Big Damned Beta Weekend
This coming weekend that leads into Spring Break here in the United States, represents the last public beta weekend before the 4/4/2014 launch of the game. Now the beta client you will be getting to play has a significant number of changes in it. For point of reference the one that was used during the last public beta weekend was from early December, and lacked a ton of the polish changes that have gone in since. As a result even if you had completely written off the game based on past public beta experiences… you really owe it to yourself to patch the game up and give it another go this weekend. While December doesn’t really seem that long ago, what has happened between now and then is what I like to refer to as a “hallelujah” build… aka the one that fixes so many bugs and makes the game feel nice and tight and polished.
So many of the quests that have been perennially bugged out during the beta weekends should now be fixed and working smoothly. In many cases this involved subtle tweaks to the flow of the quest to make it work more reliably. Additionally this build is the one that introduces mob collision and the ability to skip the starter island. The mob collision seems to fix some of the complaints about “floaty combat” that players have made, and the combat animations themselves have tightened up considerably as well. There are still a number of features missing that are in the private test build, but overall I think players will have a more enjoyable experience. The game is very much an Elder Scrolls experience, but unfortunately if you were hoping it would morph into a standard MMO interface… that has not and likely will not happen.
Another cool thing about this weekend is with my dabbling in twitch streaming with my “Bel Faffs About” series, I recieved an email from support saying that I could stream the entire weekend if I wanted to. Granted we likely have quite a bit of things to do over the weekend, and Saturday since it is going to be nice out we hope to go out and do some photography. However as much of the weekend as I can, I will be streaming out my gameplay. I am not sure at this point if I will be starting a fresh character, or picking up where I left off on my Orsimer Dragon Knight from the previous beta. For those who have not already tested the content, they are asking each of us to start a new character and test the new starter experience sans islands. It works pretty well but is considerably more difficult since at the level you fight some of the encounters, you really don’t have a full set of gear yet.
I am still very much learning this streaming thing… and I feel like I still have so much more to learn. I was having some issues with FFSplit, namely in the inability to stream Trove. So after a suggestion or two from friends I loaded up Open Broadcaster Software
overall I like the way it is set up, and it seems more intuitive to me. However it has copious amounts of settings, and I made the mistake of just accepting the defaults. The above video is passable at times, but pixellated as all get out anytime there is action going on. After some tweaking I improved the results with the WoW stream later in the evening. Additionally I am noticing that I really need to drop the volume of the game by about half so that I am not fighting to speak over it. I was honestly being fairly quiet last night… and I need not to do that.
It had been awhile since I had patched up Trove and played around on the server. With all the excitement over “pretty voxels” and Landmark… my enthrallment with Trove’s simplicity fell by the wayside. This is one of those games where if you stop playing for a bit, you are absolutely shocked at just how much has been done the next time you play. One of the coolest things from the above video is when I find a tree fort in a higher tier zone, and go hunting for the mushroom king that rules it. Last time I played they did not have real “dungeon bosses”, and they actually do hurt significantly. I cheat quite a bit in that the community chest was stocked full of rainbow weapons. However in my travels last night I did manage to pick up an upgrade that looks like the gun from Portal.
The gunslinger class is extremely fun, and it feels more responsive at times than the Knight does. Granted the Knight was their “first class”, so I figure at some point down the line they will apply a round of tweaks to make it feel more unique. If you watch through the video, you can tell I am heavily addicted to using the “rocket jump” attack, that shoots your character up into the air. I am one of those players that jumps constantly, so this only adds to my enjoyment when I can hurdle over big obstacles. One of the things I never could find however was the snow biome full of robots. I am wondering if they made robot parts significantly harder to farm, by only making them drop off punch bots and the dungeon boss robots. I will try doing another stream soonish with fixed settings to make sure the pixelization is gone completely.
Being Bad at Mage
So as I said above, by the time I got around to streaming World of Warcraft last night, I had tweaked my settings significantly. While the gameplay in WoW never includes the kind of spastic jumping that Trove does, it seems to be smoother and not pixellated. I continued my quest to push my Mage to 60. Night Elf Mage is pretty much the least possible “Belghast” character in existence. I have always had a problem with Night Elves, and I do not do amazingly well at “Finger Wigglers” as I call them. That said I have this silly idea that I want to get one of every class to the level cap, and I figured the only way I would actually do this is by using my free boost to 90 on a Mage. Traditionally the characters I was least interested in playing were the Mage and the Priest. When I accepted a scroll of resurrection some time ago, I made an instant 80 priest. So that just left the mage, that I have never really managed to level past about 20.
Firstly I am fundamentally bad at playing a Mage. I know this. I had been using Frostfire bolt all this time… because it was “the prettiest”. Really though the animation does look amazing as compared to the stock Frostbolt… so that meant it had to be better right? Wrong… apparently it is a spell that no self respecting frost mage would ever cast except in the rare case of a mob being frost immune. Last night oddly enough I had one of the best mages I have never known watching the stream. Helkim was commenting over twitter, since I fail at using Twitch chat and gave me the realization that I should never press frostfire bolt again. Sure enough my damage went up to respectable levels in dungeons… viva la shorter cast time!
Towards the end of the video someone took the bait. I made this channel on our guild Mumble server called “Bel Is Streaming”, and since my friend Drathis has no self preservation instinct… he decided to join me. Within a few minutes several other friends had popped into the channel, and I think before too much longer we had all pretty much forgotten I was streaming. As a result you guys get a glimpse into what our mumble sounds like on an almost nightly basis. This might be confusing to the listeners because we end up often times playing completely different games, and there will be cross conversations going on about each. Everyone else in the channel that was not me, was playing Diablo 3 torment mode I believe. If I did not have this burning desire to get my mage to 60… I would likely be doing the same. Basically I decided that I would far rather level a character to 60, than level tradeskills to 600.