Fish On

Here goes my attempt to write one of these posts quickly.  I am certain I will fail at it, but this morning is trash day… and as a result I need to go around the house and gather the rest of it.  I am doing a bit better than I was yesterday morning, or at least I am feeling slightly more awake.  Today is the day my wife travels again, so not really looking forward to that one… but at least this time she will be back by Friday.  Unfortunately however it seems like she is going to have shittier wifi, so that will be annoying.  Why is it that a budget hotel can give you free wifi, but a ritzy hotel does not?

Fish On

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The last tradeskills I have to level are fishing and survival, and mostly due to the hours of doing next to nothing… I have put off leveling them.  I like the fishing system in Rift so much more than I did the one in WoW, but in either situation it is still a very passive activity.  That said it was designed hand in hand with Survival, so if I wanted to be able to make nifty stat increasing foods… I figured I would have to level the two skills together.  More or less that has been the case, except that the fishing always seems to lag behind the survival level.

The fishing system is much more enjoyable as a whole than the one from World of Warcraft.  Namely they have introduced several new things into the genre.  Firstly and the most important thing… you can target the water you want to fish in.  The thing that drove me insane over in WoW was the recasting over and over hoping that you got your lure in a school of fish.  Additionally there is a mechanic for telling you if you are fishing shallow or deep water, and different things can be caught in each.  The real hook for me however is that you have a decent chance of fishing up random artifacts and housing items.

I set out last night to fish and level survival all night long.  I literally spend roughly four hours fishing last night, and in that time I went from around 200 to around 270 in fishing.  Additionally I managed to level survival from roughly the same place to 300.  During the time I got a few dozen artifacts, and four housing items that were contained in chests that also rewarded crafting currency.  There is something strangely peaceful about fishing, and I had my hotkeys set up that I could fish entirely with my g600 mouse.  It really is the perfect activity to do while watching tv… I am still shocked no one has packaged this mini-game and created it as a mobile app that lets you fish up in game rewards.

Plane of Water

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Last Friday Trion had another one of their live streams talking about the future of Rift.  You should check it out over on twitch if you are interested, but be warned… it is roughly 2 1/2 hours long.  Essentially they teased a bunch of features for Rift 3.0, the next expansion in which they showed the picture above hinting that it would take place in the elemental plane of water.  Essentially at this point all of the dragons are now dead, and the Rifts still have not stopped… so it is time to investigate the planes themselves for the cause of the tears.

The coolest thing is, that they seem to have firmly adopted the D&D model of elemental planes with the quasi-planes intact.  If you notice in the above drawing you have a glacier, ocean, giant overgrown coral forest, underwater areas, undersea caverns…  a really rich environment rather than one giant non-descript ocean.  I personally am pumped over this expansion… I think I am one of the few people that really enjoyed Vashjir in WoW and while it obviously seems like they won’t be fully underwater… I am sure there will be elements of it.  They mentioned that they will likely begin releasing small bits of underwater content to test out the tech well before the expansion release.

The thing that really caught my attention however is that they mentioned they would be adding some more meat on the bones of the companion system.  That you would be able to level them, and assign them certain tasks.  This immediately got my mind spinning… and I thought to myself…  man would it not be amazing if they found a way to merge the Pet Battle system from WoW with the Crew Crafting system from SWTOR.  If I could send my companions off to go harvest ore, craft an item, or more importantly ferry crafting materials to my bank… I would be in heaven.  I was surprised at how much I liked both systems, and I would love to see them create a new hybrid system.

Finally they announced that there would once again be four new souls.  Essentially this one was expected… in each case there is one role that a given class lacks, and they are filling in these gaps.  Warriors will be getting a pure healer, Rogues will be getting a pure healer, Clerics will be getting a pure support, and finally Mages will be getting a tank.  The concept of a tanky mage is just intriguing.  I figure they have two ways they can go with this one… they can either make the pet tank, or give the mage magical armor to absorb damage.  As far as warriors, since they already have paladin souls… I am figuring their healer is going to end up being a lot like the WoW paladin with tons of single target heals and a combo point based healing finisher system.

In any case… I am now super pumped about the expansion.  I honesty did not expect to be hearing news about it quite yet, but given that it is Trion and with their rapid development cycle… it makes sense.  I am wondering about the time frame, knowing how Trion works it could be entirely possible that this is a November/December expansion release date.  That would make for a very merry Christmas indeed… essentially they would be delivering on the promise that Blizzard has never been able to…  an expansion per year.  This is about the speed the EQ2 has managed to maintain, so it is entirely doable so long as they always have a team devoted to expansion.

Rift Nights

One of the things I miss the most by being a nomad is the constant camaraderie of the Stalwarts.  I am trying a new experiment, and not sure how well it will work.  Right now in Rift we are not in a guild of our own, but because of this it opens up a lot more doors to grouping and regular open raiding.  It also makes it hard to organize the people who are used to playing together in other games.  As a result I have decided to start a server channel that way folks connected to House Stalwart that are playing Rift again can join in and get into group activity regardless of what server they are on.  Since everything is cross server it makes life easier for getting together.

Additionally I am going to try and set up Monday and Wednesday nights for group activities.  Roughly 8pm EDT til bedtime I am going to be around and available for random grouping with anyone that happens to be in the channel.  The idea will be to grab whoever is around, and pick an activity that suits our levels and numbers.  Rift is amazing good at giving something to do with varied group sizes.  Some of the many options.

 

  • 20 Man Raids – Require 20 well geared players
  • 10 Man Raids – Require 10 well geared players
  • Elite Dungeon – Require 5 Max Level fairly well geared players
  • Dungeons – Require 5 players gear level completely open
  • Chronciles – Require 2 players gear level varies – These are essentially 2 man raids, see all the storyline.
  • Crafting Rifts – Variable group size, special crafting rift lure awards high level crafting mats
  • Hunts/Greater Hunts – Variable group size, special hunt rift lure opens up a hunt leading up to a boss fight
  • Elite Rifts – Variable group size, special elite lure opens a dungeon like open world rift encounter
  • Raid Rifts – Variable group size, special raid lure opens a raid like open world rift encounter
  • Instant Adventures – Variable group size, over world objective based event, has cool mini bosses every so often
  • Rifts and Zone Events – Variable group size, essentially rifts and zone events form all over the world all the time.
  • Conquest – Variable group size… 3 faction pvp system, similar to DAoC frontiers and feels like Alterac Valley.
  • Scenarios – Variable group size… these are essentially like WoW Battlegrounds.  Not big on PVP but willing to try.
  • Basically there are a ton of different activities and the excellent mentoring system in Rift allows us to tailor the activity so that everyone is getting benefit.  I posted this note on our forums, and social media yesterday, but it is a bit too soon for it really to kick off.  However off and on through the night we had four people joining the channel and it at least became a more friendly chatbox option.  If you are a current or former member of House Stalwart, or just someone interested in this little endeavor check out our forums.  I will be turning off forum account sign-up moderation for a few days in case folks want to check it out.  We get an inordinate amount of spammers hitting our forum, so ultimately I will be turning it back on in the future.

    Wrapping Up

    I need to get up and around and finish gathering the trash.  I hope you all have a great rest of the week, and you get whatever accomplished that you need to.  I made some serious progress on one project yesterday, but as soon as I did four others popped up in need of attention.  Right now we have thirty five active projects for three people…  so I have become adept at juggling work.  It leads however to an extremely unstable and frustrating environment for me.  Thank god I have amazing people to work with on my team.

    Sinking Sands

    Morning is being a pain in the butt today…  or at least the whole trying not to fall back asleep thing is.  For whatever reason I really did not sleep that super well last night, and as a result I am super exhausted this morning.  Seems like a pretty horrible way to begin a new work week, so here is hoping that I figure out what switch I need to flip in my brain to wake the hell up.  The worst part is, that this is going to be an extremely stressful work week, so I have to get my act together.

    The Sinking Sands

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    I spent a good chunk of yesterday roaming around in the Sinking Sands region of Everquest II.  This has always been one of my favorite zones, and I try my best not to skip it on any characters.  I have a deep nostalgia for the region in part because I spent so much time in the Desert of Ro / Oasis of Marr area in Everquest.  This zone is like a nostalgic love song to the original zones, and there are so many points of reference and mobs that make an appearance. 

    The only real negative is that the sand giants and wraiths are no longer dread worthy encounters.  I can remember the constant chorus of “Sand Giant to Docks!” as yet another one of these death machines came roaming through the zone.  Almost as a callout to that era, there is the ghost of a sand giant that paths right along the dock region named “Hatar”.  Additionally Lockjaw still exists, but this time has his own dungeon rather than being a world spawn that will decimate the masses.

    I think one of my favorite things about the zone is it is completely flush with named spawns.  Each of them drops a single type of item, in flavors designed for each type of class.  So essentially if the mob drops a ring, then it will drop one for priest, warrior, scout and mage.  It feels like they have increased the spawn rate of these champions, because I can remember being out in the zone for days without ever encountering “Dune Digger”, a armadillo that spawns near the ramp leading down to the beach.  However over the last few days I have seen him up almost every single time I have passed his spawn point.

    The Lesser Faydark

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    I had made my way through the major quest lines of Sinking Sands when I noticed I was sitting at level 51.  I checked the wiki and sure enough that put me pretty much ideally leveled to start on Lesser Faydark.  Even dating back to the original Everquest, this has been a zone I disliked.  In that game it was mostly for the fact that it was populated with lots of things that could kill you almost instantly.  In EQ2, it is mostly due to my general dislike of “elven” and “fae” zones, and that it is annoyingly three dimensional.  It feels extremely difficult to traverse it because of the constant changes in elevation, and the tunnels that are used to connect things up.

    Additionally this zone is populated with a lot of flying things… that often times do not want to lower to the ground into melee range.  Since I play almost entirely melee characters it makes it an extreme pain in the butt.  However since I have never really done the quest chain I figured I would follow the timeline guide and start with the correct NPC and follow it through until I just could not.  So far it is every bit as annoying as I remembered… since you hop around the zone wildly.

    Another reason why I tend to avoid Lesser Faydark is it is off what they call the “golden path”.  Everquest has a really robust questing system, and so long as you say on the golden path you get these blue markers on your map showing you there region for a given quest.  However for whatever reason they decided only to apply these tools to a specific number of zones that make up the golden path.  So if you choose to stray at all, you are on your own…  thankfully I also have EQ2Maps which lets me search for what mobs spawn in what region.  I think that is probably the single best improvement they could do to the game, go back through and apply the golden path treatment to ALL zones.

    At the point at which I ended my Everquest II journey yesterday I was almost ready to ding 54, which is not bad considering I started the day at 48.  Leveling in EQ2 is just a relaxing experience for me, and that is precisely what I needed yesterday.  I keep thinking I need to play the game more often, and while I always eventually cycle back around to it… I also spend a lot of time ignoring it.  I have been kicking around the notion of trying to set up a rotation of games, in that I always play this game on this day.  It sounds good in theory, but I am just not sure I can bring myself to follow a schedule.

    Wrapping Up

    This is going to be a relatively short post today, as I am still fighting sleep.  I need to get up and around and hopefully woken up in the process.  I hope you all have a great day, and that you are not nearly as drowsy as I am this morning.  I am not sure what I will be doing tonight, either venturing back into the faydark or over in Rift leveling fishing.  I have to say the patron gifts are an interesting carrot that ends up making me log into Rift every day.  If you are a patron you receive a large loyalty gift every week, and a small loyalty gift everyday.  They do not accrue over time, so you have to log in each day to receive it.  I find myself being drawn to log in each and every day for the promise of free stuff.  Speaking of which… I think I will check on that right now before I head on into work.

    Foraging Sucks

    Getting a super late start this morning because… reasons.  Firstly the bed was super comfy this morning, and after not sleeping really well the last few nights I really did not want to leave it.  Secondly I had to shower and get dressed and go acquire food.  Thirdly my wife conned me into a trip to Wal-mart explaining that it would be less busy while folks were in church.  While it might have been less busy, it was still far busier than I would have liked.  But we are now back and it is 10 am and I am finally sitting down to blog.

    Foraging Sucks

    2013-06-21_214743 I have been in a really spastic way with my new laptop and wanting to download all the games and see how they run on it.  However yesterday afternoon I finally settled into one for awhile.  When the F2P conversion happened in Rift, one of the many things I did with my bonus shop currency was purchase Foraging and Weaponsmithing for Belghast my main.  The end goal was that he would have the ability to harvest all the things, as well as be completely self sufficient in both Armorsmithing and Weaponsmithing.  The reality behind this, has not been nearly as exciting as it sounds.

    Essentially over the last few weeks since the conversion I have been foraging everything I could find as well as mining all the low level ores so I could level both of the new tradeskills.  One of the stark realities thus far is that Foraging Sucks.  It is hands down the most painful gathering profession in rift.  I have never really spent much time doing it, as I always tend to focus on the armor making professions in any game.  The amount of herbs that you have to pick to get skills raises just seems unbalanced when compared with butchering and mining.

    It took me roughly four hours of running around high end Storm Legion zones to be able to gather enough herbs and lumber to level from 350 to 375.  The problem is not necessarily the harvesting… it is trying to find the right level of herbs that give you a skill up without running into the level of herbs that are too high to pick.  Essentially the storm legion foraging spawns are really really poorly designed…  or at least poorly designed for someone trying to level.  I remember being max level in mining before I hit level 54, so as a contrast it was so much easier.

    Grandmaster Weaponsmith

    It was shortly after dinging 375 foraging that I turned my focus to all the ore and lumber I had collected in the process.  Within another 30 minutes I had finished leveling weaponsmithing to 375.  Now I need to spend a good deal of time doing the daily quests so I can pick up those epic weapon patterns.  While this is not that useful now, I am really looking forward to seeing how self sufficient I am when it comes to the next expansion.  Part of me wonders if picking up outfitting, but not leveling it… would trigger the code that causes cloth to drop faster for outfitters.

    Onwards to Fishing and Survival

    2013-06-22_214452 Now my new goal is to work on leveling my fishing and survival.  This pairing is an odd one as they seem to be out of sync.  At 160 survival I need materials from the scarlet gorge/scarwood reach area, however at 160 fishing the optimal waters for skilling up are in Moonshade Highlands.  So essentially I will be focusing on leveling the survival skills and the fishing should take care of itself.  Finding shallow and deep water in the various zones is a bit of a pain also.  The pool shown in the image above is one of the few deep water spawns in Scarlet Gorge… and they are way up by the entrance to Foul Cascade.

    I am not sure if the shallow/deep water thing is easier if you are doing the guardian zones or not, but at this point I guess both factions are merged together.  I didn’t really run into the problem until this set of zones.  I have a feeling that in Moonshade the opposite problem will occur, that most of the water you find will be deep, as it tends to have ocean and lakes.  Fishing is somewhat mind numbing, but it is a good activity to do while trying to catch up on recordings from the DVR.

    Gold Rush

    EverQuest2 2013-06-22 12-03-31-26 This week the Gold Rush promotion began over in EQ2 and as a result I decided to pop over and level in my Swashbuckler a bit.

    If you’re a Gold Member this summer (June 21 – September 21), you will have access to a special daily spell that provides bonus coin loot (increase of 15%), an experience bump (increase of 10%), and additional mount speed (increase of 5%)! This spell grants these benefits for four (4) hours each day, all summer long! This is in addition to all of the other perks you receive with Gold membership.

    You will find this spell in your hot bar or in your spell book under abilities. Look for “Gold Rush.”

    With this happy little buff I decided to take Belgrifter over to the Clefts of Rujark dungeon and run around grinding the various higher level orcs for a bit.  The xp gain was actually far slower than I expected, but then I realized that I had my AA slider set to 50%.  Honestly I still have one of those instant 280 aa tokens that came with Chains of Eternity expansion.. so I am considering turning the AA levels off completely for awhile to maximize the xp gain.  With my magical werewolf healer mercenary I was able to pretty much wreck everything in the zone.

    While I didn’t end up getting an xp level, I did manage to get 3 AAs in the time spent just from killing all the named star mobs that I had not killed before.  I will have to sort through the loot I got, but I didn’t see anything that was better than what I was currently wearing.  I found running around the zone killing mobs a relaxing experience… that is one of the things I like most about EQ2 is that the combat is so slow paced that you can be doing something… and still do it without raising your blood pressure.  It is far less twitch and far more slow and steady… and there are certain moods where that is the perfect recipe for me.

    The laptop runs the game gorgeously, probably far better than any machine I have had so far.  I can crank all the things up pretty much to the highest setting and just bask in the beauty of this aging game.  I don’t care what people say, it still looks absolutely amazing.  They do zone design better than almost anyone else.  The sheer scale makes the world feel far more real than any other online game.  The scale of mountains and valleys and monuments are often lost but this game feels immense.

    Daily Dose of Cute

    20130623_102941 We have had bunnies in our lawn for years.  I think they end up living in the hedges in the backyard, and since we don’t have much in the way of flowers… or any sort of garden… they have been a welcome addition to our lawn.  However in all this time I have never seen a baby, even though I know they must be producing several for them to survive every year.  Today my neighbor’s son was mowing our lawn, and he almost hit this little guy with the mower.  Thankfully he is a nature loving boy, and is always looking for wildlife…  he shut down the mower, picked the stunned little bunny up and brought it around to show us.

    Is that not the most precious thing you have ever seen?  Apparently at this size they are fully weaned from their mother and essentially self sufficient.  We didn’t spend too much time with the bunny, as we didn’t want our human scent to rub off on it too much.  Additionally we placed it carefully under a bush near where it was found.  The little guy hopped around happily in the shade and hopefully will stay there til our lawn is finished being mowed. 

    I really hope this little guy makes it through the summer.  In years past I have had to fish the occasional bunny out of the pool… and it is always something that tears me up inside a little when it happens.  Hopefully it will remain a relatively moist year.  If it gets hotter I might have to try and figure out a way to give them a water dish they can more safely drink from.  Because seriously…  who cannot love something this cute?

    Wrapping Up

    Well I have rambled on at length for a long while this morning.  I hope you all have a great day and get accomplished whatever needs to happen on your Sunday.  I know we likely have to run around a bit later and continue with the whole “preparing for wife to leave” thing again.  Luckily this time it is a much shorter trip, so hopefully it won’t be nearly as stressful on me.

    Bel VS F2P

    I am breaking the mold yet again tonight and knocking out a topic that I have been kicking around in my head all day.  Quite honestly the topic is not my own, it was suggested to me by Syl of MMO Gypsy.  There is a really interesting discussion on this weeks Cat Context podcast between Syl and Liore about their feelings regarding free to play games.  I started the discussion up on twitter as well, because I tend to align more to Syl’s thought in that free to play is generally a good thing.

    The Non-Believer

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    The funny thing is… I did not always have this opinion.  In fact there was a time I was pretty vehemently anti-free-to-play model.  I even believe at one point I wrote a blog post about the fact that I did not believe the industry pundits that all games would be switching over to free-to-play in order to survive.  I really disliked the thought of a pure free to play game.. and in part this was due to some bad experiences with early games in the genre.

    My first real taste of the free to play genre was with the blatant wow clone Runes of Magic.  During one of my bored with WoW phases, I ventured out… downloaded it and tried to get into it.  The problem is, the game at its core was this fairly horrific grindfest, that could only be sped up by spending “diamonds” on the in game store.  It had some other fairly egregious money sinks in that most of the mounts that were available were “rental” only, giving you it for a fixed number of hours at a time.  Some of the only permanent mounts came from… you guessed it the cash shop.

    Later on I had gotten into the closed beta for a pretty nifty game called Allods.  It was essentially a very unique looking russian/steampunky wow like game.  I played the heck out of it in beta and really enjoyed it, and was looking forward to launch.  Then towards the end of the test period they introduced their take on the cash shop.  I don’t remember a ton of details other than the fact that so many things were pay-walled behind real money transactions.  One of the mini-games i refuse to play in an MMO… is inventory maintenance… and the only real way to increase your bag space was through dumping cash into the in game store.

    Both of these games served to give me an extremely negative impression of what this whole free to play genre was.  Combine with the fact that the servers I was playing on seemed to be entirely populated with kids… aka people unable to buy their own subscriptions to games…  I thought subscription gaming was the only way to maintain a thriving community.  As new free to play conversions entered the market, I would give them a spin, especially if it was a game I had played before.  Every time I would walk away disgusted by the horrible community I found there.

    What Changed?

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    When Everquest 2 first launched its forray into free to play, I really paid no attention to it.  Essentially it held nothing for me.  Gameplay was essentially corralled off to its own dedicated server, so you could not play with your friends currently subscribed to the game.  Additionally the various tiers of access felt extremely punitive, locking away functionality behind numerous paid gates.  However after a period of time they decided to open up the free to play options on all servers.  This is the point at which I started to notice changes in the game.

    Firstly the station cash shop is pretty amazing, stocking all manner of things from nice cosmetic armors, mounts, amazing houses, and various buff potions.  With my 500 station cash a month stipend from subscribing, I was able to pick up all sorts of things that improved my enjoyment of the game.  Additionally I noticed the server populations start increasing, and these players were not necessarily the “unwashed masses” I had seen in my earlier ventures into free to play games.  Some of these folks were really solid community folks, that just lacked the ability to commit to a month subscription.

    The game was still extremely limiting for free to play players, but at least you got to play on the established servers with existing players.  The guild I was a member of saw a massive influx in recruits and at one point we had 20-30 players on some nights during the peak of this influx.  Additionally it felt like we were seeing a faster speed at getting cool features out to the players like the dungeon creator, eqemote, and new content areas like sirens grotto and skyshrine.  It felt like there was a new kind of free to play player that I had not seen before, one that just wanted to play the game without commitment and had no qualms about spending money at their own pace.

    Eventually recently they have completely dropped all race and class restrictions from free to play players, and we have seen another big jump in people in the game.  There are still some functionality locked away, but the game is at its most playable state for a subscription free player.  The game feels more healthy in every sense of the word since the free to play conversation happened.  The cities are bustling, the zones have players available for grouping, and the brokers are completely loaded with goods.

    Changing My Opinion

    Cartel_Shop_Screen_cap After watching the transformation the free to play model has had on the Everquest 2 community, and seeing the numbers released at just how much better Star Wars the Old Republic has been doing since it made its jump.  I started to turn my opinion around on the payment model as a whole.  While there are still some pretty egregious practices going on, I think for the most part these games are doing better under the new pricing schemes.  I will always prefer the option to subscribe, but having free access to my characters gives me the ability to boot up a game I have not visited in months on a whim and spend a few days without feeling the need to fire up my account officially.

    I feel like as the conversions happen, each game gets a little better at the model.  So far Rift seems to be the best conversion I have seen, in that they chose the route to give subscribers bonus “premium” perks… like increase in coin, token and mount speed.  Additionally they have taken the cash shop model to heard and provided hundreds of cosmetic armor available from day one.  Sure there are lots of questions about whether or not they took things too far… but really I don’t believe any game has come even vaguely close to “play to win”.  No cash shop has offered something so amazing that better cannot be attained in game through grinding out whatever passes as end game content.

    Ultimately at the end of the day the real question is, do you want your favorite virtual landscapes to stay alive and well… or are you willing to see them suffer just to make sure they stay away from a free to play model.  I don’t think it is about success or failure anymore… but more about survival.  These games cost a significant amount of money to keep up and running and keep staffed.  These are old figures, but it was reported that between 2004 and 2008 Blizzard spent 200 million dollars on upkeep of the World of Warcraft servers.  Dividing that out it ends up at over 4 million dollars per month in upkeep and maintenance fees.

    Granted most of the games that have gone free to play don’t have the number of servers or staff that Blizzard has, however I am sure it is still a fairly staggering amount.  If they can get 5 players that are willing to pay 5 to 10 dollars on cash shop items per month, instead of 1 player that pays their 15 dollar subscription fee, they end up well ahead and have more money to invest in the game.  The games that have gone to free to play seem to be doing well with the model, and that income gets invested in making new content.  When Vanguard made the switch to free to play, the influx of new money allowed them to invest the first month in half a decade in development.  As a result the players got the benefit in the first ever holiday event, and major server patch.

    The Last Starfighter

    WoWScrnShot_102411_170544 Right now realistically there are two subscription model games left:  The World of Warcraft and Eve Online.  Eve is kind a bubble in itself without any real competition in that space, however World of Warcraft has been losing subscribers on a regular basis of late.  After the successes of the Star Wars the Old Republic conversion, and if Rift ends up being as successful as it is looking just by the server activity and players returning with a vengence… I feel that before the end of the year we will at least hear about plans for a free to play conversion for WoW.  We know that Titan is a long ways off, and their development cycle has always been prodigiously slow.  They lack the hook of new and fresh content to keep players engaged.

    I feel like the big announcement at Blizzcon will be a conversion to some form of a free to play model, or at least a tiered payment model.  There is a huge part of me that mourns the subscription era, but I think it has been shown that the hybrid model ends up wildly successful.  The folks that want those premium features are still willing to pony up for a month subscription, whereas the folks that are not wiling to have the monthly commitment are still going to buy the occasional doodad or account unlock.

    For me the real takeaway is that whatever keeps these companies healthy, and keeps developers and support staff in their seats instead of hunting for jobs is going to be better for the players in the long run.  Right now it is seeming like the free to play model is doing that.  Rift for example has had to roll out a couple of new servers just to handle the influx of players.  Personally I have had at least 8 friends start playing the game again, with more waiting in the wings to see just how successful the first volley is.  When we are talking about MMOs that are not blizzard… we really are not talking about a lot of profiteering going on there.  Ultimately they are fighting for survival, and if the free to play model gives it to them…  I feel we are more likely to be able to keep playing the games we want to play.

    Wrapping Up

    This post ended up far more rambly than I intended it to.  I can’t say I am really passionate for or against the free to play model, but at this point I feel like i understand why it is occurring so frequently.  I love playing MMO games, it is the one thing I always fall back on.  I am in theory embracing free to play, because it seems like the most likely way for these companies to continue getting the money they need… to keep supporting the worlds I care about.  Ultimately none of these companies make these games out of the goodness of their hearts.  They need our money to make sure they can survive and grow, and at the end of the day… how ever that happens I feel is pretty much fair game so long as it isn’t done in an exploitative manner.

    Five Favorite MMOs

    Tomorrow is going to end up being a super busy day for me, as I need to run a few errands for work… so I am doing this post a little differently.  I don’t feel like I will have enough time tomorrow to bang out a post like normal, so  I am working on this topic tonight.  I thought it would be interesting to do a post about my top five favorite games and why I like them so much.  I figured i would do this in count down style with fifth leading down to number one…  of course you can just cut ahead but lets pretend it is a surprise!

    #5- World of Warcraft

    2006-04-20_182329_Resized_pic I went back and forth several times on what should be my 5th spot, but as I thought about it… for sheer longevity of me playing the game, I had to give a nod to World of Warcraft.  I have essentially outgrown the game, but it does a lot of things well.  I feel like WoW is the junkfood of MMOs…  so long as you do not think about what you are doing… it is extremely enjoyable.  I played WoW as my primary game for roughly 8 years, and during most of that was the leader of a large social guild.  I have so many amazing memories and have met so many life long friends out of the game.  All of these reasons are why it at least had to make my list.

    Best Features

    • People – WoW is still the game that most of the people you know are playing.
    • Colorful and friendly graphics and a world that matches them.
    • Lots of systems that allow solo players to engage in group content.
    • Game overall is extremely polished, they provide a consistent experience.
    • Roughly a decade of content and a wide variety of activities to do.

    #4 – Lord of the Rings Online

    ScreenShot00013 Lord of the Rings Online is one of those games that I really enjoy every time I get the bug to play it.  It is extremely immersive and brings the player into the setting surrounding the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I love the way that you are set up in the game as characters that just happen to be in the background of the activities of the fellowship.  Each step of the way you are doing events that are helping out the world, but also keeping tabs on the activity as the fellowship moves through the novels.  They do an amazing job of bringing the world to life and filling it with copious amounts of LOTR lore.

    Best Features

    • One of the best communities – Landroval is amazing
    • Music system… you can play instruments in game, and players give performances regularly
    • Simple instanced neighborhood housing system
    • Hands down the best horses in any MMO… they move right
    • Breathtaking landscapes straight out of the novels
    • Intricate system within system… I admit it… I love deeds
    • Subscribing for one month permanently unlocks most features

    #3 – The Secret World

    TheSecretWorldDX11 2012-07-07 21-28-33-32 The Secret World is such a unique experience that I feel like everyone needs to play it at least once.  Not only it is a unique system, but it also has extremely different game play mechanics.  I have always been a fan of the whole occult and Cthulhu mythos, and this entire game is essentially a love song to H.P. Lovecraft.  It also has some of the best writing and storytelling, and additionally some of the most imaginative quests.  The only negative to me, is that it lends itself to very periodic and episodic gameplay.  Each time new content is released, I run in like a locust and gobble it up.  I believe enough in this game however that before its release I became a lifetime subscriber.

    Best Features

    • Unique setting and amazing storytelling
    • Unique classless game play
    • All players can learn all abilities in the game
    • Nightmare modes are some of the most challenging content I have experienced in an MMO
    • Does not hold your hand… almost to a cruel end.  Very difficult quests.
    • No Subscription Fee – buy the box play forever
    • Single Server Infrastructure – play with anyone on any dimension freely

    #2 – Rift

    rift 2013-06-19 20-07-48-28 Rift is likely going to be one of those games I always cycle back to playing.  Essentially it is WoW, but improved in every conceivable way.  That is probably a massive disservice to the game to say that… but unfortunately that is usually what I think of in my mind.  Since the release on a monthly basis they have improved the gameplay so that it includes some extremely innovative features.  It has really engaging content that varies from epic quests to quick fast food push a button and get into the action features.  Additionally it just went free to play, and it feels like one of the better implementations.  The cash shop has a truly staggering number of things to purchase, but all of it is completely optional.  You can pretty much experience every bit of the content apart from the Storm Legion expansion… completely free.

    Best Features

    • Most customizable out of the box UI that I have seen
    • Awesome non-intrusive add-on support
    • Awesome passive grouping content like Rifts and Instant Adventures
    • Most detailed housing system – you can literally build anything
    • Extremely flexible class system with ability to have more than 6 different specs
    • Great Wardrobe system allowing for tons of custom outfits
    • Extremely interesting and challenging raid encounters
    • Really fun holidays and in game events

    #1 – Everquest II

    EQ2_000020 The world I will always be the most nostalgic about is Norrath.  Everquest was my first real MMO experience, and it bit me hard with a vengeance.  The big negative however is it was very unfriendly to players, and caused a massive commitment of time to get anywhere.  However with the release of Everquest II, it took the world I loved and brought it into a much more player friendly frame of mind.  This is one of those games that I have played off and on since release.. and no matter where I am mentally… this is the one game I can always play even when I don’t really feel like playing anything.  I feel like EQ2 is the most underappreciated game on the market and has so much to offer players.  It just doesn’t look as shiny as other games, and the engine definitely feels dated at times.  The game takes of commitment to understand its systems, but you will not find a more intricate and rewarding game on the market (except maybe Wurm Online).

    Best Features

    • 25 unique classes
    • 20 unique races
    • Massive scale zones, dungeons, and raids
    • More content than I have seen in any other game period
    • Massive epic quest lines…  one I worked on off and on for 6 months
    • Extremely detailed housing system with the ability to have 10 per player
    • Extremely unique crafting system
    • Guild housing that actually supports guild activities
    • Antonia Bayle is one of the best RP communities – Tons of Live Events

    The Runners Up

    There were several games that almost made the list.  I contemplated Star Wars: The Old Republic… because quite honestly it had some really engaging content.  It however has probably the most egregious free to play conversion I have seen, so its exploitive nature knocked it off the list.  I thought about Guild Wars 2, because there is something undeniably enjoying about the game.  However there are an equal number of issues I just cannot get past to really find it something I want to play on a regular basis.  Dragon’s Prophet is a game I am really enjoying these days, but I don’t feel like I have played it long enough to really give it a spot on the top five list.  Additionally Vanguard is a pretty amazing game, but I just have not played it enough to really know its ins and outs.

    Essentially I picked the five games that have shaped me the most as a player.  I hope you enjoyed my little rundown and even more so I hope it inspires someone to give one of them a shot.  Of my list only World of Warcraft lacks a free to play option.  So I guess this is really telling about where we are currently in what is a viable payment model.  I find myself cycling between the two four on a regular basis.  Right now I am mostly in a Rift mode… but I am sure I will cycle back to the others before too much longer.

    I hope you have a great day, and I hope you don’t mind the change in format.  I wanted to create this post, and I knew I would not have enough time tomorrow morning to complete it all.  Additionally I am busy tonight downloading things to load up my new laptop full of games.  So essentially I had time to kill and devote to this.  I hope I get all my errands in the morning done, and get to work on time.

    Return of the Queen

    Good morning you happy people…  this is my first post without the aid of coffee.  I am trying to taper back my caffeine intake because the whole heart fluttering/palpitations thing has been back with a vengeance over the last few days.  I honestly figure it is mostly stress induced, but I am willing to cut back on a few things to help the process along.  It is not exactly an enjoyable feeling, so if I can stop it from happening…  I will be happier.  As a result without aid of coffee, I may not be entirely cogent at 6 am.

    Return of the Queen

    So yesterday was my birthday, and I have to say I was overwhelmed by the birthday messages I go from all sources.  Logging into twitter of G+ was like hitting a wall of happy birthday… it was pretty awesome.  You guys made what would have been a pretty crappy day not one.  Essentially my birthday was slotted to be pretty awesome.  I had a replacement laptop arriving sometime midday, and my wife would be flying in at noonish and I would get the spend at least half the day chilling out with her.

    I got up pretty early yesterday, and when I got upstairs to catch up with the world my wife had messaged me telling me that her flight had been cancelled.  Apparently there was “weather” in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and they were re-routing all flights.  So instead of her 7 am flight…  she was being placed on a 3:30 flight… on standby.  At this point she was not slotted to actually get back to Tulsa until 9:30 that evening.  So that left her having to do the awkward chilling out at the airport thing, and me to be alone on my birthday.

    I would have driven up to get her, since she was in Kansas City, and it is a roughly four hour drive from where we live to the airport…  but with the laptop coming, neither of us wanted to leave that out on the porch.  We have a little pack of hoodlums in the neighborhood, that have been suspected for the flurry of car break-ins that I wrote about awhile back.  Mostly they are bored teenagers with no real parental guidance to give them a moral compass, but they have been known to have sticky fingers.

    So it became a waiting game… if the package arrived quickly enough it would be possible to run up and back and get home before the flights would have.  However since my laptop arrived at 1 pm, that slotted her still getting home around 9 after you factored in both directions of the drive… and a lot of unnecessary stress in the process.  Somehow along the process she managed to get juggled to an earlier flight, and in the grand scheme of things landed last night in Tulsa around 8 pm.  It is really awesome to have my wife back, but honestly the impact has not quite hit me yet.  We got home in time for her to unpack and pretty much go to sleep, since she had been up since the crack of dawn.

    Laptop Resolution

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    Yesterday I had regaled you with the tale of the guy flaking out on me yet again, and me giving up and just ordering online.  As I said above, yesterday around 1 pm I had a doorbell ring and my laptop was there on the threshold.  Since it was too late to try and drive to pick up my wife, I decided to unbox it and play with my new toy.  First off, for having dual SLI cards the laptop is remarkably quiet and cool.  There is heat emanating from the heat sinks on either side but it is no way as hot as previous laptops have been.  I am guessing this is the massive air intake on the bottom of the laptop causing the thing to stay cool.

    I have not honestly had much time to really game on the laptop, I spent most of yesterday downloading stuff.  I got in and played a little Dragon’s Prophet and it looked gorgeous.  My previous laptop did not like that game at all, and this one funs it pretty much on high settings fluidly.  Additionally I played a little Rift as it was patching and it also looked gorgeous and ran well on ultra settings.  The sad thing about the digital age however is it still takes a long while to download multiple 16 gig game installations.  For whatever reason League of Legends was taking the longest… which seems insane considering how simple a game it is… and how low tech the graphics are.

    The keyboard is going to take some getting used to, but so far I really like it.  Keyboards are a huge thing for me… and this is as best as I can describe it a mechanical chicklet keypad.  It has the low key height of a chicklet style laptop keyboard, but you have the satisfying mechanical feedback of an old school keyboard.  It reminds me a lot of a half height version of my Microsoft sidewinder keyboard that I use on my desktop.  The important thing is it feels extremely responsive but like I said it will take some getting used to.

    The biggest feature that is going to take awhile for me to adapt to is the fact that this laptop is Windows 8.  I have to say, I still have no idea what Microsoft was thinking by defaulting a desktop operating system to the Metro interface.  I realize that I likely use my computer differently than most people…  I tend to do everything through the run prompt…  but even for day to day use… the Metro interface seems worse than useless.  The very first thing I did was download Stardock’s Start8 giving me back my start menu and run prompt.  After that it feels much like using Windows 7 with a strange skin on it. 

    I will slowly get used to the forced minimalist interface elements…  but I find the whole “we only use solid colors” movement of recent years a bit chafing.  Our graphical designer at work seems to have been bitten by the same bug… and white frankly this whole only using bright solid colors thing looks a little “Fisher price” to me at times.  All in all I am very happy however, I like the feel and form factor of the laptop, and what I have seen of its graphical powers are excellent as well. 

    Downtime Fiesta

    FFVmap-world2While I was installing software yesterday, I had my PSP going and was playing through Final Fantasy 5.  So far my biggest problem with this game is that it does a fairly poor job messaging what you are supposed to do next.  There is always a certain element of roam around until you figure it out to every mission.  Now that I am well past the point at which I had played previously… I am in virgin territory and often times struggle to follow the logic behind the game.  Luckily I have veteran resources to rely upon if I get stuck, but for the most part I have figured out things.

    I believe previously I had been just about to enter the moogle village after arriving at the second world.  Yesterday I managed to play through Castle Bal, Quelb, Drakenvale, Ghido’s Island, Surgate Castle, Xezat’s Ship, the Barrier Tower thing, Forest of Moore, and am now just about to storm Exdeath’s castle.  There were numerous difficult encounters along the way, but I managed through them and did not hit any major roadblocks like Soul Cannon was.  Atomos was definitely a pain in the arse with his huge hitpoint pool, but I managed through it.

    I feel like I have a super low maintenance party with Black Mage, Red Mage, Ranger and Samurai.  My good friend Ash that talked me into this madness has a Blue Mage… so it seems like his entire play through is dictated by trying to get the right abilities off the right mobs.  There was some madness last night about needing to have a level divisible by 3 to get some ability off some boss encounter.  Right now the biggest thing I need to worry about is keeping my characters in the best gear (which I would have done already) and grinding mobs to get job levels ((which I would have done already).  After making the swaps this party feels like my kind of party…  simple and effective.

    Wrapping Up

    Well it is that time again, I need to wrap this up so I can finish getting ready and head on in to work.  Going to pack up the laptop this morning and bring it for our noontime gaming excursions.  It should be considerably lighter since it only weights 6 lbs.  I hope you all have a great day, and I want to say again how much I appreciated getting all those birthday wishes yesterday.  Now time to return to the real world and try and finish out this week.

    Stressed

    So I am getting a super late start this morning, as it is my birthday and I milled around the house rather than get ready and do my normal routine.  I took the day off from work because the intent was to pick my wife up from the airport as she was flying in at noon.  Unfortunately however that flight was cancelled due to weather… and she is not slotted to get into Tulsa until 9pm.  This kind of puts a huge dent in the enjoyment of my birthday as I was expecting to get to spend at least half of it with her.  However I got pinged over IM from a friend with this message… you think you get to take the day off from blogging just because its your birthday? So I guess I need to hustle along with my morning post.

    Laptop Strikes Back

    So when I last spoke about this yesterday, I was a bit chipper as the laptop guy had gotten back ahold of me and apologized for not responding.  He said he had been selling his car and busy dealing with that, but would be able to meet up Monday after he got off work at 12:30.  So we arranged a meeting and I took a late lunch to go meet him at 1:30.  I was feeling kind of crappy yesterday… extremely dizzy but I drove out to meet him and upon pulling into the parking lot I feel my pocket buzz.  When I pull out my phone I had received a message from him.

    Hey man.  I can’t sell the laptop anymore.  Sorry for wasting your time.

    So after all that hassle… the little fucker flakes out on me again.  If you have been following me for a long time… or read the link I posted to an old blog post…  I went through this exact same shit last time I tried to buy a laptop for myself on craigslist.  However we can seem to buy stuff for my wife anytime we want without major issues.  I feel like I am just cursed, and I have simply learned my lesson faster this time.  I flipped a big finger to the process of buying a laptop for myself through craigslist and went searching online.

    To be truthful I had done a bit of this already when I thought the guy had flaked out… and found a slightly better version of the Lenovo y500 for a bit more and yesterday after talking to my wife I went ahead and placed and order.  The funny thing is… when you are spending $1000 on something… that $25 for over night shipping seems like a pittance.  Based on UPS tracking it shows that my new laptop is out for delivery, which usually means it will show up on my doorstep around noonish.

    Everything about the laptop looks to be something that will hold me for another 2-3 years.  Honestly my Asus would have been just fine if it did not start having unexplained power issues.  It looked like it was going to cost around $300 as it was going to be the motherboard, and it just seemed silly to throw that kind of money at a machine that was already 3 years old.  Quite honestly the concept of SLI in a laptop blows my mind… I am so interested to crack it open and see what it can do.  Having had SLI before, I know it is not always the best choice and some games perform better using only a single card… but the 650 is still an upgrade over any video card I currently have.

    Stressed

    I have been super stressed this past week for so many reasons.  Work has been extremely wishy washy and uncertain, with our deadlines and goals changing on an almost hourly basis.  Put on top of that all the technical issues I have had with computers malfunctioning, and the fact that the acquisition of a new laptop had been a drama filled mess.  Compound all of that by the fact that I don’t really handle change well, and the absence of my wife has been probably the largest stress inducer, and I think my body is rebelling against me.

    Yesterday I felt extremely horrible.  I took my blood pressure at one point and it was extremely high, I was super dizzy…  realized I had only had about 500 calories for the day… and also realized I had not actually had anything to drink since my early morning coffee.  Instead of coming back to work after my late lunch meet up I drove to the house and remote in, so I could sit in my quiet serene office in the dark and try and calm the hell down.  Additionally I drank about 32 oz of water and ate something for lunch.

    So right now my goal for my birthday day… is to try and think as many calm thoughts as possible.  This may or may not happen since my wife is essentially stranded at an airport right now.  I am really hoping she ends up with an option to get home before 9pm.  Honestly we don’t really know WHEN she will be home… since the 3:30 connecting fight is on “Stand by”.  Again…  I need to think happy non-rage-inducing thoughts.  So the question is… what can I do that is super relaxing.

    Leveling Crafting

    So far my plan is to farm materials and finish leveling Foraging and Weapon Smithing in Rift.  For whatever reason I find this activity calming.  I have always liked riding around picking herbs, harvesting nodes and skinning bodies.  There is just something serene about moving around a pretty landscape with a nice orchestral soundtrack.. and those little nodes on the map give you just enough of a reason to be there to keep it interesting.  At this point I am in the level 50 zones working on Carmintium and the assorted herbs.

    My problem is that I don’t quite remember what the sweet spot for ore and herbs was.  I roamed around Iron Pine Peaks and it didn’t seem all that great, so I am thinking today I might go out to Ember Isle.  At least there I have a shot at the various rare mobs that drop pets and such.  Hopefully the activity will be just as calming as I seem to need it to be, and hopefully before long there will be a knock on my door with a new toy to set up.

    I hope you all have a great day, and I want to thank everyone for the warm birthday wishes I have received over twitter and G+.  I play a little game each birthday, to see who is the first automated bot to wish me a happy birthday.  This year it was the WoWAce forum, which now that I think of it… might have been the winner last year as well.  It is just interesting to log into email and see a flood of automated happy birthday messages.  I have to say the experience of G+ and their birthday messages is a bit odd as well..  when you click the message saying you have birthday greetings it gives you a huge page of ALL the greetings.  Surprise ninja greetings!!  Anyways… maybe now Chuck will be satiated… I have blogged on my birthday.

    First Retraction

    This morning I am really struggling at the whole getting my act together thing.  I slept well enough and had a warm purring cat snuggled up against me all night.  Since my wife is out of town she has taken to sleeping on her pillow and curling up against me.  I really appreciate the company, because for whatever reason this summer convention season has been the roughest for me.  I think it is because I no longer have the busywork that came with leading a large guild to keep me occupied.  Whatever the reason I am having a lot of “low mental health” days, and am having to fight pulling the covers over my head and forgetting the world exists.

    First Retraction

    2013-06-14_132547

    So I have to warn you…  sometimes when I say things I am just talking out of my ass.  I should have done a bit more research on the Ice Strider mount.  It showed up in my mailbox on the day after the queues got completely maddening.  Upon opening my mailbox I saw everyone and their brother riding the thing in Meridian and just assumed it was a peace offering from Trion because of the patron queues.  Apparently that is not entirely the case, but it was a peace offering of sorts. 

    Basically from what I have been able to glean…  the Ice Strider mount is a freebie for anyone who purchased the “Storm Chaser Edition” of Storm Legion… aka the whole pay for a year of Rift get the expansion and some other goodies for free.  Since all of us that did that still have several months of sub left before that deal runs out… they gave us a unique version of the 1350 gem mount for free and an additional $50 in gems as a “we’re sorry we went f2p but we aren’t giving you back your money”.

    I am completely fine with this, I just wish they WOULD give players a pet or something for the insane patron queues.  Much the same as when The Secret World went f2p, I felt like the rewards they give lifetime subscribers were more than enough to make up for the initial cash outlay…  I also feel like the perks that Rift gives patrons are more than enough to make up for the cash outlay. 

    The only thing I would still like is I feel that patrons should get some kind of a monthly gem stipend.  Every MMO F2p/Hybrid model has this BUT Rift.  My station cash accrues station cash at 500 per month if I am just sitting there doing nothing with it.  I feel that as a patron I should be getting some sort of similar perk here.  It is not enough to riot and burn down the city over…  but it would be nice.

    More Laptop Woes

    Well the guy I was trying to buy the laptop from has gone completely unresponsive.  Making it worse he has reposted the laptop this morning on Craigslist.  I have no clue why he decided he did not want to sell it… I am guessing he was holding out for the original price listed… since I did talk him down a little bit.  Would have been nice for him to just say “look I really need the X dollars” and see if I was willing to counter.  I get the impression I have been dealing with a teenager, just based on sentence structure.  At this point I am looking at options through traditional retail venues for the same laptop.  This whole process is maddening.

    Four Job Fiesta Begins

    2013-06-16 10_57_08-FFVFJF2013.png (340×160)

    Last night the FF5 Four Job Fiesta event kicked off, or at least Gilgabot started responding to assignment requests… and as a result everyone was off to the races.  It has been literally years since I have played this game… I originally played it when the English translation hack first became available for the SNES rom version.  This was back my junior year of college in 1996-1997 ish.  So I remember almost nothing about the game, but I remember I never actually beat it.  One of my best friends has been pestering me for years to join in the bandwagon… so I have.

    You can follow my progress and assignments on my player page on the website: Belghast.  If you are interested in participating yourself… I think you can still sign up.  Check out the rather arcane twitter based sign-up process here.  So far I have been assigned the Wind Crystal job and the Water Crystal job.  My first job was the Black Mage, that I was fairly happy about… since the black magic tends to be the workhorse of ANY Final Fantasy game.  My second pick… not so much…  Red Mage is probably in my bottom 5 of all jobs available…  probably absolute zero is the Bard… but Red Mage is close.  I have no clue why… but I have disliked Red Mages since Final Fantasy 1.  They always seemed to be not quite good enough at anything…  to make them a pick worth having.

    I will continue playing later, but I am doing the play through on my PSP using the Gameboy Advance version.  So far I am really impressed with the way the GBA ports work.  If I ever find my GBA… I will totally pick up official copies of these games.  I do however own the ps1 ports of all the early final fantasy games… so I feel far less dirty about emulating them.  I have to say… given my spastic play style… the emulators are the way to go.  Save states are a godsend for when you need to set down the game and go do something.  Sadly this is only something that really works well in emulators… quick saves are nice but still take several screens before you can walk away.

     

    I hope to make some serious progress today, because happy Final Fantasy music does a decent job of making me forget just how depressed I am.  I mean seriously… who cannot be happy while listening to the Chocobo theme?  I get bummed about the current state of JRPGs… but this golden age will always make me happy.  There will likely never be a time when I don’t have one of these on my phone or somehow accessible easily.

    Wrapping Up

    Well today is Fathers Day, so hopefully you all have a great one.  I know I am slotted to have a late lunch/early dinner with mine as a combo move to celebrate Fathers day and preemptively celebrate my Birthday which is this coming Wednesday.  I will still pick up the check… because that feels like the proper sonly thing to do.  I am not sure why… but I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I pick up the check.  I like taking care of people… and I think that feeds into that protective instinct.

    The Laptop Saga

    I realize it is super late in the day for me to be doing my normal morning blog post…  but it’s a weekend and I also do not have anyone else here in the house with me to help me gauge what time of the day it is.  Additionally I did a ton of amazing and awesome things last night and this morning… and I can talk about absolutely none of them.  So that leaves me scrambling for things to say that do not break some NDA somewhere.  I know I am not setting this blog post up extremely well.

    The Laptop Saga

    When last we visited my laptop, it was having intermittent issues with the power cord.  I took the laptop to a repair guy who told me that it was most likely still the power cord… but I had just bought a shit one for cheap from amazon…  which I did.  I went through the trouble and found an OEM power supply from Asus… same model numbers and everything and it arrived on Thursday.

    I have to say all day Thursday I was super pumped about going home and being able to game on the couch again.  I get the magical cord out of the box… hook it up… and the same damned thing happens.  So screw you laptop… and screw you guy that told me it was most definitely the cord.  No really I am sure he was just trying to do the least invasive thing first.  Now I have no clue what is up with my laptop… and at this point the repair guy doesn’t think it is just the power socket and would more likely be something motherboard related.

    Enter New Laptop

    I had been drooling over a laptop that was posted a few weeks back on Craigslist… so when it seemed like a working laptop was not imminent I decided to text the guy.  Sure enough he still had it, and I was able to talk him down in price a bit.  The laptop is a Lenovo Y500 with Dual Geforce 660 video cards in a SLI configuration.  Pretty much everything about the laptop is drool worthy, and it is a massive upgrade to both my desktop upstairs and my previous laptop.

    I ran to the bank and was able to get the cash that night, and text the guy…  he said he was busy at the moment but would text me back when we were able to meet up.  We agreed upon a local QuikTrip.  Apparently he had some car trouble and was in the middle of switching out an engine… and it ended up taking far longer than he had expected.  So as a result Thursday night didn’t happen.

    The Delaying Game

    We had set up to meet Friday night at 4:50 at the same QuikTrip.  QT is pretty much a common craigslist meet up spot, because you can go there are 4 am.. and it will still be extremely busy… with a pretty regular police stopping by factor.  I go there just ahead of the allotted time, and wait…. and wait… watching the highway getting almost excited every time I see a car that matches his description drive by.  At 5:30 I get a series of back and forth texts saying that he is having to work a double shift, because they are super busy.

    I fully understand that, stuff happens…  he was supposed to text me back whenever he could meet up.  As of 1:15 the time I am writing this… I have not heard a word.  So at this point I am pretty much assuming that the deal has fallen through.  I am having flashbacks to all the hell I went through trying to get my last laptop off craigslist (I even blogged about it) before finally saying fuck it and ordering it from amazon for full price.  I personally like not having to take the initial value hit, and we buy quite a bit of stuff off craigslist for my wife… but it always seems to go to complete shit when it is something for me.

    Hopefully the guy will text back with a firm time to meet up, but at this point I am not really holding my breath.  I have looked online, and I can do pretty much what I did last time and get the same configuration from an online retailer for a bit more.  However I just hate doing that.  It feels like we have a few good purchases again, and it restores my faith in humanity… then when I want something I end up dealing with nothing but flakes.

    Rift Re-Launch

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    I seriously hate thinking of this as a re-launch, but this term keeps getting used over and over recently.  Quite honestly however as a player it does feel like in many ways we are returning to April of 2011 and the launch of the game.  There have been some pretty significant queues on all of the servers.  Deepwood has been running around thirty minutes for Patrons, and Faeblight I have heard is around an hour and a half.  Trion has taken steps to try and alleviate this, however in their traditional “good guy fashion” they have done something to apologize to the players.

    Pictured above is me riding one of the new cool mounts they added to the game with the opening of the store.  This normally goes for 1350 gems on the store, and from what I can tell has been selling pretty well.  However as an act of contrition, Trion has given every single patron a unique version of this mount… with a slightly different color pattern as a way of saying that they are sorry for the hassle of queues.  It is this kind of thing that makes me love Trion the company, and why I have stayed subscribed even when I was not actively playing the game.

    If there is any company that deserves to be doing well… it is Trion.  I love supporting them because they really feel like they are one of the good guys.  As evidenced by my choice of topic yesterday, I am seeing so many players coming back to the game that I have not seen around since the original launch.  The game itself is in so much better a place than it was back then.  So hopefully a good chunk of these players will still along and chip some money in to support the game.  Based on the reports SWTOR has been doing insanely well since the F2P switch… and based on the first few days it seems like Rift has even more players.

    Wrapping Up

    Well like I said… so much of what I would want to talk about I cant.  So I really don’t have much else.  I am extremely ready for my wife to get home.  The house feels insanely empty without her.  My office gets super cold during the summer, as it is the first stop on the air exchange path… and has two vents.  I think this makes the cats not want to spend much time here… so without warm fuzzies to keep my company I am really just limited to my friends on mumble.  I am so ready not to be the only person in the house.  I hope you guys have a great weekend.

    Telara Tourism Council

    One of the things I was thinking about last night… is how much has changed in Rift since its release.  I know I spend a good deal of my time explaining things to my friends that are just starting the game, but last night I had a friend come back to the game after not playing since shortly after release.  There has been a lot of changes in that time, an almost staggering amount.  I thought I would take a few minutes this morning and outline some of the ones I find important, or think are easily missed.

    Rift Mobile Client

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    This one is often missed, and Trion itself does a fairly lousy job of promoting it.  Basically there are two applications tied to Rift… the mobile authenticator and then the mobile client.  What the client gives you is access to guild chat, direct player messaging, a handy invasion tracker and the most important feature… the “Lootables” scratcher cards. 

    There are three types of cards available by default…  Planar Invasion shown above that rewards planar currency, Crafty Critters that rewards random crafting materials, and Shinies! that well… gives you a chance to win random artifacts from all the sets.  Occasionally there will be a fourth card that is tied to whatever world event happens to be going on, and will reward seasonal event currency.  The cards accrue once every hour, for a maximum of 6 cards stacked up at any time.  I tend to log in sometime during the morning and sometime during the evening and play all six cards at the same time.

    IPhone Client DownloadAndroid Client Download

     

    Planar Goods Vendors

    Now that you a stash of planar currency that you have won from the lootables game… you should probably visit your nearby neighborhood Planar Goods and Rare Planar Goods vendors.  These will be located in all Mathosian leveling zones and sell a variety of goods for that hard earned Planar Currency.  The Rare Planar Goods vendor will sell several pieces of level appropriate gear, and the Planar Goods vendors tend to focus on Planar Essenses.  If you end up with an excess if purple quality currency, there is even a way to convert it to planarite by buying planar caches.  I find the combination of the lootables app and the planar goods vendors an excellent way to keep a character outfitted as you level.

    Planar goods vendor listing from Rifthead

    Instant Adventures

    One of the most interesting features of the game is the ability to jump into essentially a group quest from anywhere in the world.  When you make it to Meridian, you get the option to enter Instant Adventures through a quest giver, however you can jump into them at any point prior to that by clicking the |> symbol on the menu bar and choosing Instant Adventures.  Essentially you can think of them as quest rifts…  in that it is a rolling group activity where you are asked to complete group objectives.  Every so many rounds you will be presented with a boss of sorts, that gives you a shot at planar gear caches.  The Adventure will continue on indefinitely… teleporting you to different areas of the map.  It is the perfect “I want to do something” activity, because you can hop on the adventure train and leave whenever you get tired or bored or decide you want to do something else.  A word of warning… you end up leveling extremely quickly through Instant Adventures.

    Cross Server Chat

    At some point along the line they opened up the lines of Cross Server communication.  You can talk to players on other servers by addressing them by this pattern  <Username>@<ServerName> so to talk to me, that is Belghast@Deepwood for example.  Additionally you can add people on other servers to your friends list, and see when they are on and in what zone they happen to be in.  Additionally you can join server channels for other servers by typing /join <channelname>@<servername>.

    Cross Server Everything

    This opened up some new possibilities… and they didn’t just stop with communication.  Basically you can do almost anything cross server these days.  The unofficial Cross Server event channels are CrossRaids@Faeblight and CrossEvents@Faeblight by joining these you can get in on action going on with any server.  If you join up with a cross server group, you can right click your portrait and choose “Teleport to Instance” and this will not so intuitively…  teleport you to the server the event is going on with.  This allows you to freely group with any player on any server at any time.  When you are done with whatever activity you are doing, you can right click your portrait and choose “Leave Instance” to get back to your own server.

    Chronicles

    At some point over the last two years since launch, they added in a new kind of small group based activity called Chronicles.  Essentially a Chronicle is a 1-2 player version of a raid encounter, designed to give you minimal loot, but let you experience the storyline told through each of the raids without the need for a large raid group.  There is a daily chronicle quest in Meridian, and doing it rewards dungeon currency.  More importantly it is a nice casual activity designed for two friends to complete.  They are pretty quick to complete and offer minimal trash mobs, and you get to fight the various boss encounters of the dungeon… but with far more forgiving mechanics.

    Conquest

    Conquest is essentially three way faction based PVP in the style of Dark Age of Camelot.  You are teleported into a map with multiple objectives, and you need to seize and hold as many as you can for your chosen faction.  The factions themselves are completely arbitrary, and you will likely end up playing multiples of them as the game tries to auto balance.  This was brought in with the “Faction as Fiction” patch, allowing you to freely group Defiant and Guardians together.  It seems to be on roughly an hour timer, so most avid players queue for this before starting their daily quests.

    Faction As Fiction

    Since I just mentioned this… and it is a pretty massive change in the game…  I thought I should make its own bullet point.  Defiant and Guardians are no longer diametrically opposed to one another…  you can now freely communicate, group, and join guilds with either faction.  This was a massive improvement, because to me faction walls always feel super artificial and just get in the way of my enjoyment of any game.  Previously Guardians and Defiants would work together by the use of /say to communicate… but this just made it all work better.  You are still restricted in the ability to go into guardian or defiant held areas like Sanctum and Meridian… however you can have both factions in the same guild.

    Addons

    These were not there at release and it took quite a bit for them to be added in, so I thought I would say a quick word or two.  Rift has pretty solid add-on support but they do it in a way slightly different than World of Warcraft does them.  Essentially you can make an add-on do almost anything, but it has to be an additive process… you cannot overwrite any core game functionality with your own features.  The prime example is Imhothars Bags… it gives you a Bagnon style single bag interface, but instead of overriding what your default bags look like… it simply creates a brand new window.  This admittedly takes some getting used to.

    Some addons I use regularly are…

    • King Boss Mods – yup you guessed it… this is the DBM for Rift essentially
    • Rift Meter – simple single player dps meter… only shows your own damage output for diagnostic use
    • RareDar – alerts you when you might be near the spawn point of a rare mob
    • BananAH – this is the quintessential auction house mod, makes posting items much easier
    • CarnageBook – shows you which carnage quests you are missing for a given zone

    Server Transfers

    Having trouble finding the right server?  Unlike other games… Rift allows the player to change servers freely.  The restrictions are that you have to be level 15 to change servers, and that you can only do it once per character every seven days.  However these restrictions are pretty loose considering the value this gives players.  If they decide a specific server community is not to their liking… or if a guild dries up and they want to go play with some other friends…  this is completely doable and doable for free.

    Crafting From Bank

    This one was huge for me when it went in.  Essentially when you are crafting, it will give you access to all materials that are in your bank.  So you can stock pile materials in your bank, and craft up items as needed.  This will save most players a lot of bag space as they are roaming around the world.  My only wish is that someday they might segregate the crafting bank off and make it account wide… and do some kind of deposit construct from anywhere in the world.

    Auto Sort Bags

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    This was another huge one for me when I noticed it existed.  If you look in the image above, there is a little icon that has been added to the right-hand side of your bags.  This basically will sort your bags filling your last bag first, and sort your items by item type.  So it will sort all your gear together, crafting materials together, and other categories together.  This makes life so much better, and there is a similar feature added to banks allowing you to sort your bank bags as well.

    Searchable Bags

    Also in the above image you notice there is now an icon to the left-hand side of your currency window with a little magnifying glass.  This allows you to search items in your bags for a specific string.  You can also access this by hitting the default windows search hotkey Control+F.  The currency window becomes the search box, and any item that does not match the pattern you have typed in gets greyed out in your inventory, making whatever you are looking for nice and bright.

    Wrapping Up

    I need to get on the road, but I think these are most of the major items that have changed since patch that at least were extremely important to me.  I hope players that are new to Rift and players that are returning to Rift find them useful.  I hope you all have a great day and a great weekend.  I am extremely thankful that the week is almost over.