Category Archives: NBI

NBI Screenshot Safari: Horizons

For the very last day of this May’s #NBI2015Safari, I decided to do the impossible and go with the “landscape” theme which proves quite the challenge for someone with too many screenshots on her hard disk. After spending an hour browsing all the prettier MMOs – Guild Wars 2, Tera, LOTRO and FFXIV, I decided to break with tradition and go with a non-MMO screenshot instead. I have spent around 50 hours of gametime on the Witcher 3 so far, to say that I’m loving it would be an understatement. Even if you’re not into the series however, you gotta admit the game comes with some stunning visuals. I will upload a full screenshot gallery at some point but for now, this one pick must suffice.

One of the most remarkable things about the Witcher’s world is its viewing distance even on medium settings; the way you can see cities and important landmarks from halfway across the map. Even more so than in Skyrim, this world feels never-ending and like a genuine, natural place. The sky above is beautiful and changes dynamically with daytime and weather. I intend to spend a great deal more time exploring this open world down to its last nook and cranny!

A beautiful view.

A beautiful view.

NBI Screenshot Safari: FFXIV Selfie

As my The Witcher 3 download is approaching the finish line, I decided my second entry for Murf’s #NBI2015Safari shall be a recent FFXIV selfie. I started leveling Sylberry the Lalafell and adore her still, but halfway through the Crystal Tower raids I acquired Scylla’s outfit which looks decidedly better on a full-figure character with some degree of sex-appeal (cleavage is kinda silly on Lalafell). Since I finally also managed to acquire the shiny Bogatyr’s robes last night in Keeper of the Lake, it was time for another epic shot together with my favorite companion, Midgardsormr. I am incredibly happy with FFXIV’s gear looks and variety; everything is crafted in great detail down to every last button on my gloves or the ornamentation on my weapon’s hilt. I am dressed and ready for that expansion!


(click to enlarge)


NBI Screenshot Safari: In the Lair of the Dragon

So Murf has a #NBI2015Safari going on, to which bloggers may or may not contribute one screenshot per week to a given topic. As the piles of boxes around my house are diminishing, I am finding my spirits for blogging and gaming return – and of course I like screenshots, even if the prospect of choosing just one shot per week from a backlog like mine can be very daunting. I realize, I am also somewhat late to the party joining at the end of week two, alas!

In the Lair of the Dragon

Today’s screenshot is dedicated to the ‘High Fantasy’ genre because nothing in the world says high fantasy to me like magic & dragons do. I was introduced to this venerable genre by the Dragonlance novels over 20 years ago and ever since, my heart’s been out dancing with the fairies (when I was young, I was a fool). And dragons, well there’s no more iconic and formidable creature to be found in the entire beastiary of folklore, mythology and fantasy. We are all fascinated by dragons.

A thing that isn’t frequently mentioned about FFXIV is its pretty off-the charts, high fantasy style mob and boss design. During my journey to max level, I’ve encountered some of the most amazing dragon and creature design that would make every D&D veteran’s heart pound a little faster. Be it dragons, chimeras, beholders or cyclops – FFXIV has a mature and very classic sense for epic creature design. The dragons look ancient, dark and sinewy. That makes FFXIV a game of stark contrasts, for there is much frivolity and silliness to be found for sure, yet its serious moments are serious.

The below screenshot shows my midlevel Black Mage battling Aiatar (based on Ajatar, the “Devil of the Woods” in Finnish folklore, a female spirit that manifests as a dragon), the last boss in Brayflox’s Runstop.

(click to enlarge)

There’s magic, a big ass scary dragon and me – it doesn’t get much more high fantasy than this in gaming!

December Blogosphere XMAS Countdown – Get your Date and Calendar!


Over the past two weeks bloggers all across the MMO and gaming blogosphere have signed up for the merry December blogging countdown and I am happy to confirm a total of 46 people are participating! I have spent the better part of this weekend finalizing a calendar-like page, randomizing dates and working out the last bits and pieces – but more on that later! While the original post already contains most of the infos and ideas behind this event, a very brief summary of what you need to know so you can start writing and planning ahead:

  • The topic of your post should revolve around “gaming and community”; share something positive that has come from gaming/blogging for you as an individual and that involves others in some way. For ideas, see the original post.
  • To identify participating entries, the title of your post should read: “Bloggy XMAS <day number>:…………..” the rest of the title being all yours!
  • Publishing time for entries is at 9am PST which translates to 12pm EST and 5pm (London) to 6pm (Paris) for central European times respectively, to meet the timezones of a majority of bloggers and readers. I am aware that this is not a perfect solution for everybody, but thanks for trying to schedule your publications accordingly if possible. It helps us to get an idea of what time of the day new posts will be up each day.

With the administrative bits out of the way, here comes the list of individual post dates for every blogger. Due to many signups, December 1st – 21st will be featuring two entries per day which is absolutely brilliant. Assignments have happened completely at random, courtesy of (so please direct all complaints there!). —> Individual posting dates by author’s name A-Z: Follow this link!

Presenting the Bloggy XMAS Calendar:
Finally, it’s time to reveal the countdown/calendar page! I’ve come to understand that digital advent calendars are in fact tricky business: having moving bits, timer lockouts and whatnot isn’t simple, especially if you’re looking for a calendar that caters to different timezones. The Bloggy XMAS calendar page is therefore kept simple, as an overview for you to keep track of all posts published on the topic of gaming community in December. It is a visual guide more than anything and like every physical advent calendar too, it’s up to your own self-discipline whether you’ll spoil all the surprises in advance and binge on the candy inside, or whether you’ll strictly open 1 window per day!

You can find the Bloggy XMAS  calendar at Henceforward, you can use the standalone page to keep track of community posts for the day (also check twitter #bloggyxmas for daily updates), as well as a daily MMO fun fact and MMO tune for the day (of course!). For those who would like to make a sticky and promote the event via their own blogs, feel free to use the banner below!


The event lasts until December 25th. The blog links provided for each day are currently directing to your main domain and will be adjusted as soon as posts have been published. If you would still like to participate in this event, let me know in the comments or via twitter. A final round-up will be published around Dec 31st.

Thanks everyone for joining for this merry event and bringing some community spirit to the gaming blogosphere this December 2014! Looking forward to many great posts!

A December Blogosphere XMAS Countdown – Sign up!

December is a special time in small countryside communities around here where it’s customary to not just buy advent calendars stuffed with chocolate and toys for children, but to turn an entire town (for reference) into one big calendar with a different house participating every night until Xmas. Participants draw a number and decorate a prominent and visible window on the house they live in, to be lit through the entire night when it’s their turn in December (and onward from there until the 24th). It is a wonderful sight on a cold winter’s night to walk through such a town and discover what people have done with their windows, whether you celebrate Xmas or not. It’s one of those orchestrated displays of community that still work on some level, or so I have always found, and everyone is welcome to join for this tradition regardless of religion.


Advent window in Toggenburg /

The MMO Blogosphere XMAS Countdown

December is almost here and constitutes the end of another year of blogging in the blogosphere as well as the end of a quarter that was difficult for gaming culture as a whole. We’ve been reminded that mainstream media still think fairly low of our pastime and that gamers are not one community. Some have stopped to identify with this label altogether, as is their right.

And yet, if we dig deeper past superficial labels, there is still a community of sorts between an ever growing number of individuals – a community by choice of active members in this here blogosphere and elsewhere, among gaming bloggers on twitter and G+, sharing daily quips or friendly advice, joining forces on cooperative events and seeking exchange and respectful discussion week after week while holding to similar standards of communication. At yesterday’s Blizzcon, Blizzard revealed a down memory lane documentary on WoW and their worldwide fanbase which was full of feels and nostalgia for this MMO. It was hard to watch without being reminded of that great idea(l), that promise of acceptance and belonging that virtual worlds still hold for so many players across the globe, no matter where they come from. To claim that it’s all just a sham would be overly cynical – every day, online gaming brings some people together.

Blogging buddies, twitter friends, kindred spirits – they exist. To many of us, they make writing about games that much more special and enjoyable. Nobody likes to blog in a vacuum. This is where the MMO Blogosphere Xmas Countdown comes into play and I call participants from all corners of the gaming blogosphere to join for this merry event through December! Sign up and turn your blog into a community window on a random day that will be assigned before the end of November! Join the calendar that is blogosphere town!


My thanks go to Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut for graciously assisting me with the logo to this merry little event! Bel has been the host of the Blaugust blogging event this year and I am happy to be part of a community that has people like him in it.

How to join the blogosphere Xmas Calendar: Q&A

How do I create a “window”? What’s the topic?
Your “window” is a blogpost dedicated to the topic of ‘gaming and community’ which goes up on your assigned date in December. Form and content of this post are completely up to you: whether you include a number of pictures/screenshots or the official event logo, whether you write an essay or even a poem.

As for topics, the sky is the limit: write about how gaming has impacted on your life in terms of meeting new people, or what community means to you personally! Share the story of how you met a special person online, about your time in the blogosphere, times spent with your gaming buddies IRL or your guild online. Alternatively, you could take a more analytical approach as to why community building matters in MMOs and why it’s important to you. Either way, the point is to share something positive that has come from gaming/blogging for you as an individual and that involves others in some way.

Who can join?
Anyone who runs an active MMO or gaming related blog and has something to share on the topic of community! It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a dedicated WoW blog or write about different MMOs or mixed games, game design or gaming culture. The more, the merrier!

How do I join?
You can sign up by adding a comment below or by dropping me a quick line via email or twitter. Please leave a link to your blog if required.

When do I get my date / number?
Dates will be rolled out and randomly assigned to participants. An official XMAS “calendar” with all participants will be published on MMO Gypsy by November 24th including a link to your blog, so make sure to check back for your slot then!

Do I use a specific post title?
To identify posts participating in this event, the first part of your post title should read: “Bloggy XMAS <number>: ……” the rest of the title being all yours!

How long does it all last?
I am am positive that we can make the calendar go all the way up to at least December 24th, with hopefully many bloggers up to join for some merry reminiscing! More sign-ups can always be accommodated – this event being about community more than the actual holiday, I’d like to keep it flexible and go up all the way to New Year (Dec 31st) if required.

Like for the poetry slam and other blogosphere events, all entries will be rounded-up on MMO Gypsy (and potentially more sites!) by December 31st. I look forward to some great contributions again and hope to see some new faces joining the ranks! Thanks for helping to spread the word over the coming two weeks, so we can fill this December in the blogosphere with some happy stories on gaming and community.

Sign up now – and get ready to light your own window!

The big NBI Poetry Slam round-up: It’s Magic!

The month of May has come and gone, fraught with MMO news, more and less happy launches and controversial interviews depending on where you focused your attention. Some players are coming to terms with the status quo of The Elder Scrolls Online while others have spent that time exploring the beginnings of ArchAge or getting hyped for Wildstar, newest kid on the block. Others yet have come to the conclusion that they probably won’t be ordering Warlords of Draenor after all.

This busy month of May was also dedicated to the third Newbie Blogger Initiative of the MMO blogosphere and many bloggers, new and old, have rallied to Doone’s call once more, running events or contributing in other excellent ways.

It so happens that MMO blogging is here to stay; 47 newbie bloggers have signed up this year so take a moment to compare your blogroll against this list here!

The big NBI Poetry Slam round-up

The second MMO poetry slam came with a topic dear to our hearts: magic. The magic of a perfect moment, the magical lands we travel in MMOs, the power of magic that runs through a caster’s veins. As colorful and diverse as the theme, as varied and inspiring were the responses from the blogosphere. A stunning total of 16 bloggers rose to the challenge, sharing their beautiful prose, classy rhymes or not-so-serious limericks. Without further ado, let me share this year’s MMO poets in no particular order:

I want to thank each and all contributors for their amazing work and courage to test the creative waters of MMO blogging, as well as everyone who has supported this merry little event in other ways. You are what makes our little niche community this lively and engaging place full of interaction and exchange for me. I apologize in advance if I have missed anyone’s poetry entry – please let me know per mail or via comments so I can still add you to the list!

With that, I almost want to wish everyone a sunny, lyrical start of June and beginning of summer! There’s just one more thing I need to do.

Last but hopefully not least: My Poetry Slam entry

The reason why I chose the topic of magic for this year’s NBI was partly a selfish one: for a while now I have stared at my favorite MMO screenshots on my desktop wallpaper and mused on how to approach them best in verse. I always play casters or healers in MMOs which is a big part of their fascination for me. There is beauty in magic, power and mystery and so it’s no wonder maybe that some of the best screenshots I ever took (and I have taken so many) display magic in progress. And thus, in the spirit of rather late than never, I share my own humble NBI poem with you.

The Magic that I work

The magic that I work
it knows no name;
it is a gift of light,
a child of flame.

The magic that I call
is mine by right;
it is a beacon
in the depths of night.

The magic that I wield
is born of rage;
it is a token
of a fading age.

The magic that I weave
it guards my own;
it is a servant
to my will alone.

NBI 2014: Calling all Poets

The NBI is back this month of May!
Time to grab your pens and join the fray!
Bloggers of all flavors, genres and creed
Contribute, ponder, write and read
About this special thing we do
The blogosphere – that’s me and you!

A special pen I give, nay feather
To those made from a different leather –
The wordsmiths, minstrels, frivolous kin
That fear no word or literal sin.
To you I call, just like before:
It’s time to rhyme with me once more!

Join for the NBI3 Poetry Slam!

The third Newbie Blogger Initiative of the MMO blogosphere has officially kicked off this May 1st, sporting a new web page and forums thanks to much time and effort put in by NBI maestros Doone and Roger. This NBI3 comes with a slightly different agenda than the previous ones, many new contributors and a whole bunch of events planned to bring the blogosphere together in what they do best: gaming.

And there will be writing of course, shared topics, friendly advice and yes – another poetry slam once more because why not?

The NBI poetry slam is officially back for a second round folks and here I am calling you – the veterans, the newcomers and last year’s most excellent participants to test and best the creative waters of MMO writing, be it with classic verse or freestyle!

The Rules!

The NBI3 poetry slam will be concluded by May 30th 2014. Up to that date you have time to figure out your words and contribute to this most worthy undertaking. Like last year, being there is everything; there are only winners in this competition!

The form of your contribution is free. Last year’s creations ranged from classic rhyme, limericks and haikus (17 syllables!), to screenshot poetry, song lyrics and abstract poetry. There are no limits to how you express yourself and you need no special skill level to have a go at creative writing!

However, there is one new requirement to spice up this year’s event and create a common thread among us, namely the poetry slam topic. I’m happy to reveal that this year’s poems have to pay tribute in one way or another to the following, most familiar and intriguing theme: “MAGIC”.

It’s up to the individual how you wish to interpret this, whether to take it literally and wax lyrical about spellweavers in games, magical lands or creatures, or whether you go off in a completely different direction and talk about the magic of gaming or what specific magic lies in the MMO genre for you personally. I am confident that there are plenty of ways to tackle this subject.

I look forward to some great contributions again and hope to see some new faces joining the ranks! After all, what is life without a bit of challenge, eh? Once again, all NBI poetry slam entries will be rounded-up on MMO Gypsy as well as the official NBI site by the end of May 2014. Feel free to leave me your entry’s URL in the comment section below or the respective NBI forum thread. I would hate to miss something.

With that, happy weekend MMO blogosphere and let the slamming commence!

NBI Poetry Slam Round-up

This October’s NBI has come and gone in the blink of an eye, for me anyway, and I’m happy to see that Doone and Roger’s effort has resulted in at least 24 new blogosphere neighbours putting their names on the map. I’m still going through that list on the forum and I wish everyone much joy with blogging in the future and of course a very warm welcome!

It’s been an interesting month of not only new names but great sponsor contributions, veteran advice and of course the talk back challenges which I greatly enjoyed (we should do this more often!). And then there was the Poetry Slam event which I am happy to say, was answered by a fair group of both seasoned poets and explorers alike, pushing forward and creating most delightful pieces of art in the process. I had a ton of fun reading these and would personally like to thank all of you who gave this merry little event a shot – you rock! Without much further ado, let me share this year’s NBI Poetry Slam participants:

Thanks everyone for their support, those contributing or just spreading the word. Apologies if I missed anybody – if your contribution is not among the links above, please let me know via comments! hand01

That was it for this year’s NBI Poetry Slam folks, although that’s not to say the rhyming and contriving should stop there. Long live MMO poetry and a happy Sunday everybody!

NBI: Armchair Game Designer. Or how that other MMO keeps ruining my Gameplay Experience

One of the two publicly elected topics of this year’s NBI talkback challenge is “armchair game designer” and several bloggers have already posted some fine entries all around ideal MMO design, mechanics, must-haves and wishlists. While I have some thoughts on the second topic of guilds too, it was the armchair that won my vote on the poll.

With few exceptions, most MMO players are rather outspoken hobby game designers of sorts. It’s quite remarkable how passionately and critically MMO design gets discussed up and down our blogs, message boards and other social media, compared to other genres where games are rarely debated with comparable stakes over longer periods of time. Of course that is hardly surprising if we consider how MMOs are these living worlds, made to last for years and unite players of all colors and playstyles under one banner. MMOs are multi-genre the way other titles never have to be and they do not only need to attract a wider audience but keep an audience interested that is bound to change tastes over the course of time. I could imagine easier tasks.

And yet, naturally I’ve done it too and keep doing it; every and now and then, I muse over how much better I could design certain game mechanics or how my ideal MMO is supposed to play. A bit of WoW’s polish, a good chunk of LOTRO’s approach to world and lore – a mix of Tera’s and GW2’s combat – loot from Rift and crafting from UO – oh and while I’m at it, the Arisen from Allods, please. That’s usually how these things go, until we have the perfect product straight from the great bazaar of mix’n match –

It’s tempting to believe that players could improve game design and mechanics – and for isolated instances they probably could. Yet, when it comes to creating the ideal game, I’ve a feeling my persistent yet fuzzy ideas and dreams have increasingly become a hindrance to my enjoyment of MMOs both present and future.

How “that other MMO” keeps ruining all the fun

The longer we’ve played MMOs, the more experiences we’ve accumulated in a particular genre, the stronger our inner armchair designer is getting. Those early months, maybe years of awe and wonder have finally passed. We know how this stuff is supposed to work and make us feel. Why can’t they do it already? That’s when that “other game” starts growing on our mind, starts to appear and manifest ever so subtly. That’s when the stages of carefree enjoyment and exploration become shorter and shorter in every subsequent MMO we play.

We compare. That’s a pretty human trait and in our personal lives too, comparing ourselves into misery is something most of us excel at. We compare less in beginnings simply because there’s less to compare to. Once that changes, our critical eye becomes ever more eager, faster and more merciless. I would wager that assessing a new MMO takes veterans nowadays a few hours at best, if even that.

I am guilty of that as anyone and it strikes me how many MMO debates and arguments aren’t so much criticizing actual design as they’re “opinion battles”. Whenever players demand that GW2 – a game that is fundamentally based on the idea of mass outdoor events and setup flexibility – should have a holy trinity or remove the silly zergfests already, that’s not GW2 being particularly broken but them simply preferring “that other game”. Every time WoW is bashed for cartoony graphics (I have done it) or welfare epics, somebody has stopped seeing WoW and started to see “that other game”. How often are we not actually criticizing bugs, imbalances or broken design but really just saying “why can’t this game be another game”? This goes for changes too: even if WoW has changed over the years, I’m sure many quitters would have been fine with changes they personally approved of.

To clarify, there’s nothing wrong with wanting different games or leaving an MMO. In fact that would be preferable to some of the ranting we sometimes see on official forums.  There’s nothing wrong either with arguing pros and cons of preferences, in fact as bloggers we do much of that. I find creative ideas interesting and passionate discussions entertaining, as long as we remember the rules of subjectivity vs. objectivity. The older I get, the harder I personally find keeping one (consistent) position. While I still have my preferences and undoubtedly want developers to cater to me as much as the next person, I can empathize with other views and playstyles. I used to be a different player in 2004 than I am in 2013.

And the longer I’ve been a traveler on this road, I find my inner armchair designer more and more of a nuisance. It keeps me from enjoying current games for what they are. It keeps dangling a carrot in front of me I can never reach; a carrot of something more, something better just around the corner. Add to this, that I don’t really know what “that other game” is as it seems to change gradually. I’m not convinced that if I ever got to see it go live, that it would actually be a good thing. Would I play this forever? Or would I not much rather tire of it the way I always do?


Alas, dear armchair – this is where we say goodbye. I’m not saying I won’t have a seat on other blogs but when it comes to you and me, we must part ways in the future. There’s a real game or two just around the corner I intend to enjoy and make the most of. I’m not sure it will be perfect, given that perfection is an endless process, but it’s safe to say I’ll have no use for dusty, old furniture there. I’m sure you understand!

P.S. Speaking of furniture, I hope TESO gets player housing à la Wildstar! (ooops)

Friday Linkage

Battle Bards episode 13 has aired this last Tuesday and it’s adventure time! One of our most abstract theme shows so far, it was both interesting and challenging to think of MMO tunes that convey the spirit of adventure; that feeling of setting sail into the blue. Adventure and travel are every explorer’s bread and butter but no matter your Bartle profile, it means a great deal of different things to different people. What does it mean to you? Find out and tune in!

Episode 13 show notes

  • “Open Sea Music” from Pirates of the Burning Sea
  • “Explorers and Artifacts” from Guild Wars 2
  • “Spiritual Elysium” from Anarchy Online
  • “Step to the Next World” from Aion
  • “Talking Island” from Lineage II
  • “Romulus Suite” from Star Trek Online
  • “Breeland Jig” from Lord of the Rings Online

An NBI-2 Status Update

This October’s NBI has already attracted a fair group of new MMO bloggers – head over to the official forums to check them out! We are only halfway which means there’s plenty of time left to sign up as a newcomer or to contribute as a sponsor. The poetry slam event is still going too and around ten MMO bloggers have already risen to the challenge. This has been great fun so far, so keep them rhymes (or not rhymes) coming, folks!


Women who play interview

Kazz from Gameskinny has started an interview series on female gamers, bloggers and women generally active in and around the field of gaming. It is her proclaimed goal to reach out and encourage women who play to step into the light – to join communities such as the blogosphere and other networks where gamers roam and are being creative, without fear of rejection.

“Women in gaming” is a topic I wanted to write about for some time, but never quite found the right approach. Whilst there are many tales available of the horror stories and downsides for women who dare to call themselves gamers, my own experiences – as a gamer and game blogger – have actually been quite positive.

I’ve always felt that it is important to highlight what is going wrong and to expose those who judge by gender. But equally, women are playing games, they are making games, and they are making positive contributions to gaming communities. [Kazz]

As a videogame blogger I have a lot of self-cringe when being asked to give anyone an interview on myself; it seems like a horribly self-absorbed thing to do unless your name is Jane McGonigal or Markus Persson in which case you probably have something important to say. However, after overcoming these initial misgivings I was happy to answer Kazz’ questionnaire which led me way back, to humble beginnings and parts of my gamer biography I have never talked about before on the blog. If some of my own struggles can inspire anyone to take heart, that’s a worthy cause right there.

Tangentially, I always wanted to write an article on my personal gamer bio; I think this would make for an awesome blogosphere meme. I’d love to hear fellow MMO bloggers to talk about their own journeys – how it all began and which games they deem the most significant and formative. In any case, over the course of the questionnaire I realized once more how much I owe the blogging community and how thankful I am for discovering it, including all the special bloggers and commenters who have engaged with me over the last few years. I was a fairly isolated gamer before I started my blog. I still hold a torch for fellow gamers and geeks everywhere, no matter the sometimes bad propaganda or foul apples on boards and comment sections. We are the community.

So, thanks Kazz for having me. For all those who are similarly nosy and curious as myself where their fellow bloggers are concerned, you can find the interview here.

Happy weekend everybody! I shall resume more game-related news and ponderings soon, well as soon as an MMO out there does something interesting. Here’s to hoping!