Kingdoms of Amalur: Resurrected?

An intriguing little news item via Massively OP, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is getting a remastered edition coming this August! I had the game on Playstation 3, but wasn’t ever a huge fan of playing computer RPGs on that platform with a controller. Having a keyboard and mouse version revamped for the modern era on PC has my interest for sure.

I’m not that motivated by graphics, so any minimal update to the artwork of the original will be fine for me, it had a vaguely cartoonish etherial beauty to the graphics anyway, so I imagine it could be made to look great on the PC platform.

I didn’t ever finish the game because my PS3 suffered a random hard drive crash when I was barely a third of the way through, wiping all my saved games and losing all progress on this game. Equally I lack any screenshots to refer back to when thinking about or writing on the game – PS3’s were bad at doing screenies when I last used the console for actual gaming. I didn’t get around to starting again, but would welcome a chance to see all that I missed out on if on a better/newer platform. I did enjoy the skill-based character progression and the feywild-like world, visually rich and full of magic and mystery.

So, I’ll happily invest in this game in the hope that if enough interest is shown then THQ might go on to use the assets they acquired from the Project Copernicus MMO for something new as well. I imagine an actual MMORPG is beyond any reasonable hope of seeing development in 2020’s market, but perhaps a sequel CRPG could be a more realistic hope?

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Epic quest, or hefty grind? #WoWClassic

At the level cap of 60 now, I’m starting to consider some of the more substantial quests that my character can turn to in order to continue his development.

The final ding

As a paladin he has the rather epic (i.e. pretty long) quest to obtain his fast mount, the charger. I’m looking forward to this, it includes some running around and prep work, but the focus is on some dungeon runs with specific objectives relating to the fiction of how my character gets a faster mount to summon.

The quest includes a relatively achievable financial component, buying some rarer items as part of the preparation stages – a total of 350 gold, quite cheap compared to the cost of a fast mount for other characters. In contrast to this I was trying to progress the armorsmithing quest chain, which my character has had for ten levels approx, and that I’ve made no progress on so far. I finally worked out, with the wiki’s help, where I should go and what I need to get started on the various sub-quests that then allow my character to progress the main task.

Riding the length of the zone

This involved a lot of running around Stranglethorn, some necessary, and some because I was tired and not reading the quest text properly. The lack of quest objective markers on maps can easily lead to wasted time, especially when the only flight point is at the bottom of the zone.

Back to Booty Bay again..

All of this was to receive training (to the Artisan tier) and the sub-quests for this crafting specialism from a rather hermit-like Dwarf. Why would anyone choose to ply their blacksmithing trade surrounding by flamable foliage and hostile wildlife in a jungle zone? Has he not seen the impressive size of the forges in Ironforge, and the conveniently nearby bank and auction house?

Not an ideal location for a forge

What most annoyed me was the materials requirements of these quests. Forty steel bars times three, forty iron bars, gem stones and other materials just to get some recipes. I then have to make a load of examples of those newly learned items to hand in for the main quest – none of which will be cheap in materials to complete. I was feeling quite flushed money-wise, but with the mount quest earmarking all his gold (and then some), buying the materials for this crafting quest chain isn’t an option now.

We’re already discussing various dungeon runs that the static dungeon group could farm for gear upgrades, such as Lower Blackrock Spire, Stratholme and even Zul Gurub. Let’s hope they’re good for money gathering too as my paladin is going to need his share!

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Closing in on 60 #WoWClassic

My character in World of Warcraft Classic is now sitting at around 59.5, so just a half-level left before reaching the cap. I’d read in various places that the last twelve or so levels were the slowest by far and could be a bit of a drag due to the rather disjointed nature of quest design in this era of the game. I’m happy to say that relying almost exclusively on dungeon running *with* rested XP, plus a concerted effort to gather any quests for those dungeons has made this last sprint to the cap go by relatively painlessly.

We’ve been alternating between Dire Maul and Scholomance for the last few levels. Before that it was a whole lot of runs to Blackrock Depths and Sunken Temple. Fortunately these dungeons are large enough and non-linear enough to avoid falling into boredom over repeat visits. There are usually options of what path to take through a given dungeon: of which bosses to tackle and which to skip.

Level 60 isn’t the end of the journey in Classic since there are dungeons that will challenge us for some time to come, we haven’t yet tried Stratholme and there are the remainder of the Blackrock Mountain instances to try if we can gather the larger group required to visit them. My character is a blacksmith and he’s rather neglected it as I have to grind some gathering to get past the armorsmith specialism unlock chain.

I do need to unlock dark iron smelting…

Other than finishing off other aspects of my character, “End-game” in any MMORPG isn’t my thing: I’m neither motivated by gear grind nor achievements. So any real length of time with no new content to try will be a problem for my motivation to play Classic further. I suppose there’s the option to try a new character, I have a hunter in the early 30s, but I’m rather disappointed with hunter gameplay. I do, however, fancy playing a warlock. I have a level 1 character that we used as part of a summoning alt team – so it might be time to brush off that character as part of a new leveling team. We’re not sick of running Deadmines now, are we?

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Looking towards Shadowlands #WorldofWarcraft

I’m quite looking forward to World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Shadowlands. This extra-planar or other-worldy jaunt will be a welcome break from the futility of the faction war of Battle for Azeroth. Unusually, despite the limited appeal of the levelling story (especially the war campaign) the last patch brought some Old-God themed content that I have found much more engaging. Looking forward I have the usual decisions to make, which characters am I going to play most in the next expansion?

From my first times in game, in the early Burning Crusade era, through to Cataclysm, my main character was a Balance druid. I switched to Restoration shaman as a main from then through to the start of Legion. With the probable reintroduction of the Eclipse mechanic to Balance, I feel like it’s time to change once more. My three favoured options are:

Alliance

Mistweaver monk

I have thoroughly enjoyed levelling a Mistweaver monk, mostly through dungeon runs with friends and family. At level 73, there’s still quite a way to go for him to be ready at level 120 by the start of the expansion – a nice summer project, perhaps?

Holy paladin

I’ve been playing a lot of Holy paladin on WoW Classic this year, but I do also play a bit of my Holy paladin alt on Retail when there’s an Assault up, these give particularly good experience for characters levelling through Battle for Azeroth. Easy repeatable content that allows me to avoid repeating the levelling zones, yet again. He’s only at 114, I’ve not been playing him for that long, but it would be goood to have him at 120 as another option.

Beastmaster hunter

As well as my usual healer bias, I should also have some other characters ready for filling out groups in the new expansion’s dungeons. The obvious candidate is my level-capped Beastmaster hunter. It’s an easy class/spec to play and a lot of fun in groups. Quite the contrast from my poor hunter in Classic that I’ve found to be poorly equipped and rather bland in comparison.

Horde

Healing priest

A Holy priest is my Horde ‘main’ since several expansions and I do not see that changing. I enjoy playing this troll character and the spec has an excellent array of skills for dungeon healing.

Demonology warlock

I’ve recently level-capped a second Horde character, so I’ll have a good alternative character for leveling and dungeon groups this side as well.  It’s very unusual that I feel almost happier with my character selection Horde side than Alliance…

Are you changing who you play for Shadowlands?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 3 Comments

Second adventure published #DnD #Eberron

I’m very happy to announce that my second Dungeons & Dragons adventure is now published on the DMs Guild website: Whispering Shadows. This is the sequel to my shorter introductory adventure, Chasing Shadows.

In constrast to the cross-country chase of the first installment, Whispering Shadows is a cavern exploration adventure. I’ve worked to anchor it firmly in the Eberron setting, to add flavour and motivation to this cave-delving scenario. There is plenty of combat, though it is sometimes entirely avoidable, plus some mysteries and puzzles to stretch the adventurers minds as well as their combat skills.

This adventure took a good amount of time to write as it is longer at 34 pages (versus 25), and more complex plot-wise. I was fortunate to have a playtest group to play through the entire thing as I was editing it. The layout work can be very time-consuming, I may have to try a proper layout/desktop publishing tool. Using the DMs Guild-supplied word template in Libre Office does work, but there is a lot of wrestling with fonts and styles that misbehave for no good reason when your document increases in complexity.

Still, I’m feeling motivated to get started with the next part already, here’s hoping I can put some of the layout, editorial and writing lessons that I’ve been noting down into practice to reduce the time it takes to produce these!

Posted in D&D, TTRPG | 2 Comments

I like situational gear in MMOs

In a recent World of Warcraft Classic session we attempted our second-ever run on Scholomance with our instance group. In discussions about the apparent difficulty we were facing, we started talking about gear we could farm to make the runs easier. Weapons that do extra damage against undead were mentioned, as were resistance armour pieces for specific boss fights.

Undead slaying, go!

In principal at least, I really like this kind of gear as it is one way the devs can make the MMORPG feel more like a RPG to me. Having choices to make, and options that need hunting out, is a way to add motivations for replaying content. If the only choice, ever, is to have the highest item level or highest stat gear then that’s not much of a choice. Sadly, the modern game went this way a long while ago: the gear grind consistently has settled on waiting for RNG to bless you with a higher item-level piece. Side-grades or alternatives aren’t a thing anymore.

Resistance gear, not for Scholo, but great for Sunken Temple

Back in Vanilla and now in Classic, uniquely almost in the game’s history, there was/is a lot of overlap between items in later dungeons and the end-game content. The whole gear system hasn’t yet started the dizzying upwards-march that rendered earlier items very quickly obsolete, and also threw out the idea of having parallel or situational alternate items. I imagine the game would have had to evolve in a *very* different direction for these types of encounter-specific gear to have survived for broad use. It’s difficult to imagine if a much flatter item level progression and more horizontal progression mechanics in subsequent expansions might have allowed for richer item variety to have been carried forward into the game’s future.

Dungeons & Dragons Online seems to offer a good model here. There is a huge variety of weapon types and armour properties, plus buff spells and items that also add the resistance or damage boost effects I’m writing about here. Carrying a variety of weapons around, and a selection of resistance potions and other items has been a standard for our leveling characters in that MMO since we started playing.

Wow, so many bonuses!

The seemingly super-powered freebie Barovian weapons do rather break this concept, or has done for our progression in that campaign so far. We’ve been in the unusual situation of it never being worth swapping to other weapons because our Barovian gear has so many bonuses on it. Prior to this gear I had a mix of different conjured bolts (fire and arcane) to switch between on my crossbow-focused Artificer character. Other characters in the party have ghost-touch weapons to deal with incorporeal enemies and special weapons for fighting acid-dripping oozes (ooze-bane). As yet, with our highest-level characters at level 11, I cannot attest to whether this is a momentary blip or if item variety ceases to matter in the game’s content after this point.

‘Immune’ isn’t a happy combat text to see appear

What do you, dear reader, think of having specific gear for specific opponents, dungeons or situations? Did WoW Classic do this better than the modern game, or vice versa?

Posted in DDO, MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 4 Comments

That doh moment (MMO UI edition)

The archetypal doh moment for me, specifically relating to MMORPG user interfaces, was from World of Warcraft. It was around the Cataclysm time I think, we’d been playing for years at that point and either my husband or I complained on voice chat with friends about the bag system. The complaint went along the lines that we were having to, yet again, empty a bag so we could then replace it with a new, larger one. The incredulous response was – just drag the new bag onto the old one and it gets replaced with all the contents still inside! Such a simple tip, one that we’ve never encountered in game, and that meant we had spent years juggling items into and out of bags each time any of our many alts got a bag upgrade.

Empty one of these bags item by item was needlessly painful …

A similar Doh moment occured only last week when I was playing Everquest 2. I was cursing my luck for having received yet more potions from an Overseer mission. I have a very large bag in my shared bank overflowing with the things, plus both characters have a small stock in their bags as well. There seems to be two variants of almost all of them with different prefixes (Shadowveil, Shadowpiercer) and several with very similar names. So I have been dutifully hovering over said bag to check if I already have some of a given type. Then in the open bag mousing over the potions of the right colour to find where to stack the newly acquired one. I did contemplate doing a bubble sort on the bag to put them into an alphabetical order, but I don’t have the inclination for that level of inventory micromanagement. I did also start looking at auto-sort options but that seemed to be inventory wide and rather complex (or should I see feature-rich?), so I carried on with the manual sorting. And then I was struck, at random, with the idea of dropping the item on the bag icon in my character’s bank or sheet. Low and behold it stacked the item for me if there were already some in the bag. I was dumbstruck for several moments at how obvious a thing that was, and at wondering why I never have tried that in any MMO that I play.

Drop potion on bag in bank

One of the reasons I so enjoy reading other people’s blogs, especially the gameplay diary style posts, is this very revelatory experience. There have been many moments where I’ve learned something about a game from someone else’s casual mention of one action or another aspect of their activities.

Do you have any particular ‘doh!’ moments from a MMORPG that stand out in your memory?

Posted in EQ2, MMORPG, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments