I want fun PvE, I’ll go to WoW. When I want exciting PvP, exploring, or just some time to have fun – without pressure – with my clan, I’ll go Darkfall. I’ll take my apples and my oranges, then say thank you for each.

An update on the state of the blog

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Greetings everyone,

 

If you’ve been reading for longer than the past month or so, I’m sure you’ve seen my posting frequency drop a bit. I’m posting once to twice a week now where I was doing three to four before. It’s unfortunate but true.

 

The reasons behind this really have nothing to do with my desire to write. I love it and writing this blog has been a great past time for me. In truth, the biggest contributing factor is my current college and work schedule.

 

As some of you may know, I’m a student teacher. When I started this blog, I was going to college three days a week and working on the weekends. Now, I’m teaching five days a week and still working on the weekends. It really doesn’t leave much time for gaming. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I’ve played for maybe two hours total. It sucks, to be quite honest, because gaming has always been a way for me to unwind. But that’s life right now.

 

So, I usually use my downtime at work to write a new blog post or two. That’s why you’ll usually see my posts go up on the weekend. During the week, I’m just preoccupied.

 

What does that mean for Fires of War? Not much, to be honest. I have no plans to stop writing or maintaining the site and actually hope to bring posting frequency back up to where it was before I started this phase of the Teacher Cert. Program.

 

Really, this is a post to let you know that my dedication and passion for gaming and blogging is still here, it’s just being suppressed by real life for a little bit. It’ll be back though, don’t worry 😉

 

As always, I appreciate your support in checking the site everyday for updates, eating up what I post, and sharing your thoughts in the comments. While I’m forced to be away more than I’d like, enjoy your own gaming all the more for me!