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5pm BST on Friday 11th of May marked the start of the first of three open beta weekends for The Secret World. Thanks to my sterling efforts for the Dragon faction in The Secret War minigame, I had been given access to these beta weekends and in anticipation I'd even downloaded and patched up the beta client well ahead of time.

Secret World Logo

These are my experiences of this first weekend, as a newbie Templar going through the startup. I was there at 5pm BST, albeit remotely.

GIANT SPOILER ALERT - I don't give too much away about plot, but I give a great deal away about the gameplay.

I shall tuck the entry away behind an LJ cut for this reason.

Part one: wherein I find my feet )

Favourite quotes so far include:
"WARNING: Holy radiation poisoning imminent."
"Initiate the Nietzsche syntax."
"We usually lose them to Elder Gods with a name like a mouth full of cornflakes."
"Dragon prefer the medium of Interpretative Terrorism. I hear it's the next biggest thing."
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There's a few games and updates heading our way that have caught my attention, and so I've kept an eye on how things have been developing.

Big Game Roundup
Mass Effect 3 logo Guild Wars 2 logoThe Secret World logo

Aside from the fact Mass Effect 3 is launching on the 9th of March, which is all over the internets along with the GAME/Gamestation debacle, the hypemachine is on overdrive for Guild Wars 2 now that Star Wars: the Old Republic has lost its new and shiny edge, and FunCom's upcoming The Secret World is still generating a lot of interest.


A recent interview with the BioWare studio founders conducted by Penny Arcade mentioned that the possibility of a Mass Effect MMO is an interesting one. There's some mixed feelings about it, given the mixed reception SWTOR got, but back before SWTOR details were known there was a good deal of interest in an MMO set in the Mass Effect universe. I have to admit that now I'm not so sure either. A single-player focused MMOFPS isn't something I'm looking for in an MMO.

My last post looked at awful customer service in the game industry, and whilst I did eventually have my Star Trek Online character restored*, my experience was very bad. The news that Blizzard has just laid off over 10% of its workforce, primarily those in support roles as it turns out, is not an encouraging sign that the industry-wide situation will improve any time soon.


The buzz surrounding Borderlands 2 had been quiet for the last few months until a few days ago, a video coupled with an official release date annoucement brought peoples' attention back. September 18th, as it happens.

There's been plenty of new information about the game, from the overhaul of itemisation to what powers the new Siren (Maya) will have. Spoiler: it's called Phaselock and translates as support/crowd control with damage on that affects mobs rather than the Siren herself. The latest infodump relates to the new Assassin named Zer0, a cyborg ninja that displays numbers and emoticons on it's featureless helmet. Previous articles detail the Commando going by the name of Axton, Maya the adventuring Siren and the first character that whet folks' whistles: the gunzerking dwarf Salvador. IGN has plenty of articles that go into further detail.

Dark Horse

One game that has been overlooked is Otherland, based on the Tad Williams novel series of the same name set in a cyberpunk-genre future. It's likely to be a small, niche game and hard details about it are scarce but there is a video demonstrating themes, ideas, areas and combat. I'm definitely keeping an eye on this because that city looks fantastic and I'm a sucker for cyberpunk and Sci-Fi.

In some ways it's a game within a game: the game itself appears to show both the real world in the setting, and the various virtual Otherlands. I'm most interested in seeing how this will pan out in terms of gameplay. Speculation time: I wonder if it will combine large elements of both worlds rather than the real world existing as little more than a background affair, as it did in the old Matrix Online game?
It's pitched as being Free to Play, but there's no hard details about what is being sold for cash to fund it, be it vanity items only or power items. No surprise there, everyone's jumping on the Pay to Win bandwagon.

I'll continue to keep an eye on what's what, and might even find some interest in TSW again. FunCom has done a great deal as a company to turn me off their products and kill any enthusiasm I once had...

* After repeated support tickets and emails I eventually had an actual human email me back. He started off snarking at me and I pointed out in detail exactly why I was unable to do the things he suggested I ought to have done, such as use the ingame GM system when the whole problem was that the character could notg et in game... Eventually it was passed to a GM who took one look at the character, rolled it back to the last time it'd successfully logged in and voilá.
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Following on from my last post regarding Star Trek Online, I've hit a snag with one of my characters being completely broken and unable to log into the game. I've attempted to contact customer support with PWE/Cryptic and the frustrating experience I'm currently going through have left me wondering why CS has to be so shockingly bad across the industry.

Poor Service

When something goes wrong for me in a game, I see if I can fix the problem myself first of all. Was I being daft? Was it a minor glitch or bug? Does zoning/relogging/unequipping and so on help? Does it randomly go away on its own* ? If that fails, I ask friends and check for solutions online. If it turns out that it's a problem I shouldn't be having ('shouldn't' defined as something rare or unusual as opposed to yet another well-known bug introduced with the latest patch) and there really is nothing I can do about it but it's putting a serious cramp in my style, then as a last resort I will turn to Support. For games I have fleeting dalliances with, it never usually gets to this point: either I haven't delved in deep enough to get hit by a bad issue, or else I'm not impressed enough with the game to bother.

My experiences with various game companies over time has run the gamut from fast, efficient problem resolution to outright being called a liar. Sadly, I've tended to find the whole spectrum within each game or game company. I can't honestly say that any one company has all-round great customer service.

It leads me to the question: how many customers are these companies losing because of awful CS experiences, rather than because the customer does not like the game itself? In other words, how much is a player going to put up with before they take their time and money elsewhere? I've been thinking about this for myself the last couple of days.

For that matter, have I just had duff experiences? Are there game companies out there that provide better service?

Cool stories, Bro

Everyone's experiences will vary, and my own have been to the extremes of the curve. The best CS experiences I've had have been when a petition/ticket I've submitted is picked up quickly and a knowledgable representative has contacted me, having read the detail I've given and either being able to resolve it there and then in a few minutes or else works with me to find a solution. The worst have involved long waits, petitions vanishing or being closed without explanation, getting into arguments and being insulted.

I'm a fan of putting plenty of detail into the petition in the first place, laying out everything that's wrong and what I was doing etc. If it's a bug I've come across before or otherwise understand how it can be fixed, I'll include that as well. A good example of this is the old 'vanishing twinking pillows' bug that struck with depressing regularity in Anarchy Online. If you were trading an Explosif's Polychromatic Pillow to another character, it sometimes vanished in the trade. It's happened enough times to me that I've had GMs explain exactly the logging bug that causes it to glitch and to go invisibly into a forced extra inventory slot, and nothing can be done about it except for a GM to delete it and spawn a new one. There's more techspeak involved but when it happens to me I just blurb it all into the petition so that the first person who reads it (most likely a volunteer in the ARK program) knows to pass it up to a GM and that it'll only take a couple of minutes to fix.

On the other side of the coin, it gets to be rather depressing when the response one (eventually) receives to a detailed petition indicates that the CS rep hasn't actually read it. Maybe you're fobbed off with 'have you tried turning it off and on again?' or sometimes even find that your petition has been closed and marked off as Resolved without anything happening at all.

So far with PWE/Cryptic I'm on my third support ticket. The first one got me the standard automated reply to let me know I'll hear from them within 24 hours. The ticket promptly vanished from my account support page. After 2 days of nothing I sent another one referencing the first. The same automated response, the same vanishing act in my account page. The Support sections of the forums proved to be of no help, and today almost a week later I received another automated reply email asking in a long winded way if I'd turned it off and on again, and then marking the whole episode as Solved. I received an identical reponse to my second ticket. Clearly no one had looked at either of them and the stock responses were generated because the petitions had been classified as 'Technical Issue'. So, a third ticket referencing the first two has been sent. Considering I put the effort into acquiring an Odessy-class limited edition ship on the broken character in question, I'm not keen to just delete it and re-roll from scratch.

I've hit that point where whether I stay or go in STO comes down to how their Customer Service treats this support issue, and me. If they continue to ignore me until I go away, then I most certainly shall.

* You'd be surprised how often that works.
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It's been a while since I last posted: life has been busy and my gaming has been predominantly Rift and Alchemy Genetics based, with a bit of Borderlands and Champions Online here and there, which gets boring to read about after a while. I failed to get interested in Star Wars: The Old Republic in any way despite the behemoth PR engine and the obsessiveness of many of my friends (some of whom were barely gamers before it hit). I failed to get Skyrim too, though I plan on checking it out eventually once the price is down and I'm over my Rift phase.

Mobile apps for games and gaming networks aren't new by any means, however it's only in the last year or so that official apps from the producers of various games have started to surface. From Authenticator programs to add an extra layer of account security, to linked chat systems and replication of some in-game playable features; the companies behind the move to integrate the mobile market have been playing catchup to the enterprising third party app developers who've been offering addon support for years now.

Android Market iPhone Store

As an example of such a third party app: those who've played Eve Online with any degree of seriousness will know of Aura, an API-using app that monitors skills, manufacturing, market orders and so on. When I was playing Eve, it was invaluable as it'd let me see at a glance exactly what order on which character had been filled by whom, if I was about to superceede my current clone and also when my next skill was due to pop. It's been around for a good long while (in mobile app terms) and is quite the success story. It's not the only one of course, there's a ton of apps for Eve and the same goes for pretty much every game out there with a following. People like the functionality; they like to be able to stay connected. Games companies have taken heed and have started to produce their own versions.

Playing catchup

The earliest 'Official' apps were the account Authenticators for games such as World of Warcraft. In games with a high profile, and thus sporting a large target for unscrupulous account-breaching activities, keyloggers grabbing passwords are commonplace, as is account sharing and plenty of other means to gain access to an account from the user's end. Authenticators add another layer of security by requiring a code generated by the app to be entered when you login. It's a unique key attached to your account and changes frequently (usually a 30 second window) when synched up with the server. The idea there is that unless someone has your mobile phone as well as your username and password, it's no use trying to keylog the code as it'll be invalid shortly after use.

Now, gaming companies have introduced apps that do more, often linking into game servers' API to allow for communications such as reading in-game mail or chatting in channels, or more. An example of this is the official Rift mobile app, currently in Beta, for the iPhone and Android platforms. It allows you to log in as many of your own characters as you like in order to chat to friends and guildmates, keep track of world events and play minigames to earn small in-game rewards. Whilst the latter is opening a can of worms regarding paying subscribers not have equal access to content and loot unless they own smartphones, the functions offered have proved to be extremely popular (even if it is buggy as all ungodly hell in it's current Beta incarnation). It's not alone: World of Warcraft has had a similar app for some time, as have other games. Some of them are even paid apps that require an initial purchase fee, or else cost a little extra on top of the game's subscription fee in those games that have them, such as WoW's Remote Services app that allows the use of the auction house from a phone, among other things.

Social Networking?

It's not just online games that could benefit greatly from associated apps. Gaming networks, notably Steam, have been bugged for years about releasing apps, or at the very least allowing the API to become available for third parties to develop apps in their stead. It took a while but Valve finally pulled their collective finger out and the Steam Mobile App is now available on iPhone and Android markets. It's a beta test at the moment, and once you've logged in it'll take that as registering interest in beta participation. If you do that, keep an eye out on your Beta notifications (Setting menu in the main Steam client) for an invite and once you've got that accepted and sorted out you can get stuck in. They're being a little slow to send out beta invites but as I understand it everyone who registers interest (i.e. downloads it and logs in) will eventually get one.

Steam Mobile App

I've been using it for the last few days. So far, so good. You can't access your game library sadly, but you can do most other things such as chat to friends and see the friends list, view the store, make purchases and so on. It's also pretty stable so far, which is a plus in my book.

The haves and the have-nots

Clearly there is a future in mobile apps associated with online gaming. There will always be third party apps, some paid and some free, and any online game company that sees itself as a major player will want to have its own suite of official apps. But there are lines being drawn over what constitutes convenience, and what becomes an unfair in-game advantage. Checking a mail message versus winning rewards. Favoring owners of some devices and not others.

My personal line in the sand is at direct manipulation of in game content. Chatting to a friend is one thing, acquiring free loot and manipulating auctions is quite different. Particularly because not every player of a game will own a supported smart device. Computer-aimed software with the same functionality would be an equiliser, because one would presume that if your machine is capable of running the game in question, it's capable of running a small associated applet too. However, I have yet to see such a thing implemented and I do wonder why that might be. It can't be a question of losing money because many of these smart device apps are free, and even if they're not you can charge for applets like any other piece of software.

Finally, let's not forget security issues, and what might happen if your phone goes walkabout. Saved login information and account details could be a problem. Authenticators might end up locking you out of your own account unless you spend hours on expensive support phonecalls and post ID halfway accross the world to prove you're the real account owner, as happened to a friend of mine when her phone was stolen.

All in all, if you have a smart device then there's much on offer by way of expanding your online game experience through apps with varying degrees of integration. I'm riding this wave with interest and looking to see where it might go.
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Would you believe I arrived back home with enough time to try out this week's archetype?

In the continuing saga of the Champions Online Premium Archetype rotation program, this week offered up The Tempest. Described as electrical ranged firepower, I was hoping it'd play out like The Inferno with bits on. I rolled myself up a new character and skipped the tutorial because I'm already quite familiar with the Inferno class. No real loss in doing that either as I'm given some equipment, perks and money that I'd have got off the tutorial anyway. Makes me wonder why I didn't try that out sooner...

So level 6 right off the bat. My basic powers are an energy builder that has a chance to put a stack of Negative Ions on the target, an energy consumer that deals more damage to targets with Negative Ion stacks with a chance to arc to others nearby, and an AoE that knocks back targets with Negative Ions as well as having a chance to put a stack on the targets. So all in all it looks set to be a slow-building AoE damage specialist. Flight is, as ever, a no brainer for a ranged DD.

Off I go do the frozen wastes and start electrocuting like there's no tomorrow, alogn with everyon else in the entire world it seems. Of all the characters I see in the Canadian Crisis, it takes until about a third of the way through for me to spot anyone who isn't a Tempest. Having played around with it, it's not hard to see why as the whole deal really is quite a lot of fun and whilst it's great DD as promised, it doesn't play like The Inferno at all aside from having to DD them before they DD yo because you're pure offense. You're not going to alphastrike someone but over time your DD will be difficult to beat. When I pick up my slotted passive power of Electrical Form (oh my, how original) it adds to the glass cannon effect with little in the way of defences but plenty in the way of increased endurance and recovery, my superstats and the pool from whence my powers come...


The electro-shock animations from the targets as they get fried are funny to watch and whilst it's not described as having a stun-like ability, there's strong hints of that occurring anyway as I pump several thousand amperes at high voltage across their vitals. The character powerset isn't hard to work out - it's mostly luck whether Ionisation kicks off or not - and quite often just flying into the centre of the group and kicking off the AoE will end the fight pretty quickly. All in all it's an archetype I'd probably have a lot of fun with later on, although I'm not sure how it's survivability would allow for soloing in the later game. That's the thorn in the Inferno's side: an inability to deal with big tough boss mobs.

Next Week

The 6th and final archetype tester comes in a couple of days with The Devestator; big melee damage damage by hitting things with a very big stick. Seems simple enough.
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Busy week with my birthday, a LAN party and now coming up a week in Norway! Hasn't been too much time to squeeze in Champions Online but I've given it a shot. After a summer of nothing much going on, come the end of autumn it seems everything and everyone in the world has activities...

Flavour of the week for free players of Champions Online was The Inventor premium archetype; a support class that offers a variety of control effects such as knockbacks and debuffs, and makes use of robotic pets to heal, help the team and do some damage. I'd really been looking forward to playing it but haven't had the time to devote as much as I'd have liked, unfortunately.

Inventor Logo

This archetype demanded a new character: something fitting and fun. With the vast majority of mechanical costume options being paid only I was rather limited in my scope but with the aid of suggestions at the LAN party, Brother Nikola was created as an Ultramarine Tech Marine from the Warhammer 40k Universe. In retrospect I should've just skipped the tutorial but other folks wanted to see how it played out so I went ahead and join in the alien invasion starting area. The basic energy builder attack has a chance for a rather nifty knockback/knock over effect which is handy for interrupting an enemy mid-attack. The energy user can either be fully charged for a single big blast or else it can be tapped which has a chance of rifing off a second tap instantly for no power cost. All in all, very nice starting powers. Intelligence and Presence are the super-stats for this archetype, much like The Grimoire silver archetype although the order of the two is reversed.

I'd heard that there was a tiny chance of the Inventor's basic weapon attack turning the opponent into a pinkn teddy bear, effectively rendering them unable to do much more than run around. I got to see it first hand within 10 minutes of starting off and mid-mission as a Qularr felt the wrath of the Emperor!

Brother Nikola
Chaos mutant, show thy true form!

Running about pewpewing things was fairly standard, all in all. The random double shots/knockdowns/teddybearing was fun though. The slotted passive is a slow regeneration that can also help your teammates, which is jolly nice. The pets start off at level 11 with Attack Toys that can produce weaker short-lives clones of themselves and toss about frag grenades. Later on, the Inventor can pick up Support Drones that can either heal or pewpew depending on what you're after. Other tricks inlude a shrink ray and the use of an orbital cannon. Definitely something that strikes me as being a lot of fun.

All in all, the Inventor is an amusing archetype to play that is more powerful than the regular silvers, as one owuld expect, but that doesn't feel quite as overpowered at The Savage or The Master. Worth a look.

Next Week

Next in the lineup is The Tempest which touts itself as a lot of ranged electrical DD, like The Inferno on crack. I doubt I'll be back in time to give it a whirl, however.
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Whilst the Halloween celebrations are going on in game in Champions Online, such as the souped-up Blood Moon event, the one-a-week free trial rotation of Gold Archetypes continues. Last week I was unimpressed by The Void, this time it's the turn of the brand new The Master.

The Master

For the purposes of testing, I decided to dig up the now-unplayable Savage I'd created a couple of weeks back and take advantage of the free respec to The Master, picking up where the character had left off with a new set of powers to buy up. It even came with a set of 3 stat-appropriate primary equip items. Naturally as a melee archetype, Teleportation was the only sane choice of travel power and I took note of the basic skill tree, particularly the super stats which are Dexterity and Constitution. The passive power is a dodge increasing ability which is the central focus of this archetype's damage mitigation: not being hit in the first place.

Time to get on and beat up some no-good gangers in Millennium City downtown! But wait, what's this? It's halloween and there's some NPCs standing around in vampire, frankenstein and witch costumes. They offer Trick or Treat, and my luck is bad as they turn into Mummies and attack me. The Master, it seems, just can't be hit and proceeds to sock'n'pow them to death with respectable, though not spectacular, DD. Shame the halloween trick or treat loot I got off their slowly cooling corpses was rubbish. When fighting multiple opponents at once, The Master is much like The Blade with leaping kicks to the face, very fast strikes that have limbs swinging and spinning wildly and then on to the next target but this time with the added bonus of being hit maybe once a fortnight, and you pile on stacking buff after stacking buff simply for smacking the bad guys in the chops. I have to admit that it's actually more fun than I thought it would be.

As I was pursuing the extorting New Purple Gang through the sewers under the park on my own, I decided to hell with it and waded in willy-nilly with little heed for my own HP. The Blade-like damage output continued with much less incoming damage to the point where once again I understood why Gold Archetypes are locked - they're overpowered compared to the free ones. Ranged types aren't a problem, just try the basic power builder from where you stand and, like the Savage, it taunts the mob: forcing it to stop shooting you at range and run right up into your oncoming roundhouse. With a spin-kick here, and fist smash there; here a corpse, there a corpse, everywhere it's corpses...

Tigron The Master

After a solid and fun session with The Master, I've come to the conclusion that the standard Silver Archetypes must've been quite a feat to put together, combining very classic powersets with absolutely terrible power progression and massive weaknesses (The Mind being the exception). Freeform players that mimic the concept fo the silver archetypes tell me they are amazed at how poor the choices the Devs made for the archetypes are and now I can see it for myself. I knew Cryptic was locking the best stuff behind a pay wall of course, I just didn't realise how far out of the way they'd had to go to make the free characters so weak...

Next Week

Next up is The Inventor, which I am looking forwards to a great deal being a big fan of playing inventor/engineer types with big robots, big guns and unusual ideas. Perhaps now I'll get the chance to play with pets, and I'll most likely roll up someone completely new for the task.
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Another week, another sampler for the cash shop archetypes in Champions Online. This time it's The Void; a mage type that uses and abuses dark energies to channel fear and suck health from it's opponents, aided by pets.

Week 2: The Void

Void Image

I've played alongside a Void before; a friend of mine splashed out on purchasing the archetype when he played CO as a Silver. I had a bit of an idea of what to expect: something akin to the unholy lovechild of an Inferno and a Glacier archetypes that combines resiliance and limited control with plenty of ranged damage. The pets part was something I wasn't sure about, none of the Silver archetypes having any of their own.

I decided I'd roll up a new character entirely for this venture, and created La Masque D'Argent as an elegant lady with a dark secret before setting off into the MCPD vs the Qularr tutorial scenario. The basic two starting powers are your standard energy builder (with added Fear effects) and a harder hitting energy consumer (with added Fear effects). Already I began to sense the control and the ranged damage themes. With Constitution and Endurance as super stats, echoing the Glacier but with the priority swapped around, the tanking and sustained combat roles were immediately apparent.

As expected, it seemed to be a bit more powerful than either of it's Silver archetypal counterparts initially. Inferno damage with Glacier control and toughness. Fear effects reduce the damage output of whatever it is that's feared, and of course Con means hitpoints and Endu means a higher max power. With the usual runaround of the tutorial area it was fun and powerful, though perhaps not quite as silly as The Savage had been last week. Minimal effort for maximum reward on the open mission to fire Ironclad up the spout of the alien mothership, and Black Talon seemed to forget it was his job to try and kill me when it came to the final confrontation. It was all very straightforwards to play: keep a bit of a distance, powerbuild for a bit, powerspend for megaDD, rinse and repeat.

Once in the Ren Cen, a good recearch specialisation was tricky to come up with; Mysticism fits the concept but Arms suits the superstats. In the end I went for mysticism for variety. Flight is a no-brainer travel power for ranged characters and I set myself up to hit Canada as I'd done previously with The Savage.

Once in Canada I found that the Void's damage dried up somewhat, dropping down to Glacier levels and I found myself hoping that it'd pick up again soon. Luckily the slotted passive power, Shadow Form, seemed to be rather good as a defensive boost. Sadly I noticed that the pet is level 17 and I wasn't really planning to play this character long enough to get that far. With low DD I decided to take the boss encounter carefully and pick off the wandering ice zombie shamans and their minions first. The nice thing about Shadow Form is that the more youg et hit, the faster you generate energy (and also heal a bit). The boss fight wasn't worth writing home about.

Void Argent

Overall it was a slow burner to begin with and perhaps it might pick up at later levels but initially at least, there isn't really any reason to spend money on this archetype over the free Glacier.

Next Week

From the 27th, it's the turn of The Master - a new unarmed combat archetype that's somewhere between a defensive brawler and a kung fu king.
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In the run up to (and including) Halloween, there's a lot going on in various MMOs. I'll be looking at what Anarchy Online will have going on for Halloween, what Rift is currently doing with its Ashes of History event and how Champions Online is doing with its current promotion. My time is currently focused on several things and I will be away for a chunk of next month so these won't be extensive and in depth analyses.

Champions Online has just kicked off a Free Archetype Rotation scheme whereby anyone can play a given premium (Gold) character Archetype for a week, with the Archetype in question rotating on a weekly basis. As a free (Silver) player, I'm interested in how the other side lives - and yes, I'm well aware that Golds mostly play the much more powerful Freeform characters not the limited Archetypes. Gold Archetypes are meant to be more powerful than Silver, as an incentive to shell out for access, and so I want to experience for myself first hand how this works out *.

Champions Logo

First of all, everyone can claim an extra character slot per account free. This is rather nice for Silvers who are limited to 2. Second, Cryptic claims that when the time for a given archetype is up you are given the option to retrain that character, either to the new tester Archetype or to one you ordinarily have access to. As yet I haven't decided if I'll do that or roll afresh to get a handle on things from the ground up.

Week 1: The Savage

One of the earliest Gold Archetypes, released shortly after the introduction of the Free For All model, The Savage was lauded as being very powerful for an Archetype. Good damage coupled with good survival, it was claimed, and made for a nice solo character. Strength and Constitution are the super stats and it fights at melee range (which suggests to me that Arms ought to be a good R&D field).

So, I rolled up an alien bioengineered tiger warrior (I don't do capes) and hit the Millenium City Crisis tutorial to really get my claws into things. Turns out, that's exactly what happened. For those first 5 levels until you reach the end and take down Black Talon, The Savage was DD on a stick. Serious amounts thereof. Even the crappy begining energy-builder claw attack was good damage let alone the bigger energy-consumer claw attack. I joined in the open mission at the end last of all and still came out at the top in terms of participation simply because of my DD. Black Talon fell before a whirlwind of claws that'd make the Tazmanian Devil blush and I wondered just how silly it'd get once I had my regeneration powers...

After the usual buzz about the Renaissance Centre pinging buildings, setting up some Arms-based Alien Metabolism research, getting a cone-AoE claw frenzy power (uh-oh) and Teleportation (a melee's best friend), it was time to hit up the Canadian Crisis. Plenty of the mobs here are ranged so I began to appreciate the mid-range 'come and say that to my face!' taunt, which cause them to stop shooting and run up right into my melee range that my basic energy builder claw attack has. When I got my passive regeneration power, things got really silly. The only time I wasn't overpowering everything in sight was when a flying ranged Freeform would swoop in as I was about to Frenzy and AoE oneshot my quest mobs from under me (it's the internet, people are dicks).

It was time for the final boss sequence and I figured I'd be cocky and just charge into the boss with no prior planning nor clearing out of adds. I still wiped the floor with everything simultaneously. Now some of the regular Silver Archetypes are great for this sort of situaiton too, but this was just silly. No wonder people complain the game is too easy if they're used to playing Freeform characters that are even more powerful than this Gold archetype...

Tigron - The Savage
The Savage: Tigron in his Battle Armour outfit after saving canada (level 10 power layout shown)

Overall it was a good laugh and I quite liked The Savage, though melee tends to irritate me in many games because of range issues that stem from desychning from the server. It was a lot more fun and less tedious than the low DD tank/brawler The Behemoth with a lot more survivability than the fast glass canon The Blade.

Next week

From October 20th, the free archetype trial switched over to The Void, which is billed as a vampiric/necromantic/tank/ranged/pet user thing. Hrm...
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... on my PC and on my Android.

First of all, it goes without saying that I hop onto Champions Online now and then, usually to faff about with the character creator. Cryptic recently had a birthday event to celebrate 2 years of the game, and there were presents and suchlike which I had a blast pewpewing for.

Champions Online logo

Pity the costume items were random from presents but so it goes.

For the Commute

Recently I have discovered the nifty little Android Game called Alchemy (see prior entry). My first real foray into Mobile gaming and it's not even a Gamer's Game: no flashy graphics, no kill count, no online play etc. It's simple, fun, quite the battery hog and keeps me entertained when I'm not busy.

In summary: start with Fire, Water, Earth & Air. Combine them up into new items such as Metal, Sand, Sea and Life. Continue on until you invent Locomotive, Werewolf, The Beatles and Borscht. There's a current total of 380 of them to uncover and there's a free version of the app that works well enough.

Alchemy/Android image

For a detailed look at the game, read my previous journal entry.

For the Horde Telara!

On the PC, I have recently got back into the Trion Worlds MMO Rift in a big way. I was out of the game on anything like a regular or serious basis for some time, keeping only a vague ear to the ground on what was developing. With pretty much everyone I played with having moved on for a variety of reasons, it got dull and difficult to keep my characters in good equipment on my own (and one thing I can't stand is allowing my characters to become gimped and a burden).

Rift logo

The recent months have seen a fair number of updates to the game; redesigned graphics for some models, lots of new NPCs and quests, some very nifty UI tweaks (my favourite of which is the new Quest Item bag that saves on your very limited inventory space in a massive way), new encounters and dungeons, redesigned encounters and dungeons and a lot of tweaking of the various souls. All of this comes as part of the world event-driven storyline expansions that are released every month or two. Version 1.4 was released recently and in honour of the game's 6 month anniversary (half-birthday they call it, cheesy but there we are) there was a round of free game time and various ingame freebies available including the obligatory references to the cake not being a lie, which coincided with Champions Online's 2nd birthday, as mentioned above, that also proved the cake was real.

Whilst there is always argument and debate about the changes that are made, and they're not always for the best, overall I think Trion Worlds is getting it right in terms of the optimisation, bugsquashing and playability. Best of all, there still isn't a sodding cash shop for power items: it's still a sub-based game that isn't pay-to-win. To me, this is a HUGE point in its favour.

A couple of current niggles include throwing so much XP at the characters over the recent half-birthday celebrations that everyone overlevels much too fast and you end up fighting grey mobs in sub-par gear with the zone quests only half finished (yeah, I make a lousy powerleveler). The other is the removal of the soul quests because apparently newbies found it too confusing to have to quest for other souls or something. Now you just buy them from a trainer and in the process lose a chunk of the darker side of the characters' stories: where do you think those souls stuffed inside of you came from in the first place? They could have left both options in IMO.

Rift Bahmi on a Tartagon
Do not mock the turtle.

I'm currently splitting my playtime primarily between lowbie Defiants on Argent and highbie Guardians on Icewatch. Still not hit 50 yet for the raiding but I'm keeping my main characters in Artisan Mark-made blues and Zone-Puzzle Purples as much as possible so as to be solo/duo capable and not a gimp.

If anyone is interested in giving the game a free trial, let me know. I can Ascend a Friend, which is a cheesy way of saying I can get you a free copy of the game + 7 day trial. For that I can get a hat and you get to put up with me popping up at random intervals.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
During a lull at the Notting Hill Carnival yesterday, there was a comment in the conversation about quests in games and how unoriginal they generally are. Whilst MMOs were the broad topic, this runs through pretty much all game genres that have such concepts such as RPGs with side quests, RTSes with multiple objectives and FPSes with missions.

Quests/missions ostensibly exist to provide gameplay variety and as a source of rewards but from various chats I've had over time, player opinion seems divided and runs the gamut from from those that thrive on goal completion to those that would rather uninstall the game than kill another 10 bloody rats. Games designers too seem to be divided on the subject, if the wide range of implementation I've seen is anything to go by: some games have side quests tacked on almost as an afterthought because it's needed to tick some obligatory box or other, whilst others tie the progression of the game to a questing system to such an extent that you cannot avoid the majority of these objectives.

It's rare that I find a truly innovative or original quest in a game. The current height of quest system design is one that allows for a successful completion of objectives by following more than one path, and where your choices in doing this have repercussions later on. MMOs have been very slow on the uptake here whilst RPGs and first-person games have led the way, a classic example of which is the Deus Ex series in which you can choose to sneak and hack through the game rather than kill and destroy all that you see.

So, I'm curious as to what people think about the topic. Love 'em? Hate 'em? Game makers? Game breakers? Couldn't give a flying monkey's?

Oooh what's over here?

Personally, I see quests and missions as a means to an end rather than a thing to focus on in and of itself. I'm a great explorer of game worlds and maps, and I like to see what's over this hill or in that hidden bunker. I like to click on items that look interesting and potentially clickable just for the hell of it. I'm insatiably curious about how the settings work and where the boundaries of what I can do are set. Quests are a way of getting things done while I'm indulging in my exploratory nature. I reason that there's now a good excuse to travel across the map to a part I haven't visited yet and poke around because in doing so I'll end up killing things and picking up objects and I might as well pick up extra credit and advance the plot/unlock new areas/watch new cut scenes while I'm at it. Whether I read all the text associated with the objective or even care about it depends a lot on how the story of the game has grabbed me. Generic fantasy game #1634 will have me reading only the bolded bit where it lists the mob name I nave to slot or what zone to travel to to follow the waypoint on my map. Something intriguing like a plot twist centred around a character I'm interested in will have me paying attention and eager to see what comes next. Another thing I consider is that because I am very easily sidetracked by exploration, timed quests are horrible for me and as a rule I loathe them.

Going off into new areas often means I find myself in situations which wouldn't normally be encountered until much later and this can often be rather lethal. If I've been given a specific task to in an area at a certain point in the game, it hopefully means that what I'm likely to encounter on the way is appropriate for my current in-game capabilities. Of course this isn't guaranteed, as anyone who's ever run a mission in Anarchy Online knows all too well, where low level characters end up having to travel through areas containing much higher level mobs to get to their low level destination...

All of this does mean that when I'm done with an area and want to move on, if I keep getting sent back to old territory with missions then I'll get annoyed and either sod the mission until a later point or, if I can't do that, I'll sod off and play a different game for a while. Endless back and forth between the same areas on errands gets to be tedious. Tedious tasks put me off, and thus the dichotomy of the quest question continues.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
Some months ago, Atari announced it was getting rid of it's Cryptic Studios subsidiary, the company currently responsible for Champions Online and Star Trek Online, and the upcoming D&D Neverwinter game.
Naturally there were concerns throughout both playerbases about what the future would hold for the two games. As a part-time Champions Online player, I too was keeping an eye on these developments. At the end of May it was announced that Perfect World Entertainment would be purchasing Cryptic Studios as a wholly-owned subsidiary. PWE has many other MMOs; predominantly produced and operated by it's Beijing and Shanghai arms such as Forsaken World and Perfect World International. It's also the company behind the Torchlight series. The deal was completed mid-august and information is now starting to filter through about how this will affect their products.
Whilst the company itself began in America, its growth and rise to a position of major player in the asian MMO markets has been thanks to its Chinese operations and the tailoring the PWE's products to its primary audience this is reflected heavily within the MMOs themselves. As an example, within Forsaken World the english translations are hit and miss and quite often the text in english fits very poorly within an UI that was clearly developed around Chinese or Korean scripts. All of this has, of course, brought speculation on whether the CO and STO games will have their development and progression influenced by the models used by the existing PWE games. They are, for the most part, your standard free-to-play, pay-to-win model that dominates the asian MMO scene.

My experience with STO is limited but I do know that like CO, it already has a cash shop and there has been controversy over core parts of the promised game play during development being held back and then released in said cash shop only if you pay extra even as a subscriber. Given that such things are the reason for PWE's financial success, there is something of a consensus through the various playerbases that more of the same is incoming.

CO would be somewhat buffered by virtue of the fact it already operates a dual subscription system with a choice of paying a fee and getting most things thrown in with it, or else playing a basic version for free with that you can then pay to gain access to the restricted content. Even so, a shortcut to power items with $$$ is not too popular particularly among its paying customers. There is better news, however. The FAQs about the deal have indicated that the development teams aren't going to be changed or reduced in size and at present it looks as though Cryptic still has control over those two products. Cryptic are finishing off the switch over from Atari-branded logos, items and cash shop, and it looks as if there's minimal disruption for players for the foreseeable future (yes, lifetime accounts are being upheld).

Ultimately, only time will tell if the directions of the two games will be influenced by the asian MMO position of their new parent company and it is something I shall be observing with interest.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
I've been keeping an eye on what's being hyped for release in the future and whilst most offerings end up being the sort of thing I'd glance at if a demo or free trial comes along, there's often a game or two in the midst of the release schedules that I pay attention to.

Right now, I've got my eye on Borderlands 2 and The Secret World in particular.

Pandora's Vault

The original Borderlands was an FPS with RPG elements and co-op play game that initially passed me by. I saw a friend play it at a Halloween LAN party a couple of years back and whilst I do like post-apocalytpic-esque settings and sniper rifles that set stuff on fire, it just didn't interest me all that much. I acquired a copy of the game on Steam eventually after various parties had waxed lyrically about it and after a bit of a rough start (I absolutely loathe the jumping mechanics in the game) I finally got the hang of the thing and decided that sniping skags in the mouth from half a kilometre away was where it's at.

Whilst it can get grindy trying to find decent weapons, the game is more fun in co-op mode than solo and there's plenty of entertainment to be had from the NPCs and antagonists even if the quests missions are the usual 'go here, pick up this item, kill that guy'. Whilst my interest in the game waxes and wanes, it's one of the more popular cross-platform games out there and when Gearbox announced a second game, there was much excitement.

The story continues where the first game left off with a new set of player characters (the original Vault-hunters are apparently lurking about as NPCs). Thusfar one of the new character types is the dwarfish 'Gunzerker' pictured above, going by the name of Salvador. It seems to be something of a cross between the berzerking close-range Berzerker and the gun specialist Soldier by going up close and personal with a pair of heavy guns. Another confirmed character is some sort of variant on the original Siren by the name of Maya, who won't have the Phasewalk ability. Further Power details haven't been released yet.

Gearbox has stated that the interactions between the players and the world have evolved, and that choices, time taken and actions performed will all have story-changing consequences. NPCs will react more, the characters will interplay (in the style of Left 4 Dead series characters) and the game equipment will be given a more differentiated look so you can tell roughly what sort of weapon it is without having to read the fine print on the stats. Screenshots so far hint at the iconic graphical style being retained and ramped up.

The game is slated for release sometime in 2012 on the PC, PS3 and the XBox 360. More information can be found here and there's a short trailer for it here.

Begin the Beta Tests

The Secret World, formerly known as Cabal and The World Online, is about to start sign-ups for beta testing and was recently one of the featured titles at Gamescom 2011. It's another FUncom game, which means I'm wary indeed: not about the storyline, which is in the safe hands of Ragnar Tørnquist, but about everything else.

The inital viral marketing for the game was quite successful with the message "Dark Days Are Coming" and a faked tourism webpage for Kingsmouth, one of the in-game locations. Pitched as a modern-day conspiracy/supernatural 'horror' MMORPG (yes, FC are trying to pimp the RPG aspect), there is much hype surrounding the fact that characters are not restricted by a class or level based system and that there are three mutually antagonistic factions they can choose from; the righteous crusading Templars, the corporate puppet masters of the Illuminati and the chaotic and mysterious Dragons. Set in various locations throughout the modern world (and perhaps the near future and near past as well), the game world focuses on battles for dominance between the three factions and at the same time in dealing with monsters, demons, parallel dimension entities and other weird stuff that the rest of humanity has no idea about.

There's plenty of screenshots and snippets of data about the game so far through the official website linked above, with interviews and community speculation about how the game play will work, and recently there has been a reveal about large scale PvP zones. Combat mechanics are unclear at this point.

Electronic Arts is going to be handling distribution of the game, which has caused some concern over a possible Origin requirement. Origin is horrid along the same lines as Games for Windows Live so I sincerely hope that this won't be the case. Still, I'll toss my hat into the ring for the beta testing because I like the premise and it'll be a long time before the World of Darkness MMO shows up or the Anarchy Online revamp hits.

EDIT: The latest TSW trailer has just been released and can be seen here:

Animations look dodgy but the setting is coming along nicely.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
Well alright, it's now known just as Rift but the subtitle was originally part of it's official name before launch.

Rift game cover

So, what's the deal with yet another WoW-clone? And who are Trion Worlds anyway?

Trion Worlds don't initially appear to have much, if anything, to do with a fantasy MMO. Their homepage is all about their MMO shooter/RTS games DEFIANCE and End of Nations. They're also an american company, rather than Korean or Chinese, and don't have anything like the reputation of Blizzard. Yet here they are with the closest thing to a World of Warcraft competitor since, well, WoW.

During Beta, a lot of hype was generated by the MMO playing community as well as by it's publishers. It was touted as a Wow-clone that offered something new; the eponymous Rifts and the soul system. It was generally claimed that if you were bored of WoW and looking for a new challenge, you'd like Rift. If you thought WoW was dull and simplistic, you'd like Rift. If fantasy MMOs weren't your bag, well you might still like Rift.

At release, as with plenty of hyped MMOs, there was a lot of interest and plenty of people I know went over to give it a go. At release, I had zero interest in the game: I don't like the standard fantasy MMO tropes, I can't stand magic pixie settings with dwarves etc and I loathe large chunks of the core WoW mechanics. It took a concerted and co-ordinated effort by various people from various angles, culminating in being bought a copy of the game, for me to even consider it, so reluctantly I signed up and promised I'd give it that first month. All in all, I'm quite glad I did.

Initially I was skeptical. My friends were all Guardian side on Sparkwing so even though the magi-tech obsessed and exotic Defiants appealed to me vastly more than some tedious religious nutjob elves/dwarves/humans, I rolled up a Cleric from the enormous choice of four classes. 3 Races per faction, you can't mix and match. Thusfar, I wasn't too impressed. Character customisation was limited from my perspective, although I had just come from many many hours lost in the Champions Online creator which is hardly a fair comparison, and with only 4 rather standard classes to choose from (Cleric, Mage, Warrior, Rogue) I honestly thought I wouldn't last the week. However my friends rolled up some new alts to play alongside me through the newbie experience and I signed up to their Guild at the first available opportunity.

My first impressions were along the lines of 'oh god this has all the horrible WoW mechanics I loathe and despise in it, but at least it doesn't look like a dated cartoon, just a dated fantasy MMO'. The graphics aren't much to write home about given it's a 2011 release; they're not bad as such but would be more fitting in a 2008-9 game.

After bombarding my friends with questions (in between sarcastic comments about asking wow players how it's done in WoW and then assuming it'll be the same in Rift) I started to realise that whilst there were only 4 very traditional classes, sorry - Callings, they all played very differently from one another. Even down to the way their snazzy powerz were managed. Clerics and Mages use mana; no big shock there. Mages additionally build up a combo meter that is used to do certain other things such as recharge mana quickly or give a damage boost. Warriors build up persisting Attack Points in order to unleash special moves and have a power bar that limits how many funky abilities they can chain. Rogues accrue Combo points on a per-enemy basis that are spent on finisher moves, having a similar sort of power bar system as the Warrior that limits how many abilities they can chain together. This means management of abilities has to be done differently per class. There are mana potions, for example, but nothing item-based that can quickly fill a Power/Combo meter or award Attack/Combo points. Coming from other games that are simpler or older where all classes have HP and some kind of magic power meter and that's yer lot, it made a nice change.

The much-vaunted Soul system kicks in about halfway through the newbie area when you've acquired 2 of your basic 3 and you have to start making decisions about where to spend the soul points you get at level up. Souls are just a fancy way of presenting a skill tree system. They even use the tree analogy to explain Root powers and Branch powers. You make choices about where you spend points in your branches, and the root powers are awarded when you reach a certain number of spent points, regardless of branch. The nifty thing here is that once you hit level 13 or so and can quest for the rest of your classes' souls, you can create any combo of any 3 souls to form a Role, and you can buy more Role slots to swap to in a matter of second, thus enabling an entirely new build on the same character without having to level up an alt.

All of this is further sped up by the ability to write in-game macros to do things like swap equipment instantly, or to fire off whichever ability meets the 'able to fire off' criteria from a selection of abilities your current soul configuration has unlocked. I was slow on the macro uptake, having an innate dislike to anything worded 'macro' in an MMO given how 3rd party macro tools are omnipresent and used ot abuse game mechanics in pretty much every other game. Rift is fairly restrictive on what you can do and ultimately what Rift macros do is reduce the variety of buttons you have to press, rather than reduce the number of actions you have to take, at the cost of not being able to finely hone your twitch responses. Macros can lose you a fight vs a skilled PvPer because you didn't make a manual decision to use ability b over ability a and a was the one that came up first in the macro's list when you pressed the button.

Once I got the hang of Souls I decided that actually, for all it's ripped-off WoW mechanics which I dislike (not being able to select to autoface a fighting target is a pet hate of mine, also excessively harsh falling damage particularly where terrain mapping and terrain textures don't match up), I liked the character system in this game after all. Particularly given the diversity amongst souls which meant you can have 5 Rogues in a group and all of them are wildly different: for example a team buffer/healer support Bard type, an assassin type that pops out from the shadows for a huge alphastrike, a ranger type flurrying arrows as it's direwolf pet mauls the enemy, a saboteur type rigging up traps and explosives etc, all while blending a bit of other flavours in to patch up weaknesses left by the fact that souls are all fairly specialised.

Player-made item building in Rift is actually very much worth it to pursue, and each character can learn 3 tradeskill abilities. There are 3 gathering and 6 crafting skills. The items that players can make are better than the vast majority of the items players can loot, particularly at the level an item becomes equippable at (items are level locked as in most MMOs). People go two ways in terms of tradeskill choices: grab all 3 Gathering skills and then either use alts or guildmates for the crafting skills, or else pick 2 crafting skills most relevant for their calling and then the gathering skill that provides the majority of the base resources required. As an example, a Warrior will most likely be using swords/axes/spears and plate armour which are all metals-based: this means Mining as a gathering skill and then Armoursmithing and Weaponsmithing as craftting skills. Of course you'll need bits of things from the other gathering professions but that's a minority and what you get out of building your own is well worth the extra investment of time or money to acquire the missing parts. Given the Role/Soul system means there is rarely a need to make more than one of any class, 3-4 characters is the most you'd get much use out of and that will cover all 9 craft skills with a nice overlap for Gathering too.

Questing makes up the majority of progression through the game in terms of XP, money, exploration and to a lesser extent gear. There's a lot of quests. I mean a veritable buttload, not including dailies even. It's both a strength and a weakness in my experience: fun the first time around but with alts it gets to be very repetetive and 'oh god here we go again'. At least the quests don't nag you in terms of time constraints, leaving you free to go off and spend a few days hitting random rifts, crafting stuff, going overe here, poking something over there, chasing achivements (did I forget to mention the fact the game as achivements? Well it's not that original nowadays but some of them are plenty fun) and generally exploring and doign your own thing. This, to me, is a huge plus point because I hate feeling forced into a narrow and pressured path.

As with any MMO of this kind, there are instanced dungeons which are available in varying degrees of difficulty, the highest difficulty beign the source of the best Tier 1 & 2 phats in the game (read: epic lootz/purples). Some of them are pretty run of the mill 'kill trash mobs, kill boss, click thingy, rinse repeat' whilst others require better planning and trial and error-based learning what does and doesn't work. I didn't get much of a chance to hit dungeons up because I lagged behind in the levelling curve having come to the game late, so this is one area I'd like to explore more.

The biggest part of the game is, of course, the Rifts. There's a fair bit of background and story to the game and whilst Guardian-side it's pretty cliché and fantasty standard, the Defiants have a bit more originality. The world is called Telara and it's having a spot of bother with Rifts opening up to elemental planes allowing invading forces form these planes through to cause all sorts of trouble. By spot of bother I mean all hell breaking lose more or less constantly and if the Telarans don't get their act together and sort it out, Telara will fall in 20 years time. Play a Defiant and you get to see that fall for yourself. Rifts are open group activities that essentially funciton as mini impromptu raids. The game will create a raid interface and invide any characters (within the same faction) to the interface, allowing teams to merge etc. There's a huge variety of rift types, both in terms of element (fire, death, water, life, air, earth) and in terms of steps required to complete, from just killing everything that moves to performing certain actions, finding certain items and preventing certain things from happening. The better you do, the fast you progress and the more stages of the Rift open up offering more phats. These Rifts can pop up almost anywhere and at no notice. All in all I found these to be enormous fun - from soloing a quiet one out of the way as a challenge to test my skills, to piling into huuuuge elite rifts with tons of other folks and having to adapt to disorganised tactics with random strangers on the fly. The XP aint half bad either.

In addition, there's zone-wide special rift events fairly frequently. Some of them are minor and you can go abotu your own business with a minimum of fuss. Others completely take over a zone and within seconds you can find yourself trapped between a rock and a hard place... These are quite a mixed bag with some of them being exhilarating fun if you find some good people to do them with, and others can leave you stuck unable to do anything at all on your own until a passing raidforce comes by. Mostly I've enjoyed these but there have been occasions where I've said f*ck it and logged to an alt somewhere far faaaaar away.

Personally, I've had a lot of fun within the game. My cleric is an AoE DD-whore rather than a healer most of the time and very solo-capable, but I can keep a small raidforce alive with a switch to a healer role when needed. My warrior wades in with a spear and a battlecat to melee DD the hell out of stuff until a tank is needed, then he gets out the shield and swaps roles and becomes indestructible tank-o-rama. I've even done the switching mid-rift as situations change. I've explored all sorts of weird and crazy places, ran into well-hidden zone puzzles, snuck lowbie alts into high level locations to see what's there, created all manner of bizzare soul combos and play concepts and participated in zone events and rifts way beyond my levels for the sheer hell of it, considering survival the greatest achivement.

On the flip side I have had a bad time with some poor UI mechanics, gold seller spam, stupid quest requirements (killing an elite zone boss that spawns once maybe twice a day at a random time and location within a zone - and usually gets swamped by everyone else with the quest and dies before I can log the right character and get there after finding out about it), the cost of traveling by using portals and the grind to build up points for hundreds of different things such as crafting skills, NPC factions reputation, zone-specific source shards to exchange for powerful items, multiple currency types etc.

For me, the game won't have the longevity that I found in Eve Online and Anarchy Online, but it's been far more fun than any fantasy MMO has any right to be and I don't mind paying £9 a month sub at all, particularly as it doesn't (yet?) have a power items for cash shop which is the bane of my MMOing existance.

I'm still on Rift although a bit stuck at the moment. My Guardian mains are still on Sparkwing, which has now been designated a trial account server (stupid idea in my opinion, having only newbies together without higher level characters to go oooh and aaah over and experienced players to answer basic questions). My guild has gone inactive and as yet have not moved to a new server. I'm hoping to persuade them to pick somewhere to go... I have lowbie Defiant alts all over the place but have no particular ties to any server with those and they're all Freemarch-level nooby. So at the moment I am in limbo and not currently playing although my account is open.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
First off, this is about games I have tried at various points and for some reason have not stuck around in. They are in no particular order.

Secondly, it's a bit long. You have been warned...

Tidied behind a cut for legibility (click here) )

Future MMOS:
Everyone's going nuts over the upcoming WoW-a-like with the Starwars IP (Star Wars: The Old Republic). I know it's Bioware but I'm not convinced the gameplay will appeal to me, not being an obsessive over the Star Wars franchise. The Secret World could be interesting too with it's mostly-modern-day conspiracy and supernatural themes but it's FUncom. CCP Games may or may not survive to see the release of their World of Darkness MMO. If they do I'll be mildly curious about it, given that they've decided to revisit the old WoD rather than the new one, but I don't hold much hope. Dark Millennium Online (the Warhammer 40K MMO) might be interesting but I have only a passing interest in the setting so I won't be rushing out to pre-order it any time soon. Guild Wars 2, likewise.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
At the moment, I'm not hardcore into any one thing. My general game usage is based around my 3DS while I'm out and about, which keeps me sane on my commutes and when I have a quiet lunch, and my home PC. On the 3DS I'm usually playing Ghost Recon; at home I'm often bouncing about on Minecraft. It's one of those lull periods I get where I'm not intensely focused on somthing in particular, and end up casually playing a few different games depending on the people I game with and their availability. Until recently I was up to my eyeballs in MMOs and I suppose could describe myself as 'between games' at the moment.

General MMO-flavoured notes

I've become an MMO gamer over the years, after initially being highly critical of a genre of game which, as I saw it, you had to re-buy the damn thing every month. The reasons for my change of tune are twofold:

Firstly, MMOs tend to be huge games with a lot of variety in scope, long character progression, plenty to see and do, a lot of freedom to explore, experiment and generally mess around with a wide variety of ways to play such as player vs game content, player vs player, combat, crafting, social activities etc. As living worlds that in theory are updated by their creators with new content and changes, this mitigated the 'subscription fee' niggle I had had.

Secondly, MMOs have communities; the people you play with in groupings of varying size and arrangement in order to accomplish things, so it's a social affair in which friendships can develop. It goes beyond in-game activities into forum participation, websites resource creation and the development of third-party tools that give rise to smartphone apps, wikis, theorycrafting with equipment listings and so on. The entire process can be very rewarding.

Both of those aspects appeal very strongly to me and I've had many years of good times with the genre. A quick overview of my time:

I started out with Eve Online in 2004 some time before the first big expansion, Exodus, was released. That's one hell of a baptism of fire, believe me. Internet spaceships appealed to my interests because I'm a sci-fi fan and I had a few friends that were playing it at the time. After some years and many adventures both good and bad, I burned out and decided to give it a break. I have returned to Eve off and on over the years and am currently subbed (just about) despite the CCP debacles of late.

After some time experimenting with other games, I found myself really getting into Anarchy Online which I had first come accross in 2006 shortly before the release of the Lost Eden expansion. I realise that this way round of playing those two games was arse-backwards to most others, but hey. Several more years of good and bad were spent here doing it all until I suffered a similar burnout and developed an extremely jaded view of FUncom (putting the FU in fun).

Some more random games later (most recently Rift, which I am still technically subbed to but no one I played with still plays and I'm bored on my own) I find myself adrift once more.

At a later point I'll do a more detailed write up of each game, including the various other games I played and didn't stick with for one reason or another.


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May 2012

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