Diving into Dauntless

Dauntless first caught my eye 2 years ago at PAX East. I tracked down one of the developers working the booth to see what this game was all about. He asked me what kind of games I played. Naturally I told him that I was big into MMOs like World of Warcraft. He went on to tell me that this game took your traditional MMO dungeon run and slimmed it down the fun part: Boss Fights! Instead of spending time tediously killing the grunts blocking your path, you are faced with one brutal enemy with interesting and challenging mechanics.

We put him through the ringer. Lava is no match for me.

Combat in Dauntless is an action system where you learn the best way to mount your attack and the best time to get the eff out of the way (ehem enrages). The zones remind me of the 3 man quickie instances in Skyforge where you are dropped in and have a quick run to the final boss. The zones are lush and there are plants that you can gather for crafting. Some of the behemoths that you fight become familiar, and as you work your way through to the harder monsters they become more sophisticated versions of the owls and lizards that you fought in your first few adventures.

Is my sick gear making you envious?

My first impression of character design was that it seemed to be a mix between Wildstar and Fortnite. The armor sets that I’ve seen so far range in aesthetics from ninja turtle to hungry viking. This game is free to play and the cash shop offers a multitude of different emotes and cosmetics for your character. The crafting system is sleek and make sense for the newbie (me). It’s a refreshing change from the sometimes overwhelming systems in your typical MMO or dungeon crawler.

The character progression systems is based on craft your armor and weapons using the skins of the behemoths that you kill. Later you get cores which grant special abilities and resistances to your armor and will be more important as you skill up. You can select 4 different special items to use during each fight. These items include healing potions, items that buff you for a period of time, grenades, and probably much more than I have access to at my current level 7.

Fighting style depends on the weapon that you are welding and can be switched quickly through your Loadout interface. This means that you are not locked into a specific play style and are free to experiment with the different weapons. I’ve come across a few bugs so far, which is to be expected since the game is currently in Open Beta. Overall I’m having a blast hunting monsters and look forward to exploring the later game, social systems and see how far my dollar goes in their cash shop. Happy hunting and see you in game!

Is personal loot killing raiding guilds?

It’s been a rough couple of months both in and outside of the game.  I was sick with one thing or another for about a 2 month stretch and have finally kicked the illness!  The only thing is, now that I’m finally well again I’m tempted to invest in surgical masks to keep it that way.  My daughter brings home all forms of sickness from daycare and it just goes with the territory in this phase of life.  

Before the holidays I told you all how my guild entered into a guild merger which seems to have failed spectacularly but not in the way that you would think.  We were as egalitarian as we could be in these sorts of mergers and acquisitions.  Myself and the GM of the guild that were combining forces with entered into a co-gm type relationship which before now I would have balked at for being an smoke screen for disguising who was really in charge.  Turns out that it was me by default, since the other GM seems to have vanished into thin air.  On our third week as a new guild we had abysmal attendance and all of the former officers and big guild contributors had quit and were citing the game as the problem.  We had 30 people the first week ready to play together, and then 21 the second week and now 8 the third.  

I’m finally feeling great again, health wise, but find myself with the scraps of a guild, all my friends have decided that World of Warcraft is now boring and not worth their time (including my husband).   I still want to play, so what’s a girl to do?  For the last several weeks I’ve been joining pug raids, pug being the gamer term for Pick Up Groups, and have been enjoying these random encounters and variety of players I meet.  

I’ve been spending time on alts and should be spending time making money in the game but it’s so different from what I typically what do to make money that I haven’t spent the time to learn new methods of gold generation.  

Remember racing to a chest and hoping that you would be quick enough to grab it’s contents before the person next to you?  Oh the good ol’ days

I’ve also been day dreaming about World of Warcraft Classic and remembering a simpler time where people needed to actually show up if they wanted to get some loot.  Personal loot may very well be the death of a large number of raiding guilds since much of the incentive to stick with the same group was loot driven.  Why would anyone stick with a group if you could just walk into any guild and instantly get gear without having to go through a month long trial period or wait your turn for the most sought after items when your guild is using DKP or loot council?  What personal loot does is cater to the casual player and kills social communities that are bound together by their desire to better their characters through raiding.  It’s not all bad I guess, since I’m able to pug raid on my alts and not worry about having items I can use ninja’d away from me, which was the big argument for switching to this system.  As upsetting as dealing with this unfairness was, it pushed me to create strong ties in a community where I can play with the same people each week and make friends that kept me playing the game.  Assuming that personal loot remains a thing going forward, is WoW going to be a strong enough game to keep those casual players playing without the strong social ties that we typically create in raiding guilds? 

Being a Woman in Gaming

Typically there would be at least one other female gamer in the guild that I was in.  I don’t know if this is because we tended to find each other due to the type of leadership that the guild had.  I had refused to play with certain guilds due to how I was treated, or if they had provocative pictures on their forum.  I am fine with pictures of beautiful women but I’ll be out the door if they is pornography in your player forums…just….no.

In my experience there is always a lot of flirting in games.  When your guild has a male to female ratio of 15:1 you tend to see the women getting a lot of attention.  I have benefited from lots of help over the years in the game, I will assume that it was due to being a female.  I always try to pay it back or pay it forward but I’m sure there is an imbalance in my favor.

Along with the attention, women can also be the target of unwanted harassment.  There have been more than a few times where I received inappropriate and unwanted private messages.  It was even worst if it came from people that I played with on a regular basis or members of my guild.  It was a difficult position to be put in.  If a woman deflects advances she gets called a bitch and I’ve seen this type of negative notions get spread throughout a guild because rather than nurse a bruised male ego quietly, it was done with rumors and trash talk.  For about 2 years I refused to play in the same guild as my husband (boyfriend at the time) because there was this ONE GUY that would call me a “little c**t” every time I joined up with them to do group content.  I told him to cut it out, but he saw that it irritated me so he kept doing it.  One of the benefits of being the guild leader is that people don’t test my boundaries like this.  If they were to call me any sort of derogatory term they would be out the door faster a speeding ticket.

I’ve been exploring the world of how female players are treated in gaming to gain a broader understanding beyond my own experiences.  I found the Not in the Kitchen Anymore where a Jenny Haniver publishes clips of negative interactions that she has with other gamers.  I will tell you that I’ve listened to these clips and was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were “yea I hear this all the time” and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  Have I grown complacent to the verbal abuse that we face in these games as women?

So why do these men berate women in these games?  Is it a power thing?  Are the motivations to cat call women on the street or call them whores in video games the same?  I’ve often heard that women would be better off if they confronted the abuser and to this I am conflicted.  A few weeks ago I was the target of unwanted advances while at a fair grounds.  I will tell you that I did not give him an ear full for a few reasons, first – he was operating a ride that my child was on and I didn’t want her to become a target for retaliation after I rejected this man.  Second – I didn’t know what this guy was capable of, was he prone to violence?  or stalking?  I don’t know and I’d rather not put myself in a position to find out.

Barely doing Mythic + dungeons

So I used to think that gaming was going the way of catering to the more casual gamer.  Although, what I’m finding is that I can play some of the things but I’m punished for playing as little as I do.

Back in Wrath of the Lichking people lamented the use of addons like Gear Score and to our surprise Blizzard thought that scoring system for ranking a player’s overall gear was a good idea and implemented it into their base game and call it item level.  You can view a person’s item level when you are using the group finder addon and it is one of the few pieces of information that you see along with their name, class and role.  If you want to take your selectiveness to the next level you can use a website and addon called RaiderIO In theory this type of system is great for weeding out the inexperienced and poor performing players.  There was the occasion where I wish I had more information on the people that I was partying with people who end up freaking out in chat and then leaving.

The way that Raider IO scores a player is a little bit odd.  You get points based on how many mythic + dungeons you complete during the current week and you get more points for completing a variety of dungeons.  You get more points for completing these dungeons with a favorable time but you are penalized if you had a great completion the week prior and did not run that same dungeon this week.  So, in order to maintain your score you must continually do the dungeons.  I currently have a score of 211 which is considered pretty low, I have completed 4 dungeons for the week which were all between level 7 through 9.  If I had time I could complete a bunch of +4 or +5 with a great time and that would give me a better score than simply completing the 9 that I did where we didn’t make the time.  I don’t really get any points for completing raid bosses which is where my focus is for now.

I don’t have a ton of time this week to run these dungeons but I do plan on the future to do some sort of experiment.  I play a desired class for dungeons due to our roots and slows (frost mage) and I shouldn’t have trouble finding groups with my gear.  I want to run some +4/+5 dungeons and see how that effects my score.  I’m viewing my raiderio score as a metagame within World of Warcraft and while I’m a bit angry that I’m being excluded from groups based on this score, I would probably exclude players as well if I were the one making the group and wanted to succeed.

All of this being said, I love the mythic keystone system and its ability to challenge you.  I do want to form a more consistent group to do these so that I can do better.  I really need more practice since I’m a little fuzzy on the mechanics of all the trash and the boss fights.  There is a lot of information to remember and running through these dungeons more will definitely help with this.

What are your thoughts on scoring players based on a point system?  Do you find it helpful or hurtful?  How could raiderio be improved?

Why aren’t MMOs monetizing mobile apps?

I’ve been playing online games for as long as the genre existed and have slowly made the transition from “I will never play a free to play game” to “I could totally pay $25 for that cool mount”  What I want to know is why none of the big MMOs that are able to make enough money to continue to add content are not capitalizing on mobile apps?  I’m absolutely obsessed whenever there is a mobile app for the game that I’m playing.  It helps me feel like I’m more connected to my character.

Have you done the fashion show micro event in WoW?  It puts you in a room with a few other people and you dress up your character based on a random theme that it selects.  They are usually along the lines of “summer” or “winter” or “faction pride” and you go from there!  The last time I played this event it was the only thing that I wanted to do, to the point where I got every armor set of ever armor type on several different characters.  Why is this game not a mobile app?  Do you know how much more time I would spend on my transmog if this was a feature?

There are tons of other MMOs out there that all they have is cosmetic gear.  I could imagine an app with your character model and being able to try on gear similar to how you can in game.  Am I crazy for think this might be popular?  Would this be hard to do?  I know next to nothing about game design so knock me down if what I’m talking about would be crazy expensive.

Also being able to do WoW pet battled would make that part of the game amazingly fun for me if I could do it on my phone.  When I do them in game currently I’m just reminded of playing pokemon on my green gameboy pocket and being able to do it in bed.  I want to play pet battles from the bathtub!  Yes I know I can play the real pokemon but I love the idea of being able to advance my characters in the MMO that I’m playing while not having to sit at my computer to do it.

Mythic dungeons and why your ilvl is never high enough

As someone who has spent the majority of the past couple years revisiting the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions of WoW I have come to appreciate the group finder tools in game and how far they have come over the life of the game.  Gone are the days where you would type in chat “/who priest” and whisper everyone that came up to come heal your dungeon group.  The current looking for group tool allows you to group for anything you want with it’s highly customization options and categories. I mostly use it for dungeon and world quests but you can find some role playing or transmog or other various farming groups.

We do have quite a large community group and guild currently, but sometimes we still need to pug someone for our dungeon groups.  “Pug” means that you are finding someone that you don’t know to come help your group complete a task and is often viewed as a gamble.  This person could be good or they could be awful, it’s really hard to tell.  There is a ton of information out there about your character and if someone has the patience to do the research they can find out a lot about how you play.  In game there is a quick and dirty way of selecting your hypothetical best option and that is by choosing someone with a high item level.

I’ve seen a lot of people on twitter pointing out that one week into the expansion there is a lot of unreasonable requirements for finding a Mythic dungeon group.  The next level down’s gear is a 325 item level and the mythic is 340.  There are lots of groups out there that will require someone with a 340 item level to just join the group.  “Why would someone with that high of an item level want to run a dungeon with this group?”  The answer is, most of the time that requirement is not met when people sign up to be considered.  As someone who forms a lot of groups and uses the group finder to find players to complete our party,  I will tell you that most of the time we are too impatient to wait.  Now there may be some people that are amendment about finding a super geared player, and they are out there but are they willing to wait for the perfectly geared person?  Probably not.

Applying to join these groups reminds me of a statistic that I heard somewhere surveying men who were applying to jobs.  They would go after jobs that they only met 40% of the criteria in the job description.  Having a more impressive resume (or item level) will definitely help you land that position both in a job or in a dungeon group.  So I urge you, be bold if your endeavors but also keep grinding that gear 😉  When all else fails, make your own group 😀

 

Finding that Work/Life/Gaming balance

As we close out the first full week of the new World of Warcraft expansion I’m feeling accomplished.  I didn’t put in as many hours as some did but felt like I got a respectable amount done.  I played about 14 out of the first 30 hours that the game was out (don’t judge me).  Once we hit level cap, the hubs and I decided to do what all the hard core players were recommending which was to grind out all of the World Quests.  We did that the first night and that was all that we had time for.  Not wanting to spend 5 hours per day doing world quests, the second night we did minimal amount of world quests and began to explore the game.  I spent some time working through some of the story that I hadn’t finished yet, working on my professions, and doing some casual dungeon groups with our new community.  On Saturday, Sunday and Monday night I worked on the Mythic difficulty of the dungeons since those had some of the better gear rewards.  I was on track to complete them all when my high population server started to stutter.  We had a group and had completed one so far and were heading to the next zone when we got an error of “Instance Aborted”  and were sent back to where we came from.  I don’t recall this happening before and it may be the rose colored engineering goggles but I think this may be one of the worst wow expansions launches in recent history.  First we had a 6 hour period the first night where we couldn’t log on and now the server was having problems and preventing me from completing my last two mythic dungeons.  So sad 😦

On top of this being a busy week of exciting new video gaming, I also found myself extremely busy with work.  I’m part of a fairly fresh team and there is a lot that we want to do.  Anytime there is something that we want to do I add it to my list to work on.  Last week I was about to cross off 6 things from my list but ended up adding 10 more.  This is not the way you complete a to do list…There are a lot of technology challenges currently with the way things are set up and it creates a lot of roadblocks to automating tasks.  I’m a macro/automation junkie and I’m having a hard time when I need to manually do a task that will take me several hours if not several days.  On top of these challenges I’ve been slightly distracted at work last week, making sure that I bump my recruitment posts every hour.  I’m definitely not doing that this week since we seem to be in a great position with guild/community recruitment.  We have a general interest meeting next week that will give us a better idea as to number of players that actually want to do the large group content in the game.

The state of my house has been suffering a bit from last week’s video game binge.  We got take out for dinner more than usual, we almost exclusively used paper plates and the clean laundry has been living in a pile on the couch for the past few days.  At least I’ve been keeping on top of dishes, which I cannot neglect or we will soon have an ant problem.  My house is only moderately messy, thanks to my cleaning spree in preparation for the gaming that we planned to do.  Also my two year old need some more outdoor time this next weekend.  We normally go to the pool, but this past weekend it was cold and rainy and I think she got a little cabin fever from too much sitting around.  This weekend ACTIVITIES WILL BE HAD!  I’m making it a point to not be gaming while my daughter is awake during the week.  That few hours that we get to spend together during the day is precious and requires my full attention.