Auto-pathing in MMOs

I happened to be watching some of MJ’s recent stream for Bless Online over at Massively OP last night and realised that auto-pathing was going on both in that video on my second monitor, and also in the game I was playing: Lord of the Rings Online. The two games use of auto-pathing – movement towards a selected point by your character more-or-less automatically is at different levels of implementation – but nonetheless there’s some measure of auto-pilot in both.

Lord of the Rings Online has a limited form of auto-pathing in that if you click on a gathering node or a clickable quest objective from a distance your character will ride or walk over and interact with it. I use this a lot while playing, especially when gathering crafting materials. It’s very convenient and I miss it when I play other games that lack the same.

Over you go!

Arguably it might reduce my immersion slightly to be doing so as I can be distracted by other things while my character trots or strides across the field to this ore node or that fruit bush. But equally it makes for very relaxed gaming indeed if I’m on a gathering session.

From what I’ve seen of Bless Online (I haven’t played it), you have the more expansive form of auto-pathing. As in click on a location on the map and your character travels there on auto-pilot. It’s a feature in mainly Asian MMO games (e.g. Black Desert Online, Runes of Magic) that your character can make their own way to a destination, if you don’t mind the occasional risk of wandering through or getting stuck in a dangerous area and potentially dying as a result.

Most journeys in BDO can be auto-pathed, if you so choose

Other than LOTROs node and clickable auto-pathing I’ve not seen this form of automatic movement much in Western MMORPGs. We’re expected to do the driving manually all the time for our characters, other than the odd horse or griffon-taxi ride. Even in this limited form I do appreciate it as an entirely optional feature in LOTRO though, it just feels more efficient somehow – I can be planning where to go next while my character trots over to this quest item or that node.

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Posted in MMORPG, LotRO, BDO | 2 Comments

Catch-up mechanisms

Playing Neverwinter, and specifically the new(ish) Module 14¬† (Ravenloft), I’ve been given a different perspective on catchup mechanisms both within this game and beyond. A previous attempt to return to Neverwinter for solo play before Module 14 was launched saw me frustrated at how far behind my character was despite being the right level for content.

Back then I was attempting to start the jungle-themed Chult campaign (Modules 12+13), but my freshly dinged level 70 Hunter Ranger was weaker than wet paper when confronted with the encounters in the introductory instance off the coast of Chult. I returned earlier content but didn’t see much progress and was distracted by other/easier gaming.

Ravenloft brings with it a major catchup mechanism in terms of the intro quest chain that takes you into the mists of Barovia – you receive a full set of item level 460 gear as a reward for this relatively easy chain (a massive upgrade from the ~318 blues he had). This reminded me of more recent expansions in Everquest 2 that simply give a character, of high-enough level, gear appropriate to start the new content at the outset.

It contrasts with my experiences recently in Lord of the Rings Online where Mordor remains a no-go zone for my Champion as yet. I can comprehend complaints over making things too easy for returning or sporadic players of a game, given that the majority have gone through whatever trials and gear-grinds to make the progress.

However, I imagine it is a real problem for MMORPG devs that players may try to come back and hit such a wall of missed progression that they simply give up and walk away again; I know I have in the past a few times in different games. So having this new catch-up mechanism in Neverwinter is very welcome indeed – it is a game that has a pretty deep and complex gearing mechanism. This has not only unlocked the new Ravenloft content for us to play, which by the way seems excellent, but it will also mean we are geared to go back at some point and play through Modules 12+13. I’ll be getting my Hunter Ranger geared for some sweet revenge on those dinosaurs in the intro for sure!

Posted in EQ2, LotRO, MMORPG, Neverwinter | 2 Comments

Lord of the Rings Online update

Earlier in the week Update 23 went live in Lord of the Rings Online, titled Where Dragons Dwell. I’d seen on social media that the update was coming, but as yet my excitement is muted by the lack of progress I’ve managed to make into Mordor – that content is blocking my main Champion from moving onto the content I’ll probably enjoy that much more in later zones.

Having received a single random piece of gear with the new Light of Earendil stat that is required to make progress in the zone, I returned to the first Mordor zone to give it another try. Needless to say that single earring made no appreciable difference to how squishy and ineffective my Champ feels in this expansion’s content. So I returned him to Minas Tirith to carry on with the reputation grind through dailies. Not the most exciting of content but it’s getting him experience as well and at this point leveling high enough to equip the gear that you can trade for “Ash” in the first Mordor camp is my only idea of how to get past this gear block.

Getting there slowly…

It’s a common enough problem in the MMORPG genre, content is designed for the regular and constant player – if you play sporadically or less frequently progression can be blocked or at least seriously slowed down by the lack of other players in a zone. When I’ve looked into gearing (LOTROPlayers has a good-seeming guide here), the usual refrain in the comments is “go find other players”. I’m sure that worked well enough soon after Mordor’s launch, but now there are several zones of newer content available it’s pretty quiet there. The sheer volume of content to get through to catchup with whatever is current is also a potential issue (e.g. FFXIV…).

For now I’ll keep levelling in earlier content, it is almost a standard approach in MMORPGs to outlevel content that’s too hard for you to complete otherwise. Being higher level won’t bypass the Light mechanic, but it will allow me to equip rep-bought gear that hopefully will make all the difference…

Posted in LotRO, MMORPG | 5 Comments

What podcasts I listen to…

I’ve been listening to quite a lot of podcasts lately, some are long-time favourites, others newly discovered. Thought I’d share in this quick post some link-love and highlight what I listen to and why.

Massively OP Podcast

I’ve been listening to this for a long time now, since the site relaunched I think. I’m a fan of Justin & Bree’s humour and critical analyses of MMORPG gaming news – with a broad scope and coverage of all the games I do play, and many that I do not (yet at least!).

Blizzard Watch

My husband is a lot more into World of Warcraft than I, these days, he raids with the guild and knows more about the game’s lore and mechanics than me too. He got me into listening to this and the related Lore Watch podcasts based on his interest in that game. The team do an entertaining job looking at WoW (and the other Blizzard games) in this regular podcast.

Mythcreants

This is a relatively new podcast to me, but there’s a big backlog of episodes. It mostly about story writing and story analysis but there’s quite a few episodes with video gaming or tabletop RPG themes as well. It has very engaging hosts and some lively, academic¬† yet approachable takes on topics, books and gaming – they always link any points or issues back to pop culture references. It’s inspiring my own desire to write more for RPGs.

Dear DM

I really look forward to episodes of this D&D focused podcast, it has a pretty unique premise: each one is a discussion between the host and a guest about questions and issues relating to being a DM (D&D game referee). Some episodes feature well-known game designers from the genre but each one I’ve listened to has been well worth the time.

On top of all these I also regularly listen to the German language news podcast Tagesschau and have begun searching for some Japanese language podcasts for beginners – but that’s pretty off-topic for this blog! Do you have any podcast recommendations for MMORPGs or tabletop RPGs?

Posted in MMORPG, TTRPG | 2 Comments

Murkmire prologue quests

I learned via a Massively OP article that the Murkmire DLC is coming to Elder Scrolls Online. According to this same info there was already (at time of reading) a pre-quest available in-game as a prologue to the expansion.

I duly trotted off to Davon’s Watch, since most expansion content starts in my faction’s starter zone. It so happens these quests are in the Outlaws’ Refuge, a part of the city I’ve rarely entered.

Here the short session became confused as there were a lot of quests down there, I’ve not touched the Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood DLC content before so the prologue quest(s) became blurred with various nefarious tasks this basement’s shady ne’er-do-wells wanted me to do.

I had the necessary skill point invested to intimidate one NPC upstairs, and eventually after getting sidetracked on aforementioned shady business for some time, I found the location online of where Mme Urzashi’s assistant is to be found. I fear I either missed a crucial clue in the dialogue, or simply I’d left Stonefalls before doing this delve (spoilerific link) so the name would have meant nothing to me anyway.

A visual clue…

I rather like delves as I’ve no doubt posted before – these mini public dungeons are simply fun to romp through. They give plenty of provisioning (cooking) materials and usually you get a bunch of random items that, if nothing else, can be fed to research or deconstruction for other crafting skills.

Time ran out for me, so I didn’t quite get to the daily quest stage mentioned in the MOP article. Unlocking the expansion through dailies sounds like a cool alternative to keep players engaged if they’re not willing or able to purchase it. Personally I know that’s not going to happen since I’d have to log in 24 days in November, that’ll be impossible for me as I have a holiday planned in the middle of the month – so it looks like I’ll be buying it the normal way.

 

Posted in ESO, MMORPG | 3 Comments

A fiery welcome back to Neverwinter

My husband and I decided to log back into Neverwinter today, we’re running low on meaningful things to do as a pair in World of Warcraft at the moment and are playing enough of the latter with other friends anyway. For duo gaming I wanted something else to play – we have plenty of MMOs that we’ve played together, it is more a matter of choosing one and having it patched up to play.

So back in Neverwinter…
This D&D themed MMORPG is good for quick sessions and “jump straight into the action” play. Travel around is generally fast and there’s a lot of content that benefits from having more than one player around. The general questing is easy enough at least for most of the levels – but as I found while leveling my Hunter Ranger solo character the level 60+ zones tend to have more of a difficulty/gearing curve to them.

We last played together back almost one year ago, that’s when we started the Elemental Evil campaign, progressing just through to the start of the second of four tiers of content. The game’s zones and story are layered in a fairly standard way: it is well done and I enjoy it, but it can get a bit formulaic.

Welcome back adventurer!
I was pleasantly surprised to have a full on ‘welcome back’ button on the login screen, with an option to teleport back to Protector’s Enclave (in case you logged off somewhere out-of-the-way) and a breadcrumb quest to take you to a quest giver with level-appropriate content. This recognised that our characters were already on the Elemental Evil campaign and reminded us where to go next.

For some time we’ve discussed returning to Neverwinter in order to give the Ravenloft campaign a try, but the fact our level 65 duo characters aren’t quite ready to start it (it’s level 70+ content) was a bit of a discouragement. The easiest thing to do to close that gap seems to be continuing with the Elemental Evil campaign; this time in Gauntlgrym confronting fire-themed adversaries.

As for this new zone, it was mostly easy enough for settling back into the game. Some of the heroic encounters (the game’s version of public events) are definitely not for a duo only – we were flattened in seconds by a magma scorpion soon after starting on the zone’s quests. Thankfully there are others we can do, and we managed a couple while riding around.

On that point at first we were worried there’d be a lack of players – even on the easier heroic encounters having a few others to help always makes it a more pleasant and efficient experience. Despite this being older content the zone did fill up with other players the longer we were there – something I really appreciate about some MMORPGs (notably those using mega-server tech). Having busy zones, even if you’re not actively playing with others, has a positive impact on my mood as I game.

We ended up a round of quests and daily quests with enough of the campaign resources to complete the first section, and having dinged level 66 as well. A few more sessions like this and we’ll be in the mists of Ravenloft!

 

Posted in MMORPG, Neverwinter | 1 Comment

Adventures in pictures

A few pictures with captions to round off this week’s adventures in Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft:

Although most people seem to prefer the Shire over any other starter zone in Lord of the Rings Online, for me Ered Luin (Dwarf/Elf starter zone) is the most captivating. It has that air of wilderness about it.

Although I’ve played for years on and off, I don’t remember fighting trolls in this corner of the Lone-lands. I went with fire attacks anyway, just in case.

More runes. This time my Rune-keeper is deciphering some scholarly secrets…

Need to get down safely? My Priest’s levitate spell has your back!

So I suppose the heroic thing to do is to untie it before attacking?

Such a cool troll hut in Arathi!

 

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