Me and My Tentacle

I Hate the NDA

Trove 2014-02-01 09-26-43-06I know you are thinking, “of course you hate them, you are a blogger” and to some extent yes that is the source of my frustration.  However more than that I feel like in the internet age they are defeatist.  We are in an age when people are actively ready to hand you their cash to participate in a pretty buggy experience.  Look at how popular the Steam Early access process has been to date, and just how many people are actively playing games that are not close to being launched yet.  I started playing Minecraft during really early beta and it was roughly two years before the game “officially” launched… all the while there was so much enjoyment to be had in the process of the alpha.  Each step of the way it was the constant stream of videos that got people pumped to be playing it.

At any given time I am in a number of alpha and beta testing processes for video games.  It has been a thing that I have done for years, and it seems like the more you test the more you get to test.  In the case of two of those I am amped and ready to be gushing about those games and posting cool info about them.  The problem is both of those are under pretty strict NDA processes.  They moment they lift however I will be off to the races with information in hand ready to post.  What the NDA seems to cause right now is an era of disinformation.  Folks who you assume are in testing can make comments like “I wouldn’t get your hopes up” here and there… without actually touching their NDA guidelines and cause a negative buzz for the game before it even launches.

The Open Model

The negative seems to stick with us more than the positive, and it seems like everyone knows someone who knows someone who doesn’t like this game or that game and is more than willing to give you their laundry list of reasons in private.  This I guess is why Trove has been so unbelievably refreshing.  The official forums are Reddit, and from day one we have been able to post whatever the hell we wanted about the game.  They know it is alpha, but they also are super transparent about the information.  Yesterday they released the Gunslinger class seen above, and sure it is buggy but it is damned cool seeing the first additional class in the game come to fruition.

Thing is… we’ve known this was coming for some time.  They have talked about it in the live streams, on reddit… posted various tidbits of information.  So the community that has sprung up around this game was ready and waiting with open arms to see this new class and the new batch of player created weapons that would spring out of it.  What this open model does is general some serious evangelism for your game, which is a good thing.  People what to play games that other people are having fun playing.  The above video is the entire reason why I started playing Minecraft.

Were it not for the X’s Adventures in Minecraft series of videos, I probably never would have gotten onto the Minecraft bandwagon at least not until EVERYONE was playing it.  There was something so simple about the game play I saw and infectious but only because the person doing the lets play videos was so open and engaging about what he was doing.  Games can really benefit from this simple grass roots support, and I feel like this is going to play a larger and larger role in getting folks into new games over time.  I am sure we are also entering the era of the video casting shill…  and we have seen a certain measure of that in the media recently with the payola scandal going on within the xbox one videocasters.  All of this said… I just feel like right now the NDA does more harm than good.  When a new game comes out, people crave information about it… and if the game company themselves won’t provide it, this is a great niche for the evangelists to fill.

Me and My Tentacle

Wow-64 2014-01-29 23-06-53-81 I admit it… I just wanted a reason to name this post something goofy.  Over in WoW I have spent a lot of time soloing old content for fun and profit.  Namely I have been seeking the pets and mounts that drop in older content.  I believe i spoke about my surprise that I could actually solo the Twin Emperors finally in AQ40 which had been the only road block from regularly soloing this instance.  When I took down C’Thun I got one of those items I had always wanted to get back when we were raiding.  The Vanquished Tentacle of C’Thun is a trinket that on use summons a Tentacle of C’Thun to come fight by your side for 30 seconds.  Even back in the day this was mostly a novelty item… since it was stationary and as a result really not that useful unless you were fighting a mob that stood completely still.  However how freakin cool is it to summon a tentacle on demand?

Another bit of madness I have engaged upon recently is trying to work my way through the Argent Tournament.  Look I know you are all saying… why did you not do that in Wrath?  Well I am bad at doing daily quest grinds…  I always have a million other things I would rather be doing than dailies.  So I piddled at them from time to time… but mostly I just hated the jousting mechanic.  Now however it seems like that mechanic can be cheesed by the fact that I am a well geared level 90.  Luckily I think I only have Gnomeregan and Darnasas left before I can get the tabard, which it is cool to have a port to Northrend.  However this is something I am doing mostly for the large number of pets and mounts you can get.  Not sure how super seriously I will take this, I doubt it will become a daily ritual like the Netherwing grind did.  Right now I have a lot of different games that I ant to be playing, but this is my next faction “goal”.

Sneaky McSneakybits

Persistent Stuff

Trove 2014-01-29 06-10-34-60 It has been quite a while since I last talked about Trove on my blog.  For a bit I had been recording regular segments of me exploring the world, then after roughly six of them I just stopped.  Namely this coincides with me getting super into World of Warcraft raiding for a bit.  I however have continued to explore the game each time they add a new build.  At this point it is hard to remember exactly what the state of the game was when I last talked about it.  Currently we have fully persistent cornerstones, and you can see mine on the right-hand side of the image above.  It is still very much a work in progress, but essentially I was trying to maximize the space available and still look like something I could pick out at a distance as “mine”.

Currently there are four levels above ground and two below ground, the first of which below has my workbench and block transmuter thingy.  One of the cool things that they added in within the last few patches is the ability for your crafting inventory to survive between server resets.  This means I finally have a real reason to mass harvest materials for use later, since I am not constantly losing everything each time a patch goes in.  My biggest wish however is that we could craft some weapons to replace the starter crap.  Each time the server resets I rush around trying to get decent enough weapons to leave the first tier zones.  In this present patch it feels like maybe they nerfed the drop rates a bit, as I slaughter a few dozen ladybugs and bees this morning and have gotten nothing at all but cubits… the crafting currency.

Another cool thing they are doing is replacing the in game weapon drops with ones created by players.  When you get an item, it now says who the weapon was created by.  It was pretty cool the other night when I got a nifty rapier drop and noticed it was created by a friend of mine CaptainCursor.  Since the community is relatively small at present, this adds a whole new level to the game since you are constantly running into things created by names you recognize.  You can check out the latest patch notes over on the Trove reddit.

Sneaky McSneakybits

rift 2014-01-29 06-31-43-93 Yeah I have no clue why I named this subsection and the blog post this…  brain does things sometimes.  Last night my most important mission was to finish leveling my rogue to 60, and consume all of the various loot boxes I had gathered up along the way.  At some point they made it so that you are guaranteed a lockbox of some sort from your weekly patron gift.  Since my warrior Belghast is already fairly well geared, or at least well enough to begin raiding…  I figured I would stockpile them to give my rogue a quick gear boost upon dinging.  Turns out it worked pretty well at doing just that.  Between the lockboxes and about 50 plat in select purchases I was able to get well past the 300 hit requirement for expert dungeons.  I did not however get to run one as we spent a good chunk of the evening out and about last night.

In theory the queue should go pretty fast since I am equally comfortable Barding it up as support or going dps as either my Marksman spec or my Nightblade primary dps one.  Going back and playing rift has made me realize just how much I love the Rift Rogue and truly dislike playing a WoW Rogue.  While I got Gloam to 90, and I am extremely happy I did so that I could do the living steel transmutes I needed to craft my Sky Golem…  I really don’t think he is going to get much play.  Quite simply put…  Belgarou my feral druid is a better rogue than my rogue is…  or is at least a more interesting one.   I have just come to realize I don’t really like the way rogues in wow play.  Not sure what it is about the play style but it just isn’t for me anymore, especially now that I feel other classes like Retribution Paladin do the rogue combo point thing better.

Ultimately my key frustration with WoW rogues is that combo points are built in the target instead of a buff that stacks on the rogue itself.  Warhammer Online got this right initially with the Witchhunter class, which was by all purposes a “better” rogue.  I realize at this point the combo points on target thing is tradition, but it simply does not work that well.  While saying the Rift rogue is better, is a bit disingenuous since it is essentially a wow rogue, hunter, druid, and a few other classes that don’t exist in wow rolled into one.  I think the main reason why it “works” better is that the combo point mechanism is on the rogue, not the mob.  This adds a bunch of interesting gameplay elements like building your combo points on the boss, and then using your combo dump to execute weaker encounters.  It is just at this point that the WoW rogue seems so much less interesting than the other “Rogue like” combo point classes.

Onyxia Mount Patrol

Wow-64 2014-01-29 06-49-55-23 After the time in Trove and Rift, I settled in for a little bit of Tuesday raid reset madness over in World of Warcraft.  For better or worse, there are several raids that I solo each week on multiple characters for an attempt at the various pets, tansmoggy bits, and every elusive mounts.  The start of each week tends to be me making the trek out to Dustwallow Marsh to beat up on Onyxia.  First off I have to bitch a little bit, because post Cataclysm they have made it a royal pain in the ass to get to Onyxia for Alliance players.  The fastest route I have figured out is fly straight south out of Stormwind, hop the boat at Booty Bay, and then fly to Dustwallow from there.  All of that involves flying across several zones and hoping that you happen to arrive at Booty Bay just in time to land on the boat.

Of course like normal she didn’t drop me a mount, or anything else of interest for that matter but at this point I can easily solo her as Retribution Paladin and Frost Deathknight, so I do this little interchange twice a week.  I need to cycle through some of my other characters and see if I can build a spec for them that can bring her out of the air in phase two.  I might be able to gather up enough timeless isle gear to make a passable Boomkin spec on my druid, and I think in theory I could probably do it on as Enhancement Shaman.  I do not think however that my Rogue or Warrior will be of much use in my quest for her mount.  I need to check with my friend Rylacus and see if he has any master tips for dropping her out of the air.  The one time I tried to do the fight as a Blood DK it literally took 30 minutes for my diseases/icy touch/deathcoil to do enough damage to get her back on the ground.

The highlight of the evening in WoW however was me flying over to Ahn’Qiraj on a whim.  Turns out that I now have enough physical damage to solo the Twin Emperors fight.  This had long been a stumbling block for me when it came to soloing AQ40.  The other big hurdle was viscidious, however since I dual wield frost… I simply switched my razorice enchanted one-hander to my main hand and that seemed to do the trick for shattering him.  Past that howling blast was more than enough frost damage to freeze the big blob.  I am still missing two pets from this place, so I can see adding it to the weekly faff farming rotation.  I did not really have time to do my BWL run on my paladin, I am still missing a few pieces of judgement… so I am sure over the next few days I will be getting that in.  Since the eggs are a pain in the ass on anyone other than my Deathknight, I generally grab a random person from the guild who needs transmoggy bits before venturing into the dungeon.  My hope is to find a time when Scarybooster can be online, and drag his butt through with them.

2013 Retrospective

Grand Experiment in Review

2012 was an extremely horrible year for me and at least professionally I would rank it as quite possibly the worst year I have ever had.  I would put it as worse than the year I was out of work for six months after the dotcom crash.  On September 11th 2012 my company suffered what they thought was a network attack, that only later the security guy pulled his head out of his ass and realized it was a regularly scheduled security scan… that he himself authorized.  The results of this was a massive overreaction that caused me and my team to spend the rest of the year and a good chunk of the beginning of this year rebuilding damned near everything that touched the web.  Why did we have to do this?  Because they quite literally pulled the servers out of the racks and sent them to the FBI, leaving us next to nothing to work off of.

So next to that year, this year has seemed like an absolute dream.  However it has been more than that for me.  2013 has been a year of personal growth and exploring new things.  In April when I finally pulled my head above water after the “faux” security incident, I really wanted to make a break back into blogging.  I fell off of the planet shortly after the security event and simply could not bring myself to write about anything.  Coming back I devised what I called a “grand experiment”, namely to blog each and every day even if I didn’t think I had much to write about.  At this point there are 237 posts categorized as “The Grand Experiment”, and without fail I have blogged every day even when it was a struggle to do so.

Has the experiment worked?  Well functionally yes I have managed to blog every day, but more importantly has it provided an interesting stream of content?  Quite honestly I don’t know.  Most of the time I feel like I am a little kid writing to a make believe audience.  When I talk to someone who mentions something I have written… I am always shocked.  I feel like no one actually reads my stuff, that I am mostly just writing it for my own benefit.  People seem to enjoy what I write, and I have a regular stream of readers… but I will never have the type of audience that the bigger bloggers have.  I am just too rough around the edges for that sort of thing.  For the most part I am happy with the results of a year of blogging and my long-term goal is to make it at least one full year of posts without pause.  That of course will be up April 26th of 2014, which seems like it is far in the future right now.  However I don’t see myself losing steam at any point soon.

A Healthier Me

Another big change in my life over the course of 2013 is that I am considerably lighter.  In March my wife and I began to shift the way we relate to food.  I say it in terms like that because really we have completely changed our relationship to food as a whole.  To say we went on a diet doesn’t really encompass the level of change.  Diets are about the short term, but we wanted to make permanent and long-term changes in the way we ate.  Namely we focused on trying to find a new and sustainable way to live.  At this point I am 70 lbs smaller and have hit a bit of a plateau over the last month.  However the fact that I survived both Thanksgiving and Christmas without breaking that plateau makes me happy enough.

My wife on the other hand continues to lose at a steady pace and is now down roughly 60 lbs.  At some point I need to get super serious again, as I have become lax of late.  However the current weight seems to be a place I can comfortable stay without any real intervention.  I have reached my goal and it is time for me in this new year to refocus myself and set a new one.  I will never be a small man, I come from a long line of really big people.  I am however happy enough being able to say I am a “smaller” man.  The thing I was not expecting to be honest were the health benefits.  As a whole I am far healthier than I was a year ago, and the primary benefit is that my Asthma that I have struggled with my entire life… and have even been hospitalized for… is really a mere nuisance these days.  I can go months on a single inhailer, and that is not a thing I have ever been able to do in my life.

Professional Growth

In the last year I have grown more into the role of the manager of my group.  I have learned to delegate more, which is something I have always struggled with in my life.  I was good at accepting assignments, but never very good at passing them on to my troops, instead trying to take them all on myself.  My team is pretty amazing and I would be lost without them.  I guess in some small way I have learned to have more faith in them, and trust that they will do as much diligence with an assignment as I would have.  As a result I have shifted more into the architect role for my group and part-time project manager and full-time traffic cop.  Making sure all of the assignments are going to the right places and all seeing at least some progress.

We usually have 50-60 active projects for a team of three people.  So it involves lots of juggling.  Various forces in my company want me to move up into a permanent management position.  However I simply do not want to distances myself from the “real work” enough to take them.  Additionally right now I am responsible for three extremely highly functional people, and I don’t think I  could cope with being put over less functional people that I would some how have to whip into shape.  I am not really great with confrontations, and as a result I think I would flounder.  Either that or it would be similar to me as a raid leader, and I would turn into a real asshole.  For the time being I think I am happy with where I am and what I am doing.

I Wrote A Novel

One of the things I have always wanted to do in my life was to write a novel.  I made several false attempts at various times over the years but never could seem to push myself to do it.  This November I joined the NaNoWriMo event, and over the course of the month knocked out my first novel.  I have no idea if it is actually any good, because honestly I have not even read it since finishing it up.  I plan in the new year to tear it asunder as I edit it, and fix any issues.  However regardless if it completely sucks, I have accomplished a goal.  I managed to write a novel, and that is a thing most people can’t say about themselves.  I didn’t do it to get famous, or be published, I did it mostly just to prove to myself that I could.

The weird thing about it is, November seems like a lifetime ago.  The whole concept of writing 1500 words per night was just absolutely draining.  My entire life revolved around that novel for those thirty days, which is honestly longer than I have stuck with anything like that in my life.  More than anything I feel like it was a venue of personal growth.  I did a thing I never thought I could, and I did so in a methodical way in which it felt like success was assured from the moment I started.  Sure I faltered a few times along the way, and there were a few days I didn’t write a blessed thing.  However I kept moving forward towards the eventual 50,000 word count goal and I achieved it.  I think more than anything I am proud of this accomplishment from 2013.

A Year of Gaming

This is a gaming blog afterall, so during 2013 I played a lot of games.  I played way more games than I can ever manage to remember, but I will try and run down a few of the big ones.  The list of major titles is as follows.

Oddly enough I am beginning this new year not entirely differently than I began the last year.  January 2013 I was still involved in the launch of Mists of Pandaria, and it was not until April that I really began to distance myself from that game entirely.  World of Warcraft and I have this love/hate relationship.  I get frustrated with it so much, because it seems that they always seem to take the most short sighted solutions to problems, and there are so many games that there that do various things it does…. so much better.  However as a total package I feel like the game is unbeatable.  It offers the most good things in one package.  The realization for me however after my 2+ years of absence from being serious about the game is that it is not about the game at all.  World of Warcraft is about the people playing it, and I had missed the ragtag group of people known as House Stalwart immensely.

The game I probably played the most often during the year however was Rift.  I want to love rift so badly, the promise of the game is really great.  The problem is it just lacks something that I can’t quite put my finger on.  It is a technically superior game in every aspect, but it is like it lacks a cohesive narrative that makes me care about the world every single day.  The dragons were a thing I thought I  could get behind.  But now that we have systematically killed each of them off, I cannot say in a single sentence what the world of Rift is.  I think that might be the problem, there is no one clear narrative to the game.  You cannot say “this game is” and have even half of the people agree on it.  I still play it occasionally and there is still an incarnation of House Stalwart there that Psynister and Fynralyl are keeping alive.  I thank them so much for being there, but I just can’t seem to care about the game right now.  I am sure at some point I will again.

Final Fantasy was another major force for the year.  This was a game I never intended to like because really I feel like me and Japanese RPGs had a messy divorce quite some time ago.  I had a group of friends actively wanting to play it, so against my better judgment I went along for the ride.  What I found however was a really well crafted narrative and dungeon experience.  If I could have kept experiencing new bits of immersive content, I would have likely stuck around.  However once you reached the end of the game, it was exactly that…  the end.  All paths lead to massive amount of grinding, and for whatever reason… while I can stomach grinding all day long in World of Warcraft… I could not stomach the particular FFXIV brand of grinding.  Namely I blame this on the overall lack of meaninful drops in the game.  If I have a chance of getting something cool while killing mobes, no matter how remote the chance… it feels exciting to me each time I open a loot window.  There was nothing that could drop from mobs in the world that I would ever care about.  Additionally gearing up to get to a point where we could raid, was just not a bridge I was willing to cross.

Games for 2014

There has been a game I have been in super secret closed door testing since February.  I cannot name the game by name, but I have to say I am still extremely excited about it even after most of a year testing it.  I have watched the game grow from something that felt polished to something that really is amazingly rich and polished.  I don’t think I will quit WoW this time for another game, because I have set down some pretty solid roots there again.  However I know I will also be playing this game, at the very least two to three nights a week.  It is probably the least wow-like game I have played in a long while, and because of that I feel like there is room in my heart for both games to have a unique space.

Past that I am really not certain what 2014 will hold.  I know that I am not really interested enough to purchase a PS4 or an XBox One, so I think I will be exiting the console mainstream once again.  I am mostly a PC gamer to be honest, and since my gameloft has been taken over by my wife I am okay with not having access to the consoles.  More than anything I am looking forward to the various stores beginning to liquidate their stocks of PS3 and XBox 360 games, so I can pick up the titles I always wanted to play but didn’t have the desire to pay for.  Additionally there are still a lot of things on the DS/3DS that I want to play, and I am looking forward to picking up the newest Zelda game.  I am sure there will be a number of surprises along the way, games that catch my fancy enough to deserve lots of blog posts.

I hope that 2014 will be as positive force in my life as 2013 has been.  Additionally I hope each and every one of you out there can say the same.  My friend @AlternativeChat has declared 2014 the “Year of Faff”, and I am down with this notion.  I think we all need to learn how to faff about in the game worlds we are in, because stopping and smelling the roses is the only real way I know to break the cycle of burnout.  I have tried my best to embrace this concept, and hope to continue to do so in the year to come.  More than anything, I feel like I am sick of jumping games every three months, and I get the sense that the gaming world as a whole is somewhat sick of that as well.  I hope we can each embrace our own faff, whatever that might mean.

Hot Coffee and LFR

Snowed In

Good morning everyone, hopefully you are staying warm out there.  Here in the central part of the country we had a mass of ice and snow dropped on us.  Generally my point of reference is when two school districts on opposite corners of town call schools the next day, I decide I am going to stay home.  Since this happened I put in a day of vacation for today and slept in.  Apparently my absence was noticed, since I have already received tweets saying that a snowstorm was no excuse for not posting.

I think we probably got an inch or two of ice last night and then over night that got covered up by three to four inches of snow.  Which to the northerners probably doesn’t sound like much, but here in Oklahoma we get glaze ice that is nearly impossible to drive on.  Additionally we really do not have the infrastructure to remove large volumes of ice and snow…  since we only go through this at most once a year.  Over the last three years we have had really mild winters that never really produced much in the way of an ice storm.  While this is nothing like the 2007 or 2011 storms, it is far more significant than anything we have seen in years.

Hot Coffee and LFR

Wow-64 2013-12-01 11-26-26-29

As a result I am snuggled up on the sofa with my fuzzy pants and my fuzzy blanket and a thermal shirt blogging away on my laptop.  I just finished off hot oatmeal and some hot coffee, and the only thing of any substance I really have planned today is to play some World of Warcraft.  I have five 90s in various states of gear and the easiest way to get upgrades for them is through the LFR system.  As much as I have railed against pugging in the past, something odd happens if I pug as DPS.  I simply stop caring much about the success or failure of the group.  As a DPS I can compartmentalize things and focus only on what I am doing and stop caring that the group is burning down around my shoulders.

As a Tank or a Healer… I simply cannot do this.  I have to care about the group and how stupid they might be acting.  My job relies on them doing their jobs.  When playing one of those group roles I simply cannot stomach pugging or lfr, it ends up stressing me out way too much.  However apparently as a DPS I have the patience of a saint.  I keep plugging forward towards the goal and right click reporting anyone who is too abusive.  It all seems simple and pure, and in an odd sense relaxing.  It’s like I have reached into my brain and flipping me into DPS empties me of “fucks to give”.  That is not to say that I don’t care about me keeping up my end of the bargain, but I simply don’t care as much about others not doing so.

So my intent today is to run as many LFR instances as I can this week to try and get my tribe of alts gear.  The hardest thing seems to be weapons, and as a nice side benefit from these runs my blacksmith seems to be getting quite a few motes which will help him upgrade the weapons of those who have not gotten their turn at the LFR treadmill.  That is still one of my biggest frustrations that I hope they will address in WoD.  Crafting resources like Spirits of Harmory should be bind on account.  I like the feeling of all of my characters working towards a bigger goal, its like I have my own little imaginary guild.  Anything that adds to this feeling is a positive for me, since you have earned the item on one character already.

Trove Patch

I am sure at some point today I will be hopping into trove.  Yesterday they seem to have had another patch.  I am really impressed at the speed at which they do updates.  This one seems to be mostly a patch full of tweaks but one of the more interesting points is that the block destroyer is no longer an item and no longer works in adventure mode.  This could have some odd ramifications since I know I used it in adventure mode quite a lot.  Another needed note is that they reduced the quantity of treasure chest spawns in the desert and frost biomes.  Normally nerfs like this meet a groan, but this one was really needed.  There were times I could see 6 treasure chests on screen at a single time. 

I wasted so much time chasing these down because seriously…  you cannot bypass a treasure chest.  I figure at some point over the next few days I will be making a new video as I am sure the server has reset again and I will have to collect more weapons and gear.  If there is anything you would like to see me cover let me know.  I am not above having a purpose for my videos even though they are mostly just me roaming aimlessly around the wasteland.  I hope you all are safe and happy and warm, and that if you did get the snow and ice I did, you also had the presence of mind to take a vacation day.

Trove Crafting

First Winter

One of the things about weight loss that no one really told me is the fact that I would go from being very hot natured, to freezing all of the time.  This is the first winter after losing roughly seventy pounds so far, and I have to say it is a pretty miserable thing.  I am absolutely living in this Carhart black zip up hoodie.  I pretty much wear it over everything, because it keeps me at least somewhat warm.   I keep hoping that eventually my internal body temperature will regulate and I will get used to having less insulation.  It is essentially the same feeling as you have when you have just gotten a long overdue hair cut… but instead of my head being cold it is my entire body.

I am not complaining, the weight loss has had many other tangible benefits.  However as “snowmageddon” barrels down on my area I find myself shivering quite a bit.  We are supposed to get all manner of icy nastiness dumped on us around noon.  I am hoping that either it gets delayed long enough for me to get home tonight, or that it is not nearly as severe as they are expecting.  I am not really looking forward my normally fifteen minute commute turning into an hour and a half as everyone suddenly forgets how to drive.  At least my coffee helps warm me up.

Trove Crafting

 

Released another Trove video yesterday, this time covering the brand new crafting system patch.  I have to say I am impressed with the game so far.  The biggest thing for me was the addition of the ability to craft health potions.  This has enabled me to make some really bad decisions and survive.  I think over the course of the evening last night I much have gone through 30-40.  Each time I saw a bottle plant I made a beeline for it just so I could make some more.  Right now everything tends to drop monster parts, which I am guessing is a generic placeholder material that will eventually be updated to be various specific things.  Currently a Health Potion is 1 bottle from a bottle plant and 1 monster part, which makes them extremely easy to craft.

Similarly they have made bombs extremely costly to craft, and as a result the world is not nearly as marred with bomb holes.  I don’t even make them anymore, because really I don’t find them that useful even in combat with monsters.  In the video I could not figure out for the life of me why I was unable to make bombs… but then upon re-watching it I face-palmed over the fact that I simply could not count.  I want to say I was missing fire flower parts, or something like that.  The crafting system is actually really efficient so far, and I like it overall quite a bit more than I did the Minecraft one..  especially when it comes to bulk crafting.

Acheesements

2013-12-05 06_18_20-Achievements - Community - World of Warcraft

Since today is ending up a bit of a mixed bag update post, I figured I would also talk a bit about what I am doing over in World of Warcraft.  A group of friends and I have been knocking out the various achievements needed for Glory of the Pandaria Hero.  I am within a stones throw now of completing it, but at the same time we are catching up a player that has next to none of them.  What is going to be most time consuming I fear is finishing off Polyformic Acid Science.  Right now I think I have 3 of the 6 kills.  However I just found out that you can go into normal mode, solo the instance, get the vial and then hold onto it to give you double the amount of time to get through all the mobs for the achievement.

Past that I am working on farming Motes of Harmony on my Paladin to make weapon upgrades for my various characters.  That is the glaring flaw I have seen so far with the timeless isle.  You get really nice gear to catch you up, but it lacks anything even remotely similar for weapons.  The weapons you can buy off the timeless isle vendors are only ilvl 476, which are the same as the epic weapons that drop from the early heroic instances.  I feel like what we are missing are the Icecrown 5 mans.  They were a really good way during Wrath of the Lich King to help catch alts up, and the weapons there were viable enough to raid with, at least until you can get something better.  As a result I have several 90s with full timeless gear, but walking around with a 450 blue weapon simply because there is no really effective way to improve that.

I am not looking forward to working through the halfhill farm again, but I am thinking that might be something I just need to bite the bullet and do on my characters that seem to be mote starved.  At least that way you get roughly one spirit of harmony a day guaranteed.  I really wish blizzard would apply a patch and make Spirits bind on account.  On Belgrave for example, I have 5 stacks of them in the bank… because there really is very little you can use them on as an inscriptionist.  However every other crafter is starving for them, and ends up spending them on something the moment they get more.  I hope in general as we go forward into Warlords of Draenor that more things become bind on account.  I feel like the ability to trade items freely between characters can only be a net positive.  The more alts someone rolls, the more time they spend playing the game…  which in generally makes them less likely to unsubscribe and go elsewhere.

Trove Feature Suggestions

Contest Complete

 

Over the holiday weekend I schemed up a contest as a way of getting rid of my spare Trove Closed Alpha key.  The basic idea was for folks to post in the youtube comments a feature they would like to see added to the game.  While I was not absolutely flooded with responses, I did get quite a few of them.  Of them quite a number of them were really insightful.  As I said during the contest I would be collecting all of the results and compiling them in a single post.  Since the contest ended late last night, here goes nothing.  I am leaving the content of the comments completely unedited.

Trove Feature Suggestions

 

XHeavenZX22

I would like to see pvp/duels

Zyckou

My thoughts will focus towards the combat system, even if I wanted a lot of things.  I think that Trion should make the combat system more dynamic.  Now, battles are way too soft and boring to be enjoyed.  If, as the developers said, they focus on exploration, the combat system is the core of the game and they should make it great and complete.  Imo they should AT LEAST:  – add the base of MMORPG battle:  physical and magical damage (and reduction), status effects (poison, stun, immobilize, knockback, etc…);  – add a dodge mechanism, this way you greatly improve the dynamism, and you can also for example allow bosses to have greater skills that you have to dodge;  – we should known the monster level we encountered, it seems pretty obvious but it not the case today.  – add different classes.  I think I’m not the only one to hope for this one, I think everybody want to play in various ways, for example to play a ranged character.  They should allow to customize the way we play our class, maybe with a classic tree builder system.  I also think that the M2 skill should be bind to the equipped weapon, and the other skills linked to your class, but these changes are not as important as the above ones.  Hope to test this soon to give you a more in-depth throught of the game.

Miz Ick

I think it would be cool if you could link cornerstones with friends, and they would become neighbours or something. Also, cornerstone options where you can adjust who can and cannot build/manipulate terrain in your cornerstone. I would like to see easy party systems to keep track of the friends you’re playing with. 
It would be really cool if they made content that needed a group to complete, AND had class/party dynamics similar to the trinity (traditional mmo) combat. What I’m trying to say is unique classes that work well together with other classes. 
I could spend all night thinking up fun stuff, lol . Good luck all! 
edit: I would love to see a pvp realm, where when you step out of "friendly territory" you go into pvp mode.. mua hahahahaahaa

Guitarstroke

I think player created instances would be cool. Kind of like being a DM, you could create a world for others to play and share

Vellauno

I would love for the cornerstones (private piece of land you bring with you from world to world) could be turned into massive vehicles like boats, ships, flying castles and/or moving fortresses.

Game By Night

Awesome video and thanks for the offer, Bel! There are two things I would like to see. First, is some kind of whimsical story with charming voice over ala LittleBigPlanet and Stephen Fry. The game’s art style just oozes charm and begs for good narration. Second is some equivent of Minecraft’s redstone. Building is great but could you imagine an MMO with player-built trollies and rollercoasters?!

Aymeric Bruzzo

Hello, Nice video :D; I’d like to see some building block ( that we can craft maybe?) that can float in the air and move back and forth, and maybe some that breath fire, for maze/ obstacle race etc :D

Lorenzokwant Kwant

I like having a key like all the another people who want a key to but my ideas are adding new weapons like a bow and a axe and  my another ideas is for blocks doors and signs so people can create a home where nobody can walk in because it have a door what only the owner of it can open and a sign is for tips or warnings (example) like you walk to a dungeon and there is a sign says danger across fearless

Jack Buxley

I’d love to see the game adapt more toward the play style of traditional ‘grinders’ and ‘builders’, to compliment the adventure aspect already implemented.
These changes wouldn’t need to be supremely vast, but small additions in all branches add tones to the longevity of the game. There could be simple additions such as rare minerals which spawn underground (and don’t alter those who don’t want to mine) to a crafting system for furniture and other miscellaneous items.
Looking forward to seeing more!

Bridget TruLove

I’d like to see unicorns. Or maybe just ponies. No wait, bro-nies!  Unicorn bro-nies.
Seriously, though, thanks for vid, Bel!  (And mail me that code ASAP. ;p
~GeekSprinkles

Nick Hoff

Dang, after reading through all the comments here, all the good ideas are gone! XD
I’d love to see customizable pets in the future. I think it would be really cool if you would have to sort of rescue them from dungeons and then they would be your partner. I live this sort of aspect most from Kotor, even though they are frok different genres.
I would like the key because I want to be a part of this game in early development but I can’t buy it as my financial situation sits, and I don’t have the time to sit around the subreddit all day hoping for a key.
Thanks, and good luck to all! :D

TheMagicRobot

Mounts, minions, guilds, custom capes, and crafting recipes out the wazoo!

Daniel Brown

This game looks awesome, and I’d love a key for the alpha!
My suggestion would be leaderboards/rating/voting on the structures and buildings. There could be different categories of awards; Aesthetically, decorative etc. leaderboards would work the same, you’d get a global and a local category here. The people with the number 1 position could get special rewards in their account to redeem?

Magneticsyndrome

Hey man, awesome idea with the random number generator!
I have to say, I’d love to see a lot of features.  One I was really hoping for is falling blocks, like if you destroy the bast of a tree, it falls down, I feel that really changes the perspective of the game.
I’d also love to see some flying type of item/class, like jet boots or a jet back, with some kind of a short burst of flight. 
I also want to see some really big world bosses, ones you’d need a few people to take down! That really appeals to me, I’d absolutely love something like that. 
Thanks for the added chance for this man, I really appreciate it! I’ve been having horrible luck with all the current contest, and I’ve been so close. Hope I’m lucky! haha

Kwongger

I really want to see some Town/City/Faction features. (MC I know, but I think that the devs could put a twist on it ;)   
I’d also LOVE to see a party/group system (with Private Text/Voice chat of course).  I think It would add to the community part of the game 😀
I REALLY want to WIN!     GOOD LUCK TO ALL!

TheTrueLasec

Awesome vid man! i already love the game but i guess i would like to see a rework on how the ingame avatar looks? his face looks so long. Another thing is mass quests, like a main story line different to each server or world, and then multiple quests creating a side story line like in various RPG’s! I really want this game too cuz i wanna make some vids on this too, it looks sick!

Josh Geoff

I think that having pets that follow you around would be cool.  I would also like being able to customize your weapons (such as color, name, designs). since i have not played the game i can’t know what is in it. but i would have many more things to say then too. I have liked and subscribed, so i’m all good, see ya’!

Grayson Soldahl

I would love to see programmable minions! That way you can build kingdoms like in adventure time. By programmable minions I mean npcs that you can create and determine a function for them such as crafting, building, security, etc. It would add a whole new way to play the game!

Michael McGlade

I’d very much like to see this game done right and one of the biggest gripes I seem to always have about online multiplayer games is the poor implementation of the chat and community features in game.
I’d very much like to see guilds/clans be a keystone of this game. Getting together to do massive dungeon raids, large scale boss fights, or even attack opposing guilds. It would help drive a real, true sense of community as players strike bonds with allies and clash swords with foes.
As far as the chat interface goes, I think World of Warcraft did it best. Have three separate tabs on the chat box; Chat, Loot, and Combat with the ability to create additional tabs and modify existing ones. Without this, servers would be filled with players talking over one another while messages pertaining to obtained items or money and critical strikes against monsters flood the chat logs even further.

Paul Zelano

crafting would be a great idea.  A talent tree of some sort would also bring it closer to the MMO side of things.  Its hard to really say what I would want, I mean its already a cross between two types of game genres (MMO and Building game) right now and that seems to be pretty good from my point of view.

Drumroll Please

2013-12-04 06_27_07-RANDOM.ORG - True Random Number ServiceFor the sake of fairness I created a Google doc that you can see here, and dumped everyone’s names into the list.  All in total we had 20 contestants.  I then went to Random.org a free random number generator and put the range in as 1 to 20.  I hit the generate button and the results ended up picking 10.  You can check out the screenprint of the results right justified in this paragraph block.  If you refer to the list that means that our winner is Bridget TruLove aka GeekSprinkles.

I want to thank everyone who commented greatly for their results.  I will be cross posting this over on the Trove Reddit so hopefully the Trion folk will benefit from your work.  Additionally it would be really amazing to do something like this again in the future.  So maybe just maybe they can throw me a few more keys over the months of alpha to do other contests.  I have a few ideas that might be interesting.  Basically I want the end result of any contests to benefit the community as a whole.  Additionally let me know what you think.  Was this a useful idea, or do you think I should have changed the prompt slightly?  I will be contacting Bridget TruLove to pass out her key, I doubt in any circumstance she will not accept it, but if she for whatever reason does not… I will be doing another roll off against the list I posted.

Quintessential Quintet

Farewell to Arts

 

I did another really quick video yesterday since we are supposed to have an impending server reset.  In the holiday weekend since the last restart folks have filled the server with all sorts of nifty stuff.  So I thought I would do a really quick video showcasing some of the cooler things.  The highlight for me is the alligator.  I am wondering who built it, because seriously it was perfect.  The server has essentially exploded with pixel art everywhere, some of it seeming to be freehand which is pretty amazing.  While this is all interesting I am hoping soon we get a bit more substance.

It was rumored that we would be seeing a new patch today or tomorrow and in it I am really hoping they introduce two things.  Firstly I want to see the crafting system and all the nifty things it can produce.  This is likely going to be a massive thing because this also means they will likely change they way the blocks work so that we actually harvest them instead of just destroying them.  Currently the game works a lot like Minecraft creative mode, where you have pretty much unlimited resources to place at your disposal.  While this is cool for free range building, the game however right now is lacking a “game”.  Wandering around and exploring, engaging in combat is fun but I feel like we need something to give us a sense of purpose.

The second thing I want badly is the cornerstone concept, aka your plot of lands that persists to each server you play on, and that no one else can disrupt.  Part of why I have not built much of anything yet is the fact that we still have way too many mad bombers on the server all to willing to destroy your hard work.  In fact I railed on Shawn Shuster of Massively a bit in the video as in his walkthrough that was posted yesterday… he was all too happy to blow up other peoples creations. 

There have already been some pretty epic works of art destroyed by some idiot who would not suppress their inner poo flinging monkey long enough to appreciate what had been created.  While I realize this is a side effect of having a game with no rules yet, it still depresses me to see the world as Swiss cheese.  I am sure once the new patch has gone life I will do another quick video showing off what it added.  So stay tuned to my channel and I will post something up there as soon as it is available.

Quintessential Quintet

WoW-64 2013-12-03 06-24-42-38

Also last night I managed to push my paladin Exeter to 90 and with it came an achievement that I was not expecting.  Apparently Quintessential Quintet is a thing?  I cut an odd path on this one, by the time I left Jade Forest I was already 87 thanks to all the mining nodes.  From there I made a beeline for Kun Lai, and critpathed my way through the zone until I reached the quest chain that lead to Townlong.  Similarly in Townlong I quested my way through the Shadopan chain until I reached the jumping point for Dread Wastes.  All of which was to set myself up perfectly to be able to start working on Klaxxi quests as quickly as possible.

Why you might ask?  This is my blacksmith, and all the nifty things you can create seem to be on the Klaxxi vendor.  Namely I wanted to be able to start creating masterwork weapons for all my other characters as I get them to 90.  That seems to be the big weakness as it comes to the Timeless Isle content.  You can gear your alts up with 496 extremely rapidly, but you have a few glaring holes…  namely your weapons.  Also I seem to have a much harder time getting Curios for trinkets, and the neck/ring slots to drop on the Timeless Isle.  So as a result I have ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to remediate their gear just so I can be able to queue for something.

Timeless Isle is nifty, but I really miss the equivalent of the Icecrown 5 mans.  I wish there were heroics that I could run that actually provided something viable for filling out a set of gear.  I feel as though they should really have put in a new 5 man that dropped 496 weapons to go with all the gear they are handing out like candy.  Even with epics…  a crappy weapon is still a crappy weapon.  Right now my paladin for example is using the treasures of pandaria BOA one handed sword that you find on the ground.  Which is better than anything he has gotten yet, but at least being able to create the masterwork hammer will be something slightly better.  I think those are 463 ilvl which is essentially what the heroic gear is.

What Next?

WoW-64 2013-12-03 06-39-31-95

I have to say getting Exeter to 90 was a pretty cool thing.  He technically was the very first character I created, and my intended main.  For years my internet handle was “Exeter” and quite honestly “Belghast” was my main over in DAoC, and it was not until late in Vanilla that I started to play that character as a main.  All the while through vanilla my main was Lodin the hunter, and it was an almost accidental occurrence.  I had a death in the family that pulled me away from Warcraft a few weeks after the release of the game.  As a result I got rapidly outpaced by the rest of the guild, and back then soloing a Paladin was a truly painful experience.

Hunters were the gods of soloing, so I started leveling Lodin just to be able to keep up with my friends.  Within a very short amount of time I had caught up, and when we hit 60… I got drafted into the raid group of a guild member as they wanted to replace a troublesome hunter.  I had no intent to actually play a hunter as my main, and in truth I am not terribly suited for the class… but I did for almost all of Vanilla because it was my “Raid main”.  Once you start playing a character in a raid group you are pretty much committed to always play that character until they no longer need it.  The positive effect however is that I met so many life long friends through raiding, and that the Late Night Raiders hunters were all such amazing people.

As soon as Burning Crusade was released, I saw this as my opportunity to leapfrog Lodin in gear and start playing Belghast as my main.  That is the awesome thing about expansions, the gear reset lets you change your focus.  From that point until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King, I was a warrior main tank.  It was not until I needed a break from the hot seat that I switched focus to the Deathknight and fell in love with it.  All of this time I felt horrible for leaving Lodin abandoned in the dustbin.  It was not until Cataclysm that I actually managed to level him out of the outlands.  During one of my last sessions playing I pushed him up to Pandaria levels, so I feel as though it is probably his time to shine again.  I pretty much permanently run around in Giantstalker transmog in honor of the fun times I had with him raiding during those early days of Vanilla WoW.

The Contest

Hello Self Conscious

I have officially finished my novel, and I say that in jest because really the hard part has yet to begin.  The whole NaNoWriMo process was extremely draining.  I almost viewed the past year of daily posts on aggronaut as training for the marathon that was Nano.  The thing I was not at all prepared for however was just how draining coming home each night and writing a chapter of original material was.  My blog is pretty much me just reacting or regurgitating “found material”.  Nano on the other hand was me giving birth to characters, plots, settings and for all intents and purposes a big unique world of my own making.

Now that it is over it is time for me to return to the normal daily blog posts… and quite frankly I find myself a little self-conscious.  For the last 29 posts I have simply dumped what I wrote the night before in private out onto the screen for you guys to read (or more than likely not read).  Now I find myself sitting here having to come up with things to write that are relevant and timely.  It is not that I find myself with writers block, because there are a month worth of topics backed up inside of me.  I just find myself a little nervous about the entire process.  I have to get back in the pattern of just dumping my innermost thoughts out onto a page for you all to pick over.

The Contest

 

During the month of my absence from morning posts a thing happened.  Well actually if we are most truthful about it a lot of things happened.  In this case two particular things happened.  Firstly Trion announced the existence of Trove their new game that melds Minecraft, Cubeworld and MMOs.  Secondly I somehow managed to get into the first wave of alpha invites.  Thirdly when I realized that I was one of only a handful of people in the game, and that the alpha process had absolutely no NDA… I thought I should probably do something to show off the game.  As a result I did a thing that I had thought about for some time… I recorded my very first lets play video.

  1. Test Video
  2. Episode 1
  3. Episode 2
  4. Episode 3

So far I have recorded four videos in total, the first of which only being a super short test video in which I was trying to figure out the kinks of using youtube.  I am completely new to this whole experience but so far the videos have been well received.  An interesting thing happened however over the extended holiday weekend.  I ended up getting a second alpha key.  So I thought about what I should do with it, should I offer it up to my friends over twitter or g+?  Then I came up with a constructive idea…  hold a contest.   The idea is to get people to provide feedback on features they would like to see in the game, so that I can compile this list in blog post form to present to the Trion folk.

The Rules

Since the video series is a youtube thing, I will be hosting the contest there.  The basics are this… go to the Episode 3 link.  Do the standard subscribe/like/comment youtube bs.  In your comment describe a feature you would like to see built into Trove.  The sky is the limit as far as features go since this is a melding of the traditional building game and an MMO.  I will only be accepting comments that actually provide a suggestion in them, and will be ignoring all “begging for the key” and otherwise trolling posts.

I will be accepting comments through 12/3/2013 and Wednesday morning I will be pulling together a list of all of the comments and the posters name.  I will be dumping this in a google doc and then using a random number generator to pick the winner.  Everyone’s comments will be featured on my blog and I will cross post that on the trove reddit as well.  Wednesday evening I will announce the winner over the various social platforms that I use.  May the random number generator be in your favor!  I just thought this would be a fun way to give away a key and hopefully provide some useful suggestions back to Trion in the process.