Slumming in good old DAOC until wow fresh server drops

So what makes an mmorpg engaging enough these days to want to log in and continue to play? What makes it stand out for me to want to spend my spare time on it almost exclusively and favored over other mmos or games? Before I answer those questions I should preface everything by saying that I have not done a very good job of keeping this blog’s purpose going: To document my advancement and enjoyment of the retro mmos I enjoy playing, at least not in a consistent basis, but I aim to try and change that in the final quarter of calendar year 2021.

Back to the questions: Ideally most of us would like to spend our gaming time in a game with a healthy server population, fun game play mechanics and maybe some goals to reach. For me that game is Dark Age of Camelot, the mmo I turn to again and again when I am feeling the mmo doldrums. I have achieved some goals I set for myself in this retro game in the past including: Having leveled at least one character to max 50, having fun running with pugs, and experiencing some fun game mechanics such as pvp battlegrounds and pve dungeons and zones.

I first attempted in 2019 when Blizzard dropped classic wow, and again earlier this year, to make Classic World of Warcraft my mmo of choice, my main game if you will, but that did not happen, primarily because players outleveled me in my server of choice the first time and most recently because I was not willing to spend that much time in TBC Classic realms where you had to spend money to transfer a character from the classic realm and where the majority of the server population seemed to be engaged in higher level content, thus leaving the non TBC servers barren.

However, I like the Warcraft lore so much, and I also like the game enough to probably give it a go once the new fresh servers drop in the near future. Until then I will continue to play DAOC because I never made much progress in a co-op server, Gaheris being my server of choice these days, even though I have a 36 level zerker on another server. It almost seems contradictory to spend any time leveling in a mostly pve server in a game like DAOC where pvp is its main attraction and done so well, almost to a legendary level, but I do like the idea of all three DAOC realms working cooperatively to achieve certain in game goals. I think the Gaheris community is pretty solid and I may be joining them on Discord as the forums seem to be more quiet nowadays that Discord has become the defacto recruiting and social tool for mmo gamers and gaming in general.

Looking back at my previous posts when I was blogging more regularly, I had attempted to return to DAOC almost a year ago but did not really give it the time and the effort it deserves, something that I aim to rectify now. I spent over two hours on the tutorial earlier, reacquainting myself with the game mechanics and with the berzerker class, but I still have much to learn about playing a character at a maximum proficiency (if there can be such a thing) and about playing on a specialized co-op with unique rules. I hope to make some online friends and maybe a mentor or two to help me on this new journey.

Of course for new players or returning players, this is a good time to jump back in the game as Broadsword recently announced its third Catch up in Caledonia event starts Monday.

From the herald posted on August 26:

It’s a way to start fresh and rapidly progress to the end-game with players around your level!

The 7-day long event that will take place entirely in the Realm vs Realm-enabled Caledonia battleground zone.

Players will start at level 1 and rapidly progress to level 50 all while earning gear, master levels, champion levels, and realm ranks along the way!

By event’s end participants will be ready to compete in the Frontier!

When does the event start and end?

The event starts precisely at 3 PM EST / 9 PM CET on Monday, August 30th and will end at the same time on Monday, September 6th.

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Hello Everquest (again) and goodbye wow Classic (for now)

In my latest vid, I give a basic overview of EQ live servers and character creation in that mmorpg.

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Character creation in D&D influenced mmos

I have been amusing myself during my free time updating my retrommo game blog and creating some D&D videos on my Youtube channel.

My latest efforts are intended to highlight the differences and similarities of the various fantasy themed retro mmos I enjoy playing.

Sadly, my D&D 3.5 Zoom campaign has been put on hold indefinitely due to the fact some of the players are unavailable now Saturdays. I am not the biggest fan of 5e but that is the edition of the game that is popular now probably thanks to all those Youtube programs like Critical Role

Our local game store will be having socially distanced game sessions starting in the next few weeks when California opens up post-COVID, so I suppose I have to resign to learn that ruleset and adapt.

This is the first week of June so that means that Blizzard has dropped the latest expansion for World of Warcraft Classic. I can’t believe it has been three years since we were queuing up for Wow Classic’s launch which, as I recall, did not go quite smoothly.

Personally, I still have a love-hate relationship with Blizzard as a game development company and wow in particular as their most popular game. I love the lore and the two factions fighting against the other, (For the horde!) but I will admit that the game is pretty brutal to new players and I wonder how many will stick around long term.

At any rate, if you are a gamer, enjoy this series of videos I made discussing character creation, choice of game servers and other topics surrounding the D&D mmos and the mmos like wow which are heavily influenced by D&D.

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Feels like 2019 all over again

Apologies for the recent lack of posts. I have been trying to force myself to play Classic wow in my spare time, at least an hour or two a day if I can, but lately that time has been reduced because of work and other life commitments. Still on weekends, which is when most of my gaming took shape in the past, I can hardly be bothered to log on at all, at least on a consistent basis.

What brought me back to Classic of course, like a lot of folks nowadays, was the prospect of having fun now that TBC Classic is out. Not that I even have any toons that are close to being able to venture into Outland. Even though I joined the Dark Destiny guild with my blood elf Paladin, it is barely past level 10 going on 11. Max level may as well be an eternity away and surely the level boosters and the power grinders will be venturing through the Dark Portal a lot sooner than I, if I ever make it that far.

Still, I didn’t mind shelling out $30 for that game card, out of which I still have over a month and a half left to enjoy, but I remember why I cut back playing on wow, I was just as excited at the possibility and prospect of Classic back in 2019 when it first launched. I guess you could say I was enticed by the tantalizing possibility of joining all those players on a fresh server to enjoy questing with PUGs and even raiding at some future date.

But Classic wow is a brutal game, it can slap you back into reality harder than most mmos of its ilk. The last time I logged on with the blood elf the other night I did enjoy the class and I did like the toon’s abilities. You see, I only play primarily horde toons so in original wow back in the day, you could not even play a pallie until Cataclysm dropped circa 2010 and Taurens were allowed to partake of “holy light.” I like playing the melee classes and pallies, from the little I have played, are basically warriors which can heal themselves and that’s a good combo to have.

I did get tired of soling especially when I got to a zone where the mobs were my level but hit hard and after I died a few times and came back only to have to rez multiple times through a corpse run and being ganged up by mobs which like to group, I called it quits for the evening. The game is just brutal at times and saps away the little joy that can be found in the grind.

I actually did log in on June 1st, I had forgotten momentarily that was the launch date for the new expansion so obviously there were queue times for the Manrick server. Back in 2019 when I had decided I would give Classic a go, I had just left the Kronos 3 private server where I had briefly been a member of an “all hunter” guild. I jumped on Discord a few weeks ago around the time when the TBC prepatch was being rolled out and to my surprise most of my old guildies from back in the classic launch were still around, most relating they were gonna roll pallies when TBC dropped. I could not help but laugh because I knew that I am not a power leveler and that I would most likely not have either the time nor the patience to try to get to max level anytime soon, certainly there was no way to even experience Outland adventures without spending coin on a level boost.

I seem to have convinced myself eons ago that only pvp servers were fun and that I did not want to roll a toon on pve servers, but I changed my mind when guildies convinced me that it was not as much fun getting ganked over and over again. This probably would not be an issue on Smolderweb where I had made my pvp toons given the fact that according to ironforge.pro, the horde outnumber Alliance on this server 54-46 percent. Those seem like good odds.

I even logged on to retail while I waited on the queue for Classic TBC that first day and visited with my Death Knights and boosted toons. That quickly became a discouraging proposition when I realized that there were zero people playing in the leveling zones. They were all either raiding in high level dungeons and areas or playing Classic TBC when the expansion is shiny and new.

There is a new Everquest progression server which seemed inviting given the fact it has a lot of unique features including randomized loot. But it is bad timing given I had paid for game time in Classic TBC, so I will either continue leveling at TBC until my game time expires around mid July, or become disenchanted with Classic wow all over again.

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Back in the retro blog

Well that did not last long. I realized that even though I like to discuss mmos and the mmorpgs games I like in more general terms, this blog does serve a purpose because most of the mmos I enjoy the most are retro style or older mmos like Everquest, EQ2 and Dark Age of Camelot to name but a few.

So I have decided to revive this blog from out of its virtual death and reinstate it back in all its retro mmo glory. As a compromise to myself mostly, I will occasionally update my gamernexus blog when I want to expand upon topics that are not in the retro genre like D&D or even newer mmos.

This month I am focusing on the venerable DAOC because despite the fact I am strongly against games with cash shops or microtransactions, I do like how much work Broadsword is putting into the game and its diverse communities.

A long time ago I discovered the Gaheris coop-server for Dark Age of Camelot and even blogged about it a few times. Why on Earth would anyone play on a co-op mostly pve focused server rather than play on a pvp server? After all DAOC is renown for its glorious and world-class pvp, especially the rvr concept which few games of its ilk have ever really emulated, not even Warhammer Online during its short lifespan in the late aughts.

Simply put, it’s a little known secret that PVE is also quite fun in this game, if for the sheer joy of interacting with players in the other realms and it makes the game world feel more expansive. That is why I rolled a toon on this server thereby now being able to scratch my itch for PVE and PVP

In case you, dear readers, are interested in updates about DAOC, there have been a lot of good moves by the devs of late. According to the Herald’s latest post dated two days ago, the second “Catch Up In Caledonia” event coming Monday, May 17 starting at 3 PM EST / 8 PM GMT.

In case you are not familiar, It’s a way to start fresh and rapidly progress to the end-game with players around your same level.

The seven-day long event will take place entirely in the Realm vs Realm-enabled Caledonia battleground zone. Players will start at level 1 and rapidly progress to level 50 all while earning gear, master levels, champion levels, and realm ranks along the way!

The devs say that by event’s end, participants will be ready to compete in the Frontier. Well I missed out on most of the action the first time they had the event, even though I did roll a toon, primarily because I did not have a lot of time to play during the week, it was a heavy work period, but I am hoping I will get more time to play this go around.

According to the dev’s notes, players that start at the beginning of the event should be able to reach level 50, Champion level 15, Master level 10, and Realm Rank 5+ with the potential to earn much higher realm ranks! Characters will also be able to earn enough bounty points to not only obtain gear as they progress towards level 50 but also to use for end-game gear via Bountycrafting after reaching level 50.

That should work out given my RP toon is on Gaheris and my pvp toon is on Ywain 4.

So sign me up!

Another exciting thing that is happening in DAOC these days is the Doppelganger invasion event which runs through Tuesday June 15. I have to do more research on this one because even though I love in game events on mmos, I tried to sign up for this one but the Doppelganger Traitor in Jordheim said I did not have enough mithril to get seals, and I am not keen on spending any cash at the cash shop just to participate in this event, even though I probably would not mind spending a small amount to support the game servers. Read more about the event here.


Oh look! I found my counterpart in game! journalism in Midgard must be even more of a hellish task than in RL

The DAOC Doppelganger invasion event runs until June 15.

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Due to my need for variety

I needed to start a new blog that was more inclusive to all my needs in gaming so I did it’s over at mmogamernexus.blogspot.com check it out.

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Surveying the not so friendly environment in Myrkwood Forest on the way to level 16

OK I gave the Shammy a try, but I didn’t really like it. I am not a healer at heart, I am a hack and slash melee type warrior so I went back to my Thane and had a better time of it tonight venturing out in the snowy and beautiful lands of Midgard. I think I have got the gist of how to level successful as I was grinding my way through two levels from 14-16 and it took a few hours because I was enjoying the ride. Following this helpful community guide I found in Reddit really helps. https://www.reddit.com/r/daoc/comments/ald4a0/phoenix_midgard_leveling_guide/

Although my guildmates were there to provide advice via chat, this game still feels like a solo adventure, probably because I am still a few levels away from being able to join b.g.s and doing some preliminary RvR. Can’t wait to get there so I can start increasing Realm Rank. and enjoying the bonus which that entails.

Also, I may go back to the live server in the interim and simultaneously level a toon there because even though I like doing kill tasks, I also miss the wow patterned quests and quest givers which for the most part are absent in Phoenix. Yes I am well aware that DAOC shines in the pvp and especially RvR component of the game, but I think as a PvE game, it is also slightly underrated in mmo history. I say these because of its influence on future games of its ilk like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars.

riding to town in Midgard

Riding in style on the way to town

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Putting the mmo back in DAOC

LOTRO journey

LOTRO feels like a solo adventure instead of an mmo to a returning player

I was itching to get back into a regular mmo routine and for awhile I tried my hand at playing LOTRO but until recently I had to quit the game because even though I tried my hardest to join a kinship, most of the players on my server appeared to be too high level for me to hang with. Same with classic wow by the way, though I was there last summer for the server launch, I was afraid that I would soon be left behind by those who had more time to level their toons especially after SIP became a thing.

LOTRO was a nice diversion, I may play the game when I want a solo experience because it is beautifully rendered for a 2007-08is type game and I don’t need super high graphics to play an engaging game. However, even though they were making the game packs free and the expansion super cheap until the end of the month, I could not find that one group to gel with, I very well could not have my guardian be the dwarf to rule all dwarves if I was soloing my way through Middle Earth.

Enter DAOC: My first true mmorpg love. I went back to the live server but remembered how lonely it seemed, although Broadsword Studios have put a lot of work energy and love into the old Mythic mmo, the world felt empty and what’s worse, even though they finally surrendered to a f2p model last year, or was it the year before? I can’t recall, when I searched the social function, my guild mates were all gone, most had not logged in for over 200-300 days. Clearly that ship had sailed, if I wanted to return to Camelot as a stalwart Midgard defender and warrior, I would have to start from scratch and start a new journey.

Well I did, only on the Phoenix server, a place I had dabbled in a year ago! Could it really be that long? Ah yes, my Thane warrior was still there waiting for me when I logged in, with the same gear I left him with. Turns out I remembered the reason I stopped playing was I became disappointed with the server’s approach favoring kill tasks and other ways to level over the tried and true method of questing a la World of Warcraft. That and a technical glitch on the launcher which a little research on reddit and Youtube helped me to overcome. I need not have worried about the differences in game play on Phoenix.  I soon found a guild (Odin’s Guard) and my new group was very happy to help me level both my thane and a new Shaman I have been testing out. Usually I go for the tank or the hack and slash melee type classes, but I was advised to roll a shaman since their buffing abilities make them attractive in /LFG.

Sounds like good advice. I shall be updating my progress in the venerable but mesmerizing Dark Age of Camelot. It feels good to have finally put the mmo back in mmorpg and DAOC specifically.

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The best-laid plans of mice and men

Or how this year was monumentally screwed up by COVID-19. I can’t believe half a year went by since I last posted, probably because I had not returned to mmo gaming since the year began. Oh sure, I logged in from time to time, but in addition to RL and work usually interrupting my gaming enjoyment, the real culprit was the coronavirus which completely messed up my gaming plans to enjoy all the retro games I usually dabble in.

Nevertheless, I am back now and will try to update and continue to chronicle my mmo progress while also bringing some interesting commentary and though provoking posts on retro mmos and the industry in general.

This week I alternated between DDO and Classic wow, with DDO getting the brunt of my time because I was really enjoying leveling up a human Barbarian on the Thelanis server. As an aside, I will say that I was blown away how many players were still enjoying this nearly 15 year old game, a testament to Turbine’s developers (now the game is overseen by Standing Stone Games) and also proof positive that DDO is so unique that it still captures the minds and hearts of a lot of D&D and mmo genre players. It doesn’t hurt that DDO and LOTRO content has been made free since the COVID-19 hit and more players suddenly had more time on their hands to enjoy the games.

But I digress, I spent nearly four hours yesterday running instances in DDO and leveling from the beginning. I did have two other characters in another account, but for the life of me I could not get the correct password to log in since it had been so long that I played that I said, “screw it” I am going to start from scratch, which is exactly what I did and enjoyed getting to level 2 rank 7 with 8,435 xp before calling it a day. I also got invited into a guild on my second day back! I am not a proud member of the Fiend Club which is  a level 9 guild on the server. I have no idea though if they have an airship.

Today the order of the day has been Wow Classic because I figured I am paying a sub for this darned game so I might as well get back to the grind. My undead warrior gained almost a half level because one of the guildies was kind enough to run me through Ragefire Chasm. After that I spend the rest of the time on Warsong Gulch and enjoyed a bit of PVP action. 20 honorable kills wasn’t too bad as long as the Horde won and we did in just under 15 minutes. So is it too late to start playing Classic almost a year after launch? Youtuber Frostadamus says no. I did notice that he employed two professions to level up his warrior to 60, so maybe I should look into doing the same. What’s your gaming experience been like since COVID-19 upended and wreaked havoc on all of our lives in game and out of it??

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January’s retro mmo of the month

Hard to believe we are already halfway through the first month in 2020 and one of my resolutions for the year, in addition to playing mmos and updating this retro game blog with more regularity, is to try out a diverse number of games in the new year, starting with DDO.

I was thinking of starting with Dark Age of Camelot, now that the game is free to play and since I had spent a good deal of the latter portion of the summer months in the last year, ever since wow Classic dropped, alternating between that game and the DAOC freeshard Phoenix, but after also dabbling with pen and paper D&D campaigns, I itched to come back to DDO.

Anyone at all familiar with retro mmo games will realize right off the bat, especially if they ever played this 13, nearly 14-year-old game that it isn’t for everyone. If older graphics and game engines bug you, and if instanced dungeons are not your cup of tea then I am afraid that DDO is not the game for you.

However, there is no doubt that it is a unique game and the developers continue to add new content and adventure packs including the new “Keep on the Borderlands” adventure pack based on the classic D&D module. In the coming months I hope to advance enough in DDO and to try out their adventure packs having fun reacquainting myself with the game, even though it probably has a lower player base compared to a game like Classic wow or a more modern mmo.

I am excited to roll a few characters including a Warforged, which has always been one of my favorite races in the Eberron campaign setting for D&D. Already I managed to easily invite myself to the “Lost Boys” guild on the Khyber server. I love that the DDO servers are named after Eberron towns and territories.

According to the 4th edition supplement “Ebberon’s players guide” by Noonan, Marmel and Schwalb, “Khyber is a realm of nightmare. Demons that stalked Eberron 1,000 generations ago lie imprisoned within its depths, and beings of madness slither through its twisted passageways.” In short, I dig the Eberron campaing setting, but for those who don’t appreciate its mix of steampunk and magic aesthetic, DDO’s VIP package also offers entry into the Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft, for those players who want to experience the game’s older expansions and adventure packages. I may extend DDO as the retro mmo into February, or come back to it at a later date this year. So far my retro gaming and blogging calendar looks like this:

  • January: DDO
  • February: Dark Age of Camelot (Endless Conquest)
  • March: Return to Classic wow

April: ? Open to suggestions, though I am thinking Neverwinter. I know Neverwinter isn’t as retro as something like Everquest or even DAOC, but it has been out long enough (2011?) to fit into that description, at least as far as my retro mmo gaming criteria is concerned.

Youtuber Voodu Spyce has a good first look series of vids on update 44 for DDO “Keep on the Borderlands” Check them out.

 

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