Sixty Candles

This is another one of those mornings where I am struggling to write.  I know I have a lot of things to do today, but just am having trouble getting started.  It is a cold, dreary and rainy morning, and that definitely does not help the sluggishness.  I’ve been out already, gotten breakfast and filled up the gas tank on my wife’s car but as I sit here to write the words are now flowing as well as they usually do.

Gameplan Changed

2013-05-03_230918Last night I had all these plans of riding along on the Hellbug raids in search  of a purple mount, but that didn’t actually happen.  Instead I wound up getting distracted once more by carnage quests, and as I saw my experience bar moving I decided I would push for level 60.  I am normally one of those people that levels extremely quickly.  In fact I used to pride myself that in WoW I could take a character from 1-85 in 7 days.

So as a result the fact that I still did not have a max level character almost six months after the release of Storm Legion was a bit of a point of embarrassment.  I hit a massive wall along the process however, and the crap spec that I thought was decent… presented an impassible barrier as I tried to grind through the content.  Every few weeks I would fire the game up, and try again knowing I was only three levels from the cap.  I should have sought help, but I had been hearing the same grindy comments from others and assumed that was just the master plan.

Sixty Candles

2013-05-03_220213Thanks to a post from Wilhelm, I finally got out of the funk and found some specs that actually worked.  As a result the game has been a blast for me.  Last night I finally dinged 60 and it was a complete accident.  Over in Kingsward I found this really great sequence of quests that started at the Academy, and culminated in a siege on the tower of dawn.  The whole feeling of taking back a part of the world for the royal family was amazing.  I don’t want to give away more spoilers than that, but as a whole it ranks up with some of the most epic quest chains I have experienced in any game.

The other night in Empyrean Core I had gathered up a few items for level 60, and the quest chain at Dawn Tower provided a really nice blue sword.  So after completing that I set out to explore Ashora.  I had been out there before, during some guild event that involved doing an invasion out there, so I had at least one of the ports.  The zone is pretty awesome looking, but also would have been super dangerous if I had explored it before now.  I was originally going to work on the quests, but just ended up wandering around and exploring the map for most of the evening.

Money or Mount

2013-05-03_221626Now I am not sure what my next goal is.  Ultimately there are really two competing goals.  Firstly I feel like to be anything but a detriment to world events… I need to get the 130% speed mount.  In order to get that I need to gather up 300 plat.  Considering I am one of those players who is habitually poor in every single game, this is a pretty insurmountable obstacle.  I cannot even fathom having enough money to be able to purchase the 1000 plat 150% mount. 

So the ultimate question is, do I begin actively searching for Hellbug rift raids, knowing that they will be annoyed by the fact that I am slow… or do I grind out the 300 plat and buy my mount first.  I have no clue how long the Hellbug rifts will be active, but knowing Trion it will likely be at least a month.  The only problem is, I have yet to unlock any daily quests, so I have no clue exactly HOW I will get the money.  Money is just not a thing I worry much about in MMOs.  It is odd, in the real world I am completely financially stable, but in games my characters are habitually broke.  This feels somehow backwards from most MMO stereotypes.

Oh well I need to finish this up so we can go out and do things.  Though honestly I am not sure exactly what we will be doing as rainy and icky as it is out there.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, I hope you have a great Saturday and an awesome weekend in general.  I have a server move to do at 10 pm tonight, but I will likely be gaming before and after it.  Figure I am going to have to take a nap today for optimal clarity of thought during the downtime.

Specimen Captured

This is day eight of my experiment, and this is the first day I really don’t know what to write about.  I knew this day would come sooner or later, as writers block is almost always the headsman’s axe for my blog.  I think it could be a bunch of separate things happening all at once.  Firstly it has gone from sunny and 80* here in Oklahoma, to dark, dreary and 35*.  On top of this, I have a big server move scheduled for 10pm Saturday evening that I am fairly nervous about.

Hellbug Rally

rift 2013-05-01 17-58-53-39Pretty much my overarching mission for the day was to try and get one of the Hellbugs before the crossover event disappeared.  For those who are not familiar with them, the Hellbug is one of the archetypal creatures in the new Trion Worlds and SyFy game/show combo…  Defiance.  They remind me of a cacodemon from Doom… with legs.  Right now in rift, there seems to be a one in five shot of any spawning fire rift being a “Invasive Species” Hellbug rift.  Granted this is completely through incidental observance and is “not a real number”.

The big problem I have had is that I have no clue where the best place is to FIND Hellbug rifts .  Wednesday night I devoted a bit of time to farming Fire rifts, and never even saw a single one.  Thursday at lunch and early evening, I ping ponged between the level 50 top end zones, namely Shimmersand and managed to see three… and in most cases those were just as they were closing.

ARAM Strikes Back

After a few hours of this, mumble was filling up and I needed a break from the skull drudgery of killing closing “not hellbug rifts”.  When we had four people online, I got coaxed into doing an ARAM map over in League of Legends.  I had initially thought that Tam was going to queue us up for another 2v2 battle… but much to my surprise we were going out into the main queue.  We picked up a 5th random, with whom I traded Jayce for Volibear that apparently we were both more comfortable with… and we proceeded into the map.

The takeaway is that I still suck at League of Legends.  I had a good time and it was a close map but honestly there is still so much of the time I am running around not really knowing quite what to do.  Playing a full on melee support character against a bunch of ranged characters is one of those situations.  I like everything about Voli, but he is definitely a “set someone else up for the kill” character.  I never could seem to get in sync with the other players on the map.

After that we played a couple of Summoners Rift maps, mostly to get various friends their kill of the day bonus.  On the first I played Darius, who is still brutal and awesome to play.  On the second I played my current favorite, Wukong and did sizably worse.  I played a bit too aggressive a bit too early and wound up underfed for most of the map.  After that I was just playing catch up trying to eat all the minions I could.  I still have not gotten terribly good at “last hitting” and ended up with way too many minions wasted.

Specimen Captured

2013-05-02_225242After those last few maps, I decided I would head back downstairs and work towards my goal of capturing the illusive Hellbug.  Shortly after logging into my account on my laptop, I noticed a player asking for more for a Hellbug Raid group.  I figured… sure what the hell, it is not like I had been having much luck on my own.  I made my way to City Core, and after a few minutes received a player summon directly into the heart of an Invasive Species rift.

The cool thing about the Raid, is that they seemed to have found a pattern where one had not existed before.  We systematically crossed the zone hitting various Fire rifts, with about every third one seeming to be a Hellbug rift.  It all felt very reminiscent of trying to spawn the “Ancient Cyclops” in South Ro… but the raid leader seemed to know what he was doing.  At the very least it did not involve killing every other mummy or some nonsense like that.

It was round about my fifth Hellbug rift that two things happened.  Firstly upon closing my Fifth Rift I got an achievement: When Worlds Collide which apparently happens after reaching the final stage of five of these new rifts.  Additionally the achievement nets you the very cool <Ark Hunter> title.  Upon receiving my loot, I also noticed that I had acquired a Skittering Hellbug (rifthead does to appear to have parsed yet).  Based on discussions with some of my G+ Rift friends, I got extremely lucky to get the mount this soon.

Based on the write-up over on Rift Scene that I linked the other day, it appears that Skittering Hellbug and Skritt pet are the green quality items and red in appearance,  Gulanite Hellbug and Burple are the blue quality items and purple in appearance, and finally Toxic Hellbug is the purple quality item and green in appearance.  I have no clue if there is also a Toxic Hellbug pet as well, especially since Rifthead lacks any of these items right now.  The Toxic Hellbug is rare enough, that in the rift raid, and tempest bay I have yet to see one.

Hellbug of a Different Color

I had quite a lot of fun once I managed to get into a viable rolling raid.  I hope to join up again tonight and try my luck at getting one of the other colors and at least one of the companions.  While I doubt if a hellbug would ever replace my Snogs, I am a total sucker for pets and mounts.  Additionally, I really need to make my way back out to Ember Isle, especially now that it is no longer as heavily farmed and see if I can find any of the other rares.

While I didn’t much feel like writing, I guess I was able to force myself through the process and write anyway.  I guess I can throw writing in the same bin with “parties”, in that they greatly stress me out and I try and avoid them… but if I actually attend I usually have a good time.  I’ve been enjoying writing to you, my mythical audience.  It is always interesting writing something, knowing it is going to go out into public…  but also knowing that it is highly unlikely to actually garner any comments.

If you’ve made it this far… I hope you all have a great day, and I hope it is followed by an even better start of the weekend.  I have no clue what we are going to be doing, but based on the pile of laundry and the state of our house it will involve some cleaning.  I know at some point soon I have to get cable run to a couple of rooms, which will involve making sure nothing is in the way.  It has been interesting getting past the initial seven days…  I have no clue how long I will actually be able to keep this going.

Breaching the Core

One of the pains of living in Oklahoma is the shifting weather patterns.  Last night when I went to bed it was roughly 80* and this morning as I am waking up it is 45*.  At this point I wish it would just pick a season and go with it, because flipping back and forth between heat and air conditioning is a pain in the butt.  Despite the weather annoyances, yesterday went pretty awesome for me.  I had two fairly huge meetings, both of which went extremely well, and the roadmap I had slaved over was well accepted.

Hellbugs on my yard

Yesterday it was announced in the patch notes that a new kind of Fire Rift was opening up in Telara.  These “Invasive Species” rifts have a chance of dropping either the hellbug mount pictured above, or a hellbug companion pet.  Rift Scene has a good writeup by Cupcakes about the event, and last night I started to see players on these new mounts showing up in Tempest Bay.  It was late in the night and I honestly forgot to take a screenshot, so I am doing something I dislike doing and linking to the Rift Scene image for reference… hopefully I have given sufficient credit.

I spent the better part of the evening roaming around trying to find one of these Hellbug rifts.  After roaming around Morban, Kingsward, and eventually several old world areas I came up completely empty handed.  Going to need to do some research to see where they are more likely to spawn.  I really want either the purple one, or the super rare green one.  While I played enough defiance to know it was not really a game for me, I am all about cross overs and new mounts.

A.R.A.M.

I popped onto mumble, and after a bit of chatting with my friends and listening to their banter about League of Legends, I allowed myself to get drawn in for a quick map.  I was reintroduced to the concept of A.R.A.M. aka All Random All Murderbridge.  We had done this the night before, but I didn’t realize it was an actual “thing”.  Apparently the Howling Abyss really wants me to play Nunu, because once again I got him assigned to me as my random champion.

I promise Nunu is not like the only champion I have unlocked.  The game should have been able to pick from Alistair, Annie, Ashe, Darius, Garen, Graves, Jayce, Kennen, Olaf, Shen, Tristana, Udyr or Wukong… but instead in both cases it picked Nunu which is part of the weeks free rotation.  Apparently it thinks I need more Yeti in my life.  Moaning aside, I have to say I am finally feeling like I am getting used to him.

Once again ARAM assigned us one champion that we were familiar with and one that we were not per team.  So it essentially ended up with Tam playing Morgana vs Rae playing Nidalee…  and then Drathis trying to play Alistair vs me trying to play Nunu.  It was a really good match and we had a “no towers down” stalemate at midbridge for most of the map.

Tam and I actually managed to make a break, get a 15 minute into the game double kill, and drop two towers.  Then all hell broke loose as my shitty DSL internet connection fell apart.  My ping climbed up to 500, then 1500, then 3500 and disconnected me from the game.  At which point we never really recovered.  In true sportsmanlike tradition, Drathis and Rae asked if they should hang back until my connection stabilized but we urged them onwards… since a map against friends is a map against friends.

Breaching the Core

rift 2013-05-01 21-21-51-24

I wrote about this the other day, but over the weekend Plasmodia and I had talked about trying to pull together some groups on Wednesday nights.  We had set a startup time of 9pm Central, and after my one ARAM map it was getting close to the meet up time.  We managed to pull together a really solid core of a team, and they were totally willing to run non-elite dungeons so my nub arse could join in.  We ended up with Plasmodia tanking, Marklaar running support, me dpsing, and Aleriase healing.  This left us only needing a single dps, so the queue times were near instantaneous. 

We got assigned Empyrean Core, which a few of us had never seen before.  The zone itself was amazingly beautiful, full of super intricate widgets and bobbles.  The thing that really surprised me however was just how challenging the dungeon still was.  Previously the Elites were super hard, but the normal dungeons were a bit faceroll-y once you actually managed to hit cap.  Last night I was the only under level player, and it each of the boss rights were still rather challenging.

We ended up doing two runs last night, and getting assigned Empyrean Core both times (apparently this is a problem in Rift).  I had a complete and total blast, and hanging out with the Alea Iacta Est rift contingency was awesome.  Aleriase mentioned that they had been trying to start doing group nights both Tuesday and Wednesday, so I am completely down with doing more of this in the future.  I am not sure if we will regenerate the numbers needed to raid, but any kind of grouping with friends is always a positive.

Dungeoneering Challenge

rift 2013-05-01 22-36-11-88

I had almost forgotten just how much I have missed running challenging content with friends.  I have been in a real lull of good group content of late.  The last time I feel like I was truly challenged in a dungeon was back in The Secret World, running the Nightmare mode content with the friends I have been playing League with.  The content was brutal, we had to constantly think on our feet, but the adjustment process was a blast.

I had hoped that with Pandaria we would at least have a period of time when heroic content was an actual challenge.  But from the first night, we essentially steamrolled the dungeons we ran in greens and a smattering of quested blues.  I think in part that is a good reason why I got bored of WoW so quickly this time around.  WoW for whatever reason has forgotten how to be challenging, without resorting to random or downright “Cheap Shot” tactics.  Random chance that a mob kills you outright, or does something so horrible you just can’t recover is not challenging, it is just annoying.

If I can actually muster a regular group in Rift, I can see myself sticking around for awhile.  In these games I am happiest when the groups come easily, and we can go off and smash baddies together each night.  I get bored and slog down when the grouping stops, and my only option becomes pugging.  So much of the grouping experience… are the people you experience it with.  In most cases, I would rather not play a game at all than to deal with pugs.

Tiny Two-hander

rift 2013-05-01 22-54-54-30

Last night gathered up some much needed gear for 60 through the various dungeon runs.  One of the few pieces that I could actually equip now, is a Protector’s Sword of Slaying pictured above.  This was a pretty massive upgrade over the two level 58 green one-handers I was using, but as you can see above, the scale feels a wee bit small for a Bahmi.  Maybe I am just used to the final fantasy-esc big dude with an even bigger sword trope that wow ran with, but it is just too “normal” for me to feel epic about it.

I will say though it has been fun trying to two-hander.  I’ve always gravitated towards dual wield, and in the original rift game what kind of weapons you wielded really mattered for your soul.  As such I always gravitated towards paragon heavy souls, which were the dual wield tree.  I had not however played around with a two-hander since they made it no longer matter what weapon you were wielding with which soul.  That alone has been fun and well worth any wipes that happened in the core.

I am really hoping that over the next few days, I can use this sword as a dowsing rod to help me find some of those hellbug rifts.  I would really love to have one of those mounts, and I have missed out on so many other cool mounts thanks to my bad luck and my wanderlust.  I am super grateful to my guildies for pulling together the groups last night.  I had a blast and look forward to doing it again. 

I see my time is running short, and my coffee has run out.  If you’ve made it down this far in the post… I wish you the best of days.  I will have to pull my coat back out of the closet as I go off to work, but I am hoping that by the weekend it will be warm again.  Hopefully it is pleasant wherever you are.

Wukong is super annoying

Yesterday more than mildly sucked.  While I was blogging in the morning, just after posting it… I managed to stub my toe hard enough on something sharp under my desk… that it caused a chunk of my toenail to chip off and a little bout of excessive bleeding.  After that my stomach pretty much bothered me all day long, and I tagged out of work around noon.  I worked remotely the rest of the day trying to catch up and prepare for big releases on Thursday and Saturday.

Escapist Thwarted

All of this, combined with trying to come up with a new way to circumvent my ninja ferret caused me to get a later than normal start on evening relaxation time.  On the ferret note, our current solution seems to be working… and I am breathing at least a minor sigh of relief.  We have a drop ceiling in our kitchen, circa 1980, with those massive semi-opaque sheets of plastic covering fluorescent lighting.  Over the years the 1980s plastic has fallen apart, and we have had to replace them on a piecemeal basis.

We had just finished doing this, and still had the leftover bits in the kitchen when a stroke of brilliance hit.  Basically Miss Bellatrix is getting out by climbing the corner with the litter box.  We surmised that if she did not have a foothold, she couldn’t get out.  So essentially we have taken two sheets of this plastic covering and clipped it onto the wire with binder clips from the backside, so that it presents a sheer face for her to try and climb.

Based on last night, and the fact we left her out over night as an experiment…  and she is still pouncing around the playpen this morning…  I would say the experiment worked.  The funny thing is, I think she just tries to escape out of boredom.  She sleeps far less than the other two ferrets, and when she has gotten out she tried to crawl up into bed with us. 

My theory was that she was bored and looking for someone to play with… she often tries to wake the other two ferrets up to play.  So the whole escape thing is kind of adorable… but something we had to nip in the bud, because our house is just too dangerous for her.  We have an open living room, that spans 2 stories, and a second floor balcony that overlooks it.  It is just too likely that she will wander up there and try and take a swan dive off.

Freljord Rising

 

Yesterday was a big day for new content releases.  In Everquest 2 you had the Game Update 66 launch, and with it the launch of the Cobalt Scar area.  Neverwinter Online of course launched to the public, and has been riddled with issues at least with the patcher.  Early in the evening I decided to fire up the client and log in, and was greeted by a roughly 8000 player queue.  So it appears that the launch is at least popular, but then again most MMO launches are. 

The content launch I ended up playing last night however is League of Legends and its patch 3.6.  The big event with the patch is a massive re-ordering of the champion lore in Freljord and the release of a brand new champion…  Lissandra The Ice Witch.  I would highly suggest watching the above video if you are interested, but the basics are that the Freljord is now divided into three warring clans:  The Avarosans lead by Ashe, The Winter’s Claw lead by Sejuani and the Frostguard lead by Lissandra.

With the focus on Freljord and its lore, this week all of the free rotation champions are somehow connected to this effort.  With it, there is a much more sweeping sale going on in the store, with ALL Freljord champions costing both reduced RP and IP.  Additionally there are some nifty new skins available, my personal favorite is Runeguard Volibear.  I already really liked playing Voli, but this skin just makes him look even more badass.

Sucking Less

It was pretty late by the time I had gotten around to actually doing much of anything, and since I had not played League for roughly a week… I decided to join in the festivities there.  While waiting on our group to filter into mumble, we decided to do a little 2 v 2 “Murder Bridge” aka Howling Abyss.  To be extra griefy…  Tam decided to set us up for a random champions match.  By the artwork above you can see that I got stuck with NuNu.  What essentially happened is two players got champions they were familiar and decent with, and two completely random picks they had never played.

Making it even more hilarious was the fact that we ended up with four melee champions.  The teams broke down like this:  Myself playing Nunu and Drathis playing Tryndamere against Tam playing Warwick and Ashgar playing Udyr.  My big takeaway from playing Nunu is that his frostbolt is without a doubt one of the most griefy pokes I have seen in the game, especially on a map that includes nothing but melee that have no solid ways of closing the gap. 

We lost rather spectacularly in part because Drathis ended up spending most of the map pretty underfed, which as a carry caused him never quite to reach his potential.  Also…  Ashgar is really really good at Udyr, a champion he was super familiar with and rather skilled.  It was hilarious for Tam and I however, because really Nunu and Warwick are much much not our kind of champions… much laughing ensued.

Wukong is super annoying

After our quick murder bridge, we somehow jumped from four players online to eight and decided to do a 4v4 Summoners Rift.  After the ickyness of playing Nunu, a champion that I absolutely hate when playing against him… I decided to climb back into the warmth of what has become my favorite champion…  Wukong.  When playing against each other, it is always interesting.  Some of us, Rae especially, seem to have a problem killing friends, and you can almost hear her audibly cringe each time she does it.  Others like Ashgar and I seem to set up and develop a friendly rivalry, which unfortunately causes us to deathmatch more than we should.

Another thing I am learning, is that apparently I am super annoying playing Wukong.  Ashgar and I both ended up as solo tops, which pitted Wukong against Fizz…  both of which are super bursty and super pouncy champions.  For the most part we traded blows back and forth, but once I had gotten fed I seemed to start winning these little battles.  Apparently my Ultimate ability is super overpowered, and after a few interludes where I went through the jungle to help out in another lane…  it seemed my dear friends started hunting for me.

At one point they boxed me in, as two came down from base and the other two came from the river and completely wrecked me.  It is funny to listen to your friends reacting to the decoy ability, and finding out that it is not the real you they just killed.  I have to say if I were up against Wukong I would probably focus fire him as well.  The game felt like a tale of two games, the first when I was super fed and able to pick off players with impunity, and the second when said players realized what was going on and started gunning for me.

Champion Testing

After the mega 4v4 battle, we had a few more players filter off and we fired up a Summoner’s Rift vs bots to test out various champions folks had wanted to play.  I got to play Olaf, which I played extremely differently than I expected…  but was really enjoyable nonetheless.  In addition, I finally got to play Mordekaiser, which is NOT as fun as he looks… and most definitely not a “Belghast” champion.  I think I could get used to him, but I feel like I need to do a lot of reading first.

Was a fun evening all around, and I got to play several characters that I had never played before.  I am of mixed opinions on my Nunu experience, I was told by my friends that I played him pretty effectively, but overall it just felt so odd to me.  He also feels like one of the most griefy champions I have seen, with the frost ball and his ultimate…  so many ways to slow the player and do large amounts of damage to them in the process.  I could see maybe picking him up and trying him again.

If you aren’t regularly playing, I highly suggest you hop in during the Freljord launch event.  There is a much better assortment of killer champions in the free rotation this week than normal.  Or at least, there are more champions I was wanting to play, and most of them on a significant sale.  If you’ve made it this far in the post, I hope you guys continue having an awesome week.  Today is a super stressful day for me, delivering my mobile web roadmap, so hopefully that will go well.  More than anything, I think the document is designed to be big, and sit on a table during the meeting saying “look we thought about this shit”.

Awesome Trailers Revisted

Today my friend Liore posted a great run down of some of her favorite trailers of recent memory.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… so hopefully she will understand that I am completely latching onto the idea.  Honestly watching the trailers she singled out, made me start thinking about some of my favorite trailers, and once the idea set root in my brain it was going to happen.

What makes an awesome trailer?

There are so many ways to make a trailer stand out, it could have an amazing soundtrack and visual or just be extremely well directed and emotionally engaging.  There are trailers I love that pretty much fall into all categories.  A lot of the ones Liore singled out in her post, are ones I love too for various reasons, but I noticed my favorite kind of trailer was mostly absent in the list.

I love a trailer that sets up the world of the game, the eternal conflict, and just pumps me up to play the game.  I love when I watch a trailer and walk away feeling “hell yes, I want to play this now”.  It could be the soundtrack of the visuals, but if it can somehow tap into my inborn sense of bloodlust… it is a win in my book.  I especially love the trailers that set up the lore of the world, and give us a window into the game that we normally would not see otherwise.

DC Universe Online

 

This trailer will likely go down in history as one of my all time favorites.  When someone mentions a kick ass trailer, this one is always the first one I think of.  For starters, everything Blur Studios touches is amazing, but more importantly it sets up the storyline of the game in a brilliant way.  I have always loved the DC setting where the traditional heroes are thugs, and Luthor is the hero… and to set that up as the basis of the MMO made me only want to play it more.

Sadly for whatever reason the game itself never met the epic quality of the trailer.  It tried extremely hard, and in some aspects succeeded.  The little references, like Booster Gold commercializing everything really made it feel deeply rooted in the DC universe.  I will have to say that no matter what, this trailer got me to buy the game and play it.  I still boot it  up from time to time when the mood hits me.

Hellgate: London

 

FOR THE LIVING!!!!  God there is so much that is amazing about this trailer.  Also there is so much frustration that I have that this game did not succeed.  It had some amazing story behind it, and this trailer sets up everything you need to know about it.  This has it all, awesome heroes of both genders and all of them making extreme sacrifices to save the next generation.  Considering my last name is Temple… I may or may not also have an extreme thing for the Templars.  So much was right about this game, but it also had so many failings… namely its horrible network code.  There have been many times I have considered playing the Asian free to play version, but it would just feel odd.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

 

I feel kinda bad about this next pick.  I truly love the feel of this trailer, and the epic qualities especially when my personal favorite… Grimlock makes his appearance.  Why I feel bad is that I have never actually played this game, regardless of how amazing the trailer is.  Every time I watch this trailer, I keep thinking… why god can we not get a full length Transformers movie that looks like this… instead of the odd biomechanical Transfomers from the Michael Bay movies.  Everything about this trailer screams Transformers to me, and takes me back to a chunk of my childhood.

Mass Effect 2

 

While I love Mass Effect 3, and the trailer Liore posted made me want to go back and play the series from 1-3 all over again…  my favorite game in the series will always be 2.  This trailer makes me relive all the badassery that is ME2, and its great swat team like side missions.  This makes me want to load it up and slaughter legions of collectors.  Doesn’t hurt that I am a huge fan of Thane, and he is completely badass in the trailer.

Bioshock 2

 

I will always love the Bioshock franchise no matter what.  The first one still stands out as one of the most transformative gaming experiences I had up to that point.  As trailers go however, the launch trailer for Bioshock 2 is great.  I love the relationship between the Big Daddy and the Little Sisters, as someone who has always chosen to play a tank… and protect the squishy players of the world…  I can totally relate to the dynamic of the eternal protector.  Watching the video fires me up to play the game and wreak havoc on some splicers.

Fallout New Vegas

 

This trailer falls in the category of letting you in on something, that you normally would not be let in on just by playing the game.  While this scene is alluded to in the gameplay, you only know it exists by watching the teaser trailer.  Fallout has been and will likely always be one of my favorite series.  It means two things to me, huge wastelands to explore, and badass guys in armor.  This trailer teases the NCR Ranger in such a tantalizing way, that immediately I thought… man I have to get that armor in game.  I went from lusting after the Brotherhood Armor in the previous games, to making my goal in game to acquire the Ranger armor with those cool goggles.  War… War Never Changes.

Borderlands

 

As far as Borderlands goes, I will always prefer the original trailer.  I love the way it introduces each character and gives them a comic book style introduction frame.  The soundtrack to me has become so connected to this trailer, that when I hear the song on the radio all I can think of is playing Roland.  As badass as this trailer is however… it fails miserably at one thing… getting me to by the game.  When you watch the trailer, it just looks like another shooter, albeit an edgy and graphically interesting one.  All someone had to do was tell me the phrase “Diablo With Guns”… and I shifted into “take my money now” mode.  Problem is this was about 6 months after the initial release.

Warhammer Online

 

This is yet another jaw droppingly epic trailer from Blur Studio, and sadly also another trailer that is leaps and bounds better than the game itself deserves.  As a longtime fan of Warhammer, there were so many little geek out moments.  From the Squid Herder, to the Bright Wizard, to the Chaos Maurader…  the video just oozes lore.  The moment that just takes the cake however is when the Tzeentch Bringer of Change steps through the wall.  Yes…  I am definitely a Warhammer geek.  Like I said, I just wish the game was as good as this trailer.

Rift

 

I have gone back and forth on this trailer over the years.  At first I was not sure about it, but the longer it exists… and the longer I have played Rift.. the more I appreciate it.  There are so many little things about this video that make the Rift player in me geek out.  The number one subtle element is the way the crow flies into the scene, then becomes life touched at one point, and finally at the end a flame touched phoenix.  On top of this, I recognize the abilities they are using and could in theory guess the specs of the supposed characters that are shown.  My favorite moment however, is when the warrior visibly switches souls… something that really slickly explains what to expect about the game itself.  It does what I think it set out to do, introduce players to the setting… and as icing on the cake it uses a setting that actually exists in Stonefield.  So often in these videos, they are in completely made up settings… grounding the video in the actual game is just kick ass.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

 

Once again Blur Studios makes it into my list, this time with a series of three trailers that were released leading up to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Return, Hope and Decieved each set up a segment of the storyline leading up to the game timeline itself.  In addition, each sets up the archetypal character for each class in the game, and fleshes out some back story.  Combined they make an epic story arc that I can watch over and over. 

I loved Star Wars: The Old Republic…  until I ran out of content, but every time I watch this sequence I get nostalgic about what might have been.  The game is still pretty solid, but sadly it is wrapped into one of the most egregious free to play models I have ever experienced.  I realize that Bioware in essence had to sell its soul to stay afloat and keep the game running, but I will always be wistful about the game that could have been.

Rage

 

This trailer does an amazing job of setting up the universe that Rage takes place in, and explaining how the world got to the point where it is today.  Everything about the trailer makes me want to play the game.  I have a certain measure of regret over this title.  It is one of the best single player experiences I have had in recent years, but also one of the absolute shortest.  If the game had roughly twice the content, it would have been a truly phenomenal game.  What is left is a great experience, and the trailer tells you everything you need to know to enjoy it.

Diablo 3

 

Like Liore said in her post, it would be inappropriate to have a list of trailers that did not include something from Blizzard.  While I probably would have also picked the Wrath of the Lich King trailer, I didn’t want to copy her pick.  Probably my favorite series from Blizzard as far as trailers go, is Diablo.  Each trailer is always so rich in storytelling, and the Diablo 3 one is no exception.  Sadly for me, this is another case of the trailer being better than the game. 

Actually I have to take a step back from that, and say that the actual game itself was really enjoyable and I liked the story quite a bit.  It just was over way too damned fast.  I essentially played the game until I had completed the content, and then have not really touched it since.  All of this does not change the fact that the game trailer is pretty amazing.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

 

I am a HUGE fan of all things Elder Scrolls, but this trailer just set the game up perfectly.  Patrick Stewart as Uriel Septim was such an amazing casting, and this trailer which also serves as the intro video to the game pumps me up every time I watch it.  All I want to do when I see this is get into the game and explore, and become the epic and heroic warrior I know I can become in an Elder Scrolls game.  It does what I am looking for in a trailer, introduces the setting and provides the urge to play.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Live Action)

 

I can remember the first time I saw this trailer, I was just amazed that they went to the amount of effort to create a big budget live action trailer.  This feels exactly like Skyrim, where the peasants run away the Dragonborn runs into the action, and draws down on the drake.  This trailer and later commercial is just such a perfect representation of how epic the game feels.  It really makes me wish there was an Elder Scrolls television show.

Elder Scrolls Online

 

This is the trailer that I am most pumped about right now, so I saved it for last.  This trailer was released to announce the opening of beta signups for Elder Scrolls Online.  There is just so much about this game that excites me, and I love the way little callouts are made to the various factions.  I have always identified with the Nords, and when they crawl out of the bowels of the fortress after slaying a bunch of undead werewolves… just makes shivers of happy run up and down my spine.  Don’t get me started on how awesome it is that the werewolves were undead in the first place…

I’ve heard plenty of snide comments saying that the trailer is all about the guy from Assassins Creed, but all I can see is a Breton Rogue.  I am a notorious carebear, but for whatever reason I am really looking forward to the RVR in this game.  The frontier in Dark Age of Camelot was just a cool place to be, there were so many things that were NOT keep raids that you could do.  It was just cool to go out there and feel confident enough to be able to hunt the really hard mobs that were out there.

The fact that Cyrodil sounds like essentially the Dark Age of Camelot frontiers, just sounds so amazing.  I mean this is Cyrodil, the setting that the ENTIRE 4th game was set in.  That is so much space, and I am really hoping there are so many amazing non pvp targets out there as well.  It will be so much fun going out there with a group of friends and seeing what all we can do.  This video just pumps me up for doing some RVR and exploring Cyrodil.

I Blame Liore

This post went on so much longer than I had intended it to, but there are just so many amazing trailers that I love.  Right now I want to play every single one of these games, but I think I will ultimately log into Rift and cause as much havoc as I can.  If you’ve made it this far, I really hope you have a great night and can get something knocked off your gaming bucket list.

With More Spikey Bits

Having one of those mornings where I am just struggling to get going.  Here is hoping that the blessing of caffeine will kick me out of my slumber.  This is now day five of the experiment, and today is the first day I considered blowing off the post.  It is not that I have nothing to say, but more than right now I am exhausted and my brain seems to be misbehaving.  I had another one of my bouts of insomnia, coupled with the fact that it was a bit warm last night.

The Desert of Flames

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Yesterday at lunch, Lethbridge and I had another one of our gamer lunches, where we take our laptops to an empty conference room and chill out playing games for a bit.  Since I normally need to relax during the time, I tend to pick a game that calms me.  Yesterday like most days, I chose to play Everquest 2.  It did not hurt that this is also what Leth was playing as well.  EQ2 is one of those games that I will likely always play, if not for the massive amount of content… but at least for the fact that Norrath is a world I am deeply connected to.

There are essentially three settings that I have massive amounts of nostalgia towards.  Norrath is probably the first and foremost, because of my time spent playing and idolizing Everquest.  Tamriel is probably in the number two slot, because I have rabidly consumed and spent thousands of hours at this point playing the various Elder Scrolls Titles.  Lastly, as much as I may or not want it…  I have a ton of nostalgia for Azeroth.  You can’t essentially live in a game world for the better part of a decade without missing it pretty often.

Tiny Elvis

EQPic_OasisDorfonGiantYou have likely noticed that I tend to gravitate heavily towards “core” grouping classes, especially of the tank spectrum.  This is the time of character I feel most natural playing, but it is also the type of character that has the most responsibilities to a given guild or group.  With currently nomadic game existence, I wouldn’t want anyone to try and count on me as the cornerstone of any group.  As a result I decided to try and roll a pure dps over in Everquest 2.

I spent yesterdays lunch working on Belgrifter, my little Ratonga Swashbuckler.  While definitely in the pure dps camp, the Swashbuckler has some of the survival that I crave in any character.  I’ve been progressing quickly through the content, and currently am working through the Sinking Sands area.  I am extremely nostalgic about the Desert of Flames content, mostly because I spent so much time in both South Ro and Oasis of Marr on Exeteroth my EQ1 cleric.  So many hours were spent killing crocs… and later spent killing sand giants as revenge for all the times they killed me.

For a trip down memory lane, above is a shot of my dwarf cleric, in Oasis of Marr… the area now contained within Sinking Sands taking down I believe my first sand giant.  My Rygorr armor was pretty spiffy, my guild jokingly called me “Tiny Elvis” because of the bedazzled nature of the gear.  I sadly do not remember the shield or mace at this point… but I had not started raiding hate yet, because I was not a giant purple blob swinging a Dark Ember.  Anyways… needless to say I have a lot of memories of that region… and still cannot help taking down the giants in zone.

The Great Escape

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It took me a bit to get settled down last night and capable of gaming.  We have this amazingly smart ferret, that has turned into a ninja like escape artist.  She keeps finding ways of scaling the walls of the two linked playpens and hopping out.  We have tried every solution we have seen online, and a few we came up with ourselves.  We had tried splitting black drainage pipe and putting it over the top so she could not get to the top of the cage and pull herself over.  Turns out after a little bit, she figured out to crawl up into the pipe itself and then get over to the top. 

Last night involved creating a shelf of sorts to cover the corner she normally gets out on.  After an our of bending metal flashing, carefully crimping and coating all edges in duct tape, and finally plugging all the wholes from which I was bleeding things to “Metal cuts”  (papercuts you are nothing to me now)…  I finally had this spiffy little shelf that fit down nicely onto the corner of the cage.  I secured in in place to the wire with binder clips, and proceeded into the kitchen to make myself some dinner. 

By the time I had assembled a plate, and walked back into the room… maybe 5 minutes tops… she had already figured out how to get on top of the shelf.  Smartest ferret ever…  also potentially the most frustrating.  I hate that we essentially have to leave her in the cage all the time right now, until we figure out a way to keep her from escaping.  Tonight we will be attempting to deploy a new ruse… coating the corner of the cage she uses to get out in plexiglass…  so she cannot climb there.

Spikey Bits on his Spikey Bits

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After this little back and forth with the ferret mastermind… I needed to kill lots of things to vent my frustrations.  Roaming around in an MMO laying waste to entire segments of a continent… is a thing I do.  I had also logged out at roughly 60% through my level, and really wanted to push further towards 59.  While roaming around doing my thing I stumbled across the guy above.  This little beauty goes by lXxalgol the Lurking Horror, and while the lurking part is a little ambiguous… they definitely got the horror bit down pat.  I thought for a second I was playing Warhammer again, and had just stumbled onto a Chaos War Machine.

I posted on G+ last night about this guy, saying I lacked the crazy to attack me.  I was wrong.  Seriously… I cannot find a mob like this and NOT try him at least.  I figured it would end in tears, but before giving it any further thought I hit my charge key and gave it a shot.  Surprising enough, he was not nearly as bad as I expected… granted I had remembered to put my buffs on at this point.  Overall however he was quite manageable, and I killed him before I had dropped below half health… which for a 59 elite at 58 player level… seemed good.

The funny thing is, he dropped nothing but coin.  This combined with the fact that his respawn is insanely fast, as over the course of the evening I killed him five times… leads me to believe that he is somehow tied to a quest or other objective.  I was able to turn up no details on either Rifthead, or the various wikis, apart from a stubbed out entry for the guy.  If anyone out there knows what he is for, and how I can start this magical mission… please let me know!  I feel like I need to kill him with a purpose!

Rift World Problems

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I have come to the realization that I have a problem with Carnage Quests.  No, this is going to go in the opposite direction you are probably thinking.  It has been well established that I like killing things in video games… and am extremely prone of fits of mindless bloodlust as I ping pong across the map.  Carnage Quests are like crack for me… they give my bloodlust a purpose.  I take forever to move out of a zone, because I keep finding new mobs that have new carnage quests… and then find myself not being able to leave an area until I have killed 16 Rabid Wombats.

This has lead to an additional problem.  I have entirely too much leather…  far more than I could ever use, and far more than I could likely ever need.  I literally have hundreds and hundreds of Storm Legion era leather…  and the problem is…  I cannot stop myself from skinning the corpses.  Too many years of playing a leatherworker in wow, have ingrained me that leaving an un-skinned corpse is a cardinal sin.  I even find myself going around and cleaning up the handiwork of others.  I hate using the auction house, but if you are over on Deepwood and find yourself in need of leather…  look me up.

Coffee and Rambling

Well it looks like I have squandered yet another morning drinking my coffee and rambling about the games I play.  This is now day five of my little experiment, and so far has been the day I least wanted to blog.  I managed to find focus and keep pushing forward, in spite of the fact my head is pounding and I just want to go back to sleep.  Since comments are kinda a thing of the past, and all my readers are picking up my posts via RSS… I feel like I am rambling into the void most of the time.  That is perfectly fine, since right now I am mostly doing this for myself.  If you’ve managed to make it this far in the post, I wish you the best of days…  hopefully mine will suck slightly less than yesterday.

Oh… as a footnote… I managed to ding 59 in Rift.  So one more level to go, and then I can stop feeling like a such a failure!

That Rift Moment

Yesterday was a fairly stark contrast to Saturday, but a pretty welcome one.  After milling around the house and blogging, and my wife doing the same we decided to embark upon a journey to Joplin.  We didn’t really make it out of the house until around noon, but by then the 50* temperature had warmed into the high 60s making my choice to wear shorts more justified.

Cameras at the ready

We brought with us our cameras, but they did not leave the car for the most part.  We roamed around for a few hours but didn’t really find much of anything up there that “inspired” us.  It had been a few months since our last trip to Joplin, so we had plenty of things to do as we ran around town.  But for whatever reason, each time we talked about stopping and roaming around, we were both decidedly meh on the topic.

I feel like at some point we need to take a trip to a nature preserve or something of the sort.  That seems to be what both of us are leaning heavily towards wanting to shoot now.  The recent round of thunderstorms has finally caused Oklahoma to green up, and I think both of us want to take pictures of that before summer starts to brown it again.  We have a list of places that we have talked about, but honestly we need to just do it.  Our problem yesterday was that our default weekend shoes are sandals, which are not exactly conducive to stomping through the weeds.

Return to Moriban

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When we finally made it home for the evening I contemplated jumping back into the Neverwinter, but all day I had thought about how much fun I was having with the new build in Rift.  I am super glad that I did, because a short while after logging in one of my favorite people showed up.  Plasmodia is like this friendly mad scientist, and one of my highlights of playing Rift with Machiavelli’s Cats.  Her and her husband Marklaar were both super awesome people to hang out with, and apparently had missed me.

So over the course of last night I hung out and chatted, and generally did not pay much attention to what I was doing.  This is a good thing when a game supports this.  I happily ground my way through packs of mobs, loosely following whatever objective was highlighted on my minimap.  I generally tend to play really poorly when I am chatting with someone, as a result I used to run laps in Dalaran while I had to talk to someone for any length of time.

That “Rift” Moment

2013-04-28_200331I am no stranger to doing stupid things, but at one point last night it was getting a bit excessive.  I was absolutely getting my ass handed to me, enough that I was starting to question this new miracle spec I had stumbled into.  It was round about this point that I remembered…  I have experienced this before.  Sure enough I looked up at my buff bar and noticed that not  single one of my 9 buffs was currently active.  Upon cycling through the buffs it was like I was a whole new person once more.

I would love to say, that this was the first time I had encountered this problem.  However anytime I go back to Rift for awhile, I ultimately end up running around like a buffless noob.  I’ve heard that there are mods that will remind you that you are “naked”, so I guess it might be time for me to investigate one of those.  Overall though I had a blast just hanging out and chatting, and while I was on guild chat seemed to liven up.

Small Group of Friends

I had noticed that Alea Iacta Est Rift was certainly more quiet than I remember, and last night talking to Plas I found out the reasons.  Turns out that a good chunk of the AIE/Cats folks wandered off into Defiance and are happily shooting mutants there.  Luckily I was able to play enough of it during Alpha and Beta to realize that it really was not the game for me.  As much as I love the concept of a Science Fiction MMO, the result never ends up being something I really enjoy…  at least for any length of time.

Another issue that is going on right now is that it seems the officery types are AWOL as well.  I have a feeling that some of the Defiance folks will be burning out on the game, as a good number of individuals on my twitter and google plus feed already have.  My hope is that some activity in Rift will draw them back.  Plas and I plotted to start doing Wednesday night dungeon groups, and I believe we will be having the first of these this week.  Right now that is likely going to be me, Plas and her hubby Mark and then anyone else we can tempt from the guild.  If you play on Deepwood and are super good natured, and friendly to absolute nubitude…  look me up.

Beauty of Dawn

 

Beauty of Dawn – Malukah – Elder Scrolls Online

So in a completely different direction, I had to post this.  I seriously cannot go a single day without listening to it.  This is Beauty of Dawn, a song by the already famous Malukah that apparently she teamed up with Zenimax Online Studios to create.  From my understanding, she wrote this song after an extended play test of Elder Scrolls Online.  Whatever the inspiration, it is completely amazing and so rich and evocative.  The song just feels laced with lore, and hopefully when the game releases we will understand all the things she is talking about.

If you could not tell, I am kinda a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls Setting.  I first got into them with Daggerfall, and have been a rabid consumer of all things Tamriel ever since.  There have been so many times while playing Oblivion and Skyrim, that I thought to myself…  man this would be really amazing if I could just play this with my friends.  My hope is that Elder Scrolls Online ends up being just that… Skyrim with friends.  I realize there are certain MMO trappings that you have to have to make the genre survive, but so long as the core gameplay translates I will be happy.

This is day four of my experiment, and if you have made it this far I want to thank you for reading.  The daily posting thing is still not extremely comfortable, but I look forward to doing it each morning.  I find sitting down and rattling out my thoughts relaxing.  Hopefully over time, it will even be useful to the community… though I sincerely doubt that.  This is going to be an insanely busy week at work, so I think I will need this little morning sanctuary to keep me sane.  Hope you guys have an awesome day, and awesome week if you don’t check back in before then.

Loot Box Strikes Back

Here we go with day three of the experiment.  I just got out of the house, picked up breakfast and now I am settling in to a blog post.  Yesterday was pretty pitiful as days go, in that it either rained or was dreary all day.  Was the type of day that just makes you want to lay down on the couch and take a nap…  which my wife did in fact do at one point.  I on the other hand rotated between my laptop downstairs and my gaming rig upstairs playing pretty much non-stop games.

The Waiting Game

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If you read my posts yesterday, you will at least know that I played a good deal of Neverwinter.  However the game did not open up to us folks unwilling to pay the “Drizzt Tax” until later in the day.  So for a good couple hours in the morning I was back in Rift smashing through baddies.  I am still completely taken aback by how big of a difference the spec change made.  Previously I was a Paladin/Warlord/Paragon spec weighted in that order, and the PkuDude99 spec is mostly Warlord with some Champion and Paragon as a zero point tree.

I have always leaned on Paladin like a crutch, because it offered so many cool things… like some measure of healing and stuns.  However it seems like Paladin has either been nerfed into oblivion since I last played… or is not working as intended.  I had a lot of the same talents already in Warlord, so in essence all the spec does is drop paladin and swap in the Champion DPS tree.  That change basically took the game from borderline unplayable, to extremely fun.

I’ve always loved Trion, and to some extent I have kept my account open as a way of supporting the company.  Since release two years ago, there has maybe been a 3 month stretch where I did not have an active account.  I really believe in them as a company, because they have done some truly amazing things.  However showing up and playing every now and then, without following every single patch note leads to the ability to create some potentially broken characters. 

I almost feel like the spec system is too complicated, but in the end right now for this very moment, and for as long as PkuDude99 keeps the forum thread updated…  I am happy.  I’m roughly halfway through 58 now, so at some point on the horizon I will have to begin shopping for a dps spec as well.  As much as I love to tank, I really don’t like doing so for pugs.  So I am resigned to play DPS roles at least until Alea Iacta Est picks up again, and we can get some guild groups going.

Neverwinter is coming

2013-04-27 22_40_14-GreenshotSo yesterday I broke the pattern and posted a big massive review post about Neverwinter Online.  I had a few friends asking me my take on the game, so I spent a few hours compiling the post and threw it up there.  As a result I have robbed myself of a lot of what I had to say about the game for todays post.  I am still apparently enjoying myself since I pretty much played the game from noon yesterday till around midnight.  I can’t remember if I managed to ding 16 before I logged last night, but if not I am pretty close.

I managed to find my happy slaughtery spot last night in the tower district.  I wandered around there aimlessly not paying attention to my quests, charging into packs of orcs and ogres with glee.  When I can ignore the objectives of a game, and just play it… this tells me it is succeeding at bringing me into its mechanics.  From my level I would say it has succeeded… since my friends who were doing the same content are only 12.  That accounts for a large number of ogre kills along the way.

Loot Box Strikes Back

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Yesterday in my review I talked about the cash shop system, and the loot boxes.  By level 9 I had seen my very first one, and when they drop they are rather hard to miss… as a huge glitzy gold treasure chest appears on the ground.  By the time I had hit 15, I had gotten 13 of these loot boxes.  So like I always do, I bent under the curiosity of what magical stuff might be in them.  The above image is of an epic quality companion that I was able to pull from the boxes.  So far it is pretty awesome, and does this fire AOE dive bomb attack on the mobs.

The other ones I have opened have mostly just had runestone/enchantment bundles, so that appears to be the common loot.  Like I said yesterday, the system is pretty nice in that you are always going to be getting 10 trade bars regardless that can eventually be saved up for the more desirable items.  I want to say the cheapest of these items was around 150 bars, so in opening 15 boxes you would at least be guaranteed the ability to purchase that.

Farmville with Swords

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So while the lockbox system does not seem terribly egregious yet, the crafting system more than makes up for it.  They apparently expect us to be crafting while at the grocery store, shopping mall and work, since they have given us a web interface, and no actual way to craft while in game.  This would be great other than the fact that it completely relies on materials you acquire as drops, or purchase from an in game reagent vendor.  The first thing I had to do, upon connecting to the web interface was to log in and immediately stock up on the various vendor bought reagents.

Basically the system revolves around training hirelings to do your work for you.  You have miners and various sundry artisans that will toil away on items for your needs.  The biggest problem I saw, was that nothing they could actually make was of any use to me.  This is a huge pet peeve of mine with crafting systems in general, I should be able to craft gear for myself as I level through them.  This one appears to be exclusively relegated to something you will use to make gear for your alts later on, because even if I had started doing this immediately… the “white” gear that you can make would be useless next to the “green” drops I was getting.

Time Sinks

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2013-04-27 15_41_39-GreenshotThe other component that is fairly egregious to me, is the fact that it is ungodly time consuming.  Not as in you sitting at the keyboard mashing buttons, but you setting something up to go and it literally taking several hours to complete.  This is going to be how they get us to buy lots and lots of Astral Diamonds.  You will be seeing the window above a lot if you intend to craft much.  Last night before going to bed, I had set the system to hire an additional miner.  The game UI said it would take 17 hours to finish, yes that is in fact seventeen real hours.  This morning when taking these screenshots, I still had over 7 hours left, but could rush the order for only 39,691 Astral Diamonds.

This logic permeates the game as a whole, with so many functions like leveling up your companions, tied to real world timers.  I believe there is also a timer associated with instance queues, that can be bypassed by just spending some astral diamonds.  I am not 100% certain about this, but I do know on my map there are several timers constantly in motion.  Every time I have seen a timer in the game so far there has been some way to speed it up by spending Astral Diamonds.  Usually the timers start out minimal, like the first time I leveled one of my companions it was only a couple of minutes.  Now it is 15-20 minutes each time I need to send my companion off to train.

I realize that the game needs to make money in order to support itself.  I have ranted at length before about “digital freeloaders” expecting to be able to play these games without ever dropping a dime on them.  However I just wish they would disguise it a bit more.  Playing Neverwinter at times, feels like a trip to Disney World, where everything is happy and shiny… but has a hidden price associated with it.  I guess this is the ultimate evolution of the term “Amusement Park” gaming.  I just wish the entire process didn’t have to feel quite so dirty.

The Sun is Coming Out

I’m hoping as the day goes on it will warm up outside.  Right now as I have just spent an hour and a half writing this up, it feels like it is starting to.  When I went out to get breakfast it was nice and sunny out already, but still 50 degrees.  It is my hope that we can get out and around today, maybe take some photos but at the very least go do something.  I never thought I would said that I want to do something other than gaming, but since becoming more active… I start to get twitchy when I sit in one spot too long.

If you’ve managed to make it this far in the post… I wish you the best of days, and hopefully you can get whatever you intended to get done this weekend.  My hope is that we go wandering and find something interesting to look at in the process.  Have a great day.

The Neverwinter Edition

Neverwinter nights is a game that I have been watching off and on since I first heard it announced.  It has kinda just existed out there in the ether, as something I knew was on the horizon, but not necessarily something that I was overly hyped with.  I think to some extent, a part of me has decided that while Dungeons and Dragons is an amazing pen and paper game system…  that something is lost in translation when it is “mmo-ified”.

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I missed out on getting my invite to beta testing through the Torchlight II preorder program.  So when they started offering the various flavors of founders packs I decided that I would go ahead and pick up the $60 Guardian of Neverwinter pack.  At the time I felt like a bit of a sucker, but at least it was nowhere near the “I want to play as Drizzt” pack for $200.  Since god is cruel, I had a friend offer me an alpha invite a few weeks later.

Alpha, Beta and Pre-Release

2013-04-27 18_14_24-GreenshotFirstly let me take this moment to complain a little bit about how absolutely silly it is to be inviting players to an “Alpha” when there are some pretty public “Beta” events going on.  I could almost see calling something an Alpha, if it was an always on “test our broke shit” version of the game.  However for the most part the Alpha server was sitting at the exact same version as the public beta weekends.  But semantics aside, it did let me play a lot of this game prior to the current wind up to the public free to play release.

The game is this weird dichotomy.  It is enjoyable, and does a much better version of “making D&D fun as a video game” than Dungeons and Dragons Online did.  Being an “Action MMO”, it does a really good job of giving you the abilities that you actually need at your fingertips without having to stray too far off the WASD.  Your primary and secondary attacks are bound to your left and right mouse buttons. Your key class special abilities are bound to Q and E with looting/interaction bound to F. 

Essentially this makes combat feel extremely fluid as you aren’t really having to think much about the abilities you are hitting.  As always I have been playing the “Tank” character, in the Guardian Warrior.  Shift becomes your way to block incoming attacks and reduce your damage.  Playing the character, feels a lot like playing a WoW Warrior with much more predictable and intuitive combat.  I still ping pong around the map like I do in WoW or Rift, but I am also swinging my sword instead of watching ability timers.

Savior of Sleeping Dragon Bridge

2013-04-27 13_15_20-GreenshotThe storyline is very much what you would expect from a Neverwinter game.  Some big bad person is trying to lay waste to the city, and all of the internal factions are fighting over the rubble.  This has been pretty much the base storyline of every Neverwinter game so far save for maybe the AOL original…  quite honestly I can’t remember much about that game rather than being amazed I could play it online!  The questing system works extremely well, you use your interact key to talk to NPCs, open boxes, flip levers and generally move through the process.  All of the NPCs are voiced, and while the dialog comes off as stilted at times it is definitely better than most free to play titles.

One off the things I really like is just how streamlined the questing is, and how you do not have to use your mouse at all of you do not want to.  To interact with an NPC, you hold the F key, then every option on the screen has a clearly labeled number associated with it.  If you REALLY want to skip through the dialog, most of the times you can just press 1, 1, 1, 1 until you are out of the options.  Another thing I kinda dig is the fact that the speech continues even if you are out of range with the NPC.  I know that might sound a little odd, but you can accept a quest and move along your way and still be listening to the quest intro.

Cash Box Rising

nightmare_boxI’ve played roughly as far as I have gotten during testing.  I’ve put in a couple of hours playing the Guardian, and now sit at level 10.  It was about level 9 when my old foe raised its ugly head.  For those who are not familiar with the term “Cash Box”, it essentially a way of gambling in an MMO.  You are given a box in lieu of loot that cannot be opened unless you purchase a special key from the in game store.  This concept is massively popular in the various Asian Free to Play MMOs, and with Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR has been invading the more mainstream MMOs.

They can be pretty banal like the three free game tickets you get a month in Everquest 2, to extremely heinous like the hundreds and hundreds of items that can only be gotten through the 5 and 10 dollar cash boxes in SWTOR.  Overall I have to say the ones in Neverwinter seem to be some of the most equitable.  They do something that I first saw in EQ2, essentially every box contains an amount of currency, in this case Tarmalune bars.  This currency can be then saved up and turned in to buy outright the various items contained in the box including the signature Armored Nightmare mount.

Currency System

You can purchase one of the keys for 125 Zen, which appears to be the universal currency for all Perfect World games.  However it was super unclear exactly what one of these keys cost me in actual money.  Neverwinter has a dual currency system, that I do not fully understand, but essentially you have Zen the Perfect World universal currency and Astral Diamonds which appears to be a game specific currency.  After looking up conversion rates, it appears that 1 Zen directly equals 1 Cent.  So the 125 Zen key is $1.25, which places it considerably cheaper than the loot boxes from Guild Wars 2, SWTOR, and I believe LOTRO as well.

It seems like you can purchase the cash boxes themselves from the Astral Diamond vendor for 200 diamonds.  There appears to be some sort of exchange rate letting you trade Diamonds for Zen and Zen for Diamonds.  But honestly I suck at markets in general and have not been able to figure this one out.  From what I understand, the Astral Diamonds are essentially the same thing as Dilithium is in Star Trek Online, so potentially the folks that play that will immediately “grok” what all this means.  Needless to say I find the whole process extremely confusing, and I have 600,000 Astral Diamonds that came with the starter pack that I have no clue what I can actually do with them.

The Drizzt Tax

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Today was really the true head start for the game.  Sure the folks that played the “Drizzt Tax” have been able to play for some time now, and I promise I am not trying to be excessively cute because if you look at the above image.. we have a Drizzt sighting already.  So far the servers are doing fairly well for the increased load.  I’ve rolled on the Mindflayer server, because seriously… Ithilids are hands down the coolest thing to ever come out of the D&D Monsters Manual.  While there are pockets of lag and rubber banding (classic cryptic network code issue), it has been fairly stable.

I’ve not experienced any rollback, or loot issues and for the most part I have been able to quest my way through the game smoothly.  This was definitely not the case at times in alpha/beta testing, so it appears they have reworked whatever was causing the instabilities.  My only fear is that since we are already seeing lag and rubber banding before the official launch, will it actually be playable on the 30th?  I am hoping they have ordered up additional hardware for the launch that will stabilize some of these issues.

The Not so Shining

This will not be one of my “Best Game Ever” posts as Kadomi likes to call them, but all in all the game is not bad.  There are definitely some less than stellar moments with the game.  The graphics overall are nothing to write home about.  The models while a massive upgrade from the WoW generation, still fall down when compared to the current crop of MMOs.  This gives the game an almost retro feel at times, and there are certain moments where it reminds me of Lord of the Rings Online.  There are definitely moments where the game looks great, but most of those moments are deeply augmented by a lot of post-fx and bloom going on behind the scenes.

The biggest issues I have noticed so far however are with the sound system.  There will be times where I go through an entire fight without hearing any fight sound effects.  Other times they will come through far louder than they should, and slightly offset from the action.  I’ve also experienced dead spots in the ambient soundtrack that seem to come and go without explanation.  Hopefully these are lag caused, and over time they will go away, but they can lead to a fairly disjointed experience at times.  They are nothing that cannot be looked past, but definitely not what I expect from a game that went through as long of a alpha/beta process as this one has.

Was it Worth It?

gear_itemsSo since I have paid 60 bucks for the privilege of being able to play the game early, ultimately you have to ask yourself whether or not it was worth it.  Had you asked me that question last week, I would have said no, and that had I been able to get a refund I would have.  I was basically at the same place with Neverwinter that I have been with Defiance.  I had played enough of the game in testing, to decide that the game really wasn’t worth spending much money on.

However after the head start today, and seeing all the doodads and widgets I got…  I am starting to turn the corner to feeling that the whole process is worth it.  Essentially for my 60 dollars I got two extremely powerful items that have made the leveling process go extremely smoothly.  Having not played the game, it would be hard to look at the items on the right hand side and glean just what that means.  Basically those two items, can be used at level 1, and are essentially equivalent to level 15 or higher blues.

I went from taking 3 hits to bring down a minion type mob, to being able to one-shot them upon just equipping them.  Sure this is essentially play to win, which gets into all sorts of ramifications.  But when you play a game with a cash shop, you are ultimately going to get into pay to win territory.  I am sure by level 20, that both items will be completely useless, but starting out they are an amazing boost in damage and survivability.

horse_wolfIn addition to these you get a really cool dire wolf companion at level one.  I was totally expecting this to be a cosmetic pet that followed me around, like every other game preorder.  In essence, what this really is is a mercenary that follows you around and fights for you.  Granted it has without a doubt some of the worst pathing I have ever seen in any game, but just having an extra set of attacks lets you breeze through most elite type mobs.  Combine this with getting a nice looking horse as soon as you ding 20, I definitely think it was worth the purchase.

Not Amazing, But Still Fun

This game is not going to inspire epic ballads, or be the catalyst of a social revolution, but it is fairly fun to play.  While it has some definite rough spots, the more I play it the more I enjoy it.  The combat is fun, and fluid enough to let you move through the game without really thinking bout what you are doing.  In an action game, this is what I look for, the ability to just zone out and kill lots of things along the way.  The game doesn’t feel as polished as say Skyrim, but the game doesn’t really get in the way of the combat fun.

For me it fills the same place that Guild Wars 2 does.  It will never be my primary MMO, but it is a fun change from one of the more traditional experiences.  Since there is no monthly subscription, it should support a nomadic play style like mine.  Launching with foundry content, basically means that there will always be a fresh flow of user generated dungeons to keep players busy.  The real challenge will be whether or not that is enough to hold players attention once they have maxed out.

Since they have a class marked as “coming soon”, it is my hope that they will release a fairly regular flow of new races and classes as DLC to keep the game fresh.  It is also my hope that they will sell the Drow ouside of the founders pack.  Drow/Dunmer are literally the only Elves I like, but there is no way in hell they are worth $200 to me to be able to play one. 

For now, it will definitely be something I put in my regular rotation of games.  I personally think that it is worth it to go ahead and purchase the 60 dollar pack and get access before the 30th.  It is definitely worth playing once it goes fully free to play.  I realize this is not the most glowing review I have ever given a game, but I feel that in spite of its short comings here and there it is a good experience overall.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, you can find me over on the Mindflayer server.  Add @BelghastStern to your friends list and say hi.  I don’t have a guild up and running, since this is another system where you have to gather up a full party of people and all go to the guild vendor at the same time.  But hopefully in the coming weeks I will have a version of House Stalwart going.  I am sure the Stalwarts will be giving this one a spin, since the cost of entry is next to nothing.

A Whole New World

It is a relatively dreary day here in Oklahoma as the experiment rolls onwards.  I’ve been out into the world, gassed up my wife’s vehicle and picked up some breakfast for the two of us.  Lately on the weekends we have been going out and indulging our recent photography habit, but unless things clear up I don’t see that happening.  It rained most of the night, and still looks like the sky could open any minute so for now I am hanging out inside blogging.

The Wrong Leather

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Initially I had intended to get in some League of Legends last night, but within moments of logging into mumble Drathis announced that he had to leave and would be back later.  Knowing the normal schedule, Tam confirmed that he too would be leaving shortly to go dancing.  This left us with four players that could commit to playing, and instead of pushing it further I just decided I would pop into World of Warcraft and continue working on Lodin.  I really enjoy LoL, but it is really only a worthwhile endeavor for me, if I am hanging out with a full team of friends.

I picked up in the Jinyu village where I had left off the previous night and started going through the paces of questing.  It was around this time when my favorite Aussie turned Malaysian 3D Content artist popped by the voice server.  Banzai is coming off a big project for Nintendo, and as such finally starting to filter back out into society.  This is a normal pattern for him, he goes into crunch mode on some awesome new project… then pops his head up afterwards and mingles for awhile.

When I am talking, I tend not to be paying attention to what I am doing.  As a result I ended up happily indulging my bloodlust and skinning anything I could.  So after a few hours of talking about 70s and 80s “Giant Robot” anime… I noticed my bags were insanely full with Pandaria level leather.  Normally this would be a great thing… but unfortunately I leveled way faster through the cataclysm content than I had intended and neglected to level my leatherworking past 460.

I consulted my favorite farming guide and decided that I did not want to take the amount of time required to unlock the Molten Front content.  So as a result I was bound for Tol Barad.  It was around this time that Banzai filtered out off the channel…  damned time shift..  and silence fell.  Farming spiders over and over is pretty boring.  I managed to farm up about 70 savage leather before the boredom hit me.

Pandaria to Pandora

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My friend Warenwolf had been happily playing Borderlands 2 while I was off in pandaland farming up leather.  Every so often he would comment about some spiffy thing he got to drop.  I thought to myself… I like cool things dropping *sadface*.  The biggest problem with Borderlands 2, is that for whatever reason I never got synced up with my friends.  They are all out doing the mega super extended content, and I am still stuck at level 12 poking around doing lower level quests.  With the boredom setting in heavily, I decided I really should be over trying to catch up my Commando.

Borderlands has always been such a great concept, and the second one is so much richer than the first.  However wandering around killing mobs several levels lower than me wasn’t exactly a stellar cure for my boredom either.  I managed to knock out four quests, all of which involved wandering back through areas I had already beaten the bosses of.  At this point I need to do some research in how to skip ahead in the content to something that is actually challenging and fun.

I managed to hold out as I did most of a level and a half, but this is the type of game that was really made to be played as a group.  I will admit that my fetish for Jacobs weapons in all their steampunky goodness is still in place.  As you can see in the picture above, I spent most of my time with a single shot tommygun-esc Jacobs assault rifle.  However after an hour and a half I was still looking for something fun to occupy my night.

Difference a Spec Makes

2013-04-26_224721If you were following any of my tweets, you will know that I wound up over in Rift last night towards the end of the evening.  Based on the excitement of those tweets, it went extremely well.  While we are on the subject of tweets…  why the hell has no one else integrated a twitter client with their game?  Seriously this is one of the killer features Rift has going for it.  Rift truly is the king of the “WoW Clones”, and I mean that with the utmost respect… because they have essentially gone around and latched onto the best practices of everyone else in the  industry.

One of the things that always hits me, when I boot up Rift on my gaming machine is just how amazing the game looks.  The subtle features of the title are just gorgeous to look at.  Inevitably I hit /tweetpic and comment about this, and someone chimes in agreeing.  Again someone else needs to make a /tweetpic command… it is absolutely brilliant.  A few weeks back, I had been reading a blog post by Wilhelm on The Ancient Gaming Noob talking about how he was just having a hard time getting into Storm Legion.

This resonated pretty solidly with me, because from about 56 onwards it has been like pulling teeth to try and level.  The mob hit points increased at a rate that was far greater than either my dps or survival.  I had been leveling with somewhat of a forum sanctioned spec, that was supposedly the best survivability to dps ratio.  Even at that it was still taking me roughly half my life to chew through most even level mobs.  I really want to hit 60, and try some of the endgame content…  but essentially leveling through the higher content was pure torture for me.

In the same post, after I had chimed in another guy (pkudude99) came in behind me and posted a spec that folks should try.  This week Wilhelm made a new post talking about trying out the spec, and how successful it was.  After reading this, it had been in the back of my head to do the same and this present boredom was the perfect opportunity.  After about 30 minutes of respeccing, rebuilding macros, resituating hotbars…  I was off to Camp Cyclone in Morban.

I hopped on my white tiger and rode up to the first mob I encountered, a 58 Storm Legion trooper of some sort.  I charged into battle, and in within a few seconds I had torn the mob asunder and taken next to no damage.  In that moment, a game that had felt like an extremely soulless grind only an hour before had become a magical playground of bloodlust and dismemberment.  The spec was in fact amazing, and over the course of the evening I happily ping ponged back and forth between packs of mobs slaughtering them with a smile on my face.

I have mentioned that I have quite the bloodlust when playing a warrior right?  My happiest moments in games is when I am not paying attention at all to the objectives I am supposed to be completing, but instead just bouncing around the map killing everything that crosses my map.  This totally happened last night, and as the dust settled around my warriors feet I had somehow put on half a level and gotten three planar attunement levels.  I was a happy boy, but also noticed that it was almost midnight so I figured I should probably start winding down for the night.

Extremely long story short… if you are playing a Warrior like me, and found yourself losing a battle to the grind of Storm Legion…  I highly suggest you check out this spec.  Thank you Wilhelm and thank you PkuDude99 the author of the spec…  for pointing it out.

"Perfect Solo" updated for 2.1 Hotfix 7 changes

Slaying Saturday

It is day two of the experiment, and roughly an hour later I have another blog post about nothing.  Our hope was to be able to go out wandering today and take some photos, but looking out our window it looks extremely dark out there.  In fact I think I just heard thunder, so I am guessing that is off the menu.  I believe Neverwinter is now available for me to play, so I may indulge that for awhile.  Essentially I purchased the cheap package, to be able to get in and play the beta events out of curiosity.  Honestly if I could have refunded that purchase I likely would have.

I played just enough in beta to decide I didn’t really enjoy the game as much as I thought I would.  But now that I have access to it, it feels like a colossal waste not to at least try playing it again.  Maybe I will care more about my characters with they are not throwaways?  I honestly liked the Guardian fairly well, but the thing that kept getting on my nerves was the fact that forward momentum stopped as soon as you performed an action.  This just felt like a needless break in motion.  Ultimately I guess I was expecting it to control more like Skyrim, and less like SWTOR.

If you’ve made it this far… I hope you all have an amazing weekend.  Here is hoping to the skies clearing and us being able to get out and about.  Being about to get out on the weekends for some exercise and fresh air has been beneficial to my waistline.