Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Boosted to 60, Still Faffing About

In our last episode, Scooter and I were "taking it slow" in Rift, taking in the salty breezes, as it were. Funny thing, though: after writing the post, I realized we'd passed level 40—within ten levels of the original cap—in about 5 weeks; something that took months during our first go 'round in 2011.

Rainbows in the Dark
A new event came on the heels of Rift's Autumn Harvest this past week: "Unicornalia." Not a seasonal event, but a cash shop promotion, Unicornalia apparently happens a few times a year. There is an in-universe story going on, sort of, and I guess there's stuff in the store, though I haven't investigated thoroughly.

The promotion includes two daily quests that have pushed Scooter and me into activities we had not previously gotten too involved in: Instant Adventures and PvP. You probably know what PvP is, Dear Reader, but Instant Adventures don't seem particularly common in MMOs. I guess in a sense they are like Hearts in GW2, though they serve a different purpose. Basically, they are series of only vaguely related objectives that players can jump into and out of without much difficulty or much reason. Some have you traipsing across the entire zone, while the one we did last night was confined to a relatively small area. As it turns out, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types; though I suppose this is true of many activities (see below).
The End of Ezmodeamus
The PvP daily involves using a wand on an opposing player and channeling a spell for a few seconds. Both Scooter and I jumped into Warfronts to accomplish this before finding out it can be done in the context of a duel with a lot less hassle. That didn't stop us from getting a ton of XP and Favor (Honor) in various battlegrounds over the course of the weekend. I think I am some kind of "Legionaire" now.

A single, non-repeatable quest (not even when the periodic Unicornalia returns) involves killing the end boss of a particular Zone Invasion event. As it turns out, this is a relatively rare occurrence, and Fynralyl and Psynister had not been able to do the quest either. But I found a handy website that monitors current zone events called, appropriately enough, Rift Event Tracker. I watched as the event we needed ("Hooves and Horns") started on another server. Shard hopping! all the cool kids are doing it. I announced it in guild chat and headed over. In the end, it was time for celebration in the House that Bel Built.
Dance Party with Fyn and Psyn
Riptide
In other news, Scooter and I took the plunge into the Nightmare Tide, purchasing the $50 Infusion pack. We felt this was the best value for our current needs and budget. Among other things, the Infusion Edition includes a single character boost to 60 (similar to WoD preorder boost to 90) along with gear, professions boosts, etc. I'm not sure how I feel about the boost, to be honest. There are obvious advantages, like the ability to do any content, anywhere, up to the expansion "entry-level" zone. We also got a free boost in Planar Attunement (similar to Augments in TSW, though with less grinding involved).

However, the boost may turn out to be a disadvantage in many respects. As you may have realized by taking level boosts in other games, jumping 20 or more levels introduces a ton of new abilities at once, and making sense of them is a chore, if not a challenge. Are they all still valuable enough to keep them on my bars? Which abilities have become obsolete and can be dispensed with? (I also discovered a Bard ability, "Motif of Encouragement," that is absolutely useless by just about any measure. And blatantly so, something I cannot remember seeing before in an MMO.)

We intend to continue on the now low-level story paths in Scarwood Reach and other vanilla zones (thanks to Mentoring, it would not be a face roll), but the boosts to our professions mean that not only will they stagnate at 375 (since we are not getting resources of the appropriate level), but that we will be missing out on the crafting dailies that give Artisans Marks or the higher level equivalents, because the low level ones are no longer on offer. On the other hand, at least I won't be asked to waste Runecrafter mats on grey items for a while. We also find ourselves relatively cash poor, though I don't think that will matter if we are just questing for story and faffing about in Rifts.
Why yes, my horse's armor IS transparent.
It Might be Me, But It's Definitely You
With the advent of Rift's "Faction as Fiction" in 2012, Warfronts became more randomized affairs. Even though our characters are Defiant, we seemed to find ourselves on the Guardian Team more often than not. But there is a huge difference in running battlegrounds at 40-ish like we did during the first part of the weekend, and running them at 60. The 40-level WFs were kind of fun—fun enough to keep doing them. I managed to accomplish a bunch of the objectives. But at 60, the tone changed. The WFs (same venues, just higher levels) are a lot more stressful, and at least one jackass felt it necessary to criticize the "PvE builds" of his teammates and otherwise insult us.

Now I will admit, I went into the WF with essentially the same souls build I'd been using for questing. But, having just boosted to 60, I was also wearing boosted gear, and there is no way to obtain PvP gear except by doing PvP (cash shop notwithstanding). So if he was referring to gear, there is not much I could do. Also, if you're screaming for MORE HEALZ in a battleground or LFG, you're the problem, not the solution. If you think there should be more of something in a random group of players, you are the one that needs to provide it.

I re-examined my souls build and switched it around, though I am not sure it's better than it was. And I am sure my rotation is not optimized (see the above, regarding boosted abilities). It seems like not only should there should be a division of Warfronts by level (in a game where that is a factor) but also by expertise/interest. That is, maybe the duffers should be separated from those players for whom PvP is SRS BZNS. After all, many of us were only there for our sparkly Unicorn powder.
~~~
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Taking it Slow

At this point, I am trying to stop and smell the roses whenever I have the chance.
~Belghast, Tales of the Aggronaut
Though the Aggronaut was referring to Warlords of Draenor, this has kind of become my mantra regarding Rift. Already a smell-the-flowers kind of MMO gamer, I am now moving through the content at what some might consider a glacial pace. For some reason, Scooter and I spend more time each evening doing crafting and Autumn Harvest dailies than "novel" questing. I've even put the breaks on the patron leveling boost, even though I suppose it's not really necessary. Thanks to the mentor system, I can enjoy the zone stories at roughly the level they were designed to be experienced. On the other hand, unlike GW2, if I want to gallop through a lowbie zone without being unhorsed by every mob in sight, I am free to do so. (Yes, I know GW2 has no mounts.)
We re-upped in Rift specifically to mess around. I've been fishing, crafting (two things I rarely really enjoy), wandering around looking for achievements and shinies, trying to organize my dimension houses (I'm up to three slots, now). Scooter even spent Harvest Tokens on a Deepwood Cottage on Sunday. We may run a dungeon or two, Soon™.

So, all in all, we are enjoying our return. This was the first game Scooter and I played together that I had not already played. Rift is where we really bonded as a couple. It's the game that cemented our duo-dynamic. We had a fun run to 50 the first time around; here's for making it to 65 this time, even if by an even more roundabout path.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scooter and I, on "Bel Folks Stuff"

So a couple weeks ago, Scooter and I got together with Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut to chat about stuff. I had enjoyed his first show, featuring Syl, the MMO Gypsy, and I was thrilled when he asked me to participate in the second one. He put the finishing touches on our interview yesterday and hit the publish button. And here is the result.
We talk about various things, like our gaming history and (at the time) recent news in the MMO genre. Bel says he plans to record future episodes closer to his planned publication date, given the slight timey-wimey-ness of our conversation. Honestly though, I guess I am a bit out of touch, because he mentions things have been resolved that we were speculating on two weeks ago.
Anyway, rather than reading me blather on about the show, why don't you give the podcast itself a listen. We had a good time chatting, and I hope you get a kick out of it.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My MMO History: Updated

Every so often, I update my MMO History page in light of recent activity.
Sonnenblume (Scooter) and Girasol
After a long hiatus, I have returned to Rift with my lovely bride, Scooter. We played regularly from the beta tests in January of 2011 through October of the same year. I cannot say enough great things about this game, or the developer, Trion Worlds. It's not perfect, but the polish and responsiveness of the game and company are things other devs should aspire to. For reasons not really clear even to me or Scooter, when our Mains hit 50 (max level at the time), the wind went out of our sails, and we really had no desire to continue playing the game. We got involved again in summer of 2013, with House Stalwart, but discovered that something about the game caused us both eye strain. Now we're back in, have started new characters, and are enjoying our time in Telara.

We dipped our toes into ArcheAge for a few weeks this autumn(2014). It's a beautiful game with an interesting class/skill system, and I'm told the open-world PvP isn't as bad as some have made it out to be. However, due to technical difficulties, we decided to drop the game before getting too far.
Through the summer, we were playing WildStar. Scooter and I have two duos of Exiles, plus I have a few solo toons. It's a fun game with an engaging storyline and a delightful art style reminiscent of World of Warcraft, but some ways an even darker tone. Despite the colorful cartoony look, this is not a game for young children.
Judging from the sheer number of posts tagged with The Secret World, it is my favorite game to play. It's the smartest story and skill/ability system on the market, in my humble opinion, though the additions of the Augment and Aegis systems make and already complicated system almost unwieldy. The issues from 2013, "The Last Train to Cairo" and "A Dream to Kill," feature the most enthralling storylines I have followed in an MMO. I currently have a toon in Egypt's Scorched Desert, and two in Transylvania's Carpathian Fangs, having completed the main story through "The Venetian Agenda." I have not gotten into Tokyo, the new zone that opened up with the release of Issue 9: "The Black Signal."

Scooter and I spent a bit of time in the Landmark alpha this past spring, but the exigencies of the plot rental during early beta—plus technical difficulties with my computer—led to a sharp drop-off in our participation. I'd like to go back and see what has changed in the past few months, but WildStar occupies my thoughts and plans most of the time these days.
Between Christmas and New Years Eve, 2013, we decided to try something a little different, after looking into a couple F2p titles, we started playing EverQuest II. Our first two characters were OK, but we chose poorly on our starting area and tired quickly of the polar tundra around New Halas. Picking up again with a Ratonga Conjurer (me) and a Half-Elf Warden (Scooter) we restarted in Greater Feydark, but are stalled in the second zone of the continent, Butcherblock Mountains.

Guild Wars 2 is a ton of fun (the most important thing in a game), easy to jump into and play for a few minutes or a few hours. The game has a good skill/progression system, great graphics, plenty of lore, and just a touch of whimsy—without going overboard. I have a human Engineer at the max level of 80, and several other characters at lower levels. I haven't actually played in a few months, though.
I played Star Trek Online from just after its release in February of 2010 until May of 2011. I dipped in a toe again in June of 2012, checking out the Duty Officer system and other developments to the game. With the recent Legacy of Romulus expansion, I started up a new Romulan Captain and got my Main up to max level. Amongst all my MMO characters, I am still most attached to my STO crews in many ways.

I had a lot of fun with Star Wars: The Old Republic, from mid-December of 2011 into August of 2012 after pushing to achieve 50 (max level) and finish up the story on my Imperial Agent. I was initially very excited about the story-centric gameplay. The game has a lot going for it; but in the end, the way BioWare and EA have managed the game and community has left a bad taste in my mouth.

I played World of Warcraft from June of 2006, when a friend got me hooked, until October of 2011. I have two level-80+ characters, plus many more lower-level ones. I tried the Pandaren starting area in the Mists of Pandaria expansion (in October, 2012), but got a "been there, done that" feeling from the experience.

Neverwinter is a fun third person shooter/D&D hybrid, and I love my half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter. I didn't get very far, but it was a nice diversion.

I have tried Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, Defiance, and The Elder Scrolls Online, but found them not to my taste.

Please see also my character pages. Links above.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this page through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

First Time Chills: The Broadcast

I intended to write this up with a day or so of running the Broadcast mission in The Secret World. But this week has been very busy, and others have beaten me to the punch. Much like waiting for G.R.R.M. to crank out another book in the Song of Ice and Fire, it can be frustrating to experience Funcom's glacial pace of updates. But then, when content does break out into the wild, all is forgiven. Because damn! It's just that good.
As my buddy Xander from Beyond the Veil is fond of pointing out, Halloween in the The Secret World is like Christmas in almost every other MMO. The place screams Halloween the whole year round. But the season itself turns it up to eleven. Even though we had to wait until just before the holiday itself, the new mission reminds us what we come here for.
I don't know how much detail I want to go into. Suffice it to say, Dave Screed, the Illumati's pet conspiracy theorist, has stumbled upon something even he's too creeped out to investigate further, and he needs the help of the Bees.
The guy at the end bears an uncanny resemblance to the Bogeyman, maybe they're cousins? Interestingly, just last week, Syp mentioned that the devs made the Bogeyman a unique model and then never used the model again. There is plenty of reuse—both models and locales—in this mission, but that does not stop it from being top-notch.
The old radio programs you encounter throughout the mission are really great, I found myself stopping just to listen to what was going in the programs themselves. But what happens when you (somewhat inevitably) shuffle off your mortal coil is when it really gets interesting.
My compatriots who play TSW all have a moment (perhaps several) where they are quite simply freaked out by the game. Whether it's some dark parking garage housing a Wendigo, or a pitchblack mine with Filth Creeps lurking about, or some Tokyo office with Ghosts hiding just around the corner, TSW has plenty of hot and cold running chills. But none of that affected me until I stood listening to numbers stations with a crowd of fellow spirits.
I am telling you, all the hairs on my body stood on end. I've read read up on the general consensus on the rather mundane origins of numbers stations, but that doesn't stop them from being creepy as hell. So congratulations to Nusquam and Scrivnomancer. You finally got to this fearlessly jaded blogger.
~~~
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.