Lost in Maguuma


starwarslego_atap Yesterday was a bit of a busy day for many reasons.  Firstly getting home super late Saturday night, and then recording AggroChat extremely late, meant that more or less I just straight up crashed instead of editing the recording.  This meant first thing yesterday morning I had to edit the podcast and post it.  After that I of course still had a blog to write, and needed to spend some time working on another article as well.  Throughout all of this there were two problems.  Firstly I had a splitting headache the likes of which I have not seen in almost a year.  Secondly it was absolutely gorgeous outside, with the temperatures rising up to roughly 80* F yesterday.  So my wife and I hemmed and hawed as to whether or not we would actually go do anything.  Finally around 3pm yesterday afternoon we decided to get outside and go wandering about.

I’ve talked about the fact that any town of a decent size around me has a Wal-mart.  It has always been this way, because quite honestly I live in the Wal-mart heartland, with Bentonville the home office only about two hours away.  The first first Wal-mart supercenter in existence is about 30 minutes away in the town of Wagoner for example.  Big Wal-mart stores are boring, utilitarian and predictable… but going to smaller less shopped stores often provides this strange melange of products that they still have on the shelf.  Each store has a certain amount of discretion as to what they can clearance, so this means that shopping multiple stores might yield completely different results.  As such a few times of the year it is prime territory for hunting down clearance Legos.

We set forth on an adventure that took us through three very small locations, and while my wife found more interesting stuff than I did, at the second store…  a store I had good luck with last year…  I managed to pick up a couple of really cool Star Wars sets at a deep discount.  First up I found the Lego AT-AP walker which was originally $60 for the much more reasonable price of $30.  Then at a considerably worse deal I picked up the originally $25 General Grievous Wheel Bike set for $19… which admittedly I only jumped at because the General Grievous figure is just so badass looking.  This season honestly has been pretty slim pickings, largely because Wal-mart has started doing this annoying thing.  They will throw something on clearance… and change the sticker color to red…  but have the item marked at its normal price.  Essentially I look up each Lego set and if the savings is not 50% off I generally don’t jump at it.  This has netted me some pretty cool finds like the SWTOR Sith Fury for $60 but in order to find them… you have to be diligent, and for me the fun is more about the hunt than the finding.

Lost In Maguuma

Gw2 2015-02-09 06-06-51-36 One of the other things of note that happened yesterday while watching the return of Walking Dead is that I managed to hit level 60 on my Warrior in Guild Wars 2.  I am still knee deep in the Maguuma jungle region and right now I find myself shifting between Sparkfly Fens and Bloodtide Coast, largely be cause the Fens simply got too “big” for me as I kept wandering into level 62 areas and having to deal with constant glancing blows.  This leaves me 20 levels to go before I hit the Guild Wars 2 endgame, whatever that might be.  One of the things that has always bothered me about this game is that I never managed to max a character out.  Eighty levels is a rather daunting task, especially when you don’t find yourself really enjoying the game play.  That said I am generally known for having multiple max level characters in any game I play, so it felt like a weak spot in my armor that I could not stomach the grind in this one game.

Maguuma region is a bit of a slog, which has me concerned for the Heart of Thorns expansion.  I really do not like Jungle or Swamp regions in video games.  I was having a blast so long as I stuck to the snowy peaks of the Norn regions, but once I wandered into the swampy zombie filled wasteland…  the fun factor of the game went down significantly.  Here is hoping that I can stomach it just enough to graduate into the higher zones.  All of the guides I have read say that I should really be doing dungeons to level…  but I am admittedly scared of them.  The shitty dungeon experience was what ended up killing the game for me the first time.  Right now I am enjoying the soloing over world gameplay style, and I am afraid if I go into the dungeons again… and they end up still being the chaotic and exploitative mess that they were originally… that it will enrage me enough to halt my journey.

The Real Game

Albion-Online 2015-01-29 23-14-44-84 One of the biggest frustrations for me when it comes to online games is when a massive shift in the way the game feels happens.  Most games have this highly tailored starter experience to ease players into the game, and then something happens as though the really polished section of the game flew away.  Sometimes this transition is gradual, and other times it is quite literally like having the bottom dropped out from under you.  I’ve not written much about Albion Online because to some extent I fell off that rather steep cliff.  The first two tiers of content felt really fun and natural as I wandered around the world collecting resources to be able to craft nifty things.  Then I reached tier 3… and the fun drained away quickly.  The game up until that point had been around gathering materials and lugging them back to town so that you could use the crafting machines and fashion them into whatever you might like.  When you hit Tier 3, the crafting machines start charging you a fee to use them.  This is the equivalent of having to pay every time you need to use the anvil in a World of Warcraft town.

The problem with this is that there really aren’t that many gold fountains that I have seen so far, but the machine problem ends up to be a rather massive gold sink.  Granted at this point I don’t even know if there is such a thing as gold in the game… because I have only managed to gather up a few silver to my name.  Admittedly this is their pricing scheme… to get players to purchase gold, to ease the process of playing the game.  According to the pricing listed on the founders pack information, it looks like $20 would get you 4500 gold, and $50 would get you 12,000 gold.  Not that either of these is an absolutely insane price for what seems to be the purchasing power that gets you, but I have essentially stopped playing because I quickly realized this game was unsustainable without either grinding bandits for days…  or plunking down some cold hard cash for a game that was only mildly enjoyable in the first place.  This is a bit of a shame, because really Albion does have some really interesting ideas at work.  I might piddle with it off and on still to see just how deep  the money chasm is, but if nothing else for the time being it has most definitely halted my forward momentum.

Fairwell to Highmaul

Isometric Sorta Minecraft

Albion-Online 2015-01-29 23-14-44-84 About a week ago a friend of mine hooked me up with access to the Albion Online alpha.  I was immediately a fan of the art style, but concerned that it would end up feeling like a throwback to something like Ultima Online.  I do not have the fond nostalgia towards that game that so many players did, largely because I did not give it a shot until after I had already played a ton of Everquest.  So the other night when I got in, I noticed I was naked and the movement was click based… but other than that I popped right back out expecting to explore it at a later date.  Last night after the raid I wanted to play something, but did not want to get too deeply involved.  Seeing the icon on my desktop I decided to fire it up and give it a shot.  When I was quite literally falling asleep at the keyboard at 11:30 I realized the mistake I had made… because this is absolutely one of those “just one more thing” games.

First off this is a game without classes in any fashion.  You gain mastery over whatever you happen to be doing.  As such I have focused on leveling my crafting and working on leveling my sword and board skills.  So you start out rather simply by gathering rocks and chopping down trees so that you can build a skinning knife.  There are “suggestions” of what you should do when that appear in the lower center of the screen but these can honestly be largely ignored if you like.  I would however suggest you follow the first few until you grasp how exactly the game works.  At the end of the night I had upgraded all of my crafting gear and adventure gear to tier 2, and was preparing to venture out to try and find the tier 3 areas.  The real interesting thing for me is going to be that it appears to be available on PC, Mac and Linux… but also iOS and Android making it extremely cross platform.  If this thing runs on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone… I am in real trouble.

Fairwell to Highmaul

Wow-64 2015-01-29 19-59-39-67 Last night we ventured forth into Highmaul Heroic and after clearing the roadblock that was Butcher on Tuesday attempted to down some new bosses.  First up was Brackenspore and while we struggled a bit towards the end with the fungal creep and lost one of our flamethrower masters… we managed to push him across the line and kill him all in one shot.  We had made attempts on Brackenspore heroic previously, but had not really put any serious time into it.  From there we moved on to Tectus and while things did get a little dicey at times… we managed to oneshot him as well without any previous attempts on the heroic version.  This set our sights on Ko’ragh, and we fought valiantly, however were ultimately bested.  I believe our best attempt got him down to something like 22% but each time there would be a transition at a bad time and folks would die as the healers struggled to keep both tanks up.  I figure given some more time to work on him we could easily get him down.  As my friend Kadomi just reminded me… this content is still the current tier meaning we might want to kill Imperator to get the achievement.

However for the time being our princess is in another castle, as Blackrock Foundry releases next Tuesday and we plan on setting our sights there for the time being.  Highmaul has been a really fun raid for us, and I am proud to have gotten 7/7 normal and 5/7 heroic before the launch of the next raid.  This is kinda huge for me, and as I said in and earlier post…  I had not been up to date with relevant content since Icecrown.  I especially appreciate the way that folks have pulled things together in the last few weeks.  I joked that folks got good while I was away at Pax South, but it really did feel like that.  When I left we were still struggling a bit here or there, but when I came back… everyone seemed to have laser focus and precision.  I really am looking forward to Tuesday and sitting my feet down in a brand new instance… one that drops actual tier set gear!

Marketing Is Strange

When I first heard about Dying Light it was through watching a gameplay video from some conference… I spent a bit of time this morning trying to locate said video but was unable to do so quickly.  Essentially the video touted the multiplayer co-op survival horror sandbox nature of this game, and in doing so sold it to me completely wrong.  While it looked gorgeous, and while I have yet to tire of worlds full of post apocalyptic zombies.  I have however completely tired of the hardcore survival sandbox genre.  In a sea of hundreds of those games… it feels like a horrible way to market a game right now, but I am guessing the folks thought it might be wise to try and ride the coat tails of Day Z or something of the sort.  The early description that I saw of the game, and was reinforced by almost every trailer pointing out the sandbox nature…  excited me about as much as you saying “brand new moba”…  which is to say, not at all.

What I am hearing after the launch of the game however is that it is essentially Dead Island, but better in every possible way.  I loved Dead Island for its strange campy free roaming RPG feel.  While I never played the second game that came out of that series, I logged quite a bit of time playing the first and would gladly step back into that world.  The problem being that the storyline behind Dying Light was mostly obfuscated until I stopped caring about it.  Had I seen the above trailer first… I would have been interested.  I feel like this is one of those games that is going to be judged wrong by folks like me writing it off… when it sounds like it is absolutely a game for those who enjoy open ended RPGs.  While I have missed the initial purchase rush, I will probably pick it up when it gets the first price break on steam.  Had they done a better job marketing the game to more than one demographic…  I would have likely been a day one purchaser.