Friday, August 26, 2011

Site News: New Blog Address and Affiliation

This is going to be a quick post about some changes coming to Redhawks Gaze.  First off, I have a new site and web address.  I have moved the blog to Wordpress.  In addition, the new way to get to the new site is  When you go there, you will see some familiar things and a couple of new things that will be happening in the future.

Second, in collaboration with my wife, we have started a group called the Grooms Blogging Group.  What does this mean for the site?  First off, it means you will be seeing me blog more often that I have recently. I will be returning to a once daily blogging.  Second, you will start to see advertisements on the blog.  I would encourage you to click on the links because the more business you give me, the more contest, prizes, etc. I can give to you.  It is a tit for tat situation.  Third, I would encourage you to go to the main website above to see all the new blogs as we introduce them and would encourage you to check them out.  There are going to be blogs about entertainment, politics, etc.

The future is looking great at Redhawks Gaze and I hope everybody will come along for this next phase of the journey.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trends in MMOs

I have seen many different trends recently in MMOs.  Some have greatly advanced games and some have set games back considerably.  Here is a list of current trends with my opinions on them:

1) Rated BGs - While this seems like a great idea and leads to a more competitive enviroment, the fact of the matter is if teams are equal, it comes up to either luck or gear, neither of which are great ways to determine a rated BG winner.  While arenas can be quickly changed by tactics, the tactics for rated BGs stay the same and it comes down to execution.  If excecution is equal on both sides, it comes down to luck or gear.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

2) Reputation Grinding - I know yesterday I complained about reputation grinding for Firelands.  The fact of the matter though is that games need reputation grinding.  It seperates those who are committed from those who play casually.  The issue I have is the style of grinding.  If you put your all in to it, between tabards, daily quest, etc., you should be able to hit the highest reputation with a faction relatively quickly, not 30 days.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

3) Looking for Dungeon - Any MMORPG that does not come with this standard will fail in the current state of MMOs.  This has been the biggest improvement in any game.  I remember trying to run BC and Wrath heroics with people.  It was a pain in the ass.  Even in Rift before they implemented the LFD, it was a pain in the ass.  This is a requirement for any successful MMORPG in these days.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

4) Add-Ons - If you are exclusively a WoW player, you may say that addons are a necessity to playing the game.  If you are exclusively a Rift player, you may say screw addons, just give me a highly customizable UI and I will be happy.  My opinion is that addons should not be a requirement.  If your UI makes it almost impossible to play without addons, that is a problem and is something that should be addressed.  Hell, free MMORPGs like Dungeons and Dragons Online have a more customizable UI then games you have to pay for.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

5) Free to Play - A lot of games are going free to play (F2P).  While I admire companies trying to increase their numbers, this is a false increase.  Sure, a F2P MMORPG may have 15 million players, but how many are actively playing.  Why do you think WoW implemented a F2P model up to level 20?  They have lost subscribers and want people to boost their numbers.  Going F2P is ok, but you have to do it for the right reason.  Unfortunately, a lot of companies are doing it for the wrong reasons.  Opinion: Thumbs Down

6)  In Game Money for Items Shops - Along with the F2P model is the implementation of spending real money for in game items.  You have two extremes for this.  One one hand, you have Blizzard selling pets and mounts in game.  On the other, you have Runes of Magic that allows you to buy nice gear, etc. for real money.  While I'm ok with paying money for pets and mounts, if any MMORPG goes to buying an advantage in a game however, that is where I draw the line.  Opinion:  Thumbs Down

7) Real Money Auction Houses - While not technically an MMORPG, Diablo 3 has announced a real money auction house to buy other players equipment.  While I like this idea better than the in game item shops, it falls along the same path.  People with more money will buy an advantage.  If Diablo 3 is successful with this, don't be surprised to see this in other MMORPGs.  The one thing I do like about this is that it benefits players selling as well as players buying. Opinion:  We will see after Diablo 3.

8) Guild Leveling/Challanges/Quest - This is probably the biggest change in the past year of MMORPGs and I love it.  This encourages guilds to run dungeons, raids, rifts, etc. together to get benefits.  It adds a whole new dimension to guilds that is incredible and makes it where you almost have to play with a guild.  And if you want to get anywhere in an MMORPG, you should be in a guild.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

9) Quest at the Start of the Dungeon - Yes, the good old days before LFD, you had to go through an entire quest chain just to get the quest that will take you into a dungeon.  Not anymore.  Usually, the quest you need for a dungeon are right inside the dungeon to begin with.  Especially while leveling, this makes it so much better to get good gear and gives a great incentive to stay queued in the LFD while leveling.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

10) World Events - It is so unfortunate that some games only have world events right before an expansion because world events are insanely fun.  They are a different type of daily quest that provide greater benefit and you actually feel like you are part of the world itself for once.  Opinion: Thumbs Up

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Goodbye WoW, Hello Rift (a.k.a. The State of WoW)

Yes, you have read the title correctly, I'm saying goodbye to WoW and my druid.  I have canceled my account which runs out of time in November and I haven't decided what to do with it yet. (Honestly, I'm thinking of MMOBaying it and getting some money for it.) 

So you may be asking yourself? Redhawks, why?  Why is a beloved moonkin blogger quitting WoW altogether?  Now, first don't get me wrong.  I'm not going to say WoW sucks.  I have devoted almost 3 years of my life to this game and it will be around for a very long time, maybe even longer than Rift or other MMORPGs.  However, there are major reasons why I'm quitting WoW.

1) Money - It is amazing that $77 for every 6 months is still the price for WoW.  I know that people will pay it and the market drives price, but that is insane.  It comes up to more than $10/month.  As many people know, I was recently married and while I didn't think a thing about cost in the past, now I'm supporting another person and cost becomes a major factor.  Also, I realize they made WoW free up to level 20.  And while twinking out a level 19 rogue and ganking people in BGs sounds fun, I would much rather do something else.  Rift's current price is less than $10 per month if you pay for a year subscription, which I would gladly pay up front to be able to save the money in the long term.

2) Staleness - I know people still find WoW content exciting and I still like some parts of it.  However, even raiding a little bit recently made me realize that the content has been used over and over again.  Same mechanics, same ideas, same fights.  And while Rift is guilty of this too, there seems to be a freshness with it that I can't explain, but you just feel.  You can run expert 5 mans, group together with random people to do a daily raid rift, run raids, run PvP, run crafting rifts, do the world event, do zone events, or do dailies.  They have even just implemented on the weekends where they change a PvP map to another game and it was exciting.  In addition, you got massive amounts of favor for it.  Also, look at content updates.  Since Cataclysm released in December 2010, there has only been one new raid tier opened up in that.  Since March 2011, Rift has released 4 major patches, 3 raid tiers, Cross-Shard LFD and PvP.  And they are going back and putting in a starter raid between expert dungeons and Greenscale's Blight in patch 1.5. 

3) Grinding - This is more of just a personal argument, but I remember the 30+ day grind to get the Crusader title in patch 3.2 and I have no desire to do that again anytime soon.  I'm looking at you Fireland dailies.  It is absolutely insane that you have to grind out 30 days to get the vendors to get the new equipment, etc. 

In addition, doing ICC for almost an entire year killed my desire to go back.  There is only so much of one raid you can do. We did the normal raid.  We came back and did the heroic versions of the raid.  We came back a third time and did the achievements for Glory of the Icecrown Raider.  Week after week after week of the same raids over and over again.  And unfortunately, what people are going to find in Firelands is that it is going to be 10 times worse because there are only seven bosses.  With the exception of the Argent Tourney raid, which in my opinion is Blizzard's biggest blunder to date, all the other raid tiers had at least 10 bosses.  And people tired of Argent Tourney too and I feel a lot of people are gonna do that same with Firelands.

However, I'm not just talking about PvE grinding.  I'm talking about PvP grinding too.  Grinding for the latest season of gear.  And while there seems to be a variety of rated PvP games, the fact of the matter is it comes down to basically two.  Capture the Node/Flag or Capture the Relic. (And that's assuming they put Strands back in the rotation, which I doubt.)

Rift has dailies and factions to grind.  Rift has Prestige to grind in PvP.  However, the benefits seem to come at a faster pace than what they come in WoW.  Sure, you have to buy the PvP set with favor, but after that, you upgrade them for Prestige without having to spend a single point of Favor.  Then they have added PvP Rifts which encourage world PvP, something that has arguably been dead in WoW since Burning Crusade.  In addition, they offer alternatives.  If you haven't had time to grind out the head enchant, that's okay because there is a rune that you can use in the meantime that is not as good, but still will give you benefit.

4) Desire - This is maybe just a personal thing, but I have little to no desire to sign on to WoW.  Nothing in particular wrong with it, but if I get on, I may check my auctions and if I have time, maybe run an expert ZA/ZG as a tank.  But beyond that, I have no desire to do anything else in game.  The raids aren't PUGable.  PvP is not great unless you are in a pre-made.  It is almost like a feeling of completeness.  I defeated the final boss of Wrath and most of the hardmodes in ICC before Cataclysm and I feel accomplished.  On the other hand, in Rift, if I find nothing to do, I'm not looking hard enough.  There are people always looking to run raid rifts, expert rifts, expert dungeons, PvP, etc.  It at times seems almost like too much to do in the game and I enjoy that.

5) Excitement - This week, Blizzard got the copyright on the name Mist of Pandaria, which means more than likely, that is the name of the next expansion for WoW.  I'm not looking forward to grinding out more levels, fighting with people for quest items, etc. in order to grind my way to level 90 or 95, whichever they choose.  However, I also realize that in the year and a half it takes that expansion to come out, I will probably have a bunch more raids and more content in Rift likely before even the first expansion comes out.  And we know from prior history that in WoW, there are only two more raid tiers this expansion before the next expansion.  Two raid tiers in a year and a half doesn't cut it anymore in my book.

So these are my main reasons to quit WoW.  It still is a great game but it doesn't have the allure that it once held.  Will I come back one day?  I don't know honestly.  Even if Rift does end up failing, which I doubt at this point since it has been the most successful launch since World of Warcraft for an MMO, I don't know if I can bring myself back to WoW.  

To all my WoW friends, thank you.  It was a pleasure raiding with you, PvPing with you, and just hanging out with you in general.  And don't worry, I'm gonna still be blogging, although it will be heavy Rift focused.