Friday, July 18, 2014

Just Like Starting Over

Post soundtrack: what else?

Almost three years? You’d think I’d been busy or something… So many games, birthdays, the discovery of an entire genre of music, more games, coffee, weight lost and regained, still more games, health issues, coffee, old love lost and new love found, and – to top it all off – yet more games. Oh, and coffee.

Don't Panic

I’ve been contemplating getting back into writing for some time now, but I’ve just had my original WoW account unlocked (after some credit card annoyances at the time of the annual pass, which left me locked out unless I jumped through hoops which I refused to do at the time), which has brought me full circle, with Ringle, Pringle, Dingle and all my other alts playable yet again. And I’m looking at slowly easing my way back into my writing on here.

I still dabble – currently MMO-wise I have WoW, WildStar and STO installed on my just-upgraded pc, along with some single-player games from Steam and a handful of games on my mostly-wonderful iPad. I ran into some fairly crippling performance issues with WildStar after upgrading my pc (which left me unable to play enjoyably for the second half of my free 30 days – something I’m still feeling a little bitter about, as the game has a lot of potential), and reinstalled Neverwinter out of curiosity (it runs much better than it previously did - unlike WildStar).

Last week I finished a marathon paragon play through of Mass Effect 1 and 2, now I just have to finally buy #3 (and all the DLC) so I can put the series behind me. (I’m not sorry that I missed all the kerfuffle about the truncated ending, and hey, now I’ll be able to experience the complete DLC-inclusive experience!). I tried to start a second renegade play through, but I just couldn’t do it – I’d like to think it’s just that I’m that nice. Feel free not to disillusion me.

I’ve also playing through Fallout 3, with Skyrim and BioShock 1+2 installed and waiting for me to give them some time after I’m bored exploring the wastelands. Briefly dabbling in Landmark, but I’ve never been much of a builder – maybe when they add combat? Might give Rift a little play as well, as it should look a little better now I’ve upgraded.

But at least for now I think I’ll be spending the next few days updating addons and getting re-acclimatised to my much-loved old WoW characters, and making a start on levelling somebody up to 90. I actually invested in another copy of WoW after my old account was locked, and have levelled a few characters up to 90 horde-side, but I just haven’t had the emotional investment with them that I have with my dwarven family. Hmmm, with two active accounts I can even transfer all my old characters into my vanity guild – Lobsters, Ho!

This is what old leveling gear looks like.

It may be good to be the king, but it’s even better to be the dwarf. Again. Finally. (But ooooooh, that horrible gear…)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Only MOSTLY Dead Post

Post soundtrack: “Time” by Freddie Mercury (From the excellent and unavailable soundtrack to the musical “Dave Clark’s Time”)

"It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.”

Kind of like this blog. (Goodness, where has the time gone?)

This has been an interesting year, with my gaming becoming increasingly portable and small-scale (I love my 4th-gen iPod Touch, although I’d love one of those prohibitively expensive iPads even more), and my MMO time being increasingly short in duration and generally tourist-like. Needless to say, I’ve been short of things to write about. (Although I’ll qualify that by mentioning that my life outside of gaming has been entertaining, with 23kg/50lb of weight lost since my last post in January with a new interest in fitness and diet now sharing my spare time, and a mostly painless 40th birthday now safely behind me)

Have companion, will travel.

Anyway, with SWTOR almost upon us (Impatient? Me?) I’ve been feeling the desire to dabble in writing once more, with a focus on TOR while it holds my attention but ranging a little further afield in time. (It helps that a good number of MMOs I’ve spent time in the past with have either become or are in the process of transitioning to free-to-play – have to love that kind of low barrier to entry)

My initial plan (once the head start begins) is to re-roll my beta bounty hunter (admittedly, mostly because of delightful starting companion Mako) and see where the game takes me. (I played Kia, the character in my screenshots, up to around level 28 in the last beta and enjoyed myself thoroughly, and now I want to see where her storyline takes her – and me.)

I enjoyed most of the mechanics of the class (unfortunately I have a tendency to pull more than I could handle on occasion, and even with a healing companion to back me up I found that it’s not really easy to burst down one mob and heal myself and tank the other two mobs beating on me, all at the same time), plus the storytelling (and the accompanying voice work, which worked wonders to help immerse me in my character) was easily good enough to keep me from pressing space to fast forward through the dialogue in the best WoW tradition.

Beware the Bounty Hunter on her Segway of DOOOOOOM!

In other personal gaming news, I’m still subscribed to WoW (having made the foolish, in hindsight, decision to sign up for the Annual Pass – I’m giving serious thought to taking the nuclear option of deleting my account completely), but am not playing other than transmuting truegold once a day and selling various pets in the AH – I don’t have the patience (or the thick skin) needed to spend time in the dungeon finder and LFR to gear up for… Well, for no real reason, if I’m not raiding.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Star Trek Online F2P beta, and found that the new Duty Officer system is curiously more absorbing than the rest of the game (indeed, the character XP it awards is actually quite effective for levelling your captain on its own). Skyrim claimed my attention for a while before TOR beta, but I find it hard to go back to it now with its less-than-immersive storytelling, regardless of how open the world is. Dungeon Defenders also claimed my attention for a while (I’ve levelled a squire to level 58, and an apprentice to nearly 30), but I’m running into the limits of my solo-play patience again. Champions Online was an entertaining enough brief distraction, but it didn’t really hold my attention, much like City of Heroes (although CO had less of a “What can we sell you today?” vibe than CoH).

The F2P Everquest 2 tempts – or rather, the Ratonga do – but I just haven’t been able to find the appeal in the rest of the game world. Global Agenda is currently still installed despite my lack of playtime, but Dungeons and Dragons Online has finally been uninstalled, along with a few other titles that had been gathering digital dust and electronic cobwebs. (Oh, the Defense Grid expansion, You Monster, tempts me to the bottom of my tower-defense-loving-soul but I’ll probably leave that for the time being – Also, Hey! Isn’t it nearly Steam sale time?)

Anyway, I’ll leave this entry short and to the point (insofar as I’m ever really all that concise) and get back to mentally urging time to pass faster.

Has my headstart email arrived yet?

How about now?

Now?

/wave

Monday, January 24, 2011

DCUO – A Brief Distraction

Post soundtrack: “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting

It’s deja vu all over again. After about 48 hours play over about two weeks (according to the Steam client, including time spent dabbling with other characters), I’ve hit the level cap with my superhero in DC Universe Online. I’m reminded in many ways of Star Trek Online, to be honest, and I can see a similar future ahead for DCUO.

Superheroine Disposable, at level one.

Quick micro-review time:

The two games have some interesting things in common. The two games launched with very solid game engines, stable servers, and very low level caps that didn’t take long to reach. DCUO has a little more endgame content at launch (2, 4 and 8 player instances, and hard versions of single-player instances), but the UI is pretty unimpressive (especially the chat system).

The character customisation system is kind of nifty, but the UI around it is pretty minimal (like much of the UI, to be honest – it does just enough to get the job done, but don’t expect much usability). You can change the look of each gear slot (without changing the actual item equipped in the slot, which is a very nice touch) and alter the displayed colours on each piece, but are limited to the three-colour palette that you’ve set for your costume (although you can change these colours for your entire costume at any time). Unfortunately there’s no way of saving costumes, so if you have more than one that you wish to change between, it’s a matter of manually changing each piece in your inventory whenever you want to switch. If you have multiple gear sets for your character’s roles, you’ll have to switch out items individually as well.

Grouping is also fairly hit-and-miss, if you don’t have friends to play with or a league – the game’s guild-equivalent. You can get into alerts – the 4-player instances – with a LFD-styled queue, but for the harder ones you’ll want players for each of the four roles (tank, healer, controller, dps).  Unfortunately while the game has you select your role when you queue up, it fails to explain what the roles are to players and doesn’t force players to take non-dps roles, so alerts with 4 dps players aren’t uncommon (and they usually aren’t all that successful).

Disposable, level 30.

I soloed most of my way to 30 (with a handful of alerts, where my ice tank hero attempted, sometimes successfully, to tank) and my 30 ding was something of a relief – my first thought was “Well, now I can cancel my subscription”. It’s not that the game is bad – indeed, the combat system is actually quite fun, and is a lot more visceral than games I usually play – it’s just that there isn’t much to the game besides the combat. Actually, the only other activity is collecting items and briefs. Oh, there’s the costume customisation aspect as well (supported by collecting new costume parts from combat and collecting), but without something like the WoW Armory or the Sporepedia where you can show off your creations outside the game, it’s of very limited interest to me.

Unfortunately a combat-based game with an item-collection sideline just isn’t enough to hold my attention – and definitely not enough to justify a subscription, no matter how nice the combat system might be. (Maybe I’d be more inclined if I was a DC fan, but I’ve been more partial to Marvel’s stories and characters, so I don’t even have the franchise to hold my attention)

Still, in the same way that STO has managed to overcome its disappointing launch and prosper as a niche MMO, I can see DCUO still being around in a year with an enthusiastic (albeit smaller) player-base, with active development continuing to add new content (and improving the lacklustre UI). I won’t be playing it, though.

Currently on my radar are Rift and Dungeons, both of which I’m sure are rife with opportunities to disappoint (and the next wave of the Rift beta starts in a couple of days). For now, though, Protector: The Planes awaits my attention.

/wave

Friday, January 7, 2011

So This Is Cataclysm…

Well, long time no write. In my defence, so many more talented bloggers have been keeping us informed (and entertained), and I really haven’t had anything to add, other than a heart-felt “Is that it?”

That's Cata for you - a big bang and a long drop.

Yes, I’m another person who’s underwhelmed with what Blizzard has brought to the table with Cataclysm, and I’m currently spending my time turning my small pile of gold into a slightly larger pile of gold through various machinations on the AH.

I’ve currently leveled Mingle to 85, and she’s decently geared for heroics (only two greens remaining, her wand and one trinket, and wearing the epic crafted healer belt). Her tailoring and inscription are both at 525, and inscription is proving a nice money-spinner with mysterious fortune cards and inferno inks.

Pringle managed to get to 82 in Vashj’ir, and has maxed jewelcrafting and enchanting. Prospecting ore is still more fun than milling herbs, by the way.

Dingle is still sitting at 80, having very briefly ventured into Hyjal, but hasn’t really had much more time spent with her.

Ringle has been through Hyjal a little further, but I just haven’t been interested in leveling her to 84, where she’ll need to be to gain access to the recipe vendors in Twilight Highlands (she’s currently sitting on 490 leatherworking and 511 blacksmithing).

The surprise has been Kringle, who I’ve enjoyed levelling the most – hunters are still the most solo-friendly class. It’s kind of telling that even so, he’s only managed to reach 83 (but has 525 alchemy, and switched from herbalism to skinning to help provide leather for Ringle’s leveling, reaching 525 in that by the end of Hyjal). Kringle’s currently sitting in Deepholm, having completed the first of the pillar quest chains (with a cute pet turtle from BFD).

I’ve also run a Worgen through the new starting zone (and been… underwhelmed by the theme-park linearity and the feeling that you’re along for the ride) and have a Goblin most of the way through their starting zone (also underwhelmed buy most, but not all, of the experience – still a themepark, but occasionally a fun one). All I can say is, they had to make those zones once-only events – when you’ve been through the ride once, there’s nothing to come back to (and I can see the need to go through the ride for new characters to be a disincentive).

Incidentally, who else can foresee Worgen being left in the background while Goblins get thoroughly integrated into the WoW lore in the same way that Draenei and Blood Elves came to be treated after Wrath? (No, I’m not saying “Blizzard love Horde more than Alliance”, just pointing out that they really dropped the ball with Draenei after they dropped them into the WoW lore with TBC, and from what we’ve seen of Worgen and Goblin presence in Cata so far, it’s looking like Goblins will be favoured in the same way that Blood Elves were)

Now, there have been quite a few things that I’ve enjoyed about the post-80 Cata experience – a number of quite fun moments in the various zones, and some fun new mechanics (although I’ve yet to abuse Lifegrip with Mingle). But on the whole, Blizz seem to have substituted the breadth of gameplay pre-Cataclysm (for example, wrath levelling which had multiple paths all the way from 70-80) with a very linear leveling path brightened with the occasional patch of polish and occasional illusion of choice.

Incidentally, I’m really surprised they let the issues through in the final release where if you miss a quest-giver, you’ll find yourself locked out of further questing in a zone until you’ve managed to find the lost quest-giver (with no suggestion from the game that this is the case). I’ve been caught out by this twice in Hyjal, but fortunately haven’t tripped over it in Vashj’ir yet (which is apparently problematic, with the 3d terrain).

I’ve managed to force myself to grind Mingle to 525 archaeology (over several days and many hours, with most of the time spent auto-flying while I read a book or played another game on my ipod touch – thank goodness for Archy, which cut-down on the time-wasting quite substantially), and it confirmed my suspicion that it was going to be less fun than fishing, and mostly just a massive travel time sink. (Seriously, who thought this implementation was a good idea?)

I didn’t have the confidence to do any LFD while I was levelling, and my experiences have consisted of a healing a single run of normal Lost City of the Tol’vir with Mingle – horror stories from guildmates about the new state of pugs (now that healers can’t heal through stupid, and being blamed and/or abused for wipes because of this change) and the challenge of Cata healing (with mana management being the new measure of a healer’s ability) really made an effective deterrent to my giving it a try.

However, doing a normal run at 85 wasn’t excessively painful, aside from half-expected mana issues (there was just one wipe, but a couple of the dps had a couple of extra deaths while I was trying to keep up the tank). The problem for me is that healing just (as I’m hearing increasingly often) wasn’t fun. The change from “I want to decide who lives and who dies” from Wrath healing to “I hope I don’t run out of mana, and and please please please let the dps remember to run out of the fire” hasn’t been especially entertaining (especially as someone who used to LFD almost exclusively).

Currently? I’m mostly logging in to prospect for, cut and sell gems. And transmute Truegold. And mill herbs for cards and inferno ink to sell. And I’m hard-pressed to raise the enthusiasm to run alts through the new theme-parks level up other characters, as there’s nothing of interest for me at 85. The thought of hardmode raiding makes my skin crawl, and even normal modes aren’t appealing (although I suspect finding a guild which is just running normal modes may be challenging). Heroic 5-mans? Pugging them isn’t something to be done voluntarily (especially as a healer), but I have no interest in guild runs (probably because I still don’t feel comfortable in this guild). Normal 5-mans? My single attempt just didn’t engage me, even though the group did manage to complete it. (I’ve also heard a number of complaints about the length of Wrath 5-mans – do they need to make them quicker? Or is that solely a result of group competence?) Rep grinds? Well, if you’re not doing Heroics, they’re not really needed.

The sad thing for me is, there just isn’t really anything else. I’ve never been interested in achievements (aside from Loremaster on Mingle), I don’t collect pets, and… My dream of levelling more Dwarves lost substantial momentum when I realised that the revamped 1-60 levelling, while a substantial improvement over vanilla, was a lot more linear than I cared for (although not as bad as 80-85 has turned out to be).

I think I’ve run out of interest in WoW again – which is kind of unexpected, considering how much Cataclysm promised. Unfortunately it would appear that much of what it offers has a real lack of replayability for my playstyle, and I’m starting to run into that already.

But hey, it’s looking like there could be some interesting new titles in the near future - DC Universe Online (check out TotalBiscuit’s beta footage of the character creator and starting zone footage if you’re curious) and Earthrise come to mind (along with Rift in about two more months) - not to mention the substantial number of games recently on sale on Steam and other digital vendors (I’m currently knee-deep in Darkstar One and revisiting City of Heroes briefly).

WoW, on the other hand, is just something I’m playing if I’m feeling bored (or more accurately, until I get bored, which isn’t taking long). Cataclysm might have changed the world, but it wasn’t really a change that’s worked for me.

/wave

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Priest PvP Gear: 4.0.1 Update

Post soundtrack: “Act of War” by Elton John and Millie Jackson

I’m still easing my way back into the game, but thought it was time to start getting my head around the changes Honor Points have made to buying PvP gear.  My old guide here still covers most of the available gear, but it’s now possible to buy items that previously required an arena rating (namely weapons and accessories).

Nothing to see here, move along.

I’m also expanding the list to include all available caster cloth (I’m not really up with the play as far as the preferred stats for different specs, so the math is up to you).  Basically these lists will tell you what is available, but it’s up to you which pieces you buy.

First, the PvP sets that are now available for purchase.  There’s not really any reason to purchase the older sets (unless you like the aesthetics of a particular set), so you should really save up for the best – however, you’re unable to purchase the Wrathful shoulders which still require an arena or battleground rating of 2000 (which can’t be earned until the next season, at which time this gear will be obsolete).  The difference between the two sets is (now, at least) that the Investiture set has spirit where the Raiment set has crit rating.

Savage
Inv/Rai
Hateful
Inv/Rai
Deadly
Inv/Rai
Furious
Inv/Rai
Relentless
Inv/Rai
Wrathful
Inv/Rai
Head 550 660 770 935 1100 1650
Shoulder 348 417 487 591 695 n/a
Chest 550 660 770 935 1100 1650
Gloves 348 417 487 591 695 1040
Legs 550 660 770 935 1100 1650
ilvl 200 200 213 232 251 270

You also now have a wide variety of weapons to choose from, as the lower tier of arena weapons are no longer require an arena rating to purchase.

Weapons and Accessories (ilvl264)
Wrathful Gladiator’s War Staff (Haste) 2550
Wrathful Gladiator’s Focus Staff (Hit) 2550
Wrathful Gladiator’s Battle Staff (Crit) 2550
Wrathful Gladiator’s Energy Staff (Spirit) 2550
Wrathful Gladiator’s Spellblade (Crit) 1830
Wrathful Gladiator’s Blade of Alacrity (Haste) 1830
Wrathful Gladiator’s Gavel (Spirit) 1830
Wrathful Gladiator’s Endgame (Crit) 70
Wrathful Gladiator’s Compendium (Haste) 70
Wrathful Gladiator’s Grimoire (Spell Pen) 70
Wrathful Gladiator’s Reprieve (Spirit) 70
Wrathful Gladiator’s Touch of Defeat (Crit) 260
Wrathful Gladiator’s Wand of Alacrity (Haste) 260
Wrathful Gladiator’s Piercing Touch (Spell Pen) 260
Wrathful Gladiator’s Baton of Light (Spirit) 260

And of course there are the accompanying accessories and non-set items available from the usual vendor.

Wrathful Gladiator non-set items
Cord of Dominance (crit) 945
Cord of Alacrity (haste) 945
Cord of Salvation (spirit) 945
Treads of Dominance (crit) 945
Treads of Alacrity (haste) 945
Treads of Salvation (spirit) 945
Cuffs of Dominance (crit) 600
Cuffs of Alacrity (haste) 600
Cuffs of Salvation (spirit) 600
Cloak of Dominance (crit) 725
Cloak of Subjugation (haste) 725
Cloak of Ascendancy (hit) 725
Cloak of Salvation (spirit) 725
Cloak of Deliverance (spirit) 725
Band of Dominance 725
Pendant of Dominance (crit) 725
Pendant of Subjugation (haste) 725
Pendant of Ascendancy (hit) 725
Pendant of Salvation (spirit) 725
Pendant of Deliverance (spirit) 725

It’s still possible to purchase Relentless and Furious non-set items, but for the minimal saving you may as well buy the best you can.  The Battlemaster’s trinkets are still available (along with an updated faction Medallion) and may have some use, along with the PvP shoulder enchant.

Medallion of the Alliance/Horde (ilvl264) 945
Battlemaster’s Ruination (int) 630
Battlemaster’s Fury (crit) 630
Battlemaster’s Vivacity (haste) 630
Battlemaster’s Precision (hit) 630
Greater Inscription of the Gladiator 165

Wintergrasp items now also cost honor points – a change that could be argued is long overdue,especially if your faction has had trouble winning or defending Wintergrasp.  Admittedly at this stage the only pieces worth bothering with would be the shoulderpads (at a stretch - the Relentless set shoulders are the same item level), and possibly trinkets.

Price ilvl
Titan-Forged Cloak of Ascendancy 280 245
Titan-Forged Pendant of Ascendancy 280 245
Titan-Forged Shoulderpads of Salvation 490 251
Titan-Forged Shoulderpads of Domination 490 251
Arcanum of Dominance 65
Inscription of Dominance 50
Flow of Knowledge 280 200
Titan-Forged Slippers of Dominance 280 200
Titan-Forged Slippers of Salvation 280 200
Titan-Forged Hood of Dominance 490 200
Titan-Forged Hood of Salvation 490 200
Titan-Forged Raiment of Dominance 490 213
Titan-Forged Raiment of Salvation 490 213
Titan-Forged Cord of Salvation 280 213
Titan-Forged Cord of Determination 280 213
Titan-Forged Rune of Audacity 280 213
Titan-Forged Rune of Cruelty 280 213
Titan-Forged Rune of Accuracy 280 213
Titan-Forged Rune of Alacrity 280 213
Platinum Disks of Sorcery 280 213
Platinum Disks of Swiftness 280 213
Titan-Forged Cloth Trousers of Salvation 490 232
Titan-Forged Cloth Trousers of Domination 490 232
Titan-Forged Cuffs of Salvation 280 226
Titan-Forged Band of Ascendancy 280 226

In any case, it’s now entirely possible to gear up in battlegrounds (now that weapons, off-hands and frills are available).

Hope this is helpful, now it’s not really neccesary.  (Will we have the Shattering next week?  I’m certainly hoping so!)

/wave

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Glyphmas Comes But Once An Expansion

Post soundtrack: “They Say It’s Spring” by Blossom Dearie (in honour of some glorious spring days of late)

Hmmm, has it really been so long? (Considering my last post was over three weeks ago, signs point to “Yes”)

Who else is waiting?

I haven’t fallen off the edge of Azeroth, at least not all the way down.  I’ve been taking a breather, and enjoying things outside of WoW, not least of which is a change of diet (tried buckwheat noodles for dinner tonight, and it was particularly yummy) and getting some exercise into my day (inspired by Xeonio’s progress).  I’ve also been reading about Stoicism, after coming across a link to a book review on the subject on Boing Boing a couple of months back.

In-game, I’ve been reaping the profits of being a Scribe; Glyphmas has been and gone, and I’ve made over 200k in sales (only 150k of that being profit, as I hadn’t prepared for it with anything remotely resembling diligence, and I missed the first couple of days).  I’ve also been spending some of my collected Justice Points to gear up Ringle and Mingle (Isn’t the new community site nifty? I’ll admit to a “They wouldn’t dare” moment when I saw my RL name displayed above my selected main character, but it appears to only show up for you when you’re logged in), despite the fact the gear will be replaced by quest rewards in under a month (and I definitely won’t be keeping it, especially that truly awful rogue T10).

I’ve also been farming crusader seals with Ringle (although not from jousting) in order to purchase the third hippogryph mount for her enjoyment (probably my favourite mount in the game); tomorrow will put her over the magic 150, which leaves me in search of a new goal.

And I’ve been roped into joining a guild which a friend is an officer in(ostentionably to help with guild leveling, but probably really because they just don’t have enough gorgeous dwarven women).  I’m keeping Pringle in OOTA as my banker (I really wish we had goblins on Alli side for that), but Dingle, Ringle and Mingle have all jumped ship.

I’ve been doing a little bit of writing for my arty project, but it’s still early days and I’m trying to decided what format to take it in.  (My inability to write accents doesn’t help, especially with the dwarf-heavy cast. Actually, writing dialogue at all is a challenge.)

For now, it’s time for more writing (although no NaNoWriMo for me, unlike other more talented writers), the occasional daily LFD, and the tail-end of Glyphmas.  Oh, and sleep.  [3AM Crits you for 100k]

/wave

Sunday, October 17, 2010

WoW: An Artistic Experiment

I’ve been contemplating a new project (related to this blog), and as part of my deliberations I put together this little combination of screenshot, WoWModelViewer, Photoshop (and a couple of nice little 3rd-party filters).

click for full image

It’s just a proof-of-concept image (click for the full image), intended to make it look like I’ve been busy while I consider my options (and take lots of notes). It’s called “Entering Ironforge” – what can I say, I love prosaic titles.

/wave