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

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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

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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.

F2P Done Right

This is one of those mornings that I don’t really know what to write for the intro.  I am blaming it on feeling groggy and the excess amount of asthma medication I have been taking to get over this rough spot.  I ended up having to go into work after all yesterday, since there were events happening that I had to deal with personally.  I managed to get through most of the day by taking a double breathing treatment and just dealing.  Ironically it was going to lunch that killed me…  we went to a new BBQ joint around the corner… and I did not factor in the “bbq smoke” factor. 

F2P Done Right

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If you have been playing Rift for awhile, then yesterday was like Christmas morning.  Upon logging into the game yesterday I was greeted with so many patron benefits.  There was this huge graphic ticking down all of the loyalty points I had received and an odd burst of onscreen confetti.  Essentially I was roughly halfway through the purple tier of loyalty, and therefor got all the rewards leading up to that.  Additionally I had roughly 32,000 gems waiting on me to spend.  I was like a kid in the candy store looking through all the possibilities that I could purchase.

Essentially it seems like almost everything that required a significant platinum outlay is now purchasable with gems.  This includes wardrobe slots, extra souls, extra bank vault tabs, 2 new extra bag slots, mounts of all speeds, dimension goodies, wardrobes and equipment.  Just through loyalty bonuses, it seems as though I got two extra roles, as I now have my 5th and 6th role available.  One of the coolest rewards that I have yet to get permanently gives your player portrait the circle of red thorns that denotes an elite mob.  Trion has put in so much work on making this something really awesome for all players.

The Store

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One of the changes that I was not fully expecting is the fact that every single vendor UI in the game has been updated.  This has several sweeping effects on the gameplay in general, almost all of which for the better.  The screenshot above shows one of the recipe vendors in Meridian.  You will notice there is now a built in preview window so that simply clicking on an item previews its appearance.  Additionally if the item can be purchased with multiple currencies…  platinum, special currency or store gems the prices are all listed out separately.

The big change I was not expecting is the fact that you can open this store pretty much anywhere in the world, and purchase almost any faction specific item.  If the item requires a specific faction, it will be listed as well.  I have never been able to remember which vendor sold which item, especially when it comes to the various faction locked dimension baubles.  This gives you one extremely powerful, searchable and filterable UI for accessing all of these vendors.  Additionally this also means that you can purchase your raid and dungeon mark gear from anywhere in the world… including inside of that dungeon.

The thing that has overwhelmed me is the concept of just how much stuff is now up on the store.  In the wardrobes section for example…  there are literally several hundred outfits to choose from, including some new premium outfits.  Essentially it seems that pretty much any graphical appearance that exists out in the world somewhere… can be purchased through the store.  The other thing I noticed is that you don’t have to buy just completed outfits…  if you farmed your little arse off to get some appearance but were missing the boots…  you can just pick up said boots.

The Pricing

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So far the pricing model seems more than fair to players.  I want to say last night I saw that $20 bought you roughly 3200 gems.  So many of the items I actually wanted were well under 1000 gems.  This included 150% speed mounts, large dimensions, almost all of the wardrobes.  The bank vaults and two inventory tabs were fairly expensive but still within the 1000 gem range.  The one intriguing item to me was the trade skill slot unlocks.  Apparently you can now have up to 9 trades kills on a single character and it is 1200 roughly per unlock. 

I’ve essentially blown through all the gems that they gave me for extended loyalty, but I managed to get so many things that I felt I never could have.  I am horrible at farming currency in MMOs… it is just not a thing I enjoy doing at all.  I have a love/hate relationship with daily quests, and I have never been one to touch the auction house other than to purchase items.  The concept of acquiring money through any way other than the random and constant killing of monsters just feels tedious as fuck to me.  So as a result I always felt like I lacked the cash in game to do the things I really wanted to do.

Last night changed all that…  with the freebie currency I

  • Purchased the Moonshade Pools Dimension
  • Picked up several random Dimension Items Packs
  • Picked up two Large Houses for the Dimension
  • Bought the spiffy black gothic wardrobe outfit
  • Upgraded my mount to 150%
  • Bought the two extra bag slots
  • Bought most of the new bank vault tabs
  • Bought 3 new wardrobe slots
  • Bought an assortment of the Deeps boxes
  • Bought 2 Trade skill slots so I could add on Weapon-smithing and Foraging
  • Various sundry other little things…

I feel like I got massive amounts of quality of life things for the gems, things that I had always wanted but never had the platinum to pick up.  Essentially every thing I saw last night felt extremely reasonable price wise.  There are no $20 dollar pets or horses there… even the most expensive mounts would have been maybe $10 in gems.  This combined with all the nifty loyalty perks… like a 1 hour timer teleport to Tempest Bay made last night an extremely exciting night for me.

Patron Queues

The negative side effect of all this goodness.. is the fact that it has brought back queues for Rift with a vengeance.  Patrons aka subscribers cut to the front of the line… but on most servers there was still a significant queue for Patrons.  On Deepwood we had a roughly 20 minute patron queue, but on Faeblight they were up to an hour and a half at one point according to friends.  This is going to frustrate a large number of players, so I hope there is something they can do to alleviate the server load at least temporarily. 

I think it is awesome that pretty much everyone is coming back.  I have friends who had no interest in the game previously, patching back up their game clients to log in and check it out.  The real test will be whether or not the players stay.  Rift is one of those games that I would absolutely love… if I had a stable group of friends that wanted to play it.  Since our release guild fell apart as folks got bored with the game… I have essentially been flitting back and forth between guilds trying to find a new home.  The group I am with now is super nice, but it just isn’t the same as playing with the Stalwarts.  Fifteen years of assorted friendships cannot be replaced that quickly with new ones.

I feel like these changes however have lit a new fire under players to come back to Rift.  There is so much good happening in the game right now, so many amazing systems to play with.  I am overwhelmed by just how good the store implementation is.  I was expecting Trion to dip their toes in the water, but instead they turned on the fire hose.  The real challenge will be whether or not they can keep adding new and interesting reasons for people to spend money to the already significant catalog of items.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap up and get on in to work.  I hope you all have an amazing day out there… and if you find yourself checking in on Rift, make sure to add Belghast@Deepwood and Belgrave@Deepwood to your friends lists.  I know I will be spending quite a bit of time in game in the coming weeks, and those tend to be the two characters I play the most.  I have a lot of friends starting up or getting back into the game, so here is hoping we can get some grouping going.

Computer Blues

Over the last few days I have been having what I term as “bad mental health” days.  I’ve been super stressed about various sundry things at work, and combine that with the fact that I just do not handle change well.  Every time my wife goes away during the summer for a conference, I go through this massive adjustment period.  So much of my life is intertwined with hers, that when she is gone… there is just a void.  I try my best to manage this “funk” but now and then it gets the better of me.  I am thankful that I have a lot of friends who are willing to cheer me up.

Computer Blues

It seems like over the last few days… my computers have been betraying me.  I have been having issues with my gaming laptop, where it is intermittently losing its power connection.  Fiddling with the cord brings back the connection for short periods of time, before going out.  I initially thought… this is likely a power supply issue so I did what I always do and went on amazon… found a replacement and got it shipped through prime.  I got the new power supply and it worked even worse.

After much research it seemed like the g73 model has had some issue with the power port getting lose itself.  After watching a few videos… I decided this was not something I wanted to undertake myself.  It involved pretty much a complete teardown of the laptop, de-soldering one port and soldering back in another.  I am essentially a software guy… I build my own PCs but that is mostly just assembling a bunch of parts that were designed to go together.  I have done soldering work before, but it was nothing I was ever extremely comfortable doing.

After digging around I found what appeared to be an extremely reputable guy here in my town that does this sort of thing.  He owns a “Nerds: We Can Fix That” franchise and as such is primarily a mobile pc repair truck, so we agreed to meet so that I could have him look over my laptop.  After doing various sundry tests his though process was that it really was a bad power supply.  After looking around he showed me a spot in the power connector one where of the prongs was most definitely crushed.  His suggestion was to find an original Asus power supply and try that.

After much digging I finally was able to get a real Asus power supply ordered… but unlike the speed I am used to with prime.. it wont be here until Thursday at the earliest.  As a result I am without my laptop and my ability to hang out downstairs while playing games.  I know I have blogged about this before… when I lost my Gateway FX laptop, but I never really appreciate how amazing that is… until I can’t do it.  After a long day it is so nice to just chill out on the couch with my laptop and half play games and half watch stuff off the DVR.  I am nervous however that this will not really be the issue, but I am willing to try it… and it is far less invasive than other possible solutions.

Another Betrayal

Last night I get home, and go upstairs to begin the evening ritual of playing something.  I get on mumble to talk to my friends… and in the middle of booting something up my gaming desktop locks up hard.  In fact at first I can’t seem to get it to boot…  which I later find that it is simply booting exceedingly slowly.  I go into diagnostic mode trying to figure out what exactly is wrong.  Everything seems to be operating as expected… voltage looks good… hard drive tests fine… memory tests fine.  So after much fiddling I am basically at square one as to what might have happened.

A lock up is common enough, but a lock up followed by not wanting to boot afterwards really floored me.  I am not talking windows booting… I am talking slow bios posting.  I am going to have to keep and eye on things, but last night switched from a gaming night… to a do maintenance on all the things night.  I went ahead and patched everything that could possibly be patched, updated all the drivers that could be updated… and did some registry maintenance.  Given my “bad mental health” state… having both machines down at the same time was a state I was almost unable to cope with.

I realize that these are all first world problems… and rather petty…  but having both machines potentially down at the same time sucked.  Luckily through all my fiddling whatever happened seems to be not happening now.  When a problem mysteriously goes away… it bothers the hell out of me though.  I am not sure what happened, have no log evidence of what caused the lockup/slow boot scenario and ultimately no evidence of what seems to have cleared it up.  My desktop is three to four years old at this point, so it might simply be aging hardware issues. 

Now that I think of it… it might be older than that…  I got it when we we were still raiding Wrath of the Lich King content in World of Warcraft.  It has been a trusty machine that has pretty much run anything I have thrown at it for several years.  It might in fact be time to upgrade…  but I would much rather do it on my own time than having a box just up and die on me.  Here is hoping that I have at least temporarily staved off whatever occurred.

Killing Psychos

I finally was able to get my machine in a state I was happy with around 9:30 last night.  At this point I got back onto mumble and decided to join some friends in Borderlands 2.  It was me playing Axton, Ash playing Zero and Rae playing a super bloodlust infused Maya.  Quite frankly the combination of Rae and I riding around in a vehicle together is probably a bad thing.  Especially when it comes to doing quests that have non-standard objectives.  There may or may not have been a few objectives we almost failed at… because we were both too busy shooting things to notice that was not the goal.

When the game first shipped for whatever reason I was not able to hook up with the crew playing it.  As a result I have pretty much only played single player borderlands 2 content.  Last night was an absolute blast, and having players to rez me…  really helped when I tried to play “tank” and bull rush a bunch of mobs.  I need to find some better weapons… because right now my assault rifle is a tap to fire model that seems to always need reloading at the wrong time.  I picked up an amazing sub machinegun last night, but it seems to go through bullets like water… and I am always scavenging to find more.

The combo of Axton/Maya/Zero seemed extremely formidable… but I think if you put ANY combination of different classes together you would have had the same results.  Looking forward to maybe getting back in tonight and finishing the quests we were doing.  Honestly I don’t really care if we even do quests…. I was just in the mood to roam around and kill things to satiate my “computer troubles” induced bloodlust.  Borderlands 2 is a really good game for that kind of mindless violence.  It is like the Saturday morning cartoon of death.

Rift Update

The other big thing going on today is the fact that it is the launch of the Rift Free to Play conversion.  It will be interesting seeing how this improves or damages the community.  My hope is that by lowering the barrier of entry it will be easier to get folks to try the game.  Additionally I am hoping for a path through the cash shop to pick up some dimension goodies… because quite frankly I have been way too poor thus far to really experience the dimension content properly.  In any case it will definitely be a massive change to the game… and as such interesting to watch unfold.

Additionally… it is really hard to type with a cat trying to balance on your arm.  I guess I should take that as a queue to wrap things up.  I hope you all have a great day, and that you are in a better mental place than I have been.  I think my body is betraying me as well.  This morning I am additionally having a “bad lung day” in that my asthma and allergies have decided to make my life hell.  Trying to decide if today will be a stay home and take breathing treatments all day occasion or not. 

Sony: Best Troll Ever

Last night was a truly odd occurrence for me.  I played a quick league of legends bots game with friends, and piddled around for a bit in Dragon’s Prophet managing to get level 20.  All of this was essentially “busy work” as for my inner circle of friends, the main event of the evening was the Sony Entertainment Pre-E3 stream.  After seeing it… there really is not much else I can talk this morning other than just how amazing the show was when contrasted with the Microsoft presentation earlier in the day.

Throwing the Xbone

 

Thankfully we have a lovely abridged version of the Xbox E3 conference that arrived on YouTube over night so I can link here for you all.  Basically the Microsoft conference was a massive improvement over the reveal event and its obsession with television.  They actually seemed like they might care about games… but then unfortunately they presented me with a bunch of titles I really don’t care about.  All of their big reveals seemed extremely unexciting.  While I am watching this I am desperately scanning the list for that one game that makes me want to own a console system.

Out of all of the games shown… the only title that stuck out for me… was Killer Instinct.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a new Killer Instinct game is pretty massive, as the original one was probably hands down my favorite fighting game ever.  I was like a kid in the candy store a few months back when I managed to successfully get the Killer Instinct emulator running and got to revisit the original arcade experience.  The problem is I just don’t feel like this is enough of a reason for me to spend $500 on an ugly black box.

Coming away from the presentation I still got the feeling that Microsoft doesn’t really care about games that much anymore.  I still feel like they intend this to be some convergence device that causes people to change the way they interact with television.  That is fine, but I already have a Roku… and it cost me way less than $500.  Most of their killer features just are not that killer for me.  I could give a shit about sports, and I never really seriously watch live television.  So combined with games I don’t really care about… and making a big deal out of games that have been on the PC for over two years…  I just really do not feel like Microsoft’s vision is where I want to be.

The Next Generation

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I saw a tweet last night that essentially wondered what it was like to be Sony yesterday, having an entire day to soak in the Microsoft E3 presentation… all the while knowing that you were just about to nuke them back into the stone age.  It certainly must have been an amazing day for everyone involved with the PS4 in any way.  For as awkward and confusing at times as the Microsoft conference was… the Sony PS4 event was that much polished and keyed to the demographic that matters to them…  gamers.  There was an obligatory section giving someone floor time from the Sony entertainment division, showing off the movies and music libraries…  but every other component of the show was about their serious line up of games.

For as nonplussed as I was about the Microsoft Lineup… I saw game after game that I want to play right now.  The Order was this amazing steam punk meets diesel punk meets Victorian monster hunter game.  The demo that was shown was an in game engine rendered trailer, and that really doesn’t matter… because it looks far better than most fully CG trailers today.  In fact that was a huge theme with the show as a hole.  Almost everything took painstaking effort to mention that what you were seeing was in game or in engine rendered footage.  The end result is almost movie quality animation and brilliant special effects, there was just an unbelievable amount of eye candy being shown.

The Bumps

This is not to say that the presentation did not have its share of hiccups last night.  Ubisoft decided to go completely blind and do their demos as a person on stage actually playing the game.  They demoed both Assassins Creed VI and Watchdogs this way… and in both cases… AC especially they had some freezes in gameplay.  Watchdogs however that has been in development far longer… had a few moments of slowdown but no lockups.  This is the risk of actually doing anything live, because anytime I have had to demo software…  it never goes 100% smoothly.  I know the feels the guys on stage were going through… so to some extent this softens the blow of the fact that they had lockups.

Additionally there were some pretty awkward presenters…  but nothing nearly as awkward as the Microsoft “trash talk” examples… and the really bizarre rape analogy as the man and woman were playing Killer Instinct together.  Seriously Microsoft… what made you think it was okay to say something like that?  At first I was like man… this is awesome an actual woman on stage playing a game… that is not a super model.  Then you reduce her to a whipping boy as some jackass trash talks her and tells her to lay down and it will be over soon?  Xbox One:  The Console of Choice for Date Rapists everywhere!

Sony: Best Troll Ever

 

Anyways… essentially none of the bumps in the road for Sony were anything nearly as egregious as what we have seen from Microsoft.  The big takeaway for me from the Sony conference is the fact that the games look like they are going to be amazing.  Sony took every possible opportunity to troll Microsoft and make them feel bad for their current choices.  The above is a great video highlighting one of the biggest features announced last night.  Essentially you will be able to trade games for the PS4 the same as you could for any console previously.  No awkward restrictions… you can buy used games and swap titles with your friends the same as you have been up to this point.

This is a huge boon for Sony, as the lack of used game support was likely to completely rule me out of this generation of consoles.  I hate Game Stop probably more than most people, and I refuse to give them any business at all…  however I still buy most of my console titles second hand.  Very rarely is there a title for the consoles that makes me want to go out into the store and spend $60 on it day one.  Instead I love the scavenger hunt that is going to pawn shops, and more equitable secondhand game stores like Vintage Stock, Game Xchange and Half Price Books.  So the ability for a modern console to still give me that hunting for a bargain experience… is a huge boon.

Additionally the PS4 does not require an internet connection to work… however admittedly a lot of the features they were showing off in games were connected features.  The console though has been designed to work in a connection agnostic state, which is again is a huge boon for Sony.  There is no creepy Kinect eye always watching you, and with the recent flood of security concerns…  giving Microsoft a box in your house that was always passively watching what you did was more than a little dystopian for me.  I think Sony embraces the concept that actual gamers really don’t care much about minority report gimmickry… they just want to play the damned games reliably.

The biggest troll of the evening however was announced towards the end of the evening.  The PS4 looks like a better console in every possible way, and have far better developer support with new and interesting titles.  Playstation Plus is still far superior to Microsoft’s crappy gold program.. even after the announcement of getting 2 old titles per month.  All of this goodness… and Sony drops the bomb in that it is $100 less than the Xbox One.  While still expensive… the $399 price tag, and all the games that I want to play on it… really make this a buy for me.  I may not get it new at launch, but I will definitely be picking it up eventually.  I almost felt at the end of the night… that Sony should just drop the mic after the announcement and walk away…  because they schooled Microsoft in every conceivable way.

Best Thing About The Show

 

While I am experiencing a massive resurgence of console gaming right now and am really looking forward to the next generation of console games…  I am still very much a PC gamer at heart, and namely an MMO Gamer.  Last night Sony got a major coup in that they announced that Elder Scrolls Online was coming to the Playstation 4 and would be available Spring 2014.  Almost immediately Bethesda started in with the damage control and released the trailer above… showing that it would be coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac all within that Spring 2014 time frame.  Elder Scrolls Online is the game I am looking forward to the most of all the titles on the horizon… and we finally have a projected timeframe.

The new footage looks absolutely amazing, and it includes some really solid first person game play.  I’ve never had a problem with the idea of third person… and when playing Skyrim I switch back and forth between first and third regularly depending upon the situation.  Having first never really seemed like a must have… but this is a huge boon for the Elder Scrolls purist crowd.  Additionally the first person graphic for that Dragon Knight chain attack thingy looked amazing.  This only further cements my desire to play one…  I want to be Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.  I wonder if like WoW… I can find an add-on that says “Get Over Here!” every time I press the attack.

Wrapping Up

I really need to get on with my morning.  Today is trash day, and I have to finish gathering it, as well as give my cat some medication… and get on the road.  The broad takeaway for the night is that Sony absolutely obliterated Microsoft.  There is next to nothing they can do to recover in my eyes from the brutal beating they received at the hands of the Playstation 4.  I want to start stockpiling cash now… so that I can pick one up in December when the console launches.  I hope you have an amazing day… and I hope I did not offend any stauch Microsoft fans out there.

The Rat Trap

By necessity this is going to be one of my shorter early morning posts.  I am in process of drinking some coffee, and before much longer I will need to run my wife to the airport.  I’m awake roughly 30 minutes ahead of when I normally wake up… but for whatever reason it feels like I am missing 3 or 4 hours of sleep.  I always find it extremely hard to shut my brain off when I know I NEED to be sleeping… and last night was no exception to this rule.

The Prophecy

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I am still finding myself very much inexplicably drawn to this game.  The more I play it, the more nuanced the combat becomes…  but at the same time everything about it is deceptively simple.  It is essentially all the same clicks and key presses, but when you do them in timing with what other abilities produces entirely new results.  This feels extremely liberating in that I can get all the same warrior like abilities that I enjoy in other games with a handful of key presses just varying my timing for different results.  This guy feels like I have always wanted a warrior to feel… brutal and imposing but also controlling the battlefield.

My biggest problem so far is the fact that I seem to always receive the quest to do something… moments after I have done it.  The game has these public quest areas that are very reminiscent of Warhammer Online.  They involve killing a bunch of things, and then finally an insanely difficult boss spawns and taking it down rewards treasure and completion of the public quest.  In every single instance of a public quest in game… I have completed it, and then shortly thereafter gotten a quest to kill the final guy in the public quest.

Some of these were extremely difficult to solo… like the Subject 18 public quest area, and I have not been amped to try and do it again.  So as a result these public quests kill tasks sit in my task list undone until I finally get frustrated enough to go over and repeat the process.  This is the one thing I really wish they would change… instead of unlocking the public quest kill task at the end of a chain… just give it to players up front similar to the wanted posters were in World of Warcraft.  That way if you are already in the area and are feeling your wheaties you can make a stab at the big boss.

The Rat Trap

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The other aspect of the game that is quite literally killing me… is the fact that killing rats of ANY kind is a trap.  Basically when I play any game I thoroughly believe in a scorched earth policy.  If it is killable… it should probably die and die often to give me tasty tasty loot.  I find myself ping ponging across most maps killing everything in my wake.  The problem is… in Dragon’s Prophecy this is a brutal trap.  Rats are generally non-aggro neutral mobs, that have a nasty habit of wandering into AOE attacks and adding onto whatever you happen to be fighting.  They rarely have much hit points so the immediate thought is… this is no big deal.

The initial thought process… is so deadly wrong.  While rats don’t do much attack damage and are fairly week… they pack the single strongest attack I have encountered in this game…  Bacterial Infection.  This appears to be a percentage based damage over time ability… that can take me from alive to dead in like 10 seconds.  I have yet to really find a good way to counter this.  Right now I take on of the strongest potions I have and pray I will survive.  I would say that 90% of my deaths so far… have been to a damned stray rat.

This has lead me to play the game completely different than I normally would.  I end up carefully picking my way through packs of mobs… drawing them around corners to try and fight in areas that are not so rat infested.  It is so difficult for me to quell my “kill all the things” instinct and carefully pull my way through content.  This basically has flipped me into dungeon tank mode…  tanking an instance is the one time I am super cautious about my pulls.  Everything about the guardian feels like the WoW Warrior on steroids, with more nuanced controls.

I am still not 100% sure why I am enjoying the game so much.  It just feels like it is perfect for whatever state of mind I have been in.  I am sure my enjoyment will fade over time, but right now the dragon taming aspect with some really amazing tanky gameplay has made this a real win for me.  I always find it interesting when a game like this completely takes me by surprise.  Everything about the setup for this game, sounds like something that would annoy me.  I never really cared for runes of magic so the constant assertion that this was developed by the same people… was only taken as a negative by me.  What we have instead is an extremely deep and subtle game, that I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of its systems.

PK Comes through Again

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Last week in response to a post talking about playing a Ranger again in Rift and farming cloth, PKDude99 the guy behind my favorite warrior solo build… posted a link to his favorite rogue build.  This one is called the “Granpa said knock you out” build and is comprised of 41 Nightblade, 21 Riftstalker, and 4 Tactician.  I have to say once again PK is completely right.  The build works amazingly well, has extremely high damage output and next to no downtime.  I can routinely take mobs 2 or more levels than me without any issue or added difficulty.  I played with it quite a bit this weekend and was burning through the quests I worked on.

The funny thing is… as melee centric as I tend to be.  This is the first time I have ever really seriously played a melee rogue in Rift.  For whatever reason I was always drawn to the ranger/marksman builds that mimicked the WoW Hunter.  I think it is mostly that traditionally I do not get along well with stealth classes.  It always feels so tedious stealthing around and setting up the perfect moment to attack…  then the combat itself is usually over in seconds.  If you do not stealth around, usually you die horribly for your poor life choices.

Fortunately stealthing in Rift is completely different than my experience playing stealthers in the past.  Stealth is a 30 second buff that you use only as a setup immediately before combat.  Additionally you do not slow your movement speed, so combat still feels fast paced.  Additionally it seems to not really matter if I open with a stealth attack or not… I can still chew through mobs just as effectively without a big opener.  I feel like the Rift rogue is the “warriors” rogue…  for someone who prefers fast paced combat to fiddly stealthy nonsense.  I am sure most rogue types are ready to throttle me at this point… but I am enjoying it.

Wrapping Up

I need to wrap this up so we can get on the road.  We need to get to the airport, and then me on to work.  I hope you all have a great day, and hope that you all go as much sleep as needed…  unlike me.  Not really sure what this week will bring, I tend to completely vege out on video games during these periods.  I am sure I will play a good deal more Rift and Dragon’s Prophet…  and I would like to get back in to some more SWTOR as well.  Hopefully the week goes quickly.

The Dragod Comes

The bed felt extremely good this morning… and it took just about all effort I could muster to leave it, shower and go fetch some breakfast.  As a result it is after 10 am and I am finally sitting down to blog.  This morning I am listening to Red Hot Chilli Peppers as an attempt to block out the world and focus on my writing.  So far it is having mixed results because at the same time I am downloading Dragons Prophet to my laptop… and I am getting the occasional cut out, as I am streaming the music from my network attached storage.  Apparently I am flooding my wireless cards capacity with that 8 gig download.

The Dragod Comes

 

Last week this video was released about the new SOE game Dragon’s Prophet, and as silly as it sounds… this prompted me to download the game.  Anyone who could  create a video this awesome… had to be up to some good.  I am a rather simple monkey, and if you give me a big dude in armor with an even bigger sword… and I am generally pretty happy.  I figured this would be the kind of game that I play for a few hours and forget about forever.  Funny thing is… the game is really good and is extremely fun to play.  I expected the game to be a big dumb beat-em-up and what I found instead was a strangely nuanced game.

Belghast the Dragon Tamer

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Belghast lives again as a Guardian… which is essentially the big heavy armored warrior type.  My first issue with the game was the character creator.  This is another one of those games that for whatever stupid reason links hair style with facial hair style.  So essentially I got to choose between guy with mutton chops and handlebar moustache… or member of the duck dynasty cast with dreadlocks.  I thought it was kind of bullshit that there was not an option for a nice clean goatee and moustache.  Stupid as it might sound… this is almost always my major issue with Asian MMOs… they seem to have nothing but clean shaven options. 

If you have been following me for long, you will notice that almost every single character I make in any game looks the same.  Ultimately Belghast is an idealized version of myself with black hair, goatee and Adrian Paul ponytail if the game supports it.  I get grumpy when I cannot look the way I want to look, so this was an initial major strike against the game.  Luckily as I got into the  game itself I quickly forgot about this woe…  and after spending some of my stockpiled station cash on cosmetic armor… you can no longer see the lower part of my face anyway.

Smashing Things

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The game itself reminds me of a mash-up of TERA, Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2, as it has  aspects of all of the above with its own spin on each.  Combat is pretty much controlled with left and mouse clicks and various combo abilities on Q, W, and Number keys.  Your second mouse button varies based on how many times you have swung your main weapon.  This produces some pretty interesting gameplay and offers a lot of variance of abilities without having to hit a lot of different buttons.  For the guardian parry is R and charge is V… but I am sure some of these abilities change greatly based on your class.

There are various bugs with combat, namely the charge has a lot of issues.  Sometimes you will charge directly to the mob you are wanting to attack, but other times you teleport across the screen… the screen freezes and when you get control again you have a bunch of friends on you.  Essentially I have learned not to really rely on charging… and unfortunately that takes away some of my enjoyment.  Instead of I have started using my Q ability which is a Guile like sonic boom attack.  It travels a short distance and hits any mobs in the path, which I can then pull back and fight safely without aggroing other things.

The zone design reminds me a lot of Everquest 1.  In that you have town hubs, with a ring of lower level mobs around it… but as you get further away from a town the mob levels increase.  It is interesting to see zones designed specifically for early flying mounts, in that these mob level radius extend out from each little hub town.  If you travel the path between towns you will see a progression of mobs that looks something like this… town 1, level 5, level 6, level 7, level 8, level 15, level 14, level 13, level 12, level 11 town 2.  Essentially it seems like from ground up they are expecting players to charm a flying dragon and use it to hop back and forth between towns.

Poke-dragon

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Another interesting concept with the game is the fact that you can charm a mount extremely early.  I managed to get a flying mount at around level seven, pretty much as soon as I found a dragon out in the landscape.  Essentially as soon as you get the “capture” ability unlocked you can whittle down a dragon in health and attempt to capture them.  It might just be my imagination but it seems to get easier to capture them the more damage you have dealt to them before firing the command.  At that point you mount the back of your dragon and have to play a mini-game in order to complete the capture.  Essentially you have two bars… red meter that starts empty and fills, and a yellow meter that starts full.  The goal of the mini-game is to keep your reins icon in the center of a circle on screen.  If you get out of the circle, the yellow meter goes down rapidly… if it empties before the red bar fills you fail at the capture.

So the simple fact that you can capture a dragon is not as far as the Pokémon metaphor goes…  you also inherit new abilities from the various dragons you capture.  I am not 100% sure if I understand this all yet, there is a lot to figure out and not a ton of tutorial to do so.  However it seems like every dragon you tame has new abilities, these range from attacks, to harvesting and crafting abilities.  Eventually it seems like your dragon dictates whatever ability you have on the 1 key.  My current dragon has this lightning leap attack which is extremely powerful.  Additionally you seem to be able to stable your dragons and get them to learn new abilities.  Obviously I need to figure more of this out… but the takeaway is… there is a lot of hidden depth in the game.

I seem to have won the lottery when I picked starting in Sibernia.  I have been watching my friends talk about getting their first flying mount for a few weeks now… and the very first dragon I tamed had full flight.  In fact it was not until I got into the level 12ish area that I found a pure ground mount.  Having a wide array of flyers definitely has helped the enjoyment of this game, because seriously who doesn’t love riding a dragon?  Two of the dragons I captured came from a dungeon and were somewhat akward to get to… so it seems like there are common and less common versions of the various dragons.  My “emerald purple dragon”, definitely came with more abilities than any I had seen to that point…  we will just ignore the fact that it has emerald in the name but has absolutely no green or yellow on it.

Station Cash Drain

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One of the good things about this game is that it is by SOE, and uses the standard Station Cash system for micro transactions.  As a result, I have a Station Access account, and have been accruing station cash for some time.  The bad is that almost everything in this game has the option to spend SC in place of game money.  This means not only cosmetic stuff, and stat boosts, but enchanting items, crafting etc.  Everything has a slow money drain factored into it… but honestly I was expecting this from the company that brought us Runes of Magic.  Most of my SC expenditures have been what I term quality of life.  Essentially you can increase your bag and bank and stable space with station cash… all of which have made the game more enjoyable for me and less about micromanaging my inventory.  The negative is I had about 7500 sc going into this and am sitting right at 3000 now.

The one thing I am surprised about is that so far I have not encountered the ubiquitous cash box, or anything even vaguely similar.  Right now all of the station cash outlay seem to be on speeding up gameplay and buffing your character… but not necessarily direct money for items transactions.  Those might be there… I may just not have encountered them.  Additionally I have seemed to be able to live just fine off vendor and dropped gear, without need for anything more.  I’ve decided that once again I prefer sword and board to two hander… but this is probably not a shocker to anyone.  I look badass in my frosty/deathknighty armor… so I am completely happy running around and beating things down like a proper tank.

The Takeaway

Essentially my takeaway at the end of the day, is this is a game that I had essentially written off as something that I was not likely to enjoy.  However upon playing it, I am really having a blast doing so.  Basically if you liked TERA, but were turned off by just how horrible the questing experience was… then this is the game for you.  The combat is fun and strangely nuanced… and the dragon taming aspect throws something fresh into the mix.  This is definitely gaming junk food, but the experience is so worth the calories.  The game reminds me of so many other games, that combined it becomes its own very unique experience.  The game is pretty brutal at times as well… I have died an innumerable amount of times… but there seems to be no punishing effect of it other than the slow bleed of repair costs.  Download the game and give it a try, I figure you will find something in it you like.

Less of Me

It is officially the weekend and I’ve made my trip out to get sausage rolls once more.  We have a bunch of stuff to do to get ready for my wife going out of town for a week..  So I am assuming that I really need to speed my way through this mornings blog post, so we can get on with that stuff.  Additionally I forgot to pick up the cleaners on the way home… so we have to go do that as well.  I’ve had breakfast at this point, showered, and had a 5 hour energy… so I am ready to confront anything.

Less of Me

This morning is a pretty monumental day for me.  Not the date or anything about the day itself… but the fact that I weighed this morning and I am at my lowest point since I can remember.  Back in 2003 we went on a pretty epic diet and were extremely successful with it.  However we went on a cruise… and with in ability to really watch what we eat we fell completely off the bandwagon.  We maintained a decent weight until a death in the family, then we completely fell apart.  At that point we lost all the progress we made and then some.

Last year as a new years resolution we attempted to get back on the wagon… but for reasons that I honestly cannot remember the fell off the wagon again.  The first week in march this year we started a new, and treated it as a completely new process.  We have not been doing much of anything special, other than just religiously keeping track of our food intake.  The process has finally reached a point where it is ingrained in our nature now.  For once I feel like I am not really missing anything, and I have been able to log the food without actually feeling shame about what I am eating.  If I eat something expensive calorie wise, I can still be okay with being under for the week.

This new view towards food and out intake has really paid off.  The reason why today is so monumental is the fact that as of this morning we are on week 14 and I have lost 42 pounds since starting.  That is an average of 3 pounds per week, which has been a fairly breakneck process.  There have been so many changes as a result of this.  In general I feel better about myself, and I think the result has been my willingness to continue to blog daily… and open up more about myself.  I will never be small, it is just not a thing in the cards for me.  I come from a family of big people, but I can be smaller.  The stupid thing is… the only thing I really want is the ability to wear geeky t-shirts…  which is ironic that they don’t really make those in big and tall sizes.  You can get them in big sizes… but at 6’4” there will never be a time at which I do not require that T added onto whatever size I wear.

Survivalism

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Last night I spent some more time with the  survivals of State of Decay.  I have to say the more I play the game the more I love it.  This game really tweaks whatever instinct there is in me that comes out when I play Fallout and Skyrim.  I was given a task of meeting up with some other survivors at a church…  the objective was marked on my map… but I had hell bringing myself to keep driving the station wagon I had pilfered past all the houses I could be clearing.  The whole “I wonder what is in that building over there” is so ingrained in me at this point.

The two big negatives I have encountered… and just personal ones.  First off… melee weapons will always be what I favor for ease of use and ability to keep from drawing extra attention with gunshots.  The only problem is melee weapons break super fast… I am really hoping that I either find a way to repair them… or find stronger melee weapons.  I have an assortment of guns, but since ammo is so limited I really don’t want to use them.  The second negative is that night is really dark… you can turn on a flashlight but it really doesn’t do much of anything to help you out.  It is really only effective when you are exploring a building during the night.

One resounding positive is the fact that I managed to successfully make my way to the church without a melee weapon at all.  I ended up just taking it very slowly and relying on kicks to finish off the zombies.  I am sure there would have been no way for me to deal with a horde of zombies… but so long as I took them on one at a time I could kick them down without much issue.  I found the flashlight extremely helpful as a way to draw attention to random shamblers that happened to be in my path.  I could flash them with the light, and get them to charge me… at which point me and my entourage finished the job.

So another huge thing I have to say about the game… is how gracious and personal the response from Undead Labs has been to the success so far.  I watched twitter for awhile yesterday afternoon… and sent my congratulations to Undead Labs for just how overwhelmingly positive the response has been.  Before I knew it I was being tweeted by Annie Strain… wife of Jeff Strain the founder of Undead Labs… thanking me for my kind words.  This has only made me want even more success for them… because that kind of personal touch is really unheard of these days.

It added a completely different dimension to this whole process… it feels very much like I am rooting for the little guy and when they win it feels like we win as well.  The game really is amazing, and so far I have only encountered a couple of bugs.  The entire experience is extremely polished and feels better than most traditional AAA release titles I have played.  If they can follow up with a PC release, multiplayer, and DLC content packs… I feel it will continue to be an amazing success.  The figures I saw floating around yesterday put it at just over 130,000 sales on the first day, which I believe puts it in the  top ten of XBLA releases.

Come Back Haunted

 

So another big thing that happened this week, is that the new Nine Inch Nails single has been released… Come Back Haunted.  This was a massive surprise since at one point Trent Reznor had said that Nine Inch Nails was essentially over.  The upcoming album is the aptly labeled “Hesitation Marks” which is scheduled for release September 3rd.  NIN will always have a special place for me, it is one of those projects that has been so much to me over the years.  There always seems to be something that speaks to me, regardless of which “Halo” we are listening to.  Every doubt, every fear, every indecision seems to be reflected somewhere in his library of songs.

I’ve been a loyal devotee since the Pretty Hate Machine days, and Down In It is still among my favorite songs.  This new era feels like a blending of everything that has come before, into a new sound…  almost retrospective.  More than anything it feels like a strong mix of the Downward Spiral era mixed with the Pretty Hate Machine.  Whatever it is, it feels fresh, vibrant and new… and I am in love with it.  I will be anxiously waiting for September when we can get the full Halo.  Here is hoping that a few more tracks get leaked in the process.

Wrapping Up

So in the name of full disclosure… I have been listening to Nine Inch Nails Year Zero while writing this mornings post.  I have found that if I listen to something, I can tune out the television and other background noise and focus on what I am writing easier.  The same thing goes for when I really need to crunch through  code at work… but in that case I tend to listen to movie and video game soundtracks.  Otherwise I find myself naming my variables after songs… the same way I named the SoD section above after a NIN song.  Anyways… I hope you all have a great day… and I hope we can find all the things needed to get my wife on her way this week.

Shinobi Jones

I am struggling with existence this morning.  I have always thought the saying “Thank God Its Friday” was a little trite, but I have been telling myself for the majority of the week “all you have to do is make it through Friday”.  I am not really sure what about this week has made it so stressful, but I am certainly feeling it.  It might be the fact that I know I am just about to be completely alone for a week as my wife has to go to a conference thingy.  Have I mentioned that I don’t really embrace change well?

The Hills have Dead

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One of the games I have really been looking forward to on the Xbox 360 is State of Decay.  This is the open world exploration based zombie game from Undead Labs.  It was available as of yesterday on the Xbox Live arcade for 1600 points… aka $20.  Additionally it seems that Undead Labs is trying the failed 38 Studios approach of launching a console game and then bankrolling that success into a MMO version.  So as I look at the game, I am also in the back of my head thinking about how well this will work in MMO form.

Basically in a quick sound byte…  State of Decay is Dead Island but done better.  You are given a more interesting world to explore, populated with less random encounters and a stealth mechanic should you choose to deploy it.  I am about as subtle as a hurricane, so this is usually lost on me… but stealthier folks will love being able to sneak up on the shambling dead and get a silent take down.  There is a lot going on in the game, and most of it really good… especially for a Xbox live title.

The premise is simple, you are at a campground when the world falls to shit… and you and your friend Ed (poor bastard) agree to go around searching for survivors.  By saving other characters you essentially end up building a pack of stalwart zombie hunters.  I believe later on you can develop an enclave of survivors and protect them, building influence with each of them.  This influence seems to dictate the type of things you can do.

There are some really cool mechanics as you go out and explore the world.  One of the niftiest things is that you can at any point essentially fortify your position.  While this defies reason a bit, because as you fortify your position you magically brandish a hammer, nails and a stack of bedraggled board.  However this function allows you to protect yourself from zombies busting through windows to come attack you and the human target… Ed.  This will buy you more time to rifle through the bags and chests in an area to scavenge for materials.

So far I have encountered two kinds of undead.  The first is your normal shambling kind that if they hear you comes running but can pretty much be beat down with a bat easily unless they swarm you.  When I was searching the camp I discovered a maintenance shed that was guarded by a half dozen of a completely different kind of undead.  These were far more dexterous and had an almost demonic appearance with glowing eyes.  As a result these were much harder to take down… and quite honestly damned near killed me.  However as I said earlier… the game really rewards risk taking, because the maintenance shed was completely loaded with stuff to scavenge.

At this point I have not really played the game for very long, as I had some things I was planning on doing in The Secret World.  However the content I have played has left me wanting to play it more.  If you like zombies and you like Fallout style open world exploration… then I would give this game a look.  Additionally it has some pretty good voice acting and writing so far, even though I have not really experienced a lot of it.  As a whole it very much feels like Dead Island meets Fallout meets Walking Dead by Telltale.  If that sounds like an enjoyable combination… then you should totally check this one out.

Shinobi Jones

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Last night we lacked our quorum of five members, so nothing really coalesced in the game around a “group activity”.  Since I had not yet done the “Last Train to Cairo” sequence, I figured it was as good a time as any to go get my whip.  First off I have to give Funcom major kudos because this is hands down the best issue they have released.  The feel of this mission goes above and beyond everything we have experienced to date.  It makes me extremely anxious to see what seven and eight are going to be like… especially with seven supposedly having a 007 flair.

I am going to try to keep from spoiling any of the content… but essentially the mission pack is a wild ride of sabotage, puzzles, stealth, and the most epic train sequence you have ever seen.  All the while you have these great flavor references to the Indiana Jones movies.  This is made all the more surreal by the fact that of late I have been rocking a combination of the shinobi outfit… with the glowing draugr mask… to produce a ninja with glowing blue eyes.  Jones. Shinobi Jones…  with my subtle rocket launcher combat style.

As always the puzzles are extremely puzzling.  There was one deadly floor trap that took me over thirty minutes and probably a dozen deaths to get the hang of.  All of the risk however is well worth the reward, as you not only get your spiffy new whip… but also get a 10.1 epic helm in the process, as well as some currency with a new faction of the Council of Venice.  I have heard rumor that through the upcoming expansions, there will be similar 10.1 epic items, all designed as a way to ease someone into being able to do the NY raid content.  If so I fully support this notion of gear through truly epic quest sequences.

I really need to go back and complete the Tyler Freeborn sequence of quests, as I have left that one hanging as well.  Quite honestly I am sure there is a lot of content I have missed, as the only issue that I have fully explored was the first one, with the awesome prom night sequence.  Carter is still one of my all time favorite protagonists in this game, but after taking the train to Cairo…  I am starting to really like combo of Nassir and Said.  Quite honestly almost all of the content is extremely well written and memorable.

The Secret World has been one of those games that I fired up every few weeks and piddled around a bit in.  However it has been months since I had actually played the game seriously.  Each time I come back for awhile, I marvel at just how well crafted it is.  It still has some very rough spots around the edges, but they have improved a lot in the last year.  I hope that they manage to find that point of equilibrium at which they are able to continue producing introducing content, and as the same time sustain their work force.  The game always gives me some awesome experiences.

Wrapping Up

I have more things I could talk about, but honestly my head is killing me and I want to wander off and find some headache medicine.  Additionally it is already getting late in the morning, and I need to gather laundry for the cleaners.  I might do a few bonus posts this weekend, because I have a few ideas that need to congeal in my head for awhile before throwing out onto paper.  I hope you all manage to survive the coming work day, and that it ends up turning into a weekend quickly.  Ours is going to be dictated by preparation for my wife to travel, and by myself mental preparation for being alone for a week.