Levelcapped A Gaming Blog! How Novel!


Reviving the Peanut Gallery

I'm turning WordPress comments back on.

Most of the people who view this blog either do do through RSS, or are notified about it through Twitter. I'm not "special" enough to get name-dropped by folks in my social circles, which is OK, and which is why I had originally turned off the WP comments and turned ON the Google Plus comments. 99% of my time is spent on G+, and those people in my circles there are the ones who have traditionally shown the most interest in my posts, so I redirected the support towards those who supported me.

But I stopped getting comments entirely, and I don't know if that's because there IS a contingent of people reading who hate G+ and therefor refuse to leave a comment, or if I'm not a suave and engaging as I lead myself to believe.

So if you have something to say, feel free to say it (try not to be a dick or dickette, if at all possible, and I'll try not to be one either) in the newly re-opened WordPress  comments.

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Winter Gaming

Fall Steam Sale

I picked up a few items from the Fall Steam Sale this year.

Saint's Row IV was a natural at $20. I had such a great time in Saint's Row The Third that the even more bizarre idea of adding in an alien invasion -- never mind the idea that the Saints were now running the U.S. -- is a no-brainer. I haven't gotten that far, but I am anything but disappointed.

Divinity: Dragon Commander looked really good on paper. You need to take over the realm using a combo of real time strategy and CCG mechanics. The game is beautiful. The voice acting is superb. It's really fucking hard, or else I really suck. I lasted three rounds before I got steamrolled by the AI. I hope I'm just incompetent.

I also got GODUS, because it was 50% off, and I was intrigued. I tried it out, did some terraforming, built some huts. That's about it.

World of Warcraft

Yeah. I held off on this for a while because of the subscription. Many people had been talking about it, and I had subsided on Allods Online in the meanwhile, but a combination of "I have it installed", the promise of the new stuff in the next expansion, and that so many other people were talking about it (with a sheepish shrug that indicated a burning desire to return, but only if their off-handed comments were warmly received). Originally I thought a bunch of folks would roll new characters on the same server, and we'd be re-experiencing the game as a group, but either folks quickly fell away, or everyone went back to their mothballed characters.

I've been cleaning up quests on my highest character (now 67), mostly half-assing it while watching Stargate SG-1 from the beginning. I have no idea what's going on in the game as a result. But I keep pressing on with little consequence. I ask myself "why", but the answer is "meh...why not?".

EverQuest Next (Generation)

My wife sometimes plays MMOs. I got her to try several over the years, and she plays them on and off. Lately, she's been playing EverQuest 2. I haven't really joined her because my characters are all over the place, and she was starting in New Halas, which annoys the hell out of me.

This weekend, however, we had the whole family in the game with new characters: myself, my wife, and our daughter. After some weirdness with starting zone choice (new accounts can't start in Kelethin until they make their first character), we played for a while. It's the first time we got our daughter to actually care about what she was doing. Usually she'll concentrate on character creation, and will then prefer to play "hide and seek" in the game while ignoring...the game. But she was focused on the quests as she learned how the read the UI and manage her abilities.

Last night, she rolled a new character on her own, and after playing for a while in New Halas, she declared "this is my new favorite game."

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tv_community02Being an MMO fan, playing with others seems like it should be a no-brainer. Popular wisdom dictates that people play MMOs because they want to play with people, right? Personally, I don't subscribe to this: I play MMOs because they're expansive, always available (except during patching windows), and updated frequently. I do like that there are other people in the world, though, because it makes the world more alive than it would be if it were just NPCs standing around, being helpless until you happen along to run their menial tasks for them. Thing is, I don't like to play with random people.

I'll jump ahead and say simply that I blame the game design mentality that puts loot and it's inherent selfishness ahead of anything that requires people to actually work together for reasons beyond sheer brute force. I have no issues playing with people I know because I'm confident that we're all nice people. If we want to take content slow, we're all OK with that. If we don't have the best gear, we're also OK with that. We like the experience of the game, and aren't in it for the loot or prestige.

One driving force that I've come to appreciate is honest-to-goodness community. This transcends in-game grouping, and isn't even centered on MMOs. Finding a decent group of human beings who's opinions you trust and who value the same things as you do when it comes to games is a much better motivator for me than any mechanical feature that a game offers. Sure, this is nothing new: tight-knit guilds or groups of friends have always been the tethers that keep people playing a particular game, or when severed, cause people to drift away.

The thing is, I've found I don't even need that strong of an attraction: just a bunch of nice people being passionate about what they're doing, so long as they're all doing something in the same game. That's important because a lot of people I interact with are gamers. Not all of us are playing the same games. It's great to be able to talk about "gaming" with them, but if I'm not playing a game that someone else is, and vice versa, we can't commiserate on anything specific. We can't keep each other interested in the game itself like we can when we're playing the same game, having similar experiences, discovering new things about the game, and even sometimes getting together in-game as well.

I realize now that after years of solo trekking across the MMO landscape, the reason why I've never been able to commit to a single game has been because of my lack of involvement in a really passionate community. I'll take my share of the blame -- I don't find it easy to just drop myself into someone else's life and feel comfortable -- but I also wish there were more communities out there who organized along the same sentiments of "games as enjoyment" and not "games as ego-boosters".

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Levelcapped: The Sequel

LCLogo_2013I'm on a bit of a cleaning spree around here. It started when I was moving my primary domain from its age-old moorings over at Blogger to centralize my content with this host. In the process, I ditched all my posts and opted to start over.

In a similar vein, I've opted to re-boot Levelcapped for a few reasons.

Firstly, I find it refreshing to start over. Although long-time readers will hopefully remember some posts, new readers will have a fresh approach to the blog. This is important because...

...secondly, I found that the contents of this blog were getting way out of hand. There was a lot of angry content getting the green-light, and scrolling back through the archives, I realized -- actually, admitted to myself -- that my writing style was pretty out of control. I need to learn to use fewer words. I also need to work on writing in a way that doesn't sound like I'm writing a speech, because seriously: why the hell am I preaching? If you're here, you're the choir, and not in need of converting.

And lastly, I really want to devote this blog to the good in games. It's really simple to nitpick, which is pretty much what a lot of blogs inevitably trend towards. I see a lot of people easily resigning themselves to listing out what they don't like in games, but what I rarely see is people actually getting excited about the games that they play. I want to use this space to tell you why I like what I do. While my threshold for "deal-breaking" features or flaws is higher than most, I'm a realist: if a game just can't pull its own weight, I'll be sure to say so -- in my opinion, and hopefully in a constructive way. But this will be a positive blog going forward. No insults. No sarcasm. Just a love of gaming and a desire to promote it.

I also want to get this ship on a regular schedule. I want to try to get some Follow Along categories going for the games I'm playing, and get more into videos. Let's Play videos are a big thing now, but I hope to have the time and opportunity to focus more on introductory videos, and less on real-time recaps.


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