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.

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 23-00-03-30

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”

LEGO_Worlds_DX11 2015-06-01 18-58-35-27

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.

Lost in Maguuma

Wanderlust

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.

Eternal Youth

Something in the air

Struggling to exist a bit this morning.  Yesterday evening we had a series of storms and something blew in with them that is pissing my asthma off.  So at the moment I am taking a breathing treatment while doing this mornings post.  It sucks when my lungs conspire against me, but after almost four decades of this you get used to it.  That seems weird to type that out, but I dinged 38 last week… and as my wife puts it I am officially in my “late” thirties now.  I don’t really feel any older most of the time, but there are moments when it catches up with me…  like when I am talking to a teenager and I realize they were not alive when I graduated high school.

Age is one of those things that sneaks up on you.  You assume everyone has the same experiences you had until you try and make a cultural reference that only really works well for folks born in the same decade as you.  Rae that cohosts the podcast with me is literally a full decade younger than me, and I am constantly reminded of the gulf of time between us.  Being a teacher my wife occasionally brings home of the the famous Mindset Lists for the incoming class of high schoolers.  Nothing is guaranteed to make you feel old like reading through one of those, and seeing it peppered with events you think are “recent” history.

Eternal Youth

LMO 2014-06-22 09-38-31-713 So in contrast when I find something that makes me feel eternally youthful, I latch onto it with both hands.  I think that is one of the things I love most about Lego’s, they bring me back to an earlier time when I was sitting in the floor building 1980s era insane space ships.  It is awesome to see that Lego Minifigures Online captures this optimism and bottles it into a Diablo like form.  I spent a good chunk of the weekend playing and I have to say I find it both adorable and infectious.  The gameplay is simple, but at the same time nuanced when you add in the way the different characters behave in the setting.  Right now I have settled on a team of the Roman Soldier, Forest Maiden and oddly enough the Waiter.

LMO 2014-06-22 09-26-01-916 I have to admit, when I got a pack of minifigures to drop and I pulled the Waiter from it…  I was more than a little disappointed.  I had hoped for the Cyclops or the Knight… or even the Space Invader…  but got a guy in a suit with a wine bottle.  The awesome thing about the waiter is he exactly represents the ludicrousness of this game.  Who would have thought that a waiter would be a badass combat character.  All characters come in one of three basic types:  Defender, Striker and Builder.  Defenders have more survival at the cost of slightly weaker attacks.  Strikers have extremely powerful offense at the loss of survival.  Builders are odd things, because they can complete building objectives extremely quickly, but otherwise are pretty useless.  Essentially my lineup is a melee defender, ranged defender and a melee striker and it seems to be working pretty well.

LMO 2014-06-22 10-16-49-728 Over the weekend I decided to take the plunge and become a member, as there are quite a number of features paywalled.  Most importantly you cannot really complete any dungeons unless you are a member, and the world is scattered with these little offshoot areas full of treasure and minibosses…  aka exactly the sort of thing I love doing.  Additionally as a member you get a pack of minifigures a month as well as a batch of their cash shop currency.  For the most part the game uses a league like structure where instead of buying individual champions you buy packs that contain a random champion.  Here is where my only sticking point comes in.  If you purchase or win a pack… there is a chance of getting a minifigure you already own.  Instead of giving you back the diamonds for your purchase… they give you the other in game currency stars, like 1000 of them.  The problem is… that 1000 stars is in no way worth as much as the diamonds that went into purchasing.  Especially since as a member you have a massively increased rate of star drops.

Lego Minifigures

LMO 2014-06-23 06-41-23-422 That said I feel like this is a game where you could play it completely free if you so chose.  Essentially by the end of completing the introduction to the game you have four different minifigures.  The first three you choose upon creating your character, and are doled out your team through the series of a few quests.   The starter team I chose was the Roman Commander, Bee Girl and Fortune Teller, but there are three different sets you have to choose from and they are designed to be a “balanced” team with a defender, striker and a builder on them.   At the end of the tutorial you get a single random minifigure pack.  This is where I picked up my waiter, and while I was disappointed at first he has become one of my favorite characters to play.  So having four minifigures is a good start at playing the game, and I am sure you could complete almost all of the content with only these four.

LMO 2014-06-23 06-41-18-895 The only other barriers seem to be level based.  The big thing I have noticed since switching to being a member is that the drop rates in general are far better.  You get both a significantly larger amount of stars from breaking apart structures and diamonds from completing quests.  So this is going to make progression without payment significantly slower.  Honestly though I feel that is pretty much how it should be.  Free to play games have to make a profit somehow, and after watching Lego Universe crash and burn, I would love to see this one end up far more successful.  Funcom has made an extremely fun game, and it is the perfect… I want to play something, but I don’t want to think too hard game.  Seeing the Lego universe recreated flawlessly in online game form, is sure to be the source of hours of enjoyment.

#Lego #Minifigures #FreetoPlay

Rocket Powered Hoverboard

Baby’s First Diablo

LMO 2014-06-20 06-09-20-013 It is no real secret that I love Lego, as I sit in an office full of sets waiting to be built and have an army of minifigures decorating my cube at work.  So when I first heard that Funcom, the makers of my beloved Secret World were working on a brand new game revolving around the random minifigures bags that I already buy way too often…  I figured I would be throwing money at the screen.  A good friend of mine managed to get into the alpha and without saying much about it specifically she said it was extremely cute and charming.  That about sums it up perfectly…  oh and you might throw in adorable.  I love the whole “toy store come to life” vibe that you get while playing the first level.  You start off with one of three sets of minifigures, I ended up going for the roman soldier, because he is already one of the favorite minifigures I own.

I am not sure who exactly coined the phrase, but so far “Baby’s First Diablo” has stuck, and that is not to diminish anything about the game.  It feels very much like a diablo style version of the various “Lego” franchise branded video games.  You break up blocks to get resources and stars in this case instead of coins.  Then you use special “builder” type minifigures to construct objectives.  You can have three minifigures equipped at a time, and right now my team consists of the Roman Soldier that has a charge and a melee swing, the Fortune Teller who is one of those special builder types, and the Bee Girl that drops adorable honey bombs and attacks enemy legos with swarms of bee ranged attacks.

It seems like the game is going to use a model similar to league of legends in that you buy champions in the form of minifigures packs.  The only gotcha is that I assume they will be just as random as the actual in store variety is.  So if I had to guess you can probably end up with duplicates, but I have no clue at all how that will work.  Will you be able to trade your dupes with other players, or will they have some sort of a deconstruction ability to turn them into resources…  or are they just going to go with “smart random” in that you never have the chance of getting a minifigure you already have.  In that case it would mean you would simply need to buy 16 packs of each type and would eventually get the full set.  This is definitely going to be a game I watch as the open beta continues.

Rocket Powered Hoverboard

WildStar64 2014-06-20 06-18-05-408 Just like Griff Tannen in Back to the Future… my hoverboard’s got power.  Last night I dinged 25 and was finally able to claim both the preorder hoverboard and the deluxe edition hoverboard.  Surprisingly I think I like the deluxe edition quite a bit better.  Originally I upgraded to deluxe when I thought I would be sticking around for awhile, and I guess I am happy I did so.  On the chua it seems so much cooler looking than the original human preview picture did.  I guess the difference is that the preview shots didn’t really have actual in game lighting applied to them, so they made everything look that much more gold and gaudy.  In game it looks pretty cool and as short and fat as my chua is… the regular hoverboard just looks too small for him.

WildStar64 2014-06-20 06-42-26-568 So far moving out of Auroria has breathed new life into the game because I did not really understand at the time just how bored with that zone I was.  It’s weird because I absolutely loved Deredune but couldn’t be bothered to care about Auoria at all.  Now I am in something much more my style the traditional “snowy” zone.  For whatever reason I seem to have an affinity for the snow  zones in games be it Iron Pine Peaks or Winterspring… that usually ends up as my favorite leveling destination.  Additionally I’ve installed a number of mods that make following the quest chains a bit easier so I expect that I will stay on track a little better rather than endlessly chasing rabbit trails.  I am still firmly in the middle of the pack level wise, but there are several that are now into their 30s, so I keep feeling the need to “catch up”.

Battlefield Hardline

Game trailers are pretty much all lies, but even knowing that this one gave me hope that we might see an interesting shooter to play.  You have to understand that my ideal shooter is one of the Enemy Territory series games, where you have real “objectives” that have to be completed in order to progress the map.  Based on this footage and folks using the term objective based shooter… I had hopes that this might be a return to that gameplay style.  So I applied for the beta and got accepted to play it on the Playstation 4.  Within a few minutes of gameplay all of those hopes were dashed.  This game is pretty much exactly like every single Battlefield or Call of Duty game… except this time you get to play cops and robbers.  For some that will be a good thing, if you like Battlefield and Call of Duty…  but for me it is a pretty damning indictment.

The objectives in Hardline are basically “capture the flag” by another name.  Instead of creating a series of complicated objectives that the team has to work together to achieve, it simply creates temporary choke points where death-matching occurs.  On top of this… the game just does not feel like a next generation shooter.  Everything feels extremely low resolution as compared to say Destiny, in fact I wouldn’t even say those two games are anywhere near the same league as far as look and feel.  Everything about this game feels like a “B Team” effort, and I think that is pretty much what players have come to expect out of “off year” titles in the big shooter franchises.  Basically if you just want Battlefield 4 with a few changes, then you might enjoy it.  If you were like me and hoping for something more…  keep looking elsewhere.  After all Destiny is just around the corner.

#LegoMinifigures #Wildstar #Hoverboard #BattlefieldHardline

I Lived Threes Company

The Illusive Bottle

eyedropbottle Last night went absolutely nothing like I had expected.  Well that is a bit of a misnomer in that I knew we would be running errands, but I did not realize it would take quite so long nor be so frantic.  My wife is a rock star teacher, this much I have said before.  However she is tag-team teaching a forensics science class this year and as a result they are pretty much pulling the curriculum out of their asses as they go.  For what they are teaching there really are no textbooks, and as a result no approve lab equipment really either.  Enter the empty eye drop bottle on the right.  You would think something like this would be relatively easy to find.  You would also be completely wrong

She needs these for a faux blood typing lab, since it is against safety regulations to use actual blood.  Funny thing is I can remember doing blood typing in freshman biology…  odd how things have changed in two decades.  We went everywhere we could think that might have little bottles including craft stores, pharmacies, finally we found eight of these at a local medical equipment/compounding pharmacy.  Problem is to be useful… she needs 30.  We picked up what we could find and proceeded onwards in search of the illusive idea.  Finally at Michaels we found some flip top bottles that should also work.  The problem is this took the count up to 25…  still 5 short of the finish line.  Supposedly today that Michaels location is getting some more in a shipment, so that means we will need to make our way back out there tonight to pick some more up.  The preference would be to find more of the actual eye drop bottles, so my wife plans on calling around to the various compounding pharmacies today.  This is the unknown life of the husband of a rock star teacher…  the constant trips out for random things for the classroom.

Clearance Lego Haul

ClearanceLegoHaul Roughly every six months the various store chains jettison one batch of toys to receive new ones.  This is my favorite time of the season… because it means I can pick up cheap Legos.  I have always loved building with Legos and I likely always will.  This desire to build things is exactly why games like Minecraft and Everquest Next Landmark are so sticky to me.  They are the dream of every Lego kid, the ability to create things without restrictions of having to have the right pieces.  The above image represents the haul of new sets for me to play with over the last several weeks.  They have come from a mixture of Target and Wal-mart and for the most part everything was 25-50% off.  There is a certain price range that I am willing to snatch things up, and while the Jabba’s Sail Barge that I saw yesterday would have been awesome… it was not $70 worth of awesome.

So instead I play a waiting game to see if it will make a second price cut and drop down into the range which I am willing to buy it for.  Last night while we were running around in the mad search for the bottles I managed to pick up the two Galaxy Squad sets above.  I might be because I grew up in the “funky space lego” era, but I love new space sets.  What was extra cool about this find as a whole is that last year I managed to pick up the Lego Star Wars TIE Fighter really cheaply, so now having an X-Wing to go with it is pretty awesome.  I realize I am a big damned kid…  but I am okay with this.  Getting older is require, growing up and losing the childish wonder at things…  is completely optional… and not something I suggest at all.

Boosting for Fun and Profit

90boost60bucks I feel like today’s post would be incomplete without mentioning the price leak yesterday for the boost to level 90.  I realize ahead of time that my point of view on this is going to be controversial, but it is my point of view anyway.  I personally think the boosting to 90 thing is generally going to be bad for the game community, in that dropping a new player into a fully leveled character is a bit of an overload.  Honestly I went through this myself when I accepted a scroll of resurrection and decided to boost a character to 80 that I would never actually level otherwise.  Dropping directly into a level 80 priest, when I had never actually played a priest past 10 before… was to say the least disorienting.  This is coming from someone who has six 90s, and three others waiting in the wings to reach the cap as well.  I “grok” warcraft on a pretty deep level and understand how the systems tend to work.

If I was completely at a loss for dropping in the pilot seat of a fully realized character… I can only imagine what it is going to be like for someone who has never played the game, or has not played the game in years.  After all this is the reason why Blizzard says they are giving us a boost to 90, so that we can recruit new friends and catch back up old ones.  It just seems like a fundamentally bad idea, but like I said I realize I am in the minority as people seem to want the ability to skip the majority of the game.  That is honestly the other problem I have with this idea.  Fundamentally Warcraft and the MMO genre in general… are about leveling and gaining constant incremental achievements and improvements.  If you do not want to level… then maybe you are playing the wrong genre?  MMOs are always going to be about leveling in one form or another… be it leveling in actual character level, or grinding away to get the gear to move to the next tier of LFR.  There is always a leveling treadmill there, because at its core this is what the genre is all about.

So after all of this…  now I feel like maybe you are prepared for my opinion on the price point.  I honestly think $60 is rather fair for what you are asking.  You are asking for the luxury of being able to skip the majority of the game and jump straight to being inches from the finish line.  It is absolutely a luxury, so it should have a luxury price tag associated with it.  Understand that this is for additional 90s…  we are still getting one for free when we purchase Warlords of Draenor.  So the ambiguous planned social benefit of catching people up to the latest content will still be firmly intact… as everyone is going to have to buy the expansion anyway.  If you think of it in terms as paying for a Faction and Realm Transfer combo costs $55 right now…  then it is not really out of order to expect that creating a brand new 90 character to cost $5 more.

Mentoring Is A Better Answer

I still feel like boosting was a bit of a copout answer to the problem at hand.  A much better solution would have been to finally implement a good mentoring system like so many other MMOs have.  Rift, EQ2, City of Heroes, and so many others have systems that allow you to drop your level to that of your friends.  We we had the bulk of players actively playing Rift this year, we took advantage of this weekly.  On Wednesday nights we would gather up and assess what levels we had, then everyone would mentor themselves to the lowest person and we would go do content together that was relevant for that level.  It was pretty glorious and my only complaint is that hey really need to make “queue for random mentored dungeon” a thing, because it was always a pain in the butt to do a dungeon together with all the manual mentoring.

2014-02-19 06_38_03-Twitter _ Gypsy_Syl_ @belghast mentoring systems ... The ever awesome @Gypsy_Syl posed this statement when I opened up this line of dialog on twitter last night.  While I agree with her that this likely was the intent with the boosts, the question is what exactly are players rushing towards then?  Leveling is pretty much the solo game, and all that awaits you when you hit the cap is for the most part group content or leveling another character.  Mentoring systems would help with what the stated intent was… to allow you to play with your friends.  If that was not their intent, then quite honestly they should stop selling it that way.  Mentoring systems go far further for helping you play with your friends, since you and your friends get to experience content the way it was designed to be experienced together.

2014-02-19 06_41_21-Twitter _ MatthewWRossi_ Honestly, I kind of feel like, ... At the end of the day I tend to align with @MatthewWRossi who put it so poignantly in the above tweet.  If a character is a struggle to level, then it won’t be something I play often once I get it to the level cap.  Prime example of this was my rogue that I just recently hit 90 on.  It was absolute skull drudgery to get it to the level cap, but I forced myself to do it… because I have not had a rogue at cap since burning crusade.  Problem is while leveling it and the eventual LFR grind… I came to realize just how much I do not like playing a rogue.  I pushed him over this finish line for reasons other than wanting to play the character, namely I wanted a max level transmute specialization alchemist…  but each time I log over to the rogue to do something like a holiday instance, it just feels wrong.  If you don’t enjoy the process of leveling the character, then to me at least it is highly unlikely you will enjoy the end result either.

I Lived Threes Company

Today’s blog post is going super long, but I guess I had a lot bottled up in me to talk about…  no callback to the eye droppers intended.  As I have said a few times I started out at a junior college for the first two years of my college education.  So when it came time to transfer up to a four year university to finish off, I opted to get an apartment with a high school friend who had been doing the same.  For a few months everything was peachy, and we lived pretty blissfully.  Then one morning I was woken up by a bunch of strange men moving my roommates stuff out of our apartment.  Without warning he decided to move into the “band” frat house, leaving me pretty much high and dry without much explanation.

It turns out that the landlords were coming that afternoon to kick him out of our apartment.  When we got the place we had opted to each pay our half of the rent separately.  While I had been religiously bringing my envelope down to the landlord on time, it seems as though he had not for the last two months.  They were not going to make me catch up his side of the rent, but I just didn’t feel right not doing so.  As a result it pretty much burned through all of my available cash, and the burden of keeping a place that I got intending to have a second income to support.  At this same time, my wife and her roommate were living in the slums essentially.  The place they were renting had literal holes in the floor and a very curious maroon stain creeping through the paint on the ceiling.  So we both needed to get out of our current situation.

As a result we did the pragmatic thing, since it was a rarity that my wife and I spent a night a part at that point.  We found a place that was ideal for three people, and after spending a few months watching the really nice caretaker renovate the place… we moved in.  It was in a quite little trailer park roughly ten miles from town, so it gave us the feeling of having a home… more than a rental.  So at that point I was basically living Threes Company, with two female roommates.  Essentially my wife and I had the master bedroom together, and our roommate had another large bedroom on the opposite end of the trailer.  The computers and consoles were set up in a “vestigial” middle bedroom that while it had a bed, the bed got used more as a couch than anything else.

The funny thing is that my wife’s father refused to admit that we were “living together in sin”.  Anytime he needed to talk to my wife, he would not call our phone line at our end of the trailer, but instead he would call the roommates phone at the opposite end.  Remember these are the days of dial-up… and since all of us were IRC junkies to boot… we had to have separate phone lines.  I have to say the situation was damned near idyllic, and over the time living together the room mate and I developed a loving brother/sister type relationship.  She is one of the few people we still keep in contact with from our college days, and while we don’t see her often not a week goes by that we don’t think about her.  Our bonding was special, since she has Cystic Fibrosis… and when she was having a bad night it was not unusual that I would get employed to pound on her back to help break up the gunk so she could breathe.  After all us respiratory system rejects got to stick together.

Hot Coffee and LFR

Snowed In

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

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

Hot Coffee and LFR

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

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

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

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

Trove Patch

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

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