FFXI or WOW, really can't decide!

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It's been a while since I posted on here, and since in that time I've done quite a bit of changes.  Several months back I went back to World of Warcraft after a long break and made yet another realm change to Thunderhorn.  This is I swear the very last move I'll ever make, and with the cross-realm whatchamacallit it's not like I'm out of things to do.  MOP zones are pretty active so it's not like it's dead, but there's something about WOW that's making me feel... ugh.  Yeah, that's the word, ugh.

I'm not sure what it is that's making me feel so drained.  Maybe it's the endgame and that it feels like there's nothing new because I've done it all before in LFR?  Maybe I'm feeling drained because some of the raids (especially the Throne of Thunder ones) are so "busy" that I'm having all my energy sapped out of me doing them?  Maybe I'm just getting bored of doing the same dailys and there's so damned many of them?  Maybe it's that getting to 90 is such a long drag that I'm groaning near the end of the day and praying "oh dear god please let it be over!"?  Or maybe it's all of that?

I'm concerned about me feeling this exhausted, and in turn it's making me turn to other games - including old ones.  So far I've tried Simcity 2013 and that was entertaining for a short while, but it's let down by so many bugs, a bad AI, and a very limited space in which to expand into a city.  I tried going to back to Grand Fantasia for a while, a game that I kind of enjoyed for an FTP RPG, but like most if not all FTP games it's full of young players who immediately assume "ur cute" because your avatar looks like a Japanese anime cheerleader with her nickers flashing under her belt-sized miniskirt.

And then last night I reactivated all my FFXI accounts.  I have to admit I missed that game, and I wanted to see what the new expansion was like.  I was surprised friends of mine were still playing that game.  I've not played much of it, but considering how many online accounts I got running at the moment I realised I wasn't going to be able to afford all of them at once.  I thought perhaps I could get away with it if I transferred one of the characters from the account that had only 1 high level on it to another.  Unfortunately due to the way FFXI is coded it's technically impossible to do a character transfer from one account to another, even if I own all of them.  Looks like I'm going to have to go back to basics and make a new character to replace it, ugh.

I need something new, and I'm hoping that FFXIV will sate that desire when it's released on open beta.  There's been whispers of good changes here and there and that SE is doing a complete overhaul of the engine that will address a lot of the issues and stuff that didn't go down well in the first release.  I'm quite anxious to see what's in store for the MMO RPG community because so far we haven't had a decent new MMO RPG in a while.

Bye Bye Laggramar, Hello Twisting Netherlands!

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I realised that Laggramar (Aggramar) realm on WoW wasn't gonna get any better - guilds barely having enough members to do regular raiding, pugs always doing below average performances and breaking up after the first wipe, and people just **** that the realm itself sucked badly. It was time for a move.

So I dug up a few realm census reports and after a bit of investigation found a realm with a good horde population (since I'm a horde), good ratings, and was one of the top 10 best EU realms. This was Twisting Nether. Now I'm not particularly fond of pvp which is why I went for a realm with a higher horde population, but I've been on Magtheridon realm once and to be perfectly honest you could write a 10-inch thick encyclopedia on reasons why not to roll on Magtheridon.

So far my view of the realm and battlegroup is that it's pretty good. Nearly everyone is doing heroic mode raids, which is a bit of a problem if you've never cleared non-heroic before. I have noticed though a lot of people just dropping out every other fight with no reason, and if you're farming triumph emblems they can get rather impatient with you in only wanting the last boss for the frost emblems.

I've only been on this realm a week but my impression is that I've made the right choice for once. I'm also in a guild that's progressing through 25 man ICC which I'm happy with, but with my network currently playing up this is the worst time it could do this while I'm on trial period with them. I'm hoping that my failing network card will not jeopardise my chances of becoming a full time member.

My Sim Avatar

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Yes... I am sad enough to own a copy of The Sims 3. It wasn't my idea, my husband bought it for some reason. Maybe it's the child in me but sometimes I have this desire to play with my virtual dolls every so often, and this morning I decided to take it to a new level and create a sim copy of myself. Took about an hour of copying facial features from Photo Booth and applying them to my new character, but finally I succeeded in making a sim avatar... and it looks dreadful. I really look like that in real life? I look like a fat old woman. I guess that's the downfall to eating too much junk food and too little exercise while on the computer. So I did a little playing around to see what I'd look like if I was thinner. Oh dear, now I look like a thin old woman. Maybe a different hairstyle... great, now I look like a school teacher! What if I applied that hairstyle to my current weight I wonder... hey, actually not too bad, I look less like a fat slob. Maybe I'll go get my hair done like that, I'll probably feel a lot better in myself. I'd feel better if I was half the weight I am now but that's something that can't be done in a day so I'm gonna have to make do with a new haircut. It's been ages since I had my hair done by a proper hairdresser so I guess I'm overdue. Great, now the sims is getting me to wanting to have my hair cut! I hope it doesn't get me to wanting to put on makeup and buying shoes, else I'd have to lose my alias as geekgirl101 and start calling myself fatblonde101.

Final Funtasy

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I was quite surprised to hear that last year SE announced a sequel to their online RPG Final Fantasy XI. Sure as hell I checked out their site and there it was, Final Fantasy XIV. From the graphics it's basically FFXI with different scenery, they still have the same old races but with different names to them. Nothing beats recycling garbage, huh? A few years back I was an FFXI player and had a high level character and doing endgame activities. Unlike WoW the levelling system and endgame is more competitive as you fight against others to claim monsters. While in WoW you have the choice of doing things on your own or with others to level up or earn xp from grinding instances, FFXI limits you after the first few starter levels to doing things with a group. In order to earn xp successfully you need to have a tank, a healer, someone capable of refreshing your healers' mana, and 3 dps. Earning the xp was much slower too, it could take several minutes to down a single monster for a mediocre amount of xp, and the world bosses at endgame could take hours to kill. Endgame was mostly camping a boss out which had a 21-24 hour spawn window. If you didn't know when it was due up you'd station someone willing to sit and wait, announce to your linkshell to come and get it when it appeared or note down its time of death for the next day to go out and camp it out. Often you'd be competing against other linkshells and even real money traders who would camp it out, and you'd find especially with the rmt's they'd use warp hacks and bots to warp to and claim the boss first. Some other special world bosses had 3 day respawn windows and required a large alliance of players to defeat it, and the more common ones would take approximately an hour to reappear and would require spawning by killing placeholders. The more common ones were always camped out by rmt's which caused much frustration amongst legit players. Other endgame activities included Dynamis which was a weekly instance and required a huge alliance of players. To enter it one player would have to purchase a highly expensive hourglass and then divide the hourglass between all the players so they could enter the instance. Dynamis was a phased part of the zone you were in and littered with monsters which would link in large packs, requiring several tanks to take them on and mages using crowd control on the ones that were not currently being attacked. There were also bosses which were spawned by defeating certain packs of mobs and everything had a chance to drop class-specific gear. There were also other instanced areas for differing levels known as Burning Circles. These were level-capped instances and depending on the level and choice of burning circle were either soloable or required a party. Because they were level capped they would de-level you temporarily, requiring you to have a full gear set for that level or else you'd go in naked. In order to enter the burning circles you needed a certain number of rare coins that were obtained when killing mobs that gave experience points. Usually these burning circles only had 1 boss in it and all you had to do was enter the instance, grab the boss and kill it. The only thing in your way was the route to the burning circle which could take hours to reach it and would require fighting through hostile mobs to reach the safe zone. If you failed to kill the boss in the instance then you lost all the coins it cost you to enter and you are not refunded them, and if you managed to kill the boss then you'd be given a bunch of rewards to split between your group which could range from being total rubbish to being highly valuable. A similar instance to the burning circle was the Summoner instances. These took a few days to reset before you could enter again. Summoner instances were originally to help summoners get their newest avatars, but were later being farmed out for gold. As with the burning circle instances you'd have to travel through hostile terrain to get to them. Sky and Sea zones were new places for higher level players to level in when the level cap was increased. These offered a new world of mobs, especially Sea, but required doing specific missions in order to enter them. I did not get to do a great deal in Sea as at that point my linkshell had disbanded and nobody else was recruiting, but I did get to experience a lot in Sky. The endgame had changed from camping a boss to camping a named mob that would drop an item which when used with other items would spawn one of 4 bosses that required an alliance to kill it. Each of these 4 bosses would drop a specific item and could be respawned as many times as you had items to spawn it. The 4 items obtained from the 4 bosses would be used to spawn an even more difficult boss inside the heart of Sky called Kirin. Although there was quite a vast amount to do at endgame the fact is that to do anything in the game you needed to do it with others and it took too long. If you weren't in a linkshell you couldn't do anything and would have to try your luck with shouting in the major cities for anyone needing an extra person for their alliance. There was also the frustration of competition and waiting around staring at a screen for hours for a mob to spawn. There was very little you could do on your own, most classes found soloing anything that was easy prey was too difficult and took too long to do. If a zone was camped out by players monopolising all the mobs in it to level on then you'd have to go elsewhere to a point you wouldn't be able to level up because everything was overcamped. Death penalties were also rather nasty, throwing you back to your save point if you don't get resurrected and taking off a portion of your earned experience points to the point you could get delevelled and even going naked if the gear you was wearing is now higher level than you as a result of losing your level. Being resurrected would reimburse some of your level but if you are not in a party with someone capable of resurrecting you then you're at the mercy of some kind stranger resurrecting you or having to choke the penalty and release to your save point. Since their last expansion I've heard rumours that a lot of things have changed, including the levelling system where you can enter a lower level zone and be temporarily delevelled in order to earn experience points as if you were that level, and the gear you are wearing will also have its stats reduced to match that level so that you don't have to carry different sets and risk going part-naked. A lot of the common world bosses had their drops changed to be bound when picked up and the bound when equipped counterparts were made as rewards from the burning circles. This was to stop the common world bosses from being overcamped by rmt's and people who were just purely farming them for gold. I haven't played FFXI since 4 or 5 years ago. I've thought about trying it again to see what changes have taken place since I last played it, but aside the fact there's the typical monthly fee aswell as the purchase of a new game and expansion packs there's also the dreaded thought of the amount of time it takes to download and install all the latest patches.

Avatard

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I gave Avatar another try today. Controls still seem a little clumsy and some of the default hotkeys are just horrid that I had to change some of them. Beyond the first zone the graphics are much improved with more lush scenery. I finally found the quest helper! I must've missed it first time round, it wasn't completely obvious at first that pressing the TAB key brought up a map that showed marked areas on where to go. I'm not used to the idea of using a mouse to rotate the screen either. I like to mouse over icons to get a tooltip to tell me what the icon is about and if I want to rotate the screen then right-click and drag the screen around. Maybe I'll play some more of it tonight, or tomorrow...

World of Borecraft

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Had I played classic WoW longer than I did I might've gotten to appreciate how much harder it was to get some of the best gear in the game. I can recall getting excited on my first blue item from Zul'Gurub. I had started playing just shortly before TBC was released, so by the time I hit 60 TBC was just days away from release and nobody was interested in raiding the classic raid dungeons, saying that it wasn't worth the hassle as the green items from TBC were far superior than the hard to get classic epics. True, even now when I do the classic quests and raids I find it's basically a lengthy grind obtaining enough reputation, tokens, and the drops themselves to get the classic epics. TBC introduced 2 new races and many changes to all the classes. I decided to try out paladin tanking as a blood elf and came to love the job. In its early days it was more tougher, threat was based on the amount of holy damage you were doing that you had to balance your gear out to cap your defense and avoidance, have a comfortable health pool, and enough spell damage to keep threat on multiple targets using consecration vs the high aoe dps classes such as balance druids, warlocks and frost mages. Warlocks were massive threat generators and if they did not have blessing of salvation they would drop faster than a lead weight. Epic gear was also much easier to obtain this time round. Blizzard had introduced a daily heroic mode for all the new instances where players could obtain emblems to purchase reasonable epic gear and the final bosses themselves also dropped some reasonable epic items. The best gear was from the raid dungeons including the tier gear which this time only required you to get the token and exchange it for your new tier epic. Many daily quests were added for level 70 players for gold and reputation farming. Gold was becoming much easier to obtain and prices began to slowly soar. Class mechanics had also changed. Paladins no longer needed to focus on spell power for threat and could now wear armour which was previously strictly warrior only. The amount of threat done by paladin spells was also increased that warlocks no longer needed to worry about getting threat from their magic even without blessing of salvation, which was renamed to hand of salvation and only reduced threat generated over time for a few seconds and had a 5 min cooldown. Warlock spell damage was dropped heavily to balance them out with the other dps classes which upset a lot of warlocks who had been monopolising the dps meters as the highest damage dealers. Blizzard opened doors to newer instances and raid dungeons to allow players to get better items so that they had an advantage to joining guilds that were doing high-end instances and were looking for players with high tier or equivalent armor. Although it felt there was too much epic gear to be had Blizzard didn't go too overboard and it took a fair amount of grinding for emblems and before people knew it Blizzard was already announcing its newest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. The new expansion was more in par with the classic WoW in terms of lore, unlike TBC which had a more sci-fi approach of being in another world with floating debris and alien technology. The new gear items were not overpowered as in TBC which meant that level 70 epics could still outdo blue items all the way up to level 77. Dungeon instances were much smaller to appeal to players who did not have much time to spend inside dungeons. One of the newest additions to the game was the achievement system which could range from anything from hugging every critter in the game to having obtained exclusively rare feats such as world-first accomplishments. There was also the introduction of a new class called the Death Knight which, providing you had a level 55 character already, you could create a level 55 death knight character. Originally you could only create a death knight on the same realm as your level 55 character, but Blizzard later dropped the restriction to allow you to create death knights on any realm providing you had a level 55 character in existance somewhere. Like in TBC Blizzard had heroic instances and emblems to offer epics to players, and there was a fair amount of crafted epics at endgame. There was also a hard-mode style added to all the raids which tested your metal and could offer additional drops from the bosses. What was more surprising was that now you were not restricted to raids for your tier tokens but you could now buy some of them from the emblem vendors, and there was the pvp raid instance Vault of Archavon with a boss that could drop either epic tier or epic pvp items. It seemed like Blizzard had made the expansion a little too easy as the instances were quickly completed and the epics did not require as many emblems as they did in TBC. Also there was new daily quests with far more to offer to all levels depending on whether you did completed certain questlines to unlock them and profession-based daily quests. In classic and TBC most recipes were bought from vendors scattered around the world, this time you bought them from a single vendor using a special recipe token which was obtained from doing the profession daily quests. WotLK also featured phased zones from completing certain quests. However there were some issues with the phased zones which would only become more noticeable in a later patch, the most common amongst players who have gathering professions who would have a gathering point they found being ninja'd by an invisible player. Blizzard changed mining nodes so that you only needed to mine them once to get all the loot from it to help solve this problem. A few months went by and a new boss was added into VoA and the emblem system had been replaced by a new emblem system and vendors were now also offering the next tier and equivalent epics. Rumours of a new patch were already on the way and it wasn't long before Blizzard finally released the next patch which introduced 2 new raid instances Icecrown Citadel and Trial of the Champions, 4 new instances, 2 more bosses in VoA, and 4 new tier epics. The emblem system had been altered once again, newer tier epics were available to the vendors, new recipes were added for crafters, a new LFG system was added for cross-realm instance parties, satchel rewards were available to players who joined an instance via random LFG and defeated the final bosses which gave a blue reward at lower levels with a random enchant and were superior to the majority of blue dropped items or emblems to players who were level 70 or above. Heroic instances could now be done over and over via the random LFG which made emblem grinding far more faster. Basically the game had deteriorated into an endless gear grind of redoing the same instances over and over again to get emblems to buy the newest tier gear and each expansion seemed to make getting gear easier and easier. Blizzard had also made lower level instancing much easier and not require the use of crowd control or player control so players were levelling up much faster and not getting to utilise all their abilities. You might aswell stick one aoe spell on the action bar and spam that for 80 levels because that is pretty much what it's broken down to. World of Warcraft had rapidly changed to what used to be a fun and challenging game that required strategy and teamwork to a mindless and effortless grind of who has the better epics. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the latest patches and expansions have ruined the game on a large scale in order to appeal to the lesser intelligent species of the human race who are too lazy or too stupid to work things out for themselves that they have to have a big fat yellow ? on the map to show them where to go to complete a quest.

Grand Failtasia

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A few weeks ago I got so bored of my 4-year playing WoW and its latest bomb being patch 3 which has resulted in level 80 noobs in epic gear lagging out the endgame zones that I started trying out some other MMORPGs to see if I could find anything that had the same look 'n' feel and gaming appeal as WoW. At first I thought I got lucky first time, a game by Aeria Games called Grand Fantasia. It had nice graphics that were almost similar to WoW if not a bit more anime, a decent combat system, and lots of quests and achievements to keep one happy. There was also dungeons similar to WoW which rather than earning xp in them you farmed them for loot. The levelling system was really nice too, very quick and easy to solo grind and at higher levels you could even do repeatable group quests either by yourself or with others to speed things up. Although there was a tonne of gold spamming, you could only choose a human character, everyone ended up dressing the same, and no matter what zone you started in you'd get the exact same rewards for the quests, I could've coped with it along with its slightly clumsy collision detection which meant even a pebble could block your path and you couldn't jump over obstacles or off ledges. But what made this game even more interesting was the sprite system. This has to be one of the unique aspects of this game, instead of going out and mining and gathering materials yourself to craft items you'd have pet sprites that would go and do it for you so you could continue levelling and questing without having to take breaks to skill up your crafts. Unfortunately the sprite system and anything to do with crafting such as alchemy and fortifications has one major downfall to it - the excessively high failure rate. Even buying items through the Aeria item mail that are supposed to help with things like success rates have proven to have very little effect if any and can lead to much frustration and wasted time, effort, and money. It also costs you gold to send your sprites out gathering materials aswell as crafting the items for you, and there's high chances they can come back empty handed with a sulk on their face or that they will not only fail crafting an item for you but lose every material it took to try and make it. The repair system is also a bit of a confusing one, especially if you're used to constantly repairing items like you do in WoW. Armor and Weapons in Grand Fantasia have 3 numbers - the current durability, the max durability, and the absolute max durability. All items will start out with the same number as the absolute max durability, and over time of use, dying, or when trying to fortify items and failing the current durability will drop until it hits 0 and the item is unusable. The player must then get it repaired and this may lower the max durability. Eventually after several repairs you could end up with an item where both current and max durability are 0 and the only way to fully restore it is by either buying a blacksmith hammer from the item mail with real money or by spending tonnes of gold at the auctions to buy one from someone else and this will restore the items' current and max durability to the absolute max durability. Another niggly issue is the penalty for dying. In the dungeons you don't lose durability if you are resurrected, but elsewhere you lose 10% of your durability on all worn items plus 10% of your experience points, aswell as being thrown back to your save point. If you have special items bought from the item mail your durability and experience points can be part refunded to you, but you can only use them once and you can end up spending a fortune on them if you are a bad player. One other aspect of this game that can be both good and bad is the respawn rate of mobs. Ordinary mobs seem to have a respawn time of less than a minute, and if your character is exhausted and needing to rest you don't have a great deal of time before a mob spawns up behind you and knocks you to your feet or flat on the ground dead. However the respawn rate is great for level grinding and farming. Now I don't mind a fact that a gaming company that is giving away a free game needs a means to pay off their employees and use of bandwidth, but I think it would benefit a gaming company more if the items they sold actually made a real impact that players would buy them more often. However workers for Aeria stated that they wanted certain items to be rare and not have everyone wearing the best armor and weapons they can get their hands on like in WoW which is why they need a high failure rate on crafts and why item mail items that are supposed to boost the chances of success only offer an "up to" % of success rather than an actual % of success. Because of this a lot of players have given up, stating that the game is not fun and is full of too much grind and frustration and little accomplishment after watching a sprite come back hours later after only gathering a handful of raw materials cry that he failed at making a common item and lost all the materials and then throws a tantrum that he was left unhappy for too long that he runs away for half an hour.

James Cameron's Avatar

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I went to the Gadget Show Live weekend and bought a Nvidea 3D bundle with a FuHzion 120hz monitor and a digital copy of Avatar. Although it took a few days to get my activation key from Gamespot's affiliation with nzone (the guys who provided the digital copy promotion coupon) I finally got to install the game. My first impressions of it were a crappy start. The game did not detect my own settings that I had to set them up myself in 2D. Finally I got to watch the 3D cutscenes before I could play my character. Controls are nightmarish and the graphics are dreadful. It's like a cut n paste job with low-res jpgs. I noticed a little "spot the ?" quest helper on the minimap, an obvious snitch from World of Warcraft. :D But no quest log to recall what mission I'm on. I just can't get a hang of this control system, I'm too used to seeing the back of a character in the middle of the screen and being able to zoom in and out with my mouse, not the static position of a character at the side of the screen. Feels sluggish controlling with the mouse. Maybe I need to change the settings.