A Treatise on Productive Uses of Time

If you have ever sat down and planned out how to make the most productive use of your time, then congratulations, you are hardcore! This is the defining trait of the hardcore, both in gaming and in real life; the desire to get the most done in the time available. The other defining trait is that they’re willing to rewrite the rules a bit in order to do it. It can mean being just that bit more brutal than everyone else, finding that much extra time over everyone else, or finding ways to beat the system that most people don’t try because they’re either not motivated enough or don’t like the risks.

In games, I really think it is just a different way to play. It doesn’t actually have to mean propping your eyelids open with matchsticks and never leaving the keyboard. It’s the difference between playing, and playing hardcore. And hardcore players will find ways to compete with each other, it’s what they do.

I remember this with Diablo II. I played mostly single player, and I played through the normal level a few times with different characters, I tried a few different builds, and so on. Don’t think I ever made it to the end of nightmare level, but I’d already played through the story so I never saw the point. I have more hardcore friends who only played on Battlenet, who tried to win the levelling ladders, who skipped bits of the story and spent hours rerunning the same boss fights to get the optimal loot drops. Neither of us understood how or why the other person played the way they did. All of us had fun. Key to this is … that we never tried to play together. It would have driven everyone nuts.

So I’m down with hardcore guilds trying to attract hardcore players. The best way to find a good guild is to start by looking for one with people who like to play the same way that you do. I’m not entirely sure how effective the ultra hardcore style is going to be in WAR, and I’m quite glad that being on a RP server, I likely won’t have to fight against guilds who think it’s great fun to keep a 24 hour watch on their keeps. (Even more glad I won’t have to be in one, even the hardcore can’t find that 3-4am shift where nothing ever happens to be any fun. And what do you do if something does happen? You’re still on your own.)

One of the issues for the hardcore in MMOs is that it’s not always obvious from the start how to be most optimally hardcore. I remember seeing hardcore guilds advertising for LOTRO when that came out and puzzling over that. Because it was a game without a raiding endgame. What did they think they were going to do exactly? What I saw then, and what I see now, is people assuming that what makes a hardcore guild in WoW is the same thing that makes a hardcore guild in WAR. And it may turn out that the most productive use of time is not especially to do with keeping 24 hour watches at all. I think it’ll be interesting to see in a few months time which the real hardcore guilds are and how they operate. And how many of the guilds advertising as hardcore now are in that number.

Speaking of uses of time, my WoW subscription lapsed a few weeks ago and since I’d been cooling on the game for awhile, I don’t miss it. But I thought these last couple of weeks would be a good time to try some free trials. The interesting thing about free trials is that you tend to play them as single player games. Partly because you’re not committed enough to bother finding a guild and partly also because some of them restrict communication from trial accounts to thwart gold sellers. Anyhow:

EVE: I’ve always been fascinated by this game. It’s like Elite if you never had to actually fly your ship (which was actually the fun part but never mind). And it’s huge. Space is big, really really big. I love it! I just don’t love it enough to play past the end of the trial.

I probably would be more inclined to try it if I had friends who played, because it feels large and expansive and like a breath of fresh air compared to the ‘on rails’ experiences of a lot of the other MMOs. And I love messing with in game economies. The flipside is, you spend a lot of time sitting around being bored. I was playing with my DS while I waited for the autopilot. Yahtzee has a few comments to make on EVE this week as well.

D&D Online: I was at GenCon UK last weekend and picked up the free 10 day trial of DDO from Codemasters. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it but it looks OK. I liked the little tutorial dungeon where the GM talks to you. I love the levers and barrels too, it had a very D&D feel so I can’t fault it there. My big (and illogical) issue is — I’d rather be playing 4th Ed. I’m sure it’s a perfectly adequate game, but I just got bored with WoW which is more than adequate. I’m not seeing anything from DDO that pulls me in.

Archlord: From GenCon also. I couldn’t play this for any length of time. I hated the look (I dislike fanservice anime girls quite a lot), I didn’t see anything interesting, and I hate the idea of a game where you pay real money to get keys to unlock chests. Truly, if I am paying real money I want to know what I’m buying. If I want to pay for a random chance at a reward I’ll play the lottery.

Beware ye, the barrels of Altdorf!

Wotcha everyone,

Remember Diablo? I never got hugely into it, as it was more of a beer and popcorn sort of game for me, but I did play a bit. And one of the fun things I found was the joy of barrel recognition.

Yes, those lovely barrels. You hit them, and stuff happened. Some were Barrels of Boom! which exploded. Some were Barrels of Trez, which poured forth a lovely pile of trez for you to pick up. But if you were lucky, you got the best of all. The Barrel of Trez and XP. You hit it, and a skeleton fell out and attacked you! Brilliant! You got a bit of xp for killing him, and he dropped cash as well. It was the best of all worlds. I do believe that the Barrel of Trez and XP is the one thing I miss from Diablo. All games should have them…

So, here I am. It’s Closed Beta, and I’m level 11. Feeling on top of the world, I can tell you. I decide I’m going to Altdorf, to have a looky, and see what the place is like.

And promptly felt like a tourist. Boy, did the place look good. I’ve been impressed by three online cities. Mos Eisley in Star Wars Galaxies, Undercity in World of Warcraft, and Altdorf. All three made my jaw drop, and just want to run around the place exploring. So I did, generally gibbering at the loveliness of it all.

But then, what do I espy? It is a barrel, and it’s shaking… Hmm. So, I take a moment to ponder the chances of a barrel getting a bad dose of the shakes., and suddenly I realise what must be happening! It is a Barrel of Trez and XP!

With my trusty hammer, I prepare myself for combat, and utter a quick prayer to Sigmar.

Umm. No. I just wellied in there, looking for my skeleton with a pocketful of loose change.

And got a skaven. Which promptly introduced me to my own lower intestines. Little sneak was level 20…

There is a now a new type of barrel. The Barrel of Painy Hubris. Thanks, Mythic.



Diablo III

The story of the week is Blizzard’s announcement of Diablo III, and we’re both very excited. And it won’t be a MMORPG but instead, like the last one, a standalone game that can also be played with friends via a LAN or over battlenet.

Over at Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog, Keen geeks out over Diablo more eloquently than I could. I agree that we’ll hopefully see it for next Christmas, and probably not much before that.

We were discussing our memories of Diablo II in my WoW guild and one of my friends waxed nostalgic about playing D2 on her wedding day, in her wedding dress, as she waited for her parents and the rest of the bridal party to arrive.

Anyone have any good memories of Diablo? Has it really been 8 years already?

More stuff to read

Amusing little article on Fidgit.com lists 10 possible announcements Blizzard could be making at Paris GDC. If you wanted to get your Diablo 2 fix in advance of a possible D3 announcement, there’s a new patch as of last week so you can play without the CD.

Dreamy Gamer posts some videos of Paul Barnett talking about how to get into the games industry (from Youtube).

Kieron Gillen over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun publishes the first in a series of articles based on a meeting/chat with Paul Barnett. This first one covers games journalism – we look forward to the rest of the series.

The Gonzo Scientist describes a scientific conference held in World of Warcraft.

IGN has posted a new video interview on their site.

The Greenskin and Waaagh Insider comment on the Byron Report, UK games ratings and whether it might impact the UK shipping date for Warhammer Online. We hope not. And not only do EA claim it will affect dates, Microsoft whine that it’ll cause price increases. nb. industry is good at whining.

Warhammer Alliance publishes a list of emotes in Warhammer Online, compiled by community member Satarko.

TenTonHammer has a really interesting piece about prospering in PvP, with tips to help PvE’ers prepare for the launch of the game. We might not agree with all of them, but there’s some good stuff in there.

Apparently gamers will buy anything if it’s hyped enough. A fake games marketing team tried to sell made-up games and people were keen. Someone probably started a blog about one of them already!

A frankly disturbing (but amusing!) introduction to the recent US primary season, phrased in the vocabulary of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War. Ah.. now we understand all.

And lastly, we haven’t had any Spore creatures for awhile. Check out this viking ship with oarsmen.