Daily Blogroll 12/2 — Rift-tease Edition

There’s a Rift Beta event this weekend, and that’s about all you’ll ever hear of the beta from this site at least. To call their license agreement secretive would be an understatement. In Rift, you start out dead, and then are sent into the past to, I guess, prevent the events that led to your death from occurring, or something. Best let them explain it:

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the survivors from the desolate future of Telara have resurrected champions and sent them into the past to prevent the dystopia caused by the Bloodstorm and the blindly faithful Guardians. Join the techno-magical Defiant in their fight to change the course of history!

Play to Win! Escape to Freemarch and you could be eligible to win an NVIDIA Geforce GTX 460 video card! Terms and conditions apply, click here for details. In-Game Prize Packs will be given away to ten (10) select players who complete the objective!

So, there you go. Log in, escape to Freemarch, and you could win a video card, or an in-game prize pack. You will never, unfortunately, be able to tell anyone in game WHERE you got that prize pack, because as far as future history is concerned, this beta never happened. The first rule is: You don’t talk about Rift Beta. The second rule is: YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT RIFT BETA! (Thanks to Amanda Rain for the Fight Club ref!)

Blogroll juiciness after the break!
Continue reading Daily Blogroll 12/2 — Rift-tease Edition

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….?

Checking back with Gatheryn

The hissing of steam and rattling pipes greets me when I step onto Elymia’s weather-worn docks. It seems ages since I was last here, though it’s only been a month. So many things have changed since I’ve been gone from Mindfuse Games’ Gatheryn.

The weaver's trade

Gatheryn is still, at its heart, a minigame portal, but in the past month they (seem to have) added many more games that are integrated into the world — weaving AKA Bejeweled, clockwork assembly line (where you shoot parts onto a twisting, meandering conveyer belt) etc. These games may have been in Gatheryn previously, with me just not FINDING them, and this is my main issue with Gatheryn as it trundles along toward release — it’s fun to explore the city and the docks, and sometime later, the lands beyond — but if you mean to sit down and play some of the minigames upon which the economy depends, you have to tediously run around and find them.

Minigame portal

They DO have a basement area where you can find many of the games crowded together like slot machines in a casino, but most of the games there don’t pay silver (at least one does, but I suspect that’s to be fixed).

And you’ll need silver, for that is the only coin of the realm, and the prices for goods are not cheap. Decent outfits and mechanical pets will set you back thousands of silver. You’ll find you’ll need to eat now and then, and you can find some edible trash here and there, but the residents of Elymia disdain garbage-dining tramps, as well they should.

Though you can find Sudoku and word search games most everywhere, you’ll have to hunt up the weaver to use the looms, or the printer to try your hand at typesetting (timed word search) or play a few hands of solitaire (in a pub hidden in the hold of an old rusted ship on the docks). And you’ll want to be doing this, because the payout for the common games is only a few pieces of silver, whereas doing well at the pest extermination game netted me 46 silver.

Taxi!

The best way of making silver, as it is in other games, is running quests. The game isn’t run on the quest hub model common to WoW, EQ2 and most other recent games, but now and then you’ll stumble upon a red exclamation-point bearing NPC who will point you toward money opportunities. An initial quest line greets you when you get off the boat from whichever lesser country was previously home, and that will bring you to the clothing district where you’ll get some basic wear, and thence on a small tour around the city where you’ll earn some odds and ends. By the end of the line, you will have enough coin to buy an outfit with some bit of style, and not look so much like a just-off-the-boat beggar.

At the ornithopter works

Much care has been taken with the object search games, where you’re sent into a room with a timer and a list of items to find. The items are usually devilishly hidden but the rooms are gorgeous, like the airship works above.

I spent more time than I expected this morning playing the minigames. Gatheryn is coming along well, but I do hope they learn from Brad McQuaid’s mistake with Vanguard that resulted in a huge, but empty, world — overcrowding is easier to fix than vast emptiness. If there was another person in Elymia today, I didn’t meet them, and though I remained in the world while playing most of the minigames, I wouldn’t be able to see anyone unless they stood right in front of me and tried to attract my attention.

New clothes from recycled silks!

No use earning all this silver and buying clothes nobody will see!

If they make the various games a little easier to get to, and fix the odd random bug (like getting stuck in the floor on the way to my printer devil job), I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Gatheryn to my casual game playing friends and my Sudoku-fiend stepmom. I’m thinking a nice taxi line to deliver you to your destination.

And that Da Vinci-esque flying machine? I want to fly that. Steampunk dogfighting would RULE.

Gatheryn, Star Trek Online, Hello Kitty Online infomegadump

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails telling about updates et al to a lot of games. Rather than write an article about each one, or ignoring them entirely, I thought I’d just combine them into a single post.

Concept art from Windstorm Studios

Windstorm Studios, brainchild of ex-Age of Empires and Halo Wars dev Dusty Monk, has just released two bits of concept art from his unannounced evil giant super death robot massacre game, Citizen Kabuto. Just kidding. The cries on everyone’s lips, where is Ultraman? … still just kidding. Check out the awesome art and bug him for more info!

Star Trek Online

Cryptic has opened their beta registration page for Star Trek Online, so if you like spaceships and exploring and stuff, play EVE Online. BUT — if you want actual walking around avatars in the game as well as the ability to rip off your shirt and roll around in alien mud going pewpew, well, you probably want to apply. Remember, the Prime Directive is really more of a guideline.

Gatheryn

Steampunk-themed casual games portal Gatheryn says, with a sigh, that if people Really Want Quests With Exclamation Points, then they shall have them as they introduce (or reintroduce) a new (or at least revised) questing system:

Long-time testers and new arrivals alike will have much to look forward to in this latest update. Several popular demands have been met, and enterprising Elymian residents will be able to enjoy a new economy with more generous minigame rewards. What’s more, quests are making their way back into the game! We’ve re-added a very small handful of quests to Gatheryn, allowing players to get a feel for some objective-based gameplay, and the story and characters behind Elymia. Be sure to look for NPCs with quest indicators hovering above them for larger rewards!

The Playstation Network is exploring new realms in Software Quality Assurance by offering a prized SQA job to someone who has studied quality assurance in school, I mean an entry level game programmer getting their feet wet in a development studio, err, I mean some random yahoo who can look creepy weird like the people on Fear Factor. Saith PSN:

This original program will challenge a select group of gamers in a series of challenges to determine if they have what it takes to make it as an official Game Tester. The elimination competitions throughout the series will not only assess the contestants’ videogame knowledge, but they will also challenge the gamers’ memory, stamina, dexterity, and overall mental prowess. Contestants must have the whole package to take home the coveted prize in this new original series: personality, skills, smarts and competitive edge. Our lucky winner will earn a contract position at Sony Computer Entertainment’s Quality Assurance department in San Diego, CA, where he or she will get hands-on time with the most highly anticipated games in the industry.

… and you wondered how Sony shipped such bug-free code.

Ooooh! Shiny crystals!

Dying to check out Hello Kitty! Online? Don’t! Nothing dies in Hello Kitty! land, things just get knocked out. If you want to clobber defenseless starfish and make rainbow colored hoodies, you need to join the beta!

Okay, that’s enough for now. My in-box feels so much lighter :)