Choosing a 1st timer MMO

“I want you to introduce me to one of your online games”.

This phrase came from my SO. She have never played an MMO and barely played any computer/console game at all.


My first though was… “Ok. We will do this on weekend. Most probably she is not going to get hooked by it and the idea will just die there, so I will try my best, but it’s probably nothing too important”.

But the reality is what it is. In the following months, she is going to have a lot of free time. She will be at home and, for the most part of the day, alone. So finding something fun to do on top of her other hobbies may be a good idea.

Even if I think that she should be the one making the decision about what game to try, everything in the genre is really alien to her, so I’m trying to help her choose one based on her tastes. She tends to favor medieval/magical fantasy over sci-fi, definitely PVE oriented and (as every first-timer) worried about doing wrong in group content.

On top of that, as far as possible, I would prefer a game I already own or one that lets us run a trial (or F2P) so we can try a few games before deciding and buying/subscribing.

Let’s try to find a good game to fit with those qualities.

  1. The first idea that came to my mind: Lord of the Rings Online. With the Legendary servers launching recently, there is going to be a lot of people on early levels. The story can be soloed easily, and we can duo in the evening when I am at home. But sadly, she don’t like Lord of the Rings.
  2. Given that she struggles a bit with English, I suggested World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2, both translated to Spanish and both with local servers. Even if she enjoyed the Warcraft movie far more than I did, she didn’t look too keen to go into Azeroth.
  3. One day, as I was browsing some blogs, her eye caught a Final Fantasy XIV screenshot and asked about the game. I did my best to explain about the FF lore without spoilers and she said that would be cool to try. The only “negative” I find in FFXIV is the mandatory dungeons to progress with the main story. And that led me to…

What if “online” is not a requisite?

Sure, being able to play together is a plus. And being online might help her not feel alone for long hours. But, at the same time, going into gaming via MMO’s could be disheartening, if you end in some toxic community that tends to “attack noobs” instead of “helping the newbies”. What if we seek for (offline) RPGs? The doors open to Dragon Age or The Witcher series, Divinity: Original Sin, other Final Fantasy titles…

Once there, I wonder… Why RPGs? What about strategy, adventure, puzzle games? What about some classics?

I anticipate that this weekend I’m going to reinstall, try and talk a lot about different games. I won’t probably play myself more than a few minutes but it’s going to be a hell of a ride on different genres, settings, eras… and hopefully, we will find THAT game that clicks and introduces her to this vast and amazing world.

2018 closure

As I anticipated on the previous post, this December I’ve barely played anything. My SO is having serious health issues that led to surgery and we’ve spent most of the time at the hospital. She’s back at home now, and slowly recovering, as a positive note.

Talking about the whole year and back on topic, the game I’ve been more focussed it’s been EVE Online. I came back to the game in September 2017 and after struggling a bit with the new meta, jump fatigue and a few other changes, I got to a confortable routine of knowing (aproximatelly) how to fund myself again and what to do in fleets (either gigantic TiDi fights or the ocasional fast roaming fleet).

Tjörnin – Reykjavik pond

In April I went (for the first time) to the EVE Fanfest and took the chance to be for 8 days traveling around Iceland (or a part of it). I came back in love with both the land and the people. During Fanfest I managed to put faces to some alliance mates and other players and, of course, was overhyped about what was coming next to the game. The whole trip was financially hard for me but, in the end, it was worth it.

Part of the TEST Alliance delegation at Fanfest

August came and the Blaugust with it, which led me to start this blog. After about 8 years without writing, and in English for the first time. During September, we went on a Holidays trip to Malta and bassicaly abandoned it, but since October I’m writing again (even if not as regularily as I would like).

There’s been a handful of other MMO’s for me this year. I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Everquest, or Lord of the Rings Online. I haven’t been particularly immersed on any of them this year, with the possible exception of Lotro, where I joined a couple of days after the Legendary servers launched, but I had to stop playing because of RL issues. If I can, I still want to come back and be ready for Moria before it arrives.

2019 expectations

As I said, I want to come back to Lotro Legendary and keep up the pace with the expansions as they launch.

As I’ve read good things about the new SWTOR expansion I will probably come back, at least for the story (probably not for the end game).

Of course, nostalgia will hit again and I will try the WoW classic when it comes. I don’t know if I will be there in the long term, but… I will enjoy the ride for the first weeks.

Out of the MMO bubble, in the PS4, I’ve barely played Red Dead Redemption 2 yet, but I was having fun with it, and I intend to try Spiderman too.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about another blog (not gaming related, and written in Spanish), but I will not commit to it unless I feel satisfied with how often I write here, which currently I am not.

Have a Happy new year!

Fireworks – Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


This morning, while I was checking my RSS reader, I’ve found a few posts (1, 2, 3, 4 in no particular order) about another blogger that I didn’t know (and I won’t link). Apparently, he (or she) was criticizing the Blaugust initiative.

Intrigued, I’ve decided to check his (her) blog, where I’ve found not one but two consecutive posts entirely devoted to bashing Blaugust participants. For some reason, (s)he is focusing all the rage on the most active participants. Maybe the rest of us are beneath his (her) level, or maybe (s)he decided to “spare us the pain”.

The bad part is not that (s)he is critic about the initiative or about the perticipants, the thing is the superiority complex that emanates from the text.

From the last paragraph:

One blog. That’s what I’ve gained from Blaugust and that blog wasn’t created by Blaugust.

You’ve decided not to participate in Blaugust. What were you expecting to get from it? What do you think Blaugust (or those of us that decided to be part of it) owns you? What are we (the rest of the world) are going to gain from your posts?

I’ve gained from Blaugust. I started writing again after many years, I’ve found a few blogs I didn’t know (more about that in a future post), I’ve interacted with other people that were in the same boat.

I know that for a lot of people that means nothing. 6000 million people in Earth and most of them gained nothing from Blaugust. But… did any of them lose something because of Blaugust?

Somebody starts a project. Or recycle an old project, it doesn’t matter. He is working on it for no profit. A group of people joins him. You can join or not. You can suggest changes, or a different approach, different dates…

But if you just don’t want anything to do with it… just let it go.

Waiting two months and then coming to smash it looks to me like a toddler that comes and destroys the sandcastle that his (her) sibling was building. I don’t have children, maybe that is the reason why I can’t cope with adults that act like them.

October objectives

I’ve never been one to put objectives on my gaming. Not long-term, at least. Sometimes I login thinking on a same-day goal, but nothing further except for skill planing on EVE, that goes for months at a time.

I see other bloggers writing goals for each month and I’m not sure if I want to do the same or not. On the plus side, it gives you some guidance on what to do each day, but at the same time, it may push you to play a game that maybe it’s not the one you want today, leading you into burning-out.

I’ve decided to try it. I’m going to put some objectives for the remaining of October and will see how it goes. If by the end of the month I feel that it was worth it, I will keep doing it, probably with more ambitious goals.

This time I’m keeping them vague intentionally, so I will not have too much pressure.

  • EVE Online: At least one alliance fleet each week. Probably more, but it depends on the timing of planned ops, especially on weekdays. On top of that, I’ve recently bought my first Rorqual, and it still hasn’t paid for itself, so I’m going to work on that.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Botanist and Miner to level 50 (they are about 30 currently). After that, either Fisher 1-30 (or 50) or Black Mage to 70 (67 now).
  • Guild Wars 2: Warrior or Mesmer to 80. I own this game since launch (a few weeks later, actually) but I never got a character to level cap. I’ve been playing these two lately, and I feel it’s time to cap at least one.

I am going to aim to get two of these 3, and if I end with some spare time I’ll work towards the third, but FFXIV and GW2 are in not specific order, it can go both ways.

Still alive!

It’s been more than one month since the last post, but I haven’t abandoned it.

I knew that I wasn’t going to write each day during Blaugust, was aiming more to once a week(-ish). Even if the total numbers are there (7 posts during the month), there were two full blank weeks that were out of my plans.

I could start making excuses of how something unexpected happened, and then I went on Holidays and… you know the drill. In the end, this is a personal project and there is no point in making excuses to myself. I’ve stopped writing for (approx.) 6 weeks and I intend to change that.

In order to get back into posting regularly, I intend to make a schedule. I am going to reserve some of my free “on my own” time to write weekly (at least). Because of how my free time changes day to day, adapting to my SO work timetable, this can be tricky. But it’s doable and this week I will have something figured out.

Probably I’m going to start some “periodic” posts, that will help me when I don’t know what to write about, or the time is shorter than expected for some reason. I am thinking of posts like “What I’m playing lately?”, “Look! screenshots” and things like that. Before committing to this blog, I took into account that writing in English was going to take me more time than writing in Spanish. Even expecting it, during Blaugust I found that it took me longer than expected. I hope this may be a way of writing shorter entries, but still feel like I am delivering something more than just a “Ping”.

And with this renewed will of writing a blog, I can finally and show my (not so) hardly earned Bronze Award for participating in Blaugust 2018.

Blaugust 2018 bronze award

Coming back to Norrath (maybe?)

I never got to play Everquest when it was current. I can’t remember when I put my feet in Norrath for the first time, but EQ was already free to play by then.
Since then, I’ve been trying to come back several times. I have a handful of low-level chars on different Live servers, and I’ve even created a couple of them on TLP servers when they’ve launched.
But as much as the “Old School charm” calls to me, I abandon it not much later. Especially in the TLP servers, where grouping is mandatory almost full time. Most days I can’t group the old way: go to the tunnel, start  spamming chat, try to find some ports, go to the camp… Before I can start killing mobs I’m already on my bed.

This periodical self-induced nostalgia has come back this week again. At first, I should come back to live, where I can use mercenaries to overcome the need of grouping, but… What if I would go to Norrath, but in its second incarnation?
Long story short, I’ve downloaded Everquest 2 and created a couple of characters.
Mmmmmmh. Or maybe… maybe I should come back to a TLP server on the original EQ. I’ll take it easy, slowly leveling, exploring… Maybe I can roll a second account on the laptop to duo?

I can’t understand why I would do this to myself. We are talking about a secondary game. I mean, I’ll keep playing Eve online, I’m fishing for a second game for these days where I don’t feel like killing internet spaceships. An on top of that, I’m feeling nostalgic about games that weren’t part of my “young days”.

And thinking about that is how I ended reinstalling Star Wars Galaxies. At least this is a game I actually played when it was current; post NGE but current. I remember leveling my smuggler on live when the news about closing the game came out. Ok, then: definitely, I joined Legends, a “post NGE” emulator, macro-leveled an entertainer and started leveling my commando.

It’s only that… although I’m not an uber WOW fan… you know… tomorrow we get a new expansion… I know, I know. If I join, I’m going to just level 110-120, do a couple of times each dungeon and got bored but… It’s current content.
Aaaaaaand basically this is what happens to me periodically, about 3-4 times a year. I spend 1 or 2 weeks downloading, installing and uninstalling a few games before settling on “the one”.

Different mindset for different games

I’ve read a lot of times about how different MMOs are for different people, and I agree, but what I am thinking lately is that we adapt our mindset to different games, as well.

Probably every player has found that some days they want to play challenging content, try to push harder… and sometimes they only want to log in and take some relaxed quests, or gather some materials, or just be there chatting. Now taking it even a step further I find myself thinking or feeling really different when comparable things happen on different games.

Something that bores me to death in most games, and makes me park them is endless grinding. I enjoy leveling and advancing the MSQ in Final Fantasy XIV but as soon as I get to the end of the patch and I have to repeat each and every day the same content just to get some “Allagan Tomes of whatever” I get bored, start logging in once a week and… then not again until the next expansion is coming. It’s the same feeling that I have with other games (WoW, Rift, Archeage…).

Then, you see me entering into Wurm, and I would spend hours after hours doing the exact same thing. Using the same skill over and over during a whole weekend, mining the same tile just so I get a bigger number on my mining skill that would help me… grind again the next week to get a bigger number on Armorsmith. And it goes on and on, but I keep playing this game.

Similarly, I love EVE online. I love the thrill of never being 100% safe. If I am just doing some anomalies, trying to get money and some hostile jumps into the system and interrupts my grind, it feels good. It forces me to be ready or die. I will have to reship into a PVP ship to fight back or wait until (s)he gets bored and moves away. Sometimes is the other way around. I am the one hunting, trying to punish people who become AFK without docking, or has too many alters at the same time and cannot save them all.

Now, What if the same thing happened in a different game? What if I were on FFXIV mining or fishing and some random player jumped on me and ganked me? And on top of that, they would destroy all my gear and stole my inventory? No way I would play with that conditions!!
Same conditions, same punishment, same mechanics… but different games. The thing I enjoy in one setting I would never accept in the other.

I wonder why. I assume it has something to do with all the other game mechanics; how it fits with everything else. For instance, in EVE, once you’ve gotten the basics, you are able to avoid combat in almost all situations. You’re not going to win all battles (actually, you are going to lose almost everytime at first), but you can run. And if (when) you get caught, you can identify what you did wrong and become better. Of course, there are some tricky situations, but identifying them and deciding if you want to put yourself into them or not is part of the game, and part of the “avoiding” mechanics.

But is not only avoiding. You can fight back. In other games, as a low-level player, you can’t even scratch high-level players. But EVE is a different kind of beast. As a new player, you can focus all your training on small ships (frigates and their T2 variants) and be a pain in the ass for the big ships. You can speed tank them, tackle them, bump them, ECM them, relay info about them to your allies…

Another point where I feel different depending on the game is inventory management (the truly central theme of all this Blaugust 😉 ). Both in Wurm Online and EVE, I lost everything I was carrying when I die. In Wurm, I can come back to the corpse and loot it. EVE server would randomly destroy a part of it and let anyone loot the rest. On top of that, both games track where I leave things. There is not a single central “magical” bank where I can deposit something, cross the whole map and recover it on the other side. If I want something moved, I have to move it myself or ask somebody to do it (and usually pay for it, of course).
If you had to remember where you’ve deposited each item on games like WoW, FFXIV… the forums will be full of ranting posts, Steam rates would be trash, Reddit would be burning in memes… I wouldn’t want it either.

There are games when this kind of mechanics add to the game, and there are others where not. If you could safely move any kind of item around EVE, local markets would not make sense, so EVE economy would be radically different (worse, in my opinion). Without risk, PVP would be radically different; it would be like any MOBA, or arenas on other MMOs where you get some points,  ranking, and everything is reset again for the next match. But, the other way around, if I am not risking anything, don’t bother me with bank management, it doesn’t add anything.

In the end, I have different preferences over the same mechanics in different games. It’s not a matter of which option is better or which one goes with a better game, but which one fits on each game. All the games I’ve used for the examples are good games for me, and I would not change the way that mechanics are implemented on each one.

Introducing my new “guild”

Today I want to introduce you to the guild I joined in this old-school game called blogging. A lot of times I’ve thought about coming back to the game, but for a solo player is really hard. Newbie areas tend to be empty and the most fun areas are all designed for groups.

But a couple of weeks ago, while I was driving back home, listening to the MO podcast, Syp introduced a guy named Belghast that happened to be a guild master inviting people to join his guild: Blaugust Reborn. Take a look at the roster.

Now, after a few days lurking around, I decided to ask for an invite and almost instantly became a new member, hoping that they weren’t a bunch of bittervets. You would not believe the amount of nice people I found there! And they have a lot of services for all the members. Nothing of this “Officers only” thing.

  • Do you need something from the “Guild blog-inspiration Bank”? Sure, take it.
  • Need help with game mechanics? Ask in chat.
  • As soon as you get a new Achievement (or a post as we call them in this game), guildmates will teleport around your area and cheer you up. How cool is that?
  • What if you don’t know what gear is best for you? Don’t worry, there is a group of veterans ready to help you choose.

There is this idea floating around of getting a quest every day for a month, but everybody understands that life comes first and some people will play hardcore and others more casually. It doesn’t matter, everybody is welcome here.

We usually hang out in our Guild Hall (named Discord) or somewhere around “The Bird Tabern“, also called Twitter.

The perfect game

I want to talk about some features that I’m attracted to in MMOs. It doesn’t mean that they are 100% necessary for me to enjoy a game, in fact, some of them may exclude others, but if a game has some of this characteristics I would probably turn my attention towards it.

Probably, there is not a single game that gets them all, and it will never be. Actually, I’m pretty sure that if a game tried to grab all my “amazing features” at the same time it would become some kind of Frankenstein monster that nobody (even me) would want to play.

Now, what would make this amazing terrible Frankenstein game need?

Skill progression

This can actually mean two different things, and I am ok with both.

It can be skills instead of levels, as EVE or Wurm Online do, where your character is always evolving, but there is not a single number defining your power. Your character may be the best in one aspect of the game, but terrible in another, but you aren’t more or less powerful in absolute terms just because of that.

A small part of the EVE skill tree

Another view could be skills and levels. Everquest, for instance, has this system where you will get levels as you accumulate XP, but your skills will improve when you use them. So, if somebody helps you power-leveling a tank, you will end at max level, but with 0 (or close by) blocking or parrying skills. Or, in other words, you will not be a tank at all.

This accent on skills can become grindly depending on how long does it takes to level them, and has the risk of you becoming a kind of Jack of all trades, but master of none if you are not planning thing beforehand. But at the same time

Catch up systems

I’m thinking about two different things, again. The first is the one you can see in a lot of veteran games. It’s basically a way to level faster at least up to some point close enough to be able to play with veterans. I personally don’t like the “Max level instantly”, at least for the first character, but being able to level with just the main story, or avoiding the grind for old reputations helps a lot if you are arriving “late” to the game.

There is a variation that also looks cool. It’s the level-syncing (think ESO). It looks great on paper, but if you get into the game alone, it can be tricky to find groups at first.

The second one is more controversial. I’m talking about short term caching. Some system that guarantees that a player who has lees free time to play don’t fall too far behind the most hardcore ones. It’s actually dependent of the type of game. I mean, for the usual theme park I don’t mind at all leveling slower than other more dedicated people. If they are puting the effort, they deserve to get there first.

But thinking of a game like Eve, if I hadn’t be able to level my skills offline, I would probably abandoned the game after a week. There are some games where leveling the table is important. Of course, somebody that is playing  hours a day, 7 days a week would have more money or learn more about PvP than me, playing more casually and I am absolutely OK with that.

Deep crafting system

Maybe deep is not the right word, but it has to be something more than collect materials -> click button -> receive the item.

My favorite (of those that I’ve known) was Star Wars Galaxies. You had some generic requirements like: “200 units of metal” and you could use any metal you had. But each kind of metal had different properties like weight, strength… that affected to the stats of the crafted item. On top of that, you could try to improve the result with some research points (I don’t remember the exact name). So, in the end, crafting the same item would yield a lot of different results. A bit tankier, a bit quicker… Amazing.

Meaningful player impact

I came to MMOs coming from RPGs. I want to shape the world. It can be in subtle ways, it may need the cooperation of a lot of players, it can (probably should) have limitations, but it has to be something.

EVE, or Wurm are again great examples of what you can do. In EVE you have the high sec areas where players are (up to some point) limited in how they can change the universe. Sure, you can go and kill somebody, or deploy a citadel, but the 4 NPC factions control and shape that areas and that’s all. But as soon as you move to low sec, J-space or null sec, there is a ton of things players can influence. In low sec (parts of it, at least) you can help one of the 4 main factions gain control of a solar system. In null, they simply don’t exist. There are some NPC pirate areas and thousands of systems directly ruled by player alliances. The map changes daily. Empires fall and rise…

Wurm is actualy quite different. There are some PvP servers that actually are similar to null sec Eve, but most people play on PvE servers. There are vast areas of land that you can terraform, mine, buid, develop…

Wurm online terraforming and building.

Yoou can pay and get a deed anywhere you want, except overlaping to other deeds, that (on PvE servers) would stop other people to modify. You can even drop massive amounts of dirt or sand over the water and create a new island.

There are a few more cool things like a complex player driven economy or incentives to cooperate but, in the end, I’ve found they are more subtle, harder to find unless you really try the game and stay for a while.

And maybe that’s the key. You can think a lot about what kind of game would truly be your “perfect” game but, in the end, you try a game and you enjoy it or not. With its virtues, its flaws, its community; thanks to them or despite them.

Issues I have with (some) expansions

This is my second post during BlaugustReborn.

Today I want to talk about Expansions (DLC’s, seasons… you name it). More specifically about some issues I have with expansions.

  1. Poorly named expansions. I’ve played (on and off) EVE for 11 years now, and I barely can connect one expansion with their content. There have been 16 expansions untill now with names as descriptive as “Inferno“, “Castor“, “Trinity“, “Kronos“… Now, with some more “story-driven” MMOs, the thing can work (think Legion for WoW), but EVE is more like… “Take these new mechanics and this balance pass. This is your new expansion”. So I have an approximate idea of when some systems become a part of the game, but don’t ask me the name related to them.
  2. The overwhelming pack. This is obviously a personal thing. Probably people who have played the gamefor a while will know about the expansions and will have their memories but… Think for a second: Everquest has 24 so far. Final Fantasy XI has 11 (including what they call Add-ons). And given that we are talking about old school games, there is not much hand holding there so, if you’ve never played these games, good luck figuring out what or where you’re supposed to be at your level.
  3. But wait, there’s more! You know this really good game, with immersive lore and a good story that, in the end, leads you and your friends to kill that powerful demigod that was going to destroy your world? Well, now the expansion hits, and you know what? That demigod’s mom is not happy about it. So get ready and begin killing bears and picking flowers again, because we need you to save the world again. I understand that some level of epicity is needed, but “end of the world” scenarios every other week gets boring soon.
  4. Should have been at launch. Main two offenders that come to my mind are not strictly MMOs although they “have” an online component. Let’s talk about No Man’s Sky, first. They promised multiplayer (and a few other things). Two years later, they’ve finally managed to deliver. I’m ok with some features coming after launch, and I understand that on launch week servers are not going to be very reliable but they knew that multiplayer was not going to be ready at launch, nor “around lunch”. They simply lied. And my second example is Elite: Dangerous. They launched the game unfinished (planet landings come to my mind, there were more), but they came clear (at first). They warned us that some parts were not going to make it in time, but they will patch in the future. But later they announced “Horizons”, the first expansion, that will include a lot of the missing features… for those who would buy the expansion. What? We’ve already paid for that!
  5. Aaaaand that’s it! I really enjoy Star Trek Online. It has its defects, of course, but the setting, the division of quest in episodic arcs, voice-acting… I love this game. But 6 quest and 1 single queue? You can’t call that “Expansion”. That is a patch. Yes, I know, 2 new races, a few ships… But for people that’s been playing for some time, it’s not much content. On the plus side, it’s free, as all the expansions on STO.

Of course, there is a lot of good parts that I enjoy about expansions, too. They add content to games I like, they usually attract new players… But I will write about it in another (non-ranting) post.