Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.

Channel KiaSA, in association with LotRO, now returns you to the continuing adventures of Captain Completionist in Grindland.

I recently completed levelling my Captain’s crafting profession by grinding materials while listening to various podcasts, with the aptly named How to Murder Time, as well as A Casual Stroll to Mordor, Massively Speaking and Claims of the Normal all helping to distract me away from the ‘game’ that I’m ‘enjoying’. In addition I’ve nearly finished the reputation grind with the crafting guild to become kindred with them, thus opening up a raft of high level recipes that can make some potentially useful items; all of which will become obsolete in the next month or so when the Rise of Isengard expansion arrives and new crafting tiers are introduced. I think I’m doing it wrong.

I also spent time grinding virtue deeds to get the last few that I need to the cap of ten, just before Isengard raises the cap to twelve. Oh dear. Anyway, the last virtue required the killing of two hundred and forty worms anywhere in the depths of Moria, and I was joined on the venture by OG of the Hobbington Cresent massive, Van Hemlock, who is also on a bit of a character completion bender at the moment. It started off simply enough, with the worms conning grey to our level-capped characters, such that my Captain with her dwarf archer herald in tow, and Van Hemlock’s overpowering Guardian, were able to tear through the mobs like cats in a box of catnip-laced tissue paper. I generally turn the ‘gore’ setting off in Bioware’s Dragon Age games because it never seems quite right to have my character sitting down for afternoon tea with the Countess de Snootyknickers, she dressed in immaculate white lace, my character dressed from head to toe in the blood of a hundred orcs, possibly with a piece of severed ogre flesh slowly peeling embarrassingly away from her top lip, eventually landing with a plop in the countess’s best china. Grinding virtues as we were at the time, however, I would have paid for a ‘persistent gore’ setting which I could switch on. There would have been mayhem! Any orcs chasing us would have been in danger of impaling themselves on their own weapons as they slipped and slid their way towards us across a field of gore and entrails, eventually having to invent a new type of skate for use on the blood rink we had created. Other adventurers, possibly looking to muscle in on our territory, would have stepped slowly away in horror as they were drenched in a torrent of blood, while clumps of flesh fell from the ceiling where they had been thrown by our frenetic efforts, slapping down upon the poor adventurers’ heads. It would have been glorious! As it was, the worms fell down dead in the best ham actor tradition, and we looted their perfectly clean and sterile corpses before moving on.

As such we came up with our own form of entertainment, seeing as MMOs remain so obstinate about not providing any themselves. Alternately we launched into tirades about all the well-trod issues with today’s MMOs as we encountered them on our ‘adventures’, like geriatrics complaining about the snow while stubbornly refusing to leave their rocking chairs on the front porch and go inside where it’s warm and hot cocoa awaits. I think it slowly progressed into a sort of grumpy old man’s pranking game, each of us trying to put the other off MMOs altogether by questioning the reasons why we were doing it, what productive ventures we could be otherwise undertaking, and so forth; you know, all those perfectly valid questions which are just not mentioned in polite MMO society, like bringing up third world debt at a banker’s bonus award ceremony.

My virtues complete, the epic quest content was the final major item on my checklist of 100 Things To Do Before The Expansion Comes Along And Makes Them All Obsolete. As such I’ve been staring at virtual horse bums once again, while occasionally performing errands that street urchins would take offence to, even if you offered them a shilling and a sharp clip around the ear. However, I did make good use of the time by performing drive-by buffings on unsuspecting lower level characters who were otherwise minding their own business in the area. I’d forgotten how good a drive-by buffing feels, and I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t done it in recent memory. I usually play buffing/support characters where I can find them (something which Telwyn points out is perhaps more difficult than it should be in these cooperative games of ours); I have fond memories of sitting on the entrance at Perez Park in City of Heroes and doing nothing for an hour but cast Speed Boost on the low level characters there, giving them a short duration run speed and attack speed buff, and transforming them into levelling machines; I like being able to give other players a taste of a more powerful character for a while, a glimpse into the future, if you will. So I’m not sure why I haven’t been doing my drive-by buffings, and I do worry that it’s because I’m letting myself be carried along by the decline in co-operation which the genre seems to be experiencing. Thus it may be that the epic content –which used to be for groups but that I’m now progressing through solo– has reminded me about some of the things that we used to do back in the days when we were young and MMOs were younger. A time when we weren’t quite as jaded as we have become, what with the slow decline in MMO society as huge numbers of people from diverse walks of Real Society ‘invaded’ our world.

As such, I won’t be grinding any content tonight; if you want to find me, look for the level sixty five Captain standing in some random starter area, dropping buffs on the new characters they find there. Behind that character will be sitting a smiling fool, reminiscing happily about friendlier times, trying to work out what he needs to do to return to them.

6 thoughts on “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.

  1. Jim

    You were grinding, but grouped with friends…which is why we continue to play even sleepy mechanics like lotro’s virtues system…what is so virtuous about killing 400 of anything anyhow?

    Strangely, I’m enjoying Rift immensely at the moment…a game I was hyper-critical at release…in comments on this very blog…but where I’m having fun in some of the more modern multiplayer mechanics. The pvp rifts have been fantastic, even on my decidedly un-hardcore rp-pve server. But there is a refreshing spirit of open world co-operation to be had there.

    I remain optimistic about the multiplayer components of the coming mmorpg’s pushing the genre forward. TOR seems to have a social progression bar, where you earn points by being social in a social game…Absurd I know but we are obsessed enough with progression that it will be interesting to watch. GW2 seems to be taking W:AoR’s pq system up a notch while making every class “support”. And The Secret World seems built around London as strong social hub with mysterious doors leading to a variety of multiplayer activity.

    LotRO, WoW, AoC…3 amazing worlds whose social components stayed stagnant while the worlds expanded. I’ve sadly had to leave all three behind. Rift’s world in comparison is a sad little joke. But the social gameplay mechanics have real depth and demonstrate an industry tracking metrics and constructing systems according to what we want to do.

    The next 18 months look very promising indeed. Now put on some clean clothes, it’s almost time for tea:)

  2. Telwyn

    Great post, it made me remember how common drive-by buffing was in WoW on our RP server when I first started. It was just one of those nice things that the social guilds encouraged to keep community spirit alive.

    I have received buffs randomly in LoTRO of course, Laurelin has a pretty fantastic community. Sadly my main is a Champ so I guess he’ll never have any buffs he can cast on anyone!

  3. Melmoth Post author

    @Jim: I’m sorely tempted to give Rift another try. I went back when they had their Welcome Back weekend, but I couldn’t get into my existing high level characters and I couldn’t face rolling a new character for a short weekend adventure.

    I really should go back and give the game a try though, but it’s quite hard when there are many viable options available which are also free-to-play; I’ll be having another crack at EQII when the Beastlord class is finally released sometime in November, for example.

    @Telwyn: “Laurelin has a pretty fantastic community”

    I think Spinks and Arbitrary play on Laurelin, so I’d heartily agree. I originally rolled-up on Laurelin when the game released, but moved to join a regular group upon my return. RP communities are usually rather pleasant.

    “Sadly my main is a Champ so I guess he’ll never have any buffs

    A nice split of ‘group only’ and single-target buffs for each class would certainly be a splendid way to go in an MMO, I think. The Champion has a few group related buffs on long cooldowns, but I can’t see why as a class they couldn’t have a standard buff that they could dish out to all and sundry.

  4. flosch

    Rift is also on my list, but at the moment, what little time I have I invest into EQ2.

    Speaking of which, I fondly remember those times of drive-by buffing, or waiting-die-the-ship buffing; so it came as a bit of a shock to me that EQ2 doesn’t seem to have a single non-group buff. Such a shame…

    Can anybody comment on what Rift’s stance on this?

  5. Melmoth Post author

    Alas, I haven’t a great deal of experience with Rift, only getting a warrior to around level twenty five, but I certainly had the impression that most buffs were self-only. With so many souls, however, it could well be that there are some buffing specialists amongst them.

  6. Telwyn

    Buffs are very unevenly distributed in Rift. Paladins have tonnes, other warrior souls some (usually auras or shouts). My Cleric (Druid) has several self buffs but only one very short duration group buff.

    I think the support classes get the most, so Bard, Archon etc.

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