Weekend Gaming: EVE, EQ2, STO, DDO, Dragonica Online

I’ve come to realize, over the years, that I really suck at MMOs. Easily distracted and easily bored, the sort of long-term, intense concentration that is the mark of the truly successful grinder is impossible for me. I can’t be the only one; the newer crop of MMOs seem made for people with short attention spans. World of Warcraft’s “Looking for Dungeon” tool lets you defeat the ultimate evils of Azeroth half an hour at a time. EQ2’s newest mission maps reward you if you can finish the entire instance before the necromancer is done buffing her pet.

Star Trek Online has its “episodes” — all the story they can fit into 45 minutes. You get a little story, then you have some ship battles. A little more story, and you beam down to the planet to kill some folks. Some more story, and you enter a building to wipe out some industrial replicators.

And it’s fun! I’d changed up my Science Kit last night, so most of my old abilities were going with the old kit, but the new one worked with “nanites” — the microscopic miracle machines that are the remedy that cures all ills. I now have packets of GOOD nanites, that infect me and those around me and heal me (or my allies) up to three times, as needed. And I have packets of BAD nanites, that infect enemies and cause them to take more damage from attacks. As well, I can tune my tricorder to send out all sorts of disruptive signals. So that’s fun.

I really enjoyed roaming the galaxy in my Galaxy-class cruiser, but I’ve been watching the last season of Voyager and just had a hankering to fly it myself. For just 140K energy credits (or the price of a common Mark I tactical console if bought from the Exchange), I bought my own Intrepid-class long range science vessel. Unlike the Galaxy, Starfleet engineers have given the Intrepid the ability to TURN.

The upgraded science officer positions also let me unleash the awesome power of the Viral Matrix III, which holds a ship meek and defenseless for 16 seconds, during which time I dismantle its shields and feed it plasma torpedoes until it’s full.

Finishing last night’s episode opened up “The Tribble with Klingons” — I can’t wait to see what that one’s about! @Longasc sent me a blue tribble last night, I’ll definitely be taking it along on the journey.

We met again in Dungeons & Dragons Online again last night to further explore The Waterworks, which the game helpfully describes as ‘the heart of the kobold infestation in Stormreach”. Well, what part of Stormreach ISN’T infested with kobolds? The Waterworks by any other name would be a sewer, and Stingite, Shintai and I trundled through pipes and tubes and traps and oozes for hours… just to get to the instances. I know it’s SUPPOSED to be subterranean and all, but why is it so dark? You’d think a dwarf would be able to see better down there.

My Hobbesian cleric leveled to level 4 last night, the last of our group to do so. I’ve been lagging behind on the solo adventures I’ve been meaning to do so that instances open at the Hard level when we come to do them as a group. Since nobody had opened up the Waterworks instance we did last night solo, we had to complete them on Normal. So, we’ll be back at least a couple more times to gain favor and better loot.

The normal level adventures, done with a hireling, are almost the perfect solo gaming experience. At my own pace, I find more reasons to use the various wands, potions and spells that I find here and there. In a group, it’s all I can do to keep up and try to whack a goblin and toss a heal or buff now and again.

Still a great game for those who like dungeon crawls. I haven’t yet spent any money on the game, but that’s more because I have no idea what I would want to buy with it, than any reluctance to do so. I can’t imagine starting another character and having to do all those instances over again. If I did, I’d be playing a drow!

It was not a good weekend for me in EVE Online. Buoyed by my success with Ishtar blueprints, I bought 16 mechanical engineering datacores at 290K ISK each and, given the suddenly high price of Vexor blueprints, set a Deimos and a Phobos blueprint into invention. Both of those are based off the Thorax blueprint, which was very cheap. I used a two-run decryptor on both. I bought a Tristan original blueprint as the first step in the Nemesis Initiative, made some copies and put a Nemesis blueprint into invention as well.

All three invention jobs failed. Nobody bought any of my Tristan blueprint copies, either. The only thing I DID sell, was my last Ishtar blueprint.

I’m running short on decryptors so I headed out in search of more radar complexes. I found one — but it was empty. Every plex I scanned down was empty or was already taken. I found some Serpentis anomalies and cleared them, but the rewards were minimal.

If it hadn’t been for the level 4 mission I’d done with Kasul, the weekend would have been a total wash. That was a glorious mission. I dragged my Dominix battleship out of mothballs to tank, and my alt was in her Prophecy to help with the smaller targets. Kasul had his golden new Nemesis stealth bomber, and he was just sitting at range lobbing torpedo after torpedo into the mess. Things died FAST. After that mission, I started my alt training the Amarr version of the stealth bomber, the Purifier. Looks like a lot of fun.

I patched up EverQuest II to have a look at the changes. The AA tree for my troubadour was entirely changed up, so much so that I hardly knew where to spend my points. I visited the research assistant and got my latest spell, then started him researching the Master version of Perfection of the Maestro II for me.

As soon as I finish one game, probably Star Trek Online at this point, I’ll be heading back into EverQuest II, but as what class, I don’t know. I feel that the need for troubs is minimal at best in groups, and even where they are wanted, I’m a pretty poor one. I don’t have a full set of AAs yet, and what groups want is an AA right at the end of the tree. That’s pretty much all they want. LFG shouts usually are very careful to specify that the kind of bard they want is a DIRGE, or failing that, an enchanter of some sort for power regen. All fairly depressing.

My adventures with Sirhyl left my Fae berserker, Scatterfall, at level 48. Tanks have to deal with unrealistic expectations as to their abilities to survive ANYTHING all the time, but I’m thinking, with all sorts of healers on my second account, that she would have a better chance of living through the leveling process. I two-boxed my troub and inquisitor to 80, and most of the time, the troub was being carried by the inq. There was a solo fight in the Kunzar jungle where you had to fight an increasingly difficult opponent — the shackle series. My inquisitor sailed through those without trouble. I had to do all sorts of sneaking exploit tricks to help the troub through.

I may just switch things around, and carry the troub as power regen and other buffs and just play the inquisitor as my main, level to 90 that way. Or betray Tipa to be a dirge (but give up my Mythical? That would be a very hard thing to do).

Lastly, I haven’t been playing Dragonica Online much, but I’ve had a hankering to see something beyond the Port of Winds. I went through the very lengthy patching process — must have been six or more patches to come up to date — and spent a good hour learning how to play again by going through mission maps solo. Even on a weekend, there weren’t many people running missions in Traitor’s Ridge, so I wasn’t able to finish up the storyline there. I DID ding to 16 Archer while farming Windia Beach for quest bits. I came across a huge boss bat there, too, but I wasn’t able to get a good screenshot of it, as a high level player was one-shotting everything she saw, and I needed to concentrate on keeping my kill.

Fun as ever, and I have been sent to some of the maps on the other side of the Port of Winds. Leveling has been pretty slow; perhaps that’s why I don’t end up sticking with the game for any length of time. But best thing about F2P games is, they are always right where you left them when you want to play again.

I was invited once again to the No Prisoners No Mercy podcast this weekend, where the good Sisters Fran & Julie, Saylah of Mystic Worlds and I talked about the big questions of life — Good vs Evil, Allods Online and Ubisoft’s DRM, among many other things. While chatting away, I was in Wizard101. I did Sylvia’s tower in the Necropolis and then a large amount of quest farming in the Drake Hatchery. W101 is so much fun to do while chatting, I find :)

Weekend gaming: Super-rich edition

Before I get started, I just want you all to know that I don’t have to do this. No, really. I’m about to be rich. VERY rich. I just got a VERY intriguing email….

i have a secured business proposal for you in the turn of US$85,000,000,00 and we shall share in the ratio of 60% for me and 40% for you. Should you be interested, contact me back.

I know this is on the up-and-up because it is written so horribly, and EVERYONE knows that the super-rich have no need to learn to read or write. But my mysterious benefactor had better invert that ratio. I’m holding out for 60%.

I’m happy to announce that the boys of Adventures in Monopoly are back, tanned and rested and ready to work, and they are bringing the Daily Blogroll back with them starting next month. I got burned out on MMOs for awhile….

This long holiday weekend was filled with lots of gaming goodness!

I don’t really want to burn out on Star Trek Online during its open beta. I want it to be fresh so I can enjoy my two characters when the game goes live. Here, @Longasc helps me take out an Undine who has been manipulating the Klingon Empire and the Federation into armed conflict all throughout the galaxy. after, we helped in the defense of Starbase 24. He had to go after that, but I continued on in an open group for Stop the Signal that ends up being yet ANOTHER Undine plot. I wonder if the Undine are going to be the big baddies of whatever raid content STO has?

Regardless, my sole goal in STO during beta is to explore the Klingon faction. My Starfleet ship is hanging, dead and abandoned, in space somewhere. But I know precisely where my Klingon Bird of Prey is.

It’s grounded on Qo’nos. See, the Klingons are all about the PvP. It’s not always against the Federation; Klingons are perfectly happy to make war among themselves. However, out of all the missions I could find, only one of them required leaving Qo’nos — and that was to explore a nebula where NPC Federation ships were milling about. I could barely (at the time) touch those. I tried to fly to Federation space, but was blocked.

In the end, I just returned to Qo’nos and queued up for every PvP mission I could find. On the space ones, I’d be in my space ship. On the ground ones, I’d be lugging around my disruptor cannon. And after, I’d be right back in Qo’nos.

Once I get level 11 and my ship upgrade, maybe I’ll try that nebula again. Otherwise, the PvP aspect of the Klingon faction seems very much like queuing for battlegrounds in WoW (and with EQ2, come the expansion). You just sit in the city and queue for stuff.

I very much hope Cryptic is working on fleshing out the Klingon side of things somewhat. PvP is fun and all, but there’s no CONTEXT. Don’t the Klingons care how the Undines are manipulating them?

I’m still rather undecided about the Star Trek Online business plan. Only two character slots? For a subscription game? People screamed bloody murder when EQ2 shipped with only FOUR (and it was forced to add more). On the other hand, Final Fantasy XI Online only had ONE — every other added a dollar to your monthly subscription fee. It’s clear Cryptic will be pushing the STO store as heavily as any Free to Play game does.

Why not just bite the bullet and GO free to play? I don’t know many people who wouldn’t find a spot for STO on their hard drive if it were F2P. Mark my words, in a year STO will be doing well, and it will be F2P.

Here’s another prediction: When WoW’s next expansion launches, Horde and Alliance will be able to speak to each other, group and so on. The Cataclysm will erase all the old feuds as they come together to save Azeroth itself. Crazy? Maybe. But I have been using the LFD tool to find dungeons both for my (relatively) high level characters (level 60 and 61), and for my lower level characters. And I just can’t tell the difference between them. I took my 25 Horde Tauren druid through Stormwind Stockade and Gnomeregan, and it was exactly like any Alliance group. All blood elves except one undead and a cow (me). Pally tank. Way back when, Horde groups would have orcs and trolls in them. Now, Horde is just a pale reflection of the Alliance. GJ, Alliance. You won by being more photogenic.

Sirhyl/Niiko and Noffin/Severan each made Death Knights on my server (Kirin Tor) to say hello and to prove that DKs weren’t all confused. We did a bunch of instances with me healing, and they went pretty well. We even did Hellfire Ramparts and, aside from not knowing how to get back to the instance after a wipe, we did okay.

I made level 58 (finally!) with my rogue and went immediately to the Outlands. I did a lot of the quests, got several nice upgrades, looked at my shiny new GearScore in the mirror and queued up for another dungeon. What, Dire Maul AGAIN? AGH.

Back to the Outlands. More quests. FINALLY, LEVEL 60! That gave me enough points in the Combat tree to get Killing Spree, where you jump from mob to mob, giving each one stabs of love to their waiting backs. It’s yummy. I got into a Hellfire Ramparts group, this time as a stabbity stabber, and parsed #1 on two of the bosses. I was very happy and I won a belt with space for two red gems.

Afterward I returned to the Plaguelands to continue work on my Scholomance key. With Killing Spree and my new Outlands gear, those undead looked really confused as they dropped meatily to the ground.

Thanks for all the advice on uberfying my rogue :) She is VERY fun now!

Sirhyl was getting a hankering to try EverQuest 2 again and asked if I wanted to Recruit a Friend him and come along for the fun. Sounded fantastic to me! I had a level 14 Fae berserker that I hadn’t done much with since I sneaked her into the Labs once a few years back. Sirhyl made an Inquisitor, and we headed to Timorous Deep to see how things were going.

With the mentoring bonus, the 200% recruit a friend bonus and the 40% holiday weekend bonus, it didn’t take long for Sirhyl to catch up and rocket past my level 14. At the end of the run, I was level 31 and he was level 30, and we finally finished a long, LONG haul in Splitpaw, getting the glowing azure shard that lets us return there anytime. Now we can do the instances.

The Arena and even the Trials of Harclave were kinda tough at 30 when you’re dressed in level 12 armor and weapons, by the way. It was a lot of fun when we were able to do the final instance together.

My Hobbesian cleric and the rest of the Sunday night crew met in Dungeons & Dragons Online again to do all the instances over once more in Hard and Elite. We all wanted to go to Stormreach, but none of us wanted to head over before we’d wrung all the loot favor points adventure we could from Korsha Island.

The henchmen hirelings were a huge help. Each of us brought one along on the elite missions, and we all figured out how to get hirelings to rez and rest at shrines, and all of us had fun being dead. Those adventures are NOT EASY.

There was a bit of fun, though, when a group of mobs knocked me unconscious. They would considerately stand around me while I would bleed away closer to death, then miraculously start struggling back to health, heal to 1 hit point, stand up, get knocked down, bleed, start healing, stand up, etc. This went on three times before they finally just up and killed me, all while the rest of the group was trying to fight their way back to me.

At the end, some of us had enough points to buy the Son-To-Kor expansion (whatever the correct name), but I didn’t. I hope to earn enough doing normal-level missions in Stormreach. I was considering buying the Drow race and restarting as a less grim-looking cleric, but she’s level 3 and I don’t feel like leveling all that up again. I’ll just have to make do with her looks. I SWEAR there’s more than a little orc in her.

I got some EVE time in there, too! But more on that later.

Have a great day!

Dungeons & Dragons Online: A Hobbesian Cleric

What’s a Hobbesian cleric? One who is nasty, brutish and SHORT.

That’s Derra. Seriously, she looked better in the character creator. But when she got washed up on that shore just to be taunted by some halfling rogue (and not even a cute one), well, I guess that’s when she lost it. When she met up minutes later with a cleric, an ELF, I think, who was so stuck up and SUPERIOR that she had a buff that could stop you from dying. I mean, where’s the skill in that? “Oh, hi, here’s a buff where you can’t die. I’m the best cleric in the world! Lalalala! You go do whatever it is you DO do, dear!”

Yeah. That’s when Derra lost it. That was a hatred she carried until she met that damn cleric again, at the dragon.

I’m in this wonderful static group. We were sailing our way through Neverwinter Nights 2 until the server decided to lose one of our characters, which kinda put a crimp on things. NWN2 wasn’t the greatest game in the world. It took forever to load (at least for me), the controls were awful and the camera was impossible. While the game was mostly okay if played solo, it was just a nightmare in a group. The whole action would stop whenever anyone accidentally clicked on an NPC, I had no idea if my songs (I was a bard) were doing anything at all, and, similar to most fantasy games, by the time I got in melee range of a mob, a mage had usually killed it and the one standing next to it.

The missing character combined with the loss of a high speed internet connection for one of the crew killed NWN2 for us, and we’ve been gameless since.

When DDO went F2P, we kinda thought that would be our next game. We downloaded it, played it a little on our own… it was okay. It was very similar to… to every other fantasy MMO out there. It was like Guild Wars without the skill cards in that only the quest hubs were MMO areas. Everything else — the wilderness, the dungeons — is for you and your party only.

We decided to get going on DDO this week. To prepare, we’d need to make a character and get it to the newbie island, where you are after the hoighty-toighty cleric and her pals finish with you.

I decided to do a couple of instances to ensure I knew how to play the game by the time group meets this weekend. I volunteered to be the healer, so I figured I should know how to play. I eventually did ALL the instances, but leveling in DDO is sedate enough that I’m only level 2.

Abilities in Dungeons & Dragons Online are split between spells, skills and “feats”. You can cast as many spells as you have spell points for. Buffs, however, last only seconds and heals don’t really heal that much, so they must be used strategically, especially since spell points don’t regenerate in an instance — you have to rest at a shrine. Skills can be used as often as you like with no penalty. Feats have a certain number of uses after which you need to rest at a shrine to use them again. Such game-breaking abilities as Turn Undead fall under feats.

The dungeons are not bad. Most modern MMOs have done away with puzzles, as all puzzle solutions are instantly posted to spoiler sites, making them almost entirely pointless. I’ve not looked at any DDO spoiler sites for exactly this reason; I know almost nothing about the game. So it’s really nice to come across a puzzle and figure it out on my own.

I’ve only been in one group — a pickup group — and it was horrible. People wandering off and soloing or dying, most people with only a vague idea of what to do. Lots of monks. LOTS of monks.

DDO might be a great game. I sure hope it’s a FUN game, but that’s a sure bet, because the other people in the group are fun people. What I desperately hope is that it’s a game that doesn’t let us down, like NWN2 did. We’ll probably buy the adventure packs if strategy and puzzle solving form more of the excursions than random continual killing. From the looks of the instances I did on the newbie island, it has a shot at it. I’ve read about the higher level instances on Massively, and I think I would like to see those places, some day.

We’ll see how it goes.