Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

What if your friends were neighbors?

Imagine a place in which you could visit all of your friends from every MMO you haveNeighborhood played. Its a neighborhood, and the houses close to you would be owned by each of those friends and inside those houses lived not only the history of that person, but everything that person had accomplished.

When I try to think about where MMO gaming could go in 10 years, I think about the second M in that anagram. We play these games because we not only want entertainment, we wait entertainment with other people. We are not antisocial beings by nature, we like our groups no matter how large or small they are. If MMOs want to evolve, they will have to create a method to facilitate better relationships with the users themselves. Between the users themselves.

If told you that there was a client, that when used would open to an environment and place you in a home of your own construction, would you use it? Probably not, because there are many programs out there that not only let you build anything you want, but do so in a gaming environment.

What if I told you that the house was located in a neighborhood, as I said before, and held the residences of your friends? It would have some merit, yes, but what functionality would it be besides a glorified Sims game? What if in those houses you could showcase your achievements from every game that you played, in a room you created and decorated to your own choosing, would that not feel like a home for your virtual self? More than any home on any server you have ever had?

It would do exactly that because a gamers life is not usually one world. It is encompassed by a lifetime of creating characters and visiting a myriad of environments and gathering a plethora of items and treasures. Goals met and merits received, none to be acknowledged except by the closed loop of society that exists within that one world. Its sad to think about it really. You can say to a person, “Yes, I did play Dark Age of Camelot”, but how do you show them what you achieved? How do you show that person that you did in fact decide to camp for 16 hours at that spawn point for that rare drop, just like they did?

It can happen and it most likely will. Someone will create a client that will be independent from every published game, but not exclusive from them. It will allow you to launch any title you wish at any time and show this information to your neighbors. It will work in harmony with the game you are playing and allow you to save your progress like a photo album. It will be an innocuous world of your own choosing but a representation of your self.

Friends who also are a part of this removed world would be close to you by simply adding and getting approval of their friendship, their information is then added to your environment. They will not have to choose whose neighborhood to call home. No, because that would only create rifts and societies that this world is trying to remove. Their neighborhood would look a lot different than yours, but you would be there. They are the maker of their world, as you are the maker of your own world.

Stopping by to see a friend 6,000 miles away just got easier. And you know what, you probably never knew that your neighbor was the one who stole that keep relic from you 10 years ago, but now you do. Its right there on their mantle with the date it was taken and the name of their character that they had played. The world just got smaller. Its a beautiful thing.


August 31, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, RL | 3 Comments

What are you, Chicken?

I really wanted to give a great rundown of the new session play for Lord of the Rings:  Lotro Chicken Online, but I haven’t had as much interest in playing through the quests as I previously thought I would.  This isn’t because the content is lacking or poorly done, it seems to be integrated fairly well into the game.  The major flaw I see with the “chicken-play” is the fact that you cannot group with anyone while playing.

Turbine should know that MMOs are all about players interacting with other players and facing challenges in the world together.  Why would they leave out this major component to play?  Session play looks fun!  The story and abilities the chicken gets are hilarious and make me want to keep going and doing more, just not alone.

I tried the quests as soon as my game finished updating and after spending an hour locating where in the Shire I needed to find the NPC to start the line, I called over some of my friends.  We all got there, finished what would appear to be the last quests in our hominid form and moved over to talk to the first chicken.  Before we zipped up our chicken suits, we planned where in the farm’s courtyard we would all meet and exchange our new chicken names.

It seemed obvious they would ask us to enter a new name because we had to do the same when creating our Creep (Monster Play).  Turbine took a much easier approach to this and inserted a ” ~ ” before every characters name.   I guess this is because chicken characters are not permanent like your monster play character, so I find no fault in this.

Like I mentioned before, we had no way of grouping with each other, so it became a massive web of /tells going back and forth between the group of us.  Very hectic.  We managed to stay together through the first couple quests, but once we were instructed to find various places in the Shire to talk to other chickens, there was little we could do to prevent us from becoming separated.

It was a good time while we were together.  I would look behind me at various times and see chickens popping up through the grass, each trying to get an extra step from the mouthes of the numerous wolves chasing us.  We searched for worms together, visited towns we had previously been to as hobbits,  and at one point tried to take on a boar.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that last one.

We will try to give this another shot using our guild’s ventrillo server and hopefully I can write more than a brief introduction and rant about the system next time.  Until then, I’ll work on some chicken puns.

August 29, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO, Reviews | Leave a comment

The Girth of Middle Earth

Last night I reached level 46 with my Burglar and I think tonight could be my first experience with the Reputation Barrows LotRO raid experience. This is good times in Lord of the Rings Online! I have yet to reach the plateau that many speak about, but that may be because of the group of friends I play with almost every night. We are the epitome of the holy trinity. We have been able to defeat almost every encounter we have come across and persevered through some of the longest battles I have ever participated in.

Last night, it was different and we never saw it coming.

I logged in to see my friends already grouped and in the instance called Haudh Iarchith. This is one of the new instances that had been added in Book 10 and houses a lot of undead. The denizens here drop a certain item that can be turned in for the Bree-land faction quests, and for once, the dungeon was fairly empty.

We started exploring the eastern branch and killed a number of spiders and one signature that had some decent loot for once. Somehow in our discovery we ended up back at the main chamber and this time we decided to head straight in and take on the 7k morale (hit point) skeletons.

This branch was a bit harder than the first and we frequently found ourselves facing 6 mobs at once. We made it to a large columned hall that held a small stairway in the back. It was loosely guarded and extremely inviting. We fought our way over and headed up the stairs as quick as we could. Even though we could face multiple mobs at once, the respawn rate here was a bit fast. This is probably running high due to the large numbers of players who usually farm this new area.

We found two skeletons and two wraiths at the top of the stairs, nothing unusual. What we didn’t realize was that the wraiths had a protection on them that negated almost all of our damage dealing! It turns out that this protection could not be broken by any fellowship maneuver we performed and common damage weapons were completely useless. The songs used by our Minstrel could hit for full damage but little good that was doing as her attention was needed to heal the two of us. Beleriand and Dwarven damage were hitting for less than half and the regeneration of the wraith more than made up for this. In the end, we retreated.

This was probably one of our greater defeats as we had never encountered a mob that could resist our dps or endurance so completely. It may be a week before we return there and exact our revenge but the weapons are being created and the auctions are being scoured. Every advantage we can get to bring the trinity back to its nice streak will be found and we will be made whole.

Atleast until I get us killed again.

Smokie SmokieDev oopsie!

On a lighter note, here are a couple screenshots of the interesting tile work in an area called the Lone Lands.

Thats no fossil.

– 10/01/07 edit-

For those of you who may be interested in learning about the rewards of Bree from working in Haudh Iarchith, you may want to check this thread in the official forums.

If you are interested in finding a map to this location, you can try MEHQ’s map of Bree and look to the left of the “S” in Barrow Downs, you should see the white dot for the POI at LOC: 35.2S 55.2W.

Hope this helps some of you!

August 28, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, LOTRO | 5 Comments

For Our Children

I may spend 5 hours a night playing online games with people I may never meet, but atleast I can say Iraq correctly.

Miss Teen USA 2007

The transcript for your literary pleasure:
Recent polls have shown that 1/5th of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map.  Why do you think this is?

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps…
and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as…
and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for our children.

Dumb is the new Black.

August 27, 2007 Posted by | Rants, RL | 4 Comments

Magic 8 Ball says

This weekend I finally got around to listening to a SXSW panel discussion that I had on my MP3 player for about 2 weeks. This panel had Raph Koster of Areae, John Bacus of Google/Sketch-Up, Jamaia Cascio from Open the Future, and Jeffery Paffendorf of The Electric Sheep Company. I cannot remember who originally linked me this recording, but it kept me up for about two hours last night thinking, so thank you.

I must have been in a rush to leave work on the day I originally downloaded the audio, because if I had learned who was actually speaking I would have immediately listened to it. I remember playing with Sketch-Up last year and the first things that came to mind when I created some basic models was how easy it was and how this must get integrated into the future of gaming. Here was a tool that allowed me to create objects in seconds and then upload them to a repository that could be accessed and downloaded by anyone who had an Internet access.

I can’t believe that there is an actual discussion going on about this! We truly are at a unique step in the evolution of gaming and I am loving it. When the day comes that I spend more time on my porch than behind the keyboard, I will be thankful for these years and the joy and suspense they bring. I know that fun days are ahead.Outlook is good.

August 27, 2007 Posted by | Industry | Leave a comment

I’m Convinced

RSS ImageI’ve been sitting on the fence about my rss feed since I started this blog, but after reading m3mnochs recent article, I think its time to make some changes.

He makes some really great points in his article, and it convinced me to stop cutting off my articles.  In the end it all comes down to accessibility. Websites get added to my company’s firewall everyday and I find myself relying more and more on my rss reader to keep me in the loop. The iron curtain of employee efficiency seems to be preventing not only me but a lot of other readers from accessing their much needed daily dose of gaming goodness.

From this day forward I will try to refrain from using the <—more–> function.

Hope this helps those of you on the other side.

August 24, 2007 Posted by | RL | 1 Comment

Everquest 2 and my 1-12 experience


I have had a hard time this week choosing which game to log into. I just hit level 45 in Lord of the Rings Online and the Book 10 update is full of things that I really want to see. While I feel I’m in a rush to get to 50 in LotRO and check out the raid dungeons and the PvP zone, I feel much more relaxed when I click on my little EQII icon instead.

It has been a while since I played a MMO by myself and I’m surprised at the enjoyment I am still getting out of it. I play MMOs specifically because I love to meet and group with other people and explore content together. This is the first time I set out in a game to just learn about the world and let the grouping and community take a backseat. As of last night, I have only grouped with one other person and kept my conversations in the chat channels to a minimum. What I am trying to avoid is those jaded few who feel compelled to drop snipes about the game intermingled with their weak recommendations to new players. A time will come when I will need to join a guild to experience some of the larger content but I am in no rush to get there. For now, I am enjoying my lackadaisical approach to discovery.

I will try not to let this journal become an Everquest 2 review. That is not my intention here. I would merely like to track how I see this world that a lot of people have come to love and interpret it in its current state through the eyes of an Everquest newbie. The lore here is obviously rich and I have a lot to explore and learn about, but I hope my experience with other MMOs will help me navigate through the world and bring me atleast a fraction of the fun that I have heard this world can provide.

Continue reading

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2 | 2 Comments

Hearts and minds

Sethanon over at, brought up a really good point about reputation rewards in his newest podcast episode. He and Ragemore were talking about the recent addition to Lord of the Rings Online of the regional reputations. They cited a note made by the developers stating that they did not intend for their system to exclude players from grouping together but instead offer an alternate avenue for players to explore.

This idea that reputation advancement should net actual in game rewards like armor or trinkets always bothered me but I don’t know why. I never found myself itching to grind out boring quests or kill counts for factions in WoW, and I probably won’t be doing in LotRO. However, it really sounds like this isn’t where Turbine is taking the game anyway.

Continue reading

August 21, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, LOTRO, Rants, Vanguard | Leave a comment

First impressions of Everquest 2

Today I am starting a record of my adventures in Everquest 2. I know that this game has beenLevel 8! out for just under 3 years, but as I said before, I am a complete noob to all of the Everquest games and I have to start somewhere.

I was lucky enough to receive from SOE a 2 month trial for EQ2 after I had canceled my subscription to Vanguard, so I have yet to purchase anything. If the game continues to play out exactly how these first 12 levels have been, I definitely think I will be buying it. It just makes sense. From what I have seen, this game is very polished, fun, immersing and offers plenty of content. Plus its a SOE product, so my station pass makes it financially feasible. (SOE is doing a good job at bringing me back into the fold.)

I’ll start this series off with a run through of my first impressions and create a post for my actual 1-12 leveling adventure for tomorrow.

Continue reading

August 20, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2 | 9 Comments

We all have to start somewhere

Im going to make a confession here today.  I am the noob exemplar when it comes toMy son the noob everything EQ.  I never played EQ1 or EQ2 and I have no idea what even the storyline of the games are about.  There I said it.  That wasn’t bad actually.

Your game-cred has been lowered by 2

I came into MMO gaming when DAOC had just been released and had very little in terms of experience.  I had the choice of either picking this game up and playing with some friends or subscribing to a much more established game called Everquest.  Had I known then what I know now, I probably would still have went with DAOC.  I had the immediate companionship of my RL friends and there is nothing better than that.

I can’t help but feel a sense of loss though.  This usually happens when I am in a conversation with people that suddenly strays to a EQ zone or mob encounter and I have nothing to contribute but silence.  Its a little frustrating, but I am sure it will be nothing compared to how my son will feel when he jumps in his first MMO and WoW references start coming through the chat.  Luckily, he will have his dear old dad sitting next to him with carpal tunnel wraps and sipping a beer through a straw to help him along.

After listening to Troy’s latest podcast, I felt somewhat encouraged to play EQ2.  This and the fact that SOE has been trying to seduce me made me start downloading it last night.  He announced he will be a co-host on a new show called Equal Perspective and their plans for this show will be to have multiple viewpoints: a veteran, a casual gamer(Troy) and a complete noob.  I’m psyched! From what I understand, they will be talking mostly about Everquest 1 & 2, but who knows what the conversations could lead to with these guys.

I’m going to leave my first impressions of my adventure in Everquest 2 for another post, but I have to say that it feels good to finally step foot in this world, even if it is for only a little while.

August 17, 2007 Posted by | EQ2 | 3 Comments