Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Starting Anew

Upon finding that my home realm has become less populated with active players, members of my guild suggested that we pack our bags and check out a high-population server. We all thought about it for a little bit before making a move. A lot of ideas were being discussed, and we were even doing research on certain realms that we would like to try out. We also talked about whether or not we want to transfer any of our level 90's.

After some time, it was finally decided that we are gonna have a temporary run on Mal'Ganis. Fresh new characters, no level 90's, and that we would create a guild for our new characters. We are also going to be playing as the Horde.

Wait. The Horde?

Sure, why not?

I started my World of Warcraft tenure as a member of the Horde. My first character was a Blood Elf Rogue (I had joined after Burning Crusade released). It should be familiar territory. So I went ahead and created another Paladin, since there's no way I'm going to transfer Tensoon over. Thus, Torquentine was created. A few other guildmates made Tauren, and we quickly ran through the first few quests in Mulgore to get ourselves some levels. After that, we decided to skip head over to Thunderbluff and catch a zeppelin to Orgrimmar.

The city has changed a lot from what I remember. I haven't visited Orgimmar in years. I couldn't recall where everything was, so it took me some time and a few clicks with the town guards to get familiar with the area. The place is so spacious and full of life. And I'm not exaggerating when I say full of life. I've never seen so many people in the middle of a city, or grouped around at the auction house. They weren't kidding when they listed Mal'Ganis as a high-population realm. It's nuts. People everywhere!

Now my friends and I just need to get ourselves to level 90 so we can start raiding, and see what this realm can do for my guild.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Officer Chat: My Dying Realm

My main character is Tensoon, a Draenei Retribution Paladin on Cenarius. I lead Legends of Lightside, a casual raiding guild with two dedicated 10-man raid teams. I've been leading this guild since December of 2009, when everyone was pushing for a Lich King kill. As a guild, we've come across numerous obstacles that prevented us from reaching certain goals. They range from attendance issues for raids, to guild drama caused by a disgruntled guild veteran. But nothing quite like this.

We lost a couple of members due to real life, whatever that means. That's fine, I don't care. People are free to do what they want. I'm sure there are other players I can recruit into Legends of Lightside. I just have to dedicate half an hour seeking people out in the Looking For Group channel.

Okay, maybe another half hour, and I'll find someone.

Good thing I had a lot of Ghost Iron Ore to smelt, because no one is replying.

I'll give it another hour, maybe?

Still no replies.

After hitting my guild recruitment macro for what felt like the one-millionth time, I panned through the chat window and found that I was the only one in the chat. The last few lines of chat were from me, actively recruiting for my guild. I'm no spammer, I made sure I gave my macro key a five-minute rest between each hit. This was during prime time, too. It's 6pm server time, and no one else is chatting. No pug groups recruiting, no other guilds recruiting, no one wanting to buy or sell something. It was just me.

Then came raid time. I wasn't able to find any new guild members, but maybe I'll have more luck pugging the last two spots for the raid group. What better way to recruit for a guild than to show off how good we are in a raid?

What? No replies? But it's Terrace of the Endless Springs. Who would be crazy enough to pass that up? Surely, it must be a holiday for it to be so empty online. But Valentine's Day was a couple of weeks ago. There must be another explanation.

There is: It's because my realm is dying.

Cenarius is a realm that favors the Alliance, and is listed as a medium-population server. Unfortunately, it's feeling like a low-population realm. It never occurred to me that I would have to figure out what to do with my guild in a dying realm. I always thought recruitment would be no problem, but no one is playing anymore. I understand that people are a little bored of the current content. It seems that people ran LFR a few times at the beginning, then decided to unsubscribe until new content is released. My guild members are starting to worry as well. The auction house is empty, and no one can turn a profit from the items in our guild bank. They are growing sick and tired from not being able to raid on a weekly basis due to the lack of pugs or new guild members. Our second raid team is facing the same problem, but merging our two groups would be a mess.

What to do?

JRPGs With My Wifey (Part 2)

After popping in Ni no Kuni into the PS3, Grace and I were immediately drawn to the animation and the voice acting. It definitely felt like something from Studio Ghibli. After several cutscenes and tutorials, we finally got to start the real journey of Ni no Kuni.

While watching Grace at the sticks controlling little Oliver, I began to realize that our styles of gameplay are very different. She's in it for the story, and wants to reach the next objective as soon as possible. She would serpentine her way through trash mobs in order to get to the next boss, the next city, the next waypoint. That's not my style. I couldn't bear to see all the leveling opportunities and treasure that she would pass up.

Then I would get my chance on the controller. I'm a perfectionist, a completionist. I'm maybe a little obsessive. No matter. I would backtrack to whatever Grace had missed. I will explore every far-away corner of a dungeon, open every possible treasure chest, and run the little tedious errands the little people of Ni no Kuni would have for me. I would look over and see Grace napping or looking something up on her phone, obviously bored of what I was doing in the game. I kept telling here that I was almost done with what I'm doing, and that I'll get to the next boss fight or objective for her.

Several hours later, I would still be on the sticks, and Grace would be fast asleep right next to me.

She'll get her next turn the following day.

JRPGs With My Wifey (Part 1)

Ni no Kuni for the PS3
Just over a week ago, I bought Ni no Kuni for me and my wifey to enjoy. I haven't played a decent Japanese RPG in a long time, and I needed a good exclusive to go along with my PS3 purchase. After doing research, it seemed that Ni no Kuni was the game everyone is raving about. So, why not? I had to pick it up.

The game's heartwarming story features a young boy named Oliver whose mother had recently died. While he secludes himself in his room days after his mother's death, his favorite stuffed animal named Mr. Drippy comes to life. Mr. Drippy then convinces Oliver to help him rescue an alternate reality that is plagued with "broken-heartedness" by telling him that he can probably bring back his mother. In this alternate reality is where the game begins.

The gameplay is fun, and will satisfy even the more hardcore gamers. The combat system does require a bit of micromanaging, since you are controlling three characters and their "familiars". You could choose to control just one character during combat, as the AI for your teammates can be depended on to deal some heavy damage or to run away from incoming attacks.

Oliver, the main protagonist, meets his first familiar
The "familiars" are the creatures you can capture and tame to fight alongside you. It is not a Pokemon rip-off, since the gameplay mechanics are complete completely different. Seeking out familiars and leveling them up would be a fun experience for everyone. Grace enjoyed it when we encountered familiars that looked cute, and giving them funny nicknames when we capture them.

The game was created by Studio Ghibli. They're famous for some popular animated films like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totora, and Princess Mononoke. Ghibli did an amazing job creating a game that shares similarities to their films. Making Ni no Kuni feel like an interactive movie is the true experience of the game.

That's it for now. I'll be putting up posts about Grace and I actually playing the game. It was an interesting journey.

See ya.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Impulsive Purchasing

I'll admit that I spend way too much money for technology. But, who can blame me? The marketing departments for both Sony and Microsoft have been getting me good these past couple of weeks. Recently, Sony released the Classic White PS3, bundled with a free year of Playstation Plus and 500GB hard drive capacity. I just had to. I can't let that kind of deal slip away. Damn you Sony.

Now, I'm eyeing the current Xbox 360 deal that comes bundled up with Skyrim and Forza 4. I do currently own Skyrim and a 1st Generation Xbox 360 (ugh), but what's making me want to make this purchase is its 250GB hard drive space. I'm a content fanatic. DLCs, map packs, games-on-demand, etc etc. My measly 20GB hard drive can barely handle the Rock Band songs I've accumulated since 2008. I even had to delete some songs in order to install the multiplayer content for Halo 4, which was a massive 3.5GB. I'm currenly sitting on 56MB of free space. Microsoft stopped manufacturing larger hard drives for the older 360s, and I'm definitely not going near the ones that were refurbished by GameStop. These dark days must end.

So, yeah, I'm gonna get that bundle.

Enough about consoles. Let's move on to my more favorable gaming platform. My PC is going to get lots of love when I finally get my hands on the new Titan graphics card from Nvidia GeForce. While this card might hit retail with a pretty hefty price tag of close to $1000, I might have to wait a bit for the cost to go down. Besides, the card might be overkill for the current games I have installed for my PC. It would be interesting to see this thing put into action with Watch DogsDestiny, or any of the upcoming games with high graphics.

That's it for now. Soon I'll be posting up a series of blog posts about my recent attempts at playing JRPGs with the wifey. I will throw in a few posts about WoW and my thoughts on the upcoming console generation.

See ya.