Empress Mizzaroo’s recent post on her enjoyment of WoW got me to thinking more about something that’s been on my mind for several months.
She pens her new pastime in joining World of Warcraft as if she’s cheating on Turbine and DDO. Can’t say I blame her. Her sentiment is like my own and should be appreciated by the Turbine staff.
I’ve never enjoyed a game as much as I have DDO, not because they have Monks (albeit their existence was my primary motivation to try it out) but, as I learned later, the friendships you gain through guilds help out a lot in play and adds to the fun. That said, the virtual world of DDO has become…real to me.
Not everyone enjoys this sentimentality with MMO games…or cannot do so for long.
With the recent introduction of Neverwinter Online, yet another D&D-flavored world competes for the attention of the gaming faithful. That game’s introduction has impacted my guild on Ghallanda, which now has a guild formed in the NWO while still supporting its original DDO guild.
But one cannot serve two masters without compromise. My guild’s overall active players per day has dropped noticeably.
Despite the allusion of cheating, it’s not fair to say to guildies that you can only play one game. Many of my guildies have played DDO since it’s introduction in 2006. That’s a very long time to play one game world, even if new content is introduced regularly. I must be clear here in stating that I don’t blame my game pals one damned bit for playing elsewhere. DDO is a game, not a religion. Eventually your attention wanders for recreation.
Yet, change is here. I’ve been in the DDO world for about 3 years now and I’m not done with the fun. But my guild’s primary leadership are often away on NWO, with maybe less than two hours of DDO gameplay per week. For many other reasons outside of gaming elsewhere, our overall attendance is lower.
It’s also possible that the recent updates (including the demise of MyDDO blogging as well as the controversial use of gaming logins for forum logins) as well as planned updates such as a total rewrite of the enhancement scheme is causing people to find somewhere else to play.
So what’s a Monk to do when his friends are partying elsewhere?
It comes down to a few tough choices, although there’s not always a dichotomy that forces me to choose one over the other.
- Hold the fort: As a guild officer, continue to post quests and raids to keep guild interest up, since our guild leader doesn’t restrict this action only to the guild leader.
- Suck it up: Continue to play solo but join up on guild runs and (shudder) PUGs if I want some company.
- Give in: Create a new account on Neverwinter Online and find my guild friends there.
Holding the Fort
I’ve been trying to manage my toons so that I can lead parties from many levels for quest chains and raids. It’s not easy: Monks level fast. But my real-life comes first, as our guild charter states, so I can’t post something for everyday and not be able to attend it myself. I’ve had my share of family outings and weekend plans lately.
So I need to continue to encourage others in the guild to post and participate, too. This has worked with limited success since our overall numbers online per night are lower and overall attendance per week is scarily low. I will continue to schedule and run things but there’s only so much one person can do with limited numbers and time.
Suck It Up
Playing solo is often my way. I’m not a particularly sociable person in real life so the virtual life of a monastic, often solitary and contemplative, translates into my gameplay. Paradoxically, playing with guildies breaks me out of this and I prize it highly as it takes a group of good friends to pull me out of my shell.
I’ve joined up with a few stalwart guildies every few nights to run something, so that’s something. As with many, I loathe PUG gameplay. From personalities to zerging to people who are too new to the game or ignorant of gameplay, their game roles or common courtesy, PUGs make my hands chafe.
But often when there isn’t anyone at my level in the guild that is playing anything I can join with the character I’m training, this option is a ping-pong of solo and limited guild play that feels like you’re managing a long-distance relationship. Badly.
Give in to Neverwinter
A few of you might say, “Why not the best of both worlds? Go join NWO and roll up a free toon?”
I say, “So…how long have you been reading my blog? You don’t know me too well, I guess.”
The answer here is clear. NWO is very new and appears to have a rather on-rails gameplay. My wife complains enough on how much time I spend on DDO, so adding a second game world is like offering new drugs to an addict on the mend.
Most importantly, there are no Monks in NWO (yet). Not that I play Monks all the time, just almost all of the time. The most attractive classes there are Rangers, Clerics and Rogues–and I give limited play to those classes on DDO as it is.
I can rewind the game clock and install any of my classic Neverwinter Nights games or even the all-martial arts world of Jade Empire if I needed a second respite. I don’t. I like DDO and I’m still learning everything this world can do. As well, I’d only add to the guild decline already in play on Ghallanda by spending time in that version of Neverwinter.
Once in awhile I’d organize my guild to do something a little different, such as running “The Shroud” with almost all Monks and one or two healers. That raid was a complete curb-stomping of Harry with all the DPS generated by that raid party. Similarly, we’ve had a Mostly-Arcane Archer raid, too.
I’ve toyed and joked with the idea of creating my own guild whose membership would be limited to characters with no fewer than two Monk levels. “The Order of Syncletica” would be a fitting name for it (reflecting the tradition of monastic order names such as the Order of St. Benedict), but I’d likely name it something less similar so as not to conflict with the blog name or Turbine’s fansite rules (I’ve since added the blog to the DDO fansites list).
A guild of Monks would be as true of a dojo as I could make it. We can share resources and tips, organize all kinds of quests and stomp the living hell out of this game. I would have complete responsibility for the guild’s growth and maintaining player interest with what the game quests provide me.
The downsides are obvious. A guild takes time to grow and requires much time and resources to maintain. In a real sense, I’d be doing what I see others are doing; playing less and less in my current guild in favor of something more shiny and new. I’d just be doing that within the game itself. Further, I’d likely create the guild on a new server.
Based on the DDO Wiki articles on creating a guild and building an airship, this would be a formidable task that would likely sap most of my game time on my original server since I will need to either sink lots of real-world cash to buy Astral Shards to buy a ship and its amenities, or create a new character, play solo and in PUGs to generate the in-game platinum needed to kickstart the guild. I haven’t even thought of the hassle of recruiting.
It is Inevitable, Smith Says
Sooner or later, forming a all-Monk guild or joining an existing one is probable for me if I stay in DDO. All the information I’ve collected through experience and comments from readers like you have made the Book of Syncletica what it is. The new enhancements (love them or hate them) will also alter the game significantly that might be of great interest to people who’ve felt that DDO is a little long in the tooth.
Agent Smith was right when he told Neo that he would eventually die. He just didn’t anticipate that Neo would take Smith down with him. Same was true with the deaths of other major characters in The Matrix Trilogy.
The cycle of game life means that, eventually, a game must be reloaded–whether it be by technology, the developers, or the players themselves. Mind you, it can be the same game code played, or you load in new code.
For now, I’m in “Screw Destiny” mode. I’m staying, and will fight in and for Xen’drik until it or I cease to exist.
If I ever form that all-Monk guild, you’ll be the first to know. For now, I’ll hold the fort and suck it up until it sucks too much.