Neverwinter: Another Foundry Night

Cheating Death

Another Monday, another foundry night in Neverwinter.

I know I said, last week, that I wouldn’t be reviewing any more Cult of the Dragon contest entries until the contest goes live on the 19th, but… there are just so many entries. It’s hard to find any new quests that aren’t contest entries. But, we did find one shining example.

City of the Lost by mittensofdoom

A cleric of Kelemvor has given you directions to the city of Luskan, and a mysterious holy arrow. Once arrived, we will be told more.

Our contact in Luskan turned out to be a mysterious “Wearer of Purple”. Could it be the cult? Yes! An Orb of Dragonkind is under the control of some demonic presence. The Cult may not have done you any favors over the years, but if the forces of hell and darkness keep the Orb, well, everyone suffers.

What follows is a madcap romp through nicely made custom maps to a final confrontation with the dark one. One blessed arrow later and the deed is done.

This otherwise decent contest entry was marred by a huge reliance on group after group of trash mobs covering every inch of ground. “I hate trash mobs!” was my bitter grumble throughout the entire quest. On the outdoor maps, I could sometimes speed past them on my mount. It’s too bad, too, because without all those static trash encounters, this was a pretty decent quest with good lore. And, it ties right in to MY entry!

Three stars from both Kasul and me. Adjusted rating: 2.94 stars. Sounds fair.

Bargain Hunting by epharmd

You see a flyer advertising free loot if you get to Vydic’s stall on the outskirts of the market as soon as possible!

Unfortunately, you arrive too late. Crass villains have made off with his trash loot, leaving behind only his vast collection of magical agricultural tools (the Hoe of Destruction makes short work of stubborn clods of dirt!). Actually, it turns out that maybe Vydic only gets his loot by following around adventurers who, for some reason, don’t bother picking up green items, and… well… if you could find Vydic’s lost trash loot for him, he might let you have some of it.

And you SHOULD. The intro to this quest in no way prepares you for the hilarity inside. Every NPC has deep conversation trees. Every corner has something interesting lurking inside. When you get to the dungeon, there are little set pieces in every room — and for those who just want to get in and out as soon as possible, the quest will optionally put your mission on rails in the most literal way possible. Actual railroad tracks emerge from the floor and all you have to do is follow ‘em. And get gently chided for falling prey to your remaining explorer instincts should you choose to leave the tracks.

There’s a final boss that spends more time talking to you than fighting you — and watch out for a tragic case of “elf mutilation” there….

All I can add is — PLAY THIS FOUNDRY. Before it gets the inevitable featuring and tens of thousands of people see this before you.

Kasul and I both gave it five stars. Adjusted rating: 3.47 stars.

Turtle Soup by prettycelt

Speculator Zigto has an urgent sealed message for you by the auction house. He doesn’t know the contents, only the importance. Opening it, you find you are called to the far lands of Xiousing to chase rumors of strange creatures, pirates, and disrupted shipping. And what is this about a dragon turtle?

The quest departs from the standard fantasy settings and delves into the melange of Asian influences that apparently really exist in Forgotten Realms lore. Shame on me for last night wondering why Chinese and Japanese cultures were smushed together like that, or why the yakuza were prowling about. That seemed about as anachronistic as if the Mafia or the IRA were to show up. But, apparently it is, in fact, lore. Author even links to the relevant wiki pages to prove the point.

The maps were custom and complete, the encounters sometimes a little overdone with trash but not to great excess, and the set pieces in the Double Dragon Gambling Hall and at the end with a very well constructed scene which brings the entire story to a satisfying conclusion, make the quest worthwhile.

I liked the plot and the map construction, but didn’t buy the cultural mashup. Kasul admired the dragon turtle at the end (comparing it to the dragon turtle in his own contest entry, “Of Kobolds and Cultists”), but felt the bright yellow skin of the Xiousing denizens to be somewhat racist.

Kasul and I both gave it four stars. Adjusted rating: 2.81.

Cheating Death by wilbert365

You found a small note on the jobboard reading, “If You Hate Cheaters, Come And Help Me!” An adress (sic) is written underneath

With an offer that enticing, it was impossible for Kasul and I to not investigate. An NPC in Neverdeath Graveyard reveals that some dragon cultists have, through foul and illicit means, made themselves immortal! Only the gods can be immortal, and even they have their off days.

While the maps were decent (the picture with this post is from this quest), the writing was less so. Sergeant Knox makes an unwelcome appearance near the end — his second cameo, after a hilarious one in “Bargain Hunting” — but this one has a more Christopher Walken vibe. You’ll know it when you see it.

If your immortality depends upon four easily broken crystals remaining unbroken, you might not want to make any long term bank deposits. All I’ll say about that.

Though the maps were well constructed, there were numerous errors with object names and the like and object interactions that were perhaps unintended. The plot was minimal, the trash was abundant, the spelling needed work, and the ending was unsatisfying.

Kasul and I both gave the quest two stars. Adjusted rating: 2.9 stars. I think that will trend down to our rating as more people play. The quest definitely needs a lot more time to polish it up before it becomes a real contest contender.

The intention was to not play any contest entries this week, and we ended up playing three of them. The one non-contest entry, Bargain Hunting, was the high point of the night and, really, one of the best foundries I have ever played.

Of the contest entries, Turtle Soup was the best, and is already seen on the forums as having an excellent chance of winning the foundry contest. Significantly, both Kasul and I picked this quest to play, independent of one another.

The other two were similar in having decent maps, but no sense of encounter pacing. If you find yourself, as an author, just dropping in trash encounters because your maps look empty without them, the problem isn’t with too few encounters. The problem is your map.

Categories: MMOs, Neverwinter | Tags: | Comments Off

DCUO: Barda and Me

Me and Barda

Kind of a disappointing night in DCUO, but kind of a good night as well.

Subscribers get a small amount of station cash each month. I decided to spend August’s allotment on one of the new “slim” auras. Now, what I’d really like, is kind of like a boldish colored outline like you see in the Green Lantern cartoons, but when I got was a sort of puffy glow along my limbs. I already had the green aura (thanks, Sting!), so I got the slim white aura and color-swapped my costume palette to be teal-on-white.

Big Barda and I hung out for awhile. Superhero stuff.

But, goal of the night was not to spend an evening in the style tab. It was to defeat Bruno Mannheim and his Steamroller Intergang Crime Syndicate. I queued up and went about my business. After half an hour or so, I finally got into a group — a group that was not going well. The very first step in the mission is to subdue some prisoners and their leader.

We failed in that. People kept leaving the group and being replaced. Finally another group came by doing the same mission, so we piggy-backed on their accomplishments until we were sent into an instance. No more cheating! We were on our own.

And, by that time, we weren’t doing too badly. Three green lanterns, me as controller and the other two as DPS. The last, a sorcery healer. Lanterns do not drain power even in DPS mode, so all I had to do was keep the healer charged up while debuffing and attacking enough to get my “group hug” ready and my own power off the empty side.

We did surprisingly well right up to the final encounter, where you have to kill Bruno Mannheim while keeping egg-shaped Chang Huo off your back, and clicking consoles to keep an Apokalyptian weapon from zapping everyone. Bruno and Chang were defeated — but no, up opens a boom tube and Apokalyptian soldiers pour out. We die quickly.

It took like fifteen minutes of fighting to get to that point, and nobody seemed all that interested in starting over. So the group broke up.

I think this mission is the gating mission for a lot more content. I might try it again tonight, but if this pickup group is any guide, it might not be all that easy to finish. I may end up having to wait until Sunday, after all.

Oh yeah — the good thing — even though we failed on the mission as a whole, we did get through enough to earn some rewards. I got a level 93 bug helmet! Didn’t push me to CR 104 yet, but, it’s looking like this new content should be eventually good for future free upgrades.

Categories: DC Universe Online, MMOs | Comments Off

DCUO: It’s a Miracle!

Mister Miracle

Mister Miracle and his wife, Big Barda, are the only two Connecticut-based superheroes I know. When these locals needed help, well, they called on me for a little aid. When us Hartford heroes aren’t on alert for North Korean nuclear missiles (+), we’re available to help save the rest of the world, too.

DCUO’s Halls of Power 1 DLC dropped yesterday, and Team Spode is already on the job. I haven’t actually done anything with it, yet — the Neverwinter contest is eating all my free time, lately — but intend to. I’d be surprised if the Intergang Operation wasn’t on our playlist this weekend.

(+) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/05/dave-chappelle-strikes-back-at-hartford_n_3873635.html

Categories: DC Universe Online, MMOs | Comments Off

Neverwinter: You’re a Little Short for a Foundry

where am I?

This week in the Neverwinter Foundry! A short night, as Kasul and I were play testing each other’s contest entries. Mine, as you know, is “Fire Sale” (and I’m going to do a project review on it at some point). Kasul’s entry is “Of Kobolds and Cultists”, and I won’t be reviewing it. You should play it, though — AFTER it gets featured as part of the Dragon Cult contest.

That’s what they’re planning on doing. Featuring six contest quests each week, starting August 16th 19th, I think.. I will be reviewing all of those as they go live, except for mine and Kasul’s. But I will point out when ours are live in case you want to throw some stars our way :)

We’ve been jumping the gun a bit with the dragon cult contest quest reviews, and that will continue today. But the contest reviews will give me a chance to see them all in their final state, as the author intended.

A Call for Heroes by grimah

The town of Twindletop is looking for a hero. A hero like … you? When you arrive, you find out that the hero spot’s already been taken, and all that’s left for you is to do odd jobs. Because, in this adventure, that’s pretty much all you’re good for, as this adventure takes control of your character’s history and rewrites it. You’re a beginning hero, and nobody’s ever heard of you.

But, is there something going on that maybe even you would notice? Answering that question will… not make you the hero. Sorry. You’re just not that good!

I liked this quest for the sort of sneaky way it introduces the real plot, where you, the player, is aware what’s going on while your character is too stupid to ever fully understand.

Kasul hated the way the quest takes your character from you, thought it was vaguely homophobic, thought some of the quest choices were questionable, and didn’t like how it started so slowly.

So, split decision from the two of us. It’s a controversial quest, as the author notes in the description. Judge for yourself. I skipped playing the first part so Kasul could approach it fresh (I’d played it before), but I’ll be re-reviewing the whole quest from the start when it comes up in the contest.

Part 1: Humble Pie by akwete

A merchant in the market is panicking, looking for help. Her husband has been arrested by kobolds for a crime he did not commit! And his sentence is death. Can you find her husband, a simple pie seller, and clear him of the crime?

This quest could have been a simple kill quest. The author, though, built a deep plot with maps that were fully interactive, plots that could go one way or the others based on your suggestions, characters who organically might help you if you needed, or step aside if you felt you could handle things.

I felt the quest glossed over the fact that you had killed a bunch of kobolds prior to a detente of sorts that leads to the ending. The solution of this mystery, though, sets the stage for the next — a part 2 which is not yet written.

Nonetheless, both Kasul and I really enjoyed this quest, and it was the high point of our night. I checked — akwete doesn’t have an entry in the contest. Thankfully. I don’t need this kind of competition!

Next week — no dragon cult foundries!

Categories: MMOs, Neverwinter | Tags: | Comments Off