A few people have been asking me where I've been, and why I haven't put up a couple of articles for the Newser in recent times. The simple answer is that I haven't been in-world; I've been distracted by a game known as Rift... essentially "World of Warcraft" if WoW had respectable graphics.
Rift is a shameless WoW knockoff, but it's a good one. It's set in the world of Telara, and there are two factions, the Alliance and the Hor... I mean, the Guardians (chosen by the gods to go after evil) and the Defiant (relying on technology over "gods"). The two factions are at odds about how best to deal with a bunch of evil dragons that want essentially to eat the world. As of right now in the storyline, two of those dragons (Greenscale, dragon of Life, and Akylios, of Knowledge) have been taken out by players.
The classes are kind of the same, with skill "trees", only in this case, the more points you put into the "branches" of the tree, the more "root" skills are unlocked. There are a few differences from WoW in this regard; Rogues can tank (their tanking tree comes with a lot of shields and teleports both to and from the monsters) and mages can heal with a "Chloromancer" build.
Rift has a few things going that make it different from WoW. For one, it has its namesakes, the Rifts. These are mini events in which you "kill x amount of monsters" that are usually stronger than the norm. Rifts have multiple stages, with stronger and stronger beings appearing until the last of them drops and the rift is sealed. The other thing it has is its Artifact system, where during the course of your travels you can come across artifacts that make up "sets" and which you can turn in for a gold reward (and sometimes a costume piece, like the head of an iron golem you can use as a helmet). It also has "Chronicles", mini-dungeons/adventures that allow you to solo "high end" content (so instead of needing a 20 man raid to down Greenscale, you can do it alone or with one other person). Currently there are only two Chronicles, but I am sure there are going to be more.
Other than that it's the same as WoW. You go out questing, do dailies and holiday events, go on raids (the current end content, Hammerknell, has 11 bosses that take 10-15 minutes to down... each), get better gear. They just opened up a new continent for content, Ember Isle, with a tropical "jungle feel" to it for the Level 50s (the highest level you can be so far). I decided to play a Rogue, as I was looking for a Hunter build like my WoW days.
It's not without its faults. The aforementioned hunter only has three pets (tanking boar, dps wolf, and a mutant velociraptor called a blood raptor); there is a lot of groaning about how clerics seem to be underpowered, and one thing I have noticed is that the devs can't seem to get world events right. Their first (the opening of an instance called the River of Souls) was a disaster, and the ones following haven't been all that hot either, with a lot of unexpected bugs. Their PvP leaves much to be desired, as there's no scaling. You can be a "rank 2" (out of 8) PvPer, and routinely run into Rank 8s whom you can't put a dent into. When their newest expansion, Ember Isle, opened you had world bosses with 60-80 people fighting the boss trying to down it. The lag generated by so many people in one place means the boss despawns after two real-time hours before you finish killing it. The technology is advancing faster than most home computer users.
I've been playing since the beta that started in March. Having been kicked out of my WoW guild for stupid reasons, I was quitting cold turkey (a good decision; I found I didn't miss WoW at -all- after two years total of play). Rift's a good game that has a LOT of potential for improvement if they don't make stupid mistakes, so I'm giving it an optimistic 3 Dragon Hoards out of five, because it has room for improvement.
I've also been playing several other games and am pondering getting Skyrim, and I simply haven't been in Second Life all that much otherwise except to allow my Tiny Empires HUD to advance a few turns. So if you were looking for me, that's where I've been.
Now for an announcement. I've become a rather jaded equine reporter here on the Grid, it's very hard for me to find something I can get really excited about writing about. Twice already I've had to pass stuff back to Bixyl (the recent Meeroo story, for instance) because I couldn't get excited enough to write a piece on it.
With that in mind, for the 2012 year I want -you- out there to get me to do things. I'm a reporter, make me report things! :) If you can point me to something or have something to plug that I can get excited about, AND I give it a good review, it's $L in your pocket; I'm putting my $L where my mouth is. If I give something you bring to my attention 4 Dragon Hoards out of five, I'll pay you 500 $L. If I give it a full five out of five (harder than it looks), I'll pay 2000 $L out of my own pocket.