Author Archive: Isey

Almost Half Way There : EQ2

The other good side to having your blog broken is that the time I would often spend writing was spent gaming instead. I have continued on my EQ2 journey with furor and much attention. Playing an MMO like “the gold old days” again has been a ton of fun. I am playing both on Test and on live (for the extra character slots) and while I have jumped between several classes frequently I have clearly landed on my Warden as my “main”. For now. He is level 48 on the test server and currently following “The Golden Path”, in Lavastorm.

I don’t know what that means, but people always congratulate them so that must be important.

Still, I have spent a lot of time on my Coercer, who is a Freeportian – opposite to my other characters who are Qeynosian – and I find that to still be the biggest barrier. The Coercer has a 6 room prestige home with a patio held over from my live, testserver playing days and I’d love to let all of my characters live there. Seems as though this is not possible – or at least, not easy. This is a bit of a surprise considering how most other parts of the game have been completely streamlined for the player experience. Take, for example, Druid travel spells. The Warden is a melee subclass (when specced correctly) of the Druid class – meaning at level 25 they get the all important teleport line of spells. Many a day were spent paying coin to a friendly druid for such a port. Well, no longer is this necessary as anyone can port if they just  click a bush within a druid circle.

Automation is not just causing lost jobs in the present day.

This is a fair compromise – the Druid still gets the benefit of being able to cast that spell and travel from anywhere, whereas any other player still has to travel to the rings to get benefit. I suspect that the wizard spires work similarly. It is not a big complaint as I suspect with auto port to housing and the like this minor convenience is still nice to have for me, and doesn’t put anyone else out. Still, I am finding that it is the “little things” about the game that still bring me a lot of happiness. The benefits that each race gets is pretty interesting. Take the Erudite, for example, who has a self buff to identify magical creatures. A blue hue for damaging magic types and a green outline for healer types. This is extremely handy when looking for a pet but also is just a clever little fun function. My Warden has tracking due to the half elf racial, and I suspect it is one of the more important ones to have for a solo-adventurer these days. Nice to find the exact mobs you need and/or any named mobs in the area for treasure.

Feeling blue? Good – I’ll charm you. And then you will kill and die for me. This was almost a poem.

I keep getting sidetracked on instances as the Coercer with his charm ability, and invisibility – can get pretty far in exploring and there is a real sense of danger. On a random encounter with a real, live human being on test (which is admittedly extremely rare for me) he tried to explain a self-mentor ‘chronomance’r thingy where you de-level and solo instances for pretty good XP. This would be a better way to explore these dungeons (as long as I can really solo) because by the time I find bosses if they aren’t green I can’t usually win – and if they are grey then there is no loot. And loot is always fun. I will have to explore this feature better to understand it. And by explore, I will just Beetlejuice Bhagpuss here so he can explain it in the comments. Will save me navigating a google system that seems to recognize info from 2009 in EQ2 as up to date. “Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss, Bhagpuss!”)

I love him so much I should marry him. Or her. It.

My new, greatest toy which has completely changed the game for the better is the level 30 mount quest – a Mountain Salaraptor that has an incredibly fun and effective leap ability. I can jaunt across entire zones, relatively safely but much more quickly. This has made the game much more fun AND convenient. I suspect flying mounts will be even better but there is a certain joy of bounding across a landscape, and reaching peaks and areas previously barred from travel. It very much reminds me of the Super Leap ability from City of Heroes, which was amazing too. Another thing EQ2 does exceptionally well is letting you use the skins/graphics you like best. Don’t like the updated models? Turn them off. Don’t like riding a dinosaur around? Equip your horse (or whatever) in the appearance tab – keep the leap, stats, etc but change the model.

My 2H Warden is now a dual wield Warden. LOVE LOVE LOVE

I figured that part out quite by accident – on a forum – but I have always enjoyed playing dual wield characters. Wardens can’t. They can use swords, and blunt, and shields, but not two one handed weapons. This is where the appearance tab shines – I can use an offhand weapon in my shield slot and my shield looks like that weapon. It strikes and swings like that weapon. It does NOT change what the shield abilities do, but just the graphics and the swings. This alone has made me get back to leveling my Paladin as I always played dual wield Paladins in my pen and paper campaign, I just loved the theme of it. Now that I can do that in game as well I am excited to see how that looks. It doesn’t change the core, fundamental gameplay but it really allows me to customize the game to what I want to see and experience. It really is amazing.

Does this match?

It’s probably a really good thing too – or else you end up with outfits like the above. EQ2 does do a good job of varying the sets but you can really tell when a player is in between two. The appearance tab changes this if you can be bothered. Since I am wielding two weapons I feel like it doesn’t matter how bad the rest of me looks.

Now that my “main” is 48 I found two heritage quests – one of which required me to ask for help for the first time, which I thankfully and luckily received from a very happy and willing test server person who enjoyed the change of pace from whatever they were doing. I also ran out of quests in Lavastorm with 4 levels to go before the next “Golden Path” step. I either missed a quest hub or need to go explore more of Norrath. Either way, I am not short of options and am very thankful that I took the plunge to explore this game. It really is easy to come back to, is a lot of fun to play and level in, and there is a lot of depth and interest to hold even the finest connoisseur of MMOs.

And me too.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q4

Good news is my site is back up! My tinfoil hat edition is that one day I get a notice from WordPress – sign up for paid backups now! I said no. Next day, a standard, Jetpack update broke my site for a week. Quite the coincidence, right? I am so sad that now I am a cynic when it comes to digital companies, since there are no regulations to ensure they aren’t breaking things for profit. And no, not paying for that service for sure, because, that would mean they would win.

Bad news is not sure if anyone had missed it, anyway =) Yes, I just smiley-faced mid post.

Q1 Post here, Q2 Post here, Q3 Post here

And here is the Q4 post.

October 2017

  • Post Count: 12
  • Games: Destiny 2, Warframe
  • Other Media: Blade Runner
  • Themes: Politics, Single Player, DLC

Mood / Content: Love/hate Warframe/Destiny. In that order. Destiny’s failure to add base features (raid group making) has creating a black/third party market for it. I learned that Canadians don’t have property rights enshrined in our Charter, but that it probably isn’t a big deal because we are supported from other laws. I watched and loved Blade Runner 2049, much only how a big fan of the series could and would. My son and wife were lost on what was really going on but found the whole thing really, really pretty. I bit the bullet and downloaded Warframe for “what the heck” because it was getting a lot of good press. It was so smooth, beautiful, and utterly confusing at the same time, but worth exploring further. I tried not to say “I told you so” when Destiny 2 sales came in below expectations. Which wasn’t a big surprise because it was essentially a step down for Destiny 1 in content. I lamented the death of the single player RPG because it wasn’t a gateway drug for more loot box sales. EA killed the best hope we had for a Star Wars rekindling RPG with that mindset. I further explored Warcraft, their codex, and realized even more how awesome the game was – and still, how confusing. Destiny 2 started losing a lot of players as the realization it is a step back from Destiny 1 but with added loot box sales and was more shallow became reality. Bungie doubled down on silliness by resetting Clan XP every “season”. (ie: shopping season, when they could introduce and sell more loot boxes!). I celebrated how wonderful and incredibly deep Warframe customization was (it has earned the nickname, “Fashionframe”). I explored the differences between User and Metacritic scores comparing Warframe and Destiny 2. Not content to being nice to Destiny 2 (ahem) I called them out for their day one DLC pack – another uninspired, boring jaunt of content that was done before release and should have been included in the base game to provide a bare minimum of content that was severely lacking.

It was a hard month on Destiny 2, I admit it. Warframe made it all worthwhile though.

November 2017

  • Post Count: 10
  • Games: Warframe
  • Other Media: Stranger Things 2
  • Themes: Community content, login rewards, blog therapy

Mood/Content: Serial gaming love. It was all about Warframe in November, and started off the month with a post exploring the very incredible, very cool 700 day login reward – and whether that was fair or not. I then explored the pay-for community created cosmetic system that Digital Extremes had created. I loved Stranger Things 1 but was ultimately disappointed in the lack of detail, intrigue, erm – story, in the second season. Was a bit of a wasted opportunity too build off of the first. OF course, they will cash in, and continue to do so. Look at the Walking Dead show.  I stopped a smelled the roses – admiring the backdrop to Warframe and the various beautiful things I found on my slaughtering journey on several planets. I revisited my blog series of purging draft posts – the fifth in the series – and there is at least one left. Thankfully now I don’t do a lot of drafts, I just write and complete. I never want to make that kind of a mess again.  I was prompted to respond to a randomization article Gevlon wrote – calling for the end of it in gaming – and reflected how much I enjoy  and appreciate randomization. I hit 50 hours in Warframe and marveled about the good in it – and the things they needed to work on. I wrote a piece on modding in Warframe to support him since he asked for some good starter builds. I shared a Warframe video – 100 Days of Warframe – which captured the feeling of a new player pretty perfectly. I made a Warframe specific Christmas shopping list to reward DE for the hours of enjoyment they had provided me and last, but not least, I had to call Destiny 2 out again when it was discovered they secretly throttled XP gains in the game to encourage loot box purchases. The reckoning of government intervention is coming. Gaming companies cannot be trusted to do anything except maximize profits. Capitalist bastards!

December 2017

  • Post Count: 13
  • Games: EQ2, DDO, Warframe
  • Other Media: Calvin and Hobbes
  • Themes: Housing, old games

Mood/Content: Nostalgia is strong. I started off December profiling a couple of my favourite Warframes, Mesa and Rhino, and admired the different ways you could impale bodies in the game. I discovered and subsequently played around with a very cool screenshot mode in the game which more games should offer. I watched parts of the video game awards and was pleasantly surprised there were actual secrets and things revealed for the first time (in a world of spoilers). I found an artist who mish-mashed two of my favourite things – Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes. I watched, with sadness, as Paladins went the Battlefront 2 loot box mode and lost a lot of players very fast, ruining what was ultimately fresh and exciting with the game. May it (or what it was) rest in peace. I was pulled back into Norrath in EQ2 and found a wonderful, rich, new experience there. This prompted me to look at DDO again and was also very pleasantly surprised. I was even in the same guild from a decade ago. I started my Year In Review posts, and spent many, many more hours in EQ2. Something about the 1-20 experience there – so many new abilities and ways to explore the game. It’s addicting. I became sucked into housing and couldn’t (can’t) stop. I explored some nostalgia in Norrath visiting the new, old zones and experienced all of the refreshed starter zones.

2017 is over and with it I had a lot of fun with the blog. I didn’t break writing, or reading records or anything and didn’t quite stick to my 2x a week posts for the full year – but broken blog aside, had a really strong fourth quarter. I only write when I am inspired to do so and gaming has been good to me. So has this community, which was the biggest part I noticed I was missing when my blog broke – all the links to fresh content and perspectives from my living blog roll.

I am not sure what 2018 holds in store for me, gaming, or this blog but I do know I will game, and write about it. I will also read other blogs faithfully and comment often. I enjoy the interactions that blogging provides no matter how little or much this little corner of the internet generates. I have a dozen or so posts in my head to catch up on with the gaming I have done and experienced lately and well, no point in waiting now, is there!

Onward, 2018. Onward.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q3

Q1 post here and Q2 post here.

Continuing wrapping up last year’s blogging and gaming efforts with the July to August calendar quarter.

July 2017

  • Post Count: 3
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Battlenet (early backer)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Against the grain, Feedback, Early Access

Mood/Content: Largely absent! Summer I like to be in, on and around the water. I have a 35′ sailboat, a canoe, fishing rods, camping gear etc. I am surprised I blogged so little but then again in hindsight July was a heavy sailing month. We had lost most of May and June due to dangerously high water levels (so much so the docks to get to our boat were 3′ under water!) and this did not get remedied until mid/end of June (by building new docks on top of the old docks. We sail the Great Lakes in Canada (and the St. Lawrence Seaway) and it was just a year that no one had seen in 30+.  This may have been why I managed to blog regularly in May and June and less so in July. Still, I managed to join and write about the new, early access Battletech game that captures the essence of the board game moreso than it’s FPS counterparts, and was still playing Paladins in a community full of Overwatch players. I spent a lot of time and effort on the main forums for Paladins – something I haven’t done in/for a game in years – and got into petty arguments and was reminded how challenging it is to have meaningful conversations when one or more parties are hidden behind a keyboard (irony not lost, I assure you.). Finally I jumped into Fortnite – another early access title – and was surprised and delighted with the amount of content and layered systems that existed – as well as the general gameplay, graphics style, and premise of the game.

August 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Fortnite, Paladins, Destiny 2 (beta)
  • Other Media: None
  • Themes: Birthdays, Cottage Life, Loot Boxes

Mood/content: gone for two weeks every August teaching at a summer hockey school. It’s nice to get back on the ice and fun to see the kids loving life, spending a day at the rink and evenings on the lake. I did a quick vacation post espousing the joy of cottage life. I posted one of my first personal gaming videos – without commentary – to better show the gameplay that is involved in Fortnite (which was still shiny, new and fun. My blog had it’s ninth birthday and I mused around about how 10 years is such a big deal as a milestone, but 9 is largely ignored. I felt warm and fuzzy inside as it was my most commented on post for the year. I started to fall out of love with Paladins (due to League of Legends-esque issues) and Fortnite for it’s cashy and really non-early access state (paying to test an eventual free to play game… what is more dumb than that?). I was screwed by Paladins with unfair and sleazy loot box mechanics and called (and continue to call for) self regulation by the industry – before somebody forces them to do it. Finally in August I did the Destiny 2 beta and once again was completely let down by the sameness, the terrible story, and the fact there is no true first person PVE shooter competitor to show them how to do it better.

September 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Destiny 2, Clash Royale , Fortnite
  • Other Media: Best game trailer
  • Themes: Cross platform play, disappointment.

Mood/Content: Disillusionment and disappointment. Destiny relaunched with a 2 beside it but had less content than most of their expansions did. Frustrating when something is so close to being amazing and falls short of all expectations – except financial. It did have the best game trailer (maybe ever), at least. I had a few posts in this month daydreaming that Bungie did something good with the title except stepping backwards, which they did in spades. Fortnite took all of the PVE money thrown it’s way and abandoned the game mode to launch a non-monetized Battle Royale mode to compete with PUBG. The good news is that it is actually really good. The bad news is – the millions of people who supported it for a rich and meaningful PVE experience were pushed aside. Fortnite also clicked a server button which allowed cross console play (by accident) which Sony immediately shut down. I will not be buying a PS5 because of it.  I more fully explored how little content Destiny 2 shipped with and was sad that they held back content knowing they had DLC to deliver. I had yet another rant post (quite against my nature, I assure you) for both Fortnite and Destiny 2. I also started recognizing cash shop patterns in Clash Royale – where they would incent me to buy based on what deck I was using. It’s all dirty money at this point.

It’s clear in Q3 that I found more joy offline than online. I really should try to do that more often.

2017 I HAS REVIEW – Q2

This is building off of my first post reviewing this blog and the year 2017. Q1 Post here

April 2017

  • Post Count: 9
  • Games: Andromeda, Hearthstone
  • Themes: Nostalgia, Exploration, Satisfaction

Mood/Content: Fully immersed in Andromeda the entire month. Everything about this game improved on the first series. Yes, everything. The gameplay, the RPG elements, the abilities, and yes, even the story.  I know Andromeda received a lot of criticism. Much of it justified. You can’t be this big and ambitious and not make a few mistakes. Unlike many people (clearly) I played through the first three Mass Effects prior to Andromeda launch and what a jumbled, often unplayable mess it was. Yes, it was a beautiful mess – but so was Andromeda. Unfortunately the inaccurate nostalgia of what Mass Effect 1-3 was put undue expectations of what Andromeda could have been. And now we will likely never know. April was speaking of those improvements, being fully engaged and surprised with Andromeda, explaining why I uninstalled Hearthstone, discussed pacing in games, was enthralled with the planets created in Andromeda, was sad when I finally finished the game, and was ultimately looking forward to trying something new (or old, as I sorted through potential games to follow up with).

May 2017

  • Post Count: 7
  • Games: Destiny, Paladins, Overwatch. GW2, The Division
  • Other Media: 13 Reasons Why
  • Themes: Wandering, familiarity, diversity

Mood/Content: Trying to find a gaming home. I started off May back in The Division and my welcome back wasn’t fantastic. I really wanted to finish off the main story but I was struggling with the current missions I was ‘supposed’ to be running. The bullet sponges – having to dump 400 bullets into a human being to take them down – was just pretty silly. I still plan on beating it someday. I jumped back into GW2 and had a lot of fun starting it off, but once again, it just didn’t hook me – even with a fresh start. I had an A-HA! moment with diversity when I finally felt what most (or all) non-Caucasian gamers felt when I realized the protagonists in Prey didn’t represent me – and I actually noticed that. I didn’t play the game (not for that reason) but wasn’t looking for a single player FPS to play. I binge watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and loved it, I think it is essential viewing. I was mad when I learned they were doing a sequel to cash in on what they created, instead of letting it stand as the beauty that it was. Trailers started dropping for Destiny 2 and they were terrible and embarrassing, and now with the beauty of hindsight I can say ” I told you so!”. I did, however go back and finish up Destiny 1 which now (again, hindsight) was the proper goodbye to a franchise that had a really good chance but royally screwed it up. I toyed in Overwatch but ended up falling in love with Paladins instead – which for me was a better game in every category, angle, and design.

June 2017

  • Post Count: 6
  • Games: Paladins, Injustice 2
  • Other Media: Instagram, Wonder Woman
  • Themes: Hope, credit where it’s due, customization, prognosticating

Mood/Content: Self congratulatory, shooting things, punching things. I started off June posting about Wonder Woman and how much I loved the movie. While a Marvel fanboy at heart, I did appreciate the serious nature and tone of the DC Universe but felt WW hit at different tones (and out of the park). It touched my emotions in a tangible way. I heaped praise on Instagram for telling me that my feedback actually removed a spam account. This encouraged me to report more spam accounts (I had given up on it, and actually had 50 or 60 spam account followers – I just couldn’t be bothered to report because it seemed like nothing was happening). Now that they did I called on gaming companies to do the same. Blizzard / Hi-Rez / EVERY developer, if I report a player for being a general douche, please let me know when you suspend their account. That will encourage me to help you clean up your community. I started playing Injustice 2 to get my Green Lantern fix and was amazed of how great of a game it was – and I haven’t played a side scrolling fighting game since Street Fighter on the Super Nintendo. It hit a lot of things on the head. Pun intended. I explored Paladins and how beautiful and amazing their customization card system is in the shooter – creating interest and personality to the game. I mused how I suggested to Blizzard in 2008 that they should start selling gold to their own players to combat RMT and give a cheaper subscription option. I was right! Send me royalty cheques! (Yes, even a blind squirrel.. I get it..) I explored more of Paladins, and their lovely statistics reporting system, and how I fared at different roles in the game.

The second Quarter of 2017 had me going from serial game (Andromeda) to lost in space (playing 6-8 other games trying to find my next serial game) to finally landing on Paladins, which, I guess will make up a good chunk of my Q3 posts. I could be wrong, but I did dump 120+ hours into that game and I can rarely get 100 hours in a month of gaming.

It is fun to reflect on the year this way to see where my head and heart were at. Next quarter, coming up soon!

Up to Four Then Back to One : EQ2

I finished my “one character of each armor type” and “exploring all of the starter zones” experiment in EQ2 and it was a really fun way to spend my gaming time during my holidays. Oddly enough, the Dirge ended up two levels higher than the other characters by the time he had finished Timorous Deep – I am not sure if I missed side quests in other others or not – but each ended up in their main city in an Inn room, with their items placed. They all now have a home and I can continue the journeys (of one or more) knowing that I was fair to them. Odd that I feel the need to treat my online characters with care. Oddly enough – they all have quests pointing them to Butcherblock. Is there a single, recommended path on the way forward through that Zone? Do the four starters funnel into it? (this makes me curious if the leveling experience becomes less varied). I did read of a “golden path” quest line once you hit mid thirties, and Butcherblock goes to 35. Perhaps there is just the one path. I hope there isn’t, because I did enjoy the differences in getting my stable of characters through the varied and interesting zones. Technically, there is still the “original” levelling experience through Freeport and Qeynos. I say “technically because I am unsure if that has been updated to be as smooth as the others.

all items from just doing the story line

The best housing haul (housing items just from questing) hands down goes to the Dark Elves. Look above, all of those things were just from running the starting area. Weird though, the outdoor tent and other items feel very “outdoor prestige zone. Compare that to the haul of the Dirge, below:

also the same. Far more boring!

Four books, a steam machine, and a trophy. Seems like a rip off compared to the Dark Elves, but then again – the DE are probably far more pompous, right?

While it is fresh in my memory, I have different impressions of all of the starter zones. I have different rankings of the four zones for different qualifiers. For example, in terms of story, I would probably rank:

Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods – Timorous Deep – Greater Faydark

Smoothness of the questing experience (lack of backtracking, easy to navigate, etc) would be in this order:

Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep – Frostfang Sea – Darklight Woods

Housing Items received would be:

Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark – Timorous Deep

Gear Quality received would be:

Timorous Deep – Darklight Woods – Frostfang Sea – Greater Faydark

All of those are very subjective, of course. Just how I felt. I didn’t add up the gear levels or quality. Each had varying named bosses to fight (which I always did when i found them) and those bosses could drop a boring old treasure chest, up to an Ornate one – which had superior loot. That was the luck of the draw.

Since all roads lead to Butcherblock it’s an easy next step. I am still a bit torn on the Paladin or Coercer for this next leg of the journey, but am going to start with the Coercer and see how it goes. I am excited to see what happens next.

On a side note – I hope there is a “shared house” option for your characters and alts where they can all decorate their own rooms and areas and share them all. That really is my hope as I suspect at least two will not see much play as I do want to “catch up” to modern EQ2 eventually – and a little focus will help there. I also have my year in review posts to finish, so experiences with DDO, and my year looking forward posts to complete. I see a lot of blogging to start the year but none of it will be very timely. Whatever inspires me to write will be the subject matter. Also looking for suggestions on best way to give Daybreak some money, they deserve it! I am sure their purchase options will be as interesting and opaque as many of their in game systems. I mean that in a good way.

I am glad to have taken the jump in EQ2, it has been a nice experience.

And Then There Were Three : EQ2

I have spoiled myself with gaming time this holiday season. We often go on vacation during Christmas holidays but due to work and child activities/commitments we could not this year. The family decided to literally take three days and sit in our pyjamas at home, with a roaring fire, cheesy Christmas movies, and lots and lots of takeout/delivery food to eat. It was the closest thing to being lazy on a beach – minus the sun of course – but we kept the heat very cranked. It was glorious in it’s own, special way. My first goal was to complete the Kelethin story line – and I was not disappointing by the plethora of housing items as rewards as I played along.

(with all of my picture posts, you can click on them to expand to full size in a new window)

In the “old days” of MMOs  (wait – isn’t EQ “the old days”? Am I back to the future here? Time capsule? either way..) Quest rewards were a bit of coin. In the newer, old days they were clear upgrades. In EQ2 you get those upgrades AND something pretty/cool to put in your house. Don’t believe me? I was more excited for the hanging luinescent florets than the Sorcerer’s Bracelet above. Sure, I could kill things easier, but hanging things that glow! That is a true adventurers reward!

Not to be outdone Tuathil gave me a bookcase. I was truly happy for this as I had collected several books and had no where ideal to place them. Sure, I had some tables and boxes but not a proper bookshelf. Even better with this reward is that there was no gear upgrade to accompany it. Unless you could equip a bookshelf to swing furiously against enemies. And while I was enjoying the housing aspect of EQ2 I was even more excited to where my adventurer was heading. Crushbone.

I had mentioned before how much I loved Crushbone from Everquest. It was my standard leveling stop. I knew I would visit Crushbone eventually in EQ2 – I could see it clearly labelled on the map – so as I went from quest to quest it was always there as a reward for me for being a stout little adventurer. And here I was, at the gates of it, finally. Of course, one just doesn’t waltz into Crushbone – no! One must do all the quests surrounding the entrance first. Of course that wasn’t true in EQ  but here, in the new guided experience, it was.

The entrance to CB was always a mess in EQ. You had trains going in, and trains going out.  You would often barely escape one train by zoning through only to get crushed on the other side when the loading screen completed. This is where the name Crushbone comes from, I am certain. They have fixed that in EQ2 with a non-loading tunnel that is far longer (and safer) than the original.

The Orcs have also done some housing quests of their own, I see. I wonder how many adventurers they had to kill to get the “Orc Masthead – can be placed in any lair type” item.

EQ2 always plays on the nostalgic heart strings – and it works. The ORC belt quest was one of the first quests I ran in EQ. And every character I had that levelled through the elven zones ended up doing it. Heck, I did it on the progression server to great effect. In EQ it was a repeatable quest, not so in EQ2.

Not to be outdone they also added in the harder, upgraded quest of Orc Shoulder pads. Development of this game must have been easy peasy. Now fueled by nostagia, but I wonder at the time of launch if people were bored of “the same old thing” ?

There was an odd and comforting familiarity to entering Crushbone. It was always an open air dungeon of sorts – and the buildings in the background and wide open areas in between promised me farmable mini bosses, challenge, and “camp checks”. Except no one was in this zone except me, so I had all the bosses to myself.

Except I only found one and he did not drop the Shiny Brass Shield. At least, not in the 4 or 5 times I killed him. The timing was off in CB unfortunately – while the outdoor areas were easily soloable by the time I got there the gear was tuned for low level groups who skipped the quest line and went in as a team. I was level 21 and here level 10 gear was dropping. Still, the nostalgia factor was more important than the actual loot here. One big change in the new and improved leveling experience was that Castle Crushbone was it’s own zone. I went in and tried some soloing but it was truly dangerous for my level and I know I’d want some extra levels to fight there more safely.

I finished Kelethin at level 21 and was given a horse for my troubles. I wish I had the horse a bit earlier as Kelethin is a very big zone, but I still got by. There wasn’t a breadcrumb on where to go next and I was worried I missed something (I very well may have), but I had Google as a guide and it recommended Butcherblock. Which wasn’t the standard levelling swing in the old days but it would do. I took a Gryphon there and decided to take a break. Kelethin had a nice story to it and I was glad to have completed it, and the bits of EQ sprinkled throughout also made the experience a bit more satisfying. What to do next? I remembered a wise, old (?) blogging mentor once told me “there are so many leveling paths in EQ2 you could level several characters and not see it all, young padawan” (misquote and added a bit of style to it). That sounded good. What did the Frostfang Sea hold for me?

And just like that I was level one again. And a Paladin. Since I had a caster type I wanted to try a tanky type and I always aligned well with the theme of the Paladin class in many games. They were always alts of mine – but the stalwart defender of the weak style is how I like to live my life. I may have oversold that a bit.  Off I go again!

I did enjoy questing through the chain in Frostfang but sometimes it is the little things you appreciate. Such as having a potion to turn into a Manta ray to get to quest destinations faster. I also appreciated that when I was swimming around in the sea that the developers had placed mobs in the oddest of places – but it gave the zone and area life. Sometimes it is the little things.

And just like that, before I knew it, I was level 20 again. With more keys on hot bars than I could properly manage and a compelling and fun story line (albeit standard MMO fare) I decided to explore non-prestige housing, New Halas style. It was very quaint and cozy. Small Gallery below.

One thing I wish I had found – and it probably does exist if I searched for it – is a fire. I have fireplaces in my homes but no fires. I need to figure that out. The second experience was much quicker than the first to level 20 – and I ended up finishing the zone right at level 20 (the timing was impeccable) but I did the starter island first on my Gnome and spent WAY more time on housing. I was able to get the Paladin to level 20 in a single day.

Here my curiosity got the better of me. I mean, the “good” guy experience was pretty good. No spoilers but I really helped Kelethin and New Halas. What were the bad guys up to when I was doing all of this goody-two-shoe work?

I needed to find out. “Evil” races don’t normally resonate with me from a story perspective. Yes, my first real main in EQ was a troll warrior – but there was no story for me to be shoehorned into. I was the gently giant and quickly left my hometown in search of people who would understand me and that who I could protect. I became friends with Gnomes, Elves, and even Halflings! I find playing evil races in the new, quest-guided mmo experiences normally out of character for me and I have to do things I don’t want to do to progress the story lines. I picked a Dark Elf because they are often more worried about killing each other than the innocent (well, okay, usually both, but I am reaching here) and while Greater Faydark was all about learning what was poisoning the land, and the Frostfang Sea about how the Orcs were invading – Darklight Woods was about ensuring the current power structure was kept in place. Very Dark Elvish, I was not disappointed.

I chose a healing class – because I already had a tank (plate) and caster (cloth). EQ2 is very bad at explaining classes (as are most guides on the internet). The Fury (which I chose, which I had never heard of) was very satisfying. It was a druid style class (leather) that had offensive and healing spells. Could shapeshift (Wolf, Tiger, Lion – so far) AND could also charm a pet. None of the cool things (shape shifting, charming) were explained at character select. And Charm Creature seems to work on anything living – including people. Basically I have a healing melee enchanter, or something like that, and it was very satisfying and super fun to play. I wouldn’t have known this by reading the tool tips and didn’t fully realize it until I was in my mid teens. Am I going to have to play all 25 classes to level 20?

Much to my surprise I may have a new “main”. The heals, the forms, the charming – it is kind of like a druid and enchanter all rolled into one. Although the charm doesn’t last as long and due to the buffing mechanics you can’t have all of your self buffs up and charm at the same time (there is some sort of mental capacity cap). I don’t want to speak too soon, however, as I have one more mission to do.

I need a scout class (chain) that can adventure in the Timorous Deep. I was leaning Swashbuckler as I love the idea of being a Musketeer, but they are a “good” class. I don’t want to have to worry about positional requirements which excludes Rogue (soloing with those requirements usually means I am in front of the mob, not behind or the side) so that leaves a Dirge, Ranger, or Troubadour as the primary candidates. Is there any secrets I should know? Much like how the Fury was an incredible surprise on capabilities, I don’t want to miss out on a cool class or mechanic because there is not a good explanation on them at character creation.

Thinking Dirge, which has great self buffs as a melee Bard. Any other recommendations?

Home Alone : EQ2

I asked about housing in prior threads to Bhagpuss and Izlain, and finally I decided to jump right in. Firstly because I was getting a bunch of housing items that was taking up precious inventory space and secondly because I checked the /claim rewards and I indeed have a Mistmoore Manor prestige housing reward as the 7 year gift. Prestige housing has no upkeep so what did I have to lose?

A full day, apparently.

I of course have not fought in the EQ2 version of  Mistmoore although I did in the EQ proper version. Thus, I had no frame of reference to what is normally in each of the rooms. I dind’t love the colors and all the checker patterns and at first I found that there wasn’t a proper bedroom. So I started setting up my bedroom in what my best guess was the throne room. I put the bed in, and a table, and a map on the table, and the candles on the corner of the table (which lit things up beautifully) and finally a small jar of honey on the other corner. I might get hungry reading that map. After those few, small moves I was hooked. You can scale, twist, turn – so much customization.

The second fun thing I learned is that some are interactive. Rubbing the bottle took me to a genie themed area, where, I have no clue, but I went and interacted with some NPC’s and learned some lore. I had to exit back to Antonica and run my way back to the prestige housing zone in (before I learned you could access your house from your character screen. Upon re-entering my Mansion I made a wrong turn and discovered there was a whole other wing! In this wing I found there was a better room for a bedroom. I am not sure why the bedroom is the most important room for me but it probably has to do with needing a place to sleep. By that logic, I should find the kitchen next.

Another interaction was with an Orb, and staring into it prompted me to concentrate further, and once more concentrated (ie: do it again) it would open a window into a different land. This was a different view the two times I did it – and the game warned me to be cautious. I don’t think I can travel through the window – it may have just been a view. Below is a gallery of my adventures working on my first house.

Of course, after all of that effort and time I looked deeper into my Veteran rewards and lo and behold there was a prestige housing – Starter Island. Yup, my own freaking island! Bhagpuss had mentioned this before but I wasn’t sure if I had qualified. The /claim section was in Alphabetical order – but not sequential. For example, it Goes Veteran Reward 1 hour, then Veteran Reward 10 years, back to back. It would have made far more sense to have them in sequential order – at least the annual ones. Still, there was an island, and since I did not love the Mansion I picked up everything that I had just done for a fresh start. I remembered there was a mage tower-y thing on the starter island which felt like a much better fit for my Enchanter – plus, hey – who doesn’t want their own private island? Bonus for me was that had a basement that felt VERY bedroom(ish). Plus, fire, and a pond – where I put all of the cool little things I had collected. Finally, I had a space I really liked! I setup my desk very similarly to how I did originally, including the pot of honey, in the top of the tower. I used the basement for beds and other items, and the pond of various treasures.

Bonus to the island is NPC plushies so I put animals and mobs throughout so I wouldn’t be quite so alone. The Gallery below shows all sorts of angles and pictures as I built out my homestead.

In the end I took all the Veteran Rewards with housing items and placed them all. Even the cheesy pirate flag. Now that I had a home it was back to adventuring for me – and looking forward to collecting more items and tidbits to continue to personalize my own very small slice of Norrath. No matter what people have said about EQ2  the housing system is really fun and I spent a full day sorting through it – just with what I had found in the world and from various annual rewards. I haven’t read a single guide but sorted through enough of it on my own to really enjoy it. I don’t know how much deeper I will get into the housing but I know whatever trophies I find out in the wild I will definitely place there. The other bonus of the Veteran Rewards was finding a lot of free and large bags – no more worries about running out of Inventory space.

You are welcome to come visit, if you like.

Cup Runneth…

Over. Definitely Over.

I’m a lucky person in pretty much all areas of my life – professional, personal and digital. It is never lost on me the need and suffering in the world. Still, there is much beauty and hope. You just have to believe. And act.

In my online world here, at I HAS PC I have more posts to write than ever and I wanted to thank you for visiting, reading, and being a part of this site. I never wanted to have any sort of impact here I just wanted to be able to say that I am a small part of someone’s daily or weekly thoughts as they digest what I write.

It’s a hobby I enjoy but made all the better by those who stop in and say hi.

Best to you and yours this holiday season, and hell, to the world in general. I hope we get more right than wrong in 2018.

Chris / Isey

Everquesting 2

This was supposed to be a level 1-15 post but I didn’t quite get there last night and was too tired to continue. In it’s wake I do have an EQ2 levels 1 to 14 post that will just have to do. It is almost as good, I promise you! I can’t say I am wholly surprised but I have been really enjoying my time in EQ2. The quality of life changes from EQ1 (and no doubt, from itself, over the years) has been great. One of the big things you always had to be ready for as an Enchanter (ahem, sorry, Coercer – I will never get used to calling myself that) is when your charm prematurely ends. This is normally during a very hectic pull when you are low on life and you have to think fast, react, and use stuns and mezzes to get the mobs under control quickly – including your ex-friend. As a cloth wearing caster some of my best memories are pulling myself from the brink of death on a charm break. The opportunity to have to rescue yourself from over extension was fun. That is gone in EQ2 as I have a handy, 8 minute timer to watch after I cast charm 2. And to be even more concrete about it the whole screen flashes brightly when charm breaks. Still, as a solo player I appreciate that.

8 minute charm timers are handy when your charmed target has bigger poops than your size

I read I should stick to caster mobs as charmed targets but I don’t think it matters that much t this low level. I enjoy certain “pets” due to look. Running around Kelethin win an Orc in tow seems like the right thing to do. I loved having this gigantic bear as my friend in Greater Faydark. Sometimes I just pick the closest one for convenience, not form or function. The questing has been as expected and I am really enjoying my run up to entering Crushbone. Crushbone was one of my set leveling zones in EQ1 and even when I went back to the progression servers I spent a lot of time farming the Shiny Brass Shield (SBS) as a force of habit. The familiar naming conventions to new spaces is still a hit with me – I just hope there are side bosses I can farm rare loot for in CB when I finally get there. The first time I went into Crushbone as a young gnome in EQ1 was a treacherous journey with a skilled group. Now I just run through and aggro mobs without fear. Again, modern conveniences that I appreciate.

the tree, the tree, the tree is on fire

I am still largely lost on the systems outside of the questing. I keep getting AA points but haven’t spent any – I don’t think. I believe they may self assign? There is a lot of confusion in a decades old game when you haven’t experienced it the first time through. I have close to a dozen housing items but not sure where (or when) to start there, so hopefully one of my EQ2 friends comes here and gives me an EQ2 housing starter guide in 100 words or less in the comments (or makes their own blog post about it! Hint hint!). I actually read somewhere that the 7 year anniversary is a free Mystmore Casle house? I should check my /claim. I did play at launch but not for very long.  Still, those things – including crafting – I can revisit and any time.

I do get caught up in grinds here and there – there was one to learn the Orc language by finding 5 transcripts that drop from Orcs. I appreciated the fun text they use for Orc language but moreso curious what the heck they were saying. Especially if I had one charmed. Good news is that there were enough quests involving killing Orcs – and probably many more when the quest breadcrumbs lead me to Crushbone – that I didn’t have to specifically stop my questing for any length of time to get them all. That drop ended up being far rarer than I expected but there was a sense of accomplishment in achieving it. I actually don’t think a single Orc has said a things since I sorted how to understand them. That is probably also a feature.

MMOs are largely more fun when you aren’t racing to get to a game state to enjoy them – which always seemed the case for me with WoW and my raiding days. At this stage I am just playing and sorting things out in game as I go –  I would love – and appreciate – any tips anyone has for me. I still have at least one free boost to 95 it keeps reminding me of but I am going to get there the old fashioned way the first time.

 

2017 In Review – Q1

I haven’t written many “year in review” posts – but I do love the idea of them. If you asked me now what I was doing last January I couldn’t really tell you. Things fly by in life and gaming and I do want to capture what I was playing, talking about, and interested in when it comes to games and this blog. That way, in future years, I can go back and see what the year was like for me and gaming. In fact – I think I will put some effort into going back into prior years and do that as well. I really am curious. For this year I will be breaking it up in chunks (calendar quarters) because I don’t love long blog posts. Small, digestive bits and 11 days to complete them!

January 2017

  • Post Count: 7
  • Games: World of Warcraft: Legion Expansion
  • Themes: Cleaning up old blog drafts, keyboard turning

Mood/Content: Positive AF! January had me levelling up my third character to max level in Legion. I had committed to myself to try and shed myself of the keyboard turning label (only to fail at it). I was away on vacation (Grenada) and upon returning caught up with my three max level characters (Druid, Rogue, Paladin). My “Blogs that feed” Sidebar broke with a WordPress update and I started looking at solutions to fix it. I Killed another pesky 5 posts from my drafts folder but not before talking about them a bit. I started noticing that they had given substantial benefits to alts in WoW – so much so that in a week I had caught up on gear with my Paladin compared to the months I “worked” on my Druid. I discussed how I play games – I insert my real life persona into the character – and wondered if others did the same – did people become the characters in the video games they play, or did the characters become them? FInally I mused on about how Tuesday is a big day in World of Warcraft because things reset and there is a list of chores / fun things to accomplish. WoW had become quite scheduled for me.

February 2017

  • Post Count: 8
  • Games: WoW, SWTOR, Mass Effect (original Trilogy)
  • Themes: Digital Currencies, Time Management

Mood/Content: Having fun! I started paying closer attention to how much time I was spending gaming by installing “Rescue Me” – this was a free app that measures where and how you are spending your time on your computer. Not just gaming, but other, unproductive things like Social Media (etc.). I ended up uninstalling when I realized that ignorance is bliss. I accused Blizzard of manipulating their currency (rightly so) as there is an unlimited supply – they can create as much demand as there is – which should actually drive prices down, not up. Especially because there is no cost to creating a WoW token. I lament even today that I didn’t spend my few hundred thousand on gold on them when they were 25,000 gold each – now closer to 200k. Since it is not a real market, or currency, there is no threat of bubble like Bitcoin. I made fun of Blizzard for not reporting subscription numbers (again, and anymore) and using ‘MAU’s and other, opaque metrics to explain how they are making billions.I stopped playing WoW in Februrary – without fanfare or an explanation. Truth is that I realized with the mid-expansion gear reset and slow trickle of story content I might as well wait until Blizzard “finishes” the expansion and is on hold until the next one. That way I can just quest and get top end gear and see the story to fruition. I now understand that that is now, so I will probably do that in the new year. I reviewd my history with Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and started playing it again – no doubt because of the new Star Wars movie. Much to my surprise, I LOVED it, and actually subscribed to get the full benefits, expansions, and experience. I also recognized that as a subscriber I saved around 25% of my gaming time in efficiency (quick travel, speed, etc.) which made being a subscriber even better (and more important). I visited Hoth for the first time in game but really, it was RE-visiting as I loved Hoth as experienced in the movies. I connected how fun it was to visit these places from the movies long before they happened. I finished off the rest of the “original” story content from SWTOR and funny enough it took almost exactly 24 hours. By the end of the month I was done with SWTOR – I needed a break – the story content is heavy and time consuming. I still have 7 or so expansion content modules to run, and I am interested to see the story through. I will revisit in 2018. I got into fights wiht EA again over a banned account for a cancelled credit card they won’t let me fix or pay for, and I replayed the Mass Effect Series in anticipation of the launch of Andromeda. Those games did not age well and the power of nostalgia for Mass Effect ruined Andromeda, really. It was sad that the  memory of the games – which, in replaying, were pretty bad as standalones – outstripped meaningful judgement on the new entry.

March 2017

  • Post Count: 7
  • Games: Mass Effect: Andromeda, The Secret World : Legends,
  • Themes: My Blogroll, a second Vacation, eliminating the use of the ‘R’ word

Mood/Content: Cold but happy. February was the start of a campaign in Canada to get rid of the “R” word from our vocabulary, through the #nogoodway campaign. Gamers use that word far too much and I spend a lot of time with people with developmental disabilities and it’s time to get rid of it from our slang / everyday use. I went on vacation and needed stitches on the first day. I pre-ordered and started playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, and was frustrated that most of the negative reviews for the game were centered around the Alt-Right rallying against perceived liberal themes in the game instead of the game or content itself. Not to be outdone the hard left also complained that it was basically a glorification of colonialism. Yes, faces were tired. I finally fixed my Blogroll, which remains my favorite part of blogging – reading other people! I wrote a good piece (Skeptics Guide to Mass Effect Andromeda’s Plot) to help people understand the nuance and depth to what was going on – instead of just reading “fake news” plot holes posts. I fell in love with slow playing Andromeda and really taking in all the sights, sounds, and experiences. And finally, The Secret World Legends trailer dropped and finally, was going to hopefully address some of the longstanding issues I personally had with the game as a faux MMO.

I spent my winter in three big games, and loved all of my time in each of them. What a way to start the year!

So, This Happened : DDO

Dungeons and Dragons Online was a game I pre-ordered. Not-so-secretly I really miss Pen and Paper games. I have no friends who play them, or connections to groups who do, but the one thing PnP games have over their PC variants is active imagination. In PC games whatever happens is pre-programmed. That is very, very limiting.

[10:21am]

Bio Break had a post about the DDO Ravenloft expansion. I remember playing in several campaigns based around the area in pen and paper format and really enjoying them. Looking back on my blog I had already started, and quit, DDO before I had started blogging. And here I am, reinstalling. First and always the fun part is remembering your login information. Which is handy when you have had the same gmail address since day 1. Once retreived, through Turbine, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

I am PREMIUM! Whatever that means. Truth be told, I don’t remember the last time I logged in. All I know is that I signed up in 2006. That’s amazing, almost 12 years to the month. I am sure that will give me tons of login rewards, points, dragons and whatnot when the game patches up. I am really going into this blind. My last, fond memory of DDO was my Paladin hitting level 9 (I think). I am putting that guess up here right now to see how right (or wrong) I am when the game is patched up (this is currently happening while I type. I figure a ‘live blog’ version of my re-entry into this game would be fun.)

[11:02am]

Launching the patcher, this took me quite by surprise:

Uh, Daybreak End User Licence Agreement? Isn’t it Turbine? I accessed it through my Turbine account. I don’t even remember reading Turbine selling this to Daybreak, but then again, I think they are just partnering. Ugh, OK, a bit confused although I feel like I know the answer and am just having a case of the Monday foggy-blues. (For the record, I am writing this on a Wednesday). Of course I agree, and then get the option to download 3 gigabytes of HD graphics, which of course I do. And then I wait.

[11:43 am]

I do see that shared storage is for sale and that makes me wonder what else is for sale. Of course, I don’t even know what is involved in the base game, or anything added since uh, 2006, so no buying for me (for now). Although I really want to see what Ravenloft has to offer I still need to understand if I am even going to play this game. I have time and patience to sort it out. This is both the beauty and wonder of old MMOs that keep going – there is a sense of familiarity and newness all in one. As things patch up I am constantly trying to remember pieces of the game and my memory of it. I really wish I was blogging back in 2006 as I would love to go back and read my thoughts and how they compare. Instead, which is also as fun, will be fresh and new thoughts with a small bent memory.

[12:13 pm]

I’m patched and logged in. Something to say about modern day times when you can think about playing a game, and have it fully downloaded and patched in under two hours. We are spoiled, I tell you. The down side? What server did I play on? I need to log into each one, don’t I…

So I start at the top. Not sure why they are in that order, but I seem to recall the name Khyber – but I am still jsut going to go in order. I am treated to login video that I accidentally skipped when trying to resize the window, and the first sever loads up!

Of course, there is no “back to server select screen” I have to close down the game and re-patch, and re-log in. Convenience was not important in 2006, apparently.

The second server I have success!

Well, sort of. That is definitely a character, but not the character I remember playing. I knew it wouldn’t be so easy. Still, finding a character feels like progress! Onto the next server. Right after I exit, repatch, re-log in.

On the third try, I find my main. Still named Braack (that was from my EQ days) and while my guess was level 9, I am only level 7. That tells you something, doesn’t it? How we always remember things bigger and better than they were? And while I do recall being an elf (or maybe half elf?) I don’t remember making myself a red-head. I never play red heads. Still, ENTER adventurer, and go forth!

Greeted by Maude, “Serving Wench”, in a bar.  A pop-up window tells me I have 28 points to spend and hitting left click to try and pan the camera makes me swing my weapon and leave it out, ready. A glowing hook. It also shows I am part of a guild! I had totally forgotten being a part of Sunder and I am going to go visit the web page to see if they are still alive and kicking. Nice of them to not kick me after 12 years, and no, no one answered my call.

Look at all the hot bars, abilities, potions – so many things to explore and things to try. I am excited to go back exploring.

What a wonderful gaming world we live in.

Things are Looking Up: EQ2, PC Gaming

I spent the weekend thinking about gaming, and playing a bit. I kind of realized that I don’t envy being a developer trying to make games right now. I read somewhere that Battlefront 2 probably “only” sold 1.2 to 1.5 million boxes in it’s first month of sales – and is considered a complete failure. There are not many industries where doing over 100 million in sales in your first month (on a single title) – with Christmas sales and a supporting movie launch on it’s way still – that causes your stock to drop – but welcome to PC gaming and a broken capitalist system. It was #2 just behind Call of Duty on the sales charts.

We had some super hot titles such as Crowfall and Camelot Unchained that have largely fallen off the radar, and depending on who you talk to Star Citizen is either vaporware of the best self-funded perpetual marketing campaign in history. Didn’t Lord British launch a game? Or almost? Is that still in Beta or Alpha somewhere? Fortnite, a Co-OP PVE darling that I funded decided to (very successfully) copy Player Unknown Battlegrounds and finally find a niche they could be successful at. TONS of people are playing Fortnite : Battle Royale. The catch? They haven’t monetized the game mode yet. They launched a paid-for beta for a largely abandoned PVE mode to instead successfully find a niche in a free for all PVP mode that is not monetized. That that shake around your noodle for a bit. Heck, I was largely tempted to buy myself pre-alpha access to Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – except I still don’t trust Brad and Fortnite swore me off of early access titles. Meanwhile, Paladins is in it’s 64th patch of Open Beta and has changed/altered their monetization methods four or five times in 14 months and have finally settled on one – that has their best supporters quitting outright, and most others following them. Despite an outcry to please listen and not ruin what makes their game great – they are not listening and ruining what makes their game great.

Yet, as the title says, I am very optimistic.

It’s the little things – like PCs and NPCs making eye contact when interacting

I visited Norrath again. I do this often in EQ1, but have not in EQ2. I have often updated EQ2 on my PC and thought about it but this time I finally did it, and spent hours. Stalbik was not my first character in EQ1 (That was Fisdib, a Gnome Magician in EQ Beta 1) but he was my EQ Guide avatar on the Rathe server. And instead of making a new character I decided to retrieve Stalbik from the EQ1 Guide only island and give him his first real adventure that does not involve a player camping dispute. He was off and on his way.

Before specifically discussing my EQ2 experiences I have to say that my year in review post is underway as a draft and where I spent all my time gaming this year was a bit of a surprise. Not to spoil it, but looking back makes me hugely optimistic for PC gaming. There are so many long running games that are so interesting and satisfying to play. There are platforms where small developers can launch great games and make money. There are still tons of sequels and big titles for the giant conglomerates to launch meaty marketing yet shallow but satisfying experiences. There is really something for everyone right now. Developers clamoring that if they can’t monetize something to death they won’t build it will only push gamers to games that are fun instead. If you can’t develop a fun game at a decent profit point then learn a new way of developing games. No one feels bad for you that you haven’t mastered the easy way to suck the blood dry out of a big enough fan base.

I should be a big target demographic for gaming companies. I have more disposable income to game with then I can imagine. I almost spent the $1000 on the Pantheon alpha because I have no issue with spending that on games in a year, and I can’t see where or how I will spend that in 2018 with what is coming up. Unfortunately for gaming companies I am a very patient gamer. I don’t mind waiting for 3 days for my next Warframe to be ready. I will pay for the extra slots and customization options though, so Digital Extremes gets my investment. They have found something that is worthwhile for me to invest in. It wasn’t forced either – I won’t spend money on a “you must pay this to be on a level playing field” or “you must pay this or wait!” items. I pay to reward companies for good gaming design that makes me happy. And I’m willing to pay a lot of they figure that out. Unfortunately, it seems many gaming companies are instead focused on triggering consumption habits that players can’t control – taking advantage of their weaknesses. That won’t last long, I am afraid.

Back to EQ2.

I have returned to this blog with the news of my victories! While EQ2 was very new to me it is also very familiar – both by being standard MMO fare with WASD and hotkeys, as well as being the sequel to my favorite game of all time. There weren’t many surprises along my first journey except the voice acting. As funny as it is, I don’t remember that when I first tried EQ2 back at launch. That is actually something pretty stand out that most MMOs still do not do (at least not the ones that I play) and I found myself paying more attention to the NPC interactions because of it.

I rolled an Enchanter because I really enjoyed playing one in EQ2 – sorry, Coercer. I always loved controlling a group of NPCs and making a “friend” of my enemies to fight with me. Here is a short list of thoughts / first impressions / questions:

  • I rolled on Maj’Dul server – I believe Izlain and Bhagpuss are both there.
  • Outlevelled the starting island really quickly, but I was invested in sorting out what was causing all the issues there – so I stuck through the story line to the end although all bad guys were grey to me
  • Impressed with little things – like how on one quest I had to disable totems as a source of infection, and during the last boss fight I had to notice there were also totems there – and that by disabling them it allowed me to damage the final boss. It didn’t prompt me to destroy the totems first, I just figured that out from my prior quest experience. One of those experiences that reminded me of The Secret World questing. Rewarding to solve something on your own.
  • Appreciate things such as quests that start by inspecting random loot – for example, zombie flesh – which leads to a bigger quest if I am willing to farm other pieces of zombies to really understand how they are put together. (badum-ching)
  • Aforementioned eye contact between PC and NPCs when interacting was a no brainer. Especially so as a gnome
  • Is there any reason to NOT trigger a heroic moment when soloing? Seemed like it did a ton of damage? Can you macro that to a spell hotkey, so you hit that and then a spell automatically?

I finished the starter Island and had the boat drop me off at the docks at  Qeynos. Qeynos was special to me in EQ1 although I never made a starting character there or venture within it’s walls much. The Qeynos gates was the end of a long journey for my Gnome pals and I. At launch, Minotaur Axes were one of the best starter weapons and of course they only dropped in Steamfont Mountains. We would farm them, fill up our bags, make the long trek to Qeynos and sell them for handsome profit at the gates. The city is familiar and brings me a bit of joy and a lot of comfort – although it is hardly the same except in name now.

Greeted at the docks, Moyna had an all too familiar style of quest to collect centipede meat so she could continue to fish. I was prompted to go to a nearby Inn to find a room – my new home perhaps? The tutorial kept flashing about housing and every once in a while Daybreak reminded me I could give them money for things, even though I had no clue what things were best or what would be wise to do. The docks were as good of a place to log out after Stalbik’s first adventure and like a creature comfort, I know he will be waiting patiently for me right there for when I return.

Where to next? Who knows! That is the best part.

Paladins – Joining the Dark Side

Paladins is the best small team shooter I have played. In a world of a dominating Overwatch and several fail-(ed)/(ing) Overwatch clones, Paladins stood out as a game holding it’s own. It had a lot of good things going for it – a diverse and fun cast of characters, varied and enjoyable game modes, and most importantly a load out card system that permitted – and encouraged – experimentation of different builds of the same character. I had so much fun playing and according to Steam I played 130 hours of it. That is a lot for me to play a game. I was fully engaged on the official forums, discussing my suggestions for balance, trying to keep a positive community, and generally being helpful and engaging other players. I don’t normally do that in games, but there I was, being a Champion of the realm. (Editors note: That is the tagline for Paladins. “Champions of the realm”. Very clever of the author (who is also the editor) but due to the lack of coverage of the game in Blognation I felt necessary to point that out.).   Funny, my rise and fall of the game (May to August) seemed to coincide with the popularity of the game on the PC – according to Steam Charts.

Why did I stop? I started getting League of Legends syndrome with the game – where good, fair and fun matches were becoming harder and harder to find. When you have limited gaming time you want that time to feel good. Slowly but surely I lost my love for the game and when I started getting uncomfortable with their loot box mechanics  it was time to move on. I did not move to any other team base shooter, just took my crystals (in game currency) and uninstalled. All in all I spent $86.19 on the game and hadn’t spent all of my in game currency when I quit. On a side note, I think you should be able to gift away your currency when you quit a game, but that is a topic for another day.

What happened in August? Why did things start siding down?

  • According to the patch history Patch 56 (August) was when the new, Ranked 2.0 system launched. I wonder if that acted as a catalyst for people.
  • Patch 57 (August) launched a terribly unbalanced Champion (at the time) a sniper with stealth. People were dying on one-shots not knowing where it came from or how to counter.
  • Patch 58 (September) Launched their new VIP system and VIP membership buy in system
  • Patch 59 (September) added Talus, a new champion, but didn’t seem to be an issue
  • Patch 60 (October) added a Map and new quests
  • Patch 61 (October) added a new champion, Terminus, and a third person toggle (that allowed champions to see around corners and surprise attack people without counter-play)
  • Patch 62 (November) added Legendary Class Keys
  • Patch 63 (November) added a new champion, Vivian, who was (by reports) a tanky, high damage champion which was counter to traditional gameplay

Looking at that is death by 1000 cuts. You have a popular game, you start adding unpopular champions, you add new monetization methods, you add in cheese gameplay (third person toggle), and it looks like that the pace and rate of change exceeded Hi-Rez’s capability to keep the game compelling.

Patch 64 is the nail in the coffin. The final thing that will destroy what made this game great. I don’t blame Hi-Rez as they are probably desperate to remain relevant (and profitable) but by all accounts the new system they are launching in Patch 64 has most supporters of the game uninstalling. Players have been discussing, persuading, heck – BEGGING Hi-Rez to not go live with this patch but they are being ignored. This patch has all the same elements as the Battlefront 2 fiasco EXCEPT a more ostrich-like developer. They are launching “Cards Unbound” in less than 20 hours.

Cards Unbound, to the lay-person, non-Paladins player is simple to explain. Take the current card system that every Paladins player loves, that makes the game unique, and replace it with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 card system and progression system. Pure pay 2 win, random upgrade mechanics. The only reason why I know this is because I was considering reinstalling and seeing how the game was doing, but reading about this change and the community reaction has scared me away from that.

Normally, this attempt could be chalked up as a learning experience – except the market – and players – clearly spoke very loudly forcing EA to backtrack on this. So why, in the face of that clarity is Hi-Rez sticking to their guns?

Because they have no choice. That has to be the only reason. Obviously this game is in really dire straits and they are tossing the “hail mary” pass to try and right the ship. Unfortunately, there is a reason why football people call the “hail mary” pass “fail mary” because of the low percentage chance it has of succeeding. The real danger now is that even if Hi-Rez miraculously changes their mind last minute they are losing their core audience, and that is hard to come back from. Unless, of course,  they can replace that audience with enough people that loved the idea of the Battlefront 2 progression system. Does that sound likely?

I wish them luck but am sad and disappointed. It was nice to have a challenger to Overwatch who did something better and unique – but ultimately if the business goals of the company were not being met by the current design of the game they have to tr something different.

Even if that attempt is the exact opposite of what most fans of the game were hoping for.

Blinking and Missing the Moment : Brian Kesinger

The world is a giant, strange place full of good, bad, and everything in between. Most importantly, and often the source of many of those emotions, are people. There are billions of us on this planet and we are all making our own way through our versions of what our lives should be. My point is that there is no way to know of everyone out there, but sometimes you learn of someone – their talent, their gift, their personality, quite randomly or by accident even – and you discover something amazing. This happened to me when I hit a Bored Panda link on Facebook by accident. Until last week I had no clue who Brian Kesinger was. According to his Instagram page  he is a “story artist at Walt Disney animations studios and an Artist for Marvel Comics”. He is also a big Calvin and Hobbes fan, and evidently, Star Wars too. He has mashed up a whole bunch of joy between two of my favorite worlds

#lilkylo #starwars #calvinandhobbes #mashup

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Calvin and Hobbes has always been one of my favorite things. I have the entire anthology and now my 12 year old child is reading them and really enjoying them (which makes me very, very happy!). I linked a comic here once back when the economy was crashing. I want to use them on my new, still boringly white goalie helmet (if I can find the artist to do it!). I even have a tattoo of Hobbes, leaping across my body that I got when I was 15. To better give you insight into how much of a rebel I was/am, even when I was 15 and getting a tattoo done against my parents wishes in the basement of a suspect, older high school student I had the foresight to put it somewhere where I could choose who would and wouldn’t see it. There would be no mistaking a tattoo-viewing without my absolute permission.

Too soon #lilkylo too soon. Etsy commission. #thelastjedi #spoiler?

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Mr. Kesinger has brilliantly merged the two. Any fan of Calvin and Hobbes, or Bill Watterson’s art style (the creator of Calvin and Hobbes!) and more importantly the style and attitude of the former syndicated strips will instantly recognize – and fall in love – with the mashup. He has hit many nails on many heads.

I just can’t get enough. If you look through his Instagram page you will find all sorts of awesome pieces from other genres and popular movies as well – but because I have had a Calvin and Hobbes drought AND the upcoming The Last Jedi movie launch I am only focusing on these ones. If you dig deep enough you find The Little Mermaid, Dr. Who, Big Hero Six, Guardians of the Galaxy, and much more. Heck, even Garfield!

#lilkylo commissions go on sale on my etsy store tomorrow at 7:30 am pst!

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Mr. Kesinger is not selling a book of them (unfortunately) and rightly respects that his works are fan fiction and that he could not sell without prior written permission from Mr. Watterson. Still, I’d pay to buy a book and not so secretly hope that there is some way, shape or form that proceeds from such a sale could go to a needy beneficiary of some sort. Of course maybe I am the only willing buyer but these mashups really pull all the right levers for me.

Happy #valentinesday from #lilkylo. #starwars #calvinandhobbes #mashup

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I’ll link a few more but just a happy way for Calvin and Hobbes, and Star Wars fans, to start their Monday. I’d encourage any fan to stop by his social media and give lots of likes, and loves =)

Poor #lilkylo.

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By @briankesinger #lilkylo

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Sweet dreams #lilkylo. #starwars #calvinandhobbes #mashup #commission #starwarsfanart

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#lilkylo and Darth review the Death Star plans

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#lilkylo is a punk. Color commission using #copicmarkers

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Thank you, Brian. For sharing your talent and passion.

 

Surprise and Delight

I watched the Video Game Awards last night. Well, mostly watched. I had it on my phone while I also had a hockey game on, and was flipping between the Habs game and the Thursday night football game. Still, I was watching it. The reason for my interest was not because I like award shows – I hate awards shows. I think they often are just self serving fluff pieces for already privileged and wealthy people. Every time an actor cries for being the best at pretending to be somebody else (notwithstanding appreciating it is an art form) I want to throw things at my TV. At least the red carpet is interesting – it’s when we get to judge everybody ruthlessly. But I’m not bitter.

That’s a nice explanation of why I was watching – if you watched 30 minutes of the Twitch stream of the video game awards you got a free Syandana (cape, but don’t call it that around Tennos) for Warframe. Since Fashionframe is a thing I thought why not. I could use a new, beautiful flow-ey cape. I’ll post pictures so you can ruthlessly judge me.

Since I love video games, and I had it on anyway, I ended up muting my TV and listening in. There were some not so interesting world premieres of new games coming up, but also, amazingly, this surprise.

I don’t own a Switch and I haven’t played Breath of The Wild (although I have heard great things about it) – but the comments section was BUZZING. Did they really just launch a trailer at an awards show – and then say “ITS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW?” Yep, that was the twist. Watch this trailer and go get the game. I loved it. It’s not very often the video game industry surprises us – well, not in a good way at least. Lots of greedy ‘surprises not surprised’, few ‘surprise and delights’!

A long time ago in 2008 I wrote about how marketing and hype are failing games. I think it is even worse today. Here is an excerpt:

…Make a game. All of the money you would spend hyping it two/three years before release goes towards making the best game possible. That’s right, zero market penetration. When the game is a couple months from release start marketing the hell out of it. At that point to release you actually know the content of your own game and can convey semi-realistic expectations. I say ‘semi-realistic’ because we all know Marketing is still going to make it out to more than it is. The problem with the current Hype Machine is that years before a gamer will get his hands on a game they already have formed an opinion on what that game is, how it will play, and how it would be better if the programmers would make the game the way they would want it. And that is where new games fail.

I know that BoTW is an existing property but it was completely refreshing to see a company try something different outside of our insanely long hype, early access, pre-pre alpha announcement trailers, and general promising the moon but delivering the park down the street. So thank you, Nintendo. Heck, Star Citizen is a permanent fund raising to advertise organization. They may or may not be making a video game in there somewhere as well.

I am still not buying a Switch though. Someone go buy that expansion to reward them for trying something different.

Turns out Epic Games, of Fortnite, also launched an “available RIGHT NOW” trailer for a new game mode:

Maybe this is a “new thing!” I definitely hope so!

Here is my new Syandana, which is icing on the cape with the surprise and delight.

Ultimate Screenshot Mode

(as with all of my pictures in posts, click on it to make it bigger and more perdy. It will open in a new window)

Wow. Just WOW!

I have never been a big screenshot person. I wish I did better at it but I always tend to miss the right moments as I am focused on playing the game and not capturing specific things. As a gaming blogger I need to enbe better at that. Some, such as Bhagpuss at Inventory Full, seems to have an endless trove of amazing screenshots to put into his posts. Heck, TAGN has a whole website dedicated to EVE screenshots and even wins awards (on purpose and by accident) for sharing them. Screenshots are a nice way to breakup the monotony of text in blogging. I have been trying to share more in my posts when I think of it.

Playing Warframe, I noticed there was a weird word under the “appearance” tab of my frame when I was doing some color editing for my skin for my Rhino frame. It said “Captura” and I assumed it was some sort of screenshot for the frame I was working on. Turns out it is much, much more than that. It allows you to load an area and create scenes to take pictures – with a ton of options. Kind of like when they load the dojo in the Matrix. This makes a lot of sense as I have often complained that even my own screenshots of Warframe have my frame taking up big chunks of the screen. I did a little bit of playing this morning with some of the options. First off, the best part, is getting a “free camera” mode.

Here I drew my bow, then clicked “Toggle free camera” and it froze the scene and allowed me to pan around.

While not a huge difference from the first, I clicked “advance timeline slowly” and “hide menu” so you can see my Sentinel rotated around (looking for enemies as he is apt to do) and that introduced a new light source to the picture.

Speaking of light sources – I toggled “3 light setup” and it loks as though it introduced a new light  source from the angle I have the current camera, highlighting the shapes and colors on his back.

and because it’s the holiday season (and because its an option) I changed the 3 light setup to a green fill light with a red rim light to see what effect that would have. Very cool.

Here I messed with the “Field of View” which now gave more to see. Distance and Depth changed the blur factor. At this point I noticed the “Kill Enemies” box at the bottom, and scrolled down to learn that I could spawn chosen enemies into my scene!

The issue I had when I spawned an enemy and toggled off the “free camera” is that they react like normal enemies. They started attacking. I re-toggled the camera and captured this moment that the Heavy Grineer was smashing the floor with an AOE attack. Because I wasn’t too far away.

Here is the other angle of it.  I think the warped effect is part of the AOE damage attack, not sure. This is all very new.

I am amazed, to be honest, and while I only spent 10 minutes messing with it this morning there are 5 base “scenes” you can load (and can unlock more) and this is a game within the game – capturing the minds of those chasing the ultimate screenshot you can just set it up yourself. I do want to learn and read more about it – I’d love to spawn multiple enemies, for example, and show you the Rhino stomp picture I promised. Trouble is my Sentinel attacked and killed this one before I could spawn another – and they spawn the enemies right on top of you so setting up several in a circle might be a challenge.

I think this is yet another brilliant add on to an already wonderful game. I am looking forward to exploring it more. I can’t recall many games having this feature but believe it is a great addition. Does you know of other games that do this well?

The Joys of Ragdoll Death Physics

Dying in Style

Over the weekend I was able to spend some quality time with Warframe. Warframe is great to spend time with. Time flies by, she is very unselfish and giving, and she is just a lot of fun to hang out with.  Several times during gameplay, pretty much with every session, I have moments where I have to pause for a second to admire something beautiful, or something cool, or just a “wow” moment that makes me smile. Skewering soul less enemies is sometimes a part of that.

He didn’t get there by himself

Depending on your weapon and it’s stats some of the hits are ridiculously powerful. A bit crazy, even. That poor Corpus (bastard) above was running away from me up those same steps I am admiring the view from. I took my time, did a full bow draw (for maximum power) and the arrow sent him flying off the steps, to the wall of the cavernous ravine, and stuck him right in there. Shiskebob! Bob.. that’s probably his name too. How fitting. (Anyone wondering about my mental health these days?)

=IF(T1,R1,IF(T2,R2,IF(T3,R3,IF(SHOT IN THE FACE))))

Take this guy. Slumped in a chair. He is (was) probably an accountant, just minding his own business, filling in an excel sheet and then I walk by, notice a simple error in one of his Excel sheet formula and BAM. Dead accountant. Poor Trevor, he should have known nested IF statements is a messy way to build a query. I may have put  him out of his misery though, come to think of it, as that chair doesn’t even recline.

Clearly a Lismer

It’s not just bows that has this kind of impact on chickens accountants bad guys. There is a rifle that launches bolts, called the uh, Boltor, which also has a huge impact. Leslie here didn’t get the Labour Day memo. Punishable by skewering and hanging on a wall like a Group of Seven Saskatchewan Winter Plains painting. For extra Canada reference, this isn’t at the ROM.

Come to think of it, (this is a seque)  Warfront is pretty simple with their naming conventions. Frost is the Warframe that uses Cold. Ember is hot. Volt is electricity based. They do sometimes stray from pretty standard naming conventions but for the most part what you hear/read is what you get. This is true of my next Show and Tell Warframe, Rhino.

Show And Tell: Rhino

I will give you 10 seconds to guess what kind of a Warframe Rhino is. Go ahead, give it a good old college try. Yes, that’s right! Tanky and strong. Here is a cookie.

And here is his video.

Right now I am playing Warframe in two ways. The first, is doing daily missions and relic grinding to level up my new Warframes and weapons. The second is taking on more challenging content trying to finish out my Star Chart (Still 30% more to go there). The first activities I can pretty much get by with any frame, and any sets of weapons. The higher level content is proving challenging and Rhino is my “go to” top level frame. The main reason is his skill “Iron Skin” which makes you basically invulnerable (until you take X amount of damage). It is low cost and I can keep it up pretty much indefinitely. His third power, “Roar”, increases damage to everyone in range for a solid 30 seconds (base) which means groups like hanging out with you – and you can pop Iron Skin, then Roar, and kill everything around you before you take any real kind of damage.

His fourth power, “Rhino Stomp” is just incredibly cool. You stomp (duh) and everything in range pops into the air, but in a stasis mode, so it looks like they are all going in slow motion (still moving). It’s such a cool effect and you can run around melee’ing them all or shooting them all as the slowly float up and back down. It is a sight to behold and never gets old.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of it, and the video (around the 1 minute mark) doesn’t do it justice. I’ll try to remember to get some in my next play session.

Quick Mesa Revisit

Last post I discussed Mesa, and how her damage first playstyle would be great in certain situations – most likely groups – but that as a mostly solo player I didn’t get to see her at her full potential. Well, I did in a defence mission as I finished leveling her up to 30. It was GLORIOUS. My stats were ridiculous – I had double the kills as the next person in my group AND a 98% accuracy rate. In defence missions, especially higher levels, there is a really high volume of enemies all heading towards an item you are trying to protect. This made it perfect for me to toggle my fourth ability (Peacemaker – which aims for you and does sick damage) and mow them down like a remake of the Lawnmower man(woman). Quickly run around, pick up more energy, rinse, and repeat.

Check out that Fire Accuracy

Of course my accuracy is never that high, but combining a high damage auto aim ability with a lot of bodies (dropping lots of energy) and a slow, 10 energy per second drain meant I could literally spam impressive damage for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. Often there was just no one in range to kill.

I am still amazed I haven’t even caught up the main expansion yet. I sincerely hope the destination is as fun as the journey.

Show and Tell : Mesa

Warframe does a few things I love especially – stats. Every weapon, Warframe, etc. tracks kills stats, head shots, melee kills – you name it. They also have stats for overall game performance. You can see below that even pushing 55 hours in I have only completed 145/227 nodes (areas) on my Star Chart. Still another 46% to go before I get to the new game update – Plains of Eidolon – that many are saying is one of the best expansions in a F2P game in a long time. It’s crazy to think that I haven’t even scratched the surface on the game and it remains a shining beacon of the exact opposite of the stunts Destiny 2, Battlefield 2, and the like are pulling in the marketplace. I strongly encourage people to give this game a try – you have nothing to lose and rewarding a developer for making a great game and monetizing it in a fair manner is important these days. As mentioned in my Black Friday post I went on a shopping spree and purchased some nice new Warframes and bundles – and of course, my dear Mesa (pictured below) that I have been really interested in playing.
I really enjoy the fact that each Warframe has a video about them to give you a bit of a taste. This post will be the first of many where I am going to introduce my Warframes, show the videos, and discuss what I like about them. Each video is around a minute long so not  huge commitment. Since I used Mesa in my stats picture above we will start there. One of the most attractive parts of Warframe is that every frame plays VERY differently from one another and you quickly find yourself with several different ‘classes’ that you can use on missions depending on what kind it is. Unfortunately I haven’t found a clan yet so have not been able to build a group based on synergies – it has been randomized through LFG.

Mesa is, in MMO terms, a Ranged DPS class with some utility. Think Hunter in WoW.  When paired with a protective Warframe she can really shine but unless your idea of a good time is “kill things faster than they can kill you” she isn’t a great Warframe for soloing.  Her utility of increasing damage of friends (one at a time) and jamming weapons of enemies has limited use in a group, but her reflective shield is a decent defence mechanism. She definitely has her place for the more active, aggressive player (which I am not). I have enjoyed my time leveling Mesa – and still have 8 levels to go  – but she won’t be my go to frame for solo missions. When I get to be in a tightly knit group – such as defence, mobile defence, or survival – I think those are all good mission types to LFG with this offensive minded class.

Her style is definitely Wild West in space and her animations and gun play are quite fun. She gets an innate bonus to dual wielding pistols (fire and reload rate) so if that is your preferred weapon or style she fits the gunslinger icon perfectly. Her skills do not help her shine in a group setting but the rate and power of how she can take down enemies is definitely group worthy. I suspect in a preset group with someone who can return energy, extending her toggled fourth skill – Peacemaker – could have amazing results. I have used it very effectively in some situations where my team was about to get overrun with infested. Hopefully I can find a clan and better explore that style of methodic gameplay.

I realize that almost all of my frames are Black and White – because the shader pack ‘Shadow’ have the muted tones I prefer. The Halloween one I have makes for some godawful combinations and I think I need to invest in more color packs. This post I did shows a bunch of random color options on my Rhino, to get an idea of the palettes I currently have available.

Mesa looks, feels, and plays like a Cowboy which is the obvious goal with this Warframe. I will use her whenever I feel like that kind of play, but I have other Warframes that suit solo play better, and that bring  more to a group in an unselfish way. (Getting all the kills is selfish, right?). I have always been the “team player” in groups and Mesa is better suited for the one who wants to stand out. Still – was a great purchase and will be the right frame for me when I want to step out of my shell and shoot things in the face.

I hope that last line sounded as poetic in written form as it did when I said it out loud.

Caught in the Cookie Jar : Developers

Destiny 2 has not been a favorite of mine for many reasons, and not going to rehash those at this time, but it was for purely game reasons. They have, unfortunately, stooped below the game-level issues I disliked. Literally slowing XP gains secretively on Bright Engram boxes. You know, those same boxes that you can also buy with real money, or grind for in game. Bungie has come out and admitted it – without admitting they did anything “wrong” of course – and are adjusting the practice. They are only admitting it because they were caught by the community as the community ran several tests to try and replicate the “bug” that made XP gains “inconsistent”.

Turns out it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. A hidden money making feature.

Trust is at a pretty low point with developers right now, I’d say. If it’s not for you, it should be.

Again – as discussed in this space previously – I don’t blame them, entirely. This is what a business is supposed to do. Profit. However, the pure dishonest nature of it all is what bothers me. When you program things in your game to affect the player’s expected experience you should come right out and say it. This is pretty scandalous, and should be treated as such. In fact, it is far, far worse than the EA Battlefront II lock boxes – at least EA didn’t lie about it or hide it. If you are going to slow XP gains to players to encourage payment you should just say so. If you don’t feel comfortable telling the truth to your customers about an internal decision you have made that impacts their gameplay dishonestly, chances are it’s the wrong decision.

It’s our fault, of course. We engage developers as if they are our friends, as if they truly care about the gaming communities we have fostered. We buy their games based on their past successes, even when we say we won’t.  I wrote about how I felt about developers and past successes back in 2009:

I am not  anymore a big fan of “rockstar designers” than I am of “rockstar CEO’s”. I believe their success is as much entrenched in timing and market conditions than their own personal contributions. Mark Jacobs, of DAOC/WAR fame is a great MMO manager for sure, but doesn’t have any unique or special vision. WAR is proof of that. Lord British had a great hit with UO 15 years ago but has been unable to follow up with any sort of recent success (in gaming – the man did make it into space – kudos). The Diablo team’s follow up had a short life span. Brad? – well, you read the above if you got this far. One success – no matter how successful, does not give you a design pedigree that you can fall back on – solely. Good business managers evolve – they do not rely on past successes and hope it carries them through. Even WoW has changed lead designers multiple times. Is it more important to have someone who knew what they were doing in the past, or someone who you think will know what to do in the future? Seems like a gamble either way

I am begging the industry to self regulate. The other two options – government regulation, or continue lying to the player base – are far worse.

Self regulation can be this simple:

  1. Any loot box style items will have the percentage chance of winning a specific item listed IN GAME before purchases (and companies will have their randomization code audited by an accredited third party)
  2. Any background/invisible mechanics in game that impede progress that can be circumvented through purchases are clearly outlined on the login screen.
  3. Any matchmaking mechanics that involve purchase history as a condition must be transparent

The first should have happened ages ago. Every company is lying about the odds of getting what you want by not sharing the chance. The second covers off hidden, dishonest grinds quite simply. I am sure there are several others the industry can agree to and if they don’t, anything the government(s) of the world could do could be much worse. Volkswagen programmed their cars to lie about emissions and fuel efficiency to incentivize you to buy Diesel cars. and avoid regulatory issues. Destiny programmed their game to lie about XP gains to incentivize you to buy boxes. They are in the same ballpark.

The only purpose of a gaming company – now more than ever – is to make profit. Once you start believing that and acting on that you will be far less disappointed. As consumers our direct ability to hold them accountable will shape the industry in the future – as it already has in the present.

 

UPDATE: Kotaku reports that when they adjusted XP gains to be consistent, they doubled the XP needed to level from 80k to 160k. No mention if this is a balancing feature from the increased XP gains, or a mistake. Nice article for other mess ups by Bungie. Consistent with my disappointment with Destiny 2.

Shopping Spree

Well, I have already completed my Black Friday shopping. Which can’t really happen until 11 am (when the sales start) but I am already decided and ready to go. It’s all Warframe, which is having a 50% off sale on some Bundles. Bundles includes weapons, Syandanas (capes) and boosters.

Here are my choices from that list. Ivara is a stealth based Warframe which is (apparently) good for spy missions. I’ve had my eye on her for some time. I don’t even care about the weapons, but they are a nice addon. The price below is before the 50% off (which doesn’t kick in until 11am)

Another Frame bundle, Inaros, is a sand based unit with Scarabs and a pretty cool revive mechanic.

The third – Chroma – isn’t nearly as sexy or exciting as the other two for me, but still – 50% is 50%!

On top of bundles, all Warframes are on a smaller sale and even some awesome skins. I have really, really wanted Mesa so now is the time to invest.

My desire level for Mesa is nearly 1000. She is so badass. Using ‘desire’, and ‘sexy’, and those kinds of verbs and adjectives when talking about semi-infested robotic exoskeletons is a bit odd, even for me….

Rhino is a go-to frame for me and this skin is so full of awesome, I am going to spend, spend, spend.

The only downside is that I don’t get to farm these in game “the old fashioned” way, which is really a lot of fun to do. But on the bright side I’ll have so much new to farm and play, which I am really excited for. Total spend is 1380 platinum, of which, I got 1000 for $26 CAD (when I received a 50% off platinum perk) and another 1000 for $41 CAD (when I used a 20% off perk) so total spend around $43. For me that is great value as I have already crushed over 50 hours in it, and with these purchases I will be spending another 30-50 for sure.

Not even thinking about other games right now because I don’t have time to play them. I don’t even want to.

Modding in Warframe

First off, I am still a novice Warframe player. This three minute video is a great, fun and pretty accurate watch on the learning curve in Warframe. (and for the record, I am at day 40!)

Jeromai rightly points out in my comment section (last post) that most Mod guides are for “end game” and he is having some struggles at certain level ranges and asked for help. I am not struggling at those level ranges so feel like this information might be handy dandy for newer players. Just be forewarned this setup works for my playstyle and may not be the most efficient means, but it has been very effective for me. First I’ll explain what modding is.

Throughout the game you get “card” drops of abilities, stances, skills, auras and the like. Here is my base loadout for my Frost frame to explain some of the basics.

Each Warframe has 10 mod slots – eight basic, one Aura (top left), and one Exilus (top right). The Aura slot can only hold auras (effects that impact the entire group) and the Exilus has to be unlocked with a drop / craftable item and also requires a specific mod type to fill. The rest are only limited by the Polarity (symbol – more on that soon) and capacity of the Warframe. A base Warframe gets 1 mod point per level, up to level 30. You can use an Orokin Reactor (called “potatoeing” by the community) and double the available mod slots to up to 60 capacity. You can also add capacity through your Aura Mod (which adds to capacity, instead of deducts like most – see I have 70 above and a 10 in my Aura slot). The last way to manipulate your capacity is though Polarity – if you match a mod polarity symbol to a polarity slot symbol it takes up half the amount of capacity (see my Streamline mod with a cost of 5 in green – normally 10). The polarity works in reverse too – if you put in a wrong polarity mod it costs double. You can change or add polarities to every slot with a Forma (quest reward or crafting item) but doing so resets the level of the entire Warframe to zero having to be leveled up again. Still, if you do that to every slot you will have an incredibly powerful Warframe in the end. I haven’t bothered yet as I have been unable to max out my cards in the slots I have, as you see I have 15 remaining capacity on this frame. I’ll be able to use those as I improve the Mods.

Duplicate mods can be ‘dissolved’ into Endo to increase power in other mods

Mods have different costs (number), rarity (color), polarity (symbol beside number) and level (glowing dots at bottom). You upgrade them via Endo, a drop in game. Taking a card from 1 to 2 might cost 20, and 2 to 3 might cost 40 (it depends on the rarity of the card) but getting something from 7 or 8 to 8 or 9 costs thousands. It is hard to get them really powerful quickly, but it is really fun when you do. The Gold mods are ‘Rare’, Blue “uncommon” and Red are Common, I don’t have any Legendary Mods yet but I do have a Riven mod – which is very rare and has random properties, (sometimes negative ones with really powerful effects). I am not high enough level to use it yet, however.  There are 835 base mods in the game. That is a ridiculous amount of customization. There are some mods just for Warframes and just for weapons, and specific to specific types. What is wonderful about this system is that since you can only have one Warframe, and one of each weapon equipped, you can share mods in the same same category. Once you have a high level mod every single Warframe you have can use it. This makes those valuable cards feel more valuable. Finally – you can dissolve extra mods into Endo to make your other mods more powerful. I always keep 2 of each on hand – It’s handy if you have a pet / sentinel that can also use that mod but also if you are leveling a lower level Warframe. My level 10 energy mod won’t fit into a level 1 Warframe.

Any questions? Clear as mud? Good.

Onto my build-out. The purpose for me is to be able to solo. I like grouping and do it in specific instances (boss farming, intercept missions, archwing missions, relic farming/opening) but otherwise I like to take my time. This means I need to be able to survive the tough missions on my own. The first thing I always start with is the right Warframe. Warframes have shields (that recharge when not taking damage), health (that depletes only after shields are gone, and does not regenerate without mods or skills), and armor – which limits the damage to health once shields are down. I have two Warframes with 60 mod capacity – My Frost Prime and my Rhino. The extra 30 capacity is a big difference. They also each have a defensive special ability. This is critical to have when running solo. All of the mods I have chosen are to protect myself and enhance my special abilities. Here are my go to mods currently. They are pretty self explanatory.

(click on any to open it in gallery format)

Flow and Streamline affect how often you can use your abilities. Stretch is my Aura, which gives +12% health (multiplicative) to everyone in my party, including myself. So you see with all of the mods either adding layers of protection or helping me to increase how often I can use my abilities (especially my protection abilities) I can survive any fight, or at least run away fast enough to recharge and regroup.

I use far differing mods on my weapons but here is my standard three I use on my Primary Weapon

(click on any to open it in gallery format)

Doing more damage (Serration) faster (Speed Trigger) gets the bad guys out of the way faster. Cyro rounds is one of many elemental effects but has the added bonus of slowing enemies. Every weapon has a “Status effect” chance (The Vectis is 30% as an example) so there is a 30% chance you can slow your enemy, reducing the damage and actions they do to you. The Cold damage portion is always applied regardless of status effect change. I have tons of other mods for different weapons depending on what I am using but those are my three standard.

There are far more interesting mods out there but these simple ones that I focus on most people will have, and it covers the basics. Live longer, kill faster, and protect yourself with abilities more often and to greater effect. All of those things allow for safer gameplay. I do have some Warframes that focus on damage and I am getting to the point where I want to try some ‘glass cannon’ builds – and just try to kill everything faster than it can hurt me. That is what is great about this system – the customization is incredible and endless, and even if you have two of the same Warframes in the same group – they could both be completely different in their strengths and weaknesses. This can really shine in group play, at least, potentially in an organized form. My next goal in the game is to find a Clan to better explore purposeful grouping.

Hope this little guide helped, and as always, open to discussion and suggestions!

Checking In : 50 Hours of Warframe

(as always with pictures here, click on them to open them in a large format in a new window)

I hit that milestone last night. 50 hours in a game. That is roughly five “AAA” single player campaigns, by today’s soft production standards. The biggest two compliments I can give this game from a time perspective is that firstly, I feel like it was my first day with the game yesterday (time flies when you are having fun) and secondly, it continues to surprise and delight with discovery, storytelling, immersion, and depth. To to my general gushing fanboyism of this title (ongoing) I feel like it is important for me to disclose here that I haven’t received anything free from Digital Extremes. Not even a “thank you”.  Quite the opposite actually, I would like to thank them for making such a game that really fits my personal needs and tastes in gaming right now.

That’s the moon. It didn’t age well in the future.

While by design or not I hit a major milestone in the story last night. I am not going to discuss it here – keeping this post spoiler free – but the mission and story surrounding it really solved the biggest question I had up to this point – who I am and why I am doing this to begin with. That is a bit crazy to have that realization not show up until the 50 hour mark but I have to admit I didn’t take a straight line there. Still, I am guessing, even if I did sprint to the finish line on the story quests it still would have been 30+ hours in – that is still just a guess, it may be 40+ hours. I am trying to retrace my steps on where I went off the linear path. Either way – it speaks to the amount of content when you can’t sort out a question like that.

Back to the story – there is still far too much unresolved, and I am only half way through unlocking my Star Chart (the map with the missions) so I am hoping and expecting that the story will continue. What this major step did was resolve the past – who I am am/was, why I am doing all of this, and who the Lotus is. (The talking head guiding you through missions). It’s a doozie. My main fear of this story line is that it will end up like Destiny or Destiny 2 – in Destiny lore, less was more. The story was better when the player added in the missing parts. When Destiny 2 went full lore and explanation, it was some of the worst writing and story concepts (like, ever) and I felt like it would have been better left half unbaked so the player could continue to create a more sensible and creative narrative. Either way, Destiny has passed the point of no return while Warframe still has the opportunity.

Cloning facility has animated clones in tubes. Good use of environment

I continue to be amazed at the artwork and map design – especially because it is a randomized tileset – but they have incredibly strong rules built in to make areas coherent and incredible. I spent 15 minutes exploring a cloning facility to try and trace the route they were moving the clones.  I ended up in a room where  machine plucked pods into a circular holder one by one, slid them down a line, attached an assortment of cables to it, and then pushed it up into what looked like a “delivery” area. I wish I would have made a video. I tried to get into the areas I shouldn’t have to explore further but the game did cut me off from that. I came close though, that felt good. It was just so believable. I felt like I was in a proper, fully operational cloning facility. There haven’t been many games – if any – that has made me explore in awe as much as this game.

Flooding a room  as a mechanic versus a robotic exosuit? Nice Try. Still, nice statue.

The unknown of it all has my imagination racing about the possibilities. This is not your typical fantasy story standard in a science fiction setting that we often see (well done still, mind you) with Star Wars and the like. The parts I have discovered have been mind expanding, incredibly interesting, and different. Which makes it that much more interesting to me. Take the Grineer – they inhabit most of earth now. They are cloned humans that were used as the disposable work force to a powerful group that ran the show (keeping this bland enough for spoiler free discovery). They figured out they had the numbers and revolted. They are now lead by two queens (of which I know little about at this time, but I have heard and read an understanding that there is a story mission surrounding them coming up – hopefully soon!) and are fourteen billion strong. Simple technology, using a strategy of throwing as many people at a fight as possible to wear them down – a war of attrition. They are slowly falling apart though as they have cloned upon cloned and the genetic strain of DNA is becoming weaker and weaker. They infuse their bodies with technology to make up the difference. They face extinction if they continue to clone, but must continue to clone to survive.  The things we are experience in current, modern day science is a good precursor to this.

Uranus has many underwater transitions – the first time this has been used on any planet.

Oddly enough the story isn’t even the focus of the game and I can’t help but believe it has been added on slowly over the years on top of the gameplay. The gameplay is still the breadwinner here but they have found a good combination of both. You can just play and ignore those parts, focus solely on those parts, or do a combination of both. That is the camp I am in. The only thing I am worried about now is that the end game (whatever that might be) may not be as fun or exciting as the journey there. I suspect I have another 50 hours of gameplay before I find that out – at least time is on my side.

The lighting effects continue to be a strong point

I now have 7 Warframes and 28 weapons, and many pieces of others that I will soon get to build and level up. The variation and discovery here has been incredibly fun. I do find weapons I don’t particularly love but I still level them to 30 as it is the primary way to move your character forward. It also truly gets me to spend enough time with the weapon or frame to make sure I understand it. I am excited to start using a laser whip soon – as I haven’t spent as much time with whips in any video game as in the bedroom I think I should have in the past. Interesting to see how they built that into this game.

I know other bloggers are playing Warframe right now and there is a general sense of positivity around the game in a lot of gaming media right now. I do qualify my experiences here with this is just working for me right now. Others may not have the patience or interest to go 50 hours before sorting out what should probably be considered the biggest plot twist in the game. Truth is, I am already so invested in the game and the universe that it was an amazing moment for me. Others may never get there or may not have been hooked to begin with.  I don’t know what is worse – that I have have zero desire to play any other game out there (or coming out soon) right now, or that I don’t have anything else to really write about these days. I’ll spend some time thinking and writing about the improvements the game could make too – it’s not perfect. Right now though, for me, pretty close.

So You Are Saying There’s A Chance

Gevlon wrote a pretty sarcastic piece (I think it was meant to be sarcastic!) calling for the end of all randomization in gaming to counterbalance the future of loot box mania (which is already here, and not going anywhere). I do appreciate that some people – and “gamers” in particular – appreciate some certainty. This is why we went from random boss drops in MMOs to tokens, and the like. Some randomization is good, but when it is too much in specific circumstances it can be bad. Many games try to find a balance.

Back in 2009 I wrote a piece about how much I love randomization in games – often in extreme cases. While the premise was built on a pen and paper game that took the idea to a very fun place.

One thing I loved about the Star Wars pen and paper game was the concept of the ‘red’ dice. SW was played with all d6 – and on your rolls you always had to had an off colored dice. That dice was the “special” dice. We called it the fate dice. It may have officially have been called the ‘Force’ dice. I’m not sure. Its been 15 years. The crux of it? You rolled real bad on that dice, even if you rolled all 6’s on the others, and crazy things would happen. Crazy bad. It also worked in the reverse, where a good roll – on that one dice – would make amazingly incredible things happen. Out of the ordinary.

The off color dice in Star Wars PnP gave a full creative licence to the Game Master to do amazing things to the person, situation, and campaign. The game was far better for it. I even loved the randomization of a bad luck roll that cost me a perma-death member of my Blood Bowl team (in that same article). That was always part of the game and the chance that that could happen made the game have consequence and tension. I could easily avoid that chance by not playing that character but I would lose more games because of it. Choice and consequence are exciting things in games and sometimes I feel like we are seeing less of both.

Truth be told when thinking about randomization in games it’s basically the main vehicle to keep things interesting. Games (across all spectrums – board, card, digital, heck, even live sports!) are built on chance and that chance creates the moments that make the games worthwhile. If not for randomization, we would just be playing math problems – and as much as I like math I also like shooting things in the face and having random things happen around that. In cards, the lone Euchre hand is built on randomization. What cards are dealt in each of the four hands (100% random, but from a defined number of options) what card your opponent leads with (partially random, with some skill based on experience) and when and what trump cards you use. Being able to say “I’m not playing this hand” after it is dealt to you in essence ruins the game. Especially moreso for the person who actually has a lone (or strong) hand to play.  Most board games have rounds resolved (or started) with the roll of a dice – what is more random than that? Taking away the element of chance is taking away concept of the “game” as well. Sure, some games such as Chess have no random elements outside of the human choice made (which is defaulted more to strategic thought) but on the whole – if you are playing or watching most games there are elements of chance and elements of strategy – how much of each co-exist is dependent on the game itself.

I do agree that randomization should not be tied to – or a result of – monetary investment. This is the slippery slope where video games are heading (or at, depending on perspective) and once again it is up to the consumer base to send a message by voting with their wallet. It has been demonstrated that some people actually like that opportunity to exchange their time for money and as such many of these titles will see success with the model and continue to build those contingencies in.

Thankfully we live in a gaming world of choice, and not just chance. It’s far more interesting that there is both.

 

Blog Therapy – Drafts Folder Purge Part 5

I still have pesky drafts sitting in my ‘Posts’ folder from waay back in 2015. I am continuing to examine and decide whether to finish off the post, or delete it to the blog-void permanently.

My other posts in this series are Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4.

What I am, and Not, Playing (4/30/2015)

Back during #writersblogblock (you know, the online version of writers block – because everyting in blogging has to have the word “blog” in it) I managed to pull of a full two blog posts in April. Two. That is basically my worst month of blog posting during months that I posted at all. I took extended stretches of breaks to deal with a cancer scare and a self-induced divorce avoidance. Those were times where I was more focused on hiding and being in denial than writing about games and hobbies. I literally wrote a couple sentences in this draft mentioning I was still enjoying playing  Baseball on the PS4  and used the quote “In this giant gaming market of choice of freedom” without finishing the sentence. I think it was a general malaise statement – that even with all of that I did not feel inspired to write. This post is pretty common in #blognation when bloggers don’t post for a while they often come back and post what they have been playing to pass the time. I keep a list of all the bloggers I used to follow closely who no longer post as a reminder of old friends and voices gone (or changed). Some of died on that list.  Of course, it is just a tiny snippet of the multitude of bloggers who stop but they were close to me.  I still check them randomly to see if their sites are still alive (many are, just forgotten) and every once in a while one will post something. My hard and fast rule is that if you don’t post for six months you are a Writer Resting In Paradise (WRIP) but you can always come back.  Anyway – off topic here but a clear outcome of kill the draft, save the world.

Emotional Connections (4/30/2015)

I just couldn’t get a third blog post out that month, despite my best effort. While the text wasn’t exceptional it did hit on an area I think games are primed to succeed in:

Games and gaming are immature industries. I am often reminded of this by Tesh.

Wait, isn’t it silly to call a multi-billion dollar industry “immature”? Gaming has been happening for *years* and with it huge productions, programs, studios (etc.) have made (and lost) millions upon millions. I have spoken before about how the industry needs to look to other retail methods and sensibilities that most retail and purchasing habits follow.

Connect with heads and hearts. We use that in retail all the time. You truly can’t win over a customer if you only connect with their head. Their head, will find other and better reasons to shop elsewhere.

Video games are well placed to succeed here. Games naturally play on our intellect with focus and engagement. They also help us form bonds. On a deeper level, some of us traditionally connect better through our online bonds than in regular social situations (stereotypes aside) or have learned how to socialize OUTSIDE of games from the in game parts.

Gaming as an industry acts in many ways contrary to business fundamentals. The churn and burn mentality. The taking as much advantage of your customer base as you can without crossing the line. Eschewing any sense of loyalty or rewards beyond access to their games although loyal customers tend to make up the majority of repurchase decisions. I think gaming companies are fortunate that a lot of money comes from immature consumers and eventually their actions will come back to haunt them. Still – this post resonates with me as I remain very curious and interested in wondering the impact of a gaming company acted like a normal, retail company in how it treats, supports, and engages it’s customers. I do believe there is an opportunity here and have spoken about loyalty and gaming several times. Will be interesting to see the industry grow and adopt. Outcome: treating this post like gaming companies treat customer loyalty. Ignoring it.

Before Midnight (5/21/2015)

The romantic movie Before Sunrise (1995) was a movie I watched with a University sweetheart that immediately connected with me.  I loved the conversations, the actors, the setting – everything. I can still recite the waterside poem by heart. There was a second, Before Sunset (2004) that resolved the ending of the first and introduced new ideas and issues to the lovers. Then the third, Before Midnight, came out in 2013 and I hadn’t watch it yet until I made this blog post. I am not going to give away any spoilers to these movies but the writing is amazing, the characters relatable, and the situation – in all three – is very honest. This, of course, from my novice moving loving opinion. I wouldn’t even qualify myself as a romantic and I think why this movie trilogy is brilliant is that it isn’t made with the romantic at heart. I can’t say much else without spoiling the plot. This post draft explored my history with the movie and themes within and I already had 500 words written down – which is often a regular sized post for me.  All that being said I am hardly going to revise and update a post I started two years ago about a movie that is 4 years old already. Oucome: Not finishing this one as it’s way in the past, like an old lover you can’t forget but still get choked up when you think about them. Even though you have both long moved on.

Better the Second Time Around (06/23/2015)

This was another 500+ word draft that I just didn’t finish. It was based on how much I was enjoying playing Everquest on the progression servers, of which, I already have several posts about. A small excerpt about an old XP penalty for a class that is now long gone – and how taking the old base game and giving some modern day improvements doesn’t ruin the experience.

My Shadowknight is now level 8 (with  around 10 hours played) and that does seem really fast. The old SKs faced one of the worst XP penalties (168% as a troll, I believe). Could you imagine that in today’s MMO landscape? That class/race combinations would level at different speeds? That’s crazy talk. It also didn’t survive and those penalties are gone.

That is like how Monopoly now has debit cards so you don’t have to count all of your cash and have these stacks of funny money that get lost and stack terribly. Some purists may like that torture but I’ll take the quality of life improvements while preserving the core experience any day. This post might be relevant today with the WoW server announcements but i am just not sure if it will hold the same appeal to me. Yes, vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade were formative MMO years and my recollection of trial and tribulations of getting something solo I wasn’t supposed to be able to do with workarounds (still love that experience, and that post!) but those moments have been long removed from MMOs and even though the grind, comradarie, and joy of being “back home” in EQ had some staying power it was still a temporary visit. Like going to a high school reunion and realizing how small the gym actually was, and looking at old class pictures to realize the fantasy of the past was really out of style. Outcome: killing this draft as I stopped playing shortly after, and had the realization that yes – you can go home again – you just can’t stay there long.

Listmas (12/21/2015)

Yes, I had a 2014 Listmas post in the LAST Draft cleanup roundup. Seems I really want to get on board with Murfvs‘s #Listmas push but I didn’t get around to it. For a second year in a row. And now Murf is WRIP, so I will never be able to do a Listmas. I am not great at Blognation events, although I did crush a couple of Blaugust months back when they were a think. I even played around in Anook when there was a push to focus on a blog social platform, but really it was just a place I reposted what I already post.  I don’t even use twitter for blogging – well barely, but I do use it as a resource where I read some tweets and defend the honor of Ketchup Chips. Like a good Canadian.

The Listmas I was going to do was the top 10 things to try as a gamer to get healthy. I started posting about my own health journey where I went from 230 pounds to 175 and the impact it had on my physical and mental well being. Some other gaming bloggers suggest I make that “my thing” as there is a stigma around gaming and being unhealthy – you know, the Mountain Dew fueled 12 hour sedentary lifestyle the gamers embody and often promote. I did a couple posts around that but in the end the information is out there – but you just have to want to do it, commit to it, make small and manageable changes, and not beat yourself up when you fall off your goals (which you will). Key is to fail often. Anyway – this Listmas was going to be about how and what small changes to start with if you wanted to focus on a healthier lifestyle that doesn’t interfere fully with your passionate hobbies. The two can co-exist and I am living proof. Outcome: there are 10 reasons why I am deleting this draft. #10 – Listmas is over. #9 – I am not chronicle-ling a health journey here as a focus. #8 – you get it already, right? ….

Another batch of Post Drafts cleaned up! Sad that I am not building off of any of these but as mentioned in prior posts it feels good to purge the folder. It feels even better to review what I was thinking at that time and where I was planning on going with posts that didn’t make the cut. The best news is that my drafts folder is almost full caught up – I might have one more of these cleaning posts to do.

Postcards from Space

(this is a picture heavy post – as with all of my posts, click on the picture and it will open a new window with the full, high res version. To really appreciate them!)

Warframe has a beautiful looking backdrop. Shame because there is an awful lot of rush, rush, rush in co-operative PVE in Warframe. The game has been out in years. People want to finish objectives. I get it. It’s fun. I keep getting stuck being curious about things that I see and want to explore further. That makes me a cat in a world of dogs and well, you know how that is supposed to end. Still, I can’t help but wondering things that I encounter and learn more about the deep, rich science fiction world that I am currently killing tons of stuff in. Reminds me of a great Hank Moody quote: “You can’t do a line of coke off a woman’s ass and not wonder about her hopes and dreams.. it’s not gentlemanly”. If only players in a rush to unlock the next widget were so polite.

This photo was in a Grineer ship in the “basement”. The randomized tilesets in the levels created by Warframe is brilliant – they make sense. Here in the basement is some sort of storage, but to the left you do see water. It’s not deep, or a pool, but feels like run off from a condensor or equipment that pumps oxygen throughout the ship. These ships and areas are completely huge and often I thought things such as “this is what it would feel like to explore the Death Star or a Star Destroyer” – you know, if it was Star Wars and not Warframe. These pictures do not capture how gigantic and varied the internal landscapes are. It’s something you really have to experience first hand to appreciate.

Here is an equipment room, which happened to be connected to a dorm area – the suits of armor hanging on the wall and disassembled pieces on the right hand side just beg to be investigated. The lighting from the floor and ceiling adds a particularly beautiful ambiance. When I first started reading about Warframe I wasn’t sure if I loved the art style and form – but it has definitely grown on me in a very positive way. Appreciate they put a changing bench there too so the soon to be dead Grineer soldier has a place to sit before dying.

This area is a moving assembly line – I think those are clone pods as they go through that process, but I wasn’t able to open one up. The arm at the top of the picture was busy plucking the pods and placing them on the conveyor belt. Much of this is intractable – You can ride the pods, follow the conveyor line, and explore further and deeper…

…but not too deep. There are areas off limits that still create the illusion of size and scope. Jumping into the abyss is a quick death (but thankfully, automatic recovery). Still, out of the corner of your eye it adds perspective. The game does a great job of using environmental effects to create space – far better than Destiny 1 or 2 ever did. I rarely feel cramped in Warframe.

I liked this picture for the lighting from space and just the industrious nature of this part of the ship – down to the rivets and non-slip surfaces. Have to have worker safety, after all. Shooting out the window was tempting and ultimately futile. Although there are parts of ships you can do exactly that, and then have to hack a terminal to close down the shutters to re-pressurize the room. Those windows I usually break by accident as it forces a lock down procedure.

Not everything is deep in the bowels of space stations or space ships. Here, awaiting extraction I can overlook the gaseous (and dangerous)  vista complete with crashed starships  and remnants of civilization. Dangerous because exposure to the sun here (or gas? Haven’t quite figured out which part. maybe the cold?) slowly drains your shields and eventually your health – leading to death. This planet is the Warframe equivalent of Hoth (sorry for all the cross referencing to Star Wars, usually an easy way to compare things) and these giant ships are embedded into and beneath the surface which make up most of the level dynamics. Here is the only place you see the bright sun – and I was also very curious what the column was to the left, rising out of the landscape. Handy dandy sniper rifle scope might help?

Not entirely. Looks mostly like a pillar of snow. Still, was worth checking in on. Love the fact that the scope let’s me know that pillar is 5 km away – makes me want to go visit even more. Which, of course, I can’t. Still – it is creating that dream and desire that is improving the mood and feel. That curiosity.

A closer-up of one of the partially buried space ships, complete with it’s own language and writing on the hull. Similar to English for familiarity but still different enough to be futuristic and all space-y like. I still haven’t figured out what caused all of this crashing and commotion and why the Corpus still decided to setup research facilities here – there must be a grander and deeper story to it all and not just the whim of a background or environment artist – right?

I also start wondering about function. That is clearly a gigantic fan. The size of a big building. Why or what does it do? Is it that hot that it is to cool off the planet? Blow away poisonous gas? Blow and disseminate fertilizer? talk into it to make the coolest voice ever? Why is that there? And stop staring at my robotic butt. That wasn’t the point of this picture.

Finishing off the screenshots with my newest Warframe, Limbo. He has inter-dimensional skills (can hop between two planes with the press of a button) but I really like the nice touch of the top hat – which he removes after certain actions in game, with a tip of it to friends and enemies alike

There is so much to appreciate with the environments in Warframe that I often find myself exploring and trying to understand how and why things are put together the way they are. Sadly I usually end up with more questions than answers but that doesn’t stop me from looking. This adds many layers of interest and complexity for me in an otherwise run and gun universe.