Weekend Gaming

Sean E asked me why I wasn’t playing Dungeons and Dragons Online. I hear DDO and I think “hey, another fantasy MMO with wizards and stuff”. Why add a twenty-first to the twenty I already play or have played? And who has that kind of time? I guess it depends on who you play with; in an MMO, it’s more about the company you keep than the merits of the game.

Vexor cruising in lowsec

In EVE Online, my corp is factioning up to get the new Level 4 epic mission arcs. I haven’t started on that yet… just as I was heading to the station where an Impetus agent who might speak with me dwelt, I got a mail from a storyline agent who had a ten part mission for me. So I headed back to Aunia for that, and accidentally took some normal Level 3 missions as well — but all for the good. I understand turning in more than one mission at once really pumps your faction with the agents.

Tomorrow or the next day, we’re having a lowsec ops — going around low or null sec, looking for trouble. I have a cruiser, a Vexor, fitted out for PvP. I have had this same Vexor for over four months now, ever since Saylah gave it to me, and though I used it for most of my level 2 missions, I always brought it home.

Since I was getting really bored with mission running. I decided to give the Vexor a spin in lowsec — a solo ops. I’d just fit a micro warp drive in it, and the drone bay was full of ECM drones I’d never really tried out. ECM drones interfere with the target’s targeting — and if the enemy can’t target you, it’s much harder for them to hurt you. Smart bombs and friend-or-foe missiles will still work, but I haven’t seen many people or NPCs use those.

I headed to 0.3 space — nearly lawless — found a deadspace hideout and started directional scanning to find players hunting by themselves that I might be able to take. I did find a couple on the scanner, but I couldn’t zero in on them enough to find out how to reach them, so I just went from asteroid belt to asteroid belt, hunting. I didn’t find any players, but I did find some Serpentis pirates. A single went down easily enough, but the next group was two frigates guarding a Megathron battleship. I warped out, then decided to try out the ECM drones by having them jam the battleship while I took out the frigates. I got a little mixed up on the way back and ended up in a different belt, with two Serpentis cruisers guarded by two frigates — two same class ships, the cruisers, plus cruiser-killing frigates. I sent the ECM drones against the cruisers and took on the frigates, but the frigates got in too close, close enough that my guns were useless. I had to call in some of the ECM drones so I could bring out combat drones. One cruiser stayed numb, but the other shook off its drone and came at me. I traded one combat drone for a third ECM drone to quiet that cruiser, took down the frigates, then took down the cruisers, one by one.

ECM drones are not the sure-fire killer I was hoping they would be… it was worth checking them out before we go against another player. I believe our plan is to double up on ECM drones, warp scrambling and webbing. But we’ll see.

I recently finished Core Competency Standard certification and Gallente Soldier Elite, so my skills are coming along nicely. I’m working on battleship skills now.

Radium Red in Champions Online

I got my Champions Online character, a power armor hero named Radium Red after my most recent City of Heroes character, to level 14. This is the highest level I’ve gotten a CO character. She got through all the Canadian quests she could find, handling group missions solo without too much trouble. I’m liking the power armor builds, and I REALLY like being able to lift things like airships and toss them at enemies — one shot kill if it’s heavy enough. (If you’re in the Powerhouse, this would be Gigantic-level objects). I felt pretty unique until I found the Science Invention store, and it was full of people in power armor. Only one looked like Iron Man, thankfully.

The missions in Millennium City REALLY remind me of City of Heroes missions, except, so far, the mission environments have been very much smaller. I don’t like leveling MMOs so much these days, but I do want to level enough to meet my nemesis. In the City of Heroes world, R.R. was a villain, so here, I will make her nemesis upright and heroic as I can. Maybe Superman :)

Rich! Rich!

In Legends of Zork, changing my sidekick to the Accountant is finally starting to pay off. When I dinged 43, she dinged 3 and my rate of interest is now 6.4% compounded nightly. I have a spreadsheet tracking my profits and most recently made 116.2K interest overnight. I’m on track to have 3 million zorkmids by next weekend and in a month’s time should reach the interest cap, which is 635K per night. And then — I can finally start spending money again. My previous sidekick, the Gent, helped me solve traps and fight, and without him, combat and puzzle solving has taken a real hit. My skill points have been going toward TMP (trap, maze and puzzle) solving, but levels only happen once every couple of weeks, so it’s very slow going. Combat will have to wait until I can buy new weapons and armor. In two more levels, the Accountant will be giving me 9.6% interest compounded nightly, and after that, I should have no more money problems ever again.

I play Legends of Zork purely so I can enter the figures in my spreadsheet each morning. Way more fun than looking at my actual bank balance.

I played Gatheryn for awhile, and also Earth Eternal for a few hours. Tonight was our weekly Neverwinter Nights 2 group, and we’ve just uncovered a Githyanki plot. Many Githyanki died this night. I also dinged 7 and learned two new spells, Summon Monster III and Haste. Neither seems to be as useful as Fascination and Cloud of Bewilderment were, either of which serve to make everything in the area hate me. Everyone hated bards, why is that?

In Wizard101, my plan to move onward to Newgate Prison has hit a snag as Marissa is forced to go on a bunch of really trivial missions in Chelsea Court and Hyde Park. I may take a break and head back to Grizzleheim once I’m finished with those.

My house in W101 is shaping up nicely with all the quest rewards and random drops. I wonder how much space the new Life island will have? Or should I just let Marissa have an island all her own….?

Daily Blogroll 8/31 – End of Summer edition

The Green Reaper checks out a billboard in Millennium City

Wow, can’t believe it’s almost autumn. Summer came so late to New England; cool and rainy through most of it, a couple of hot and humid days, and now the cooler days are back. It’s like living in Seattle.

Played a bit of Champions Online over the weekend. I take a character to level 10, start them in on the Hero Games cage matches, see how well they do and take what I learned to the next character. My most recent character was the Green Reaper, a character with all of Green Lantern’s abilities without the power ring. Custom framework of supernatural + telekinesis, allows for a ranged power builder, ability to make ego weaponry from thought alone, and the ability to toss heavy objects at people — with her mind! Travel power is green fire flight.

This build usually gets me in the top two scorers for a match. Having my main damage power — Ego Weaponry — be a melee attack is a problem. You want to be powerful at ranged in cage matches. You need to be able to cast a hold. You need a travel power that lets you run away — burrowing seems best for that, followed by teleport. DoTs are good for those people. My best cage match character remains Daddy’s Little Girl, my gadgeteer from beta. Heals really help! Swinging was her travel power.

Playing Champions Online and wondering how it compares to City of Heroes? Or vice versa? Scopique has a nice comparison of the two superhero games which gives a decent idea of the differences. I’ll add that City of Heroes has Day Jobs and Mission Architect, while Champions has the excellent Cage Match PvP instances. CO was looking mighty boring before I discovered those.

Saw a tweet from the Spellborn folks last week that implied the F2P version of Spellborn was crazy popular. O rly? Beau of Spouse Aggro says Ya, rly! Looks like new dad Heartless_ is having some fun with it as well.

Both WoW and EQ2 are revamping their innate racial bonuses, and the Verdant Dasypodid at Player vs Developer looks at the reasoning behind the changes, which seems to be at cross purposes. WoW is adding more fluff and less advantage to theirs, while EQ2 aims to give certain race/class combinations a decided advantage over others. I’m just kinda miffed they are taking away the halfling ability to summon pie :(

Spinks continues her mini-symposium on roleplaying in MMOs with a focus on using emotes and fluff items to set a mood. Given how pretty much all her suggestions were commonly implemented in the era of MUDs just shows how much we lost when we moved to games with more of an emphasis on graphics than gameplay.

Syp asks if it’s worth jumping into a MMO after the rush of release day has come and gone? Do late adopters have any fun? Or do they have to catch up to everyone first?

Stargrace at MMOQuests has an excellent guide to EQ2’s new Achievements system. New to EQ2, anyway, since it’s about as blatant a copy of similar systems in WoW and Warhammer as I’ve ever seen. I’m just happy there are still MMOs out there for *non*-Achievers. Ogrebears has the patch notes for the complete list of changes coming for Game Update 53, including the Shard of Lurrrrrv. I am SO HOPING that’s a no combat zone! I’ve been wanting to meet the Goddess of Love, Erollisi Marr, since I spent all those years on her server in EverQuest. I DON’T want to kill her!

Cownose loves Darkfall! He loves the world, loves the big fights, loves the exploration, loves everything about it! So why is he quitting, never to play again?

This is definitely the season for betas. Over the past few years, a game’s beta has taken on an importance way out of proportion to its former status as a way to get some player feedback during development (the pre-2004 model), or a way to stress test the game before launch (the pre-2008 model), to where it is now — a free trial in which the player is not expected to give any feedback on the direction or goals of the game and is more a marketing tool for which players should perhaps expect to pay a token amount. Maybe they should just call it a Gamma or something. Anyway. Syncaine looks at the timing of open betas, asking if companies should time their open betas for the time when no other mindshare-swallowing games are doing theirs? Should MMOs be scheduled like summer blockbuster movies?

Lastly, shout out to Cliffski of Positech Games, an indie developer whose Gratuitous Space Battles lets you create mad space battles between huge fleets. Picture of me horribly failing my first battle in the preview beta for pre-order customers is below.

Gratuitous Space Battles

Daily Blogroll 8/4 — Lifetime edition

Another thrilling Champions Online adventure

Well, would YOU bet $200 on a game that nobody but press is allowed to talk about, a month before it’s released? When Lord of the Rings Online offered the same deal — A Benjamin and his identical twin for a lifetime subscription — you had a month to think it over. Not so with Champions Online — if you insist on playing before committing, the offer goes away. Probably the best thing about the offer — access to the Star Trek Online beta, and Mirror Universe outfits for same. So, if I want to play STO and get all the best goodies, I have to toss two c-notes Champions’ way?

They do announce STO’s beta begins later this year, which is in line with their projected Spring 2010 release date.

Green Armadillo doesn’t think ANY game is worth $200 to play free forever, especially when it will have an RMT store that, following SOE’s lead with their EQ2 and Free Realms, will entice subscribers to spend additional money each month on costumes and temporary powers. Keen feels they should at least drop the NDA now so that the blogosphere can weigh in on Champions’ good and bad points before begging players to pay blindly. Anjin of Bullet Points wonders if the Champions IP is compelling enough to take the leap of faith.

I’m in the beta, but when the NDA does drop, I won’t have any glowing articles to write about it (just some comics). It’s just hard to get excited about quest-based, level grind MMOs anymore. I’m just burned out on the whole idea of the grind to play mechanic. By making the level 1 game essentially identical to the level 50 game (or rather, the level 21 game, as that’s as high as I’ve gotten), Cryptic’s previous superhero MMO arguably provides a more super and less level-bound experience.

Marissa and Allison confront the boss of the Sunken City

The Evil Theurgist and Fallon Shadowblade of Diary of a Wizard are sponsoring their Second Official Meet and Greet (SOMG) in Wizard 101, August 15th, Vampire Realm, Nightside. I missed the first one, but everyone had such a great time that I’m gonna try and make this one.

I just finished the Nightside/Sunken City arc with my (now) level 14 Myth wizard last night, too… (picture above, note Marissa’s Firezilla pet!)

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires looks at EVE Online’s sandbox approach to letting players determine their own goals in the game vs World of Warcraft’s rails-driven approach to player achievement and wonders if it would ever be possible to combine the two — still have rails-driven gameplay, but with the freedom to accomplish given goals with some degrees of freedom?

I don’t think that could even work. I’ve played both games, and they are just too far apart. Both fun, but they scratch different itches.

We haven’t heard much from Ayba and Oric over in Shards of Dalaya for awhile, but news comes from the gnoll-infested undead-infested passageways of Highpass Undead Pass that our favorite halfling duo have reached level 30! Grats!

Speaking of returning from the dead, Cownose, once our connection for news of Lineage 2 and Ultima Online, is back with dispatches from the world of Darkfall. And is that Cameron Sorden announcing his comeback by reposting articles from the last couple of years? Aw, no, it’s not. And, could that be some new posts by Tobold? Yes, yes there are.

And lastly, Syp explains why he’s no longer excited about Fallen Earth, Global Agenda, Jumpgate Evolution, The Agency, APB, DCUO, and Guild Wars 2. That’s mean! Doesn’t The Agency have enough problems already?

Daily Blogroll 7/20 – Much Ado about Nothing edition

Can't stop progress -- Tipa flies her staff past the LaTale airport.

The weekend went by too fast, as it always does.

Rock, Paper, Shotguns Kieron Gillen had the perilous job of re-reviewing Darkfall for Eurogamer. Eurogamer’s original review score, 2/10, was savaged by the Darkfall developers and players. In Darkfallout, Kieron talks about the perils of being the clean-up crew for a disaster, and why he was shocked at the reaction by some other game journalists to the first review.

Following up on last week’s discussion about how MMOs are like men, women, dogs, or kitchen cleansers, Green Armadillo notices that his dog is a lot like an MMO player. Except we have to go get our OWN food.

Like a whole bunch of people, me included, Peter of Dragonchasers was given a very limited Aion beta key that was good for only a weekend or two back in July. Since then, he has not been able to play in the preview events. Since the game has been released for quite some time overseas and needs very little testing, Peter wonders if this whole “beta” thing is just a ploy to lure people in with a free beta, and then force them to pre-order to play more?

Stingite at The Friendly Necromancer says the world of Wizard 101 is filled with danger, challenge and all that, but where are the pranks, hijinks and mischief you’d expect to find at a wizard school? Where’s the troll phone?

Warhammerer notes that Free Realms now allows you to invert your mouse, and that all jobs will now level faster. Noted :) Also, look out for the new raceway and Demo Driver and Kart Racer quests this very week.

World of Warcraft watchers have discovered the addition of two new Halloween masks into the game, a goblin and a Worgen (wolf people whom you kill by the millions in Duskwood and Shadowfang Keep, iirc). Could these be new player races for the next WoW expansion? When I played, pre-BC, it was widely rumored that Worgen would be coming with that expansion. Would these new races bring new players to the game?

And (via Hudson, so thanks!) Gary Gannon wonders why most MMOs haven’t taken advantage of the rise of social networking and mobile gaming? I dunno, maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t, but seeing people’s Twitter spam from the games they play just annoys me.

And lastly, the ever-prolific Hudson looks at the recently announced changes to City of Heroes along with the latest developments at its sequel-in-spirit, Champions Online, and figures it won’t be long before you won’t be able to tell the game apart at all. Except one will be a lot more like WoW than the other.

Well, I guess that’s all for today!

I’ve been working on a 3D exploration of famous MMO worlds (well, at least the ones I have on my hard drive), so dig out those old red/blue cardboard glasses and prepare to look at the worlds of fantasy in a new way, sometime this week.