Ditto the Monster looks at the world of family friendly online games from a Fabricated American perspective


Why I’m not worried about Celestia

There are an awful lot of GREAT articles and videos out there right now around the test realm and Celestia in general. Indeed, it seems a sort of Celestia-fever has gripped much of the Wizard 101 community, and for good reason! Celestia looks amazing, the new level 58 school spells are awesome, and just look at all the new gear, mounts, quests… the list goes on and on! It wouldn’t be at all surprising to find yourself a little Celestia crazy right now!

Ditto riding a Koi!

Celestia on the test realm and I have a Koi!!

In addition to my ‘Celestia Fever’, though, I started to notice other symptoms as creeping in well… I’m only level 32, you see, and with all this Celestia hype it certainly makes one want to ‘hurry up’ and get through Marleybone, then dash through Mooshu and finally, defeat Malistaire in a blaze of meteors and helephants so I can get into Celestia and start checking out the new stuff!!

But then, as I ran past a yellow exclamation point over the head of a defenseless Marleybone citizen (They don’t use magic, you know… poor pups), thinking ‘ah, that’s just a side quest, and it will probably take me forever to get through it – I just need to finish the main quest line.’, I stopped in my tracks.

‘Getting there fast’ is certainly not what Wizard 101 is all about, and it never has been… In fact, some of my very favorite quests are some of the more entertaining ‘side quests’ that are out there. I think about all the work the developers at Kingsisle put into all these great side quests, some of them interconnected, all of them well thought out and entertaining, and I think of how much great work I would be passing by trying to ‘get there fast’ and see the ‘new shiny’ as soon as it comes out.

The truth is, though, that Celestia isn’t going anywhere. It will be there for me to explore whether I make level 50 next week, or next month, or next year. In the meantime, I have SIX other worlds, all exciting and fun, that I will be exploring and adventuring through, all different, all awesome, and I can’t wait to finish them all!

Of course on the other side of the crown, I would LOVE it if Kingsisle did something similar to Grizzleheim and gave lower level players small sneak peeks into Celestia, doing small quests or talking to NPCs, maybe getting access to a few lower level Celestian items in the shops. But if they don’t I’m OK with it, I can wait, and I know that, as with everything else KI does, it will certainly be worth the wait!

So if you’re level 48+ and have defeated Malistaire, congrats to you, Celestia beckons and I’m sure at level cap there is a LOT you’d like to see and do now, with new worlds and spells and quests and bosses to face, new undersea adventures to be had! If I were in your place I’d be truly GIDDY with excitement! But for everyone else – the casual players and the newbies and everyone out there like me who is just taking their time, enjoying all these wonderful, rich, and amazing worlds that have been created for us, I’d say keep enjoying it and keep questing, do all those side quests, find all those poor lost birds and cats and oysters for Zeke, and before you know it you’ll be walking into this amazing new undersea realm.

Of course by the time I get there, there might be ANOTHER new world even beyond that one – but that’s OK, because I’ll get through Celestia in my own time and then that next realm will be ready for me too!

See you in The Spiral!!

Ditto’s Current Games….

Here we are again, another Friday (Though as I type this it’s technically Thursday, but I won’t post until tomorrow, so for you, it’s Friday…) and here are the games I’m playing now. I’m going to start off with my current and then talk about my new ‘Game of the Week’… We’ll see how this goes – this post has been getting the most hits each week so I guess lots of people like it! Feel free to give me suggestions, etc… too!

Wizard 101
Of course I start off with my wonderful Wizard 101. Digby is still level 31, as I haven’t had a lot of time to play this week. currently he is fighting giant spiders in Hyde Park – why is it always Spiders?? I’m also farming scrap iron to finish up my crafting quests – that’s been really time consuming, and I never see it in the bazaar either. I’m almost there though – only a few more pieces needed to finish up my tasks.

Digby fighting giant spiders

Fighting giant spiders in Hyde Park

Yes, still playing, though again, not much this week. Ditto made level 15 and I got a nice surprise – he can add a surname, meaning he now has a first and last name! Of course that last name is Monster, so I am now a dwarf known as ‘Ditto Monster’! I am also trying my hand at crafting, or more specifically, ‘resource gathering’ – I became an ‘explorer’ who can gather wood and minerals and ore, natural resources, and supply other crafters with them, but not really ‘craft’ anything myself. That’s OK though – I think it will be a nice side income for me to get a house soon, which are EXPENSIVE!! In Wizard 101 I had enough gold to get a house when I wanted one – in LOTRO I don’t know how I’m going to get that much cash without doing a lot of auction house selling and resource farming.
One cool thing – I moved my happy little dwarf out of the cold and windy northern Dwarf areas and down into the lush green elf-lands! It’s so beautiful – kind of breathtaking really.

Ditto Monster the Dwarf

Ditto finally made it to the lovely elf-lands!

Backyard Monsters
Some big changes in this game this week – they have added new ‘wild monster tribes’ that you can battle for a PVP-like experience without actually PVPing someone, and these tribes will attack you back. It is actually a big change in game play and overall strategy, because fighting these tribes isn’t about stealing resources like regular PVP, it’s all about protecting your town hall and taking out their town hall. I’m going to be re-designing my yard to better account for this, as right now my resources are really well protected, but my town hall is rather exposed.

Ditto's yard in Backyard Monsters

Ditto's yard in Backyard Monsters

School of Wizardry
I’m not posting about this one after this week. I’m level 125 and I believe I’ve unlocked all quests, so now I’m just going through the motions.

The Game of the Week!!
Here it is, Ditto’s ‘Game of the Week’!! This week I will be talking about ‘Sea Fight‘, a Free to Play pirate game. I found this game thanks to an ad on Facebook while I was playing ‘Backyard Monsters’, and the concept is simple – you have a ship, you sail around, you kill sea monsters and sink other ships. Not much more to it.
Overall the game is kind of a train wreck, sorry to say. The user interface is really simple, but that’s because you can’t do anything with it – to do anything other than sail around and kill sea monsters, you have to log out of the game, go to the website, and use the web-based interface there. And it’s not even a very good web-based interface.
They do start you out well, with a decent ship and both in game gold and ‘pearls’, which I believe is the ‘real money’ currency, and that allows you to better outfit your ship with faster sails, more guns, ammo like exploding cannonballs and flaming pumpkins, plus a crew of swarthy pirates. All the ‘elite’ gear does cost real world currency, but it’s fully playable and pretty fun – though limited – with the in-game gold stuff. I haven’t tried PVP yet, which seems to be a BIG part of this game, so my opinions might change on the viability of the ‘free’ stuff if I come up against someone fully tricked out in premium gear.
One of the crazy things about it is that you can complete a quest, but you apparently need to PAY to get the reward form the quests. Usually $.99 per quest. Seriously? That’s a bit crazy, sorry..
Overall it’s a fun diversion, it was very easy to sign up and get playing, and I do like pirates – who doesn’t? I’m known as ‘Captain Ditto’ and sail around slaying huge kraken and monster whales and destroy Blackbeard’s ships like it’s going out of style – wonder where he gets them all – but the game doesn’t have enough ‘hook’ to grab my furry orange attention and keep me playing. I think next week will be another ‘Game of the Week’, though I might update on this one again, depending on how things go…

Captain Ditto playing Seafight

Captain Ditto playing Seafight

My Current Games

I got some great feedback the last time I did this, so I’m going to do it again – it might become a weekly thing, I don’t know.

Wizard 101
First and foremost is, of course, my beloved Wizard 101. I’m now level 31, two bars away from 32, and deep in the heart of Marleybone! I’ve completed the Ironworks and I’m ready for Newgate Prison, but for now I’m focusing on the many, many side quests, because I’m really busy with other real life stuff and cant’ break out the video equipment as ofter to get fun play session videos.
And just so everyone is aware, Mashable is currently running voting for best online game – you can vote for Wizard 101 and show your support for this awesome game! And apparently you can vote daily!

Ditto and Madame Jasmine in Marleybone

Ditto and Madame Jasmine in Marleybone

Clone Wars Adventures
Well, I did get my real name, so I’m known as ‘Ditto Monster’ in-game, and I’ve been playing a lot of the mini games – which is pretty much all this is, a group of Clone Wars themed mini games. It’s well done and really entertaining, but I’ll admit, I’m a bit disappointed in how little you get to do for free – I’ve already gotten to max allowed ‘free’ level on a few of the mini games, and even when decorating my apartment the furniture vendors have furniture there that you can buy for in-game currency, but you’re not allowed to buy it unless you subscribe. Still, this has almost completely replaced my Shockwave addiction for fun and silly mini-games!

Ditto Monster in Clone Wars

Ditto Monster in Clone Wars

Backyard Monsters
OK I’m definitely still enjoying this daily distraction – I’ve gotten all my defensive towers up to max level and I’m currently building up my monstrous hordes to sweep across the landscape, bwahahaha!!! Oh, sorry, got carried away there. Anyway – still a cute and fun game, I think my focus will now be optimizing my defenses, kind of like a tower defense game with PVP elements…

My Back Yard in 'Backyard Monsters'

My Back Yard in 'Backyard Monsters'

Lord of the Rings Online
This game does keep impressing me. I’m just about to ding level 15, still exploring the depths of the frost-shrouded dwarven lands with my fearless hunter, Ditto. There is so much to do in this game I find I sometimes get a little overwhelmed, but the visuals and the amazing soundtrack always keep me engaged in the game world. I’m not sure I’ll be one of those ‘finish the whole game’ kind of players, as the scale of it seems far beyond what I’m used to, but I’ll certainly spend a bit of time every week exploring the gorgeous lands of Middle Earth…
One thing to note – unlike Wizard 101, you cant’ just hop between servers to meet people in LOTRO – the server you start a character on is the server they’re locked into unless you pay for a ‘premium service’ to move your character, so if any ‘twizards’ out there want to try out LOTRO and get together in-game, we should all decide on a single server and create characters there. I play on the Imladris server, character name Ditto, but I’m open to start a ‘twizards’ character on any server if people are interested.

Ditto the Dwarf in LOTRO

Ditto the Dwarf in LOTRO

School of Wizardry
I made level 120 and I’m a few days away from ‘finishing’ the game, meaning completing all the ‘lessons’ one time. After that I think it’s just about unlocking special badges and rewards… Yeah, I’m rapidly losing interest here…

I am looking to start trying a few new smaller games – nothing I need to devote a lot of time to, but something fun and entertaining. I’ll let you know what I find, but feel free to drop me suggestions too!! I love finding new games to try!

How do you like the new blog?

I did some blog updating today, I changed the layout, header graphic and background around. I think it looks more clear – what do you think?

My current games

So I’ve gotten into a few new games lately, and while I’m not recording myself playing them, I thought it might be fun to give a little update for each and to see what other people are playing. These are pretty much all family and kid-friendly (With one notable exception, which is much more ‘teen’ oriented) free to play games easily accessible to people, so if something sounds fun and interesting to you, you can give it a try…

Wizard 101
Of course I’ll start out with Wizard 101, my favorite game! I just hit level 30 and am making my way through the depths of Chelsea Court in Marleybone now. I’ve got multiple videos coming for Wizard 101, so I won’t talk too much about it – since that’s what pretty much this whole site is usually devoted to. I am still having a LOT of fun and I’m really, really looking forward to Celestia, which sounds like it’s coming pretty soon!!

Backyard Monsters
This is a Facebook game, and while I normally don’t get into these I have to say, I’m pretty well addicted to this one. I started playing because, well, it’s about monsters, and I’m a monster, so it seemed a good fit.
The premise is simple – you create a backyard ‘habitat’ for various little monsters. You have to harvest resources to build structures and defenses, like Starcraft, you have to plan out defensive towers and structures like a typical tower defense game, and you plan attack strategies to raid other backyards and take their resources.
I’m level 31 now, almost level 32, and my strategy has been all about resource production and protecting those resources. The only buildings that an enemy attack ‘scores’ on are your resource harvesters and silos, so if you’ve got them well guarded, someone coming in and knocking over your monster academy or even monster housing doesn’t really count against you, it’s just annoying. Make sure you build up all your turrets, and use the yard planner – it shows you a great overhead view of your yard and – most importantly – shows your turret ranges so you can verify you have adequate coverage.

Ditto's backyard in 'Backyard Monsters'

Ditto's backyard in 'Backyard Monsters'

School of Wizardry
This is another Facebook game that I’m only playing now because of serious puppet-related OCD I think. I’m level 112 and every day I log in for five minutes, do all the current missions I can, cash out my real estate money, put it in the bank, and I’m done. I think I’m only playing now because I want to get to the ‘end’ of the game – get through all the last quests. I’m on the last quest in the ‘Wizard World’ section now, and about to start the ‘closure’ section, which is for levels 100+. It was a lot of fun in the beginning, but I’ll be honest – it’s gotten boring.

Lord of the Rings Online
So yes, I have a LOTRO account now, a level 10 dwarf named Ditto. He has furry orange hair and a bushy orange beard, he’s great!
I’ll preface this section by saying that, while an amazing game in many ways, I am not counting this as a ‘Kid/family friendly’ entry, simply because it’s so realistic, and because it doesn’t look like there’s much in the way of a chat filter. Naughty words definitely slip out pretty often in OOC chat, from what I’ve seen. It’s OK for a furry orange monster, but I sure wouldn’t let a five or eight year old sit there and watch me play. That’s my opinion, anyway. Your results may vary…
The game is beautiful at average graphics settings and breathtaking at the highest levels, the sounds and music are amazing as well, and I think that’s part of my problem. When one of my first quests was to kill wolves, the wolves were beautifully rendered, well animated, and the super-realistic ‘hurt puppy’ whimper they made when I hit them with my axe was heart-breaking. When you defeat the wolf, it lays there on the ground, very obviously dead. There’s no blood, but still… It’s not like a gobbler falling over and melting through the floor when you defeat it in a duel. I think that the game is just so real, it certainly earns it’s ‘Teen’ rating.

Ditto the Dwarf in LOTRO

Ditto the Dwarf in LOTRO

Clone Wars Adventures
Yup, jumped into this one too. I’m trying to get the name ‘Ditto Monster’ for my avatar but all custom names have to be approved, so for now I just have a placeholder name.
The game is amazingly cute and cool if you’re into Star Wars/Clone Wars, but it’s definitely NOT an ‘MMORPG’ – not that this is a bad thing, I just think some people assumed it was more ‘MMO-like’.
What you get with Clone Wars is a cool character avatar who can run around a space station and chat with other people, meet Star Wars characters, and play some really fun Clone Wars themed mini-games. That’s about it. The mini games are great, and some, like ‘Saber Strike’, are down right addictive, done in the style of classic Pop Cap games like ‘Peggle’.
I’ve only just started Clone Wars, so I don’t know a lot about it yet, but it’s very kid friendly and the chat seems pretty safe so far, though again, I’m still a new. Installing was fast and straightforward too.

My Clone Wars dorm room

My Clone Wars dorm room - very empty right now!

Zombie Pets
Another Facebook game, I tried it because some of my FB friends were playing and it seemed interesting. Well – I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a Fabricated American thing, but this game confuses the fur off of me… It’s like you have dead pets and if you don’t feed them they get… deader? And if they ‘live’ you can, um, sell them to buy more pets to… yeah, I just don’t get it. Probably won’t be doing much with this one.

So that’s it – my current games, what I’m playing right now. Naturally 70% of my time is spent in Wizard 101, it’s still my absolute favorite, but there are some other really fun – and free – games out there you can try. I’ll probably be giving some general updates on the other things I’m playing in between my Wizard 101 daring adventures and exploits!

Until next time – PLOX!!

Sponsor Ravenwood Radio for Extra Life!!

As people may or may not realize, Fabricated Americans have had a long-standing tradition of helping kids – It’s just something we like to do, it makes us feel good. Personally, I like reading stories to kids and teaching them good life lessons, that sort of thing – it gives me a ‘warm, fuzzy’ feeling. Even warmer and fuzzier than I am normally…

So last night on the awesome Ravenwood Radio show, Leesha and Steve announced that they were doing something wonderful to help kids in need, in honor of a young wizard named Emma, and need people to help donate to the cause. They are going to be participating in Extra Life, a 24 hour charity gaming marathon for the Children’s Miracle Network. The money donated goes directly to hospitals to help kids, something I believe in strongly, and so I’m going to do what I can to help spread the word, too, because it’s a good and important cause and they definitely have my support!

So please, check out their web page at Ravenwood Radio, read about the charity and about Emma, and then click on one of those ‘donate’ buttons – or have your parents do that – and give just a little, because if everyone gives just a little, in the end that’s a whole lot, and the good it can do will grow even bigger than that!

Thanks all – I’ll see you in The Spiral!!


My 100th post!!!

So here it is, my 100th blog post here! 100 seems like it’s a lot, but also really just the beginning, and I’m really excited to be here!

Ditto and Madame Jasmine at home

Ditto and Madame Jasmine at home

So I was definitely going to do a great video blog post here to celebrate the event, but I had a minor technical difficulty. OK, not so much a ‘technical difficulty’ as ‘forgot to charge the batteries’ in my video camera. That’s also why there is no amazing Krokopatra battle video as well. Fear not, though, loyal fans – the camera is charging now, and will be ready to go later today when I get out of work!

So what’s next for everyone’s favorite furry orange monster? Well, lots more blogging, hopefully the end of Krokotopia and the beginning of new adventures in Marleybone, lots more ‘Daring Adventures’ with some surprises in store there, plenty of discussion of Wizard 101 and then – GASP! – discussion of other games!

That’s right – I, the Ditto Wizard, am starting to work on expanding my blog to incorporate other family-friendly multiplayer games. Not entirely sure the direction it’s taking yet, and Wizard 101 is still my #1 favorite game ever, but there are more and more games coming into this area and I’d like to try some of them and share my thoughts and ideas about them, so look for that coming up soon and I hope everyone enjoys it!

Finally – thanks to all the literally hundreds (maybe thousands? Don’t really know, it’s the internet after all..) of people out there who enjoy my blog and my videos and follow me on YouTube and twitter and give me tips and great feedback! Thanks always to the awesome Ravenwood Radio who helped me bring my fun Daring Adventures to life! And finally, thanks to Kingsisle for making a fun, wonderful, and family friendly game that inspires such great imagination and wonderful community who openly embrace a furry orange Fabricated American like me!!! I am a lucky monster!!

See you in the spiral!! PLOX!!

Other games to talk about…

Since starting this blog I’ve been following a lot of other good gaming resources, not just Wizard 101 stuff. I don’t have a video to post today and not much to talk about since my big ‘Level 22 announcement’ earlier this week, so I figured I’d talk about some other gaming stuff I happened across this week… Let me know if you like it….

Of course I have to start with the big Wizard 101 news!!
: The July update has arrived, and with it the first (now non-mandatory) steps towards the wonders of Celestia!!! Plus Grizzleheim house crafting, a quest line written by some old rock and roll person, and UNICORNS!!! NOOOOOO!!! Anything but that!!!! Ahem… sorry about that.

Age of Conan Briefly Opens Expansion to all Players: Current players can hop straight on over to the land of Khitai while those with inactive accounts will receive ten days of free play in both the expansion and original content.

Blizzard will not Require Real Names: Here’s yet another big announcement in the ‘blizzard-realNames’ saga. I have to admit, I saw this coming… In a move that is sure to generate just as much discussion as the initial decision itself, Mike Morhaime, co-founder and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, has released a statement that says “real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.”

Blizzard Discusses Making WoW Free: Here’s something of direct interest to F2P Game fans… Speaking to PC Gamer at their studios in Irvine, California, World of Warcraft’s lead designer, Tom Chilton, explained that “at some point, it may not make sense for us to have a subscription fee.”

Guild Wars 2 Death to be an Experience: And why am I excited about Guild Wars? NO UNICORNS!! Also, Guild Wars 2 players will enter a “downed mode” state, similar to near death states in Borderlands. If players manage to defeat the attacking enemy while downed (using four class-based “downed mode” abilities), they will rally to their feet, free to continue adventuring. Sweet!

Final Fantasy XIV Beta Begins Saturday: Last week, Square Enix revealed Final Fantasy XIV would hit stores in late-September but would not lock down a date for the anticipated PC beta test phase of the game. Earlier today, Square Enix revealed the test is scheduled to begin this weekend.

Multiplayer Combat in Star Wars: It’s Star Wars, and there’s a video – need I say more?? Seriously…

TCOS Shutting Down?: This doesn’t surprise me much, seeing as playing TCoS was the single worst MMO experience of my furry orange life.

WoW Cataclysm Class & Mastery Update: another WoW article. Not sure why they get so much press – this is just a small niche title, isn’t it? Anyway, for people into that sort of thing, there are lots of changes for talents to make talent trees that matter and let you see the impact of your decisions quickly.

Spiral Network News

So I, Ditto, your favorite orange furry Fabricated American, decided to start talking about fun and important Spiral news and, because it sounded fun and cool I’m calling it ‘Spiral Network News’. I’ll probably try to do it once a week – everybody tell me what you think…