Monday, May 31, 2010

What to do with WoW sans Raiding?

'LFM DPS VoA25, /w Achiev and GS 5500+'

The constant refrain in the recruitment channels (ie. Trade) now on WoW tells the story of the game's progression. If you are not in a raiding guild, you have to resort to PUGs (which are plentiful nowadays) but PUGs have become far more picky about their membership now that they are armed with the tools to measure prospective members. Achievements and Gear Score. Now, of course, I could simply lie about the Achievements and link other peoples, but that would be deceitful and it doesn't feel right for me. So what to do? You could run dozens and dozens of heroics to get Emblems, but I have done that before and they are all pretty much dull now for me. Mindless and unchallenging.

Well, one question would be why do anything? Without access to raid content, you are gearing up a character to do what exactly? Stand around Orgrimmar and whistle? That has happened before when my lack of time commitment has jarred against raid requirements and it is essentially frustrating.

The answer to these questions came from the most unlikely of sources - the random battleground feature. This is a new PvP feature for the game which does for battlegrounds what the Find Group function did for instances. And its brilliant! The queues are lightning fast - under 5 mins max - and the rewards are plentiful. The bonus honour combined with the recent reworking of the PvP equipment system means that with a little application you can rack up some decent equipment pretty damned quick! In three days I have snaffled three i232 and i245 items (shoulders, bracers and legs) which are the equivalent to the stuff I could get through emblems but so much faster.

The battlegrounds are also quite fun. The asshole contingent are diluted now and I'm seen all of the new battlegrounds that I had missed before. Isle of Conquest is pretty dull but Strand of the Ancients is excellent and now rivals Eye of the Storm as my favourite battleground. Moreover, now when I play, I am improving myself for a purpose - to become deadlier (well, lets be modest, more annoying) than I was before.

I'm enjoying it - a lot - far more than I ever thought I could enjoy PvP. I'm even considering chancing my hand with arena somehow...but that might have to wait until the future!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Elephant in the Gaming World

Work on my new game books proceeds at a glacial pace. The Duty & Honour Miscellany is about a third done, with some adventures to write up and then the more involved task of researching the British army in India. Duty & Honour: Rise of the Zulu is ... in note form. Thats the most polite way to talk about it. I'm dedicated to writing it, but I'm also dedicated to doing it right - which will take time.

Beyond my normal work-related time crunch issues (ahh, marking, my old friend) there is something else, over there, on my laptop. Looking at me. Staring at me. Looking pleadingly through a holographic simulation at 0.6c on an intercept vector with my imagination. Yes folks, its that time of year again - the Honor Harrington as an RPG dither!

To bring everyone up to speed, I am a fan of the Honor Harrington books by David Weber. Not an obsessive fan, but they are easily one of my favourite series of books and one of the few that I have read and re-read over the years. I've also made it no secret that I have always had an eye on my Empire! games being the dry-runs for a Harrington inspired space game. The urge to scratch this gaming itch waxes and wanes but its strong at the moment - and far more inspiring than the aforementioned historical books.

Don't get me wrong, I still want to do those books, its just that whenever I settle down to do something for them, my mind drifts to how I could use that titbit in a space game. When I watch some space-related TV, I'm converting the situation into Empire! style stats and constructs. Its exactly the same sort of deconstruction that tipped me over from my original game idea of MI666 onto what would become Duty & Honour.

The other question in my mind is - if I do pull the trigger on this one, do I do it 'properly'? Do I pursue the licence? Do I immerse myself in the lore and technical depth of Weber's creation or do I use it as inspiration and create my own toolkit version? When I did D&H, the pursuit of the Sharpe licence was too much, too soon - and rightly so. Now, could this be the big one? I don't know - but its something thats definitely on my mind.

Somehow, I need to put this to bed, one way or the other.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Issue with Comics

Do you see what I did there?

My recent bout of apathy towards Kick-Ass and the subsequent conversations with my friends have made me think very hard about my relationship with comics.

One of my most vivid memories of being a kid was my fifth birthday, when I went by myself to the corner shop and told Rosa, the woman who ran it, that I wanted to change my order from Barnaby Bear to The Avengers. I can even remember my first issue of the Avengers - it was the reprint of Avengers #85. I was hooked.

35 years later, I am still buying comics. I have a loft filled with literally 1000s of comics. I taught my children to read using the names of characters from JLA/JSA crossover covers. When I was an impoverished student, comics came before beer in importance (pity many of those comics were early Image efforts - it was the 90s!)

In recent years, two things have impacted heavily my comics reading. The first is simple financial expediency - a period of redundancy made me re-evaluate the value-for-money I was getting from comics. They are a bloody expensive hobby to support issue-by-issue so a lot of my titles have been dropped, some changed to 'trade paperback only' purchases. The second is a little more touchy. In 2004, Marvel published the Avengers Disassembled storyline to revitalise the Avengers franchise. I've probably bored many of you with my thoughts about this turn of events, so I won't bang on about it here, but the subsequent transformation of my beloved Avengers into the Bendisverse creation it is now was not to my taste. I persevered for as long as I could, but in the end, I did the unthinkable and dropped the title-pretending-to-be-the Avengers. That took out a considerable chunk of my comics buying.

Currently, I only get two families of titles - Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps and JSA/JSA All-Stars (although the latter is under close scrutiny)

So much of comic-dom seems so dry and lifeless to me nowadays. I feel like I quite literally have seen it all before. There is, as the Bible says, nothing new under the sun.

This apparent apathy has leeched into other areas. I have baulked at the idea of running superhero games in the past, because in the end I have always felt that it just wouldn't be the experience I wanted it to be. I think the number of conflicting ideas in my head would be too much, somehow. Its a silly block really, considering the method-GMing that I undertake on most occasions, burying myself in the media of the game I am running!

It has also made me wonder what to do with my comics mountain in the loft? It needs to be sorted out (the fact that it has not been in years is a sign that they are no longer so high on my priority list!) but after that? Could I be in the position to maybe liquidate some of that collection? The horrors!