Screenshotting and Imagining

I recently installed ReShade for Elder Scrolls Online and have messed around with it a little bit. I’ve known about GShade for FFXIV and decided to give it a go this weekend and I absolutely love it!

A lot of filters come with it and a very active community constantly publishes more. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg and spent more time—as I do—playing with Gpose and GShade than actually playing the game.

FFXIV has a lot of cut scenes during which I take screenshots. Especially when I start a new character so I can see how they’ll look in game and then decide if I want to continue working on them in character creation. I was going through screenshots from a new character cut scene and discovered a silly story.

Click/tap photos for full size.

My new Viera is headed for Ul’dah to start her new life.

She’s impressed by the forest… of stone.

Very impressed.

Lots and lots of stone…. makes sense. Ul’dah is surrounded by the desert.

Wait, what? Did that guy just “psst” me?

Can you imagine? He DID “psst” me!

And, yes. Viera start out with ridiculous outfits. According to lore, my Viera came from the Golmore Jungle. I guess that’s something a human bunny would wear in the jungle… [insert eye roll].

But… wait a minute… is that… ?!?!

*gasp* Could it be?

John Lennon?!?! Imagine that!

I told ya it was silly! 😋

The filter used during that cut scene was more washed out than I would have liked. But that’s just me learning GShade. Here’s a comparison demonstrating the difference it can make. Some people use a “gameplay” filter to adjust how their game looks at all times.

Gpose, the native photo tool in FFXIV.
GShade, using my first filter.

It’s pretty amazing. ReShade is fun to use in Elder Scrolls Online, but as far as I know you can’t freeze characters/scenes like you can with Gpose in FFXIV. Black Desert Online also has a native photo tool that freezes, but it’s not as user friendly—at least for me. Based on my experience, the screenshot/virtual photography tool set (Gpose + GShade + the amazing community) for FFXIV is unmatched.

This shot features a filter that came with GShade, and I adore it!

GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

Another example of the Lucid Dreaming filter:

Native Gpose
GShade, Lucid Dreaming filter by #AlmaStudio

I like how she turned out but I’m undecided about her name. She’s currently Vetrarros Dakini which roughly translates to “winter rose sky dancer.” I’m not loving it, and the naming convention lore is not helpful so back to my name docs and websites until I come up with a name I do love.

I hope you enjoyed the silly story. I find it interesting how it didn’t at all occur to me while the cut scene was playing. Perhaps I was too focused on my new GShade toy and taking screenshots to notice!

In Which I Compare BDO, ESO, FFXIV, and WoW

Time playing games between my last post and now, with the underlying current of needing to narrow my focus for a return to work this month, has given me further insight and—you guessed it!—I’ve changed my mind about a few things.

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Oops!

I already caved and subbed to Elder Scrolls Online because I can’t stand craft materials NOT going into the bottomless craft bag. I pay Zenimax $15 a month to NOT manage a virtual inventory. Sounds kinda crazy when put that way.

And I am now inclined to sub to WoW for a similar reason. I thought I was smart by giving my starter edition level 20s a bunch of 16 slot bags and gold before my sub expired. Well, guess what? I can’t sell anything because I’m gold capped. I knew about the 10g gold cap but didn’t consider how inventory space would fill up because I couldn’t sell anything.

Subs aside, as compared in my previous post, more factors need to be considered when deciding which game(s) to focus on when I return to a full-time working schedule.

BDO vs. ESO vs. FFXIV vs. WoW

I made this comparison table to visually represent my thoughts about each game and rank them accordingly. My apologies if the formatting comes across weird for you. I’m not seeing an insert table option in the WordPress editor and ended up hand coding it.

Disclaimer: these are 100% my opinions based on my personal experience and filtered through my personal perspective and values. To somewhat qualify my experience, listed below are the years I started playing each game.

  • World of Warcraft (WoW) – 2004
  • Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) – 2014
  • Black Desert Online (BDO) – 2019
  • Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) – 2019

Please note: some features may have unlocks I have forgotten about, especially with ESO and WoW as I’ve been playing them longer than BDO and FFXIV.

Druid

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Can Haz Durid
Warcraft is the only one with an official druid class. You could build one in ESO and I suppose use the werewolf skill line to shapeshift and even play as a Worgen. In BDO you can pretend to be one as a ranger or witch and in FFXIV as a conjurer/white mage and maybe even red or black mage.

Character

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Build Customization ✔✔
Character Creation/Modification ✔✔
Fashion ✖✖
Racial Diversity ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO’s character creation is phenomenal, saving it from an because it costs to modify your character’s appearance and what they are wearing. And they can’t wear much, even if you buy all the $30 outfits for your class. Additionally, “armor” for female characters doesn’t cover much in order to show off the jiggle physics. Elves and humans are the only races you can play and classes are gender locked. As for build customization, there is none. Theoretically you can pick and choose skills to learn/use but you could be gimping yourself. What sets you apart from others of the same class is a higher character level with more skill points and better gear.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO’s build system is extremely versatile, e.g., you can choose to completely ignore your class skills and only use skills from the Mages Guild skill line. I’m not sure if this is advisable, but it’s certainly doable. In character creation you can adjust individual facial and body parts. You can make a Bustopher Jones Khajiit!

Modifying your character’s cosmetic appearance can be done via collections. I’m not sure what is available to new players. My best guess is anything in character creation—makeup, tattoos, and jewelry—that was available for your race. You can buy more cosmetic options in the cash shop and can change the appearance of your gear once you have collected a few dyes/motifs.

ESO has cats, elves, a variety of humans, lizards, and orcs. You can change your race using tokens purchased in the cash shop.

Final Fantasy XIV

As far as I know there is no build customization in FFXIV. The fashion system, called glamours, makes up for this—once you unlock it—allowing your character to visually stand out from the crowd. And if you don’t know about it to seek it out, you may not unlock it for awhile. Glamours allow you to create outfits using the “glamour plate” system and you can change colors with dye. Did anyone else play with Fashion Plates as a kid? I’m certain it contributed to my dream of being a fashion designer when I grew up!

The Aesthetician (unlocked with a quest) can change a few cosmetics while Phials of Fantasia (purchased in the cash shop) can change your race, which some people seem to do as frequently as the weather changes. Like ESO, you can play cats, elves, a variety of humans, and a lizard-like race. There’s also the diminutive Lalafell and the Viera bunny girls. In character creation, the body parts you can adjust are height, chest size, tails, and ears. You can’t make a Bustopher Jones Miqo’te.

World of Warcraft

Like FFXIV’s Aesthetician, WoW’s barber shop allows you to change your appearance. Unlike ESO and FFXIV, you can change your character’s skin color with in game currency. WoW gets a whole extra for this. Race changes can be purchased in the cash shop. Once you have collected some gear/weapons in WoW, you can change the appearance of your gear but not the color.

WoW has the most playable races with pretty much everything the other games have plus pandas, goblins, trolls, werewolves, hooved and horned creatures with and without fur, undead, and now foxes. Build flexibility with class specializations is limited. Druids have the most options with four specializations, one for each play type: tank, melee dps, magic/ranged dps, and healer.

FOMO

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Login Rewards ✖✖
Pressure to Play ✖✖ ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO is horrible (or really good at it?) when it comes to making you feel like you are missing out. They have daily login rewards, daily loyalty rewards, a daily guild “allowance,” a daily event item collection—get x for being logged in for 1 hour each day, xx for 2 hours, and even more for 3 hours each day!—to the point that managing everything you are collecting becomes a daily chore. There are even incentives for leveling a new class: earn 10 billion silver for leveling the new class to 58!

To be fair, BDO offers many AFK activities—even character leveling—that can help you reach those daily /played goals.

Elder Scrolls Online

I have logged in to ESO each day—and not played—for the sole purpose of earning something that was rewarded after 20-something days of consecutively logging in. I don’t like this feeling and have tempered it by ignoring this feature.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has some kind of loyalty system in which you receive rewards for x /played days. They sent a set of cosmetic gear to all my characters and I had no idea why for some time. It was the 60-day loyalty reward! Even with that and a sub, I don’t feel pressure to play FFXIV. Perhaps because I’m a new player?

World of Warcraft

The pressure to play WoW is felt subbed or not, likely because I have a far greater time investment having played off and on (mostly on) for 15 years. There are no login rewards or incentives for daily play. I don’t count daily quests because they are a means to an end requiring you to do something more than logging in.

Gameplay

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Combat ✔✔
Grindiness/Repititiveness
Housing ✔✔ ✔✔
Lore/Story ✔✔
Open World Exploration ✔✔
PvP (forced)

Black Desert Online

BDO’s combat is amazing! There is no tab targeting or reticle that aims your actions. Just glorious mayhem that takes down whatever you are facing and is in your vicinity—lots of AoE. It’s very fun and it has to be to balance out hours of grinding. Even so, I get quickly bored with the repetitiveness.

I really enjoyed the housing system. You get furniture and profession tools as quest rewards and need a home to put them in. Many of the buildings in towns and cities can be rented as your residence and you can have more than one in different places. I had my own little villa with three residences around a courtyard; one served as a living space with a kitchen downstairs, another was my bedroom, and the third was my alchemy lab. You really feel like your characters live in the game.

I think there is lore. There is some story going on, but it’s confusing and disjointed. Perhaps because everything is translated from Korean to English. Some texts and dialog simply don’t make sense.

BDO is the only game of the four with forced open world PvP. My great dislike of becoming the victim of someone’s bad day keeps me from exploring the vast and beautiful world. Which is unfortunate because there is a lot to discover. There are no loading screens and it can take 30 minutes real time to travel from one part of the map to another. There is no fast travel. You can travel by foot, horse, or transport yourself and wait an hour until you can play that character from the new location.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO gets all for Gameplay. The lore/story is vast, deep, and unique. It’s the only game where you can go anywhere you want as everything scales to your level. There are no game mechanics that require grinding. Any grinding is self-imposed, i.e., if you want to reach max level ASAP. It’s possible I’m wrong and have not yet come across anything that requires a grind.

Housing is great and there’s so many recipes to craft your own furniture and decorations. Players can get very creative decorating their homes! Each starter city has a free apartment available upon completion of an introductory quest. You can fast travel to your homes at no cost, making this a convenient and cheap way to travel across Tamriel.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV is the only one where you can’t go wherever you want. Travel to other regions is unlocked through the main quest. Combat feels clunky and slow which makes fighting enemies feel very repetitive. And while I have yet to fully experience it, FFXIV does have player housing and a good story.

World of Warcraft

WoW is the only one without housing and my best guess as to why is because the game is so old it simply can’t be implemented. ESO went live without player housing but I think it was able to do it because individual objects had already been built as individual assets. I’m making a wild guess here, but it makes the most sense to me. And I’m not certain player housing in WoW does make sense. It seems weird.

WoW’s lore and story is good. It doesn’t get as high marks as ESO primarily because much of it takes place in books outside of the game. For me, it creates a disjointed experience and I’m not a fan of this approach—requiring me to invest time outside of playing the game to research and figure out what the heck happened.

There is an overall grindy/repetitive feel at higher levels, especially if you want something like unlocking an Allied Race. But this should come as no surprise as this element of gameplay has been part of WoW since the beginning. I think the grind feels better now as there are more interesting and entertaining aspects when compared to repeatedly killing the same mobs for hours on end for that one drop… or those five quest items as can be experienced in Warcraft Classic.

The Zandalari Troll rep grind to unlock them as an Allied Race was long and arduous but has me feeling more attached to Zen’Ijira than had the race been accessible to all with a new expansion. So there’s that interesting psychological feature. However, I’m not at all inclined to unlock the Kul Tiran anytime soon. I will eventually, just maybe not this year.

Monetization

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Cash Shop ✖✖✖ ✖✖
Loot Boxes ✖✖
While WoW does have the Blizzard Shop, it pales in comparison to the other games’ cash shops so it’s the only one that gets a for the cash shop. In BDO and ESO, the cash shop is available in game (not a positive) and requires you to buy a cash shop currency with real world currency. ESO scores better than BDO here because it provides some of that currency with a subscription. BDO does not have that option.

FFXIV and WoW do not have loot boxes. ESO’s loot boxes are limited to seasonal crown crates. BDO’s loot boxes are everywhere and nearly every facet of the game features their RNG gambling system.

Ok, time to score. Let’s make this simple:

 = +1
= -1

Scoring

BDO
(6 – 18 )
ESO
(14 – 6 )
FFXIV
(10 – 6)
WoW
(13 – 4 )
Druid -1 -1 -1 +1
Character -3 +5 +2 +6
FOMO -4 -2 +3 0
Gameplay +1 +9 0 0
Monetization -5 -3 0 +2
Totals
-12
+8
+4
+9

ffxiv_12102019_204948_406

We Have a Winner!

According to this, I should be playing WoW and ESO. That sounds about right and I was playing them before starting BDO and FFXIV last year. Well, that’s settled! With a very clear picture of which games to spend my time on, I need a clear picture of how to spend my time in these games.

As shared in previous posts about WoW, while I feel more lost with each expansion there is still a lot I can do and enjoy. I truly get excited thinking about playing level locked 20s in zones I haven’t experienced post-Cataclysm, collecting gear along the way. But I’m still toying with the idea of only playing druids. That would mean there’s no need for me to play other armor classes to just collect gear.

In a recent post, Gamescapist—a new addition to my blogroll—talks about setting goals for her characters in a way that they serve a specific purpose and their play time comes to an end. Gnomecore does this and it always seemed strange to me. Why waste your time on a character you have no intention of playing once they reach a certain point?

But I think I should consider their approach. I’ve been playing these games without an end… without an end. I’ve mentioned before how much of my playtime is spent doing things for the sake of it, without specific goals in mind.

It might be time to change that.

Preparing for 2020: Returning to Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

I intended to post an update on where I’m at with preparing for Shadowlands. While working on that post, it quickly became clear that it should be part of a greater and more general update on preparing for this year.

In between the time I spent with my Mom last year, I played games. We’ll set aside the fact that I didn’t spend my free time wisely and I didn’t even spend my gaming time wisely, i.e.: finish games I’ve been wanting to finish or complete goals in games I’ve been playing—I had all the time in the world and did not choose to do things in games that require big time commitments. Instead, I started two new games: Black Desert Online in January 2019 and Final Fantasy XIV in the summer.

2019-07-10_35978008

Returning to work next month is the most significant factor in preparing for this year, making it very easy to decide what I’ll do as I will no longer have the luxury of time. As a game subscription makes me feel obligated to spend time playing the game, we’ll start with game subs and see what each game generally offers without one.

  • Black Desert Online – no game sub, all content available
  • Elder Scrolls Online – all base content available, no level restrictions
  • Final Fantasy XIV – can’t play without a sub
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – all base content available, no level restrictions
  • World of Warcraft – level 20 starter edition (I wish Classic was available!)

From a subscription perspective, you get the most from BDO, ESO, and SWTOR without one. Yet, if I were to choose a game based on paying a sub, it would have to be FFXIV because you can’t play it at all without one.

And that’s what I’m going to do. My one-year ESO sub expired this month as did my six-month WoW sub. I am not re-subbing to either because I don’t want to feel obligated to play them. I can happily play them as a non-subscriber.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

2019-09-08_419145733

I can’t deny that not subscribing to WoW is hard. It feels like a break up, but I have to be honest—the breakup started years ago. This is from a draft I never published in 2014:

Getting Worse with Each Expansion

For me, the result of each expansion has been an increased loss of connection with knowing how to play my characters, the game mechanics, and perhaps the game itself. I am less willing to spend time relearning how to play a class and feel like more of a n00b each expansion. So I play less, and less, and less. With MoP, I mostly played to see Pandaria, which I enjoyed very much as well as fun new features such as finding lost treasures.

—–

I’ve become one of those players that just doesn’t care as much anymore.

—–

So, after all this time with MoP, I have not stepped into any raid, which is a first for me. I haven’t even done all the 5-man dungeons or completed a single scenario. I’d rather get Timeless Isle gear and continue working on grinding old school reps and challenging myself by soloing old raids. Maybe a few BGs here and there.

It’s gotten worse! I didn’t check out the anniversary celebration. In fact, I logged off at the Times of Cavern entrance with the best intention of checking it out and… I just never did. I see people talking about essences and have no idea what they are, nor have I bothered to look it up and find out. The game described in Fiannor’s post sounds completely foreign to me. Despite all that, I truly am looking forward to Shadowlands and have formulated a rough plan for that, as well as the other games.

2020 Game Plan (tee hee)

2019-08-07_17868537

Black Desert Online

BDO has the best character creation and combat style! I spend more time creating characters, taking screenshots, creating graphics, and posting on social media than actually playing the game. I can’t commit to this when I am working.

I’ll play enough to keep my guild contract from expiring and will create fewer characters, using my solid foundation of templates for new designs.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO has the best stories! I really messed things up with my “one of everything” approach to the point of feeling overwhelmed so I just don’t play. To correct this, I’ll recreate my beloved Zahra al-Nayyir on NA and focus on her. I’m undecided about subscribing for the upcoming Dark Heart of Skyrim DLCs. I should have enough crowns to play them without a sub.

Ironically, that post about Zahra references a post in which I decided to play one character in one game. Ha! I’m a lost cause.

Screenshot_20181215_174619

Oops! Not that kind of work! 😅

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has the best transmog/outfits and screenshot tools. I haven’t played enough to evaluate the story, but I think it will be good. I am really enjoying it so far and am happy to subscribe. It’s new, different, and so far has a happier and lighter feel to it. Interactions with and between NPCs are delightful. I am leveling fishing to see more interactions between Sisipu, the acting guild master and quest giver, and Wawalago, the guild master in name. These two are hilarious!

ffxiv_01252020_220221_312

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Oh, SWTOR, I haven’t quite pinpointed why you aren’t a priority. You are a good game and I know I’d have fun playing you. It’s not you… it’s me.

World of Warcraft

I love the level 20 starter edition! I’ll play Zen’Ijira in 20–60 zones and dungeons, adding gear to my collection. I’ll also play a cloth, mail, and plate character to collect gear and to play through different zones. I haven’t played through any of them since Cataclysm changed them all and am looking forward to it.

I’ll subscribe for Shadowlands and play through the new leveling experience.

Returning to Work

2019-07-11_98576163 crop

This return to work is a new beginning with meaning. While economically, I need to work, I’m very grateful that the job I start next month isn’t just any ol’ job to earn money. It’s the start of building something with my husband and for our family. I’m very excited about it!

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you might wonder if what I say here will actually happen. You aren’t alone! I wonder the same thing too.

We shall see, won’t we?

Taz’dingo!

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Woop! There it is! And here is a quick post in celebration.

I reached exalted last night and finished the Allied Race quest today. Sadly, I wasn’t made an honorary Zanchuli Council member. But the new one is in good hands! And boy does it feel really good to have completed this!

I’m glad I had the Tauren heritage armor set on hand—it was perfect for this epic occasion!

World Of Warcraft - Retail Screenshot 2019.12.07 - 22.27.31.80.pngWoWScrnShot_120819_105517.jpg

I’d like you to meet Zen’Ijira!

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Her name is Zen (a Zandali prefix that means druid) + Ijira (derived from Ijiraat—shape shifters from Inuit mythology).

She kinda looks like my Darkspear druid! They both have purply skin with green hair.

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Here’s Zen’Ijira meeting her queen for the first time.

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I like how Talanji handled Sylvanus… and tells the new Allied Race character that Zandalar comes above all else. Zen’Ijira can get behind that.

Zandalar Forever!

Nearly Exalted with Zandalari

On my journey to exalted with the Zandalari, I check wowhead.com to see if I’ve missed any quests and lo and behold, there’s this whole Shadow Hunter series involving Vol’jin. YES! So I start that chain. I wore my Darkspear costume while assisting Talanji and Master Gadrin in escorting my favorite Warchief’s remains to a final resting place amongst the kings.

WoWScrnShot_111919_234856

WoWScrnShot_111919_235001

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The next step after this is a dungeon. Sigh. I haven’t ran a dungeon with other people in about two years, maybe more. So I sit on this for two weeks and finally get up the courage to queue. I read up on the tactics for Atal’dazar in the dungeon guide and go for it.

HOLY MOLY AND WTF?!?! That was a normal dungeon? We wiped on the first boss, Rezan. Got him on the second try and only one death the rest of the run. It was nuts. I used my feral regrowth on everyone at least once; many times on the tank.

A frost mage 100 item levels below me out-dpsed me. I do not belong in dungeons! Well, probably not as dps. Actually, probably not as melee dps. Ranged dps is better because I can see more of what’s going on. But I’m a healer at heart and I’m always looking at health bars.

With the ridiculous levels of mobility in this dungeon, I’d often find myself not hitting anything after glancing at health bars. Oops! The pack/boss moved… so much moving! I failed 13 GTFO alerts. No kidding! There was so much stuff to GTFO of! 23 were high—I’m not sure what that means. Sounds like more failing. I was the only person on that recount report.

I’m not sure I want to do that again.

Once we downed the final boss, I double checked my achievement to be sure it wasn’t a heroic. Nope. That was normal. Yikes! After everyone left, I donned my Darkspear costume and placed Vol’jin’s urn.

WoWScrnShot_120519_223537

All right. All right. I see you Bwonsamdi. Sure, I’ll meet you in your lair. But before I do, I need to run off to the Darkmoon Faire to get a reputation buff in preparation for this quest line. Y’see, I’ve been doing everything I can to earn the exaltation of the Zandalari and by my estimation I should reach my goal once I complete this quest line.

La dee da… hearth to Spirits Be With You, fly to the Great Seal, take the Thunder Bluff portal, off to the fair, spin around the merry go round, hearth to Dalaran, take the Orgrimmar portal, take the Zuldazar portal, fly to Nazrim, mount up and go see Bwonsamdi about Vol’jin’s spirit.

And that was it. Wait. What? That was it? Wowhead says there are more Shadow Hunter quests. Do I need to pick it up with someone else? Surely the game would have some clues for continuing this series.

Sigh. Time to Google.

The quest series picks back up with Bwonsamdi in Zuldazar. This disjointedness seems unnecessary, but OK then.

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World Of Warcraft - Retail Screenshot 2019.12.05 - 23.53.35.46

Yay! I got to see Vol’jin! And then, boo! The next quest is in a raid. I can’t imagine what LFR is like if that is what a normal dungeon is like. What the heck happened to dungeons while I was not running them?

To be fair, that was just one dungeon. Maybe others aren’t this bad? But humans typically associate one bad experience to all the things from whatever it was they badly experienced. This is Psych 101. Why is making players feel bad an acceptable outcome?

Dungeons don’t have to be something players dread. I’ve done a few in FFXIV—you have to for the main quest—and they feel much better and more accessible. Anyhow, that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another post.

Light is at the end of the tunnel!

I’m at 90.9% exalted with the Zandalari. I don’t know if I’ll try LFR or not. I really want to complete this quest line but unlocking this Allied Race is painful and not at all enjoyable. I’m human. I prefer to avoid pain.

Unlocking the Nightborne was a much better experience. In addition to world quests and missions, there was a beautiful story line that gave Nightborne reputation. Are those content creators no longer at Blizzard? Not once did I have to step foot into a dungeon or raid, or even rely on outside sources to know what I’m supposed to do next.

Technically, I don’t HAVE to run group content for Zandalari rep. It’s merely out of desperation for sources other than limited world quests that grant pitiful amounts of rep—the missions, when they pop, are decent—that has me feeling like I am required to do things I don’t want to do. And now I have the added anxiety of expecting LFR to be 10x worse than a normal dungeon. This feels very bad to me. Earning Nightborne rep did not feel bad.

Back to the bright side!

With the Darkmoon Faire in town, I may reach exalted this weekend. And when I do, I better get a seat on the Zanchuli Council.

Wish me luck!

Black Desert Online 2020 Calendar Contest Screenshot Submissions

Black Desert Online (BDO) holds an annual calendar contest for players to have a chance at their seasonal screenshots be included in next year’s calendar. Players can submit up to three screenshots in each seasonal category: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Halloween, and Winter. BDO staff then chooses one from each player’s set and that one will be voted on by other players. Check out the 2019 winners.

To help players with submissions—or new players like me who didn’t know about this annual contest and who haven’t been taking screenshots with it in mind throughout the year—BDO changes the season in game for a few days. Once the Halloween decorations are taken down, cherry blossom trees are added for spring, then tulips for summer, autumn leaves for fall, and rain changes to snow for winter. That means for winter you have to either chase the snow or stay put and hope it will eventually snow on your chosen photo shoot location.

BDO’s screenshot tool is, well, it’s a tool in and of itself. It takes some practice to learn the controls, and then even more practice to use them in a way that gets good results. It can be time consuming, especially for n00bs like me. The hardest part is selecting three images from the hundreds taken for each season!

I’ve learned a lot these past few weeks and even started using Ansel—just yesterday, in fact! There’s a lot you can do—the 360° feature is super fun—and I can’t wait to try it in other games. Disclaimer: outside editing isn’t allowed for this contest, so none of my submissions were taken using Ansel.

So, with that lengthy preamble out of the way, these are my submissions. I missed Spring because I was grinding Zandalari reputation while the Darkmoon Faire was in town. 😁

Enjoy!

Summer

Autumn

Halloween

Winter

How an Archdruid Kills Onu

A recent “Know Your Lore” article—A personal anxiety about Shadowlands—got me thinking about how I play World of Warcraft. As discussed in my Preparing for Shadowlands post, I basically do things “for the sake of it.”

Matthew Rossi, author of the “Know Your Lore” article, and many other players stopped playing Horde in Battle for Azeroth. So why is my Tauren Druid (Aubari) attacking other druids, fellow Cenarian Circle members, in Darkshore?

Guys, I made her attack Onu. I even hesitated. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that I hesitated and went through with it. I turned my Tauren Druid into one of those Horde members that does things because they are told.

For me, these tweets perfectly describe how I felt coming from Legion.

Why, indeed. Why would Archdruid Aubari have anything to do with the burning of Teldrassil, going back and warring in Darkshore, and killing an Ancient of Lore?

So. Along the theme of cleaning up my account in preparation for Shadowlands, I think the why for my characters is important. Taking a character inventory was a great start. But even now as I play Battle for Azeroth, what can I do to move away from a “for the sake of it” style of play to one that is more meaningful?

This 5-minute video explains the importance of starting with why, and how it differs from starting with what. If you are interested in the full TED Talk, you can watch it here.

Playing in BfA I am focused on what, then how, and why is nowhere to be found.

  • What = unlock Zandalari
  • How = do what Wowhead’s Battle for Azeroth Attunements says

What I haven’t considered is the cost to my character’s why. For Aubari, a servant of nature, is helping Sylvanas turn people undead and robbing them of their afterlife (I’m assuming) worth an alliance with the Zandalari?

If I go down this path, won’t I then be creating a new set of potentially prohibitive rules for myself? But isn’t that what a roleplay game is? I think I’d rather play the game with character specific limitations than as a digital reward/achievement system with a “do all the things” approach.

Something comes to mind, from a comment made by Kamalia regarding older vs. newer characters. Like her, I have stories in my head for newer characters while my older characters were just played “for the sake of it.” My connection to my older characters is derived from play time, not through an affinity for their story.

Aubari is my oldest character (she started as a Night Elf in 2004). Without a personal story, she—and any character for that matter, even myself as the player—can easily succumb to a minion mindset. Go there, do this, and oh yeah, for the Horde!

But… why?

Ignoring why leads to an Archdruid killing Onu.

Preparing for Shadowlands: Taking Inventory

I watched the BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony with Elloa and her followers on Twitch. It was a far better experience than watching it alone. Several days later what stands out most for me is the Diablo IV cinematic (that team should be making movies) and enhanced character customization—FINALLY!!!!

Separating eye color from face options… I mean, it’s not really something to celebrate in 2019 as so many other games have had a separate eye color feature in character creation for years. I’m simply pleased that Blizzard finally recognized character customization is important enough to enhance.

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I was on a bank alt named Accountbound who—you guessed it!—only holds account-bound items: gear tokens for all armor types that range in levels from 90–110 and various account bound reputation tokens, most of them dropped by the Zandalari Warbringers. Will these types of things have their gear requirements lowered when the level cap is reduced for players?

This got me thinking about preparing for Shadowlands and ways I could clean up my account. I thought it might be a good idea to take inventory of the mess I’ve created over the years. Are you ready for this?

WoW Retail Character Inventory

I have 60 characters across 12 servers:

  • 10 are on a free-to-play sub-account
    • 2 of these are guild inviters… for guilds with myself as the only active player
  • 9 are class trials who are extremely super-casually farming the Zandalari Warbringers
  • 5 are bankers

That leaves 36 actual characters of which 13 are Alliance, 23 are Horde, and:

  • 1 is level 120 (Horde)
  • 1 is 112 (Alliance)
  • 2 are 110 and have not stepped foot in BfA
  • 17 are 60–103
  • 15 are below level 45
    • 6 of these are level 20; either a new Allied race or I keep at 20 to play when I’m not subbed
    • 5 of these are below level 10
      • 2 of them are name savers

Diving into which classes I have, let’s first remove all those 20 and below because with Allied Races level 20 is the new level one. That leaves us with 24 characters. Of those, I have:

  • 6 Death Knights
  • 2 Demon Hunters
  • 4 Druids
  • 2 Hunters
  • 1 Mage
  • 0 Monks
  • 1 Paladin
  • 1 Priest
  • 2 Rogues
  • 1 Shaman
  • 2 Warlocks
  • 2 Warriors

There’s a lot of baggage here! Some characters—mostly the Death Knights—exist because they were created to play with family who started on other servers. Guess what? They don’t play anymore.

Clearly, my long-time goal of having one of each class on Alliance and on Horde hasn’t panned out. There are several boosted characters I don’t play who were boosted for professions I don’t use. I’m not going to get into professions. Just know there is only one alchemist and one engineer and they are not the same character.

I suspect this mess is a result of shifting focus several times over the years. It started as one main for Alliance (Druid) and one for Horde (Hunter), then one for each profession, then one of each race/class with the rarest combinations (e.g., dwarf rogue), and now one of each armor type.

It seems to me that the purpose of this style of play is “for the sake of it.” I think this mess is also indicative of my tendency to start but not finish things, in games and life. Had I not performed this task of inventorying my characters, I may not have recognized these patterns. Perhaps this history of disconnected play style has contributed to my disinterest in playing the game.

And now I must question, is my desire to unlock the Zandalari and Kul Tirans only “for the sake of it?” I’ll have to think about this. They have druids… but other than my main level 120 druid, I have only leveled one other druid beyond 80. Although, I did have all those mental restrictions (one race/class, one for each armor type, etc.).

While leveling another druid those mental restrictions would nag in the back of my mind, eventually convincing me to get back to whichever “for the sake of it” attempt I was working on.

What if I disregarded them and ONLY played druids?

Interesting!

There’s plenty of races who can be druids now. Oh, that reminds me: pretty please Blizzard, make this a playable druid?

While I’m not yet ready to make any big decisions and continue to ponder this new possibility, there are smaller things I can do now. I think I’ll start by cleaning out Accountbound’s banks and bags.

October Gaming Update

Oh my word! It’s been more than a month since my last post. I didn’t realize that much time had passed.

I must apologize for my inconsistent content. I don’t focus on one subject/topic and may come across as being all over the place. It’s probably because I am. I often publish posts declaring intentions of doing x, y, or, z in this game or that game… or even in my life (flashback to the “getting healthy” and “photo-a-day” post series that fizzled out) and either never do them or change my mind… a lot.

So with Warcraft Classic, what I intended to do and shared here in the blog isn’t what has actually transpired. I have found myself playing my original Night Elf druid, the one I lost when Blizzard updated character models and who no longer exists in retail.

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Just today, she completed the quest to learn aquatic form. I spent a lot of time swimming around continents exploring in Vanilla. Swimming around the top of Kalimdor—from Darkshore—is how I discovered Azshara back then!

I’m leveling her without a care for what’s best. She’s a caster—a nature mage!—and a tailor so she can make her own gear, and bags. She picks herbs and flowers in the wild and sends them to a rogue alchemist-in-training.

It’s really nice revisiting how Azeroth was before the cataclysm. Arriving at the intact Auberdine and talking with the very much alive Gwennyth Bly’Leggonde feels like coming home.

I’m doing other things in Classic, but not sharing them yet in case I might change my mind!

In retail, I updated my Lady Worgen.

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I also obtained the Tauren heritage armor set. I haven’t applied it yet, so no screenshots of Aubari wearing the set. I do love being able to summon my spirit guide! I only wish it would stay around a while longer.

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I even made another attempt at working toward getting the Zandalari as an Allied Race. I thought I was working on the Tides of Vengeance requirement but it turned out to be Ready for War. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m so confused about what I should be doing. Having to look up guides to know what to do is ridiculous. What am I missing in game? I feel dumb that I can’t figure it out on my own and I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and lose interest.

As retail is—to me—more of a to do list type experience, an IN GAME checklist type interface that shows you how to progress toward a specific goal and where you are as you progress would help. Or maybe it’s there and I’ve missed it? Or maybe…

too old - Kimmy

I’ll figure it out eventually and get around to unlocking Zandalari. Especially with the Shadowlands expansion coming and those glorious new character customization options! Did you see those? Unlocking Allied Races is a good thing to work on between now and then. As is cleaning up my account.

I’m working on a post about that, so stay tuned!

In Black Desert Online, I’m taking a break from creating characters. Primarily because I don’t want to use a value pack, a 30-day “buff” that increases your xp gains and allows you to customize your character, among other things. If I have a value pack running, I’ll feel obliged to play so I don’t waste it.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram or Twitter, here are a few from my recent Tamer class set. As it turns out, they are all elfkin! The left side is in character creation and the right is in game. They can look different in game, so I like to show them side by side.

Click/tap on the image to learn about their names, and for more pics.

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Niobe

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Aziza

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Parisa

Ducks In A Row Collage Tamer Titania

Meet My Warcraft Classic Alliance Crew

In planning for “name day,” the only Alliance character I thought of creating was a Night Elf druid. Same as when I played Vanilla. But I wanted to start Classic differently than how I started Vanilla.

Sometimes what you think you want isn’t what you need or should do.

I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t played Classic as much as I expected. Certainly one reason is the game is not new to me. Black Desert Online and Final Fantasy XIV are new and it’s been fun exploring new virtual worlds and their systems.

So. Along those lines, and within the framework of Classic, what’s new to me in Warcraft?

  • Gnomes—I have never leveled one beyond 20.
  • Warriors—I have never leveled one beyond the mid 40s.

Having never played a specific race in 15 years is kind of a big deal and deserves a big deal solution. How about a family of gnomes?!?! May I introduce to you, the Itty Sisters: Bapitty, Bipitty, Bopitty, and Boopity!

gnome Collage square

For some reason, I have more ideas about who these itty-bitty gals are than I did with my Horde crew. Bapitty is the eldest and naturally a warrior as she tends to take charge of and boss around her younger sisters. Bipitty and Bopitty are fraternal twins born with a strong affinity for magic. Boopitty quickly learned how to take advantage of being overlooked as the youngest; her older sisters don’t know the half of what she gets up to.

I haven’t worked out much else yet, but this certainly is a fun start!

Oh, we can’t forget the reincarnation of the one and only Mama Druid. Maybe it’s not a bad thing to bring her back to life. After all, I did have a hard time feeling connected to her when the character models were upgraded. She wasn’t the same character and I eventually race/faction changed her to Tauren.

It’s weird seeing her again.

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Her name is a mashup of the names she’s carried through retail: Liuna + Selenyx + Lunosa. Lunoselenyxa has the maximum amount of letters so the i from Liuna was omitted.

The remaining crew member is yet to be created. If I feel like I need a Paladin, she’ll be a dwarf with the long braids that fly every which way when she casts. I love that animation!

I really hope the reason I haven’t been playing Classic much is NOT because I’m crazily indecisive and can’t settle on a faction/race/class to play. Who knows? Well, hopefully I will after making an attempt to bring something new to the old and familiar place that is Azeroth.

In Black Desert Online news, I’m running a poll on Twitter and Instagram to help me decide which class to make templates for next. Valkyrie is currently in the lead.

Cast your vote in the comments or take the poll!