Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Serious Soloist

In a society dominated by powerful guilds and a world where the greatest challenges must be faced by large groups of highly co-ordinated and well-prepared heroes, what is required of the serious solo adventurer?

Reputation. Without an illustrious guild name over your head, your personal reputation is key. All the principles of courtesy to others, fair play, knowing your class/build and preparedness go double for the person whose invites stand on their own reputation alone. If you aspire only to be a well-geared delinquent, you will find an appropriate guild on your server to do that and get away with it. Solo play is not recommended for ninjas or unreliable people.

Friendships. This goes hand in hand with the above point. Know your key allies and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships.

Determination. Whilst enjoying all the freedom in the world, you must also do without scheduled guild runs. Therefore you must persevere to use your time wisely and pick the best opportunities for development. People pug for all kinds of reasons, and the poor quality of random groups is exaggerated in popular talk. However, you will have to accept that at least part of the time the groups you join will fall apart. On the bright side you set your own timetable.

Pride. At the end of the day you did it your way. Your success or failure will depend not only on your keyboard skills, but navigating relationships and choosing opportunities.

Monday, 5 October 2009


Ignore lists are a little problematic and there are disadvantages to being too hasty. Someone having a bad day might be a useful contact tomorrow.

However bad behaviour is often repeated and it doesn’t make sense to get bitten twice.

This weekend I cleared my ignore list. Only four names were listed as I am fairly thick skinned.

I began anew with a new policy. From now on if I feel someone deserves ignoring then I send a short, politely worded message explaining why they will now be ignored. They can then reflect on what has happened.

Readers may want to comment on what they consider ignore worthy behaviour.

I had two people listed before the weekend was out. One left a 10man raid we had spent a considerable amount of time recruiting after one wipe. Apparently his guild needed him. His ‘guild’ consisted of two other players, neither of which were level 80. I have to wonder what urgent raid he had to run off to. Predictably his departure caused a domino effect, everyone left, and all that time waiting around had been wasted.

The second successful candidate was in Arathi Basin, when a nobody (yes this sounds haughty but I mean a character of no repute nor notable guild) felt it was appropriate to /spit on me. If like myself, you’ve been bought up in a noble Darnassian bloodline, the idea of a random human spitting at you is intolerable. Nevertheless I had the pity to politely question why, but it seemed the neanderthal was unable to articulate any grudge or rivalry.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Reward Feeling

So I decided to have a go at Aion.

It was a Friday night and ahead of me was the chore of doing the Daily Heroics over the weekend and maybe some daily quests for gold I don’t even need. Nothing much more exciting to look forward to until Wednesday’s raid. So I thought hell with the dailies, lets do something totally new and try Aion!

Naturally I rolled a Warrior, as up and close fighting is what you crave when you shoot arrows at people for a living. I had a lot of fun designing my character and then, miraculous birth, I spawned into an unsuspecting server along with about two-dozen other people spawning at that exact moment.

Imagine a world where every female looks like Kate Beckinsale, and you will quickly grasp the distracting beauty of the many player characters currently running around the crowded Aion servers. The environment was very nice. Not fall off your seat nice, or staggering innovative by any means, but pleasant to explore.

Here’s what happened in one paragraph. I moved between quest hubs and killed X number of monsters. I experienced several innovations on the WoW system. These were: player shops, more frequent cut scenes, a location helper, a campaign quest log, a great chain-combat system, the ability to fly slowly for short periods of time. (That last one won’t feel like a great innovation if you have an epic flying mount).

I had lots of fun hitting monsters with a big sword, and enjoyed the very regular reward feeling that comes from gearing up a character from nothing. Best of all there were lots of people around and there was a nice general atmosphere of communal exploration.

Then I logged on to WoW to do the Brewfest Dailies (achievement hunter). At that exact moment our 5v5 Arena leader decided we should run some games. We had an absolute killing streak and suddenly I had access to more new arena gear than I had the Honor to buy. I stayed up till almost 2pm grinding battlegrounds and got the first two items that night (reward feeling). But I needed a lot more Honor and suddenly I had new purpose.

I will of course return to Aion, to enjoy some more sword-fighting and at my own pace adventuring. It’s not as polished, precise or self-satirical as WoW no matter how shiny the graphics. It’s not as bloody or combat tactical as AoC or as stylised and innovative as WAR. However it has great atmosphere at the moment because of all the new players exploring it for the first time, and it’s a very competent fun example of it’s type.

But it’s not Coca-Cola. And judging each game by its ability to differentiate itself from it’s peers, I feel it’s the weakest of the primary WoW alternatives.