Death of the Internet Service Provider

Monday mornings are without a doubt the worst thing to ever exist.  I sit here and am tired and worn out from the weekend, knowing I am going to have to go be passably intelligent for the next several hours.  It was a busy weekend, but unfortunately not busy in the kinds of ways I would have liked it to be.  At this point I am just hoping to survive until evening so I can crash.

Sofa is conspiring against me

Saturday was an absolute whirlwind of furniture shopping.  Sunday followed with a whirlwind of cleaning and then even more furniture shopping…  because we are inherently neurotic and could not trust our opinions from Saturday.  As of right now I have completely dismantled the gaming loft, and 20 years of console gaming is more or less neatly packed into office depot boxes.  All that is left there is to remove one set of furniture and replace it with the love seat from downstairs and a new more minimalistic entertainment center.

There are so many things urging these projects on, but not the least of them is the fact that after over a decade my ISP is closing down DSL access.  Yes you heard me right, I am still on DSL and have been in part because I was caught up in an anachronism.  I literally had my DSL service through an old fashioned Internet Service Provider, and with it came the ability to call them at any time and get a person I actually had known for decades.  Additionally I had perks like the ability to host servers, a static ip address, all things that I would no longer have in going to a less custom experience.

Death of the Internet Service Provider

While I have wanted to make the switch for years, simply because my 4 meg internet connection sucks massively in todays realm of all streaming all the time.  I have not done so because there are a lot of legacy applications that my wife and her teacher friends use that I hosted off of a home server.  Over the years my wife has moved on and is no longer using most of these, but her teacher friends still were.  Windows hosting, is both painfully priced and painfully limited in kind of access you have.  So up until now it has just been easier to host it myself.

We got an email and later a paper letter from my ISP stating that it was no longer financially feasible to continue with DSL support.  So by June 15th we will be entering the greater broadband world, as that is the day we officially lose our “artisan” internet, as I have taken to calling it.  Right now I am looking at 50 meg cable, because I sincerely doubt we need to bump all the way up to 100meg or whatever the top of the line is.  I figure 50 meg is already 12 times more bandwidth than what we previously had, so the jump up any higher is just truly unfathomable at this point.

High Definition Daze

How this need links up to the desire to fix the game loft, is that we will be having to have cable run to the upstairs.  So we might as well clean the loft and get it set up with proper cable while we are running it to my office.  Two things still need to happen out in the loft.  Firstly we need to haul out the stuff we are getting rid of, secondly we need to acquire a television and entertainment center and set them up.  Television shopping is an almost surreal experience, and this is coming from someone who understands all the numbers and settings and features.

We are not really huge television people.  I am sure this counts as blasphemy, but in our living room the largest television we own is a 32 inch 1080p from 2006ish.  While I grew up as an only child, and use the television as background noise, we consciously consume it in small doses.  We tend to record things on the DVR all week long, and then watch them as my wife grades on the weekend.  As a result, I feel ill equipped for the realities of buying a television…  I quite honestly rarely watch television in HD at all.  It doesn’t really improve any of the programming I actually watching, since I tend to be violently allergic to sports casting.

Plans within plans

Right now the plan is to upgrade the living room television, and move our old 32 inch television up to become the game loft setup.  All of this will allow us to pair down the living room to just our main sofa, which sets us up to move in the new furniture that we have yet to even purchase yet.  So as of Saturday morning, we thought we had everything figured out.  But upon a re-measure of the pieces, we were either going to not have enough room, or barely an inch of clearance on the wall it all was going on.  Essentially we were back to the drawing board.

All of Saturday we had not really been looking at the home theater components/sectionals…  that was just something that we stumbled into at the end of the day.  Once we had gotten our fill of dust in our lungs… we decided to go back out and hit a few places looking specifically at the component sectionals.  Quite honestly, I am glad we did, because it was at the second stop of the day that we found what I think will ultimately be our living room setup.  After calculating what “Recliner > Console > Recliner > Chair > Chase Lounge” would end up being space wise, we still would have roughly 8 inches on either side to spare.

Of course being as neurotic as we are… we did not accept victory, but instead spent the rest of the day going from store to store trying to break the bubble we had just built.  Fortunately, or unfortunately… depending upon your perspective we were not able to bust the deal.  So now it feels like we really do have a final plan in place, now it just comes down to ordering the furniture and planning for delivery. which also involves having the loft done as a dependency… plans within plans.

Finally some gaming

All of this added up to just not much game time at all.  By the time I made it home each evening I was extremely sluggish and worn out.  Yesterday afternoon I took an hour long cat nap, so that helped quite a bit.  By the time I made it into Rift I was almost sociable again.  I finally unlocked the daily quest content out in Ashora, and apparently you can make roughly 10 plat a day by just doing those quests.  Overall they seemed pretty easy to solo, and went fast enough.  Just involved quite a deal more travel time than the previous daily quest zones had.  I think Iron Pine Peaks has forever spoiled me with its efficiency and changing mob types.

After doing my daily quests, I had wandered over into Steppes of Infinity and began the quest chains out there, hoping they would also eventually unlock daily quests.  Round about this time we had some life bloom in the guild, as Aleriase, Marklaar and Plasmodia all logged in within thirty minute of each other.  We circled the wagons and decided to queue up for a normal dungeon.

Almost instantly we got assigned a random fifth, and were zoning into Empyrean Core.  So I am wondering if it is just a case of not having a lot of upper level dungeons, but so far at 59/60 I have done three dungeons and each of them has been the same place.  Not that I am complaining really, it is a fun dungeon and goes pretty quickly if players know the pitfalls.  I managed to pull a second one hand sword from the dungeon, so I now have a matched set of Unstable Core Shards.  Supposedly one hander and two hander dps have been normalized, and I have always preferred the look of dual wielding to two handers.

Getting back to normal

It was yet again, an awesome time hanging with the guildies.  I know there are plans for both Tuesday and Wednesday night runs, so I am looking forward to those as well.  The clock is ticking away, so I am needing to wrap this up.  Thanks for bearing with me on the recent flood of personal posts.  I made myself a promise to post about whatever was happening, regardless if it was exciting.  Lately there has just been a good deal more real life happening than gaming.  Hopefully this week things can get back to at least somewhat normal.

If you’ve made it this far in the post… I hope you all have a great Monday, or at least as good as a Monday can be.  It serves to be a busy week for me, the server move that was scheduled for Saturday night is going to have to be rescheduled for tonight.  Hopefully the rest of the week ends up better.

Spring Nesting

This morning is definitely one of those ones where I am struggling to wake up.  It is chilly and I am currently swaddled in my fuzzy blanket after making a run to get breakfast.  At the moment it just hurts to think, but I am hoping the migraine meds will kick in soonish and remedy that.  In addition I have a cat who has decided the perfect place to be is on my chest between me and the laptop.  Today serves to be a day full of cleaning, organization and home re-arranging.

Spring Nesting

I really don’t have much gaming wise to report,  because yesterday nearly the entire day was spent going from furniture store to furniture store.  As with every spring, the nesting instinct has kicked in and with it a list of home improvement projects and minor renovations.  In this particular case, it has been decided that the living room furniture needs to go.  We had talked about this for some time, but the season has brought on a new sense of urgency.

Quite honestly my recliner is super uncomfortable and our sofa looks like crap at this point.  So we have needed to do something for some time.  We are both successful adults, but we don’t really live like we are.  Always in the past we have settled for whatever furniture happened to be readily available and looked nice, but this time we are working on holding out for just the perfect pieces.  However after spending all day yesterday going from store to store, we remembered that exactly what we want… doesn’t actually exist.

A Few Simple Requests

So there are a few simple requests that we had.  First that we had a recliner for me, since that is my favorite mode of seating.  Second that my wife who is fairly tall be able to lay down comfortably, because at this point we are resigned to the fact that we will never keep the same bedtime, and she greatly prefers falling asleep on the sofa and then having me bring her to bed later.  Lastly my wife has always wanted a chase lounge, or at least since a friend of mine from college had one that she fell in love with.

Ultimately after looking around all day, we stumbled onto a modular sectional that would potentially fit the bill.  After getting super excited about it, we went home and measured only to find out that our living room was nowhere near big enough for it.  After some shuffling around, we managed to come up with a combination that would fit all along one wall… essentially would be this awesome wall of furniture.  The above picture is of a similar configuration, but not quite what we were going for… also actors and fake house and stuff.

Problem is, after coming home my wife started freaking out because the manufacturer website lists a different length than many of the furniture stores do.  Today will involve a trip to the store and hand measuring a few of the pieces.  Either it is going to fit absolutely perfectly, or be 10 inches too long… so we may or may not be back to the drawing board with this one.  There is another configuration that is acceptable, but would end up with us needing to shop for an end table to complete the wall of furniture.

Hellbugs Ho!

2013-05-05_085333

So after the day of running around, standing, walking, sitting, squatting as we went from store to store looking for the perfect furniture, I was pretty wore out by the time we got home.  Add to that a great sense of trepidation for the server move that was scheduled to happen at 10 pm last night, and I just didn’t feel like I could get into much of anything.  My friends on mumble were happily scrimmaging over in League of Legends and engaged in the banter that only a LoL player could understand.  However each of those maps takes between 30 minutes and an hour, so with my oddly truncated play schedule I just didn’t feel like I could take the risk of getting into that world.

As a result I logged into Rift and wandered around aimlessly for a while.  I came to the realization yesterday, that each of the Carnage quests out in Ashora rewarded Infinity Stones. which could then be turned in for really nice level 60 gear.  So my downtime activity has been mindlessly slaughtering packs of mobs to finish out all the infinity quests.  I was in the middle of doing this when I stumbled upon an “Invasive Species” Rift, and before I knew it I was caught up in another roaming group in search of more “bug rifts”.

That is one of the things I have always liked, the way groups just kind of happen on their own.  Then when you have a group together, it tends to stick together for awhile as well.  I cannot count the number of times I have been randoming in Rift, and the entire group just stays together for two or three instances after the initial one.  The community as a whole just seems to have a better sense of cohesiveness. 

After a handful of Rifts on a slow mount, I had enough of the frustration for one evening.  Unfortunately the ports are in bad places out in Ashora, and it was extremely hard to keep up with the 150% mount folks.  I did not get any new mounts, but I did manage to get Skritt the red hellbug companion.  So in the grand scheme of things I would be happy, even if I didn’t get any more doodads since I now have a Hellbug mount and its matching companion.  I still would love to have the green ones, since green is my favorite color… but if it doesn’t happen it is fine by me.

Life Happens

gameloft

I realize this is out of line with almost every post I have ever made on my blog, but I am hoping that my readers will be okay with that.  Thing is, Tales of the Aggronaut, more than anything else is my blog about me and my gaming happens.  Sometimes you have one of those days where very little gaming occurs, but a ton of life does.  These are the days that always in the past have thrown me into a writers block, because I thought that no one would ever want to hear about what actually happens to the me being the screen.

In this most recent binge of daily posts I have decided that a goal of mine is to be more honest with what is occurring with me.  To actually blog about what happens regardless if it feels interesting to me.  I totally spent the entire day furniture shopping with my wife, and while some gaming happened it was the biggest event to occur that day.  So as I started to blog this morning, it seemed the most logical thing to write about.  I know I have dropped some subscribers of late, and maybe this will cause more to drop as well…  but at the end of the day I feel like I have to be more truthful and show more of the person behind the keys to keep this up over the long haul.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, I hope you have a pretty great day.  It is still a pretty dreary day out today, but we have indoor plans for the most part.  I will be boxing up the 15 years of console systems in the loft, so that we can tear it down and hopefully rebuild it as a much more usable space.  Right now the intent is to still have PS3, Xbox 360 and a custom gaming PC hooked up to a new TV with a new entertainment center. 

While I love owning a Sega CD, Famicom, NeoGeo etc… they just take up a ton of room and are a pain in the ass to keep hooked up and “on tap”.  I plan on running emulators for most of the console systems on the PC and then just knowing I have the others neatly boxed in my closet.  Above is a picture of the “Game loft” during its heyday, and hopefully the new version will be a little neater, but every bit as cool.

Sixty Candles

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

Gameplan Changed

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

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

Sixty Candles

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

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

Money or Mount

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

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

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

Specimen Captured

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

Hellbug Rally

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

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

ARAM Strikes Back

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

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

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

Specimen Captured

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

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

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

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

Hellbug of a Different Color

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

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

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

Breaching the Core

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

Hellbugs on my yard

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

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

A.R.A.M.

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

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

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

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

Breaching the Core

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

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

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

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

Dungeoneering Challenge

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

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

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

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

Tiny Two-hander

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

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

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

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

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

Wukong is super annoying

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

Escapist Thwarted

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

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

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

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

Freljord Rising

 

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

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

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

Sucking Less

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

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

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

Wukong is super annoying

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

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

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

Champion Testing

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

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

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

Awesome Trailers Revisted

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

What makes an awesome trailer?

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

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

DC Universe Online

 

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

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

Hellgate: London

 

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

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

 

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

Mass Effect 2

 

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

Bioshock 2

 

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

Fallout New Vegas

 

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

Borderlands

 

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

Warhammer Online

 

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

Rift

 

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

Star Wars: The Old Republic

 

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

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

Rage

 

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

Diablo 3

 

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

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

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

 

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

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Live Action)

 

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

Elder Scrolls Online

 

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

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

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

I Blame Liore

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

With More Spikey Bits

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

The Desert of Flames

EQ2_000090

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

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

Tiny Elvis

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

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

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

The Great Escape

IMG_0388

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

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

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

Spikey Bits on his Spikey Bits

2013-04-29_182948

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

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

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

Rift World Problems

2013-04-29_195838

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

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

Coffee and Rambling

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

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

That Rift Moment

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

Cameras at the ready

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

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

Return to Moriban

2013-04-28_225551

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

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

That “Rift” Moment

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

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

Small Group of Friends

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

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

Beauty of Dawn

 

Beauty of Dawn – Malukah – Elder Scrolls Online

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

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

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

Loot Box Strikes Back

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

The Waiting Game

2013-04-26_234609

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

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

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

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

Neverwinter is coming

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

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

Loot Box Strikes Back

2013-04-28 09_53_00-Greenshot

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

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

Farmville with Swords

2013-04-28 10_01_27-Greenshot

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

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

Time Sinks

2013-04-28 10_01_03-Greenshot

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

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

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

The Sun is Coming Out

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

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