Achievements for Non-Achievers

Achievements are the greatest gameplay innovation of this generation of computer games. (Although phasing may come close.) Players love them. Developers love them. Publishers love them. Achievementville may be papered with old laundry lists and high score tables, but it’s definitely where people want to be. Achievements are what quests were to the last generation of MMOs (rare and novel content that fascinates players.)

And like so many facets of MMOs (and human behaviour, even), we still don’t entirely know why they are so popular. Yes, people like rewards. They like to achieve a continuous stream of short term goals. But Achievements have become more than just a means to that end, they’re sparking off new types of gameplay in themselves.

I think a lot of people write achievements off, saying that they’re just there for achievers. And achievers are that nebulous cornerstone of Bartle’s four player types whose main goals in a game are to hit the high scores, the speed runs, collect the best in slot epic gear, and other concrete measurements of success in games.

I’ve always felt that achiever was a misleading name, because all players feel a sense of achievement when they succeed in their goals. A social player feels a sense of achievement when making new friends or running some group content successfully in a PUG. An explorer feels a sense of achievement when they explore some new location or content or theory. A killer feels a sense of achievement when they win a fight against another player.

And this is the brilliant groundbreaking aspect to Achievements. They can give players other than achievers some kind of concrete measure of success. Let’s face it, completing an encounter in some odd non-optimal way isn’t really the goal of a pure achiever unless they get some extra concrete reward from doing it – they want to beat the encounter, get the loot, move on. They may spend time working on completing the encounter as quickly and efficiently as possible. But by attaching an Achievement to the tactic, it becomes meaningful to players who might not have cared otherwise.

I’m seeing a lot of emergent gameplay springing up around Achievements. They’ve been plopped into our games, and now we’re seeing more of how players are responding. I’m going to use the WoW ones as my main examples.

Achievements as social enablers

When you get a new achievement in WoW, it is broadcast to your immediate area and also to your guild channel (if you have one). If it’s an impressive achievement, people will often stop to congratulate you. It may even spark a conversation on trade chat or one of the world channels.

In guild, we almost always congratulate achievements, even silly ones. Someone caught 25 fish? Cue a conversation about how dull fishing is. Cue the guild meme of everyone shouting FEEEEESH!! on channel. Cue people who may not even know the guildie well engaging him or her in the guild channel. I’ve noticed that even people who mostly play solo seem to enjoy the social inclusion.

Someone just hit level 80? It’s very likely they’ll be offered an instance or heroic run if people are free. Or offered advice on which reputation to work on first, or on gearing or talents. The *ping* of the achievement reminds the rest of us that this guy only just hit 80.

My guild is friendly anyway but broadcasting the achievements makes it much easier to keep up with what other guildies are doing, even if we don’t group with them regularly. I was wary at first (after all, do you really want everyone knowing what you’re up to?) but I can’t think of a bad side to it now.

Achievements as a narrative device

Some achievements help to chronicle the history of a character. I could look back through my WoW achievements and work out in which order I had run instances, when I had run different questlines, and as a rough gauge of what my characters had been doing at different times.

The achievement log doesn’t currently make it easy to read the list as if it was a history book, but it might be something that we see more in the next generation of games. Standard storytelling doesn’t handle repetitive grinding and instancing well (I killed an orc, then I killed an orc, then I killed an orc, etc), but if you imagine your story as a list of achievements instead, it may make more sense. Especially if there are extra ways to associate achievements with the memories – you could imagine a game which took a screenshot of your character every time you got a new achievement and stored them somewhere, for example.

Some achievements are specifically present as historical markers. Getting to level 80 or catching 25 fish in WoW are not notable achievements. But they may be interesting rites of passage for a character. Achieving max level is always meaningful to a player, even if it’s easy. The same goes for achievements that are given for completing questlines. The quests don’t have to be hard, but giving out the achievement makes them more meaningful. It’s like saying that finishing those quests was important to that character’s storyline.

In CoH there are some missions which give out badges (the CoH equivalent to achievements) and they were always very popular when I was playing. I was never sure if they were particularly good or well written missions, or had been randomly chosen as badge bait. However, because the badges were there, the missions became more important to the playerbase.

I’d love to have some kind of online book available that would tell the story of my character with pictures, achievements, and notable moments. Although guided storylines with awesome cut scenes and NPC dialogue can be vastly entertaining, the story of my character is the story that is MINE. Ideally, I’d like both :) And I think achievements could have a huge role to play in enabling players to tell their own stories.

In fact, I could easily imagine achievements replacing quests as the core guidance through a game in the next generation.

Achievements as gating mechanisms

In WoW, it is not uncommon for people running PUGs to ask prospective members to link appropriate achievements before they invite. Sometimes this is taken to stupid levels, but the achievements are giving players the ability to screen others based on what they have done in game.

Whether this is a good or a bad thing is entirely in the hands of the players who use it. It’s easy to see that if you really want to do a speed run of some instance, it makes sense to look for players who can prove they know the instance already and are well geared. Achievements give players an easy way to do that.

In may be that in future they will be better at helping players to find other players who like to play in a similar way and can prove it by what they have done in the past. For example, to find other people who want to RP being pirates. To find other keen PvPers. To find other crafters. To find other social players.

Achievements to teach people new content

A new patch comes out. Players log into the game. Some of them (who do not avidly read patch notes) wonder what’s new and what they should be trying to do? Go check the latest new achievements. They’ll give you some clues as to what the devs had in mind.

The achievements can also suggest ways to interact with the new content that might not have been obvious. And because they are achievements (and rewarded by a *ding*), there’s a good chance that other players will want to do them also.

In WoW, we’ve seen this a lot with the holiday achievements.  As well as just doing whatever the holiday quests may be, achievements encourage people to go play. To throw rose petals at each other. To turn each other into bunnies. And so on. I do think they have increased the fun that people have with the in game holidays.

The fact that WoW has an achievement (with a title!) for completing every heroic instance also encourages people to at least try the less popular ones occasionally.

Achievements as collectibles

Achievements may have titles, pets, mounts, or collectible items associated with them. So they appeal to people who like to collect stuff. You can only display one title or pet at a time (in any game I’ve ever played) but it can be fun to change your title or pet depending on your mood and the people you are with.

In CoH there are some badges that you can only get once you have achieved a specific set of other (easier) badges. So working towards a badge that gives your character a title that suits its current role and costume can be a huge part of deciding which achievements to attempt.

In LOTRO, you can choose to display a crafting title, or a grind based title (ie. several zillion variants of ‘Orc Killer’), or a funny quest based title, depending on what you want to tell other people about your character and what it has done.

Achievements as high score tables

This is the closest use to the classic definition of achiever. I haven’t seen much use of this yet in games but achievements could track a player’s personal best scores at various aspects of the game. I know in WoW there are addons that will tell you when your raid has achieved a raid fastest time to kill a mob, and we always comment on TS when that happens. It is an achievement, even if the achievement system as it is now doesn’t really record it.

But it’s easy to imagine an achievement system that would let people know when you’d been part of your personal best attempt on some boss or instance.

And as far as other parts of the game go, WoW does record some economic achievements. You will be told when you have reached 10k gold for example. So it would be possible to also record most gold made in one day, and similar types of statistics.

Achievements to learn lore

Remember Angband? Every time you killed a mob, you learned a little more about it. You might start with a sentence or two of information recording what you had noticed last time. Did it run in packs? How much health did it have? How hard did it hit? And after you had killed more of them, the game would start to record whether you’d noticed any special abilities, what sort of locations it inhabited, precisely what stats the mob had, and maybe even what type of items it dropped.

I haven’t quite seen a mechanic like this in MMOs, but Warhammer’s Tome of Knowledge opened up more lore information about mobs, areas, and items as you unlocked different achievements in the game. I always thought that was a fascinating way to present information to the player (and the fact that the book  looked amazing didn’t hurt).

The ToK wasn’t perfect. It was very text heavy and hard to search. So although there was a lot of information in there, it could be quite painful to retrieve it. But I think the idea is sound, and I really do hope that the next generation of games can do more with this type of notion.

MUDs were also very good at recording details such as how many times you’d killed different monsters. It may not be very exciting information but there are people who would love that type of data. They probably do detailed analysis on cricket scores too :)

This is just the tip of the iceberg

I’ve barely scratched the surface of how players interact with achievements in games. Feel free to add anything you like about achievements or that you’ve noticed about how people use them in games you play.

But one thing all my examples have in common – they show that achievements aren’t just for ‘classic’ achievers.  Perhaps they never were.

Travels in EQ2

I have been playing EQ2 for the last month; much of it has been spent duoing with Arbitrary (we had weekly sessions) but she’s been on holiday for the last fortnight so we agreed I’d strike out on my own. It will be quick enough for her to catch up using the mentoring facility later, if she decides to keep playing.

There’s been a lot of chat about EQ2 on blogs last week, particularly centering on Wolfshead’s critical analysis of the first 15 minutes of the game.

Tipa wrote a rebuttal, Stropp also has some comments on the piece. Wolfshead responded with a re-rebuttal (but he’s going to keep playing EQ2 and make it his pet project anyway), Pete@Dragonchasers has some comments also, and so does Ysharros – who has been our generous and long suffering EQ2 guru goddess.

One thing that is very clear to me is that you only get a chance to have a first impression of a game once. I am quite sure that if I started another character now I’d find the experience much smoother than I did the first time round – this is particularly true in EQ2 but probably applies to every other MMO also.

So I find Wolfshead’s posts intriguing because I share his frustration at how pointlessly impenetrable this game sometimes seems. Too many moments which leave me thinking ‘Well how was I supposed to know THAT?’. And like him, I’ve also just resubscribed. It is reasonable to ask why I’d pay to torture myself like that –- I’m hoping to answer that by the end of this post! Short version: There’s something very unique about the EQ2 game experience, I don’t yet know if I’m in for the longterm but I know I’m not yet done with it.

The first 15 minutes

I’m basically in agreement with Wolfshead on this one. I’m not going to complain (much) about the loading screen because at least it isn’t as bad as Warhammer’s endless splashscreens and EULAs. On the other hand, it does prominently display the ESRB logo (like, takes up a third of the screen) – I’d have more sympathy if ESRB wasn’t a purely US organisation. If you want to start out by blatting out some text about an organisation I’ve never heard of that is irrelevant to me then feel free, I guess.

Character creation is a slow, multistep process. First you pick a race and customise how your character looks with lots of sliders for features, hair (all the hairstyles have their own bizarre names), skin colour, etc. Then you pick a class. Then you select your starting zone. Then you decide on a name. And finally you pick a server. So if you get to the end of this process and realise that your race/class choice means you can’t start in the same zone as your friend, you have to go back and start all over again.

Compare this with WoW which lets you pick the server first, do all those other things on the same screen and doesn’t give you a choice of starting area anyway (that is not necessarily a bonus).

Also in EQ2 the evil guys have a bonus starting zone. Good can choose from Qeynos, the original starting zone from 4 years ago, and Kelethin, the fae zone. Evil gets to choose from the original zone, a dark elf based zone, and the new dragon-person zone. This only becomes a problem when you realise that neutral races may be of good faction but are not allowed to start in Kelethin. This could have been made clearer on the racial choice screen, would have saved us some time at least.

Neither WoW nor EQ2 make it easy to get from one starting zone to another if you don’t know the game. This is something we don’t see so much in newer games. LOTRO provides quick cheap travel between starting zones, for example. In any case, it is quite important to coordinate races/ classes/ faction if you want to start playing with a friend.

Faydwer or bust

I’ve very much liked the fae and their starting zone. The character models and wings are pretty, and they look good in their newbie gear. The starter area features many annoying NPCs, and the usual sorts of quests, with at least one cave full of mobs that we found quite challenging.

After that, you escape into the wider world of Greater Faydark, a pretty forest zone with a river running through it. The fae city of Kelethin, built on treetop platforms, is the main point of interest. Although the city was initially confusing to navigate, with time and practice we got the hang of it quite well. It’s like a mini-metaphor for the game itself. It’s a pretty place and the introductory questline soon has you exploring, killing things, collecting items, and getting very lost in the process. We wound up with a little instanced boss fight.

After that, the sense is that you’re back to questing as usual. The zone is laid out with quest hubs. They follow the pattern of sending you out multiple times to the same area to kill similar but slightly different mobs. In other words – once you are past the cool starting quests, they don’t put in so much effort into entertaining the player. Some people might say that it means they aren’t holding you by the hand so much. And this is true, the experience is less guided.

I don’t find it as fun as WoW questing. Quests that tell a coherent story with a variety of things to do and see are just more fun than going back 17 times to the orc area to kill slightly harder orcs on each outing. (I may be exaggerating but I swear it isn’t by much.) But it’s not as bad as it sounds either. The orcs actually do get tougher and have different abilities, some come in groups, other patrol, and so on. So you do have to think a bit about how to kill them, whether you want to suicide to kill one out of a group of three so that there will only be two of them when you run back.

So oddly enough, in its old fashioned questy way, EQ2 does deliver the gameplay. And it does it much better than LOTRO’s take on the same design. I got way more bored of killing wolves in the Lone Lands than I have of killing orcs in Faydark – and part of this is because there are so many other things to do nearby if I get bored of orcs and want a break.

Zone Design

One of the really intriguing things about EQ2 is how varied it can be. I’ve only seen a few zones – starting zones, zones I accidentally zoned into while exploring, the festival zone that’s available this week, but I feel already that figuring out how to navigate the terrain is part of the design here.

If you look at Northrend, there are neatly labelled roads leading everywhere and if you want to take a shortcut you can probably see fairly easily where to go. The zones I’ve seen in EQ2 haven’t been laid out in quite that way. Although there are paths in the Faydark, often I’ve wanted to cut across country and had to figure out how to use the terrain to make this easier. There are bridges, ladders, trees to climb, and cliffs to jump off.

Although zones probably still consist of neatly laid out patches of quest mobs, they don’t seem so obvious. And I know that although exploring has been frustrating at times, it’s also quite fun for me to figure my way around.

Baby’s first addon

I wasn’t planning on using addons for EQ2, I wanted the raw experience. But when I couldn’t remember where my questgiver was, I figured I needed a good mapping addon. I don’t mind if games want to make the location of the quest OBJECT obscure – exploring is fun – but I don’t really want to have to run twice round the zone because I didn’t make a note of where I got a quest from and have a bad memory.

Again, this is something where WoW has the same issues but more recent games really shine. LOTRO and Aion, for example, give good records of where quests came from in their quest logs.

Anyhow, enter EQ2Map. It was very easy to install and does the job fine, it has records of where all the various mobs and NPCs in a zone are and lets you search for them. And from having too little information on my map, I now have too much. I’m trying to use the map responsibly and only check locations when I really can’t remember them.

Using the channels

This is going to be a great example of where EQ2 doesn’t give out its secrets without a fight. There is a general advice channel called level_1-9 that all new players are on. I had assumed this was mostly for players of levels 1-9 but when I hit level 10 I wasn’t able to find a level_10-19 channel, so who knows?

I also see people using the 1-9 channel to look for high level groups. This leads me to suspect three possibilities:

  1. Players assume that anyone of levels 1-9 is probably an alt of a high level player
  2. This has become the general channel, whether that was originally intended or not
  3. No one else can figure out how the other channels work either

Seriously I was unable to find any reference to channels in the in-game help. I also wonder if the LFG functionality is really really bad in EQ2. I have no idea whether or not it is, because I haven’t found that either.

Class Design and Combat

I’m not a huge fan of EQ2 class design. Certainly as a new player, there seem to be lots of classes doing roughly similar things. I can see how the casters are vaguely different from each other but I see many many support classes with a variety of buffs. And no way to know at the start how they actually differ.

I think this is because of the original design that let people start with a base class and then specialise. If they made it a bit clearer on the class choice screen what the base role was, and how the subclasses fitted in, it might make more sense. I’m still not clear on how a fury is different from a shaman though (how many healers with buffs does a game really need?)

If you are a buffing class, expect to have an unfeasible amount of buffs. I think the general idea is to let players choose which buffs they want to spend their concentration on. In practice, it’s just annoying. Especially when you die and have to cast all of them again. I swear I can’t remember what all mine do without mousing over them and waiting a couple of seconds for the game to throw up a tooltip.

My Dirge is basically a scout/ rogue type with some support abilities. So it can stealth, dual wield, and use positional attacks, and it has a lot of buffs. (Did I mention that there are loads of buffs in this game yet?) For crowd control, I have a snare, and that’s it so far. The trouble is, buffs aren’t very interesting. You cast them once and then play as if they weren’t there. I’m assuming I get more abilities as I level though.

Certainly I’ve had to use 3 quickbars so far and it feels a bit overwhelming. Despite that, combat is pretty straight forwards. Use your combat abilities in whatever order best suits (some do chain, like a positional attack after a stun, but most don’t). Then autoattack while you wait for the cooldowns to come up again. My attacks do use mana so there’s an element of mana-management also.

What I’m not so sure of is whether other classes have vastly different mechanics or not. You can compare with WoW or WAR to see that each class plays quite differently, they each have their signature mechanic. I don’t get that feel so much yet with EQ2. It’s always ‘use abilities, wait for cooldowns’.

So I’m not finding combat very exciting. I don’t really have abilities which work better on different mobs, and only one positional attack. One thing you do get though is that every class has a ranged attack, even if it’s just being able to use a bow to pull.

As well as xp, you can also get achievement points from completing quests, exploring, and so on. After around level 9ish (I think) you can start to spend these on achievement abilities. It’s not TOO hard to figure out which of these is most useful and I think you can respec them later anyway. But it is an added complexity that is unavoidable – by that what I mean is that if you wanted a casual game where you didn’t want to have to worry about talent specs, this probably isn’t it.

I hadn’t wanted to spend much time poking around on bboards for talent builds in this game, I do enough of that in WoW. But the official boards are reasonably well organised and will probably throw up some useful stickies about AAs on the class boards.

I make my first million

Collections are another big part of the game. It’s very simple. You see a glowy thing. You pick it up. You examine it. Hurrah, you can add it to your collection, which also gets it out of your bag (another huge hurrah to that). If you complete a collection you can hand it in to a collections NPC for xp and probably achievement points too.

But the really great thing about collection items is that you can sell them to rich, lazy, high level characters for lots of cash. OK, amount of cash varies but they do sell well. Other things that sell are rare crafting items (when you gather from a node, you have a chance to get a rare item), rare lore items that drop from mobs, and just about anything else. The economy seems fairly active.

Best of all, the current festival features a lot of collecting, and those items made me my first plat. That’s the advantage of a euro-timezone, you can go collect stuff while the yanks are asleep.

The festival is a gnome related tinkering festival (gnomes being engineers/ tinkers seems a really common fantasy meme, not sure where that came from). I saw it was live on the login screen, and when I asked on channel 1-9 I was told that there was a festival area in Kelethin from which I could join in. (Players are generally really friendly in this game, from what I have seen.) So off I went to check this out. I found some gnomy celebrators letting off fireworks – what were they thinking in a city built in trees? – and they also had a portal to their tinkering hometown. I went, I explored, I collected, I bought some crazy tinker gadgets for my one-acorn house, it was fun!

My house actually now reminds me of the garage of a guy I used to work with who collected analogue amplifiers and … err… just about anything else. He never had a walking plant called Uncle though, I bet.

So what’s the appeal?

Now here’s the dilemma of EQ2.

It’s not very player friendly and particularly not very newbie friendly. It is very easy to log in and not really have any specific goals. You do notice this in comparison to newer games that make it much easier to decide what you want to accomplish in a session. Fighting solo is not especially exciting. The class design is confusing. You will have too many abilities.

The quest design feels old fashioned. There will be a lot of commuting between your quest hub and their mobs of choice. I don’t honestly know if I can stand 80 levels of it. You will not be pointed towards more interesting content, even if it exists.

Someone was reflecting mournfully on channel 1-9 this morning, ‘Does anyone group for the level 10-30 instances any more?’ I felt a pang of sadness, because I hadn’t even realised that there were any. I’m sure newbies in WoW have exactly the same experience (this is why WoW is the only game you really can compare EQ2 with, they’re so similar in some respects …).

I feel as though I’ve spent a long time in Greater Faydark, even though I know that the WoW starter zones cover similar level ranges. But the difference is that I feel more in control of the pace in EQ2. It is slower (there aren’t cool quests and storylines that take you by the hand and guide you through) but it’s been much easier to break off and do something else for a while or just go and explore.

I feel that EQ2 is more of an adventure. This may just be because I’m a newbie there. But it seems such a mixture of different design ideas and zones, I don’t really know what might be coming next. I do feel more in control of the pace at which I play, again that might be because of being so new to it and also playing solo/duo which always gives you more control.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to high level. But I do know I’m not done here yet.

Getting to know Free Realms

I have real problems in exploring Free Realms. It’s not the game, it’s me! Every time I decide to go check out some place that looked interesting on the map, I get distracted by something else I’ve come across on the way.

Truly, it is the game of, ‘I’ll just go and … OOO SHINY!’

I’m amused by how well trained I am from WoW to use quest chains to help me focus. Fortunately a lot of the careers (probably all of them but I still have some left to check!) have quest chains associated with them to introduce you to trainers and get you settled in.

On the other hand, why would it really matter if you get distracted as long as you found something else to do that was fun? There’s no sense of rush or urgency in the game. Oddly enough despite this, some of the minigames do provide a sense of achievement.

This week I’ve attempted to explore, and picked up all of the warpstones except for Briarheart which is my mission for today — unless I get distracted en route.

Warpstones are Free Realms’ equivalent of stable masters, although with fewer restrictions. You can open up your map from anywhere and click on any warpstone that you have already discovered to teleport there straight away.

If you do want more in the way of guides, zam.com (known previously as allakhazam.com, it’s had a revamp) has a shiny Free Realms site.

Collections

I’ve also discovered collections this week. There are lots  of different things you can collect in game, some are actual items and others are areas to explore. For example, one collection requires you to have visited all of the warpstones.

Every town in the game looks to have its own set of discovery collections which you can acquire by exploring the town. But you have to really focus on it, just wandering randomly around the town won’t do it.

The item collections are more similar to collections in EQ2. As you travel around you will sometimes see glowing items on the floor. Click on those and you may have an item for your collection. I still have a lot to find out about collections for myself, I think some items may turn up as part of minigames, some may depend on your current career, and some on where you are. I’m wishing I’d made better notes on where I was when I found different items but I did promise myself to play this in a relaxed way so I won’t fret about it.

To check your collections,  open up the My Quests and Collections tab. It’s bound to L.

Playing with friends

The friendslist server still seems to be down as much as it is up, and it’s just as awkward as before to add people to your friends list if they aren’t actually in the game.

But I was happy to find when playing with my sister that once friended, if she was in the game and I wasn’t, I could click on her name in the web interface and not only be logged into the same server, but also in the same location.

I wish more MMOs would do this, it’s great.

Pete@Dragonchasers noticed this also, along with 6 other things about Free Realms which are easy to miss.

Have not yet persuaded husband to try FR but he was watching over my shoulders with interest as I played the mining minigame so who knows?

When minigames kick your butt

I had meant to try more of the careers but I keep drifting back to mining. There is a particularly knotty challenge on one of the mining quests to beat a score of 100k while mining iron and I was ridiculously pleased when I finally was able to do it.

Note: If you are at Lavender Coast,  trying to find the iron nodes, and wondering why they all seem to be hidden behind the barrier, walk straight past the barrier and keep heading west. You will soon get to the path into the mine.

Heilig@Brasse.com has a good mining guide. I don’t really feel a guide is necessary here but he goes through the basic strategies and tiles to watch out for.

Although I did enjoy the card game, I’m at the point where I’d really like to try building a deck around a different element and I just don’t see any way to get enough cards to do that without spending some cash. It’s not just a case of buying one pack of 10 cards (at £4 per pack, the same price as a month’s sub). I don’t really know how many I’d  need to buy, so I’ll keep playing the odd match with my mechanical deck but I’m not sure that it will keep my interest.

Other things I did this week were spend a bit more time on the brawler (trainer is in the tutorial area) and ninja (trainer is in Lakeshore). These are both combat/MMO type classes. You start with two abilities of which one is a basic attack. And that’s it until you hit level 5.

Unfortunately level 5 requires a bit of grinding. The combat careers felt more grindy to me than the mining but the truth is I really did spend a lot more time on mining. When each mining minigame takes 5 minutes, it’s hard to compare with a combat minigame that takes a minute at most.

Speaking of the combat minigame, the idea of it is growing on me. None of the enemies in game is aggro, until you click on it and are transported into the minigame. This sees you in a small area where you can wander around and fight until everything else is dead. Some of the minigames have ministories to go with them — eg. mob X has kidnapped someone, can you save them?!

They are reminding me more and more of random encounters in D&D.

There are also instances which you can go and explore. Those will take a little longer to clear.

So what about the less free part?

I plunked down my £4 for one month’s sub, just to see how the other half live. As well as access to the other five jobs and some subscriber only quests, there are extra subscriber-only minigames that you may run into as you explore.

(You can see now why I was getting so easily distracted).

I found an archaeology minigame that was similar to mining, and a skiing type minigame that I need to go back and check properly. I’m sure there’s a lot more than I haven’t yet found.

Of the other careers, it was blacksmith that I decided to try first. This job lets you use the materials you can gather from mining to turn out shiny weapons. The blacksmithing minigame is similar in style to the harvesting one, but you do need to make sure you have all your materials handy. Some can be bought cheaply from a trade vendor, and there seems to be one near every anvil.

Others you’ll need from a miner. And that miner will need to be someone who doesn’t mind smelting. This conflicts me because much as I love the mining minigame, I’m really not fond of the smelting one (it’s similar to the way cooking works in game and therefore not really for the mouse-clumsy).

Since most people would want crafted weapons but there’s no obvious way to sell them, I wonder if your only option if you don’t know a smith is to spam The Sanctuary (or a town of your choice) with requests.

I’m hoping to check out at least some of the other jobs this week. Just for reference, the location of the tutors is as follows:

  • Archer: Lugabow in Greenwood Forest (south west part)
  • Blacksmith: Smitty in Snow Hill
  • Brawler: Tutorial
  • Card Duelist: Sam Potts or Poe Tatters in The Sanctuary
  • Chef: Tutorial (or Simone at Crossroads)
  • Medic: Nurse Naia in The Sanctuary
  • Miner: Therin in Snow Hill, you have to go all the way into the mine.
  • Ninja: Master Ty in Lakeshore
  • Pet Trainer: Zachary in Stillwater Crossing or Mercy Merrywing in Highroad Junction  (I have trained my RL cat to … actually no I haven’t, she just does what she wants anyway.)
  • Postman: Felipe in The Sanctuary
  • Warrior: Drill Sergeant Dewey in Snow Hill
  • Wizard: Fizzlesticks (take the path North out of Lakeshore and follow over the bridge, then turn left as the road forks and go to the Robgoblin camp)

But the drag of getting a combat job to level 5 is dragging at my heels, after all, there’s mining to be done and …. OO, SHINY!