Burning Torch

psobb-2017-07-30-14-32-05-52

psobb-2017-07-30-14-32-05-52

There are a lot of games that I hold a torch for…  even when they are long dead and gone.  Specifically I am looking at you Hellgate London… that I will always have a significant amount of love for.  However another of those titles is Phantasy Star Online.  This is ultimately what I consider to be my first MMO, or at the very least the gateway drug that opened me up to the possibilities of Everquest.  The Dreamcast is a special console for me, and in large part it is due to this game.  I spent many a weekend afternoon dialed into SegaNet with the 56k modem and eventually upgraded to the “broadband adapter” and running a 50 ft network cable out of my office and around the edge of the loft so I could partake of this title at my then DSL speeds.  I even went so far as to purchase a weird controller adapter that among other things had a PC PS/2 port that allows me to connect a keyboard so that I could communicate more easily with other players while running group content.  I played a RAcast, which was the giant robot ranger character…  which is probably why I have so damned much fondness for Exo’s in Destiny.  Because of just how hard the various mobs hit… I found playing a sword wielding Hunter class to be awkward and involved way too much dancing in and out of melee range just barely not getting hit.  Ranger on the other hand could absolutely abuse the fact that mobs would turn back around when you encountered a gate between areas…  and I would sit at the space between zones and effectively “kite” the mobs until they were dead.

psobb-2017-07-30-14-50-37-51

For awhile I have known about unofficial community run servers for Phantasy Star Blue Burst the PC release of the game that came out in 2003.  However with the one I had messed with before, the game felt not completely functional in some way.  The controls were wonky, and the servers felt laggy.  However I heard there was a much better experience in the form of the Ephinea Private server.  I never quite know where whims come from… but suddenly this weekend I was hitting the page and downloading the client.  Firstly the experience of getting into the game is much better than the version I had messed with before, that involved downloading the game via a large torrent.  This instead is a fairly slim roughly 650 meg installer.  From there it boots into a menu system that features its own built in patcher, so there has been a significant amount of time spent making this as good of an experience as is possible.  The client also seems to support a whole slew of modern resolutions and some advanced options for a higher resolution HUD, all of which was missing from the version I played a few years back.  Reading the FAQ on the website you can see that they have made a significant number of tweaks to improve overall game play experience like giving all of your characters a shared bank.  What is also interesting is that there are three seperate rulesets that are supported:  Normal, Hardcore and Sandbox.  The second being much more difficult but having much better drop rewards, and the later being a pseudo “admin mode” that allows players to summon up items and such.  For the time being however I have simply been playing on Normal mode while I get used to the game again.

psobb-2017-07-30-13-59-03-50

It is funny just how fast the game has come back to me, and even though my Fusion Pro Controller is nothing like a Dreamcast Controller…  I have managed to adjust to the differences rather rapidly.  In truth there is not a lot of deep strategy going on in this game other than the rhythm of landing a triple hit attack…  which I remembered pretty quickly and have been abusing since.  Ultimately I probably wouldn’t suggest downloading the game unless you are in one of two camps.  Firstly this is awesome for those of us who played the game back when this was literally better than anything out on the market, and want a trip down memory lane.  Secondly this is awesome for anyone who completely missed the boat on Phantasy Star Online and would like to at least see what the game was like.  In both of those cases it will provide some enjoyment, but for anyone expecting a modern experience…  you should probably keep on moving.  I’ve talked about this before, but there is an era in gaming where the ability to play online with others… especially from a console was the central feature of the game and any other details were by nature secondary.  While the core gameplay loop is still enjoyable to me personally… it won’t be for many especially considering how slow paced the game is and how cludgy the targeting system can be.  A good bit of my love of Destiny is likely because Phantasy Star Online was my first “looter shooter”.  I ran around with a rifle wielding RACast and shot things until they dropped boxes of loot… that I then either equipped or took back to the Tekker to identify the item.  Master Rahoul has nothing on the disappointment the Tekkers used to bring us when that weapon we have trudged up from the bowels of  Ruins 3 turns out not to be the upgrade we were looking for.  If you too want a trip down memory lane however… I suggest you check out Ephinea and their awesomely tweaked version of the PC Phantasy Online Star Blue Burst client.

A Matched Set

Destiny_20151228172227

Holiday Goals

Destiny_20151228171919
270 After Sifting Through Bank

There are a lot of folks that have goals going into the holiday season, for me… these tend to involve some gaming feat that would normally take a silly amount of time to do.  One Christmas break I played through Mass Effect 3, and then started over from scratch and played from 1 to 3 again trying to control the outcome.  The Christmas break that SWTOR was released I leveled as part of a duo from level 1 to 50.  Other years my mission has been to level a character from start to finish in World of Warcraft, and I made a decent dent in that with pushing the druid from 1 to 40 so I could use that Yeti mount.  This year one of the things on my list has been to finish leveling my Warlock who before this week was sitting at level 30 from the last time I got the urge to level.  I am not exactly sure why but I have wanted to have a matched set of level capped characters in Destiny for awhile now.  I think largely it is because when I am farming exotics, I hate the concept of items going to waste… and I pretty regularly got exotics for Warlocks in spite of not having one.  So sitting in my bank I had 3 exotic helms and 1 exotic chest that were warlock only, as well as a few legendary warlock only items as well.

Throughout the course of yesterday afternoon, while the ice was falling outside… I was sitting upstairs in the warmth of my office plugging away at my warlock.  Originally I started doing the House of Wolves content, since I tend to like it better than the Dark Below.  However I quickly noticed that I was leveling way faster while simply working my way through the back log of bounties I had accumulated.  As a result I spent most of my afternoon meticulously narrowing down the number of bounties I had until finally I was a sliver away from 40.  I hopped down to Mars and completed a few missions and dinged.  After sifting through my bank and spending a few legendary marks, I managed to push my overall light level up to 270 which is not too shabby for a fresh 40.  The only negative is… some of my exotics are really specific to sub class and the only one I have made ANY movement in thusfar is Voidwalker.  I really like jumping up into the air and throwing down three bombs at people…  but at some point I need to push up sunsinger because for group activity that seems to be the best option.  Self resurrection is slightly overpowered, but I figure it is something you save in reserve for when it looks like your group is going to wipe.  However it should do well to feed Tlaloc whenever I get one.

Matched Set

Destiny_20151228172227
One of Each

It feels nice to have a matched set, and the funniest thing is…. every single one of my characters is an Exo.  Mostly I had issues with not liking the other races character creation options.  The humans were out because they lacked a beard…. because seriously…  I cannot ever bring myself to play a human that doesn’t have a decent beard.  The Awoken were out because well…   space elves…. and I have a pretty deep hatred of most things elven.  I am fine if other people want to play them… but they are very much not my thing.  The best elves ever… were both from the Elder Scrolls setting… because Cannibal Wood Elves and Nasty Vile Dark Elves…  are the only ones I can embrace fully.  That left me with one race left to play… and since Destiny ultimately reminds me of playing Phantasy Star Online… and Exo is about as close as I can get to my Cast it was the clear winner.  The awesome thing is though that each of my classes has a very fitting look and feel for their class, even though they are all technically just big robots.

I’ve not dwelled on it too much, but I really think that Phantasy Star Online being my first MMO… has greatly shaped how I feel about Destiny.  The games have a very similar feel, with a lobby system of sorts being the tower…  which equates pretty similar to the tower like area you ran around in PSO.  Then you go out on missions that involve you going to planets and often times retracing the same areas over and over with slightly different features and creatures dependent upon your mission.  I played the hell out of that game, up until the point when I got hooked on Everquest.  The funny thing about it is, that as melee heavy as I was in other games… in PSO I always played a Cast Ranger.  So the fact that I really enjoy Destiny doesn’t seem that shocking.  It feels very much like the spiritual successor, minus the anime skin.  At some point I really want to get into the raid in Destiny, but similarly to WoW….  I mostly just want to do it for the gear.  Downing new content is cool and all, but the force that always drives me forward in these types of games… is the acquisition of new and cool things.  When you take loot out of the equation, like in Final Fantasy XIV it is a serious hit to my enjoyment.  Most of my dungeon running in FFXIV was in an attempt to complete cosmetic sets, and ultimately was still gear driven…  just gear as an appearance not necessarily as function.

Next Mission

Fallout4 2015-12-03 14-30-43-15

At this point I really need to buckle down and finish Fallout 4 main storyline, because this coming weekend we need to record the review show.  I am not sure what exactly has happened but I have simply not been playing Fallout much over the last few weeks.  I think we can blame most of it, on my re-entry into World of Warcraft and my desire to play “catch up”.  Then this week has been a bit of a resurgence in Destiny, this combined with the only machine I have that plays Fallout 4 well enough is my upstairs computer.  Over the course of our movie and television marathons I have largely been downstairs on the sofa in my comfy blanket cocoon.  This has meant that Fallout sadly has been abandoned for the moment.  I tried last night to play it some over steam in home streaming, and once I sorted out the many technically difficulties, I finally got it up and running.  The only problem there was that the video stream would artifact out anytime I encountered much action, making it questionable if it is really worth playing it on my desktop… or if I would simply be better playing it on my laptop with greatly reduced graphical fidelity.  My laptop will run it after all, but with a somewhat potato quality.  In any case… I need to pick up where I left off and make some forward movement.