Cleaning up #GW2

Although I’ve not made great strides yet to implement all the great advice on my inventory problem, we have been busy tidying up zones in Guild Wars 2, working on map completion in Heart of Thorns.

The maps are pretty complex, finding just where a point of interest or hero point location is regardless of what the map says can be a challenge. Some zones have four or more layers stacked vertically and getting between them has proven quite a learning experience at times.

These cats can swim

That said we’ve avoided using guides or enhanced maps for the most part – better to at least try to discover it all ourselves. Some of the paths have become rather well-worn as we ride, glide or Griffon around the zones, the Chak tunnels in particular are uncomfortably familiar.

We’re done with all the zones except for Dragon Stand now, so nearly done on our Charr pair. After that, I’m not sure what we’d do next, other than waiting for the next Living Story chapter. We haven’t done any of Living World Season 3, so if we can save up enough gold to buy some gems we might unlock the two chapters that we’re missing. Although it wasn’t as noticeable during the Path of Fire main story content, we’ve felt since starting Living World Season 4 that a lot has happened that we missed while not playing.

I am certainly enjoying playing Necromancer more, though I haven’t yet decided if I prefer it to Mesmer (Mirage is a TON of fun). I have unlocked Reaver through playing the Heart of Thorns story and zones. I’m about one third of the way through unlocking Scourge as well as we tidy up the remaining map elements, so will be giving that a try as soon as I have enough unlocked for a complete build. For the two classes that I play the most the elite specialisations seem to add a decent amount of variation to their gameplay.

Reaper mode, engage!

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Coming along swimmingly #RiftPrime

My baby Cleric is leveling nicely in Freemarch when I have time to play on Vigil. Now a newly dinged level 15 I’m pushing through the middle of the zone, but also vacuuming up quests that I may have missed. Wilhelm mentions in a recent post on his experiences in Freemarch about missed quests, so far I think I’ve managed to do almost all of them. I’m not resorting to guides or achievement lists as yet, but I am keeping a close eye on the mini-map as I roam across the zone during invasion events – seeing a quest marker pop up while rushing between rifts or invasion squads has helped me find two smaller quest hubs or zones that I would otherwise have missed.

Being tempted by a rift or invasion can lead you to new discoveries

One of the quest areas I found this way was Fortune’s End, there were a few underwater quests here. I was quickly reminded of the old school breath limit on Prime – it didn’t take long to run out of breath and be threatened by drowning. I actually don’t mind underwater content, even if there’s a strict time limit on holding your breath. It’s a nice contrast to staying on land all the time.

Catching my breath

Clearing out the quest log as I go has also meant the odd doubling-back for ‘conquest’ quests – i.e. kill 10 rats. These quests are newer than the original game’s launch, introduced in Storm Legion if memory serves, but they’ve been kept for this Prime server. Such kill quests are clearly marked with the red star-burst icon on the map to show where you should go hunting. Given the reports on other blogs of problems with getting enough XP to level, I’m being thorough at the moment and going back if needs be to do them all.

Mini-map showing a conquest mob area

I’ll soon be on to Denegar’s Stand now, the Defiant base at the foot of the Iron Fortress – the first dungeon for this faction. Hopefully I’ll have Freemarch wrapped up by the weekend! The next zone, Stonefield, has very good memories for me of the game’s early launch weeks and the frantic fun of massive zone-wide invasions. I’m looking forward to moving on to there soon.

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Inventory is full, again #GW2

Inventory management is a constant part of all the MMORPGs that I play, although it’s more of a pressing problem in some rather than others. It isn’t something that I particularly enjoy, in the same way that the micromanagement of weight limits for equipment in early tabletop roleplaying games was a layer of gameplay I was happy to ignore.

Follow the zerg

Yesterday while playing Guild Wars 2, I was reminded of how dominant inventory space issues are in this game, for me personally at least. The problem is that any larger scale event in Heart of Thorns or Path of Fire zones showers you in loot, much of which is a container that when opened may further add to the loot pile, under which your character could easily be squashed.

This is compounded by the specific “follow the zerg” gameplay style of these big events. If you follow the ‘flagged’ raid leader you get to experience the event as it happens. If you lag behind too far or too often then you’ll miss out on experiencing the event and the rewards. We happened to get into the Mouth of Mordremoth event for the first time yesterday, and this play through was made notably worse by having constantly full bags and not having any time to make any space.

If I knew the content better and had years of experience at dealing with different loot containers and items, then we’d instinctively know what to discard or sell via the auction house, but I don’t as yet. I’d compare it to those TV shows where contestants try to do an obstacle course while being targeted by water jets or the like – we were trying to follow the zerg and negotiate maps we didn’t know at all and every big glowy chest caused another bag overflow window to appear. Then you have the frantic attempts to auction as much as possible and the split-second judgements on what to discard. Our characters are dirt poor after buying their griffons so any money lost does really count at the moment.

Inventory after I’ve sorted most of the loot

In contrast to the Guild Wars 2 extreme, in other games inventory management is more a long-term puzzle than an issue of immediacy. In Everquest 2 for instance both my main characters have full bags all the time. In that game you can have extremely large inventory size as well without any real effort, the problem is more that my desire to gather resources, and my lack of motivation to tidy-up leaves bags full of old quest items, clickable items and spare armour pieces.

All the items…

‘Clickies’ are the biggest inventory management issue in DDO as well. I love having one-use items in the game as a means to broaden your characters abilities, but they can take up so much bag space. In this MMO the greater offender for bag-space hogging is the endlessly varied collectable items that you pick up as minor loot from specific nodes. Getting rid of them is usually a lot of effort – you have to run around multiple zones within Stormreach to take them to a specific vendor, and trade in multiples of them to receive minor rewards. Often you hand in all but one of a given collectable meaning it’s freed up no slots in your inventory, and the rewards you receive in return may well take up more space than you’ve freed up by trading the collectables in.


Inventory full in DDO

Although most discussions about MMORPG tend to focus on combat gameplay or story-telling, there are other aspects to these games that cut across the genre. Generally I guess inventory management is a background issue to most players, one they rarely care about. I’ve lost count of the number of times in World of Warcraft, Rift or Elder Scrolls Online that I’ve run out of hand-space mid dungeon and had to ask for a quick pause while trying to free up some space. In our recent duo sessions of GW2 this issue seems compounded by the sheer volume of loot and the frenetic pace of some content. I’m happy enough for inventory space to be limited, I have strong enough RPG roots to accept this, but if it becomes a distraction during combat or story-telling I’m liable to be less happy.

Posted in DDO, EQ2, Gaming, Guild Wars | 7 Comments

Cleric pride #Rift #RiftPrime

I’ve ended up playing yet another Cleric for Rift Prime. Perhaps I should have tried a new main calling in this leveling experiment on the progression server Vigil. Back at the original launch of the game, for a while, my group character was a Warrior. Otherwise I have dabbled with two different Mages over the years in Rift, one as a solo character and crafter, and another Guardian-side with a leveling static.

Mage support fun

But when it came down to it, for the new server and the limited available calling/soul combinations I had to go with Cleric: I wanted to have a good set of DPS/healing options and that in the early game means playing a Cleric.

My baby Cleric in Freemarch

I started with the Shaman-based predefined build, but almost immediately broke out of the default path – swapping Inquisitor out to take Purifier instead. Having damage shields and substantial self-healing was more important to me. It also means I can throw some emergency shields or healing on others in any public group content.

Up close and personal with an earth rift boss

Having a mixture of ranged and melee attacks is useful, it’s not always possible to close with creatures fast enough in the chaos of a rift event, so having lighting attacks as well makes a big difference to my sense of contributing. That coupled with the area melee attack I also have means I always feel like I’m in the thick of things.

I’m not sure where I’m taking this character, or how long his journey on Vigil will be. It’s fun for now though and I’m reminded of the joy of rich character customisation through the soul-system. Leveling relatively fast through the early levels gives you a quick succession of choices to make.

This system doesn’t get enough recognition in an era where character customisation is usually pretty banal or limited. Like Final Fantasy 14 you can, if you want to, do all roles on one character – flexibility is there if you wish it. For balance I’ve also been playing my Cleric main on live some as well.

Buffing allies and debuffing foes on my Oracle

The Oracle soul has become my favourite to play at higher levels – it’s great for public group stuff, but isn’t so crucial to success as tank or healer. I do rather enjoy playing support classes, and Rift offers the chance to play this oft neglected fourth role.

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South Africa announced #SWL #TSW

So, as a bit of a surprise the new content coming in April for Secret World Legends is set in South Africa. The location probably isn’t that big a surprise to those closely following the games lore, but the short lead time to its arrival certainly was for us.

Expectations for this content release are likely to be rather high, from the TSW veteran’s perspective it’s the first new non-dungeon content for several years; the first new zone for longer. I’m excited to see the new content, the trailer looks promising as the game will be delving into the background of a certain mysterious organisation.

The trio group I’m sporadically playing with is only just into City of the Sun God, so we have the whole of Transylvania (3 zones) plus Kaidan to do before our SWL characters are caught up with our original characters’ progress. That’s a lot of story to get through. There’s zero chance we’ll be ready when this is due to launch on 4th April. As a friend said last night, though, the story in this game should not be rushed.

So, here’s hoping the new zone is good, and that there’s more than a superficial layer of South African culture and geography incorporated – with the camp setting shown in the video I am slightly worried the zone will be set in South Africa but not particularly ‘grounded’ in that country. The filth hyenas look spooky enough, but what about some hadidas or dassies?

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 3 Comments

Dithering over Rift (Prime) #Riftgame

So, I was tempted to log back into Rift when I returned home after a weekend away. Reading about Rift Prime reminds me of enjoying the game, enough to prompt me to log back in again, at least for a poke around on my Cleric main. The problem with the Rift Prime idea is that I’m not played out on this main, I have plenty still to do on him, that makes restarting again from scratch pretty tough for me to swallow. It’s not impossible I’ll give in to the lure of nostalgia; unlike Everquest 2’s nostalgia servers, I actually played Rift at launch and therefore have some pretty strong emotional ties to starter zones full of new adventurers.

Ah, Meridien and Freemarch…

But that would be time spent away from other characters like my Cleric, and other games, and it appears that the character will lack permanence. According to the FAQ, the character will be able to transfer to a different server after the Prime server closes, but I imagine it will be relatively poorly equipped and probably, knowing my slow leveling pace, not even level-capped. The Prime server ruleset means no mount or other account level rewards – that’s pretty harsh, having no mount at all these days isn’t something I look forward to in any game.

Don’t take my ghost horse away!

Still, I logged back in and with no active quests in my character’s log (bar conquest ones), and no memory of where I might have left things off, I did the obvious and easy thing to do – I joined an Intrepid Adventure. My character teleported within seconds into Hammerknell and I spent the next 30-40 racking up experience pretty handily by charging around with a small raid group of random players. All worked well, was easy enough to be low-stress, yet required just a modicum of coordination. It is just the kind of work-out activity that helps you to re-awaken the muscle memories of class abilities and rotations.

So, I have a double dilemma. Do I return to Rift to try out Rift Prime? Do I return to Rift to actually get on with leveling my Cleric instead? So far there’s only one Rift Prime server in North America so the play experience for an EU based player might not be that great (lag-wise or time-zone activity levels-wise). It might be worth me at least holding out to hear if a EU Prime server will be created…


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Quest failure conditions #DDO

It seems quite unusual that you can outright fail a quest in a MMORPG. You can get yourself lost or give up on one easily enough of course. But how often do we get told we’ve failed and get sent back to the start?

A jungle trek to the tomb

Last night we played “The Faithful Departed” for the first time, and right at the end the (failure) condition was triggered and we were dumped out of the instance. That’s pretty in harsh in DDO terms, if you fail you only get to keep the loot you’ve picked up thusfar, any experience rewards stacked up are gone.

Lots of poisonous monsters here

The issue really for us wasn’t that there was a failure condition, but rather that we collectively were confused by the terms of that failure condition. The wording made it sound, on this first run-through, like we should let the revered dead get destroyed. In fact it was stating what will cause the quest to be a failure. There are few quests with these failure conditions, so we do not have a huge amount of exposure to how they work and are worded elsewhere. If we’d paid a bit more attention to the lengthy dialogue that introduced the quest then, I guess, it’d probably have been more clear.

The dungeon happens to be a very impressive one visually, we gave up on it for that session as time was running out, but I’ll want to go back and beat it. Failure conditions are interesting, especially where there are slightly higher stakes than clicking a retry conversation option. Ensuring that the players are clear on what will cause a failure isn’t always so easy it seems.

Are you ok with failure conditions for MMORPG quests?

Posted in DDO, Gaming | 4 Comments