Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions for 2012

Having detailed what I did (and what it cost) for last year, it's once again time to look ahead to the new year.  The year ahead has a blessing and a curse; there are many games I would like to play, and I can already tell that there won't be time for all of them. 

WoW (Pre-Pandaria)
  • Complete quests of Cataclysm: I'm still not finished with Hyjal, Twilight Highlands, or Firelands on my main - I tend to work on dailies first, and there are enough dailies that I haven't gotten around to these.
  • Finish out armor set from 4.3 heroics
  • Use the raid finder to kill Deathwing
  • Cap out TBC-era dungeon reputations: Most of these rep's stalled out at Revered when the content was new.  Two expansions later, these heroics are quick and easy rep farming.
The picture with Pandaria will depend a bit on how it shapes up and when it arrives.  I will very likely level my main to the new cap and complete the new dungeons the requisite once each.  I will also likely level the requisite Pandaren Monk through the newbie zone, but I haven't felt any pressing unmet need for more WoW alts and I don't know that the newest additions will change that.  If Pandaria arrives before my annual pass runs out in October, I may do more work on the new expansion's endgame.

  • Reach the new level cap on my main (currently 67 of 75)
  • Don't feel obliged to "save" content for future level cap increases
I had a bad experience with LOTRO's original launch - though it took me several months to get into the 40's, it took Turbine about a year to produce enough content to make leveling to the original cap a pleasant experience for solo players.  Since then, I've been very nervous about completing content at the level cap, for fear that the next expansion would be similarly lacking in sources of exp.

Fortunately, Turbine's actions since have proved my fears unfounded - even if some future expansion does launch without enough solo quests, there are now enough forms of repeatable content, such as daily quests and skirmishes, to make up the missing exp if needed.

  • Finally reach the level cap
  • Investigate the endgame
Rift spent most of 2011 as the best MMO that just never reached the top of my to-do list month after month.  While I respect the reasoning behind Trion's pro-subscription stance, the need to set aside a month at a time to focus on this game like it was still 2010 is definitely hurting this game's appeal in the crowded marketplace.  I would gladly pay by the day or the week, but this game is not sufficiently better than its competition for me to be excited about setting aside an entire month to play it.

In any case, Trion is supposedly going to give me 3 days of game time as compensation for their servers being hacked, which will get me to the game's level cap.  From there, it will be a question of how much I like what I see.

  • Enjoy world events on my main without having to subscribe
  • Try to complete current dungeon content
  • Betray to the evil side to see content, collect houses, perhaps try the Troubadour
The good news is that I no longer need to use a throw-away EQ2X alt to see holiday and world event content in this game, now that I can have year around access to my main. The bad news is that my progress kind of screeched to a halt due to Velious' highly regimented dungeon progression, and attempting to deal with the plat cap for non-subscribers is not going to make this easier.   

Will new dungeons continue to ramp up in difficulty, even though the current ones are already unpopular for PUG's?  Will there be new solo content?  Or will they tune all future content to require the use of NPC mercenaries, and thus the purchase of the AOD expansion, much as all solo quest rewards are now "legendary" quality to require the purchase of gear unlock tokens? 

One project that I am seriously considering is taking my main and having her betray over to the evil faction to see the revised Freeport content, collect some houses in the evil cities (you don't lose houses when you switch sides, though you will be kill-on-sight with the local guards as appropriate), etc.  This might also be an opportunity to take the Troubadour class for a spin, though doing so may or may not require a paid class unlock.  I've never been interested in sticking with alts in EQ2 to date, so I might as well take my main over to see what the rest of the content looks like. 

  • Gear my main up for DLC content
  • Work on one or more alts to see the other storylines
Ironically, my challenges with DCUO are similar to what I'm facing in EQ2.  The currency cap is not friendly to non-subscribers, and will likely keep me out of the game's more challenging content.  This, in turn, affects my ability to gear up to qualify for the content that I actually am willing/able to run (and pay for).

  • Play one or more storylines
So, I hear there's some game that's like an MMO about Star Wars or something?  :)

Seriously, my current computer situation (more on this in a minute) has me holding off on SWTOR, but I fully expect to pick up this game and spend some time working on the various storylines in 2012. I had originally figured that I would play a Sith Inquisitor based on the theory that I can play a guy with a gun in any number of other gameworlds.  However, I ended up really liking both the personalities and the gameplay for both the Smuggler and the Imperial Agent.

Other MMO's
So now I'm on my seventh subheading without having covered DDO or Runes of Magic (both of which I have spent money on in the past).  Lineage 2 just went free to play in North America, and Aion became the first major MMO I'm aware of in which the European market beat the North American to a non-subscription switch (which I assume will force the US servers to follow suit, if that was not already planned).  By the time the dust settles, there will probably be at least a dozen major MMO's I haven't played that originally launched as subscription games - I could literally try a different one every month for 2012.

I don't think I'm going to go to that extreme, but it raises a point about how tough the current marketplace is for new entrants. Not only must version 1 of your new game be competitive with version 7 of the competition's, but your game has a $50 buy in and a subscription while their's has no buy-in.  In my case, even the time to download the client (and the hard drive space to store yet another one!) and try a new game for a night or two is starting to approach prohibitive. 

Games on my Christmas loot haul include Uncharted 3, Arkham City, and the Metal Gear Solid trilogy.  I have yet to finish Assassin's Creed 2, and it has two sequels out that will be somewhere on my playlist.  Other games on my wish list include Infamous 2, Tomb Raider Trilogy (and the new one if/when it arrives), and possibly FFXIII-2.  The discerning reader will note that only two of those are not currently released - my time crunch on the console is as bad as on the PC (though at least on the console showing up a year or three late means paying dramatically less for the games).

Computer Building
I am thoroughly dissatisfied with my Alienware M11x (original revision), which has had a number of problems.
  • First, the hinge broke when the machine was less than three months old - Dell replaced this because it was a well-documented issue, but it was an inconvenient situation for a week or two until this could be resolved.  
  • Then the power cord plug started slipping out of the back of the system, which left the machine unexpectedly shutting down for lack of power when I thought it was plugged in.  
  • Then the battery, which has a 12-month warranty - went completely dead at the 14 month mark.  (This is also a commonly reported issue with the machine.)  Now I own a "portable" 11 inch laptop that has to be tethered to an outlet, unless I want to throw good money after bad by spending $200-300 on a new battery for a $700 machine.   
  • On top of all of that, I apparently did not comprehend exactly how slow the processor was in all the hype about how the machine would run this that and the other thing - even overclocked (which Dell will not guarantee will work) the specs are below the minimums for Rift and SWTOR. 
Anyway, it's time for a new machine, and I'm finally steeling myself up to build a computer.  I find the first step or so - the one where you can physically ruin a $300 processor - intimidating, but the difference in cost and quality makes this a skill I really should have in the long run.  I will most likely build something in the $800-1000 range with an i5 and a single graphics card (possibly a cheaper placeholder so I can spend more on components that are harder to replace later).  I'd love to have an SSD, and it seems like there is something to be said for avoiding current hard drive shortages, but I do need a fair amount of storage due to the number of games I play.

In any case, I'm sure I'll be writing more about this topic once I actually go through the process.

The Blog
This will be post number 185 for the year, which is the lowest postcount I've had since I started the blog partway through 2008.  There are several drivers for this - I'm doing less work on the blog over the weekends, I'm writing longer posts, and I'm not feeling obliged to post something just to bump the update time on the RSS feed.  Overall, though, the current schedule - where I do 2-3 posts during the week and maybe a post on the weekend - seems to be working.
In any case, there's going to be plenty to do - and write about - in the coming year.  Happy New Year, and I look forward to hearing from all of you in 2012!


Rohan said...

Personally, I wouldn't build the computer yourself. In your town, there should be a good local shop where you can specify components and they'll put it together for you. For example, in Vancouver, it's NCIX.

Go there. The price increase will be marginal, and they'll do a professional job of assembling it.

Also, I would suggest an SSD for the operating system and maybe the games you play the most. Get another larger hard drive for data and less important programs.

Azuriel said...

I also recommend two hard drives. My recent computer purchase has a ~80gb SSD and then a 750gb secondary drive. Having experienced a boot-up process that takes less than 30 seconds has spoiled me for life.

Anonymous said...

if you want something in line with alien ware but cheaper go with ibuypower I wasn't disappointed when I got my computer from them. look for their weekly deals.

Ranjurm said...

I think the experience of assembling your own computer is worth the small risk. I recently assembled my first computer and while there are kinks, they were related to my OS (win 8 developer) and not to the installation.

You might want to check out and take a look at their build guides. I used this guide in particular:,2970.html with an upgrade in the motherboard (which allows for freedom in upgrades later).

Enrico said...

Hey! Just like the other guys, I think that the topic on the post that hit me the most was about the computer-building. I have been building my own computers for about 12 years, and I can tell you it does feel really nice. The first time I did as Rohan suggested - I went to a local shop, ordered the parts and had they assemble with my supervision. I think I already could assemble it myself, but I was afraid of burning or getting something wrong.

Since I live in a country where electronics are VERY expensive, I usually always tried to get the most out of my money. Usually, my setups try to include a motherboard as good as I can buy, with the other components usually closer to the low-end. With this, I can (most of the time) upgrade the other parts when they become cheaper and still get a nice machine, and then I usually just change machines when the older one can't support a lot more upgrades.

Good luck with your new computer, and when you get it don't forget to take pictures of the building process and of the new gaming rig :)

MrStrange said...

Yes, ditto the other enthousiast commenters regarding computer building.

And for your info, the current CPU don't require pin inserting, so you can't really mess anything up anymore ;) (Unless you try getting square stuff into round holes of course !)