Targeting personalities for games - The psychology of gaming

As I sit here today enjoying my muffin and coffee, I drifted into a set of ponderings as I often do (I mean come on…my blog is named work avoidance strategies). Some relevant, some not. As I sat there and random ideas, questions, and general day-dreams went through my head, I started wondering…is gaming to the point of BIG BUSINESS. I don’t mean to compare it to say Big Oil or anything of that matter, but has gaming got to the point where they use the psychological traits of person to MAKE them want to play?

I guess my line of thinking was this. Coca Cola, Mc Donalds, Car Manufacturers and other such companies have, for years, used things in their commercials and in their marketing to “suck in” people with certain personality traits. They use psychology to pre-determine the type of person most likely to make that “impulse buy” or go for that one extra. My question is “Are gaming companies doing something similar.” Especially in the MMO genre, you hear again and again of “getting hooked” or comparing gaming to addiction. People give the games nicknames of “World of Warcrack” and “Evercrack”; comparing the game to an addictive drug. You hear of marriages being broken up and friendships being lost over a game. There is the whole other line of discussion concerning self-control but lets pass over that for now and touch on it later. The root of my discussion here is “are these companies using psychological and personality traits to get people ‘hooked’?”

I go back to several articles I have read (I will link them shortly if I can find them again) of game companies using psychologists to best determine what will hook that “hardcore” player. What will keep bringing the back again and again? Whether it is MMO’s, console games, or even hand-held games, there will always be the person who goes overboard; the person who takes it to extremes, but are these companies intentionally targeting these type of people? Are they purposely bringing them to get hooked and keep coming back for more?

What do you think?
NewBreed

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Not close enough…I am standing in the freaking mob!!! - Thanny

The title above is the gist of a quote from my kinship founder Thanny concerning this topic

While so far I am loving LotRO, the lore, envelopment, and environment in general, there has been one little thing that bugs the day lights out of me. It is the Fellowship Maneuver. The Bread and Butter of the burglar class. Our defining characteristic. While I love the concept and love the maneuvers as a whole, I have one problem with them. It is the distance at which someone has to be to participate in one. It seems as though it is just a little bit too short. For someone to participate in a FM that I initiate, they almost have to be within melee distance of the mob to use any of the 4 options. While this sounds appropriate for both the Yellow (DoT) and Red (direct damage) options (for all but hunters who can do a ranged version of each attack), it is silly for the green and blue to require this. My main point being similar to this example below.

Example:

Group: 1 Guardian, 1 Hunter, 1 Champion, 2 Minstrels, 1 Burglar

Tank pulls big mob (boss, nemesis, etc).

Fellowship proceeds to attack normally.

Fight goes on for longer than 30 seconds…Burglar initiates fellowship maneuver to top off power/heal guardian and do a bit of a DoT.

Colors are as follows
Burglar Blue
Champion Yellow
Guardian Green
Minstrel Blue
Minstrel Blue
Hunter Yellow

While the hunter and Minstrels are at max distance to heal and do damage, they must move inward in order to accomplish the maneuver. In this case all goes well and the maneuver goes off. Well what happens if it was one of the “straight maneuvers” which requires all of the colors to go off in a certain order.

Colors are as follows

Burglar Yellow
Champion Red
Minstrel Blue
Guardian Green
Minstrel Blue
Hunter Yellow

If I remember properly this starts March of the Ents(which applies a large dot, does quite a bit of direct damage, and does a heal/power regen), it could be another one, don’t have access to LotRO-wiki right now. Now if any one of those players is not within range or does not assist the FM target it fails to do the extra damage and heal/power the group. This happens A LOT more than it should and not due to lack of coordination. While much of the time my kinship and I can pull these maneuvers off, much of the time it glitches and tells someone they are not facing the mobs or are too far away when they are standing within the mob. I can see this being a problem once the raiding scene comes about. Burglars complain of it constantly on the “official forums.” I am hoping Turbine does something to fix this in the big patch in June.

NewBreed - Pokepoke

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The LotRO Chronicles - A fun weekend - May 29, 2007

Well, its been a long week and weekend for Pokepoke and I. I spent a good part of this week and weekend packing for my move to Indiana, but did manage to get some LotRO time.

Pokepoke is nearing one of his major milestones…level 35. This is the level that you can buy a horse or pony in Pokepoke’s case. I have been doing a lot more quests in the North Downs areas. Pokepoke had many traveling companions this weekend which helped him blow out many of the quests. From the brave Minstel Colector helping him kill the big cows (aurochs) to the help of what seemed like the whole kinship to kill the Drake Matron and Hillmen Plague-bearer (Thanks Thanny, Kaco, Gerty, Agent, and Airone). Thanks again to everyone that helped this weekend.

Approaching this milestone I only have one concern…GOLD!!! I need it for the horse. Horses in this game run 4 gold and 500 silver. As you can see 1000 silver equals 1 gold this makes it a much longer time to farm the 4,500 silver. I plan on farming goblins for my Emnity of Goblins II which allows for a “feign death” type ability which wipes aggro. I think this will be useful as burglar because due to the “spike damage” caused by crit chains it becomes more difficult to manage aggro. It should be interesting and hopefully profitable.

Hitting level 34 last night gave me access to a new ability which essentially transfers all of my current attacks to the aggro of the mobs current target. This is VERY USEFUL in group situations which tend to be high on aggro (think a group of healers and hunters with 1 tank). It essentially doubles the aggro for a tank as long as it is used when the mob has the tank targeted.

Overall, it was just a nice relaxing long weekend and had some chance to get some LotRO in. Something I needed after long hours of packing on Saturday.


NewBreed

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Why TBC Killed End-Game WoW for Me and a Plea to Blizzard

Why TBC Killed End-Game WoW for Me and a Plea to Blizzard

THIS IS A VERY LONG POST. Just a warning.

So as I sit here today, pondering the many things I ponder (most completely useless), I started thinking about why I quit WoW. Why I put down the addiction. In the end I came to this conclusion. It had very little to do with my own will power. It had nothing to do with me wanting to play another game or do other things. Heck, I think I would probably raiding tonight on WoW had I not made the decision to stop playing.

What caused this epiphany you ask? The Burning Crusade. TBC killed WoW for me. Now remember I played TBC since beta. The game I thought would be the cure-all for WoW, in the end, killed it. I leveled my druid with my newly vamped feral talents. I went through Zangarmarsh, Terrokar, Nagrand. I adventured in instances such as Coilfang Reservoir, Hellfire Citadel, Shadow Labyrinth and Arcatraz. I did the grinding necessary for the reputation for my all 5 of my heroic keys, my Karazhan attunement, and everything in between. I took the hardcore raiders view and did all of this as fast as I possibly could.

I went through Karazhan on several full runs through Prince and Nightbane. I went into Gruul’s lair and saw him and King Mulgar (and his minions) die. I even did ALL of the heroic instances. In the end, none of it was as satisfying as the evenings I spent in MC, BWL, or any other instance back in WoW 1.0 with my friends. Why NewBreed? Why? Do you ask?

In my mind with any MMO as with other things, there is a concept known as risk versus reward. For me it was, time versus reward. How much time and effort would be necessary to raid on a 3-4 night schedule.

In WoW 1.0 (pre-Naxx), even if you were in a guild that was on bleeding edge content, the reward generally outweighed the risk or time commitment. You either got that next pretty piece of gear or you got that final bit of reputation you were trying to get for that ‘oh so necessary or you are a complete newb’ head enchant. You spent some time farming gold for repairs and consumables. You spent sometime preparing for the raid. In an average week when I raided hardcore, I figure I spent a total of 100-150g for repairs and consumables. For that I spent probably 8 hours raiding and 2-3 hours preparing to raid for the week. This is over a whole week. So 11 hours total plus any other gaming time I spent on PvPing or just goofing off and running basic 5 mans.

Now with TBC, that time was tripled and in some cases quadrupled. Though WoW was approaching this already for me due to the fact I lead a guild, TBC became a second job for me. Between trying to farm for the hour I had before our raid schedule, trying to be available through my busy personal life to raid for my guild, or always being available to provide enchants to my guildmates, it seemed as though I was spending close to 50-60 hours a week…playing a game. It was this level dedication that was required to be successful in a raiding guild. This was required to see ANY reward. Not just some reward, but to see anything.

The Burning Crusade has been tailored to the Raiding Elite. It is for the .1% of players that will ever see the inside of the Black Temple. I was in that .1% for awhile, but it is simply not worth the time, the effort, or the personal strain it puts on a person just for side-graded gear (pre-2.1) and no other rewards other than a possible EXTREMELY rare enchant drop(i.e. Mongoose/Spellsurge).

I think back to the days of MC and BWL (what I consider my most enjoyable days in WoW); when raiding could be done on a more flexible schedule and by a group of 25 people who carried the raid but took along 15 other people because it was fun. When Blizzard put innovation into their fights. Where the fights were more than running a merry-go-round to avoid a blizzard or not stepping out of a glowing spot as to not just hurt the raid (Think Geddon in MC) but wipe the raid (Shade of Aran). Blizzard’s current methodology of simply making fights insanely hard as opposed to putting innovation into that they had in the past drove me away. The fact that WoW no long has a casual raiding side drove me away. The fact that staged fights are simply Phase 1: Hard , Phase 2: Insane mode (i.e. Gruul and Magtherion) drove me away. Even the fights in UBRS, Scholo, and DM had more thought into them than the fights in TBC. The fact that now if a person drops connection, doesn’t perform 1 task perfectly, or goes AFK, it wipes the raid. It doesn’t just hurt them, but WIPES them. This is not game design that I wish to participate in.

I loved playing WoW. I loved the world, the atmosphere, the raiding, and the adventures had there in. I loved every single fight in Molten Core even when doing it for the 25th time. BWL is the epitome of instance design in my view with every fight being very different yet falling into that general theme of dragons and colors. ZG and AQ20, once tuned down, was an enjoyable experience that almost anyone could get into. I loved Onyxia, Kazzak, Azergos, and the Green Dragons. I even loved the higher 40mans though I did not run them until shortly before TBC.

What I do not love is having to make a game into another job. If I wanted that, I would do something that pays well. I don’t feel like dropping my 15 dollars a month to have to feel compelled to come home just so my raid group can complete KZ (remember I have a very addictive personality). TBC killed WoW because it did very little to cater to the 99.9% of its player base…Casual’s. People who do not raid every night, but could fill that spot if need. People who enjoyed the game JUST AS MUCH, if not MORE than their hardcore counterparts. People who could be just as devoted the guild as someone who spent 60 hours a week in game, but maybe had a kid they needed to take care of or a job that sometimes ran over during the weekend. TBC catered to .1% of people who consider themselves hardcore. People willing to put in those 60-70 hours a week. People who would stay up until 4am for a raid and be at work the next day at 7 or 8 (can’t tell you the number of times I have done this). TBC took away that casual raiding atmosphere and replaced it with the “if you can’t get the proper gear or consumables don’t step foot into my instance” methodology. Where bosses hit for 10k damage. Where 1 mistake and one or a few people wipe an entire raid (3 people next to the tank when Gruul goes boom = bad).

I shall finish my rant with this. I am a tried and true Blizzard fan. I have always loved their games, but to the developers of WoW I give this plea.

YOU MUST LOOK AT YOUR PLAYERBASE!

You will always have your raiders, it is their mindset and determination that make them raiders, not necessarily the content. What you may not always have are the other couple million subscribers who don’t necessarily want to raid. They may want to craft or PvP or run some new alts through new lower level content. You might have former raiders who want to experience some of that old content at level 70 (BWL in my opinion is still THE BEST instance ever designed). You also have that new generation of WoWers who are picking up the game for the first time. Don’t push them away with this design. Don’t kill the fun of the end-game by making it simply “Raid-centric.”

It needs to be an all encompassing design. It must be something that has content there for every type of person from the hardest hardcore raider to the guy who picks up the game twice a week for an hour or two because in the end it’s the same thing for both players…fifteen dollars a month. They both pay the same, why should they not be treated the same. Patch 2.1 does not solve this.

I have seen much of what WoW has to offer. I have stated my mind. I have shown my opinions. Now it is up to Blizzard to finally listen to their playerbase again; to develop content for every type of player. When will I play WoW again? I don’t know. Maybe with the next expansion, maybe never.

Until I post again, happy adventures in whatever you decide to play,

NewBreed

Shoutouts: Thanks Tobold, Kinless, and the other posters on the comments of Tobold’s post (found HERE) for inspiring this post and for the discussion around patch 2.1 including Big Red Kitty's coverage (found HERE). Thank you to the friends who gave input into this post.

119 comments  

WTS: My Life for the Next Several Years

WoW, LotRO, all other MMOs, heck all other games….none have reached the time sink which was once part of my life. What was this time sink you ask? It was a small title released in 1998 called Starcraft which took off to be one of the biggest gaming hits in history. Now Blizzard has announced Starcraft 2 after 10 years of milking the proverbial “cash cow.”

Starcraft, as many of you know, is a Real Time Strategy game or RTS based around the battle for the galaxy of three races. The Terran (Humans), Zerg, and Protoss all battled for supremacy in the game that turned into a cult hit in Korea, the US, and other areas across the globe. I myself fell into this world head first.

So, on Friday, with the release of the word that Blizzard is indeed working on Starcraft 2, I decided to check out what all the hype is about and visited the newly release site about the game http://www.starcraft2.com/. So far, in my eyes, the game is definitely living up to the hype, at least visually. With crisp colors, new units, and amazing visual effects it looks to be all of the fun that made SC the game it was and still is.

Due to this news, some friends and I decided to play a couple of games last night. Along with my buddies ferret, Kael, Invictus, Chameleon, and Dark Knight Zero, I plunged into the world I had abandoned long ago. A couple of games turned into a nostalgic gaming journey lasting several hours and many wife complaints. We played The Hunters, we played Killing Fields, and even a couple of games on the Lost Temple. When it comes to Starcraft, I am a purest. No “Big Game Hunters” maps, no money maps, and no “Use Map Settings” games. I play the game as it was originally designed to be played…three races struggling for supremacy.

The final game turned out to be a “Free for All”… every person for themselves. I played as Random and drew the mighty Terran race. This game occurred on the map Killing Fields. This is a huge map and I took advantage of this fact by expanding early and starting to raise a large force of tanks and goliaths. I even let loose of a few nukes…ok more than a few, more like 20. In the end, it was a great game. I loved being able to play a nostalgic favorite of mine with friends. That is what always drew me to this game, the ability to play a competitive game with my friends, whether it is against them or with them. I hope to play some more SC games in the future and cannot contain my excitement of Starcraft 2.

Shout Outs: Great coverage from the blogger community of this significant event in gaming. I never thought SC2 would hit shelved.

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The LotRO Chronicles – May 21, 2007 – A few levels, a few new abilities and several new horses.

So my friends, what happened this weekend? Well, due to the fact that I have been busy getting ready for our big move back to Indiana, I missed a few posts last week and a lot has happened since then in my adventures through Middle Earth. I spent the majority of Saturday working, but was a complete bum on Sunday mainly gaming.

I spent a few hours this weekend leveling my Burglar, Pokepoke. As I roamed around the North Downs a few of my kin slowly wandered their way onto the server Sunday morning. The main woodworker and forester in our kin, MrKaco, most generously hooked me up with a large amount of Yew and Lebrethon wood to convert to treated wood to finish out my Expert, Master Expert, and Artisan forestry profession. Its amazing how much of this stuff is around. After walking away from the old computer while crafting all this stuff, I came back to a kinship wanting to help me and few other kin level. So we ran around the North Downs killing aurochs, earthkin, Downs Hawks, and Lynx. We took down everything in our path with our band of adventurers. It started with only me and our trusty guardian, Deangermouse, extinguishing the foes of the North Downs. As time went past, the brave Hobbit Minstrels Airone and Thanny joined us. A little later Giddeus the ferocious Champion joined and promptly killed everything in his path (by the way watch that hammer next time, you about hit my foot). Once our group was assembled we headed up into the area inhabited by a large number of Dourhand Dwarves. As directed by our quest givers we were to dispatch several Dourhand Falconers, their annoying bird friends, and the Falconers leader. This lead to many close fights, but in the end we prevailed with the help of few fellowship maneuvers triggered by your favorite Burglar, Pokepoke and the amazing morale boosts from our other Hobbit friends.

During all of this leveling, I gained several nice new abilities including Trip at level 28. This ability lets the burglar start a fellowship attack from stealth and is a nice opener for a lot of direct damage or for a very nice DoT (Damage over Time) attack. This, combined with the other two FM starting attacks, makes a burglar indispensable from a fellowship and I can see the need for having several burglars within future raids. I also received a new ability called Hide in Plain Sight. This ability allowed me to instantly regain stealth, even while in combat. I would compare this directly to Vanish within the WoW Rogue world. By the end of the day, I had reached level 30. At level 30, I received a new Burglar quest called a Burglar’s Errand. This quest had me helping a small hobbit (I can’t remember her name) retrieve a sword which had been stolen by some Half-Orcs in the Lone Lands. This was a fun little instance quest which had I had to use all of my abilities to sneak past the Orcs. It took me two tries due to an errant Riddle, but I accomplished it. In the end, the Hobbit rewarded me with a new Cloak (+2 to stealth level and 18 Fate) and new trait which increases the effectiveness of my ability Reveal Weakness. At 30, I also received the ability to use the next level of Clever Devices (Marbles, Caltrops, and Stun Dust). Turbine really needs to look at dropping the cost of making these (each Clever Device takes 6 High-Grade Steel Ingots to craft which is a total of 24 Rich iron ore per Clever Device!!!). As you can see this really stacks up due to the need of having marbles on hand at all times for instances. I was also able to use the next level of Burglar’s tools which reduce the cost of tricks. Thanks again Colector for going out of your way to craft these for me.

MOUNT ROLECALL!!!
Congratulations to Gerty, Agent, and Deangermouse for getting their horses…I think, Deanger was finishing the quest when I logged off. Hopefully I will shortly be in the realm of the toons with mounts along with Thanny.

Till my next post, happy adventures,

NewBreed

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Debating moving to Wordpress or personal server

So far the template options within blogger do not impress me. I may be moving Work Avoidance Strategies to workpress or possibly my personal web server. We will have to wait and see.

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The LotRO Chronicles - May 16, 2007 - Not much happening

So I jumped onto the old computer last evening for what I thought would be a bit of LotRO fun. Come to find out the server was being buggy as could be and people were running into invisible walls the whole time. Decided to go ahead and pass on that excitement and continued reading the new novel I picked up called "Camel Club" by David Baldacci. Good read so far.

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My "Vision" of future MMOs.

If you are reading my blog and have not gotten the chance to check out Tobold’s discussion of what the “vision” is within MMOs and how it must change to accommodate the masses, you should do so here. It’s a great read.

So this post for today will show my views on this topic as inspired by the many sources across the net. In advance, thanks for bringing this up Tobold.

The current generation of MMO’s currently all have flavor of the “vision.” You create a character, that character completes task of varying difficulty level which in turn raises his character level through either experience or gear. As we see with WoW, EQ, LotRO, and many other games on the market, this is the normal formula. This formula also leads to an end game which leaves very little to do other than try to advance your character.

I will use WoW as an example as it is the most recent game I have had end-game experience. In WoW, as described by a poster within another blog I read, the end game is broken into 3 distinct areas; Raiding, Dungeons, and PvP. I will take from another poster and state that the end game is Raiding and “2 bastard step children.” While Blizzard made strides forward to make dungeons and PvP a little more entertaining they are not nearly as polished as Raiding. Heroic dungeons, in my opinion, are just a rehash of old content. I went through each of them and simply had the view of “oh same boss, one new ability and hits insanely hard” or “wow this is hard, but your average casual (read this as a lot of my friends) wouldn’t be able to do it.” World PvP turned out to be a joke and other than reputation doubling items (honor hold) and spirit shards or whatever they are called, there was very little point in doing it.

WoW never really touched on crafting or economy to the point where it was viable to do only that. WoW has always been an adventure-centric game. Everything would revolve around adventuring (my term for questing, raiding, or doing dungeons). While some of adventuring could be profitable (doing quests after hitting the level cap), much of it could be a complete money sink. At the epitome of my raiding career as a healer, I was dropping close to 100-150 gold a night to finance the need for consumables, repairs, and other necessities for raiding. Once I became a tank (I played a druid), I spent close to 100 gold a night. All of my other time was spent gathering or enchanting to fund these raid nights.

Throughout WoW, one of my enjoyable activities was always crafting. I loved making gear for friends and for myself or even to sell. But the problem here was justifying spending the gold on crafting as opposed to adventuring. WoW made simply no way to make money in crafting (not gathering but true crafting) and if a true money making source was found they would squelch it. Crafting was never meant to be an occupation in WoW. You were forced into the role of adventurer.

Now my views are these. What if a game took 3 distinct areas and allowed a player to do truly what they wanted to do? In my “vision,” they are adventuring, crafting-based jobs, and economy-based jobs. Make this virtual world work just as the real world does.

Crafters make goods, whether they are needed for adventuring, used for fun leisure activities, used for storage of other goods (building guild halls or houses for example), or be completely aesthetic and mundane. These crafters can then take on the role of “seller” or sell the goods to a retailer (someone who would take the goods and resell them) an economy based “career path”. Another possible economy based position could be that of a lender or banker to help fund those who spend their time raiding. Much of this is seen in the game “Second Life” and could easily be applied to MMORPG.
Now let’s explain my diagram here. Each of these areas of the game would have tasks, quests, deeds, whatever you want to call them. At lower levels, each of these tasks looks at helping the “main” profession of adventuring. Each of these tasks, whether they be for crafting, adventuring, or economy provide experience to that player. Just as monster kills give the player experience so should crafting, doing lending transactions, or selling a good. At some point in the game, the end game possibly, the tracks become interdependent, but a key facet to this is not making them interdependent too soon. This is one of the major gripes I have heard from many players in LotRO as the crafting professions are far too interdependent at lower levels. Also, somewhere, further down the line comes a “convergence point” where a player who has been a crafter his whole “life” decides he wants to become an adventurer. Now this does not necessarily need to occur after a player masters any one of the tracks (which is somewhat implied in the drawing). After a player has accomplished what he wants in each track you come up with your final state which may be ever evolving.



Now let’s take that end state, that final character someone has created and drop them into a persistent world. Where actions have consequences, monsters stay defeated (at least for awhile) and the player has a real affect on the world, but make it forgiving enough to handle situations brought on when you appeal to the masses. On top of that, let’s add a persistent PvP environment that resets maybe once a month or so. Have it so the reigning PvP “lord” or main PvP guild has access to the “PvP castle in the special PvP land.” You see where I am going with this. Throw on top of that, a true global economy across however many factions you add into the game. Let the factions interact in ways other than burying an axe into the forehead of the other faction. Hell let them speak to one another (if they have the proper language skill of course). Let the player base form alliances, treaties, or wars. As Tobold states in the virtual world there should be “…lots of challenges to overcome, things to achieve, but these aren’t so linear from easiest to hardest any more. There is no more defined ‘top’ to reach no more ‘end-game’…”
There should be “levels” of difficulty, but difficult in different ways and the player base should have some type of input onto how these rank. The world should be an evolving one where the storyline, events caused by or with players, and the over all experience drives the game as opposed to pre-determined outcomes. The player base must have some type of input in order to appeal for long periods of time to the masses and not just to the hardcore MMO raiders out there. Make the game less of “you must accomplish this to be considered an accomplished player” to “you CAN accomplish this to be considered an accomplished player, but you can do it a hundred different ways.” Give the player CHOICE. Make the player make real decisions that can affect the virtual world because if the choice has no real consequence it’s not really a choice, but again it must be forgiving to a point

So now you have seen my input on the “Vision”. What is yours?


Until we speak again, happy adventuring,

NewBreed

PS. If you would like to use any of my graphics, you are more than welcome to, just please send me an email telling that you are and a link to your blog or site.

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Rantings of an online junkie: What is a community? Are online friends "Real Friends?"

So as I sit here today in the ventrilo server by buddy Dave hosts, I come to thinking of the question "what is a community?" And can a "gaming community" be as real as a community you might have in your neighborhood?

This line of thinking got me to thinking "Are the people I have become friendly with online qualify as my real friends." Before I go into my thoughts on this, let me give you a little background on why I have pondered this topic for the evening.

Gamehavoc, the gaming community to which I belong, has been my online "home" for close to 3 years. Before that it was Frankenstein CS which became Gamehavoc. Before that, my original home being Chi Mayhem which eventually became FCS. So all in all, I have been around these people in the virtual sense for 5 to 6 years. Yet, I have met very few of them face to face. The only times being for a Gathering which is becoming a tradition at Gamehavoc.

So after that little bit of insight, I came up with the questions listed above and really thought long and hard about them. I came to these conclusions.

  • I talk to these folks just as much as my "real life" friends or people I see every day.
  • I have known many of them for longer than I have known some of my friends.
  • I get insight into their lives and other events through ventrilo, the forums, and other means of communication
  • I have the cell phone numbers of many people within the community and talk to them on a fairly frequent basis.

After coming to these realizations, I can truely say that a gaming community can be as much a community as a neighborhood, a church, or a any other group of people who share common interests. Isn't that what a community is all about after all?

So as you see my answer to the first question, I am sure you can guess my answer to the second. So yes, I believe my online friends, should and are considered as much of friends as the people I see everyday.

Some of these people I am as close to as my normal friends though I only get to see them maybe once a year at the most. They hear bitch and rant and rave about my life as much as anyone other than my wife. They know when I am in a good mood or a bad mood. Hell, they even wish me happy birthday.

So on this wonderful evening in May, I think to myself, I am lucky to have a community to which to belong and I am lucky to have good friends in both "real life" and on the net.

Have a good evening everyone,

NewBreed

2 comments  

The LOTRO Chronicles – May 15, 2007 – ROLECALL!!!

I spent much of last night playing LotRO (about 2 hours) before my wife so kindly asked me to quit playing. I spent much of the evening grouping with several kin in my kinship The Revenant on the Melador server. The Revenant is a group of gamers that have played through several games together and I was kindly asked to join them, along with 3 of my friends, a couple of weeks ago. When I came from WoW, I brought several of my friends with me including Deangermouse (Dwarf Guardian), Colector (Hobbit Minstrel), and Stomp (Dwarf Champion). Recently (last night) another one of my friends Adrien (Elf Hunter) has decided to join us as well.

With the original 3, we joined The Revenant through a contact Deangermouse had named Thanny (Hobbit Minstrel). So far I have met a lot of good people through the Revenant. MrKaco (Man Hunter), Airone (Hobbit Minstrel), Agent (Elf Hunter), and Gerty (Elf Champion) have all been great to party with and game. Though many within my kinship are slowly and surely getting ahead of me in level, I feel zero pressure to hit the level cap and have been enjoying the game as it is. I will see if these folks will be kind enough to let me grab some screenies of their toons.

MrKaco has been the first in our little band to get his horse and proudly shows it off wherever he goes. Good job Kaco.

The thing I like most about this Kinship is the attitude of helping anyone else if they need it. Many times in guilds in WoW (including the one I was guild master of), it felt as though, sometimes, people were only out for themselves. This has been the most relaxed I have been in a long while in terms of gaming and I am finally getting the chance to enjoy the game instead of trying to fly through it. Also, they are more than willing to send crafting materials to anyone who needs them to level.

Overall, my impression of this game is good and a good group of people to play it with makes it great.

Shout Outs:Thanks to sean from Lost in the Grind for linking me. I haven’t had much time to catch the blogs today so I will update this when I add to the blog tonight.

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The LotRO Chronicles – May 14, 2007 – Don’t dare call me a rogue or a thief

NOTE: I may switch the layout of this blog as I have notice I tend to write long posts in this format.

As noted in my first post on this blog, I have been playing LotRO recently. I started playing in the “open beta” or World Tour as it came to be known. I am a recent WoW convert and have been playing LotRO with a casualness I did not know in WoW (see my post on Gaming Addiction below).

My first true LotRO post will cover the burglar class and my impressions of it through level 25 (my current level). If you want more information please visit LotRO-Wiki's Burglar section or the Burglar forums on the Turbine LotRO site.

Starting the burglar, I truly expected it to be exactly like the rogue class in WoW. Boy, was I wrong. While burglar and rogue share some similarities, the differences are very distinct.

Similarities
· Dual Wielding Melee class
· Relies on evasion and dodging as opposed to blocking.
· Has the ability to stun
· Reliance on “devices” such as flash powder in WoW or marbles/stun dust in LOTRO
· Distinct Crowd Control Abilties: Sap in WoW, Riddle in LOTRO
· Positional damage modifiers – Requires you to be behind a target to do additional damage
· Ability to rob mobs of their goods
· Sneaking abilities

Differences
· Burglars use tricks to debuff their targets to increase the mobs miss chance or how quickly they attack
· Burglars have the unique ability to start a group attack known as a fellowship maneuver in several different ways (Trip though I do not have this ability yet, Marbles, etc.)
· Burglars can buff the groups DPS through “marking” the target with Reveal Weakness
· Burglars are not the DPS machines that rogues are in WoW
· Burglars are not required to be behind the target for any of their attacks, though they do get a damage modifier on all of their attacks when behind a target.
· Burglars are restricted to Hobbit and Man races while their WoW counterparts included Elves, Trolls, Orcs, and Undead in the mix. For obvious reasons this is different.
· Burglars play a mainly support role in LOTRO

Suggestions for Vocations
As a burglar, Explorer is nice for a burglar as you can collect raw materials for your Clever Devices such as Marbles for a weapon smith to make and you can create your own armor through the tailor profession. Also woodworkers will love you for the raw and treated wood you can provide
Another suggestion is the historian route. You can create scrolls to boost your DPS with the scholar profession. You can create your own daggers with weapon smith, or you can farm food for a cook to make you with the farming profession.

Key Stats for a Burglar
In my opinion a burglar has 3 main stats (sometimes 4) for which to worry.

Agility: Agility is the stat which lets you dodge attacks and gain critical strike attacks. Critical strikes are key for a burglar as they will let you start “Crit Chains.” Several of a burglar’s abilities are based off of a critical strike (Burglar’s Advantage: lets you get an additional attack in) and Double-Edged Strike (DES – you attack with both weapons dealing a large amount of damage) that is based off of Burglar’s Advantage (BA). The nifty thing is if you crit on any attack within the time you use BA and the DES you will gain the ability to use BA again. As you can see this can set up a string of nasty attacks.

Vitality/Might: Vitality and Might are equally important stats for a burglar. Vitality increases your Morale Points while Might increases the amount of damage you do with each melee attack. I tend to lean more towards Vitality as I solo a lot and like the extra morale and rely less on Might, but they are both important.

Fate: Why do I say fate instead of will? Fate allows you to regenerate your power while in a battle. One of the problems a lot of burglars face is running out of power during a long fight. Fate allows you to regain this power.

Levels 1-5
As a burglar, Man or Hobbit, you will start in Archet after the short episode where you must escape from the people holding you prisoner. Archet is a small town within the Bree-Lands that will quickly expose you to a plot by the Blackwould baddies to take down Archet. During this time you will have some of your most basic abilities (Surprise strike being your main attack) and will only be able to wield one weapon. You will also only be able to wear light armor. You do receive an instant, small damage attack called Burglar’s Advantage at level 4 however which is keyed any time you hit with a critical strike.

Levels 6 -10
During this time you gain the ability to dual wield, substantially increasing your dps. You want to get a second weapon ASAP. You will also gain the ability to sneak. Sneaking also increases your DPS, because all of your attacks while sneaking are increased. Also sneaking is detected much less often when behind a target. During this time you will be doing quests in the Shire or Archet/Combe (Bree-land) depending on whether you are a hobbit or a man. As a hobbit, I must suggest working towards the Emnity of Spiders Deed which allows you to get the Hobbit’s Stature trait (+20 to might) in later levels. This is much more useful than the Emnity of Wolves Deed which gives the Throw Stone trait (short ranged attacked, low damage) at this level.

Levels 11-15
During these levels, I moved into the Bree-lands as I had done some of the quests before on my Captain. Towards the end of these levels you will start looking at some of the quests in the Old Forest. During this time, you will start receiving even more useful crowd control such as Riddle which will stun a humanoid target (orcs, goblins, dwarves, even shades) for a good amount of time. You will also receive your burgle ability allowing you to pickpocket those same humanoids for whatever goods they may have. These abilities are nice, but the most useful I have found is the Aim ability. Aim guarantees a Critical Strike on your next attack. This is amazing while used in stealth allowing for a guaranteed critical strike out of stealth. In later levels, this can help kick off “crit chains.”

Levels 16-20
During this time, it just seemed like a push to 20. This is because at 20, you can use both Clever Devices (stun dust, marbles, and caltrops) and your burglar’s tools (purchased from the trainer) which reduce the cost of your tricks. Higher level versions of these devices and tools are available as you level and have increase effect. Also at level 20, you receive your first true stun, Startling Twist. This attack requires a trick to be active on the target and will stun the target for a short period of time. During this period of leveling I finished my Old Forest Quests and started moving into the Lone Lands. Also, I highly suggest getting either the Westmarch purple set or the “Superb Leather” set as they both have large amounts of Agility on them and some nice armor to boot. I also got my “Heading West” quest cloak (21.0 Morale and 1% to evade) which was very nice upgrade. I also had a kinship buddy craft me some glittering silver rings which added to my stats very nicely.

Clever Devices

Caltrops: Does damage and slows the run speed of a target. These are useful for running targets such as humanoids.

Marbles: Trips the target and can initiate a fellowship maneuver. These are very useful in groups for obvious reasons.

Stun Dust: Stuns a target for a short amount of time. If you can get out of range you can re-stealth during this time and deal even more damage, but must get off the attack before the mob comes to as it will reset if you do not. This is most useful for soloing.

Levels 21-25
These levels have been going slowly for me as I have been taking my time with them. I have received some new nice skills and been spending time leveling some new professions. I started as a scholar but found it difficult for the kinship to level 2 scholars at once, so I moved on as an explorer. It has helped me gain materials for my marbles and caltrops. Some of the new passive abilities have been nice such as accuracy and critical 3 which improve both my hit rating and my critical strike rating.

Summary:
So far, I have loved the burglar. Being indispensable in a group is a good feeling. Being able to trigger fellowship maneuvers at any given time (well at least every 5 minutes -10 minutes depending if abilities/marbles timers are up) is fun and very helpful to my groups. My minstrel friends love me as they are able to regenerate their power in long fights with FMs. Soloing isn’t too bad as long as I stay on top of my gear and weapons. I think I will keep leveling my burglar as my main, but I do want to level my Captain. As you can see I tend to lean towards support characters, as I believe each class brings its own unique “flavor” to the game.

Shout Outs:
If you enjoy reading my blog, please check out some of the blogs I read, such as the Kinless Chronicle’s , the Ancient Gaming Noob , and Lost in the Grind . Also, if you happen to be a burgeoning druid in WoW, check out Amanna’s post on Feral PVE Builds.

Also, in the coming days I am hoping to get some guest posts from some of my friends enjoying my LOTRO experiences.

Until my next post, happy adventuring.



NewBreed

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Is there such a thing as a gaming addiction?

Addiction… What is addiction? As described by Marion-Webbster dictionary addiction is:

ad•dic•tion

Function:
noun

Date:
1599

1: the quality or state of being addicted
2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful


Now, a hotly debated topic on the internet for parent groups, online game advocates and online game critics is “Can someone become addicted to video games?” Even more so, are MMOs/Online games directed at those with compulsive or addictive personalities? There are even detox programs for gaming addicts. Now I will save my opinion until the end of this post and simply try to show the facts of the subject.

How can a MMO/Online game player play to point of starvation or dehydration or even massive heart failure? There have been several documented cases of these situations, many of which have occurred in South Korea were online gaming is like a sport. Internet Cafes, where the majority of South Koreans access the internet, are a 24-7 haven for online gamers in the country. There are even dedicated television stations that will show strategies for the most popular game, Starcraft a Real Time Strategy game released in 1998 and its expansion Brood War in 1999 which is still wildly popular.

So back to the topic of MMOs. Can someone become addicted to video game in the same sort of a way someone becomes addicted to a drug or another activity such as gambling? From the reading I have done throughout the net, there are many documented cases that compare video game addiction to a gambling addiction. A constant thought of the activity, impulsive stints of long hours of play, belief the person cannot live without the activity are all symptoms of this “condition” or “addiction”. It has also been seen that people can become violent, angry, or depressed with long periods away from the activity, in this case gaming.

WebMD describes several symptoms to watch out for in addiction:
• Playing for increasing amounts of time
• Thinking about gaming during other activities
• Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
• Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
• Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming

Ok, now it is time for my opinion.

The Question: Can you become addicted to MMO’s?
My Answer: Yes, Absolutely.

In my view, you can definitely become addicted to gaming. Why do I say this? Because I can guarantee I was a MMO gaming addict, especially during my time with World of Warcraft.
To document my case, I will present these facts.

• I played for long periods of time. (3-6 hours a night)
• I constantly thought of the game, its strategy, and gear I might get in the next raid.
• I even spent work time developing strategies for raids and DKP for the guild I ran.
• If I had to spend time going out with my wife for other activities, WoW was constantly on my mind.
• I would bypass other activities just to be able to raid.
• I even lied to my wife about the amount of time I was playing.

As a little background, I have a very impulsive and addictive personality. I get "hooked" on something and only go at it with 200% of my ability. I put lots of time into the activity and tend to be tenacious with the activity.

So my view, base on these facts I was completely hooked on WoW as were all of my real life and gaming friends. We raided hardcore for close to 2 years. Every spare minute of my life was spent playing this game. My life revolved around playing World of Warcraft. My wife didn’t like to be around me, I gained weight, my friends didn't matter unless they were involved in the game, and was not “happy” unless I was raiding, getting ready for raiding, or planning a raid.

So where do I place myself now? I place myself as a casual MMOer after much work of weaning myself off of this type of play style. Do I still log long hours in a game? Yes, I do, but I do it much less often (maybe once a week). I still consider myself a videogame junkie and have been working on spending more time on other activities. I try to go to the gym more. I spend more time with my wife. My main point here is…don’t let this happen to you. Enjoy the game, raid if you like, and spend the amount of time you believe to be acceptable, but don’t let raiding, gaming, or any other activity for that matter rule your life.

Also, fellow gamers don’t take this as a hit at the gamer life style. MMOs take an amount of dedication, time, and resources for progress within the game. And with the current style of MMO such as EQ2, WoW and other hardcore gaming in order to raid, it doesn’t look like it will be changing much in the coming year. With many new releases such as, Age of Conan, Warhammer, and the much rumored Starcraft Worlds to be released in the next few years, they may or may not be as hardcore as the current gaming generation.

Make sure you follow a lifestyle of moderation. Do not put yourself in a situation where could have to battle off addiction.

That will be enough of my rant for now. I hope this post has given you a little insight into the view of self-proclaimed recovering gaming addict. I believe my life has improved due to my change.

In other news, I will be starting a LotRO journal inspired by Tolbold’s post. This journal will give insights to the game from a casual MMOer perspective. I also hope to put in 2-3 posts a week on gaming and other topics.

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Welcome to Work Avoidance Strategies

Welcome to Work Avoidance Strategies. I am NewBreed a 15+ year veteran of online gaming. I am currently an IT professional, husband, and complete video game junkie. Everything from FPS, RTS to my new, well not so new addiction....MMO's. I have been playing MMOs since Ultima Online and have played everything from Everquest to WoW and everything in between.
I am also an avid reader of Tobold's MMO Blog . Big Red Kitty , and many others within the MMO gaming community within the Blogosphere.

I have recently quit WoW after a 2.5 year hardcore raiding stint and hermitage to the cave known as my computer room. I played a Night Elf druid for that stint and enjoy reading others joy of playing the druid such as Ammana over at Adventures in Azeroth
Don't look at me as a complete convert from the MMO ways though...I have picked up a new addiction, though I find it one much easier to set down which my wife appreciates. LOTRO or Lord of the Rings Online.

I play a Hobbit Burglar (don't dare call them a rogue or a thief) named Pokepoke. Yes, I realize this isn't a RP name. Sorry Tobold. This is the debuff class within LotRO and has many unique abilities. The main ability they have, though, is to start conjunctions (old term) or Fellowship Manuveurs(new term). These are unique attacks that everyone in your fellowship (party) has access to and can benefit from. When a FM starts you recieve a "cross" with 4 colors on it. Each color represents an action: Red (Direct Attack), Yellow (DoT attack), Green (Heal), or Blue (Power regeneration). Also, specifics combinations of colors can trigger larger, even more devestating or helpful attacks.

In the following days/weeks, I will be posting more on LotRO, MMOs, online gaming, and life in general. So stay tuned in.

Here is a picture of Pokepoke.

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