Misery and NDAs

Broken

Game Is Still Pretty

Over the last few days I have felt run down, and I am grasping at straws to figure out exactly why.  There seems to be something going around the office, but so far I am not really showing any signs of whatever it is other than simply being exhausted.  Last night I largely struggled with a Migraine that kept me in a pseudo hibernation state, but this morning as I sit down to the keyboard and attempt to drink my coffee I am just feeling generally lousy.  One of my co-workers has been out for three days with something, so I am hoping I am not coming down with whatever that was.  Last night was the night of restless gaming.  I attempted to log in and be present in Final Fantasy XIV but only wound up AFKing outside the guild hall.  It made me appreciate just how much I love our free company house.  It really is in just about the perfect location that seems to be close to just about everything in The Mists neighborhood.  The only problem is… it is small.  We have talked for a bit about potentially trying to pool our resources and getting a bigger house, but the problem there is we would have to move and likely out of our neighborhood.

One of the things that I like the most about where we are situated is that we actually know a large chunk of the neighbors surrounding us.  While it has not been nearly as busy since the launch of Heavensward as everyone has fallen into this pre 3.1 lull…  it is still nice feeling like you are part of something larger.  While idling in FFXIV I attempted to play some Destiny and managed to complete a few bounties.  However my aim was constantly wonky, and I knew I should not be attempting anything serious.  As the night wore on the headache got worse and ultimately I ended up retiring to bed for awhile… the finally ending up on the Sofa.  I hate those days where you have the will to play something…  but cannot struggle through the “bad feels” in order to actually make any headway.

NDAs are Back

Trove 2014-10-04 22-43-24-104

I am using Trove as the screenshot for this little section because it was one of the first “who needs an NDA” alpha games that I can remember playing.  Everything about that game process was so out in the open that development discussions were openly happening on Reddit.  For a period of time it seemed like every new game coming down the pipe was sans NDA so that folks could stream it freely and generate buzz.  I was shocked when I managed to get into the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha for example… and was told that I could talk about it freely.  The problem being… this open transparency bit more than a few games in the ass.  Development is a messy time and as things are changing…  you end up with features in “partially finished” states that look like a finished product to the gamer.  The big problem with open and “pay to join” Alphas is that they no longer feel like testing.  Instead you have simply released a broken game.

As a result lately I’ve noticed a significant number of games bringing back the NDA.  Hell some of them seem to be almost unwilling to let the NDA go, as they have been in fairly prolific testing for a couple of years.  As of right now I am in a handful of NDA bound alpha processes, and each of them seems to be trying to return to the era when Alphas were actually that.  The problem with this is, I am finding myself far less interested in playing something that I can’t actually talk about on my blog.  So generally speaking I install the Alpha client and play every now and then, but I am not actually playing enough to be a proper tester.  I feel bad for this because I have always been the type to bug note the hell out of things as I see them.  While I think it is probably a good thing for Alpha processes to regain some of their previous closed nature, I also feel far less invested in a game until it is actually hatched and ready for public consumption.  So many things over the last years have blurred the lines between finished product and testing, and the current era of incessant and constant “early access” games just makes me leery to invest too much of myself in a game until I know that it is nearing its finished state.

Blaugust Games of Week – Week 2

Another Week Down

EverQuest2 2015-08-07 06-27-43-01 One of the things that I find easiest to blog about is when I am experiencing a new game, or re-experiencing a game after some time has passed.  As a result last week I started doing the Blaugust Games of the Week thing, and for the first week I posted  three vastly different titles.  While Marvel Heroes 2015 has been in my gaming rotation for some time now, Everquest II and Dirty Bomb were not and as such I spent a bit of time this past week playing both.  While I didn’t really talk much about any of the games this week, I hope some of you out there at least gave them a shot.  I spent the most time playing Everquest II on the Stormhold Time Locked Server.  It has been so strange starting from scratch without having some of my favorite leveling spots.  The later leveling zones like Darklight Wood and Iceclad Ocean are just better designed than the original Everquest 2 leveling process was, and as a result you could tear through them so much more quickly.

As of last night I hit level 10 on my Iksar Shadowknight, and in part I think I was doing things the hard way because I stormed right out into the Commonlands and attempted to start leveling off the mobs out there that tend to be significantly higher than my level.  One of the things that I had forgotten about the Commonlands were all of the Small Chests that drop additional quests.  At this point my quest log is full of level 15-20 Far Seas supplier quests that essentially ask you to kill X of a thing and then turn in the end result at an NPC.  I remember these being the bread and butter of early leveling, but I have to say the thing I miss is all of the individual neighborhoods of Freeport.  I think it was a huge disservice to the game when the revamp of Freeport got rid of these completely.  They are now instanced zones that you can only enter on specific quests, but I have to say these zones made up a lot of the feel of both Freeport and Qeynos and did a good job of explaining why the cities were the way that they were.  Of the three titles from this week, this is the one that I am most likely to keep playing because I am finding an odd enjoyment out of retracing my EQ2 roots.

Trion Theme

Since it is once again Friday it is time for me to pick another three games to talk about and suggest.  This time around I decided to go with a theme and as a result I am picking three games from Trion.  Again I am limiting my selections to games that you can download and start playing immediately without having to purchase a game client or pay a subscription fee.  My goal is to make it so folks who are stuck and in need of inspiration can pop into one of these games and get instant “blog fodder”.

Rift

rift 2012-05-31 20-38-58-07 Considering the announcement of the World of Warcraft expansion yesterday, I thought it was fitting to lead off this morning talking about Rift as it was the first game to actually pry me away from the WoW Juggernaut.  The game is designed in such a way so that in theory you can play one character and provide every possible role in the game.  This was not necessarily the case at launch but over time they have provided additional talent trees or “Souls” to help flesh out the missing abilities.  So now you can absolutely be a healing warrior or a tanking mage.  This game has an absolutely phenomenal early leveling game, and the first fifty levels are an absolute joy to level through.  The expansions however are a completely different thing.  I personally found both leveling in Storm Legion and Nightmare Tides to be extremely tedious, and found myself wishing they had not abandoned the early game that I enjoyed so much.

The core of the game though is great, but there are various things you are going to have to content with especially along the lines of ability bloat.  One of my key complaints about Rift has been that you end up with a lot of abilities where ability 2 and 3 are absolutely better than 1… but have long cool downs.  The end result is that you usually end up macroing all three together, which can lead to some fairly uninteresting game play.  That said the game excels at letting you literally branch out in any possible direction and build a character out however you want to.  There are some less than optimal options, but in theory any combination of three Souls will make a potentially viable character, which gives you a lot of freedom to customize things as you see fit.  Fortunately the game has an excellent set of prebuilt specs to at least get you going in the right direction.  As far as the free to play goes… it is among the least restrictive and there are not really any pay walls standing in your way.

Steam DownloadDirect Download

Trove

Trove 2014-09-25 19-18-33-410 I was lucky enough to get in on the first wave of Alpha invites for Trove and having played it that long… has been an interesting experience.  The game has changed massively in that time, and the key elements have shifted and morphed but the basic game is still the same.  I tend to think of Trove as Minecraft meets Diablo, and my recent Bel’s Big Adventure series of Minecraft videos has made me appreciate how important this really is.  Minecraft has a fairly horrible combat system, that is passible but frustratingly bad if you are going to spend much time fighting anything.  Trove on the other stand decided to go in a direction that allows you to pick one of several classes that each have their own built in abilities and a MOBA style character design.  I tend to have a natural synergy with the base Knight class, but have spent significant amounts of time playing the Gunslinger and Neon Ninja as well… and they are all extremely well built.  The core gameplay loop in Trove centers around going out into the world and fighting baddies to find interesting stuff in level ranged based worlds that steadily increase the challenge.

On top of this however there is a very awesome building system where you can build extremely complex custom worlds for your “Club”, or you can build out your cornerstone which is a traveling spawn point that you can move with you as you go out exploring the world.  I love this aspect of the game because it feels like I am able to take all of my most important resources and keep moving my base of operations as I go exploring.  The other thing that makes this game amazing is the community support, and the vast majority of the weapons that you will get were created by fans just like you.  The game has a silliness to it that is contagious, and I will forever cherish my Dapper Raptor mount that you can see above.  Another favorite of mine is the ability to collect item appearances and then make ANY piece of gear that you get look like that, so as you keep exploring you just keep opening more and more unique looks for your character. If you have never played Trove I highly suggest you download it and give it a shot.

Steam DownloadDirect Download

ArcheAge

ARCHEAGE 2015-06-18 11-13-03-53 ArcheAge and I have an extremely checkered past.  I was in the early Alpha process of this game and found the community to be among the most toxic I have ever experienced in any game genre.  As a result I pretty much actively ignored the game for some time.  However with some of the AggroChat folks started testing the waters and playing it… I decided to give it another shot.  The end result has been a pretty enjoyable leveling experience and allowed me to see just how subtle and nuanced the game really is.  I am not a fan of open world ganker style pvp… and early in the game that seemed to be extremely prevalent.  More so than that, the players seemed to revel in griefing others in non-combat ways as well.  If you AFK’d in town, someone might come along with a tractor and push you out into the middle of a dangerous area just to watch you die.  However all of those elements seem to have gotten bored and moved on, and what is left seems to be a bunch of generally nice folks.

The game play itself is also rather good, and while the quests are pretty basic the world is gorgeous and huge, and the class designs are really interesting.  While Rift has an issue with duplication of abilities, ArcheAge seems to be designed in a way so that there is natural synergy between talent trees without giving you a bunch of abilities that you will never actually use.  I have gone full circle on my opinion of this game and you can track the progress if you flip through some of my blog entries.  The game is absolutely playable on the free to play model, but there are some serious constraints.  Namely it is very difficult to do more than just one thing as a “free” player because every action is throttled by your abysmal labour points.  As a Patron player your labour regenerates when you are offline… as a free player you have to be logged into the game waiting on your points to come back.  The other huge constraint is that free players cannot own land, which means if you get very serious about this game you are likely going to end up subscribing.  However in the meantime the free model does allow you to get your feet wet.

Steam DownloadDirect Download

Lego Worlds Impressions

Lego Open World

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 18-42-08-06 On an absolute whim yesterday I popped onto the steam website to check out what had been released, or was impending release this morning.  One of the titles listed was something I quite literally knew nothing about called Lego Worlds.  After some research, the consensus seemed to be Lego meets Minecraft.  It has the same pedigree of the other Lego games out there as it is also created by Traveler’s Tales.  Right now the game is on Steam Early Access for $14.99 and I figured for that price it was worth the risk.  I was seemingly one of the few people who actually through Lego Universe was a pretty cool game.  Similarly I have really enjoyed my time spent in Lego Minifigures Online, and will more than likely pick up the Lego portal based game as well.  I may or may not be a Lego Maniac to borrow the 80s commercial catch phrase.  As I sit here typing up my blog post I am sitting in an office surrounded by a mountain of Lego sets.

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 19-19-38-92 If you have ever played any of the Lego franchise titles like Lego Harry Potter or Lego Star Wars, this game will feel extremely familiar to you at least as far as movement and gameplay goes.  Ultimately this is a game about destroying everything in sight, because when you destroy an object it erupts in a shower of “coins” which are represented by the 1×1 round plate pieces in various colors to denote denominations.  Essentially as you roam around the world every new object you encounter, you collect its appearance.  You can spend your coins to unlock the ability to build with these prefabs.  This means that if you are running through an area and there is a neat lamp post along the trail, you can bump into it and collect its appearance and then build with these lamps from that point on.  There is a truly overwhelming number of these prefab objects out in the world and in the three hours I spent yesterday playing I collected what seems like hundreds of them.

Custom Minifigures

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 18-39-28-14  When you start the game you are given a very limited choice of appearances in the form of either a Male or a Female explorer.  As you roam around the world however you encounter lots of other minifigures.  Some of them are friendly and simply walking up to them allows you to collect their appearance, and others are more aggressive and you have to defeat them to collect theirs.  In either case these minifigures that you have met go into the same “coin store” as the prefabs you encounter, and from there you can spend your coins to unlock their appearance items.  At any point while playing you can swap around your look by changing out the various parts that make up a minifigure including head, body, arms, hands, legs, hat, cape, and assorted hair slot options.  So far while roaming around I have managed to run into twenty one different figures, ranging from Yeti to a Surfer Girl.  Each of them gave me various unique bits to add to my assortment of appearance items allowing me to assemble some fairly strange looks.

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This for example is the caveman beard and hair combination, with the wizard cape, skull head and outlaw body parts.  I got tired of this look pretty quickly but the beauty of the system is that you can swap things out on the fly and incorporate new pieces you might find as you are roaming around.  I feel like that is this games strong point is that it really rewards exploration.  While roaming around you encounter all sorts of vehicles and animals that you can ride on.  Like everything else once you encounter it, you can purchase it in the coin store to permanently unlock it’s appearance.  Once you have paid for an vehicle or mount like this, you can then summon it to your location at any point.  This means if I want to ride around on a polar bear I can on a whim, or summon a racing bike, or even an airplane.  The more you explore the easier exploration gets as you have all sorts of modes of transportations to get you where you need to go.  Also while you explore there are special large chests that have items that you can collect like weapons and other items to help you in your adventures.  Since I favor melee I am right now using a big club to bash things, but there is also a rifle and a bow that I have managed to find as well to allow you to attack things at range.

Interesting Exploration

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 19-07-48-85 One of the most interesting vehicles that I encountered was this Ninjago inspired drill car vehicle.  With it comes the special ability to hold A while driving it to drill the terrain.  There are a few pitfalls with this vehicle, namely that it always seems to want to drill directly down.  That said I had quite a bit of fun tearing up the terrain and drilling under a mountain.  Now getting back OUT of that area was more of a challenge.  This vehicle from what I can tell only appears in the similarly “ninjago” themed Biome, meaning the one with the cherry blossom trees and the huge pagoda like buildings.  Other vehicles similarly spawn in unique biomes, like the Airplane appears to only be in the snowy biome, and the “Monster Fighters” style Roadster only appears in the desert/Egyptian biome with the free roaming Mummies.  Essentially each biome seems to be based on a popular family of Lego sets and generally contains creatures that you might also find in that set.  The only one that seems to make zero sense so far is that Cavemen and Cavewomen seem to spawn damned near everywhere.

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 22-36-14-05 The game right now is very “early access” and I do not mean necessarily that the game feels “beta” and buggy, but more so  that the game feels like it is missing a lot of features that will be in what I hope is the final version.  Right now there does not seem to be much purpose to the exploration other than to unlock items to build with.  The problem there is that there seems to be little to no reason to really build anything.  There are certain biomes where skeletons spawn infinitely during the night cycles, but building a structure does not really seem to present you with much shelter against the endless waves of them.  For the time being the  game is strictly single player, but I know multiplayer is in the works.  Right now the list of things planned from the Steam page includes…

  • Like/Dislike system for tailoring World Generation
  • Procedurally Generated Underground Cave Networks
  • LEGO ID integration to allow for sharing and uploading of in-game builds
  • Additional Biomes
  • Painting Themes
  • Pre-Generated Towns/Villages/Settlements relevant to the Biome
  • Updated AI Behaviors to provide organic feeling to free-roaming creatures and characters
  • Red Brick Extras
  • Full liquid behaviors
  • Additional Minifigure Characters and Creatures
  • Additional Vehicles and Pre-Built Models
  • Additional Weapons
  • Cut/Copy/Paste chunks of landscape
  • Underwater Gameplay (including Vehicles, Creatures and additional sea life)
  • Character Customizer
  • Online Multiplayer”

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So as you can see they pretty much intend to flesh this game out to be competitive with the Minecraft genre.  For $14.99 it was more than enjoyable enough roaming around and interacting with things.  However if you are looking for a complete game, keep moving on.  There really is not much “game” to be had here and in that aspect you are far better off for the time being playing Trove because it offers a lot of the same fun and exploration gameplay, while also offering an actual game that creates reasons for your exploration and combat.  This is planned to stay in Early Access throughout 2015, and by the time it launches next year it is probably going to be an awesome experience.  The biggest suggestion I have if you plan on giving it a try is to hook up a controller, because the keyboard and mouse control options are pretty frustrating.  The user interface has been designed for a controller and that experience seems to be the most enjoyable.

Developer Appreciation Week 2015 – Part 2

Yesterday I kicked off my own versions of the Developer Appreciation Week with five companies and game teams that I greatly appreciate it.  It seems like we are starting to get some traction because yesterday MMOGames.com independent of my own intervention ran a piece of what we are doing.  I still hope to see more people join in the fun and talk about the development staff that they really appreciate it.  I play a lot of games… so I have a lot of love to go around.

Blizzard – World of Warcraft Team

WoWScrnShot_033115_220604 Last night was quite possibly my single best night in World of Warcraft raiding.  After some sluggish weeks we strolled into Blackrock Foundry and cleared seven normal bosses, then popped out and took down two heroic bosses… one of which was our first kill.  To make the night even more special we managed to one shot all of them.  After riding that high last night, it is impossible to do a developer appreciation week post without talking about Blizzard.  World of Warcraft has been the juggernaut in the room for so long that I can barely remember a time when they were not the clear market dominator.  While I have some disappointments about Warlords of Draenor, I feel like they are legitimately trying to turn the franchise around after what felt like years of neglect.  It feels very much like they have doubled down on this game, and at the end of the day I am still enjoying playing it with my friends.  For a ten year old game to still maintain relevancy is a pretty mighty feat, so my hat is off to the Blizzard staff who have supported it throughout the years and made it this experience that we judge all other MMOs against.  It has been the gold standard for good reason.  Even if World of Warcraft is not your game, you have to marvel at the level of polish that they deliver when they roll out a new expansion.

Bioware – Star Wars the Old Republic Team

swtor 2013-08-13 23-38-38-65 Star Wars the Old Republic and I have somewhat of a checkered past to be honest.  I went into this game feeling like it was going to be the WoW Killer for myself and my friends, but ultimately we lasted the same three months that we normally do in this sort of game.  When they chose to go free to play, I was frustrated by how insanely restrictive the system ended up being.  All of this said… if you can some how push past all of the limited time loot boxes and free to play cludge…  there is a great game there at its core.  With the launch of SWTOR I tried something that I don’t normally do… I leveled as part of a dedicated duo with my friend Euron.  I played a Jedi Guardian and he a Jedi Consular, and we participated in each others stories.  The way those two tales interweave was something to behold, and while it felt a bit confining to always have to make sure you and your friend were on at exactly the same times…  it was a leveling experience unlike no other.  The thing that stands out about SWTOR is the story, and what ultimately killed the game for me was when I ran out of it.  Now I know I have several expansions that I can go back and experience and I keep thinking that one day I will do precisely that.  In the meantime I have fond memories of the time we were all obsessed with this game, and give massive props to the folks who built such engaging content… that we pulled some fourteen hours a day to get through it all.

Zenimax – The Elder Scrolls Online Team

eso 2014-07-14 21-46-45-167 Since Daggerfall I have been in love with the Elder Scrolls franchise.  Each time a new one comes out I end up devoting hundreds of hours to playing it, but all the while I keep thinking… this experience would be more enjoyable with my friends.  So when I found out that Elder Scrolls was in fact being made into an MMO I was completely over the moon about it.  I was lucky enough to be in the first round of alpha testing, so ultimately I participated in this game for over a year before launching it.  Unfortunately this was a bit of a double edged sword because I got to see some features that worked better in early versions of the game, as compared to later more minimalistic ones.  When you test a game that long it skews your vision of what the game actually is.  Elder Scrolls Online has some of the best story content I have experienced in any game, and there are a number of quest lines that stick out in my memory.  The whole concept of being able to continue into another faction after you have finished yours was inspired.  The problem is by the time I hit the Aldmeri content I had lost a lot of my steam, and our guild was suffering the traditional drop off in players.  Now that the game has shifted to buy to play however I am able to experience this game again and realize just how great it actually is.  A lot of the problems I had with it early on have been smoothed out, and the post 50 progression no longer feels quite so grindy.  I really appreciate the staff that has been plugging away quietly on making this game a better place to be, and I look forward to playing it more in the coming months.

Trion Worlds – Trove Team

trove 2014-10-16 22-40-54-21 Trove is this quirky world building game that blends MMO combat, MOBA style character design, and Minecraft style exploration and construction.  I was lucky enough to be including in the first round of alpha invites for trove, and it has been insane to watch this game evolve.  What I love the most is the way the developers have been meshed with the community since day one.  Instead of a traditional forum, they decided to open up the process with a reddit, in fact I think this is the first game I can ever recall doing that.  In those first days the community was so amazing, because it was so tight knit.  You would log in and get welcomed by people that might recognize your name from the Reddit, and there was rarely a time when a developer was not in game talking to players.  As the game has progressed the community has gotten larger, and the rigors of development have degraded this closeness a small bit, but it is still very much a game that draws its inspiration from the players.  While I don’t play it as much as I should, I have loved watching it evolve around me.  It feels like the sort of game you get when you throw a bunch of seven year olds in a room and tell them to solve a problem.  It is pure unbridled joy and imagination… and has been good for my jaded soul to see that a game like that can exist.

Riot Games – League of Legends Team

League of Legends 2013-08-15 20-37-32-38

League of Legends is 100% not my type of game.  In fact I might never have played it were it not at the suggestion of my friends.  Actually I rarely ever play this game other than when a bunch of friends want to do so.  That said the experience of playing with a team of friends is contagious.   There are a lot of aspects about this game that are problematic for me, a huge one being the still very toxic community.  That said I give the biggest credit I can possibly give to the character designers.  What League has in spades is the personality that seems to be lacking from so many other MMOs.  The characters in League of Legends have a life of their own, and they make you fall in love with them.  I have joked for some time, that this isn’t actually a game, but a modern sticker album… because I seem to largely collect characters and skins rather than actually play with them.  Each character is really a triumph of taking what are mostly remixed elements and making them feel fresh and new.  I tend to stick to the characters I know and love however like Darius, Graves, WuKong and Garen.  My favorite gameplay mode however will probably always be ARAM simply because no one expect you to know what you are doing, which is about perfect for me.

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Ready for a Freeze

The last few weeks my allergies have been killing me, and this is not usually the case for fall here in Oklahoma.  It feels like the seasons are getting horribly confused, and ragweed that normally hits its worst during July has been still active in August and October.  As such my lungs have decided to betray me under the onslaught, and yesterday afternoon I ended up going home from work.  I took a few breathing treatments and got some sleep and this morning I feel marginally better, but still on the scale of “lousy”.  Right now I am just read for the first hard freeze to happen and kill off most of the allergens.  Sadly that doesn’t look like it is going to happen any time soon.  The temperature is dipping down today to the 60s, but otherwise we are still having 70 to 80 degree days.

dragon-age-origin-1024x640 The constant drainage and coughing just makes me want to stay inside and hibernate.  Thankfully right now I have a ton of good games to play.  With the impending release of Dragon Age: Inquisition several of my friends are replaying Dragon Age: Origin since like many Bioware games there is reportedly going to be a save game import feature.  I know my experience playing through all three Mass Effect games in a row produced a ton more quest options than when I played Mass Effect 3 without importing.  So it has me wanting to try going back through the past games as well.  My upcoming gaming schedule may be devoted to Dragon Age: Origins for a bit, but I still plan on poking my head into FFXIV, Trove and Destiny on a nearly nightly basis to see what is going on.

Grinding Gear into Plasteel

Destiny_20141003060320 Thanks to the miracle of the Queens Bounty event I’ve managed to shoot up to 24 light through upgrading the two purple pieces of gear that I managed to get.  Through running various other things I have managed to pick up a handful of nice weapons and other light bearing blues.  Right now I am running around with a level 20 scout rifle, that while it doesn’t deliver as much punch as the hand cannon, it still has a bit of impact and can carry like 250 rounds with me.  It makes it extremely good for whittling down enemies at range with extreme accuracy.  I would still love to find a level 20 blue or purple hand cannon, but so far my only purple ingram has produced crafting materials instead of a weapon.  Upgrading gear right now seems to be my sole source of getting more light, as I have yet to find any items that can directly replace anything I am currently wearing.

Destiny_20141003060344 Last night my play time entirely revolved around trying to find more green armor to grind down into Plasteel, and finding Relic Iron… which so far is the hardest of the materials to spot.  I’ve gotten rather good at picking out the chunks of brown against the red brown landscape of Mars, and had a fair bit of luck finding chests that had quite a large quantity of it.  The problem honestly as you can see from the screenshot is that I just cannot seem to get enough plasteel.  I could in theory buy ingrams from the Cryptarch and grind those down… but that seems defeatist.  Instead I am mostly spending my time doing patrol missions on Mars since they give me reputation and have a fair chance of dropping greens.  I have now entered the grind phase of the game, and while I am still very much enjoying myself I can see how this might wear on folks with a lower tolerance to grind.

Tron and Infinium Ore

Trove 2014-10-03 06-23-24-633 With the release of Beta and the addition of the Neon Ninja, they added in a biome to go with that theme.  While this morning I was only able to find a very small one… this is what folks have dubbed the “Tron” biome.  In fact when you are in the biome a musical theme plays that reminds me quite a bit of some of the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  There are rivers of neon blue water, and instead of grass and brushes you have chips and resistors.  It feels like you are in a datascape and the various robots have similar tron coloring.  Each biome has a version of the skeleton, and in this biome they look like the Red MCP guards from the original Tron movie.  I hope that eventually I can build a table that allows me to spit out stuff themed like this biome, because I will completely switch my entire cornerstone to look like it.

Trove 2014-10-03 06-14-54-858 This little innocuous looking block is Infinium Ore, and it has become the bane of my existence.  After a certain point in the crafting system… every single recipe requires this.  The problem is that as you go up in level this doesn’t seem to get any more common.  You can find Shapestone and Formicite Ore until your heart is content, but Infinium still is a very rare occasional, and any given vein maybe gives you twenty if you are extremely lucky.  Most of my playtime has been wandering around looking for these ore spawns.  The problem with Trove is I simply don’t understand how the game works yet.  In Minecraft the spawns were based on a certain logic, and once you mastered that you could be plopped down almost anywhere and be able to find the resources you need.  In Trove it feels more like you have to be lucky.  I feel like I need to spend some time scouring the Reddit looking for tips and strategies for finding this ore node.  I won’t be able to do any of the really cool things without large quantities of it.

#DragonAge #Trove #Destiny

Neon Ninjas and Knights

Its A Voxel World

Trove 2014-09-25 21-00-16-293 Yesterday something pretty awesome happened…  Trove Beta launched and overall everything went pretty smoothly.  I have been a fan of the game since I got into the very first Alpha wave.  You can check out my first video from November of last year and see just how much the game has changed.  This is one of those titles that has changed at an almost staggering pace.  I would pop my head in about once a month… only to find that the framework of the game was in a massively different place than when I last left it.  I have to say during the Alpha this became a bit of an impediment to me playing it.  I would want to just pop in and do something interesting and essentially have to relearn how to do anything at all.  That said my friend Rae showed interest in the game early this week, and oddly enough we happened to both log in together on the very last night of Closed Alpha.

Trove 2014-09-22 23-56-16-632 We had such a good time running around and smashing things, that we decided last night when the Beta launched to skip playing Final Fantasy XIV at least for a bit and dive straight into leveling up in Trove.  The above mounts we found during the final hours of closed alpha, and they are essentially rainbow piñatas that shoot rainbows and confetti out of their butts as you ride along.  Basically it is my goal to manage to get this mount again during beta.  Nothing says Trove quite like leaving a trail of sprinkles everywhere you go.  Unfortunately the mount comes from their version of a lootbox.  I have no clue what the drop rate is for one of the piñata mounts but I know I purchased 10 of them last night and Rae purchased 5 with the points we were given going into the beta… and all we managed to get were a few crafting recipes.

Neon Ninjas and Knights

Trove 2014-09-25 20-37-50-103

One of the brand new things for Beta was the introduction of the Neon Knight class.  For most of the night this is what Rae ran around as while I played my Knight.  The class is a bit of a stealthy melee in that your right mouse click causes you to drop a decoy and shift into stealth.  From there you can throw shuriken at your target for a fairly devastating effect.  The purple rings around you seem to be some sort of a charging up mechanic that indicates when you are ready to throw shuriken.  Other than that if you attack from stealth you do a significant amount more damage.  I personally found the class a little frustrating, since I like to rush headlong into combat and bash all the things in the face.  For someone who wants more tactical game play however this might be the ideal option.

Fortunately or unfortunately I feel like the most “Bel” class in existence is still the Knight, which is essentially your default.  For starters it is a melee class with pretty high survival in up close confrontations.  The secondary attack is this impressive weapon slam that can knock back enemies and deal a cone of damage.  The first ability you get is a charge and god knows I love charge attacks, but this one also doubles as a movement ability and a way to dash across gaps to get to places more easily.  Finally the last attack is this shield that you can put up that causes you to take no damage for a period of time.  The last one is on a long cooldown, but it serves nicely as an “oh shit” button for doing some of the harder content.

Content Density

Trove 2014-09-25 19-18-34-398 One of the coolest things about late Alpha and now Beta is just how diverse and dense the content is.  Early on in the game each biome section would have a single objective be it a castle or a tower or something of the sort.  This time around you would be hard pressed to go for very long before discovering something that has a boss or a challenge or something of the sort.  Granted by the time I came back later in the night, the world was getting more than a bit picked over…  so I am hoping that the world reset happens pretty frequently.  In any case we were able to roll around the map going to areas that had not been touched and doing the challenges we encountered along the way.  The above shot is from this insane rainbow dungeon in the clouds that you get to by climbing up through the hollowed out tree pictured in the back.  Each biome has its own challenges with is own mob types which make the gameplay feel fairly fresh.

Essentially the challenges that I have encountered break down into a few themes.  The first involves triggering an event.  These tend to say that there is something dangerous inside in the upper right hand corner of the screen.  When you trigger the event you have to survive a few waves of enemies, and if you do so a chest appears.  The negative is that both you and the mobs you are fighting have to stay inside a blue ring that spawns when the event starts.  We had issues when fighting mobs up in the air, that they would fall off the edges.  The positive is you can retry the event over and over by simply moving out of the ring and waiting for it to reset.  The part that makes these challenging is that generally the area with the totem that triggers the event is covered in spikes or surrounded by these pillars that shoot fireballs in a Castlevania fashion.  So while the half dozen mobs really isn’t a huge problem… keeping them from knocking you back into environment obstacles totally is.

Something Minecraft Doesn’t Give Me

Trove 2014-09-22 22-31-52-013 At it’s core the gameplay of Trove is similar enough to Minecraft that you cannot talk about it without at least mentioning that game.  You could call Trove Minecraft with more meaningful combat and MMO style loot, but the game itself feels richer than that might denote.  One of the aspects of the game that I like the most is the existence of my Cornerstone.  This is basically a plot of land that I control and can build permanent structures upon… but that also moves with me around the world.  I can walk up to any plot that is presently unclaimed and the  game will rebuild my cornerstone before my eyes.  So I can have crafting machines travel around with me, and each time I do this it resets my spawn point.  This gives me some permanence that I crave in an otherwise very flexible world.  This however does not make for a great community, as folks are constantly picking up their home like a hermit crab and moving it with them.

What is more interesting is the fact that players can create clubs, which in essence give you guild like functionality.  I’ve created a Club for the Alliance of Awesome, and as such we have a “Club World”.  This is a fully instanced biome where we can control everything in it.  This means you can build super intricate guild houses and give other players the ability to teleport into them.  This is the more permanent structure from the looks of it, and gives folks a way to link up and meet in user created worlds.  While ours does not really do much of anything at the moment, I have plunked down a few machines and will likely keep adding to it as we go along.  You are given only the smallest of islands to start building on, but it looks like more or less you can freely build out over the ocean for quite some ways.  There are a number of websites giving away beta keys right now, so I highly suggest you track one down and give this game a shot.

Cancelling Titan

Bragtoberfest 2014

bragtoberfest_spooky

This month Izlain and J3w3l of Couch Podtatoes are running an event for the gaming community.  The idea is to have an entire month of remembering the good things about gaming.  The last few months have been frustrating to be a gamer, and the word gamer itself has been drug through the mud a bit by some misguided individuals with other agendas…  and their willing or not so willing peons.  The idea is to get back to the roots of gaming… and just play awesome games for the fun of it.  I was brought into the equation to help out with some logo work, and I did a couple of them that you might see used during the event.  For a better description you can check out what Izlain posted on his blog Me Vs Myself and I.

We all know that the last few weeks have been a frustrating time to be a fan of video games. There are sections of the Internet and our society as a whole that don’t necessarily see things the way we do, and a huge push back against women, other minority groups, and the industry have stigmatized the word “gamer.” I want to take it back. I want us to remember why we started gaming in the first place. I want you to enjoy being a gamer, and to brag about your accomplishments in games, be it a high score shattered, a nice piece of loot earned, or your name at the top of a leaderboard. That bragging can take place however you see fit, be it via your blog, on a podcast, in a video, whatever you want. Let’s just get back to our roots as gamers.

Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event?

If you are interested you should definitely check out the Bragtoberfest 2014 nook as that Is where the contest will be running out of.  There are four major events that Izlain and J3w3l are running, as well as a slew of prizes to be had.  More importantly this is an embracing of the good that is left in gaming, and the enjoyment each of us have that first time we boot up a new game.  Also to get some buzz going, don’t forget to mention #Bragtoberfest when you post about the events.

Goodbye Alpha

Trove 2014-09-22 23-56-16-632 Monday night on a whim I hooked my good friend Rae up with a key for the Trove Alpha, since she had shown some interest in the game.  So we spent the evening wandering around the game, and I wish to god I had been streaming it… because the running commentary of her and I “discovering” things had to be hilarious.  Trove is one of those games that I really enjoyed early on, but have simply not played of late.  Each time I do manage to boot it up the game has changed so massively since the last time that I almost felt overwhelmed to even begin to play it.  If nothing else the game has shown players just how in a constant state of flux most game development is.  Trove has broken some of the rules and for the most part uses Reddit entirely for its user forums, as well as communicating copious amounts of information back with the community about what it has done and intends to do.

As much fun as we had, Monday night was a little bittersweet.  It was only after logging out that night and checking into the Reddit yesterday that I realized that it was in fact the end of Alpha events that we were seeing.  So many awesome things were going on, mostly that people were throwing down these pinatas full of loot on the ground for us to combat.  We both managed to get amazing Pinata mounts… that leave a trail of rainbows and sprinkles as you move around.  Sadly all of this went away that night as the servers went down.  We will not be able to play again until Thursday when the beta officially begins… and I have to say right now I am feeming to play again.  In the past I had pretty much played by myself, but to be running around with someone else was an absolute blast.

Trove 2014-09-22 22-31-52-013 Right now we have tentative plans to wander around Thursday night leveling.  I plan on working on Knight since that tends to be my favorite, and at this point I am not sure if Rae will be a Gunslinger or a Faerie Trickster.  At least a small part of me is hoping that the new Neon Ninja class will be ready at the start of beta.  I have to say the game is so much more solid than at any point I have ever played it in the past.  The biggest improvement is just how content dense the various biomes now are.  Once upon a time there would be a single element in the biome that was worth finding and clearing, but we stumble across all sorts of points of interest, each with their own bosses and treasure chests to  be found.  Right now I have an Alliance of Awesome guild running, so if you are playing or plan on playing let me know and we can get you invited.

Cancelling Titan

projecttitan Yesterday during an interview with Mike Morhaime the website Polygon broke the news that apparently the mystery project Titan has officially been cancelled.  For those who are completely unfamiliar with the name Titan and the mystery surrounding it, you can check out this excellent post from Massively running down the short history of a game that doesn’t exist.  For me I guess it feels weird to know now that Blizzard does not have a new MMO up its sleeve, and makes me wonder if they are completely abandoning the MMO genre in general in favor of games that are frankly easier to manufacture content for.  Right now Hearthstone is by all reports doing amazingly well, and they have managed to find a mix of value in their micro transaction model so that it does not feel abusive to the players.  Similarly with the ramping up of Heroes of the Storm, we have them formally throwing their hat into the MOBA arena which at least for the games that have done it right, is also a cash cow.  The amount of effort that it takes to develop a new hero for example is so significantly less than it does an entire MMO expansion.

Statistic: Number of World of Warcraft subscribers from 1st quarter 2005 to 2nd quarter 2014 (in millions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
I feel like one of the things that most players do not understand is that World of Warcraft is following a very bell shaped decline.  Each time a new expansion is released there is a momentary bump, but the last one of these only raised the subscribers enough to cover the exodus at the tail end of the previous expansion before steadily declining again.  I am not trying to claim doom and gloom about World of Warcraft, but it feels like fact that the game has long since entered its golden years.  The positive is that both Everquest and Everquest 2 have enjoyed significant followings and stability long after the buzz died down.  In both cases they continue to churn out expansions happily, and for the small but extremely devoted fan base they are great places to be.  As such I more than expect that the same will be true for World of Warcraft.  I expect the game will likely taper off and flatten the curve a bit around 2 to 3 million players.  Looking at the number alone however, we can see that the game is at a level of subscribers that it has not been at since the sometime between the opening of AQ40 and the launch of Naxxramas in vanilla.

So I guess my question is this…  does this really mean that Blizzard as a company is moving away from the MMO model that they popularized?  Do they have another skunkworks project up there sleeves that they can surprise the player base with at a later date?  I realize talk about the decline of World of Warcraft makes a lot of fans nervous.  I am trying to do so with the least amount of hyperbole available, and in a way that is an non-incendiary as I can.  The truth is right now World of Warcraft still brings in a very significant amount of money.  As it ages however, that revenue stream keeps diminishing.  The question is, can they make enough money from micro transactions to replace the stability of the subscription dollar?  Will they be able to muster the same amount of fandom without an MMO to stir up the hysteria to eleven?  What does the future of Blizzard look like, and is it as dominant a force as it has been to date?

#ProjectTitan #Trove #Bragtoberfest

Too Many Games

I’m a Cheater

Once again I am doing what I consider cheating… which is writing up a post at night that I intend to post in the morning.  Basically tomorrow is another one of those “ride in together” days, because directly after work we have a big end of school cookout thing to go to.  So I simply won’t have much time to do my faff about verbally thing tomorrow morning.  As such I am staging a post tonight, and doing the same thing everyone else… but for whatever reason I feel like I am somehow betraying the ritual by doing.  Today’s topic I have been kicking around for awhile, so I figure this is as good of a time to spring it on my adoring readers…  look I like to pretend I have adoring readers okay.

Too Many Games

Right now things have reached a sort of critical mass with me, and there are entirely too damned many games right now that I want to be playing.  This could not have hit at a worse time considering how busy the tail end of school is combined with the fact that we have weddings and graduations and such to attend.  Normally I feel like I can reasonably juggle three to four games at a time bouncing back and forth between them.  The other day I posted saying that multi-gaming was even an awesome thing to do… considering it kept you from getting bogged down in the decisions a game company makes that you don’t necessarily agree with.  However for me, I am spreading myself super thin with a ton of different activities that I want to be doing.  So today I am going out outline each of the games that I am playing and lament the things I would love to have time to do in them.

Elder Scrolls Online

eso 2014-05-23 19-34-45-037 Right now I still consider Elder Scrolls Online my primary game.  At roughly two months since headstart I am still very much loving this game.  It has some problems, namely with difficulty of grouping, but as far as the game itself goes I dig it massively.  I’m working my way through Auridon and slowly creeping up on Veteran Rank 2.  I have so much that I still want to do in this game, but lately my schedule has limited my time in it.  This is the type of game that I can only really play if I am fully focused on it, and this is doubly so with the veteran content.  Shit can go wrong in a heartbeat if you are not doing all the right things, so it means on the nights I am not feeling all that… I end up playing something else.

Wildstar

WildStar64 2014-05-14 17-55-10-794 This game is the new hotness it seems and it launches tomorrow, at least for the headstart folks.  I mostly preordered this game in case I decided I was in love with it, and I wanted to make sure I secured the preorder bonuses.  I really dig the pre-order house, and I did not care for anything in the Collectors Edition pack… so I went with the normal.  I am still so up in the air about this game… there are things I like and things I don’t like.  Right now I am simply not sure who is going to win out, however since everyone is playing it, and it scratches the same itch that World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic do… going to give it a good college try.

ArcheAge

archeage 2014-05-13 21-43-39-052 Speaking of games I am conflicted about…  welcome to ArcheAge.  I find so much about this game intriguing and repulsive at the same time.  It is this fusion of one of the most interesting games system wise and class wise… combined with one of the worst communities I have experienced.  This game has invented new ways for you to grief your fellow players… and this is the sort of thing I have zero interest in.  That alone would be enough to make me go running and screaming into the night… but the class system is so damned interesting to me.  I love the concept of “Rift without Restrictions” and that is pretty much what the open class system seems like.  It reminds me so much of the way the class system for Horizon worked… and that is a great thing.

Heroes of the Storm

Play 2014-03-14 07-51-05-19 I want so badly to be playing this game right now… but I also want so badly to not be playing this game with strangers.  The MOBA thing is one of those things that I really only enjoy if I am queuing with people I know.  That said supposedly the queue times are greatly improved with the new client.  If you are in the HoTS alpha… please let me know!  I need more people to queue with, and I feel horrible for being in this game when so many people want in… and not playing it much.

Defiance

Defiance 2014-05-29 06-30-42-873 The last few nights I have been playing this game again and really enjoying myself.  The whole shift in how I approach it has really helped quite a bit.  I would love to see more people playing it because I think it would be far more enjoyable to run around as a group.  I still have yet to really scratch the surface of any of the story content, and feel like I should do that.  Really enjoyed the first season of the television show, and would love to get caught up on the in game content before the next season starts.

Final Fantasy 5

VisualBoyAdvanceM 2014-05-22 21-56-13-507 At this point I am behind my friends in this game, and quite honestly I am struggling to get the oomph to play it.  That said I feel like I should really finish this game as part of the FF5 draft thing we did.  I feel like I would be a horrible person if I didn’t finish it.  That said I also know I am going to get talked into doing the Four Job Fiesta in a month…  so not sure if I will finish before then either.

Trove

Trove 2013-11-25 16-57-34-42 There is something about this game that makes my inner child squeal with glee.  Things are just so damned much fun, and the mob design is amazing.  That said I have been out so long and so much is changing on what seems to be a near weekly basis that I feel hopelessly lost.  At some point I need to resort to reading through all of the patch notes starting around the time I last played in the hopes of understanding how things have changed.  The combat in this game is just enjoyable, I only wish I could play it with a controller.  I guess in theory I could use one of the keypad mappers but I have been lazy.

Landmark

Landmark64 2014-04-13 22-04-40-22 Oh Landmark… how I love you and am completely bored with you at the exact same time.  Right now it is less a game and more a toybox for you to build in, with a ruleset wrapped around it.  This was really fun while I had giant things to build… and while I was progressing through the ranks of collecting the next best mining pick.  Now that I have topped out, and have fleshed out most of what I wanted to build… I log in pretty much only to mine copper and pay my upkeep.  What I need to make me care about this game is the combat system.  Here is hoping I will fall back in love with it when I can run around the world killing things.

Diablo 3

Diablo III 2014-03-29 19-54-54-44 I still don’t have a character to 70, and I feel like I have somehow failed for not doing this.  Basically this released way too close to the launch of Elder Scrolls Online… and I never gave the game the attention it deserves.  At some point soon I really want to work on leveling my crusader, since I have technically beaten the game on my Monk.  I am struggling with the desire to simply grind the last two levels to ding 70.  I figure at some point I will have a renaissance of caring about d3… but it might be awhile before I cycle around to it again.

Rift

rift 2014-05-08 06-09-17-50 The new souls were released and I have yet to even check them out.  I really would like to level my cleric to 60 before the 3.0 patch hits, but I have no clue how long that is.  Right now I am logging in on a weekly basis to get my patron gifts and that is about it.  I thought it would be really cool to do a streaming series where I try and remember how to tank, and do a public service of tanking elites.  I’ve heard the queue times are absolutely insane, and I know personally I have waited over two hours without getting a DPS queue.  I still love this game, but at the same time don’t really know what I want to do in it.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

swtor 2014-05-05 22-32-57-22 A few weeks back I was playing the hell out of SWTOR and enjoying myself.  While I have let my subscription lapse again… I would love to pick back up on my Sith Juggernaut and see what happens after Balmorra.  I have never actually made it off this planet imperial side, but I was really damned close to doing this when I was last playing.  The real challenge will be if I can manage to play the game without subscribing… or will I re-up again only to cancel a few weeks later.

World of Warcraft

Wow-64 2014-03-25 07-16-07-71 Finally there is good ole World of Warcraft.  Once upon a time I had a grand idea of getting everyone to 90 before the expansion.  I have failed miserably at keeping up with this ambition, but who knows if I will actually do this or not.  Right now all I have left are the Priest, Monk and Warlock… all of which are over 60 at the least.  The Warlock and Priest are both in Pandaria content, but at the very beginning.  I might get a wild urge to play again and push these guys across the finish line.  Either that or I might completely abandon this until the release of Warlords of Draenor.  In any case the account is still active, because I pop in periodically to dink around with stuff for the guild.

Nothing at All!

Tonight I will be playing…. nothing more than likely.  We have an end of school cookout and by the time we get done there… we will likely crash, or walk… or walk then crash.  If anything I launch Wildstar and create my characters.  Right now I am planning on having my Chua Engineer and an Exile Warrior of some sort… just not sure if that will be Human or Granok.  In any case I have nothing exciting to report about my master plan for the evening other than hanging out in the real world and eating some good food.

A Path Not Taken

A Question Answered

I am getting a super late start today, or more so I am sitting down to write my blog post this morning later.  I dropped the dry cleaning off yesterday morning, and then shortly after decided I felt entirely too bad to exist in the real world.  So I went home and took breathing treatments throughout the day, in an attempt to convince my lungs to stop being assholes.  It has mostly worked, but this meant that I needed to get up relatively early this morning and go pick up the dry cleaning so we would have it for Monday morning.  I still have plenty of shirts in the closet to cycle through, but my wife had reached the limits of her wardrobe.

It seems like at least once a year a new social media technology is released, and the internet zeitgeist all flocks to it.  I generally sign up for these the moment they happen in an attempt to stake my claim flag and then they sit dormant for years until I finally decide that I want to start using it.  One of these is Anook, and I asked a very simple question last night on twitter.

image While I was expecting someone like Maeka who has been posting on the site for a good deal of time to chime in, I did not expect to be drawn into a length conversation with the Community Lead.  As you can see, we talked a lot and I started to buy into the vision.  The problem that they see it is that there are all these services, that you load up with content once… and then forget about.  Facebook is this way for me, I have a profile because I know that certain people would rather be notified of my content through that vehicle… but I don’t actually USE facebook.  I hate the service, I hate the way it feels, so I feel bad each time someone sees the content that somehow got set up to syndicate from twitter… and thinks I am actually using that as a means of communication.

I know going into this that Anook is not what I have been longing for.   I would love to have a gamer focused site that acts as a social glue for everything else I have content on.  A single point of syndication for G+, Twitter, Steam, Raptr, Battle.net, Glyph, Playstation Network, Xbox LIve…  whatever services I happen to have accounts on including my own blog and podcast.  I think this is a niche that if someone fills it, will be amazing.  What Anook is instead is trying to focus on creating a community with the ability to talk about disparate topics.  I see this as trying to be a social network, but almost from a guild website type of approach.  In the short time I am going to start populating it with my content, be it youtube vids, the podcast or my daily blog posts.

In the long term I could see maybe starting to try and use this for some of our other ventures like Stalwart Gaming or the Alliance of Awesome.  When I first signed up for the site at launch, it felt fairly primitive, and I really did not grasp the concept.  It just felt like Raptr or Steam without the nifty automation and game tracking functionality.  Now I can see what it is trying to be, and while I may not be 100% sold on it, I definitely appreciate their goals.  More than that I appreciate the kind of specialized attention this Community Lead gave me in trying to win me over to their vision.  Hell that along is going to make me loyal to the cause more than anything.  I will always reward amazing service with my patronage.

A Path Not Taken

This morning is going to be a bit “gaming lite” again, but with the hustle and bustle of the Newbie Blogger Initiative I’ve sat on a tale for a few days.  I wanted to make sure I got the posting underway proper before taking a lot of screen real estate for something personal.  My wife is a teacher, and this year her schedule aligned just right to allow her to attend the junior assembly.  This is one of those deals where someone inspiration comes and talks to the kids about the dangers of the world.  This is the sort of thing I as a teenager used to ignore, taking a sketch pad and doodling up in the bleachers instead of actually listening.  I am sure for some of the kids there this will definitely be the case.

As the speaker was introduced, my wife thought the name sounded familiar but shrugged it off.  Then he started talking about living in a town of 3500 in Northeastern Oklahoma.  At that point she started to wonder if maybe he lived in her hometown.  Finally when he started talking about his son… it hit her like a sack of bricks.  Growing up I was best friends with two other guys, and for the most part we were inseparable.  The man on the stage telling his story was one of those two boys father.  He had been almost a surrogate parent to me, as much time as I had spent over at their house throughout Middle School and most of High School.  When we first got together in College I was still telling stories about him and his son with fondness.

The thing is something changed along the way, and his son was getting into some pretty bad stuff.  Alcohol changed to Marijuana changed to Cocaine binges… and eventually I had heard he was even dabbling in Heroine… not that you can actually dabble in that.  Two things happened my junior year, one I started distancing myself from him… and two I got really sick.  The combination of the two ended up with me picking up some new friends, ones better for my well being… and while we had no falling out or anything… we just faded apart.  At some point after graduation we had managed to get back in contact.  He was running a record label out of Ohio, and prided himself in sending me lots of indie recordings of the bands he was working with.

Every so often he would call and we’d end up talking for a few hours.  When he moved back to town he got married, had a couple of kids and settled down as the director of an area Arts festival.  I thought that things were going pretty well for him, or at least on the surface he seemed to have gotten his shit together.  I visited him at least once at his office, and we went out to lunch, and then at our ten year reunion we of course hung out.  So it was with complete shock that a few years later I hear that he was not okay at all.  At some point the drugs had returned, and one day while driving home at lunch to get a fix he hit a special needs kid who had been riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare.  The report is that my friend didn’t even stop the car, and the cops followed him to his house an arrested him on the spot.

They say he was going fast enough when he hit the kid, he practically exploded.  They had to cremate him because there simply was not enough to bury.  So as my friends father was retelling this tale, my wife is sitting there in shock because she knows the other side of a lot of the tales he is telling.  She has this cold realization that had I not made a change and distanced myself… that it could have very well been me.  I hung in the same circles, but there was just a point where their behavior was getting a bit too risky for my tastes.  My friend deserves his fate, he did not get there over night, but over a course of multiple years of bad decisions.  However I feel horrible for his parents, because as parents go… they were awesome.  They were always so good to me, and treated me like another member of their family.

Once the assembly was over, my wife rushed up to the stage and introduced herself to his father, and apparently he just gave her a huge hug.  Then asked how I was doing and how things were in our lives.  He really was like another parent, and I feel like I need to get a hold of him.  He lost his son, in ways that he will never get him back, but maybe I can reach out and be a little closer to him and his wife.  They were always so good to me, that I want to be there for them however I can be.  So what makes the whole situation that much more odd, is that I was one of those kids who didn’t pay attention to this sort of thing.  I ignored more than my fair share of drug assembly, and ditched them whenever I could.  However I am living proof that changing the path you are going down can make all the difference in the world.  I could have easily been my friend, and that alone is pretty sobering.

Bangkorai is Huge

Screenshot_20140430_212918 Last night I spent most of the night streaming some Elder Scrolls Online gameplay.  Bangkorai is freakin huge.  Each time I feel like I might be nearing the end of the zone, I keep finding a pocket of stuff that I have missed. At this point I am extremely overleveled for the content at level 45, and the highest mob I have found at all has been 43.  This is a thing that keeps happening to me, I seem to move extremely slowly through content.  My whole general approach to Elder Scrolls Online is to kill every single thing in my way.  This means I probably kill far more badguys than the average gamer.  I have watched my friends play through content, and they go out of their way to skip combat.  This game gives you really good ways to skip combat in the form of “disguises”, however I NEVER use them.  The only time you will actually see me wearing one is when the quest literally cannot be completed without one.

A good chunk of the night was spent working on a series of quests in an occupied town.  I could have skipped almost all of the combat entirely by wearing the disguise.  However I ignored the fact that it was in my inventory and proceeded to lay waste to everything with a red diamond on it.  Which is a big funny considering my character is racially imperial… but apparently I like killing my own kin?  I am still enjoying the hell out of the game, and while I am super interest in ArcheAge I keep telling myself… to wait until I reach a point in Elder Scrolls Online where I am not quite so in love with it.  The game keeps giving me sufficient reason to log in every night and play, so until it stops doing that I will keep playing it.  ArcheAge will always be there when things start to get dull and I want to do some full on sandbox… however as time consuming as it seems based on the few streams I have watched…  maybe I am better off with Themebox or Sandpark.

Contest Entry


Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Toward the end of the night Rae pulled me over into Landmark.  She has been working on the big contest that they have going on and wanted some feedback on her building.  So far I think it looks pretty great, but this has been where she has spent all of her effort of late.  Personally I still have so much to do on my temple complex that I am almost mired in a building funk because of it.  Towards the end of the video I end up traipsing back into my own claim.   I am not really sure where I am as far as the game is concerned.  I like the game so much, but right now there is not something about it making me to want to log in regularly.  I think maybe once there is combat or something other than “Lego mode” I might feel more strongly about the game.  Quite truthfully lately I have enjoyed Trove more… and it is far more primitive.  The reason behind that seems to be that there is more to “do” in trove.  Definitely going to be active in the Landmark community, but right now past the initial rush of wanting to build something… there just isn’t much “stickyness” to the community.

#PathNotTaken #ANook #Landmark #ElderScrollsOnline #ESO

Class of 2014

Class of 2013 Revisited

Now that we are officially underway in the Class of 2014, I thought it would be interesting to look back and see just how well the fruits of our efforts with the 2013 have paid off.  I have to say based on past experiences I was expecting to see about half of the blogs either no longer resolving or not having been updated in months.  However it appears that the class of 2013 was one of the most productive to date.  Looking up my blog post from the close of NBI 2013, I counted 23 blogs that finished the event.  Out of those fifteen are still updating fairly recently, or have at the very least had a blog post in the last few months.  A handful have even been updated semi-weekly for the past year.  I think this is pretty cool that the Initiative was able to create some really dedicated bloggers.

Here is a quick rundown of the folks who beat the odds and have kept up with their blogging habit on a regular basis.

All of you out there that are still updating your blogs regularly… take a well deserved bow.  There are some massive lapses in posting in the history of this blog, so the drive to keep making content is something I truly respect.  Last year seems to be the most successful year to date, and here is hoping that going into 2014 we can top that.

Class of 2014

It is still pretty early in the process but I wanted to get some link loving started already to the folks who signed up right out of the gate.  I expect as the month rolls on we will have significantly more participants, but already we have an extremely impressive crop.  So if the group we have gathered already are any indication for what we are likely to see in 2014 as a whole… I feel like this is going to be a really great year.  One of the big challenges when the Newbie Blogger Initiative was rebooted last year, was to not only get new bloggers into the community, but also to retain them.  It seems to be working and I tip my hat to the folks who have been making sure this happens.  Without further ado… on with this years list of blogs.

A few of these folks I have already engaged with via Twitter, and I am hoping to be able to do the same for the others as well.  If you are not already there, twitter is somewhat a vital too for maintaining the sense of community as a whole.  Generally speaking that tends to be how the majority of the gaming blogosphere communicate with each other on a regular basis.  My contact information is at the top of the right side bar and I welcome anyone to approach me in any venue I happen to be using.  If there is anything I can do to help make your blog more successful, please let me know.

Gaming Lite

The last few days I have been all over the place as far as gaming goes.  I recorded a new Trove video the other night as I tried to figure out all of the changes… which are pretty massive.  Adventuring now seems to revolve around the creation of portals that take you to various tiered worlds.  Additionally there seems to be a system now that prevents you from equipping too high of level of a weapon.  I end up screwing myself over by upgrading the one set of weapons I could equip… too high to actually equip them.  So now I am back at square one, working on leveling up my Knight and finding weapons to do so with it.  The pace of the game seems to be significantly slower, and I am going to have to figure out exactly what all has taken place since I last played.  I still really dig trove in that it is a funky and friendly little world full of random adventure.

Another random thing I did the other night was decide to record a walkthrough of our guild hall in Rift.  I still love what she did to the place and how awesome it looks.  I have been pining for Rift lately, so I will likely start poking around over there again.  I wish I could get some elite groups honestly, but the random dungeon finder queue is insane.  I might end up working on my tank spec and doing some streams of me tanking for random pugs.  I am just not sure if I really want that kind of stress.  Surely as long as the queues are… folks will be appreciative of tanks right?  At least that is the theory and I hope they don’t rip me to shreds.  There are a few other streamers that I might be able to connect with that also seem to want to do elites, so maybe I can get that going.  Right now both my Warrior and my Rogue are geared almost entirely through the free patron chests that we get every week.


Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Lastly I am still playing a ton of Elder Scrolls Online on a nightly basis. I streamed for about an hour last night as I wandered around in Bangkorai trying to finish up objectives that I still have out there. I ended up completing a few major quest steps, and generally faffing about killing lots of imperials. I show off my new armor and my new fast pony. I finally gathered up the 42,700g needed to buy the +25% speed mount, and while it is not necessarily the color I would have chosen… I am happy enough with it. It seems like the campaign against bots is actually working, as the few places I went last night with bosses… the traditional gathering of bots was absent. I feel like Zenimax is trying hard to combat the gold spammers and botters, but it is a constant and ever changing battle. Right now they have shifted almost entirely to using the email system… which is a bit more manageable. I am religiously reporting each and every spam email I get, hoping that over time they can lock down on these accounts. I am super interested in ArcheAge, but right now honestly I am still having a ton of fun playing ESO.