#Blaugust Day 29: Job Unlocked

FFXIV: MNK Unlocked

Ever since returning to Final Fantasy XIV, I’ve been working on my MNK. I’ve nicknamed my character Murfist when in this setup since punching and kicking things feels so rewarding. I am almost 50 on him already, and the rotation couldn’t be any more fun. It isn’t quite the same as running Feral Druid in Wrath of the Lich King, but it comes pretty close.

FFXIV: MNK JNK

Of course, I could write a lot more about the Adventures of Murfist, but on the real life front, I finally signed some paperwork and now I am on my way to working for the government. They didn’t choose me for the Assassin position, but Customer Service seems pretty close.

This is my first full-time position in a few years, and it couldn’t of come at a better time. I need a new car, I need to get health insurance, and the inability for any part-time job to guarantee hours and a steady schedule have combined to drive me mad. Plus, I am helplessly in love with my girlfriend, and I’d like to start saving for a life together now, rather than continue to live month-to-month for the foreseeable future.

Now, I know many of you will rain on me much praise and congratulations. This is the sort of ding that EverQuest players have daydreams about. Still, I want you to know that I remain fully committed to blogging and writing, in general. Once Blaugust ends, my weekly post schedule will likely take a hit, but I am staying on with MMOGames. There’s even a rumor that the Blogger Bonanza may be evolving (which I am currently spreading).

I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your advice. And, most of all, thank you for reading!

FFXIV: MNK Approves


Blaugust Housekeeping

I have two posts that I still consider very much active requests. In one, my MMOGames column needs your help: I want to know which of your own blog posts you love the most so I can share them. In the other, I have constructed a hopefully humorous quiz that needs your answers and your feedback.

Please and thank you!


Interested in Blaugust? It’s never too late to join in. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page or take a look at what is going on in the Blaugust Nook!

#Blaugust Day 28: Heroes of the Downgraded Weather Forecast [#HOTS]

When I first tried it, Heroes of the Storm was a big disappointment. When I came back to it upon the game’s release, I realized that I was wrong and the game was quite good. After some time spent logging in everyday just to do dailies and not really to play the game at all, I think it’s status as a game I am looking to play has mostly expired.

It still isn’t a bad game, but it falls victim to the same problems that afflict all MOBAs and competitive PvP games. It isn’t that much fun with friends, it isn’t that much fun by yourself, and it typically ends in frustration if you ever want to move up in the game’s rankings. Now that I have reached max level and had a chance to level most heroes to level 5 for bonus gold, there’s not much of a thrill to try someone fresh anymore, as I likely have already put in a game or two and figured the basics out.

Heroes of the Storm became a chore I was doing for the gratification of fake currency. When that gold lost its luster, the game’s went with it.

I had planned to write about the game more. I intended to do some microblogging where I wrote some very rudimentary impressions of each hero after spending some time with them. They weren’t meant to be particularly informative or very in depth. The idea was to simply take a cursory look at each to encourage discussion.

Since my interest in the game has waned, I thought I’d publish those feelings all at once here today.


Nazeebo (DATE UNKNOWN): I am not sure when I bought Nazeebo. One of my favorite themes are witch doctors and voodoo, so it was only a matter of time, but I actually really enjoyed Nazeebo. In every game I play with him, I do fairly well.

I love him for his versatility. Over the course of the game, he can get pretty tanky, but he also has great support, and pumps out damage. He likely won’t kill many people outright, but he will whittle everyone down if he can.

I love him. He’s my first purchased character and the one I love playing as the most.


Tyrael (6/10/15): Fuck this guy.

This hero is the first to make me hate leveling to 5 for bonus gold. For the most part, he reminds me of Kayle in League, who is a champion I never hoped to see again. Melee? Check. Abilities are ranged? Check. Everything is strangely support-y? Check.

Add in Kog’Maw’s passive and a bunch of talents based on upping your health regen and this is easily the worse version of the Kayle archetype.

Fuck him and the wings he flew in with.


Muradin (6/12/15): I had a Warrior daily quest today and didn’t want to play that asshat Tyrael again. Muradin is much preferred and one of the few characters thus far in Heroes that I think stands alone.

I love his versatility. Not only can he initiate with his leap, but he has solid CC and straight tanking potential. He also packs a bit of a wallop when necessary. His attack speed debuff via talents can also be a game changer against some of the game’s faster heroes.

Thank you Muradin for giving Warrior-types a reason to exist.


Rehgar (6/15/15): I absolutely love playing this guy. The spirit wolf mount is the first one that justifies having the mechanic for me. I love how it perfectly captures a lot of the feel of playing a Shaman in PvP in World of Warcraft, but on a character that is actually good. His heals are amazing and he can talent into a huge array of game-turning utility. Will purchase soon.


Chen (6/16/15): Well, I thought I’d hate this guy, but he turns out to be a ton of fun. Instead of mana/rage/energy, he has a mechanic called Brew which has to be actively regenerated using his activateable passive. Other than, he flies all over the place initiating and being fairly tanky. Heaven!


Malfurion (6/17/15): Malfurion isn’t bad, but hardly the ‘saves the day’ support of Rehgar. He feels okay for recovering a team, but I am not a big fan of his during a push. Entangling Roots can force a solid initiation, but it seems a bit clunky.

I don’t hate Malfurion, but I don’t love him either. I won’t be purchasing this one.


Kael’thas (6/17/15): I felt like a legend when I got a server first on Kael’thas in The Burning Crusade. I feel even more legendary as I am chaining kills one after the other with this hero’s incredible kit.

Kael feels like Brand, but with Karma’s ability to modify casts with additional effects. Initially, he packs some punch, but due to mana constraints, you can’t really do a whole lot. As the game goes on, his potency increases, and the little mana he does get to work with turns him into a team killing machine.

Must own!


Brightwing (6/18/15): While Brightwing may never be my primary Support, I was really impressed with the character. Back in the day, League of Legends had global ultimates, and they could be pretty game-changing. After people complained, they got nerfed pretty hard.

Brightwing can teleport to an ally anywhere on the map every 45 seconds. It’s an incredible ability, especially since there is no way to teleport to other towers in Heroes of the Storms. Generally, maps are fairly small, but being able to change the numbers in a skirmish almost instantly is a big deal.

Brightwing also has solid healing potential, a ton of utility through talents, and a seriously good CC in polymorph. You only have to trade away your mount to do these things, which can be a bit annoying, even if it is fair.

Overall, I enjoyed Brightwing. I won’t be buying him, but I wouldn’t complain if I had to play him again either.


Zagara (6/23/15): In all my times playing against Zagara, the character didn’t once make any sense to me. Always, I was inundated with these random minions that she summons. I have no familiarity with the character, so nothing about her communicates what she may be able to do to me.

After playing her, I now get the character, and think she’s pretty cool. She reminds me a bit of Yorick with her temporary summons, only fun to play. She also had a passive which corrupts the ground and gives you bonuses – in a sense like Trundle’s ability to buff himself in a specific area.

Overall, the character seemed quite good. Survivablity seemed low, but her damage was very high. Not something I really want to own, but she was fun.


Thrall (6/29/15): Thrall’s kit feels really nice. He packs a ton of punch and can sustain, but his cooldowns are long enough that his burst potential gives way to little else. He also lacks real mobility since his Windfury is likely used to chase down or provide extra attack, so he feels really well balanced to me.

I also can’t think of anyone to compare him too. His kit isn’t anything unique, but the combination feels fresh somehow. I also really love Sunder, especially if you get it upgraded, as its initiation and team fight potential is very strong.

I may buy him one day.


Tyrande (7/2/15): First, who the hell is Tyrande? I have no clue who this person is. Second, is Tyrande an assassin or a support? I can’t tell that either.

I think I liked Tyrande, but her kit is a bit strange. She has nods to League’s Ashe, but she works a lot differently and has more abilities to use. She also has a heal, but it isn’t very special.

Honestly, the most fun thing for me to do as Tyrande is talent her global skillshot and her global ult. Neither will win you a game, but it is fun catching people unaware from a world away.


Sonya (7/4/15): I don’t usually do well with warriors, but Sonya combines the right level of “I have to hit stuff to live” and “I hit stuff until it dies.” In my hands, she felt powerful and I felt like I had some skill at the game.

Needless to say, after hitting level five on her and having nothing but great success, I instantly bought her. Sonya is officially my second purchased hero beyond Nazeebo.


Arthas (7/22/15): I have never been as enamored with the character of The Lich King as so many others have been. That said, the Heroes of the Storm version of the character is a lot of fun.

I’ve only had a few games, but I love the characters potential for sustain, as well as his distance utility and light burst. I also appreciate that he uses every button possible in his arsenal at a fairly frequent pace.

His usefulness seems a bit limited with certain comps, but I kind of want Arthas permanently. I enjoy his kit, especially when it really works, but even when it doesn’t. He is just fun to play.


Blaugust Housekeeping

I have two posts that I still consider very much active requests. In one, my MMOGames column needs your help: I want to know which of your own blog posts you love the most so I can share them. In the other, I have constructed a hopefully humorous quiz that needs your answers and your feedback.

Please and thank you!


Interested in Blaugust? It’s never too late to join in. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page or take a look at what is going on in the Blaugust Nook!

#Blaugust Day 27: Metering Fun

This week, I am cleaning out a series of drafts that were perhaps a bit too dull and familiar to post in the first place. That’s not to say they are terrible, but they do retread/rehash/remix old arguments that I am now, more or less, done making.

Why did I write them? I am not entirely sure anymore …

Metering Fun

DPS meters exist simultaneously as one of my most beloved and most hated aspects of my raiding glory days. Every fight was enriched by the data I was creating in real time with twenty-four of my closest guildmates. We battled for better numbers. We argued over which were most importantly. And, like so many others, we used them for evil too.

No, this isn’t a tell-all about something I am deeply ashamed of. No great evils were perpetrated in the name of the RNG gods. By evil, I simply mean that the ideals of fun, cooperation, and companionship were all cut back in favor of cold, corporate efficiency. We crunched numbers and sometimes that meant changes in the raid group had to be made.

Yes, evil is a strong word and perhaps it does border on hyperbole. But when games are about having fun and you let metrics become your guiding light, then things are destined to combust. For the most part, my tenure as a raider and officer was held mostly together by a core group of friends who just so happened to be really skilled at their roles as well. Things did not crash and burn like the overall MMORPG community seems to have done in the past few years. There are contributing factors beyond theorycrafting and DPS meters, but I feel the powergaming and data driven culture that has overtaken so many MMOs is a major root cause of the problem.

By its very nature, DPS meters cause conflict. In their absolute accuracy, they give players reasons to judge and separate themselves from one another, even if no problem exists. If a dungeon run goes smoothly or if it goes poorly, anyone can end up being mocked about their performance by a player who feels superior based on how their meter reads. In the majority of cases, they are useless: players do not need that much detail about every aspect of their play and the meters don’t always reflect other important things, like off-tanking, spot healing, or emergency crowd control.

Yet, when you are on a mostly even playing field with like minded players, DPS meters can add a lot of fun. For bosses you have already conquered, they offer a high score to beat and a reason for trying even harder than you did last time. They offer the chance to take RPG stats and progression-obsession to their natural zenith: a place where numbers become your raid-to-raid progression, not just the stats that influence them via the gear you looted to make them go higher.

In the little bit of time I have spent in games like FFXIV or EQII, where parsing is not the dominating force like it is in World of Warcraft, I have noticed an improved dungeon-running community. People are less obsessed with the minutia and are more focused on having fun. Toxicity is not eradicated completely, but it does seem significantly less.

It also gets boring. I run the same content over and over. The people change, but that isn’t always enough to make a tired run less tired. In World of Warcraft, I would bust out the meters, either for just myself to share in guild chat or with a comrade who queued with me. I try never to use them for any sort of justification in PUGs because I believe that is an asshole move. The very concept of a PUG often revolves around strangers barely making it through, so I embrace that no matter how good or bad the run may go. In fact, I prefer a less successful run in most games because that involves some actual trial-and-error, not just a rote rotation of your necessary abilities on a boss who hasn’t changed since beta.

Meters gave me an extra incentive to play and something to strive for when regular progression had long gone away. In a trade off between fun or toxicity, I will always side with getting rid of toxicity since that is quite often an even bigger deterrent than boredom. Still, there has to be a way to balance these two competing mentalities for the powergaming but not power-obsessed players such as myself.

I think the best possible solution is to undercut DPS meters in new MMOs by adding scoring systems akin to classic arcade games. They wouldn’t have to reach simulation levels, since that would quickly devolve back into a more toxic environment, but they could still somewhat reflect quality of play. It would be tricky to balance, but I think such a system would take advantage of the psychology behind enjoying meters without falling back into old pitfalls.

Other than that, I remain unsure of what to do about my admittedly mixed feelings on the matter.

Blaugust Housekeeping

I have two posts that I still consider very much active requests. In one, my MMOGames column needs your help: I want to know which of your own blog posts you love the most so I can share them. In the other, I have constructed a hopefully humorous quiz that needs your answers and your feedback.

Please and thank you!

[Video Game Run Here]

Real life interfered today and I don’t have anything to add. My apologies everyone!


Interested in Blaugust? It’s never too late to join in. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page or take a look at what is going on in the Blaugust Nook!

Murf @MMOGames: Rallying Readers to #RocketLeague

MMOGames: Why is Rocket League so special?

This is most definitely not today’s Blaugust post. I just wanted to make sure that you all had a chance to see my editorial on Rocket League for MMOGames. I had to fight to get this one up, since Rocket League isn’t exactly a MOBA or MMO, but it is a rising eSport title.

It isn’t the first time I have written about the game, but this is the first time I’ve shared this specific opinion about it. For me, Rocket League transcends its nods to soccer, and manages to make a sports video game that is fun for everyone, regardless of their interest in playing a sports video game. That’s pretty rare in this Age of Sports Sims*.

*Give or take the occasional ‘Mario Plays x’.

If you love Rocket League already or want to find out why I love it so much, then please click on the article. MMOGames may be a rising publication now that so many amazing bloggers are contributing (and believe me, I mean that far more about everyone not named Murf), but the site is also filled-to-overflowing with some passionate writers. Come to read me, sure, but stay for them. They deserve your attention too!

Plus, with enough clicks, I may get carte blanche to write more on Rocket League. I do have the screenshots to review the game’s most recent DLC …

MMOGames: Why is Rocket League so special?

#Blaugust Day 26: Progress Me Not

This week, I am cleaning out a series of drafts that were perhaps a bit too dull and familiar to post in the first place. That’s not to say they are terrible, but they do retread/rehash/remix old arguments that I am now, more or less, done making.

Why did I write them? I am not entirely sure anymore …

Progress Me Not

I am not the first person to make the point that end game progression is a bait-and-switch from the leveling grind in nearly every MMORPG. Game after game, the trend has continued, therefore we need more people reiterating the issue, not less.

While you are progressing toward a MMO’s endgame, activities include dungeons, cooperating with strangers in open zones, and a ton of quests. That all changes once you reach max level. Quests stop or greatly diminish in number. Those big open zones which once filled with opportunities to interact with other players are replaced by sitting outside a bank, an auction house, or inside an instanced home. Dungeons remain, but only until you reach an item level which forces you to do larger, more organized dungeons to continue progressing (sometimes only once or twice a week).

As a model, it has remained strong despite obvious issues. Most MMOs follow it and, of the few exceptions like Guild Wars 2, they so different that it is hard to compare them directly with other MMOs. It hasn’t always been like this, however.

Ultima Online lacked an endgame altogether. Maxing out a character didn’t mean a new cycle of progression, it meant you had to worry less about misses or fizzles. The focus of the game remained accumulating wealth and living a chosen life in a fantasy world. Or whatever else you wanted to do. Progress was often judged by social standing or rarities you had acquired to show off in a prime piece of real estate you had lucked into placing. Having mastered your skills, the only thing left to do in UO was what you had been doing already: wander the world, interact with others, and create your own fun.

The endgame we associate with World of Warcraft originated in EverQuest, but even that was a far cry from our current state of affairs. Maxing out a character in EQ was an event unto itself. Unless you were a powerleveler or supremely knowledgeable of where to go and what to do, leveling in EverQuest required months and months, not of work but of play. The point was to adventure and experience the world, and levels gave those adventures consequence and reward. A dungeon zone might accommodate ten or twenty levels with its content, but unless you managed to progress entirely within that zone, you often would need to leave for a bit, progress further, before coming back to reach a deeper area of the dungeon safely.

When new MMO developers decided to to follow-up the classics, they wanted to make things more accessible, which eliminated EQ’s focus on leveling and UO’s open-endedness. It was a good idea, but it came at a cost. Leveling in new MMOs is almost meaningless. It is an exercise we all force ourselves through to reach an end where we might finally slow down long enough to meet, greet, and play with others. It is work and it sucks.

I enjoy progression, but not for its own sake. If am not having fun playing the game to reach the goal, then I am likely not going to try for that goal for long. That wasn’t always the case; early on in my experience with the genre, I climbed many a mountain just to see a higher peak to climb toward, and I did it without concern for how boring and bland the climbs were. These days, I have wisened up the genre’s pitfalls. I get bored quicker and I tire more easily. Some of that is bound to be a growing intolerance for the genre overall, but the opportunity to revisit, reclaim, and experience anew similar moments to those that made love MMOs in the first place are still possible. Now, they just happened to be buried under boredom and tedium, too deep for my reach to graze their surface.

The bait-and-switch needs to end. Leveling either needs to be worthwhile on its own or removed entirely. Aside from the tutoring aspects of time-locking content behind level walls, the whole model has no merit when the end game is the first place where classes are fully realized, interacting with others becomes a focus, and an entirely new system of progression called item levels takes over.

I want leveling to matter. I want each ding to be a thrill, not a hollow victory. I want a valid reason to interact with other players and to forge bonds that last multiple tiers of content, through many zones and instances.

Or, I want the end game to be the game and not some hidden away oasis. I want to be allowed to experience it from the start and not after being forced through many hours of boredom. Gamers are infinitely more capable of playing games than an hour of learning how to autoattack while pressing ‘1’ indicates. I want to be respected, not strung along with promises of a brighter future if I last.

Blaugust Housekeeping

I have two posts that I still consider very much active requests. In one, my MMOGames column needs your help: I want to know which of your own blog posts you love the most so I can share them. In the other, I have constructed a hopefully humorous quiz that needs your answers and your feedback.

Please and thank you!

The Binding of Isaac: Loss 24, 25, and a Bonus 26

With Blaugust coming to its end, I think my time running Binding of Isaac everyday will soon as well. This may be the last one(s) I do.


Interested in Blaugust? It’s never too late to join in. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page or take a look at what is going on in the Blaugust Nook!