Author Archive: Isey
Well, with some helpful tips in my last post from Leo and Will my “ehrmagahd this grind is going to suck!” path to flying turned into “really, that’s it?”. It helped of course that I was fully done all the prereqs and had to just slog through a gated quest to get the Legionfall rep a flowing. Yay, I can Crow Form again!
Yaaaas! Longtime readers with excellent memories (no, I am not going to link all the posts from years gone by) will know how much I love flying in World of Warcraft. Tesh and I would chat about it all the time. Something about the Crow form and just flying around is a complete joy in the game. Which is always why I am upset and confused on why they take it away temporarily in their expansions. It is a core part of the game, the excuses for not being able to fly are completely lame and immersion breaking, and people who care about “seeing the world” will still do that. Some will just do it from better viewing angles, too.
So of course I am in the full “pure fly, all the time” camp. Not being able to fly is a severe detriment to my enjoyment of the game. It is kind of like how I struggle with any game that doesn’t have jump (Dauntless, The Division). Being grounded just isn’t any fun at all. Of course in the interest of keeping land masses small and huddled and lowering development costs by stretching out existing content via travel times, we end up with a lie to excuse not flying every expansion and a lengthy quest to eventually get it. It’s fake content, but it’s all we have. Clcearly with my additional slang and silliness in my writing you can tell how much happier I am and how much better WoW Legion is right now with flying.
While I am still not “done” LegionFall content (there is a new flight form to unlock, and a new bear form, at “bear” minimum. Ugh, yes, the silliness continues…) I quickly jumped to the Argus content so I can get some key upgrades. The super cool awesome new Bear Form is supposedly very difficult to get with low ilvl gear. So I figured if I run through the quest content on Argus then I can go back and sort through how to get that form. More, super guided, super easy planned obsolecence content is not my cup of tea but it is exactly what World of Warcraft is. Argus, here I come!
And back to no flying. Birds are now Deer. Or Elk. Definitely not Reindeer, because that would be super cool to fly as a Reindeer. Time to slog through non-interesting and engaging content with my feet flat on the ground. The good news about Argus and the guided quest experience is that – well it’s kind of like – you know, that thing that is sorta – oh damn. Trying to find something positive and fair. Wait, I got it. Comfortable. That is the right word for WoW leveling through a new area. Like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Without the alcohol to zip it up.
What WoW DOES do well is scale. Fighting giant creatures makes you feel pretty epic. I was carefully dodging all of his telegraphed, big attacks until I missed one my accident – and realized that he hits like a wet noodle. I stopped trying to get out of the way and took the hits, mashed some buttons, and pushed the scattered narrative forward.
In comfort, not style.
Well, my return to World of Warcraft wasn’t as smooth, fun, or heralded as I expected. I haven’t used bullet points in a while.
- First off my guild of the past three expansions was gone. It wasn’t that I was kicked out of it but that it had completely disbanded. I was shocked because even my first guild – from 2007 still exists with a skeleton crew. I know this even though I have long left the server because my Potion Bank Alt is still in that guild (along with my Warrior alt.) I login once in a while to see who is still there and kicking around. I moved servers when I quit being a guild leader and followed some friends who wanted a better timezone for their playtime. Since I wasn’t leading or raiding anymore, the Mountain time zone didn’t matter (I am Eastern Standard) as I was playing WoW super casual at that time (and still am). So when I had some good gaming friends go to a new server I went with them. It also gave me a good split from a guild that I had loved for many years – but when you step down as a leader it’s hard to be in the wings, and many people send you whispers looking for advice, etc. that is better for the new leadership to handle. You feel like you are in the way. I do regret that move some days, because I left a lot of good people behind and I didn’t support them how I should have. It’s tough when “it’s just a game” and “there are real people who matter” collide.
- For some reason WoW is the only game I can’t play with the base UI. I had to download, install, update and configure no less than 17 mods to get the base UI to a state I deemed “playable”. Curse used to auto-update this for me but now they are owned by Twitch, so I had to install a new installer program. Plus, many of my favorite mods were no longer supported or updated so I had to find mods that did a similar thing. It took two of my first full play sessions to even get close to being able to play. I am still not done by any stretch of the imagination but it’s pretty close now. I think this crutch is as much my own issue as the game itself as a past raider the mods you had to have became a part of the core experience. I have had zero issues in DDO, EQ2, EQ1, TSW (etc.) with needing mods to play.
- At this stage in the expansion and where I was at there is so just so much to do and no real proper or clear path in what order to do it in – the game is pulling me in several different directions that are unrelated. There are quests to unlock new traits in my artifacts – but those traits are already unlocked (I think as a catch up mechanic?). I already spent billions on improving it then finished the quests and became able to do… what I already did. Flying in Legion does NOT have an easy catch up mechanic. I don’t know why the WoW devs hate that so much. Should be easy peasy at this point and not a month long grind. I have daily quests from Argus – an area I haven’t been to yet (want to finish off the flying part first) and they take up one of my three available daily chest slots. I had two of them going at one point. I feel like it should be more streamlined at this point.
- I did LFR to get some quests done and see the bosses – and it is embarrassingly easy at this stage. I went in without reading a single raid boss strat and killed them all. I am glad they exist. It’s pretty easy to just watch other players and react accordingly. I did some of the new 5 mans too. The best part about LFR over the 5 mans is that people talk in LFR! Sure, it’s only to complain about “noobs” and “I can’t heal stupid” but seeing chat was nice.
- Oh, I did join one of those random accept guild invites. Guild perks are a thing in WoW for rep and quest grinds in particular. Lucky for me they are chatty and seem friendly. No clue what my long term plans are – I definitely do not want to pay to transfer all my characters to my old home (Whisperwind) but if I can cross account things now to Horde side I may go next xpac as a Horde. I talk about that every expansion but never do it.
I am not loving the return. I am committed to trying to get flying. Curious to level a Monk. Going to start playing the AH to try and preserve a free subscription cost. This may be a short trip back, we will see. I was hoping to be having more fun and be more excited at this stage!
I spent a lot of months in Legion last year, and it has been probably my second favorite expansion. I have a strange relationship with WoW that bounced from love to hate and most emotions in between. It is hard to explain why in some regards – I have had multiple accounts at multiple times, happily paying my subscription fee. I don’t know if there is another game I treat the same way as WoW. For example, when I play it I feel I have to exclusively play it – and play it hard – because I have to “pay” for it. While this is less true now (with tokens I haven’t paid for it the whole expansion) I am still exchanging something for that access more than time – so I feel like I need to be dedicated and focused at it.
Legion lost me at their first real hard gear reset. That was in and around 7.2. I had spent a month grinding out challenging content to slowly inch my ilvl up by 1s and 2s to, well, be stronger I guess. Then a patch came that greatly increased your ilvl for basic tasks and quests and I realized that all the effort I was putting in was wasted. I could just wait for the “last” patch in the expansion, and get easy gear with less effort and time. I don’t even think that this is fair to say because I was having fun – but when you hit the progression wall as a non-raider it starts to feel like work. (Less work than raiding mind you). So I made the decision to stop, and stop all the alts I was levelling, and wait until the next expansion was announced so I could just finish off the expansion and park my characters until the next. We have been at that point for a while now, but I still didn’t have the itch or the push to make WoW “my game” again – I am having too much fun in other games that only need my time.
I am being clear here that I actually think the way I look at and feel about WoW is largely unfair in comparison to how I play other games. I am so emotionally tied to the wonderful and terrible experiences I had in the game that I honestly believe that I owe it to my druid to continue his journey to the level cap with each expansion. Then I start having fun and start getting other characters there (as I love the way many different ones play), and eventually the fun turns into a grind that I realize isn’t making it fun anymore, and I step away. Legion was the longest I stayed in any expansion since WOTLK though as it had hit a lot of good places. Even now I am wondering why I didn’t level a Shaman. I had done my Druid (as my main), my Paladin next, my Rogue, messed around with a Demon Hunter, worked on a Hunter… that is a lot. I can completely see how and why WoW is a permanent home for many. It just doesn’t always last for me.
The tipping point to getting back into it?
Sometimes you just need a little push. Being so far behind and no real goals in site (except experience all the updated content, probably get flying, level an alt or two – fu@k here it goes again…) I probably won’t have a lot to report here, but then again, I always find something to complain about.
In my last post about learning by listening I explored the questions that popped into my head while listening to the Critical Role podcast as they played through a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It was fun and interesting for me to listen in and learn how the DM and players react to different situations, how they use various roll checks, and the descriptive nature by which the DM handles the game. It has been a fun listen in. I am on episode 11 of season one and at a pretty interesting and exciting pivot point for the group – they just completed their main, specific mission they were on but aren’t quite out of the woods yet. The next step will be to see how the DM handles the end of a chapter or break in the excitement. There are still over 100 episodes left, all between 2 and 4 hours in length so there is a ton of content to enjoy. I already feel connections to all of the characters in different ways. It is even more fun and interesting as you start to understand the personality of the people who are playing the characters. It is a very interesting experiment.
I made the jump to pause on the first Campaign and start in on Campaign 2. The main reason is to be a bit more current – there are five episodes out currently so I can catch up easily. I can always go and revisit the first campaign when I am in a holding pattern for new material. The new campaign is with all new characters (but the same players) in a whole new setting so I am not missing out or skipping ahead in timeline. Campaign one will always be there but being a part of something as it happens has it’s own benefits as I can be a part of the conversation. I am also very curious how things have changed in the mood or style that they play by. There are some big changes and I have not been disappointed. I am going to share my experiences as spoiler free as possible with still getting my points across.
First off – the players are all role playing a lot heavier this time. They are using new voices and themes and have really dug deep behind the characters they are playing. Characters are doing things in this play through that are turning out to be bad decisions but being made for the right reasons – that it is most likely what their character would do in that situation. I respect that a lot but it also makes a lot of things happen that are unexecpected for the DM – which seems to be fine because Matthew Mercer is a very skilled and experienced one. I would have probably been thrown for a loop or two. The group can be a bit “joke heavy” at times in what they are saying and doing but that is who those characters are – and the DM is making modifiers based off of that. He made a character do a persuasion check, who rolled really high on it – but the words they used to persuade (the way it was presented) was very weak and he mentioned there is a modifier. That is fun and forces players to be sure about what they say and do. He also pressures them if they are taking too much time to make a decision if there is pressure on (in combat, for example) which forces players to think on their feet.
In this campaign the players do not all know each other and some have had side, introductory adventures to the city they are in – so there is reference and differnt understandings in the three different groups that currently exist. It is a challenge to get them to become a single cohesive group in a natural way. Part of the gameplay is very interesting and almost too open – a card game, for example, where both are attempting (and perception checks) against each other to cheat using sleight of hand. Each player knows the other player is attempting it but the characters don’t (as they both failed). This creates an interesting dynamic where the player knows that the character is cheating but the character doesn’t. How can you balance knowing you should mistrust someone but based on the in game rolls you can’t? There has also been a few times where there have been statements made by one player character to another and the recipient asks for a contested insight check to see if they are lying – and if the player loses the deception check has to admit to the player that they are lying, so the character doesn’t believe them as well. Again – it is just a layered dynamic that forces me to think how I would handle that.
The first episode starts slow as we are introduced to the different players and their small little groups, how they meet, and a central place they end up together where the action really heats up and sets the tone. I believe it was this event that should force them closer. However, the second episode is playing out really slow as the DM has given them a big sandbox to play in with little guidance or instruction and the actions the players are currently choosing is not moving the tale along in any obvious meaningful or tangible way. The DM seems to be really patient here forcing the players to sort through it to move the action along, and I am curious how long that will last before he gives them a big in game hint/nudge to support them. The way it is currently going I have a feeling it could be a lot of circles – but I don’t believe the DM will let it go that far. This episode (#2) has been a bit of a struggle for the players and you can feel it as a listener as well.
I will definitely sludge through this part and I am sure things will pick up. Regardless, it is a great listen and the new campaign is a good starting point for new listeners (or watchers if you prefer – it is broadcasted on Thursday nights and the podcast follows it up the following week). I still am very curious how the old campaign continues and for me it is like having The Walking Dead, and Fear the Walking Dead – two good, related shows, both at my finger tips. I just haven’t decided which is the better one yet – still too early to tell.
I spent more time playing Dauntless when it dawned on me. This is an actual beta. No, not the normal, pay for 95% complete game so we can test and do some minor things but grab millions of dollars before it goes free to play beta, but an actual, game is barely done and things are broken beta. More like an alpha compared to what betas are called these days. Throwing in a gamma for good measure.The Influences of the Monster Hunter series are all around. The slight pause on a hit mid swing to add emphasis and oompf. The advancement of armor, weapons and Monster types. You can clearly tell that the designers were iterating on the Monster Hunter franchise which hadn’t clicked in the Western world. It was great idea and a great premise. After spending a good chunk of time in the game in the state it is in I am nervous it won’t ever really launch in any meaningful way – or by the time it does, Monster Hunter is already reigning so big and supreme (as it already is) that there is little reason to go to Dauntless. They have an uphill climb.
I’m not blaming them as designers or an impassioned product but they are just so far off of anything reaching a semblance of what MHW already provides and they are a small team with a smaller budget – doing in essence the same kind of thing. I am sure it can carve out it’s own niche but the basics are so far off that right now that if I were to take a fair guess, it’s a long way away from being anything substantial. I like the art and premise but it’s not even close to what I am reading and watching in MHW.
My list of deficiencies are pretty simple at this stage, and all fixable!
- Low soloability. If you die, you get booted back to the city. And the things you can solo don’t provide you with meaningful progression – so there is no path to farm the items you need to improve to fight the harder monsters. The items you need to get better are at the same level you are at, not a step down. If I could farm and improve in a solo manner it would be great, but even then the matchmaking has it’s own, game breaking issues.
- Matchmaking isn’t great for two reasons. One, they have limited access, which I guess makes sense to make sure the hardware and software can keep up. But it is a double kick in the shins because you can’t do anything while waiting for matchmaking. You stare at your loadout screen for 5 minutes, then it forces you into a solo hunt. Which, as my first point points out, isn’t that much fun. Let me run around the city and explore while Matchmaking is doing its thing. Let me talk to people. Let me stay in the world.
- Very linear. Kill a mob type to get the items to craft its specific gear to get strong enough to kill the slightly harder mob type to get the slightly better items to craft the slightly better gear to get strong enough to kill an even slightly harder mob type to get the even slightly better items…..
- The story stinks a bit. The goal is to protect your city from these monsters. BUT every monster is on a floating island that you can’t get to without a flying machine. They are stuck on tiny, little floating islands with no way to get off. If it was a proper planet or continent I would get it, but really we are just embarking out to hunt caged animals who have nowhere to run. Like a Lion safari hunt where they feed the prey tainted meat beforehand. There is no urgency or real threat that is apparent
- No jumping. You feel so glued to the ground that it is painful. Especially since you fly in.
All of the things that are exciting to me about MHW (which I HAVEN’T played, since it is not on PC) is not in Dauntless. At least not yet. There is a good base here to build off of which is good news, but ultimately it’s not in a state you can really enjoy right now unless you are very invested and committed to the dev team and what you hope they can produce in the future. I do wish them well, and I will check back in with patches to see how it is coming along. They are also very active communicators and I do believe they are doing their best with the resources they have. I do appreciate the honest use of the word ‘beta’ for sure and with word that Open Beta is coming “soon” in 2018 I suspected it would be in a more finished state. Looking forward to the next patch to see how far and fast they can move the needle.
Unfortunately – if MHW is king of jungle then Dauntless is a mouse. Let’s hope Aesop was right.
The current Critical Role podcast episode I am on is over 4 hours long and they are fighting a Beholder. This is an advanced Monster that graces the cover of the Monster Manual and throws all sorts of challenges at players. The interesting part for me is that I have been learning higher level D&D play and the impact that prior DM choices have on the game itself. Not to put things into spoiler territory but one of the players has an attack that imposes the disadvantaged state to who it hits. That player has successfully used that skill on the Beholder twice in the battle (it’s still not over, I get it in chunks) and while it has been an epic battle that disadvantaged state has trivialized some of the scary things the Beholder can do. (Disadvantage, as explained here at DnDBeyond, forces a player or creature to roll twice on an attack or check and take the lower of the two)
As an aspiring DM this example forces me to think about how I would deal with that situation. I could, of course, just ignore that or impose an advantage situation to the Monster to nullify the disadvantage. I could fake rolls, behind my screen of lies. There are many things I could do to make my big evil bad guy more of a challenge. Truth is, as I think through it, is that that player chose that ability for this exact reason and him/her being able to use it would be highly satisfying – regardless of what intention the DM had. My personal take on this is that the game is there for the players to enjoy and ensuring there is a balance of them being able to have their moment to shine for the group. Giving them a real challenge becomes a bigger difficulty the higher level they get, the more items they get, and the more skills and skill checks they get. But in the end the adventure is for the players and the DM is one to help that enjoyment along.
I have two other examples of things that trivialize some of the game play I am experiencing that perhaps as a DM I would have been very careful not to give players – especially after I see the effects that it has had on the current adventure I am taking along with them. The first is a bag of holding. They have an awful lot of things in there that are convenient to have in specific circumstances but also things they would most likely not have on them if they were restricted on items and weight. The idea of being mindful of the exact items you have for a deep dungeon dive – and the scarcity that could create – is gone when you can throw in the kitchen sink. The Barbarian lost his Great Axe on a bad throwing attack, but no worries, I have a Giant Sword here in this bag too. Chances are he isn’t carrying both if he has limitations.
The second is a magic carpet. I don’t know where or how they got it (must be from a prior adventure!) but the carpet is huge – 10’x15′ and they neatly store it in the aforementioned bag of holding – so it is not an issue to lug it around everywhere. They have already used it three times in the first ten or so episodes to trivialize what would otherwise be a really interesting problem to solve. Of course they are going to use it and I don’t begrudge them to doing so but it makes me very aware that if I DM a group and give them something really good they will use that to their full advantage. So I need to have the adventure prepared to understand how prior loot found impacts future adventures. Again, I believe this is less of an issue in the early game when getting a +1 sword is a huge deal. This is also not as much of an issue if they didn’t have the bag of holding as carrying it around a dungeon would be cumbersome. So the combination of two items makes for the problem, and something I would need to be prepared for.
I personally don’t like how the DM does Stealth checks on the podcast as well because players have a good idea of whether or not their stealth is good. A sneaky rogue that rolls a 5 knows he isn’t sneaking well, and could alter what he does based on the roll. I suspect there is some argument there that they can tell if they aren’t stealthing well (hear their own creaking on boards, etc.) but I feel like if the DM rolled for them it could create some better stories. They think they are stealthed and unseen but are noticed (etc.). If I roll a 2 on my stealth check I will be far more careful than if I rolled a 19. The challenge here is if I should know that or not. I do agree with the idea that players should “own” their own results and rolls and the DM already gets to roll for a ton of things so this is an area I am curious for advice on from people who DM. This is similar to other checks that players can trivialize by hearing what they shouldn’t know. In one episode the DM forced a perception check. It was a low roll, and the person didn’t see the thing. One of the other players (with better perception) went to where that person was and then decided to “look around”. If the player didn’t know they rolled poorly on the Perception check then it wouldn’t have encouraged the other player to go and try and see what they may have missed. I am guessing these aren’t new problems to D&D but sorting through how I should deal with them.
Vox Machina, the name of the group of these adventurers are a fun and varied group of personalities and this greatly enhances the enjoyment I get from the podcast. Their Gnome Bard, Scanlon, sings renditions of current songs and alters them to the appropriate time period or event they are trying to influence and he gets a lot of them bang on and really funny. Grogg plays like a character with a 6 Intelligence, and his actions reflect that. Their Wizard is absent minded and plays the part amazingly. You can tell there are novice players when they are asked to directly role play out a situation – like when Pike, their Cleric, asked for Divine Inspiration for their God. The DM pushed her to be specific on what she asked, and in the tense moment she said something along the lines of “Come help us kill this thing!”. The God didn’t come, and as a DM if she would have been more specific on how and what she said I would have influenced the roll based on that. I already feel like the effort put into how and what is said would influence the outcome via modifier as the roll as well.
I think I am going to jump ahead and get in on the new campaign which is lower level characters. I’ll be able to keep up with the new releases and learn better how to run my lower level campaign ideas, and can jump back and listen in on the old campaign when there is no new campaign material available – as they are releasing weekly. I have never been much of a Podcast guy but this is very entertaining and engaging.
I am on episode 10 of the Critical Role Podcast – that is around 30 hours worth of D&D, audio glory. It has completely taken over my time when I drive to and from work (which used to be reserved for The Economist) – so while I am far less up to date on the global Politics and Business arenas, I know when a good time is to force an Athletics check. Truth be told I somewhat feel less depressed by NOT keeping up on the formal failings of the human race in the world and much happier by the murderous hobo ways of Vox Machina (the party’s name from the series).
As mentioned in a prior post I have been reading the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master Guide, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. I have also bought (but haven’t started reading) Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and have recently added the Monster Manual. I own most of the source books now outside of adventures. I have purchased all of the material through DnDBeyond.com which makes it searchable and easier to read. I did download PDF versions for free on the Internet, until I sorted out they weren’t supposed to be for free and that I would be getting enjoyment and value out of them so paying is the right thing to do.
Odd pleasure reading for a person who will never end up playing but it has fueled my fantasy thinking. I have even started ideation around and writing down a DM campaign based on a new frontier. It has been fun thinking through how I would design such a campaign and I may tinker around with finishing it up in small, bit sized adventures by size – with all of the tying into a grander plot around a specific geographic location. It is fun to jot down notes and plan around what could be a fun campaign – even if I never run it. Maybe I’ll just make one and put it up for other people to try and get feedback that way. Who knows. I am having fun.
I am on ‘G’ in the Monster Manual and there have been some fun moments on the Podcast where the DM (Matthew Mercer) is describing a monster the party has come accross and it is one that I have already read about in the Monster Manual. In fact, the four I have shown here are those same four and it has been enjoyable when listening to him describe the monsters that I can already pull from memory what they are. That ‘aha!’ moment. Bonus is when I listen how the party chooses to try and deal with them while knowing their tactic they are resistant to (illusion resistance, for example.) I should hurry along in the Manual before he gets to bigger and much badder monsters.
I have particularly enjoyed the sections on Dragons – it goes into great depth about them, their personalities, and how they view and interact with the world. The Podcast is a few years behind so I am not worried about spoilers – and as mentioned they just started a second season but I still have 105 episodes and well over 200 hours of content listening to catch up. I wonder if it would hold my interest that long.
The better part of it though, is listening in great detail on how the DM explains everything, what checks he asks the party to do / not do, and in general how the party forms how they do things and even what they do. It is a great combination of rules and color and since they are all voice actors you get a nice dose of that as well. I feel like I am playing – and learning – Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition just by listening along.
And that is enough and will have to do for now.
It feels like the gaming and blogging world is playing one thing and I am doing the opposite. Far from being a hipster but it just feels like when the community is going one way I am going the other. There is nothing wrong with that I just can’t relate to the common experiences in Blognation right now. Many people are playing (or back playing) World of Warcraft with the pre-order up and new races to play new alts with. I can’t be bothered right now. I suspect I will at some point but I am too busy leveling characters in EQ2.
With most of the world playing Overwatch I was smitten with Paladins (until they imploded) and I only played Fortnite for the PVE part of “Save the World”, not for the far more popular and populated Battle Royale mode. I suspect much of you are just nodding your head saying “yeah well, we have been trying to tell you you are out of touch” but that is just age, of course. Mine, not yours. Get off my lawn.
Which leads me to my next grand experiment. In a world utterly captivated by Monster Hunter World I am trying the Dauntless camp.
This wasn’t done fully on purpose. I have been humming and hawwing over Monster Hunter World but do not want to compete with my 12 year old for PS4 time. I do prefer my gaming on PC and that version isn’t out for a long time. I checked into Dauntless Reddit, knowing that it was nearing Open Beta and learned a quick, easy tip there. Keys are currently free through a promotion with a streamer (Light it Up Dan!) if you subscribe. The subscription fee is $4.99 (much cheaper than buying one from the Dauntless website) BUT you can also get a free subscription with Amazon Prime – of which I am one – so I ended up getting my key free. It was easy – you link Amazon to Twitch, subscribe to Lightitupdan, type in !keys in the chat, go to his Discord, connect your Twitch to Discord, and a moderator sends you a key in chat. Took me all of 10 minutes (after the hour it took for Discord to refresh the connection to Twitch) and finally I was a Monster
The tutorial drops you in with a base “training” sword and an immediate quest to collect some items and kill a Rogue beast – the name I already forget. The art style is very Star Wars the Old Republic. Character creation was kind of fun – you pick a Mom and a Dad from some presets and then use a slider to represent which one you look more like post gene-merge. You can still then personalize, but found it fun seeing the hint of features between the two parental units. The graphics are very crisp and clean and the forest felt alive.
Combat was.. slow. I think that is the best word. You hit a button, your character reacts quickly but the act of swinging a big sword takes time. You can’t stop or dodge mid-swing and you really have to understand the
Monster Beast’s tells otherwise he is hitting you and interrupting your big, prepared swings. I didn’t love the delay but I do realize it is part of that specific weapon. Killing the Beast wasn’t too hard but I definitely couldn’t see a health bar or any obvious visual clues that he was hurting. We were just fighting, I got low, ran away until I could sort out how to use a potion, came back, worked on my timing for hits and dodging and then he was just dead all of a sudden. Victoire!!
The city was alive and plenty of quest givers and crafters to help you upgrade your weapons and armors. I explored around a bit and even had a couple of lootbox style items to open in a nearby machine. Since this game will be Free to Play there will be a loot box mechanic at some point. I was always in love with the idea of the Pike weapon and sure enough I had one in inventory (one of each weapon, actually) so I equipped it, upgraded a few things, and decided to go on another hunt – still solo, although groups are recommended.
I wasn’t able to pick which Beast to go for – an NPC mentioned to me to go practice against a similar difficulty challenged monster but in the area I found to pick a hunt I only had one option and several beasts were listed there. I picked it anyway to go see what I could solo / sort through and ran into this turtle-like fire creature. It was really interesting when I first approached it – it didn’t attack, but stayed focused on me and as I moved closer it slowly backed off. Timid to attack me but aware I was there and worried of my intentions. When I got too close he did attack.
It was a good fight. I keep forgetting to check my health and there weren’t any obvious warnings and I ended up dying and getting dumped out of the zone for a failed hunt. I am not sure if I was able to keep the items I had found around the forest or not.
It was fun. It does not have nearly the content or world building that exists in Monster Hunter World – at least not the parts I have read about or experienced on my first play through. I did get a bit of killing giant beasts out of my system and will play it a bit more for sure. If you are holding off on MHW until the PC launch and have Amazon Prime then you really have nothing to lose (and no word how many keys LightitupDan has or how long he is giving them away) so go grab one, and check it out, if slaughtering innocent creatures floats your boat. (That’s a whole separate post!)
*final, interesting note. My Nvidia Experience allows you to take screenshots of games (and videos, but i normally just use screenshots) and it automatically saves the screenshots in a folder of the same name, and names each picture starting with the name of the game. For some reason Dauntless is tagged “Archon” in both of those instances. I wonder if that is a name of the build?
I often find and enjoy games based on what I read from other bloggers. When Zubon posted about Slay the Spire, a game I already had on my “watchlist” on Steam, I bought it instantly. I had received $150 in Steam Bucks at Christmas / Birthday (same time frame) and it was burning a hole in my pocket. It didn’t take much but his recommendation to pull the trigger.
Side note, KTR was the first gaming blog I really started reading and my long-winded responses to posts there is what inspired me to start this blog. So you can thank Zubon for this post AND this blog. I am using the term “thank” quite loosely, of course. Back to the spire! The game is a card based “dungeon” crawler. You pick a character, get base cards, beat enemies and experience encounters, expand and customize your deck, get items and relics to further enhance the experience, and kill bosses by climbing the spire. When you play a card from your hand, or you run out of energy to play cards, the remainder of your hand goes into discard. When you run out of cards in your pile it reshuffles in the discard pile unless the card is denoted as “exhausted” – which means it can only be played once per encounter. There are no saves and when you are dead, you are dead. There is a heavy element of randomization but after spending a good 8 hours playing it I can vouch for the learning curve and that I routinely get into the third act now (third “boss”). I will go over some basics here to try and help you see if it is something you would enjoy.
First off it is early access – which is prominently displayed throughout the game as you play, to ensure there is no doubt. It has a unique art style that really grew on me and it features a bit of diversity in both the look and feel of the two available characters. The first base character is The Ironclad – a sword wielding, heavily armored, faceless fellow. Red is the color associated with him and his deck. He has high powered solo attacks and a good base of hit points to start with.
The second, is The Silent – a poison based dagger wielding lightly armored black woman. I have enjoyed her playstyle more although I have had better success with The Ironclad. These are the only two character classes available in this early access period although there is a slot for a third in the future. My hopes is they offer far more. Both play completely differently and are fun in their own right.
I have played both up to the third Act. Each act is a randomized encounter system upwards through the Spire. The path is fully laid out at the onset of the game and you can plan your route with options for encounters. Standard are “Unknown” (can be anything, often quirky decision based interactions), “Merchant”, “Treasure (which gives a relic that has benefits that reoccur), “Rest” (the only in between node area you can regain up to 30% of your hit points outside of moving onto a new Act), Enemy, and Elite Enemy.
I normally take routes that have options. The second fro the left branches off after two enemy encounters. If I did poorly in those fights it gives me the option to take a chance on a random encounter instead of forcing me into another battle when I am low on health. So far I have really enjoyed the varied enemies and events that I have encountered. You can’t choose the easiest path and be successful – beating regular enemies rewards gold, potions, but most importantly new cards. Elite monsters give relics which can have huge impacts on your deck and gameplay – things such as “every time you are attacked deal 3 damage back” and “start each round with 2 extra energy”. Rests are important to gain health but also you can upgrade your cards instead of the health gain – if you are comfortable with how much you have. Learning the strategy around the map is something you figure out as you go.
The gameplay is simple. You have cards, health, potions (found/looted/bought), gold, relics, and points you can spend cards on. You always get to go first (wonder if that will change?) although it kind of makes sense as you are climbing the spire and choosing your path, you are the one at the ready. The game helps you along by showing “intent” of the enemy. You see above the Slaver intends to attack me for 7 damage (7, red dagger) and also cast a debuff (green swirlies). My defend cards as a base defend for 5, and my Strikes for six. Here I can play two block cards to fully negate the damage (the excess of which does not carry over to subsequent rounds unless I have a card that explicitly states so) OR just kill him so he can’t attack. Obviously the kill is the easy choice. The balance is choosing how much personal health to exchange for how much damage given.
The trick is balancing multiple enemies and their “intent”. Different enemies require different strategies and there are a ton of different ways to play both characters in game. It is a wonderful game in itself just discovering different strategies. And often, with the right choices and luck you get some pretty crazy builds and status options. With The Ironclad for me on my best run to date I had a lot of things line up. I had a relic that gave three damage everytime I gained “block”, and a relic that granted me 3 block every round, AND a relic that gave me the higher level block. So every round before I played any card I would get high level block and damage would go out to all enemies, and a low level block and more damage. Then, any card I played that granted block would do the same – and block conditions are very common in your gameplay. That is a lot of free protection and damage.
As mentioned the art style is very interesting and I am not sure if I missed an intro video or something – but the style makes me very interested in the world and what is around me. A mix of fantasy and mechanical enemies each with interesting attacks, buffs, and debuffs and solid interactions between parties of enemies. There is also a talking Whale at the beginning that gives you a reward if you had success with a boss in your prior gameplay and he mentions “back again?”, so there must be an element of reincarnation or something pushing you to attack the spire in the first place. I need to look harder at that.
This is a good game and I am really enjoying it. I like the permanency of MMOs but the short adventures of climbing the spire and the differences in each journey – with tones of similarity for comfort and expanding your skill – makes for a great experience overall. I am curious if they would ever do a party mode (would be interesting) but the biggest thing I think it is lacking is that it should be mobile enabled. The graphics don’t really move (you never swing your sword, for example) and because they are very art-canvassy (ie: low poly?) simple shapes it would work well on mobile. Perhaps that is in the cards in the future as well.
It’s under $15 USD and a bargain at that price.
With my current D&D obsession and clever Google marketing I “somehow” “managed” to get “randomly” introduced to a new D&D game – Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms. It’s on Steam, it’s Free To Play, so why not try it, I thought.
The game is simple enough. It’s an automatic side scroller. You choose the formation of your group, which heroes you buy (in what order), and which to upgrade (and in what order). There isn’t much to it and early on there isn’t even really that much choice. The second champion costs 50, the third costs 1000 and the fourth costs 25,000. By the time you get to the eight it is 10 TRILLION for a new champion. I have only unlocked that champion once.
The game kills and loots for you. Once you complete the objectives of the round you go to the next area. The areas are varied and so are the enemy types – and there is a “story” to each level (and group of levels). Every 5 levels there is a boss fight. On “autopilot” the game moves you forward to each area your party is able to win. If you “lose” one, it puts you one level back and stops auto-levelling you – but continues to kill and loot. When you check back in on your group you have a lot more gold and a lot more upgrades to go. Keeping progression “efficient” means quick check ins earlier in the game. The further ahead you are the faster the gold drops.
With all the talk of “automatic” that isn’t to say that there isn’t a decent amount of strategy here. The top left corner shows your total gold and total group DPS. Each character has different types of attacks (solo, cleave, single hit spell, multi hit, etc.) and each has different buffing conditions. The Dwarf, for example, buffs everyone’s damage in the same row as him. The game makes you choose later on whether to increase that buff, or increase his personal damage. Some get increased damage by being around multiple classes, or in the front row. Some buff others in front of them or adjacent. There is a lot of moving your party around to see what fits. Some classes heal, some buff, there is a lot of diversity here.
There are active “ultimates” for each character which you can unlock. These require active participation. Mostly they are used on boss battles (and often trivializes them). Still – there really isn’t a losing condition in this game, only a “waiting” condition in case you need to grow in power before trying again. The game is neatly organized into 5 level chunks with a boss battle, and chain those into “campaigns”. When you beat a campaign, advanced options open up to do it at a higher level. Or, you can keep the party running through the same one (to amass more gold and loot!). It is the neverending story, D&D edition.
Things do get hectic and strategics that work on one map may not work on another. The game gives you three “quickslots” to auto-arrange your team into pre-defined formations. I have done that to focus on multi target vs single target (boss) for example. Sometimes the party gets overwhelmed if you have most of your damage stacked on the single target side, since each hero only attacks on a predetermined swing timer.
Progression is simple. Every time you beat a campaign you have to start from scratch again. The good news is that you get a percentage gold growth to start with based on how much you collected in the previous campaign. This is cumulative (at the time of this writing I get +1056% gold. Instead of one gold at the beginning per kill, well, you do the math!) This makes the repetitive nature a bit less painful. As I also mentioned this is a free to play game so they do monetize it via chests. Chests can be bought with in game currency or real money.
Like most chest base games it is a game a chance. And I am going to pause here for a second and smirk a bit. There really isn’t ever a need to buy anything in this game, since the entire game is “wait and get more powerful automatically”. Sure, buying things will increase that (and items are VERY powerful) – but really the whole point of the game is to play by “not playing” so it is really confusing to sort through how this game is going to make money.
The irony is, I did buy a chest. The game is fun. I rewarded the developer with $5. I just don’t see when or how much more I will give more. It’s an easy, fun, little game. You only need to invest so little energy or time, and that corelates with how much money I should also put into it.
The good news is the gear you do get you keep along campaigns and if you get a duplicate it increases the stats / bonuses on the item you already did get. So nothing goes to waste in the game, and I suspect the game never really ends either. It is a confusing, fun little jaunt with personality and progression in spades – you just don’t have to do anything to get there which makes it confusing to me on how much fun I am having. Kind of like checking in on an old high school friend on facebook, “like” the fish they caught with their kid, check back in a month to wish them “happy birthday”, and then scroll through the feed.
There is fun here, just hard to define. It’s free, so why not check it out? Now excuse me, I think I have a few trillion in upgrades to spend to get to the next mission.
I have been absorbing a lot of D&D 5e material and enjoying just learning, reading, and letting my imagination play out. A lot of this is much easier with the launch of DnDbeyond.com which is free for the base information and has some handy, but basic, tools. I read more information about it and the future is to integrate D&D gaming onto Twitch – which makes sense. Not sure of the time frame. I downloaded a few sourcebooks via PDF – and not being a dummy realized that they were “pirated” materials. Since I am not actively playing and just wanted to get a feel for it I felt it was OK. You hard-line anti-pirater types, relax! In this case it worked wonders as I enjoyed the materials so much, and realized I would get some time with them regardless that I bought the digital versions through DNDbeyond.com. It’s a great way to absorb the information as everything is linked. Special spell granted at level three? Hover over it for a quick description or click on it for a far more indepth version. I have spend several hours reading the Player’s Guide, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Sword Coasts Adventurer’s Guide. Each expand upon base classes and provide a lot of color.
The fun part for me is making classes via the DNDbeyond creator. It makes it really easy. I have created back stories and personalities for three character class types that I have never played. Two are part of the new materials and the third is a class I was never exposed to. I feel like the versions of them in 5e are great and expand much further on what I played when I was young.
The first is an Oath of the Ancients Paladin. This takes the typical lawful good Paladin (which is now just small part of the class in 5e) and has a nature bend – a protector of the light vs darkness. In fact in 5e they have further expanded on the Paladin class to be far more interesting with an additional 6 Oath types and you must choose one at level three. Gone are the days where the knight in shining armor charges in because they are compelled to, or loses their Paladin abilities because they lean Chaotic over Lawful. That option is still there but there is much, much more.
The second is a Rogue archetype – the Swashbuckler. I tend to roleplay the introverted / focused type but have often enjoyed the fantasy surrounding the master swordsman that ooze charisma. This archetype would be quite out of character for me but it does speak to me in the way that a dashing Swashbuckler would (I suppose). There are 7 Rogue Archetypes in 5e.
The last, is the Monk. And while I am most interested in one of the “standard” monastic traditions (that come with the Player’s Handbook) – the Way of the Open Hand – I like the skills the Monk gets and the options they can use with their Ki points as a resource. The “equipment optional” premise works well for me.
I purposely did not explain them in great detail – just teasers – because I want you to read about them if you are interested. Wikis exist so you do not have to buy anything. The funny part about this is that I have rolled all three in EQ2 to tie over my desire to play those roles. Yes, of course, they are definitely not the same but it is still *something* that is close enough to tie me over. I still don’t suspect I will end up in a D&D game but the more I explore and read the more online options I realize exist – and maybe someday my schedule will support a semi regular adult gaming group for a few hours on a Sunday night. Or maybe it will just remain a gentle inspiration to my own imagination – of which, I do not engage in enough.
Aside from the game materials I am on chapter 7 of The Critical Role podcast – the DM is amazing in that and the voice actors seem to be novice D&D players for the most part – I actually find myself laughing out loud at parts and also sharing in the excitement when someone rolls a natural 20. It is a good way to get a fix in and also get a feel for how the game plays. I am still back in their 2015 adventures but they just started a new campaign if you wanted a fresh start. They cast live on Thursdays, but I do prefer the being able to listen on my way to work version, and I am not sure if I can consume it quickly enough to catch up to them. Nothing like having an embarrassment of riches of entertainment to consume. I appreciate content creators.
Last but definitely not least I can’t talk about D&D without mentioning Eri fro Healing the Masses. She draws maps for D&D and I love seeing her work. If I was a DM or actively playing I would support her patreon and use them – they are great! They do provide a visual to further enhance my imagination. in the hands of a skilled D&D group they would be wonderful.
— Behold-Eri (@ausj3w3l) January 27, 2018
Finally I have been playing gently in DDO and finished the main campaign in Baldur’s Gate – and am now on the DragonSpear expansion. The combat didn’t really hold up for me like I remember it so I defaulted to story mode. I still control the team during more hectic fights but for the most part it is a story and inventory management game for me – and I am fine with that. I am still surprised no one has come out with a 5e, turn based game yet with the increased popularity of the game. That is where my more likely future lay with D&D.
The last time I played or wrote about Hearthstone was to explain why I uninstalled it. The coles notes is that in an effort to ramp up revenues they ramped up expansion packs, requiring a bigger commitment to buy new packs and accept new meta strategies to remain competitive and have fun (if competitive is fun for you). Still – it’s not fun to feel like your carefully crafted deck with pacing and surprise is completely destroyed by new, standard decks that take little thought or effort to play – and just require a lot of spending to get those decks. That is – rightly or wrongly – how Hearthstone made me feel at the time. That was nine months ago and I had completely forgotten about Hearthstone and didn’t miss it one bit.
Zubon made a post about Hearthstone near Christmas and truth be told I had also read about the new rogue-like dungeon crawler mode they had introduced and on a whim gave it a go. The playmode takes out the pace of expansion issues I hated when I left – you pick a class and start with a preset deck. Each “boss” you beat, you get random card packs in various themes and you get to choose one of three. There are also perks (double starting health, your battlecries trigger twice, etc.) that become standard for the rest of the journey. The game presents you with three randomly and you choose one. The more bosses you beat the more cards you get and the more options you are presented with to further enhance your deck and chances against bigger and badder bosses.
It is a clever way that takes buying decks out of the equation. There aren’t any rewards either though, except for a card back if you win the mode with five different classes. It is definitely an exercise in randomization and fun elements – remember, I am a huge fan of randomization – right down to the bosses you face and the perks and cards you can acquire. Heck – there is even an “I win or lose” card with a 10 cost – that casts pyroblast repeatedly until you or the boss is dead. This is an actual fair and balanced strategy in the game mode. Getting that card, however, is also completely random. The randomization is good and bad, depending on how you look at it. First off – all card games are based on randomization that don’t give everyone the exact same set of cards. Go Fish, Crazy 8s, Euchre – all heavy randomized games. They have more rigidity in their structure so the parameters by which you can play them of course. And as much as I am talking about randomization here there is still an opportunity to build really good decks if given the right choices.
I can’t recommend this game or mode to people who have a hard time accepting that you really could lose even if you made the best choices available to you due to the fact that all the choices you are presented with may not have synergies or be optimal. I have lost rounds on the first boss before. Heck, frequently in the top four bosses! Sometimes the cards you are dealt you just have to accept. The good news is that the randomness works both ways and even with poor choice options through the first three or four bosses your fortunes can change throughout the final few as you head to the final boss. This is exactly how I beat a boss for the first time. I was so focused on playing Priest only, as that is my “main” in this game and I was certain that I wouldn’t do as well with other classes. I went 20+ games with not winning with the priest before I decided that maybe it was the class and not me, and maybe the Priest is under powered in this mode and I should try others. And that I did.
The first class won with was the Warlock (my lowest ranked class from Hearthstone proper), and then Hunter, and then Paladin. The only classes that are lower ranked for me than those are the Warrior and Mage. This is further proof that experience isn’t necessary in a class and you can pick up any of them and give it a go with a chance of success. Heck I now go in order, top down, left to right, in my attempts as I try to win the mode with each one. It isn’t the best game or game mode I have ever played but the completionist part of me really wants to “win” so I keep playing.
I did try some PvP with my old C’Thun deck and it has held up just fine in the lower levels of Hearthstone but I know I will get trampled on in higher competitive play. It’s an easy game to jump into for 10-15 minutes which is the attraction to it – but I can’t lie when I say I am really looking forward to a more meaningful and deep card experience that I am hoping to get with the new Magic: The Gathering game currently in beta. That is the one I am waiting for to really dive into card/deck building games again.
I am still in “prep” mode in DDO – I have been gaming mostly in EQ2 but logging into DDO a few times a week to build comfort. I have decided to research less, and go for it more – there too is a very deep advanced mode to spend points in that I have no clue about or where to start understanding. So I just read tooltips and picked things that seemed to be synergistic to soloing. Which is what I plan on doing in DDO until I get comfort. I toy with the idea of starting on a fresh, level 1 to experience the game in the kind of bite sized chunks that are often best learned from the start. I still may do that but the Paladin is the class I am most interested in there, and mine is already level 7. That is a lot of duplication. Sometimes it is more fun the hard way.
I don’t know where or why but suddenly I became interested in re-exploring Dungeons and Dragons. I have often talked about PnP games here and lately I have had a bigger desire to reengage. This is mostly because PnP games don’t suffer from the same lack of imagination as their online counterparts – but come with much heavier challenges to get involved in. You need bigger blocks of time, away from your creature comforts, and your real life has to stop. That is called immersion. Conversely, I can game at home, pause and walk away to change the laundry, answer a work call, etc. etc. Gaming is convenience, PnP is immersion. I wish they were closer to one another. Sadly I am forced (by life circumstances, mostly) to stick to gaming.
I have read the new Players Handbook for 5e, and the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Both were very enjoyable. I especially like the new spin on classes they have introduced – The Oath of the Ancients Paladin, being my favorite (on paper). I have been reading and absorbing 5e material without an outlet – or likely space for one – but that still has been fun. I even downloaded the Critical Role podcast and am Episode 4. Critical Role is “old news”‘ for most, I suspect, but basically it is some Hollywood voice actors playing out an extensive D&D campaign. Each episode is over 2 hours in length but they are doing a nice job so far. It’s great as a “to work” and “from work” break. It is also a good exercise to understand what works and doesn’t work in a group dynamic. Listening to the first four episodes you realize quickly who doesn’t know when to listen instead of talk, and some need to take a back seat to let others make decisions and try things. I think that is part of a good learning curve for PnP players and people who plan to be.
This, of course, made me look closer at games in the Dungeons and Dragons universe beyond DDO – and I landed on Baldur’s Gate. They have done an enhanced edition (as well as BG2, and the other parts of the universe) and with that as the most deliberate D&D experience right down to rolls on the screen. It is not the latest edition, however, and the graphics are rightly from the era the game was created in 1998. The experience has been streamlined and I have spent a dozen hours playing it.
Sadly my print screen shortcut wasn’t working via steam as it was for my regular gaming and I didn’t realize it so have no screenshots captured – except the above, which was the first unidentified magic item I had found (and put on, without identifying) and it was cursed! Of course in the 2018 edition that shouldn’t be a curse but a benefit – think of the role-playing options for a thief, for example. Still – that kind of creativity and flavor items are what help made this game fun and I remember spending a ton of hours in it back in the day. Curious how the refined version plays through – and in the short term, it’s been better than expected. Anyone who has tried to go back and play XCOM (original) will appreciate what that feels like.
PnP games aren’t really supportive for a mid 40s, married with child, busy body with work and child based activities dominating the adulting required to “make it in this world”. And while that is a shame, it doesn’t stop me from trying new things, investigating and reading further, and still finding ways to enjoy myself. After all much of this is the base of what our MMOs and RPGs were/are made from – and the source material is as good as ever.
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.
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.
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.
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!”)
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Continuing wrapping up last year’s blogging and gaming efforts with the July to August calendar quarter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This is building off of my first post reviewing this blog and the year 2017. Q1 Post here
- 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).
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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:
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.