More Here Soon! Blog Resurrection

Hopefully without blog DNA transcription errors

I’ve been playing games!  Games that are online and are played with other gamers! I’ve been doing it for a few months now, so I’ve decided to work with the blog again. Why not?

First on the list, and in the rotation since winter, is Clash of Clans. It’s a free to play mobile strategy game. The monetization scheme is rather fair — spending money might advance your village faster, but that will just put you up against stronger opponents sooner. There’s a lot of depth and strategy to the game — much more than I expected, so much more that I occasionally feel bad for my clanmates when I don’t take the time to play, learn, and improve. If you’re looking for a clan, you can find a bit more info about the one I am part of here.

About two months back, that old MMO itch came back again. I had little interest in Wildstar and no interest in Elder Scrolls Online, so I decided the easiest way back in was just to boot up Guild Wars 2: it was still on my system and did not cost anything to return to. So I checked with Havok, and she had been thinking about playing it again as well. We got back in just before the second Living Story season started. The game has gone through some changes since I quit around this time last year, which for the most part I like.

I did find that the Living Story took little time to complete, however, so I found myself looking for more. Which led to spending more time in WvW, which led to joining a WvW guild, which actually led to spending more time in structured PvP to level a thief. And now I mostly play a thief in any pvp mode — the engi still comes out for PvE and dungeons.  And until I have one of each, there’s always at least one character that I’m leveling. So now my current stable of GW2 characters contains an 80 engineer, 80 guardian, 80 thief, 80 mesmer, 44 elementalist, 42 warrior, 40 necromancer, and a 20 ranger. My first 3 80s have full exotic gear, with the engi having several ascended trinkets. The thief has a few ascended trinkets and a few pieces of ascended armor. Currently leveling the ele, though I’m not really concerned about playing with that pro at a high level or equipping out anymore 80s I achieve. Other than occasionally running map completion or world events, usually while only half paying attention, most of my game time goes into learning about fighting other players with the thief. I have a few guildies that prefer thieves, so I know I have a lot of room for improvement.

Last night, I launched into Archeage. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game and have yet to encounter any of the sandbox features that make people I know so excited about it. But I am already enjoying the class system. And looking forward to the crafting. I’ll probably be playing this more than GW2 by the end of the year — partly because I have payed for Patron status and want to get my money’s worth. I’m not a huge fan of the combat, but it is better than pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies, and I loved that game. I don’t think the combat will be the main draw for Archeage any more than it was for SWG.

I have quite a few article ideas brewing, so more here in the near future.

What I’m Playing

Just a brief update about the games I’m playing, some of which might motivate me to use this space in the future.

I have not played much Wizard101 since my previous post.  I generally leave it up to Beans as to when I play that — meaning if she is playing, I will too, but I’m not likely to go in on my own.  But I’m betting we’ll go back in together by mid-October.

I have not been in GW2 since the LFG tool and Taco the Dragon update, haven’t even downloaded it.

I have played a lot of Saints Row IV, which some might find horrendously sexist, but I just find terribly funny.  It’s fun, though it really doesn’t scratch that Saints Row or GTA itch — the Matrix-like abilities make driving cars sort of pointless, and for whatever reason, much of my fun in these games has come from cruising at street level, listening to the “radio,” and getting to know the roads and paths.  There’s no compelling reason to learn my way around the city when it is a very simple matter to launch into the air and sail over all the obstacles.

I tried to play Age of Wushu.  I downloaded the installer and it ran just fine, but when it was done the game would only give me an error and not launch.  My system should run it without trouble, so I assume there was an error in the installation.  I uninstalled it and have not yet been motivated to try again.

I’ve strongly debated investing in Star Citizen, but I think I need to upgrade my computer.  The hanger module is unlikely to run well on this system, so I find it likely the game will crap out too.  But upgrading might be on the horizon for me.

I played through Lego Harry Potter, years 1 – 4.  When I played through Lego Star Wars, years back, I felt compelled to go back and explore the areas that cannot be reached the first time through.  I have not felt any urge to do that with this game.  But I haven’t uninstalled it either, so perhaps I’ll be back.

Every once in awhile, I pull up a game of FTL or Don’t Starve and get my Rogue-like on.  Usually more FTL than Don’t Starve, but I’ve started running out of goals for FTL.  Don’t Starve is in development, so changes give me reason to come back.

Sometimes, I play a round of Hearts on Windows.

MMOs aren’t dominating my game time in any way shape or form, and I’ve actually spent much more time reading or writing than gaming lately, which is probably a good thing.  I’ll find something compelling and multiplayer eventually though, and I will write the crap out of it.

Obligatory Everquest Next Reveal Impressions

I’m dragging myself out of the depths to which inactive bloggers are banished in order to talk about the topic of the moment.  During the SOE Live 2013 Everquest Next announcement, I was in the office working on formatting the latest revisions to one of our manuals, but I’m alone on Fridays, so I put the livestream on one computer while working off another.

I almost regret that choice.  Now I have to go in and work tomorrow to make up for how unfocused I was for the last three hours of the day.  But it will only cost me a little in gas.  Seems worth it.

I can sum up why with a single quote:

What we do is we tag everything in the game world with what it is.  The game is constantly polling the world to find out where the guards are, how often people have gone down a lonely stretch of road to find out whether it’s lonely or not.  And so what we do is we create orks and then we just release them into the world.  And then it’s up to the orks to find the spots that they like.

I’m glad I work alone on Fridays, because the following video is actual footage of what happened in my office next:

I never realized how much I look like Winona Ryder.

Anyway, no static spawns: instead, mobs have behavioral subroutines that assign likes and dislikes, preferences and aversions.  Further explanation revealed that the same scenario can have multiple results — players may be sent into the woods to push back goblins that have recently arrived.  And the goblins might start withdrawing, or the goblin king might decide he needs those woods and respond by sending armies.

Actual change in the world.  Actual change over time without updates needed.  It’s what many expected from GW2.  But rather than dynamic ghost story events, EQN, as described at least, does not have dynamic events — instead, it has a dynamic virtual ecology that will vary from server to server.

This part of the reveal, by itself with nothing else, is enough that I can say I will play the game to at least see this claim in action.

The cynicism of the MMO community is well-earned, but I don’t find myself agreeing with many of the complaints that are already circling.   The new art direction is frequently under attack — I find myself not caring at all about the changes to character models and otherwise impressed with the environment art.  The combat style is under attack.   I’m not sure it’s possible for me to have feelings about the combat that based on video, even the video in which various developers play the game live on stage.  I’d need to take the controls myself.

Syp over at Biobreak seems unimpressed with the Rallying Cries, EQN’s version of public questing, stating that “practically everything they’re saying about them makes [him] think of Guild Wars 2,” but I would disagree there as well.  Sure, the basic mechanic reminds me of GW2 or Rift or that game that shall not be named where the term PQ comes from, but I think that’s missing the point.  PQs are static in all three of those games, but if things work as claimed, Rallying Cries will be generated organically by the emergent AI in the applicable mobs and NPCs; in other words, there will be no dragon timers for EQN.  On one server the dragon might be attacking the city because too many adventurers have threatened his hoard while on another he’s still guarding the hoard and terrorizing the mountains.  And that dragon might have settled in different places on each server to begin with.

My only disappointment is that I’m not seeing how EQN will itself be a sandbox.  From the reveal, the sandbox elements seem safely confined to EQN Landmark. I would play that game even if it wasn’t tied to an MMO — even if it was just a AAA graphics version of Minecraft.  In fact, I’m strongly considering upgrading my PC or buying a new one before EQNL releases.

But I’d be more impressed if the two were a single game.