Four Screenshots

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Last night was another fairly anxiety fraught night, and I simply didn’t feel capable of tanking a World of Warcraft progression raid.  I feel bad about it, but by the time I got home…  my mind was spent racing through all of the possible things that could fail today.  This is it.. the day we launch the new website and I am terrified.  In the grand scheme of things I know that we will deal with everything that comes down the pipe and triage issues as they arise.  However on the eve of the event I can’t stop thinking about all of the things that could go catastrophically wrong.  I need this to launch and I need it to go successful… because honestly I need a few days to simply fall apart.  I have been functionally working sick for over two weeks because I knew things had to get done.  Granted I have not been running a fever, so I didn’t think I was likely contagious… but that didn’t necessarily stop me from feeling downright miserable.  One thing I did do last night was get my little Random Shots project out on GitHub since Scopique mentioned I should do this thing.  Since I don’t really have a whole lot that I feel like talking about this morning, I am going to try one out of these random screenshot posts and see what happens.

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I have this weird relationship with Rift.  I love it or at least I really want to love it… but I have issues playing it.  I talked a little bit about my issues with combat over on Syp’s blog yesterday in the comment section, but another huge issue I have is that I simply cannot bring myself to purge things from my vault.  I love their housing system… but I also cannot seem to be bothered to actually spend time building a proper house.  However I have this long term desire to do so…  and because of that my vault is horrible.  With Nightmare Tide they introduced the Minion system and for months I logged in dutifully every day hoping to get housing caches with the thought of putting all of this cool stuff to work in building a really great dimension.  However what actually happened is it filled up both my vault and inventory with a bunch of items that I never could quite bring myself to part with.  I could bring myself to part with the deluge of crafting materials that my minions kept bringing back, but those housing items were just too rare feeling.  Sure most of them go on the auction house for a few silver….  but that doesn’t actually seem to alleviate the problem.  What I wish is that Rift had a housing system that worked similar to Wildstar in that you chuck items in a sort of housing inventory that you can then place items from.  I would happy wander the world collecting housing items, knowing that one day I might actually sit down and devote the hours to building a proper home.

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I had honestly forgotten about the events that happened during this screenshot.  Back in 2014 the Halloween event included the ability to transform into one of the various signature characters in the game.  There were a bunch of different clones running around in Uldah, and I wound up as Nanamo Ul Namo.  It was a lot of fun but largely was just an occasion to take funny photos… like there is one floating around of like nine Minfilia’s on a bench sitting beside one Merlwyb who is looking exasperated.   That is one of the really cool and frustrating things about Final Fantasy XIV is that each holiday event is unique and will never be repeated.  They sometimes put the rewards you could have earned on the cash shop for a pretty cheap price… but each year and each holiday offers something truly unique.  Over the years I have missed several, and there will always be a small bit of me that feels a slightly sense of loss over not getting to see whatever content that was.

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This is one of those screenshots where I know what it is and what it is showing… but can’t be terribly certain of the sequence of events.  Essentially I know that this is a beta test build of Elder Scrolls Online, during one of the most public test weekends and not one of the Psijic Order/Team Akatosh weekends.  The screenshot is somewhere in the middle of Stonefalls, because I spent so much time in Stonefalls.  By the time the game launched I was pretty sick of both the Daggerfall Covenant starter area and the Ebonheart Pact starter area.  The reason why I know it is a public beta client, is because there is no obnoxious watermark that says my email address over and over across the screen.  I still have plenty of alpha screenshots floating around that are watermarked to hell and back and this is obviously not one of them.  I also know this is not a live screenshot… in part because of the time stamp on the image and also because I have yet to make it to Ebonheart Pact on my main character.  The funny part about this shot is that I had been in alpha/beta testing on the game roughly a full year when we reached this point back in February of 2014.  I was an extremely dutiful tester, repeatedly reporting bugs every time I played.  To the best of my knowledge I never missed a weekend testing event, even if it simply meant that I popped in for a few hours somewhere during it.  It just seems shocking that in April we will be coming up on the third anniversary of the Elder Scrolls Online.

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This is a screenshot from one of the early alpha builds of Skysaga, a minecraftian sort of voxel building game.  The game had a really awesome style to it, in everything other than the character models… and their weird floating arms and legs that were detached from the torso bothered me.  I realize that was part style decision and part that they simply didn’t want to have to properly animate arms and legs.  I mean if it worked for Rayman… why not for a construction/exploration game?  I cannot really tell you why I checked out of this game, but I did… I think in part because it was the sort of experience that handheld you through the process of building by continually throwing new crafting achievements in front of you.  Then each time a new build was released… we would get wiped back to square one.  I am sure the game has changed massively given that this is a screenshot from February of 2015 and I am still actively getting emails talking about alpha builds of the game.  When I just checked the website they list that they are in Alpha 9… and this screenshot is from what I can only term as a 0 alpha build given the version number.  If you are still in alpha after two years…  something tells me you are using the nomenclature completely wrong.  If you are selling a product… you aren’t in alpha.  You are just in a buggy release mode.

SkySaga is Pretty Great

Strange Days

Yesterday is going to rank among the strangest of days I have been through in my life.  For starters I am rather sick, so much so that I don’t have much of a voice right now.  How I am going to record AggroChat tonight is really beyond me.  It might be one of those episodes where I pester Kodra to be the MC, and I just add some gravelly sounding flavor commentary here and there.  So being sick and perpetually feeling like the room is moving aside…  I posted a slightly unusual post for me yesterday that to some extent set the community on fire.  On a good day I get maybe 150 readers hitting my blog…  yesterday I had well over 700.  Good or bad what I said seemed to strike a chord with folks…  and it was very strange to be riding that out.

The thing that scared me however was the kinds of reactions I got.  Everyone was extremely supportive, almost surprisingly so.  The aspect that was a bit frightening is how everyone felt the desire to post their own comments on the blog in question.  The blogger commented that I had sent my “gang” after her, and in truth I didn’t realize that I had one.  If we are to form a gang however, we will have to wear awesome hats.  Honestly that sort of power scares me more than a little.  I am not sure if I want the ability to without meaning to call down a nuke of their blog from orbit.  It just seems strange to be able to move that many people to action…  especially when I wasn’t really asking for it.  My chief goal was to have some voices that were being silenced heard, and that was the result of yesterdays post.  Everything that occurred afterwards, while I deeply appreciate the support, felt like maybe it got completely out of hand.

SkySaga is Pretty Great

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-18-41-84 Over the last few days I have been lucky enough to be playing the current Sky Saga alpha.  I have to say I really dig the game but it is also one that is somewhat difficult to sum up quickly in words.  The game itself feels extremely like the various “next generation minecraft” offerings that have sprung up recently.  The entire game is voxel based, and if I had to guess is likely using the same VoxelFarm technology that Landmark does.  There are moments that in playing lots of landmark… the engine feels very similar in the way it draws nearby surfaces.  If I could sum it up best I would call it Minecraft with a purpose, in that there are constantly objectives and mini-quests to be accomplished as you move through the world.  The gameplay starts on a tutorial island that ultimately serves as your home base.  Anything you build here persists between plays of the game.

SkySaga 2015-02-20 13-49-15-42 The majority of the game play revolves around collecting key fragments, melding them together into a new key and then using that to open up portals to new areas.  From here you have access to explore new realms, with enemies, treasure, and resources not available in your home dimension.  The game itself is the pinnacle of charming as you play a either a human, cat person, or dinosaur person that gives you some limited customization options.  You progress through the tutorial by crafting various implements that you will need like a pick axe, or a sword.  The thing that stands out is how good the world feels.  The art style and design ethic are carried through every element that you interact with.  That means that everything from the breaking of a block to the swing of your sword feels like it belongs in this setting.

Pressure to Complete

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-28-54-22 There are two main issues that I have with the game design right now.  Firstly when you craft a key it is a one shot item granting you essentially a one way trip to a new realm.  When you exit that realm for any reason, be it porting back to your home dimension or logging out of the game…  you lose all progress in the other realm.  This makes it a hard game to pop in and out of for short periods of time.  I feel like I need to get the most out of every key for fear that I waste the resources that it took to craft it.  The other problem is that when you die you lose everything on your person that has not been dumped in a hotbar slot.  The combination of these two make it extremely frustrating because there is no real way to pop back to your base of operations to “save” items in a chest without wasting the portal stone that got you to the new realm.

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-54-23-15 The other big problem I am finding is that resources seem exceptionally limited.  Your starter island has a trove of material to get you started, but the problem is that most of these are in extremely small quantities.  The minecraft way of gathering resources is to just find a place and start digging.  The problem is I did this for a good thirty minutes last night and encountered absolutely nothing but stone.  The world seems extremely static and once the resources are depleted it is essentially a waste to stay there.  The frustrating thing here is that you get dumped onto a realm with a number of other players, and essentially you are all competing for the same few items.  You may luck out and get a realm with fresh spawns…  or you might get a world that is completely depleted meaning you just wasted your own resources getting there.  I can already see that more than likely purchasing resources is going to be a key revenue generator for this game.

SkySaga 2015-02-19 17-22-07-57 I have roughly another week to play this game during the current alpha test phase.  My hope is that I can manage to sort out some of the issues I am having.  The game that is here however is extremely enjoyable and it makes me way to play more of it.  I just feel like somehow I am missing something when it comes to how to get the resources I need to complete quests.  My hope is given time I will figure out the nuggets of information that I happen to be missing.  I don’t really want to take to the wiki pages quite yet, because the game itself has a rather nice in game wiki feature to explain what everything you encounter does.  I feel like I am just missing some key unlocks in the “chronicle” as they call it that will help me connect the dots.  If you have access to the game I highly suggest you give it a shot.  I will be righting a more complete review later once I feel I have mastered more of the basics.