Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Gamer Mum: Character Selection in MMORPGs

Its been so long since I last made a gamer reference that I feel like I'm letting the side down. Of late, I've been playing Guild Wars 2 for about an hour or so some nights when The Little Man goes to bed. It's my wind down-I-don't-want-to-do-housework time of day. Previously, we've played Lord of the Rings Online, Minecraft, Assasins Creed (hubby, not me I get motion sick with all that jumping) and Portal 1 & 2. And as mentioned in my first post, we met on World of Warcraft.

Typically, I like playing fragile, high damage type characters sometimes referred to as glass cannons, because I like the big ka-boom factor (Mage on WoW, Lore Master on LOTRO, Mesmer on Guild Wars 2).

However, I've found that in my changed circumstances (see pic) these characters are ill designed to be played by someone who may have to drop everything at a moment's notice to go resettle a previously sleeping baby. I would never sit on computer game while being the primary carer of the baby. Always make sure someone responsible is caring for the child first and foremost.

I don't even think about being about to do instances or dungeons these days because I rarely can commit to the amount of time these things can take. Also I don't like dropping out of instances when I've already committed to them because I think it's rude to the other people in the group.

So, imagine this... you're rockin' around a desolate wasteland, teaching demonic plague beasts to mind their manners and respect your authority, when a demanding whine crescendos from your baby monitor. Sure you've cleared the area but they'll be back.... They always come back. What do you do?

The responsible answer is to drop everything... go see to the baby and hope like heck that your avatar still has her pretty little scalp on when you get back.

Because of this, character selection is no longer simply matter of deciding which class I feel like playing. I now have to really think about who I have to fill those character slots. Spec is also more complicated as I've had to give up some desirable punch in order to cater for my circumstances. But with proper planning and research into how to best design your character for the new gaming style. It is possible to continue responsibly participating in an MMORPG while being there for your little newbie.

So here is my guide for the things to keep in mind when selecting a type of character to play when you're a busy mum.

Think Tank

Tanks are a class of character designed to be able to take a large amount of damage without dying so easily. These typically include classes like Warriors, Paladins, Captains, Guardians, Barbarians, etc. Think big muscly types with lots of heavy armor.

The benefit of all that steel, plate, chain and muscles is that you have quite a bit of protection between the dangers of the world and your soft squishy bits.

Combine this with spec points in health regeneration and improved armor class and you have a tough little cookie who may be able to hold her own in a fight for a few mins without your intervention, long enough to maybe save on that horrendous repair bill that plate wearers tend to incur.

I currently have a Warrior on Guild Wars 2 almost completely Mummy specced and outfitted. In most circumstances she's able to sit there quietly and take a beating from your average wandering thug/ghoul/pirate/centaur while regenerating enough health after every hit to keep her alive till I can get back and teach that thug/ghoul/pirate/centaur that it is not nice to hit ladies who have to care for their kids... WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!

An added benefit is that tanking classes don't usually require complex combinations of skills to be executed so it can be played with one hand. Also you don't have to worry so much about the breaking of your carefully stacked spell combinations from when the toddler, previously sitting quietly on your lap, deciding to bang on the keyboard.

Go Rogue

There are character classes out there which have the extremely useful ability to stealth/shadowmeld/go invisible. Sometimes this is a temporary skill or one that is permanent providing that you don't move. This ability is typical to Thieves, Rogues, Burglars, Hunters, Rangers, etc. Medium armor slippery types who are usually on the not so respectable side of lawful good.

This is definitely a repair bill saver but it does take a bit of time to turn around to get out of aggro range to find a safe place to camp (very quietly). So probably not recommended for parents of particularly demanding children. But if you can afford a few seconds (like when you cross your fingers and hope that somehow that little person in the nursery will suddenly decide that they'd much rather go to sleep than see you walk into the room.) it's well worth doing. 

A much more reliable repair bill saver than standing there and taking a beating. 

Go to the pub

The last option is to try to make sure that you have an avatar with a skill to get themselves out of the place with the repair bill hazard and to a nice safe location where they will be surrounded by other supportive individuals who will keep them company until you get back. 

This skill can come in the form of Teleport or Portals. In general most characters have this skill in it's basic form in order to get around the game world quickly (Hearth, Waypoints) but these generic abilities are usually associated with cooldowns, monetary costs and specific locations. 

Some character classes have additional teleporting abilities outside of the generic ones which gives them extra capabilities to use if they need to get out of a place in a hurry. World of Warcraft has apparently allowed the Paladins to Bubble-Hearth again if they have the right gear and spec. 

Paladins in WoW aside, additional teleporting support abilities are largely reserved for spell -casting, cloth-wearing character classes which don't typically fare well without extreme vigilance from the player. As much as I like playing these types of characters I've had to refrain from logging in to them except on occasions where my Little Man is being watched by Grandma or is playing with Daddy in the back yard. Nap times are too uncertain for the amount of attention these characters need. 

Remember that the character will always be there never dying never ageing. Blink for too long tho and the baby is all grown up and scoffing at your gaming accomplishments and thinking you're such a noob.

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