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
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
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.