Story Problems

Good morning cadets… welcome to the flight deck… err I mean… never mind.  It is in fact another morning, and I may or may not have actually gotten some sleep last night.  Enough that I was able to wake up ahead of the alarm clock and get a minor head start on the day… that I have gloriously squandered.  I have a huge day ahead of me, namely that I have to fix an issue that I did not realize was broken until yesterday.  The old process is a rats nest of ancient visual basic… so here’s hoping I can gut it and replace it with something that works better.

Story Problems

gw047

Yesterday Syp from Bio Break posted an article that rang true for me, called Living Story, Dead Interest.  In the article he talks about how the whole “living story” construct in Guild Wars 2 seems to be lacking any real traction for him.  That the rapid fire biweekly story changes are happening too fast for him to really know what is going on in that world.  Based on the comments to the post including one from me… it seems like there is a wide variety of players that just are not getting into the direction that Arena Net has taken the game.

Ultimately for me my malaise with Guild Wars 2 goes a little bit deeper than this.  There are so many things I like about this game.  I think the world is gorgeous and does an amazing job of disguising that it is running on a relatively primate graphics engine compared to its peers.  I think the combat is fun and easy to get into and gives an almost arcade quality to the experience.  I love the changes they made to inventory management, and I love the ability to dump your crafting materials in the bank wherever you happen to be… and then later access your bank from every crafting machine in the world.

The problem is… even with all this good.. I just simply do not care about the world.  It is wild and expansive… and feels completely dead to me.  There are interesting races and locations, but I don’t feel like I know anything about them.  The game chose to abolish two things… roles and quests, but the problem I have is that in neither case did they really replace them with something anywhere near as engaging.  I am one of those people who actually does at least skim through quests as I am doing them.  I feel they give me a sense of purpose out in the world.

In the world of Guild Wars 2… I can’t even recall the name of the world mind you…  I feel like I have no purpose at all.  My entire gaming experience is about popping around the world and performing whatever task is needed to check off various flavored dingbats on my map.  The story just is not there for me, and the class quest line story is too few and far between to really matter.  I don’t really feel like I care about any of the cast of characters I am supposed to.  I don’t like the characters, I occasionally like that I recognize the person doing the voice acting.

Back to the problem at hand…  the Living Story.  My big issue is that Arena Net has chosen to create a series of disposable content, rather than fleshing out the world over time and making the entire experience permanently richer for it.  Additionally I hate all content that expires.. I hate feeling like I am in a rush to experience it.  The end result is not me being pulled into the content and running around in a mad dash to try and experience everything… but instead me simply giving up on the game entirely.  Right now I end up logging in roughly once a month when the whim hits me… I kill a few things and log out, never really finding a purpose for playing.

Battle Bards

I tweeted about this yesterday, and often times retweet each time a new Battle Bards post is made, but I feel like this does not give enough credit to just how amazing this podcast is.  One of my vices is gaming music, namely the grand sweeping tracks that are usually associated with massively multiplayer online games.  Twice a month the Battle Bards…  Syp, MMOGC, and Syl bring you a themed show delving into the truly excellent music that accompanies your gaming experience.  If you are not listening to each new show you are really missing out because this is one of the best podcasts out there.

This latest post was especially nostalgic for me in that they chose to focus on the music of Everquest 2.  I have so much love for the world of Norrath, and a good part of this is wrapped up in the music that has always been associated with it.  I fell in love with Everquest the first time I heard the opening theme…  it was so grand and sweeping and did not feel like any other game music I had experienced.  Sure it sounds dated now but at the time it was a midi masterpiece, and I love the way that Everquest 2 drew upon this same musical style for its opening theme.

One of the interesting side commentary I had while listening to this podcast surrounds their feeling about the theme for Antonica.  While everyone seemed to like the track, they did not feel that it sounded like an outdoor zone theme.  It was commented that it sounded like something from a movie soundtrack and not that of a video game.  While I agree with the last statement, I feel that EQ2 outdoor zones have a very movie aspect to them.

It would not be a fitting track for the scale of say a World of Warcraft zone, but for Everquest 2 it works well.  Essentially all of these outdoor zones are on a scale that just isn’t seen in other games.  Antonica for example is roughly 5-6 times the size of Elwynn Forest in World of Warcraft.  It encompasses numerous distinct biomes, is the entry way to half a dozen dungeons and instanced zones.  The sheer scale is very movie like and dramatic, so as you are roaming around it… this jaunty theatrical music seems to fit.

Ultimately this has always been the overwhelming thing that I loved about Everquest 2.  Everything about the world feels epic in proportions.  There is a dungeon out in in the Jarsath Wastes on Kunark called Chelsith that you have to approach by water.  As you are swimming out you approach what appears to be a rock partially submerged, but as you dip under the water you see that this is the tip of the head of an ancient Iksar statue that has been long submerged… and that the entrance to Chelsith is t the base of its feet.  There are so many moments like that, that just say over and over again… this world is massive.

Stalwart Online

Yesterday we soft launched our new guild website, and are super pumped that it is starting to get some traction among our users.  It is still very much a work in progress and there are various bits and pieces that we want to do to expand it.  The graphical style and skin work is 100% the product of my co-worker and our master guild hall decorator… Audrae.  I know she has some future plans like to make the background swap each time the page loads, and have it pull from a pool of user submitted scenic shots.  Right now we have a promotional shot from Elder Scrolls Online as a static background, but that should change before long.

Essentially to move to a more living and easier to use website, we needed to completely abandon our previous site.  As a result we are soft launching this site and will eventually set the old forums into a read-only mode.  They will always be accessible off the archives link in the menu, but this is only to keep from losing almost a decade worth of posts and material.  Once we have made this shift we will redirect housestalwart.com to point to the new site as well as stalwartonline.com.

Essentially this is a revision in a long line of attempts to move Stalwart from being a game centric community to a larger multi-gaming community.  We have had a presence in almost every game released in recent years, but the previous forums were extremely World of Warcraft focused.  Despite my efforts to juggle the content in a way to keep them from being that… the old format just did not work that well.  Now we are switching to a more discussion and category based system that lists all the new content equally without burying it under a series of folders.

Here is hoping that our members will like the switch and that the new forums will revitalize our community.  Over the last year or so the old forums have been completely dead.  As a result users have just stopped checking in over time.  Here is hoping that the new content and new approach can draw them back out of the shadows and participating again.  Our Rift guild has been wildly successful, and my hope is to harness this new energy to do some really cool stuff.  In the past two week we went from 5 members and questioning if this was actually a good idea… to over 40 members and wondering what exactly we are going to do with everyone.  It is definitely a good thing.

Wrapping Up

Well I have rattled on again and squandered whatever time I gained by getting up before the alarm.  I need to get off here and  finish getting ready.  This morning I need to wake my wife up and make sure she is getting ready because she has a few things that she needs to get done today.  I have a mountain of work awaiting me when I get to the office, and I feel like it is going to take every last bit of it to get through the day.  I hope you all have great days… and feel free to check out our new website.  I feel like the majority of my readers are guild members already.

Hot Tub Party

Morning again all you readers in readerland.  I actually managed to get some sleep last night, and actually slept pretty soundly.  As a result I no longer feel like death warmed over.  Making it through yesterday was a bit of a struggle, and having sit in meetings and think intelligible thoughts a constant challenge.  There was one point when I was in the middle of a diatribe about some programming theory….  when I just lost my train of thought.  Poof it was gone… and I had to fumble around a bit to try and figure out where I was going with what I had just said.

Hot Tub Party

rift 2013-07-29 21-30-48-88

Last night was a pretty crazy night for House Stalwart in Rift.  Firstly earlier in the day I found out that longtime Stalwart member Nikajah plays on our server, so I got to catch up with her and her new mommy-dom.  She is not sure yet about abandoning the guild she is in, which is completely understandable… but she is at least now joining the Stalwart server channel.  Additionally her husband Ceredith is playing as well, but he seems to be in a much more serious guild.  Very cool to have contact with them again nonetheless.

A little later in the night I noticed an unfamiliar and unguilded face lurking in the server channel.  After taking a moment to query… I found out it was in fact a MoxieDoodle.  I remembered her talking about popping by in a Twitter conversation last week, so I quickly snagged her into the guild.  I got her acclimatized and introduced to the guild… and tried to force some upgrades on her like a good crafter.  She was pumped that we had also managed to snag a Cortical…  who is very much awesome people.

It was around or about this time that Nubzy started bemoaning the fact that Valkkon, Ilyenna and Arilith were playing on another server.  I told her that she should totally fix that, and next thing I know…  she did.  The three of them were longtime Stalwarts or at least members of our extended community of friends over on Argent Dawn.  The guild as a whole has been so much like rebuilding the best possible home we have ever had.  Its like this crazy pipe dream of having everyone awesome in one place at the same time… and it seems to be working out.

Since the three of them are serious roleplayers, I knew they had to see the Guild Hall.  First they were shocked that Rift had such a thing… next they were amazed at every turn they took as we explored it together.  The above photo is an impromptu Hot Tub party as we explored one of Rae’s newer additions to the Hall.  It was kinda funny… everyone just automatically sat in the pool…  well admittedly I tried /sleep first… but realized my head was underwater.  We hang out up there catching up for awhile before continuing on with the tour.

I am so immensely happy at how well the guild has worked out.  At first I had my doubt as to whether or not our guild would gain traction, and if breaking away onto our own was a good thing.  Any of those doubts have long since exploded as we are growing the way we have always grown… organically through friends and family.  Delevax quoted field of dreams to me the other day “build it and they will come”… and to some extent that is exactly what has happened.  To give evidence of how awesome the guild is… at one point last night there were four women involved in a rather heated discussion about who the best Doctor was over guild chat.

Forum Reboot

2013-07-30 06_28_43-Rules _ Stalwart Online

One of the things we have been working on over the last week or so is a ground up reboot of the Stalwart forums.  Previously Housestalwart.com was designed to be an extremely WoW-Centric website, and over the years as we have flitted from game to game I have attempted to make it less so… but never really succeeded on that goal.  Ultimately we had a divide between the players that ONLY cared about World of Warcraft and the nomadic group of players that cared about everything else.

With the reboot we are trying to make the forum feel much more holistic and discussion based.  There will be topics you can assign a discussion to, but not the hard folder structure that a forum usually has.  Additionally there is a really nifty “Activity” feed that is somewhat like a guild specific twitter, as players can post quick blurbs and other players can comment on them.  I feel as a whole it will be a much more social aware design.

To that goal, instead of signing up for a forum specific account we have wired it to allow players to log in with their Google accounts in addition to being able to a forum login.  The Google account would be used only for authentication, and it would allow you to alias out the name to whatever you are more comfortable using.  For example I log in with my named Google account and it gets Aliased on the forum to Belghast.  I feel this is going to work much better for the majority of players, making it easier to remember their forum information.

Our hope is that over the next couple of days we will have the site ready to soft launch.  At that point it should be open for business more or less.  Eventually the goal is to lock down the previous forum into read only mode… and it will then become the “Archives” allowing players to browse old conversations if they choose.  When this happens the HouseStalwart.com will redirect to the new forums and WoW.Tulsagamers.com will be the permanent address of the archives.  I will of course post again when it is ready for use.

Resolution… of a sort

It turns out that when you subscribe to Rift you do not in fact get your bags and character slots unlocked.  This is extremely frustrating and I feel that this whole process should be better explained or at least more transparent.  The problem at hand was that we had a guild member that was caught in limbo, and subscribing pretty much spent all the disposable money she had for the month.  I mulled around a bit to try and figure an option and finally landed upon one.

There have been multiple times in the past that Trion has given away complete copies of Rift at various conventions.  I know for a fact that they have done this a few times at Pax and at least once at GenCon.  Since I have a bunch of friends that are convention goers… I thought I would throw out a call and see if any of them still had one of these codes.  Sure enough, yesterday evening Tam did some digging through his bins of old convention swag and found a code for a full version of the game.

I passed this off to the player in Limbo and sure enough… boom she had full bag slots and character slots again.  The frustrating thing however is that without our deep network of friends…  this would not have been possible.  There needs to be a much clearer way to purchase the game and apply the code to your account.  I found out this morning that we have another guildie in this state of limbo… and while I was able to get ONE Pax code out of my network of friends… I sincerely doubt I will be able to find a second one.  However if you are reading this and have one… please let me know… he will be equally appreciative I am certain.

Morning Timeouts

Over the last few weeks something odd has been happening to me… and I just confirmed with CorticalScrub that it is happening to him as well.  Essentially as I start my morning post, I alt tab and fire up the Rift client.  This has been habit for some time, because often times I need to take a screenshot that I may have forgotten to… or at the very least it lets me claim my daily gifts.  However over the last few weeks in the morning I get what seems to be a timeout.  So I spend my time working on my post and flipping over periodically trying to reconnect.

This seems to continue every morning until 6:30-6:45 central time, and then magically goes away.  I have never had this issue at any other point in the day.  I have done some searching on the forums and have yet to find a definitive explanation.  If anyone knows what exactly is happening here I would love to know.  Do we have just a ton of non-US primetime players out there that are busying out the login server?  Is this just a case of everyone waking up at the same time?  I am super curious what is causing the phenomena.  If I ever find an answer I will post it.

Wrapping Up

Well I have a few other topics that I had originally planned on writing about… but I will save those as ammo for another day.  I need to get up and around and gather the trash.  Additionally since my cleaners was without power the last time I went… I really need to take the big blue bag of dirty work clothing there to get processed.  I hope you all have a great day, and please let me know if you have any spare Pax or GenCon keys.  I will be sure to find them good homes as players are dismayed by the fact that subscribing to Rift does not in fact make your account whole again.

Spires of Bone

Good morning all you people in internetland… that’s right the forced cheerfulness means I had another one of my bouts of insomnia.  Last night it was not so much that I had another panic attack, it was more one of my classic “can’t shut brain off” nights.  I wound up getting back out of bed and coming upstairs and building in Minecraft.  After about an hour that calmed me down enough to be able to actually sleep.  But of course this will put me a little over an hour under my normal sleep schedule… and I am feeling immensely groggy this morning.  Coffee… take me a way!

Scavenger of Hunts

rift 2013-07-28 13-03-13-66

Yesterday I essentially did what I stated I was going to do.  I knocked out my guild harvesting daily and then proceeded to start working my way through the old world summerfest scavenger hunts.  Overall they were pretty fun, a few of them were more tedious than others.  Several of them taught me things about the zones they were in that I didn’t know.  For example I had no clue that all of the lakes in Moonshade are actually connected by a series of waterways, and that you can swim from one end to the other without breaking the surface.

The most annoying of them was a quest that starts in Iron Pine Peaks at the Chancel of Labors and involves taking ice cream to a NPC in Shimmersand before it melts.  You can teleport between the zones without issue, but my problem is that I always seem to get lost in Shimmersand and never can figure out which path goes where.  So it took a couple of tries for me… and after failing the first time I spent a little bit of effort trying to figure out the best route to the quest target.

After wrapping these up I started in on the newer scavenger hunts, starting with the continent of Dusken.  The first couple were relatively easy and just involved roaming around until you found the correct item.  When I got to Seratos things got considerably more annoying.  That task involved collecting a “Mystic Skull”, and pretty much all of them in the zone are hidden behind some sort of jumping puzzle.  I got mine from above a Storm Legion camp, that involved a mixture of off mount and mounted jumps to reach the prize.  I never could actually get up where the skull itself was… but I was able to get within reach of being able to loot it.

From what I have read, it seems as thought Steppes of Infinity is the king of all jumping puzzles…  so that one pretty much halted my progress for the evening.  Tonight hopefully I will get in at some point and continue on with doing the Brevane Scavenger hunts.  I just reached a point where I was done with mini-games for the day.  I am honestly shocked that each individual scavenger hunter quest does not reward better than it actually does.  When you complete each zone objective you only get 25 Summerfest Merit Badges.  This seems a bit daunting when the extra happy spiffy rings are 3000.

Spires of Bone

rift 2013-07-28 21-54-21-33

Seratos… otherwise known as “I hope you like random spires of bone and flesh and the color purple”.  This zone is pretty much a love song to a Death Rift.  So much of what is going on here… would give me nightmares if I stopped to think about it.  Pretty much the most creepy thing in the zone are these mountain ridges… that when you get up closer to them turn out to be giant molars.  Essentially this is the land of the shapers, that harvest flesh and then repurpose it into new shapes.  Originally you are thinking… okay they build undead abominations and such…  but no it doesn’t stop there.

Pretty much EVERYTHING in the zone is made of bone or flesh.  Nothing says death like a nice rotting flesh armoire.  I have this odd relationship with the zone… so much of it tweaks the “cool” factor for my inner thirteen year old that still wants everything to be covered in skulls and crossbones.  On the other side, the adult in me finds this whole theme deeply unsettling and something out of a Lovecraft or Barker novel.  At least there are no skinless corpses walking around, because seriously that would push it over the edge for me.

My favorite of the abominations… are these creepy floating things with two giant arms and a scorpion like tail…  and instead of a head they have another small pair of arms holding a weird china geisha mask in place where a head should be.  Whoever designed that thing is seriously disturbed… and also rather brilliant.  Quite honestly every single thing in Seratos is equally twisted, and it gives the entire zone this deeply disturbing feeling as you level through it.  After I finished with the warm and happy summerfest adventures…  this is where I chose to go to work on Belgrave my rogue.

Seratos also has the distinction of being the first major step up in content difficulty on the new continents.  I noticed this on my warrior, and it even seems moreso on my rogue.  The mobs seem to have more hitpoints, take longer to kill and do nastier things to me.  I remember a similar step up in difficulty around 58 in Morban or Kingsward.  The game is not playing around, and will happily dismember you…  which is fitting for the zone I am leveling through.

I managed to ding 55 and hopped over to Belghast and crafted myself a nifty set of swords.  You can see them in the above screenshot… the Insidious Vicious Karthite Saber.  They have a crazy glowing techblade feel to them, which feels fitting for the forbidden tech aspect of the entire Storm Legion expansion.  They look especially slick when I have them enchanted with my lighting graphic planar dexterity buff.  I pretty much worked on this guy up until the point I took my evening walk.

No Trials, No Tricks, No Traps?

chart-en

Normally I am the biggest cheerleader for Trion on the planet.  While I have played Rift off and on over the last two years… there has only been about a three month period that I was not actively subscribed to it.  I can go on and on about how awesome a company it is.. and how good of an experience it is playing it.  But be warned I have a bit of a rant to get off my chest.  There is still a support ticket in play mind you… so this all may resolve itself, but I still feel like I need to say something.

I am an organizer of people…  I seem to have the ability to gather up a bunch of awesome folks and get them working towards a focused goal.  As a result in the last week or so House Stalwart on Faeblight has gone from 5 people to roughly 35.  A lot of these individuals were former Rift players, and their transition has been fairly seamless.  Something of note… almost every single one of our guild members is an actively paying Patron.  The problem I have run into is with the transition of players who never played Rift before, and are just now giving it a shot.

It was the assumption of pretty much everyone in my guild that when you started paying for Patron, you would unlock a lot of the ways your free to play account is gimped.  That it would give you access to the bank and to the auction house… and more importantly restore full access to your character slots and bag slots.  Having only 2 character slots and only 3 bag slots is pretty significantly and painfully gimped…  but it is something you would expect for not being a paying customer.  However when you start giving a monthly commitment of money… you expect those shackles to go away.

This was the assumption I had… and the assumption the other members of my guild had.  So last night when one of our new to Rift members chose to bump up to Patron level access and start subscribing to the game… we were all greatly perplexed to find out that while it unlocked her bank and auction house access… it did absolutely NOTHING for her gimped number of bag slots and character slots.  We all suggested that she try logging out and back in… and that did nothing.  We had her submit a service ticket… and got back a completely bullshit brushoff answer linking to two topics that had nothing to do with what was going on.

We told her to resubmit the ticket, because seriously the support answer was bullshit and not related in any way at all.  After doing this she started doing some reading.  Quite honestly everything on the forums was confusing… but it sounded like to restore her full access she would need to buy something they kept referring to as a “game pack”.  The problem is… there is no way through the accounts page or the in game store to actually “buy” the game.  This whole thing is a bit of a mess… if you become a paying customer in a free to play game… you expect to be restored to the same level as other paying customers.

I still love Trion… and I still feel overall that the free to play conversion is extremely good for former Rift players.  However it is starting to seem that the “No Trials. No Tricks. No Traps” mantra is a bit hypocritical when dealing with brand new players.  This needs to be fixed.  When a player starts subscribing to your game, they should have their account restored to a level that any sane and rational person would expect.  Either that or allow them to have a one stop easy access to bump their account up to the same level as someone that has paid for the game.  Buying those extra character slots and bag slots is a little egregious when someone is already committing to pay you a monthly fee for access to your otherwise free game.

Here is hoping that the second support ticket will get some resolution, and that this really is not the way they choose to do business.  As a guild leader and organizer of people… I have to say this will seriously throw a massive monkey wrench in my ability to get friends that have never tried the game into it.  I will now have to tell them that it will cost X dollars to restore your account to a state that you will be able to play it normally with bag slots and character slots that players expect to have with a paid membership.  Here is hoping that they will listen to some reason and modify the way this works… or at the very least be a good deal more transparent about what subscribing doesn’t mean.

Wrapping Up

Well I have ran significantly over in time… and need to get on the road.  I will update you guys tomorrow either way if the support ticket was successful.  I hope you all have a great day and a great beginning of the work week.  Tonight I had planned on popping into The Secret World since there is always a critical mass playing on Monday nights.  We will have to see if I actually follow through with this, or if I instead end up back in Rift.

Viva Summerfest

Good morning folks.  It’s Sunday and I am already beginning to dread the start of another work week.  I did in fact get drug out into the world kicking and screaming yesterday.  Somehow my wife talked me into a trip to the ghetto for school supplies.  However luckily it was over almost as quickly as it began, as the one Dollar Tree we went to actually had everything she had on her list for her classroom.  I will admit that after Albany, the ghettos of Tulsa feel quite a bit more posh.

Viva Summerfest

rift 2013-07-28 10-16-25-84 It’s Summerfest time again in Rift and with it comes the scavenger hunts, that have now been updated to include the Storm Legion content.  This is my first year participating, and while I have not spent a ton of time working on them yet, it is my goal for today.  I have to admit that there are so many different quest lines and scavenger hunts that it is a little bit weighty to try and wade in as a first timer.  Thankfully yesterday Rift Scene released a really amazing guide to the new content.  For first timers like me, there are additional guides that cover the previous years little and great scavenger hunts as well.

If you follow the new guide it has a listing of all of the items available for purchase with the summer merit badge tokens.  Personally I am drooling over the level 60 epic rings… and hopefully after completing all the scavenger hunts today I will have enough currency to buy one for Belghast my almost raid geared main.  Additionally as always while the event is going on, every rift has a change of dropping the summer merit badge currency.  We have found the sweet spot is to take storm legion characters onto Ember Isle and open Major rifts.  These seem to be much easier than the Major rifts in the Storm Legion zones, but drop similar rewards.

The Hidden Temple

rift 2013-07-27 18-59-51-41

Last week I posted some pictures of the guild hall, in it was a shot of the hidden temple area at the top of the waterfall.  Rae has once again been hard at work, and the above image is the current state of that same area.  I personally find them almost unrecognizable.  She figured out some cool tricks to do with tile to make the really intricate flooring you see above.  Additionally she built a pergola from scratch over the pool in the corner.  What I love is the level of depth our guild hall has.  We even have a hidden cairn that no one has actually found on their own yet.

rift 2013-07-27 15-36-44-03

Additionally our guild hall now has a bartender, and as a result our bar area has been tweaked here and there a bit.  The above shot doesn’t necessarily show off all of the features, but I had to use it because of the impromptu Stalwart dance party that happened while I was in the hall taking pictures.  In addition to these area there have been a lot of little additions that make the whole area look more “lived in” and furnished.  The upstairs is slowly coming together but I dont think Rae really has a firm direction yet.  I fully expect to log in one day and everything be completely different up there as she had gotten some wild inspiration.

rift 2013-07-26 22-03-48-34

I love the above screenshot.  I backed up all the way to the zone boundary to take it, and it shows off OUR take on the Granite Falls area.  You can see we added a Regulos Ballon to our “Bazaar” area, which has had a little bit of tweaking here and there, and the path to the temple up through the waterfall is far less hidden.  Additionally little bits of flair have been added all along the path making it feel more finished.  All I really want now is for Trion to add in vendors that we can sprinkle throughout the bazaar making it feel like a real zone.

They mentioned during one of the recent live streams that this has been a point of heavy debate amongst the development staff.  The whole question is… will having functional guild machines and vendors make the hub cities depopulated.  My theory is no…  so long as they limit what we can place in our dimensions.  Personally I would like to see a varieity of vendors and access to all of the crafting machines.  Additionally I would love to see a functional mailbox that we can place outside our Inn.  What I am okay with not having is access to auction house and banks.  These are completely things that should be left in hub cities and will make sure players go back to the hubs to access them.

Love My Guild

Yesterday I played a bit in the morning and then late afternoon we went out to run errands.  Before I left I queued up the guild for the “Kill 700” pvp quest, as we had completed all of the available PVE ones.  I was gone roughly two hours and when I got back I noticed that we had no guild quest at all.  I was pumped… that meant we had completed the PVP quest in record time.  When I started asking people about it, and logging over to my Guardian to grab the “Win X Matches” quest… I found out that no…  we had not only completed the Kill 700 quest… but also completed the Win X matches.

Apparently while I was gone… my guildies spontaneously organized a PVP team and knocked them all out in what felt like crazy time.  It seems as thought Rae, Tibuant, Delevax and Liani(@CorticalScrub) pulled together a group and ground them out together.  If I have missed anyone that participated… please forgive me… but those are the people who chimed in when I was asking about it.  I would not be surprised if this ended up being an entire guild pvp affair.  I have to say I had and still am having such a “proud papa” moment over this.  Anyone who has lead a guild realizes just how rare it is that your members freely self organize and do stuff together.

Currently thanks to this flurry of activity we are sitting a good chunk into level 6.  Here is hoping that frequent guild harvest quests can ding us before the wednesday reset.  If not we will have 7 and 8 next week easily.  It feels like we are just flying through the levels, and the perks we are gaining for the guild are really awesome.  Right now we are working on the perk that increases the amount of gold gain for all players… which will in turn feed the 3% tithe gold duplication that is happening already and going into the guild vault.  Here is hoping that eventually we can fund that third guild vault.

Chasing Hellbugs

rift 2013-07-24 19-13-13-60

Granted… the above picture is not a Hellbug rift, but it is of guildies closing a Rift.  At least once a day Tibuant has been pulling together a guild group to go out and open fire rifts in the hopes that we will get the ever illusive “invasive species” rift for a shot at pets and mounts.  Tib has had some rather shitty luck thusfar to be honestly, and I think this is what has spurred on his quest.  Currently I believe he has gotten 6 of the Skitt pet, and not seen a single mount drop.  I have had 2 red mounts and 3 red pets and 1 purple pet thusfar but am still always game to do it… for a shot at the purple or green mounts.

The one thing I have noticed… people are extremely rude when it comes to tears.  There is a guild on our server called Vox Populi… which is neither very original… nor something I think most people would aspire to be given the Bioshock Infinite reference.  So far their MO seems to be running around a zone, opening major fire rifts… and then abandoning them if they are not the Invasive Species one.  Firstly this is kind of a dick move, but secondly it is self defeating… since every zone has an upper limit of rifts that can be open at one time.  By not closing the rifts they are opening… they are just screwing themselves over in the long run.

All of that said… we have tried to be good stewards of the land.  If a rift is up… we close it period… regardless if it is the magical happy hellbug rift or not.  Additionally if there are naturally spawned rifts we often close those as well, since it will free up space for new tears to form… that we can then open and hopefully GET a hellbug.  Bitching about that guild aside it has been a blast just running around with guildies and wrecking things.  I am a simply monkey and mass carnage makes me happy.

Wrapping Up

I have rattled on enough for this morning and I want to get on into game and work on things there.  I hope you all have a great end of the weekend and that the beginning of the week is pretty calm.  Additionally since I have been talking about House Stalwart quite a bit, I thought I would throw this out there.  If you are on Faeblight or currently unattached to your server and are looking for a good home… you might check out this post that covers our guild rules.  If it sounds like something for you feel free to look me up on Faeblight on either Belghast, Belgrave, Belglaive or Belgaroth.

Blizzard Edition

Good morning you happy people in internet land… I am struggling horribly to get up and around today.  I gathered up breakfast but did so while wearing a skullcap to hide my disheveled and unkempt hair.  This is feeling one of those screw the world days… it is nice out but I don’t really want to go out and experience it.  I am perfectly happy sitting on my comfy couch with my laptop and chilling out.  The week had an odd amount of stress for nothing major actually occurring, and last night I had a temporary relapse of the panic attacks.  Jury is still out on whether or not I will be drug out into the world to experience today kicking and screaming or not.

Blizzard Free?

activision_blizzard_logo

The big semi-shocking news of yesterday is that Actiblizz managed to bail itself out of ownership by Vivendi and now is a relatively free agent.  Granted for me so long as Activision is tacked on front of Blizzard it will never actually be a “free” company, but I feel that ship has sailed and the two companies will forever be joined at the hip.  There have been a lot of news reporting that Blizzard is now the largest “indie” company…  but I feel like these same outlets have zero clue what that term even means anymore.

Do I think it is good overall for Actiblizz to control its own fate?  Sure… I feel that Vivendi was directly responsible for pushing out games before in an “unprepared” state in order to recuperate some of its money.  Additionally there were several stories floating around just prior to this announcement talking about how Vivendi was planning in raiding its cash cow to try and repair its own bottom line.  In essence this move fixes both problems… Blizzard is free from pillage, and Vivendi got a shot of money in the process.

The Footnote

Almost as a footnote the press release also casually announced that the subscriber base of World of Warcraft had fallen once again to 7.7 million.  After watching the two stories play out in my RSS feed yesterday, there was a significant delay as individuals got over the shock of the first and began to Grok the second.  Basically this was no real shock to me, because somewhere… and I am seemingly unable to find the source I saw a quote after their last big drop…  that they were fully expecting to be at 6 million by the end of the year.  Another 600,000 subscribers seems like they are on course for that possiblity.

This is more “Bel talking out of his ass” time, because I don’t really have references to back myself up… but essentially what I have heard thus far is that Blizzard is losing China.  These losses are essentially the fallout of that problem.  What happened in China then?  Essentially there are so many WoW clones in the Chinese Market, that simply market and hit the culture touchstones better.  Even more… WoW is no longer an aspirational game in the way it was.  It used to be a brand that Chinese consumers wanted to identify, even Coke drew upon it to sell soda.  From everything I have heard… this has changed and WoW is simply “not cool anymore”.

A Change in Model

I have said it multiple times… and I will continue to say it until November when I may or may not have to eat crow… but I believe this year at Blizzcon we will see the announcement of some form of a free to play model.  They have already publically confirmed that a cash shop is on the way, and usually going hand in hand with that is a switch to one of the many now viable free to play options.  My only hope is that they choose to follow the lead of Rift and giving players a Carrot, instead of following SWTOR and bashing players down with a stick.

Do I think going to Free to Play would help?  Honestly I am not sure.  I would likely poke my head in every now and then pending the model is not egregious.  I figure there are lots of people with a mild interest in the game that would return every now and then and maybe spend a little money there.  What I do think however is that there are probably still enough extremely devoted fans that the model would still be profitable for them.  At this point I feel the subscription model is just no longer viable.

As I said yesterday a huge chunk of why I will not be playing Final Fantasy XIV is because I just don’t feel it is worth a monthly fee.  Right now we have only a handful of holdouts still charging a monthly access fee, and the vast majority shifting to pay as you go or pay for perks schemes.  I feel that regardless of when it happens, sooner or later World of Warcraft will convert and do so in a big way.  Given their flair for showmanship and ability to spin something that would normally play as bad, into a positive for the Blizzcon audience…  I feel that all the signs are right for them announcing the shift.

Vanilla Servers

Yesterday there was an interesting post by Syp over on Bio Break, asking if we would play on a Vanilla server if Blizzard created one.  Essentially the post was spurred by comments that Drysc apparently made back in 2008 that hey had been seriously considering the model.  Since that time however…  Everquest has made a killing by creating Retro servers that allow players to experience the game through the eyes of history.  Essentially SOE has proven that the model is completely viable, and viable enough that at last count I believe there were three different “retro” servers. 

The most interesting part about Syp’s post however is the large batch of comments that occur afterwards.  It seems like the majority of the posters essentially said “take my money now”.  A few of us however were more “sounds awesome, but not for me”.  I definitely fell into the second camp.  I like the concept of a Vanilla server, but I feel as if it is probably best leave our happy memories in the rose tinted past.  When I think about just how much WoW progressed as it went through its expansions… what would exist as a Vanilla server would feel like a primitive shell of what exists today.  So while you would lose heinous inventions like the dungeon finder… you would also end up losing quality of life changes such as the ability to trade BOP loot in dungeons and even the “Need / Greed” loot system.

Ultimately while I am still interested in the advancement of that game… as evidenced to the fact that I devoted an entire blog post this morning to little blips about Blizzard in general…  I just think I am done with the World of Warcraft as a game.  I might return every now and then to check in on it… but I am not returning for the game itself… I am returning for the few people that are still there and rabid about it.  I feel as if I have just moved past the limits of that game, and want more.  In my “MMO Must Haves” series of posts, I rattled out all the features that I wanted in a game… and expectantly WoW has very few of them.  On the converse Rift has damned near every one of them… so it is no shock that I am playing that these days.

I think eventually Vanilla servers will come to fruition, because there will come a time when Blizzard is trying to wring out every last drop of cash from an aging brand.  I do not however think we will see it until they change their business model.  There will likely be some access fee that you add to your account that allows you to roll characters on the closed Vanilla servers.  I think the same kind of people that find the Everquest Retro servers alluring will also find the old world WoW servers that way also.  I will admit… I would be more tempted if they started releasing servers for each era.  Wrath of the Lich King was my favorite time in the game, and after we killed Arthas… everything felt tarnished.

Wrapping Up

I have a feeling that my wife is going to want to go out and explore the world… and as much as I do not want this at all… I figure I will end up being a good guy and aggressing to it.  As a result I really should get up and around and get ready for the day.  It is a lovely day outside at least, and the temperature is an unseasonable 80*.  I just have zero interest in the outside world and would prefer to sit at home on my sofa.  I hope you all have great weekends, and that you get accomplished anything you need to.

Goodbye Chocobo

Last night was a fairly good night.  It was cool outside so we decided to go for our evening walk pretty early.  After we got done with our loop of the neighborhood I decided it taking a dip in the pool sounded absolutely awesome.  So after cooling down in the pool, I finally settled in for some serious Rift time, and luckily by then the servers had mostly stabilized.  There was apparently an issue with the backhaul for the Trion datacenter that was generating a ton of lag for certain players.

Goodbye Chocobo

ffxiv 2013-06-29 14-32-33-13

Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn releases on August 27th, and a good number of my friends are extremely pumped about this.  As a result I got a bit caught up in the hype myself and had preordered the game through Amazon.  I got into the beta and enjoyed myself and even wrote a relatively positive review.  The problem for me is that once the nostalgia wore off, I was essentially left playing a game that was very much rooted in the wow era traditions and really didn’t push the bar forward much.  With each successive beta test I found myself with less and less desire to actually log in and play it.

Don’t get me wrong… there is nothing wrong with the game, nor is it a bad game.  In fact it is a really good game, and if you are deeply rooted in the Final Fantasy Mythos and/or really like the JRPG style of artwork and graphics…  it is likely going to be an amazing game for you.  That said.. I normally do not like the JRPG art and character style… and while I have a good chunk of nostalgia towards the Final Fantasy franchise… all of that comes from the 2D era of the game.  I feel as though that nostalgic buzz has worked its way through my system.

Additionally right now I am really trying to set down some semi-permanent roots in Rift.  The House Stalwart guild is hopping every night and people are friendly and happy and engaging.  I don’t want to go off and play anything else, even on a lark and take a chance of jinxing this awesome thing we have going.  I also lack the desire to really play Final Fantasy XIV.  It was a game I was definitely going to play because I had several friends who were really excited about it.  However my fear was that it would be another TERA for me, I play it one week and then cancel my account never to play it again.

For all of these reasons… yesterday I went into my Amazon account and cancelled my preorder.  The biggest detractor for me, and the point that made me go ahead and pull the trigger…  is the subscription fee.  It is funny how things have shifted for me… and I have gone from being a player who didn’t want to play a game without a subscription option… to being one who really criticizes any game that ONLY has a subscription model.  Ultimately the game was just not fun enough for me to be willing to pay a monthly fee to play.  If it was buy the box, I would have gone ahead and picked it up and piddle around in it whenever I felt like.  However knowing that I only had 30 days of playtime to decide if I liked the game enough to pay a monthly fee for it… was a massive hindrance.

I hope the game does well, and it finds its niche after all the work they have put into it.  It really is an enjoyable experience, but for me just not compelling enough to pay for.  I feel like I want the game to succeed, because at this point ANY MMO failure is a negative thing and causes the number of companies willing to fund a AAA MMO to shrink.  Based on the number of people that are truly hyped about the game, I figure it will be a modest success which will hopefully be enough to keep the ball moving forward.

Night of the Hunt

rift 2013-05-03 21-57-48-67

Yesterday I ended up writing a piece in response to a blog post, and did not really go over what happened Wednesday night for the guild.  For awhile now we have been trying to make Monday and Wednesday nights a time when we pull something together.  The Monday side of the equation has been faltering, however most every Wednesday night we at least do something as a group.  Monday has long been The Secret World night amongst a large group of my friends… and I am thinking we might simply need to start doing that as well.  Wednesday night however we usually have a critical mass of players, and this past one I had huge plans.

In the Storm Legion concept there is something called a Hunt Rift that you can purchase from the Torvan Hunters.  Essentially you are helping the Torvan Hunters capture dangerous planar beings.  You open the special lures at any planar tear, and it starts a little multiple stage event that works somewhat different than a normal rift.  During the first stage you help the hunter build the machine to trap the being, then you defend it against an onslaught of planar mobs trying to stop your efforts.  Finally after defending the machine for several phases the mini-boss is summoned and you defeat them.  The reward is lots of Torvan Hunters rep, a chest full of goodies, and being able to check off one hunt from the achievement that eventually unlocks Great Hunts.

The lures are roughly 5000 planarite each, and I decided I would purchase the first dozen that make up tier 1 of the torvan hunts.  The plan was simple…  we would grab whatever available level 50+ characters we had… grab the few 40+ players we had and teleport them to storm legion content via a rally banner… and wreck the hunts.  This was an awesome theory… but was thwarted by the fact that apparently the Rally Scroll has limits on being able to teleport too low a character to the Storm Legion content zones. 

We opened a single rift and closed it, but I made the call that it would just be more enjoyable if we could do something we ALL could participate in.  It is never fun to be sitting on the bench when you perceive that other players are off doing amazing things.  I searched my brain for an idea… and finally landed on the fact that myself and Tibuant had a decent stock of old world elite lures laying around.  These were challenging encounters designed for 10 players at level 50, and our original Rift guild had many Elite Rift nights.  As a result I had half a dozen lures still taking up bank space, and Tib had another couple himself.

We spent the rest of the night bouncing back and forth between the yellow elite tears in Iron Pine Peaks and Stillmoor opening the encounters.  While most of the gear has long since been replaced with better Storm Legion greens, our youngins were able to pick up a few pieces of epic quality gear that might hold them for a little bit once they start into the new content.  Honestly however that was just gravy, the real fun was just running around as a group and doing something out of the ordinary together.  I am glad I made the choice to pick something we all could do, rather than excluding a batch of players due to level.

There will be other guild nights and other times we can finish the tier one hunt rifts.  Each of the lower level players we toon along got one or more dings over the course of the night.  So we slowly but surely moved them forward towards being able to participate in bigger and grander things.  I am not saying there will not be nights that we run things higher level that some of our crew may not be able to participate in.  But my hope is to be able to include the largest batch of players in the process.  I am just enjoying running around together doing whatever the hell we end up doing.

Wrapping Up

I normally do three segments, but these two segments seem extra long to me.  Additionally the time is getting late and I need to be getting on to work.  This morning I need to run laundry by the cleaners and that always takes up a bit of time.  Last night we had a lot of fun closing Rifts for the guild quest and hopefully we can finish off the second “close 100 rifts” quest tonight.  We dinged level 5 yesterday but are a long ways from level 6.  I hope you all have a great Friday and that it is the start of an awesome weekend.  Tonight we will be picking up a printer from some folks on craigslist, and hopefully I will get on before too late.

Abolish Faction Walls

Good morning you happy people out there.  I joked yesterday about opening a real life air rift, but in reality I guess it felt a bit like that.  We managed to get through the storm relatively unscathed, but not everyone did.  Yesterday the report was that roughly 100,000 customers were without power, and in on the drive in there were numerous intersections that were reduced to four way stops.  The neighbor across the street lost the entire fence on the front part of his yard, and the shopping center my favorite game store is in was pretty much demolished by the winds.  It is so odd to have tornadic style damage without the Tornado.

Race and Class Restrictions

races_banner

Yesterday Rowan posted a thought provoking pieces on whether or not there should be class and race restrictions in games.  Namely this was spawned by Wildstar, but the question carries over to every game.  Why does it make sense that fanatical characters should be limited by some sort of pseudo real world logic?  In an example he gives… why CAN’T a robot do magic…  isn’t that just imposing some kind of logic on fantasy gaming that doesn’t really exist?  Is it not just as fantastical that humans can perform magic?

Ultimately I am against class and race restrictions…  but even more so I am against faction based restrictions.  My general theory is… that in every situation… ideology never breaks down solely along racial boundaries.  There will always be people that play across the lines and are branded as either Sell-swords at the best, or Traitors at the worst by their own faction.  One of the worst experiences you can have is when a new game comes out… and you are super pumped about one specific race…  only to find out that every single friend you have wants to play the OTHER faction.

My mantra has been anything that gets in the way of you playing with your friends is bad.  Faction based race restrictions get in the way of you playing what you want to play… and also playing with your friends that might have different tastes.  I will go one step further and say that Factions in general… are generally bad, but more so games that try and set up an artificial “red versus blue” faction wall.  That essentially feels like imposing artificial limitations on your players just to solve poor design problems.  If have to rely on polarized faction based combat to keep your game moving, you made some bad decisions somewhere along the process.

Abolish Faction Walls

Portes_Orgrimmar

Some of the most liberating gaming experiences I have had come from games with much more flexible factional boundaries.  The Everquest series probably takes the cake for its ability to give the player malleable faction alignments.  Essentially you start out as either aligned as an Evil race or a Good race… and that sets up certain default racial relations that you have with other factions in the world.  Given the time and the inclination… you can perform tasks that will alter these boundaries through lots and lots of player faction work.

Iksar for example started off hated by everything and could do business nowhere but the neutral Nexus and Cabilis their home city.  However I had a friend who through lots of work managed to become maximum reputation with the Halflings… and he was treated as a favored guest in their territory.  I myself took my Half Elf ranger which is natively a good aligned race… and managed to get him the same reputation with the Evil Erudite city of Paineel.  This experience of letting the player dictate their alliances through their interactions with the world is the best possible scenario I have seen.  Sadly… no one since has adopted this model.

In Everquest 2 you had something similar… defacto good vs evil racial set up… but over the course of the game you could decide to betray your home faction and begin gaining rep with the other.  While this was not as rich and robust as the Everquest system… it was still a far better choice than the archaic “red versus blue” mentality.  Additionally no where in the Everquest realm are you ever limited in who you can group with, communicate with, and trade with.  All players can interact regardless of their personal choices.

Faction as Fiction

Singlehandedly one of the best choices Trion has ever made with Rift is to release the fabled “Faction as Fiction” patch abolishing strict faction walls in that game.  While not as open as a game like Everquest that was designed NOT to have firm factions, it was a great way to “hack” that functionality into an existing game.  Essentially in one pass they allowed Guardian and Defiant characters to group and guild freely, and set up a new neutral three faction based PVP system called Conquest.  Players essentially act as mercenaries for three different political factions and wage proxy battles for them.

I feel like this decision point more than anything has allowed House Stalwart to grow so much recently.  Many of the players that we were pulling in, tried it shortly after the release of Rift, but felt limited by the race and faction based choices.  We were a Defiant guild, but many players just feel more comfortable with the kinder, gentler, greener… Guardian starter experience.  Being able to tell them that “faction no longer matters” has almost become a rallying call as I get new folks invested in the game again.

I cannot help but think that games like World of Warcraft and Wildstar would not be far better served if they threw off the mantle of “red versus blue” and embraced letting players choose their own alignments.  While we have extremely rabid Horde and Alliance players… I was one of those players that had friends on both sides of the pond.  When Stalwart originally launched with the release of WoW, we had an Alliance Guild on Argent Dawn and a Horde Guild on Silverhand.  The intent was to play in both places, so that we could stay together… but over time the majority greatly favored Alliance… leaving a skeleton crew manning the Horde bulwarks.

So instead of having like Fifty players all happy and acting together… we had 35 happy alliance players, and 15 unhappy horde players that felt abandoned.  Any design choice that forces potentially pits players against their friends… is ultimately a bad one for the sake of building long lasting communities.  Had we been able to BE an Alliance guild, but also had a number of “Horde” race sell-swords… I feel as though this would not have been a problem.  The players didn’t care about the faction… they cared about the available races to play… and ultimately went to the side that they could play what they wanted to.

Looking Forward

tesofactions-600x266

One of the biggest detractors for me in everything I have heard about Elder Scrolls Online is the fact that once again there will be three distinct and insular faction groups.  While choosing which faction to align to was easy for me… since I always play a Nord, Argonian or a Dunmer…  it will not be quite so easy for my friends.  I have a few friends that prefer Altmer for example… and I tend to go out of my way to kill them when playing Skyrim.  The Elder Scrolls is a setting where there have NEVER been absolute race based factional boundaries.  There are always Nords that are willing to sell their blade to the highest bidder, as well as Altmer that throw off their heritage and adventure freely in the world.

My biggest hope is that there will be a way for my friends to be in Ebonheart Pact where I plan on building the House Stalwart guild… but be able to play whatever they want to play.  This will ultimately determine whether or not a Stalwart guild succeeds in this game.  I realize that this is probably just a pipe dream, because everything that we have seen to this point seems to enforce the strict racial boundaries.  But I guess I can hope… I realize factional boundaries are easy for companies to enforce, that they greatly simplify many aspects of the game.  However this does not stop me from feeling like they are bad for the players.

ESO is still a long ways off, so I have the smallest glimmer of hope that they might rethink the firm racial limits, however Wildstar feels as though it is right around the corner and has set up the same tired walls.  We are going through the same problems with that game as we have every other faction based title.  Granted I am only really mildly interested in the game…  but various Stalwarts are EXTREMELY interested.  The problem is… each of us seems to natively align ideologically with one faction or the other… and currently it the sentiments seem to split down the middle.  All of this is generally because we prefer to play one type of race over another. They could really serve to take a book from Trion and make guilds transcend factional boundaries.

While we are on pipedreams…  one of the biggest flaws in The Secret World is the fact that Cabals are faction locked.  This game is so liberating in certain fashions…  you can group with any player on any faction or shard.  However the fact that their guild system is limited based on a specific faction really throws a monkey wrench in this whole openness scenario.  It has essentially forced guilds to manage three separate factional units… and then try and communicate between them using server channels.  Everything would have been far simpler had they just said that cabals were free floating.  I really hope this is a decision they revisit in the near future.

Wrapping Up

Well it is that time again… I have wasted another perfectly good morning rambling on.  I had intended to talk about all the awesomeness that we did last night as a guild, but that yarn can wait for another day.  On a related note however.. I totally suggest you check out Fynralyl’s blog post about her entry into the guild and reentry into Rift in general.  Warms my heart to see that folks are enjoying themselves in an environment I have pulled together.  Any questions I had as to whether or not forming a House Stalwart in Rift was a good idea… have long since gone out the window.  I hope you guys have a great day, and that the weekend comes quickly.

Guild Crafter

This is one of those mornings when the content is just not flowing freely from my brain to my fingers and eventually onto the digital page.  Last night was completely set to be another good night of sleep.  I left Rift about 9:30 and we went on our walk shortly after.  Then while we were out walking we noticed a massive storm system coming towards us.  Ultimately while I tried to get to sleep the sheer severity of the storm kept me up.  This combined with the fact that I happened to check my email during this time… and there was an issue with one of the websites I manage… kept me up until roughly 1 am.

Air Rift

air_rift

Last night was one of those odd flukes that sometimes happens in Oklahoma that produces tornadic style damage… without actually forming a Tornado.  When we were out walking we kept seeing the sky light up in the distance with massive amounts of cloud to cloud lightning.  It looked extremely eerie, and it was a struggle to keep focused on walking and not watch the electrical ballet in the sky.  My wife checked her phone while we were out on the loop we walk, and it looked like we had about 30 minutes or so before any of it hit us.  I attempted to go to sleep and then it hit all at once.

Instead of starting slowly we got hit with this wall of wind that started shaking our backyard gate and causing a tree to start thumping up against the house every now and then.  I put back on shorts and went out to investigate and it was just really odd out.  It didn’t feel like a normal wind storm… everything was blowing every which way but I didn’t feel like I was walking against the wind at any point.  I came back in because quite honestly it felt a little dangerous to be standing outside.  I figured we would have to deal with whatever happened anyways in the morning.

Currently the sun is still not up, and as a result I have no clue the extent of any damage that might have occurred during the night.  Looking out through the kitchen window and front door, it didn’t look like there was much debris in the front or back of the house.  After the wind came hurricane gale force rain for a bit… then as quickly as it had happened it just passed over us.  I went around the house to see if anything was leaking, figured that was as good a sign as any that we still had a roof.  Once I finish up this blog post it should be light enough for me to go out in investigate.

Guild Crafter

rift 2013-07-24 07-02-46-46

In Star Wars the Old Republic… we had an awesome guild member named Shyris.  She was the consummate guild crafter, and if you did not ask her for upgrades… she would hunt you down and force them on you.  I on the other hand have never really been that much of a serious crafter.  In every MMO I have maxed out whatever profession I chose to do…  but never really used it much other than to craft one or two items at the highest level for my character.  Something has changed deep down inside me… and I now take more than a certain amount of pleasure outfitting my friends in gear.

When Rift went free to play, I got a large amount of free store currency due to the longevity of which I subscribed.  I used most of this windfall to outfit Belghast my main with as much awesome stuff as I could.  Since Everquest 1, I have always been drawn to Smithing… having done a small bit of it myself in real life.  If given a choice, I always end up going for Armorsmithing in fact, so since release Bel has been one and had the two supporting crafts of Butchering and Mining.  With the ability to add extra tradeskills I have added on Foraging to complete the harvesting trio, and then added Weaponsmithing and now recently Artificer.

When you factor in Belgrave my rogue who is a max level Outfitter, I can essentially make all armor and weapons and I am slowly grinding my way through the Storm Legion levels of Artificer so I will be able to make the rest of the equipment slots.  I find something extremely satisfying about hooking up a character with a bunch of upgrades.  As a result I have spent a lot more time recently harvesting materials so that I can consume them making goodies for the guild.  I’ve been trying to make regular trips out to my cloth farm, and depositing the proceeds in the form of 24 slot bags in the guild bank.

Ironhide Rollout!

rift 2013-07-24 06-57-38-57

I have yet to develop quite the forceful posture that Shyris had in SWTOR, but I still want to see stuff get used.  Additionally I have developed a new obsession…  guild harvest quests.  Over the last two years, I have existed in guilds that were essentially already maximum level, or damned near close to it.  As a result I have never really put much focus on completing guild quests.  If there was a fun one up like closing rifts or killing planar creatures I would spend a bit of time helping out on it.  However it was never the focus that it has become recently.

When I found out there was a daily way for me to contribute guild xp and help us level faster… I have been traipsing around Ember Isle and Iron Pine Peaks harvesting all manner of lower level goods just to turn in for experience in the manufactorum in Meridian.  The bane of my existence and that of pretty much anyone doing this quest seems to be Ironhide.  It is supposedly a 5% chance when skinning level 50ish mobs in the world.  The problem is… this is very much dictated by your luck with the random number generator.  You only need 10 Ironhide per turn in… however you will likely gather up about 200 normal leather in the time it takes you to get those.

Personally I have found a nice little area of Ember Isle skinning crocodiles that seems to produce Ironhide fairly well.  Additionally Ember Isle has tons of Orichalcum nodes… which is another component to the turn in… and I will take any excuse to run around this zone because it is STILL really amazing.  Then I tend to pop over to Iron Pine Peaks… because I absolutely love that zone and finish gathering up the foraging that I did not get on Ember Isle.  For whatever reason Basilisk Stem does not grow on Ember, even though pretty much everything else does.  The end result is roughly 150 guild xp per turn in… and I can do four per day.  While this may not seem like much, it is a little bit that I can do personally to help push us forward.

Wrapping Up

It was a pretty chill night overall other than the wind storm.  I am just about to go out and look around our house for damage.  I hope that things are okay, and we still have a fence and a roof.  Since I was up crazy late doing work.. I feel zero obligation to get into work bright and early this morning.  That said I will still beat most of my office into work.  I hope you all have a great day, and that hopefully everything is safe and sound when I survey the damage.

Lanzan Hunters

This is the second day in a row where I woke up on my own automagically.  I find it more than a little spooky, but it furthers my general theory that my body seems to want roughly six hours of sleep.  Going over causes me to get completely groggy, and going under the same result.  This morning I sat up in bed, and had roughly five minutes until the alarm, so I just walked over to the other side of the room and shut it off.  Essentially this is my failsafe to make sure I get up… otherwise I would likely just turn the stupid thing off or hit snooze all the time.

Lanzan Hunters

rift 2013-07-23 06-04-05-72

Yesterday morning after the tips I had received I accepted the Guardian guild quest to close 100 experience bearing Rifts.  I had all intent of working on this when I got home.  Instead I logged in and a guild member, Tibuant asked if I could give him a boost into the Storm Legion content.  Essentially his account was hacked ages ago, and the hackers got it banned.  He went through the long and drawn out process of getting the account back and getting it unbanned.  Upon playing it he realized that they had deleted his cleric character, so he had to get that restored as well.

When they restored the character however they kind of just dumped some miscellaneous gear on him, which was not that amazing for leveling.  So I said sure… I can always use some time to farm more Lanzan as I like to keep a stock of 24 slot bags in the guild vault for various characters.  So I told him to meet me in Iron Pine Peaks, where we both took the port to Cape Jule.  We wandered from that Porticulum to Tulan and let him get that one… then finally on to our destination.

Tarne’s Perch is in the North Central area of the Cape Jule map and is pictured in the above screenshot.  So far this is the best place I have found for grinding out Lanzan cloth.  The area is loaded with Storm Legion troopers of various kinds, and each of them can drop between 2 and 4 Lanzan a piece.  The only negative is that it feels like roughly 1 in 3 troopers actually DOES drop the cloth.  So needless to say it involves a lot of slaughter.  They are spaced out far enough apart that it does not make the area an ideal AOE farm spot… but then again I have yet to find one of those.

Essentially by the time you work your way to the top… you can jump down to the bottom and the path will be fully respawned.  We did a few loops with Tib and I before I needed to afk for a bit and eat dinner.  When I returned Rae joined us, and the three of us wrecked the place several more times.  All in all we spent about an hour and a half farming.  I managed to get roughly 110 bolts of Lanzan in that time and crafted another 8 bags for the guild vault.  Additionally Tib managed to get from 48 to 50 and we were able to outfit him in some proper starting Storm Legion gear in the process.

Rift Wrecking

rift 2013-07-22 21-26-38-48

Once we had dinged Tib, I spent a little time crafting him a set of level 50 gear… or at least the pieces I could actually make.  Eventually I swapped over to Belglaive with the intent of closing some rifts to help push us over the guild quest of 100 total.  By this time a mixture of guildies had managed to knock out roughly 50 of the 100 rifts.  Over mumble I mentioned what I was doing.. and before long we had a long list of people aiding in the cause.  We mentored down to 20 and took to Freemarch, thinking it was easiest to move between tears in that zone and there was always a higher likelihood of a zone invasion.

Fynralyl and Psynister made it back safely from their trip, and even after driving for either hours… they were on and willing to help out the cause.  Longtime Stalwarts Atonal and Tibuant also chimed in pretty much ready to wreck anything.  So we wandered around the zone wrecking shit together.  I would set a way point and we would all barrel towards it.  Earlier in the evening Vox Populi…  which is neither original nor after Bioshock Infinite really a faction I would aspire to be as a guild… was roaming around the zone opening Fire rifts and abandoning them if they were not the special Invasive Species Defiance crossover.  As a result much of the evening was simply running around cleaning up their Fire rifts.

Additionally when we found an unopened planar tear, we started letting Tib open them since he had the Fire Lure.  I figured we might as well maximize our potential for getting people Hellbug mounts.  Unfortunately while we closed several… and pretty much everyone completed the Ark Hunter title achievement..  we only managed to get a couple of the Red pets to drop.  About halfway through the grind a Water invasion started up, and the above image is of us taking down the final boss.  Pretty much during the course of the evening every single member of the group managed to get a ding.

Twisted Artifacts

rift 2013-07-23 06-52-18-92

That is one of my favorite things about mentoring in Rift…  they have managed to make it worth while to both the person being mentored… and the mentor themselves.  Knowing everyone is going to get something from the activity really reinforces the benefit of dropping your level and running around en-mass, and then this also helps your lower level characters catch up.  By the time we had reached 87 rifts closed… we were all dragging a bit.  I was starting to do my sleepy talk thing where I jumble the words.  Additionally Fyn had driven eight hours that day and was just about beat.  We set our sights on hitting 90 and then calling it.

At that point I logged to go for my evening walk.  By the time I got back, I decided to go upstairs to cool off.  When I logged in they had finished out the last 10 rifts and were needing the quest turned in and the next one selected.  I grabbed the collect 100 artifacts quest, turned on Quantum Sight and decided to make a few looks of Stonefield.  I was online another thirty minutes or so, and in that time we had managed to collect roughly 50 artifacts.  When I logged in this morning, someone had stayed up and finished off the quest. 

Now unfortunately we have the win 20 Black Garden and 20 Codex quest… and I really do not see us completing that before the reset tomorrow.  Delevax was a juggernaut in grinding out the other one… but as a rule we are just not PVPers.  When I turned in the artifacts quest this morning it dinged the guild level 4, so I think that is pretty damned good for us only starting this branch of Stalwart last Thursday.  I did a count last night and we are a little over 20 actual people in the guild.  There are a few more people that I know will be joining us… but it feels awesome that everyone has gathered up so quickly.

Wrapping Up

I need to be wrapping this up.  Today is trash day, so I need to gather that, pack up the laptop and get on the road.  Last night was a complete blast and I hope we can pull that sort of thing together on a regular basis.  Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves as well, and based on the regular dings it seemed like everyone got benefit from it as well.  Additionally this last ding allowed us to purchase the ever nifty Cache Finder perk… that gives you bonus dungeon and rift currency.  Anyways… I hope you all have a great Tuesday and a great rest of the week.

A New Fire

This morning I am surprisingly awake for it to be a Monday.  I started waking up naturally around 4:30 and finally got up about 5:25 a few minutes ahead of my alarm clock going off.  Last night I was feeling pretty lousy so I begged off on our normal evening walk and just went to bed.  Apparently I was still able to get some extremely deep sleep.  Hopefully it will give me a decent start to the new week.  At the very least my boss is back this week so no more having to pretend to be him.

Guild Quests

rift 2013-07-22 06-30-02-13

This weekend was very much still about getting things up and running in the House Stalwart guild on Faeblight.  One of the things I personally prioritized was trying to make sure we got our guild quests taken care of before the Wednesday reset.  The first quest I picked up was the kill 500 planar beings and close 50 rifts.  This one seemed like the easiest to me, and over the course of Friday night I managed to whittle down the vast majority of the quest.  Then I think it was Rae that finished the last rift, on her lowest level character to push us across the line.

The next quest I chose was the dungeon quest.  We needed to defeat the boss at the end of Iron Tombs 4 times.  I figured if nothing else I could just run in there on my level 60 and wreck the place to finish out the quest.  However by the time I got up Saturday morning… someone had apparently done just that and we were quest less again.  All that was left for us to do… was the dreaded PVP quest.  I want to say it was something like kill 500 players in pvp…  even though it was incorrectly worded as “kill guardians”.

I tried Sunday morning to make a dent in it… but I suck horrifically at PVP.  I was getting 10-16 kills per match, so I quickly lost heart and gave up on it.  I thought to myself…  2 quests per week will still level us relatively quickly.  Then last night…  Delevax became the guilds savior.  He single handedly whittled down that quest averaging around 40-50 kills per game.  I bow to his intestinal fortitude!  I figure eventually Thalen will get in the act because he actually mildly likes PVP, but for now at least Del gets the medal of honor for single handedly getting well over 400 kills in a night to push over the quest.

So now… days after forming the guild we sit at level 3 and are unable to progress again until Wednesday.  Though I am just finding out… that apparently you can send a Guardian into Sanctum to pick up the guardian flavor of all the quests for you.  If that is really true… we can do the planar and dungeon quests again easily for maybe a few more levels.  We already have full Tithe in effect as well as Mass Resurrection and Mass Summon.  Currently I am working on Blood Thirsty to give the folks pvping some extra healing.

A New Fire

rift 2013-07-22 06-07-27-91

Any doubts I might have had about whether or not breaking out into our own guild was a good idea have long since disappeared.  Everyone seems so much happier now than when we were a part of someone else’s guild.  It has lit a fire under so many of us… giving us a purpose and focus to trying to make our new home an awesome place.  Rae of course continues to build amazing stuff in our guild hall.  The above image is this cool temple area she is working on at the top of the waterfall.  She changed the course of the path going up… and it now winds to the top of the mountain.  No screenshot really does it justice, but below is a picture from the trail leading up.

rift 2013-07-22 06-07-53-98

I personally have been working on a lot of crafting.  Belglaive my renamed baby warrior that I started initially over on Faeblight has been turned into a pure harvester, and I have been working on catching up both butchering and foraging.  On Belghast I added yet another tradeskills, this time Artificer since we did not have one.  I have put a lot of resources into leveling that and at this point I am well into the Storm Legion levels.  However I had to take a break as I literally was running out of platinum.  Each ten levels ended up costing about 15 plat to push through.

I was able to craft some needed stuff for the guild hall.  In part I picked up Artificer because for whatever reason they ended up the tradeskill that can craft wooden items for dimensions.  Rae needed a large quantity of Wooden poles to use as posts and anchors so I purchased the pattern and have been turning those out as needed.  Additionally over night someone bumped up the number of slots in the guild hall again.  When I went to bed we were about 50 items away from the limit… but someone bumped it up to the third tier which grants over 1000 items.

About the People

No matter how much stuff you have… the guild is always going to be about the people and I have to say… we have an amazing collection of awesome people already.  It has been really cool hanging out with Rowan and Sctrz, and hopefully we have yet to scare them off with our antics.  Additionally I am looking forward to getting Psynister and Fynralyl into the guild now that they should be back from their vacation.  From the traditional Stalwart front, we’ve managed to meet up with Ryalcus and get at least one of his characters moved over as well as Valkkon and it has been awesome to see Qirii in game again on her ever unprounceable characters.

There are still a handful of people who have mentioned that they would be joining us, that we have not been able to meet up with as of yet.  However we have already gathered up around 20 amazing people under one banner.  I can only see that over time more folks will find their way here.  I feel like right now I have an endless list of things that I want to accomplish.  This time around the goal list is different, it is more focused on making an awesome home for my friends.  I guess I am going through a digital “nesting” phase.

I shift back and forth between various little goals.  Recently I have been trying to populate the guild vault with 24 slot bags for folks to use on their characters.  As a result we are also getting a decent artifact exchange going on, as each of us dumps the ones we are not needing in the vault.  At some point soon I am going to have to go back into daily mode so that I can gather up some cash to afford the push to 375 artificer and help afford the next guild vault upgrade.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap this up so I can get on to work.  The long and short of it is… we all seem to be having a blast together and enjoying our new home.  I am wishing I had done this ages ago, rather than trying to skirt the whole guild leader thing for two years.  Everything seems more enjoyable because we have a shared reason for doing it.  I guess today at lunch I will work on whittling down the Guardian guild quest I just accepted while writing this… Close 100 Rifts.  I hope you all have a great day, and that it is the start of an awesome week.