Welcome to Hardly Casual.
We're lovers and we're gamers, proving that purposefully over-pulling and killing your significant other in-game is the best way to win an argument. We write and talk about our perspectives on the MMO gaming world, and hopefully provide some entertainment while we're at it.

15

Jul

2010

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

It’s been a long time since I updated.  Lots and lots has happened.  Right after I started the project my life took a really wild turn.  My husband and I started talking about maybe buying a house.  We decided to do it, started looking and bought a really great one.  This of course meant that I’ve been snowed under with real life things (very good real life things) for many months now.  You never really know how much goes into owning a home until you get one.

But things are starting to mellow out and I’ve been able to get back a  bit into EQ II to work on my project.

I’ve dithered back and forth on just how to approach this and I’ve finally decided that I’m going to finish leveling up my two highest non maxed characters and go from there.  It’s easy to get the levels on the lower level ones… harder on the higher levels.  I’m going to continue working on them until they are out of rest XP then move to other characters while they build it back up.  I figure that’s the best way to maximize the XP gain.

I guess we’ll see in the coming days how it goes.

13

Apr

2010

Labyrinth

Before I get to the meat of the post I’ll digress a moment here…

I’ve always been one for text more than pictures, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty or humor or whatever in the visual, I do… but blogs for me have always been more about the writing than the pictures in them.  My esteemed husband has pointed out that I’m in the minority and people find blogs without accompanying visuals…well, boring.  So, I found myself reluctant to post, for lack of the aforementioned visuals.  So, I found a screenshot that perfectly illustrated what I wanted to show in the post and now I’m having an adventure getting it to be the right size for here.  But the whole experience has made me interested in how apparently we’ve come to rely so completely on pictures from outside our imaginations.

Anyway…I truly did digress, now on to the actual matter at hand…

When I started this project I had a clear goal in mind.  I wanted to level one of each class.  It’s a lot of classes and even though a year is a long time, it’s asking a lot to cram  all of that leveling into that short time.

I’m good at leveling.  I’m able to level fast if I so choose and altho0ugh I’d felt it would be a race to finish, it wouldn’t be an impossible goal.

Now, I’m not so sure..

You see, I didn’t count on one of my own personal little quirks.  Sometimes I feel like my mind is littered with all kinds of things. They are crammed in there much like the houses you see on those shows with the poor pitiful people who can’t bring themselves to throw away anything.   Inside the space my psyche has carved out for MMOs, I’ve crammed I can’t seem to let go of anything.

My character needs to experience all I can give them, and one of the huge strengths of Everquest II is the unbelievable amount of content.  There are so many things available for character development that having just one fully developed character is tough, let alone having the stated goal of 24.

As I began this project I had been leveling crafters.  I like crafting in EQ II.  There is a lot you can do with it, but it isn’t overly complex and I find it fun.  My guild leader will tell you that means I’m nutz, but she just doesn’t appreciate the serenity of it.  I’d been gradually maxing the level on all the basic crafters and I should have either completed all of them before starting this, or let them go.

I wasn’t able to do that….

I should have known.  Sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion I have some weird form of OCD. It manifests itself in things like the fact that I took two entire days to make bags and boxes for every character.  What was up with that?  it’s not like my level 5 Defiler has to have 264 slots for all her newbie junk…but it took me two days before I felt I could start.

My inventory on my high level characters is a nightmare.  It reminds me of the shot of the house above.  I have kept everything… every bit of crap I might some day need.  The only things I get rid of are things that are obviously junk like ‘ethereal antenna’ and ‘intact insect jaw’.  But all the equipment and books and crafting material I either haul around or store somewhere…

EQ II gives you a tremendous storage allowance.  You can store things in your bank, in your inventory, at your house and for sale.  I’ve filled them all.  Much like the screen shot of one of my favorite houses in Neriak.   But I’m determined to conquer this.  I don’t want to end up with an intervention from some version of Norath’s Reality Show for Hoarders.  So, I’m making an effort to clean up and clear out.

We’ll see how it goes….

22

Mar

2010

Outside looking in

Growing up as a child I was skinny and gangly and not the most coordinated.  I lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone and went to a small school with children who lived within spitting distance of me.  Part of our classes at school included playing some sort of group games.  Usually two children were picked to stand on opposite sides of the teacher and it became their job to choose the rest of their teams, alternating choices.  Inevitably I was left standing with a small knot of two other children as the dregs of available teammates.  I held my breath while projecting outward indifference, to see my ultimate fate in the school ground pecking order.  It was always a small victory not to be the very last chosen.  I grew to dread the ritual humiliation of this exercise while cultivating an outward mask of unconcern.

At one point in the physical education process we were introduced to gymnastics.  Tumbling, balance beams and parallel bars were hauled into the gymnasium as the latest implements of my humiliation.  But something strange happened.  I was hopeless on anything that required my feet on the ground, but when we were forced to mount those bars, suddenly I could fly.  My skinny body wasn’t frail.  My arms and back were strong from work at home.  Something exciting happened to me the first time I mounted those bars.  For the first time in my life with any physical activity I wasn’t last.  The teacher quickly recognizing my talent had me helping the other children in routines.  No longer the dregs, I was the cream.  It was exciting and exhilarating.

So what does a story about childhood games have to do with virtual ones?

Last night I logged on to take part in a guild raid.  Our guild has been gearing up to do raids on the new content.  In order to get properly geared for the content we’ve been doing some raids that are just for cash and I had thought that last night’s raid was going to be one of those.  Turns out I had some things crossed and I found out it wasn’t.  The raid groups quickly filled up and we moved to the raid point.  Our raid leader sent me an apologetic message asking that I drop out of the raid in favor of another player.

Often grouping and raiding in these games comes down to very particular things.  You need certain classes or equipment or level ranges to make beat the encounter and get the loot.  If you don’t have those things, you can’t ‘win’.  So sometimes people who don’t fit these requirements get left behind.

Our raid leader, who also happens to be our guild leader, tries very hard to include everyone.  She spends hours putting together groups of non optimum characters, helping people level or get gear they need for raiding.  She works hard to be helpful and make everyone feel a part of the ‘team’.  I know her and I know this.  Asking me to step aside was not something she enjoys doing and it was the right decision for the other people in the raid.  But just for a moment I was eight years old again standing with the leftovers on the sidelines.

It made me understand something important.

You see in gaming, I’ve usually been much less like that first part of my childhood athletics and more like the second part.  MMOs have let me soar.  I’ve usually been a part of the fast leveling, best geared crowd and never been replaced on a raid with someone more needed.  Why I’m not in a position now to be top level with good gear is due to my own choices.  I’ve chosen to putter around and not level hard.  I’ve chosen to expend game energy on my leveling project and exploration of the game rather than push my characters to the top.

Last night made me wonder a bit about what happens for all the other people who need levels or have classes that aren’t needed or gear that isn’t the best.  Does the lack of opportunities for them drive them away from the game?  Does the rejection feel personal when it’s only a product of game mechanics?  And how does being trapped in needing to have an optimum raid force make a fair guild leader feel?  What can a guild leader do when she knows the tough choices she makes for the good of the raiding force may drive marginal guild members further away?

I’m always grateful for an opportunity for deeper understanding of these games I love and I was glad last night to gain a valuable insight.  The reasons why people aren’t in peak condition to be raiders is varied.  Increasingly one of the reasons has to do with time available for investment in the game.  Leveling, getting appropriate gear, etc. all take time.  Maybe someday game designers will have a solution to the issue…maybe someday raid leaders won’t have to make the hard choices.  If nothing else, I’m eternally optimistic.

Maybe someday…

17

Mar

2010

That’s what it’s all about…

Wallowing in indecision on which character to play, I decided to log in and craft some essentials for the ‘army’.  After all, an army doesn’t run without supplies..

I like crafting.  In any game I play I usually putter away at leveling a crafter or two and EQ II has one of my favorite systems for crafters.  I like making things…even virtually and so I’ve been slowly working towards having one crafter of each type.

No sooner had I logged on when I got a tell from one of my guildmates.  Mutz and I had spent a bit of time together leveling up a couple of characters.  I’d been trying out the Conjurer class and he was leveling up a Dirge.  We actually did quite well as a pair.  A great deal of the credit goes to Mutz, since he’s a really excellent player.  He has a really keen sense of humor and a dry wit, so I find playing with him a lot of fun.  Voice chat in EQ II is incredibly good and easy so it makes it a snap to talk to people while grouping and questing, which makes the time pass quickly.  Even more than passing the time I believe it really fosters a true friendship amongst people who regularly group together.  You learn about them and their lives in the same kind of way you would if you were chatting while watching a sporting event or having a cup of coffee at a local shop.  I’d missed lots of people after I’d stopped playing and Mutz was one of the ones I’d missed the most, so I jumped at the chance to group.

I decided to run my Troubadour, Shaylala, since I felt she’s mesh the best with Mutz’s Fury.  The next couple of hours went quickly and very enjoyably.  It was just like I’d remembered and his sly wit and knowledgeable playstyle made the time fly.  I didn’t level but I came close, so it was both fun and productive.

There were a couple of people I spent a lot of time with in game.  People I came to know through laughter and play.  Even though I like the games and enjoy the characters and the world… when all’s said and done, it’s the people who make or break the experience.  I’ve been fortunate this round of gaming to meet some of the best.

15

Mar

2010

Begin at the beginning..

Okay so I’ve launched myself into this crazy project, but just where am I going to start?  Sometimes I obsess over the details, so much so that it can end up miring whatever I’m doing down to the point of grinding everything to a halt.  In my life sometimes I will feel paralyzed and not able to start something unless I have worked out all the minutia.  I don’t want to do this here.  This is supposed to be fun!

So instead of obsessing over whether or not I should wait until I have everyone equipped with boxes and bags, or any number of other insignificant details, I’m going to just sort of plow into it all.

I have a great guild and a really tolerant guild leader.  She let me add all umpteen of my characters into the guild which will be a huge help while leveling.  Although access to ports and other conveniences in the guild hall will speed the leveling process, it’s also the friendship that will help  me along on the project.  I guess that’s what is at the heart of any really great guild, the joy of the shared experience, whether it’s with people who are hardcore raiders or people who just are there to chat.  Our guild is a bit of both with a nice mix of people.  People I like.

Everquest II is a game rich in things to do, so it would be easy for me to totally get lost right at the beginning.  There are houses and tradeskills and shinies and quests, quests, quests.  My goal is to actually try to learn the character class as I’m leveling instead of just speeding through everything.  We’ll see how that goes!  :)

So..first things first, pick a character…and off I go!

Jute's Army

  • Aaralin
    • Berserker(4)
    • AA (0)
  • Aashae
    • Warden(33)
    • Provisioner(36)
    • AA (93)
  • Aashera
    • Fury(95)
    • Woodworker(20)
    • AA (179)
  • Aasii
    • Guardian(85)
    • AA (278)
  • Ainmhi
    • Beastlord(86)
    • AA (168)
  • Anifail
    • Beastlord(25)
    • Armorer(20)
    • AA (74)
  • Bennae
    • Troubador(85)
    • Artisan(2)
    • AA (346)
  • Caer
    • Paladin(95)
    • Carpenter(35)
    • Tinkering(5)
    • Adorning(3)
    • AA (330)
  • Caraid
    • Ranger(81)
    • AA (350)
  • Ceoil
    • Dirge(86)
    • Artisan(8)
    • AA (199)
  • Chaex
    • Guardian(95)
    • Artisan(4)
    • AA (340)
  • Chistiana
    • Necromancer(85)
    • AA (260)
  • Cynna
    • Assassin(95)
    • Artisan(5)
    • AA (320)
  • Daikyu
    • Ranger(85)
    • Woodworker(95)
    • AA (350)
  • Dawnfear
    • Shadowknight(92)
    • AA (350)
  • Eadranai
    • Inquisitor(86)
    • Artisan(5)
    • AA (303)
  • Jamaisvu
    • Illusionist(95)
    • Scholar(10)
    • AA (1)
  • Keening
    • Dirge(85)
    • AA (159)
  • Khamsin
    • Fury(23)
    • Outfitter(10)
    • AA (350)
  • Krejax
    • Dirge(9)
    • AA (0)
  • Maerex
    • Wizard(7)
    • AA (0)
  • Naiada
    • Illusionist(24)
    • AA (350)
  • Naomh
    • Paladin(92)
    • Outfitter(14)
    • AA (350)
  • Nimhe
    • Warlock(50)
    • AA (136)
  • Nurissa
    • Warden(95)
    • Provisioner(95)
    • AA (350)
  • Outlawe
    • Brigand(85)
    • Craftsman(10)
    • AA (276)
  • Raisins
    • Wizard(85)
    • Provisioner(24)
    • AA (276)
  • Riskeque
    • Berserker(87)
    • AA (303)
  • Saerita
    • Coercer(95)
    • Jeweler(95)
    • AA (23)
  • Sahya
    • Mystic(95)
    • Alchemist(26)
    • AA (340)
  • Shaydea
    • Warlock(85)
    • Sage(95)
    • AA (342)
  • Shaydee
    • Swashbuckler(85)
    • AA (276)
  • Shayfarm
    • Guardian(2)
    • AA (0)
  • Shaylala
    • Troubador(95)
    • Armorer(95)
    • Tinkering(475)
    • AA (10)
  • Shayme
    • Shadowknight(92)
    • Outfitter(11)
    • AA (350)
  • Shaynae
    • Templar(95)
    • Weaponsmith(95)
    • Tinkering(5)
    • Adorning(475)
    • AA (4)
  • Shaynii
    • Berserker(46)
    • AA (350)
  • Shayra
    • Conjuror(95)
    • Tailor(95)
    • AA (25)
  • Shayrayna
    • Inquisitor(85)
    • AA (176)
  • Shayzam
    • Bruiser(85)
    • AA (157)
  • Sianex
    • Mystic(85)
    • Alchemist(95)
    • AA (350)
  • Sloqan
    • Monk(88)
    • Carpenter(95)
    • AA (343)
  • Syrensong
    • Illusionist(43)
    • Carpenter(21)
    • AA (140)
  • Tayent
    • Defiler(87)
    • AA (340)
  • Twoshay
    • Swashbuckler(85)
    • Artisan(4)
    • AA (280)