WoW: jewelcrafting mini-game weirdness

So I’ve accumulated three different items with a prismatic gem slot on my Druid main in World or Warcraft, and this finally prompted me to star work on my Mage’s jewelcrafting profession.

Time to learn some new recipes!

Time to learn some new recipes!

As part of an early quest you get to do a mini-game of sorts to cut the gemstone into a polished gem ready for use. It’s a kind of bizarre addition to a MMO that does not do mini-games for crafting.



I’m used to crafting mini-games mind, since Everquest 2 has them in spades and Final Fantasy 14 also boasts more interactive crafting than the “click and wait” standard of most games in the genre. What was weird about this mini-game was the lack of actual gameplay involved – it was just a lot of clicking and some rotating basically. I wonder whether some developer with a penchant for the jewelcrafting profession pushed this? Do any other professions have something similar in Legion?

Posted in EQ2, FFXIV, Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment

WoW: exploration and stealth in Suramar

Suramar, the current end-game zone for the Legion expansion, is an interesting mix of excitement and frustration. The zone is very beautiful in design and scale, possibly the most impressive open world zone World of Warcraft has ever had.


The city is pretty large and so full of life and content. What’s more that content is layered, both in story terms and in the verticality of the city’s design. As I discovered on our last jaunt around the city there is a substantial amount of content above ground – accessible using the grapple-hook system from Stormheim. This gives a real measure of freedom of how to get to content – the rare opponent pictured here could be reached via a series of stairs and rooftop bridges or, as I discovered, by grappling up and jumping between roofs via the series of jutting beams.


There is also a dominant element of stealth to the gameplay in the city, via the masquerade mechanic. Our characters can ‘stealth’ past the many hostile servants of the invading demons disguised as a Nightbourne elves. There are scattered guards and more alert citizens who can see through this disguise, however, so careful movement through the city is required (unless you happen to have an ability to drop out of combat, the Night Elf racial Shadowmeld has never been so useful!).

Patience is really a virtue in Suramar

Patience is really a virtue in Suramar

It is certainly immersive to be wandering the streets of this expansive city although the amount of enemies to dodge and the speed with which being detected can escalate into a “flee or die” situation can get a little wearing in a longer session. I’ve never played the standard rogue archetype, it is only recently have I started playing a MMO character with a functional stealth ability. So it’s not really something I’m used to or something I necessarily find that enjoyable. For the first playthrough of the zone it’s fresh and a challenge so I’m happy enough, but I can see this being a disincentive for me to progress alt characters like my Paladin through the zone.

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment

EQ2: Kunark Ascending on Nov 15th

I read via the Massively OP site that Everquest 2’s next expansion launches on November the 15th. For the first time since I started playing the game I will actually have a character at the cap ready for an expansion launch, albeit one who is woefully undergeared for any new content.

My Shadowknight is lost somewhere in Thalumbra

My Shadowknight has barely set foot in Thalumbra

It’s an exciting time nonetheless as there’s a lot of new features coming in this expansion, including a wardrobe feature and a new type of character advancement (ascension classes?). We’ll also be able to upgrade our mercenaries gear. That can be a blessing or a curse if I remember back to gearing companions in SWTOR’s past – it adds a layer of customisation to your faithful helpers but in essence can multiply up the gear-grind something shocking if you have plenty of alt-characters…


These Kunark lizardfolk build big!

My stated aim is to get my Inquisitor from 95 to 100 by the launch of the expansion, if possible. I had the idea of maybe chronomentoring down to level 70ish to run the current Kunark timeline quests series in case this expansion builds on them. There continent is designed for a level band that I’ve not yet seen (68-80): I levelled this Inquisitor from 1-50, then insta-dinged a Shadowknight to 85 and levelled him to 100. I’ve since boosted the Inquisitor to 95 with the new free-boost offer.

So by chance, I skipped almost all of the Kunark content already in the game (I have played through the Sarnak starter areas on my Shadownknight). There should be time to get some homework done before the gates of the new expansion are opened and learn what this Kunark place is all about!

Posted in EQ2, Gaming | 1 Comment

Tera: healers in active combat

Last night we did manage to squeeze in a game of Tera as a group of four. We have a Warrior tank, Ninja and Archer dps and my Mystic healer. After the last session of questing and wandering zones we were ready for the next dungeon, Sinestral Manor, according to the lowest level of our group’s characters (level 26).

Healing a dungeon in this game reminded me that, although I’m not great with crazy/frantic combat in more action-oriented MMORPGs, the healing dynamic can be pretty amazing.

This energetic boss spreads the party out - tough on the healer!

This energetic boss spreads the party out – tough on the healer!

Apparently Sinestral Manor steps up the difficulty from the earlier Bastion of Lok, I would agree with this assessment – other than the first boss, the amount of movement required and the punishment for not moving are higher in this creepy place. In the tougher moments, I found myself wishing I was playing a Priest instead of Mystic: with hindsight I suspect it’s easier to heal levelling dungeons with a Priests big healing circles. Memories of healing dungeons and BAM zones came flooding back from 2013…

This was a nasty boss fight

This was a nasty boss fight

But the Mystic is a fun class, and I’m certainly not making best use of the more varied toolkit of spells that I have available – it was the first dungeon run for over a month (probably nearer two!) so some practice is needed. My character has only one lock-on, multi-target heal to spam when things get scary and, like with the Priest’s lock-on heal, it causes a lot of aggro with monsters. So use that a few times and the boss is likely to be charging at me a moment later.

Old screenshot of Thrall of Life

Older screenshot of Thrall of Life

I need to make more use of the Thrall of Life healing pet. Do not get the wrong idea reading the words ‘healing pet’. This isn’t as useful or as smart as the Druid’s Faerie pet in Rift. This Thrall appears for a brief few seconds and casts three spells in succession: a single-target heal on me, a small circle heal centred on me and a large circle (either heal or decurse – not sure which). Positioning for this is going to be important – I think in future I need to practice teleporting to injured allies and then dropping this little helper to get them in the circle spells!

Posted in Gaming, Tera | 3 Comments

October gaming plans

Reading Aywren’s recent post on her plans for the month started me thinking about what I’ll likely be up to here.

World of Warcraft
WoW will still be my main game in October. I’m progressing my Balance Druid through the various dungeons quests and world quests. He’s also digging into the Suramar zone quests although I only play this character as part of a trio so it’s a relaxed pace. I’m undecided about whether I shall try raiding on him, but with certain artifact weapon appearance unlocks gated by normal mode of the first raid it might be worth considering.

Everquest 2
I have a level 95 Inquisitor to get the five remaining levels to the cap so that I have a non-tank, ranged character at cap in this game. I’m awaiting news of when in October there’ll be the bonus XP events so I can make best use of the 95-100 zones to get there in good time.

Rift or SWTOR
The husband and I were discussing yesterday wanting something different to play other than more World of Warcaft. One option would be to go back to a Guardian playthrough of the Vanilla Rift content – our characters are in their early 20s I believe. A second option would be to carry on our Jedi pair in SWTOR through chapter 3 of their respective class stories.

Over the summer we’ve played a couple of very sporadic games of Tera with my niece and nephew on new low-level characters. It’s not easy to juggle four schedules so progress is super slow on this but it is chaotic fun when we can manage it.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Rift, SWTOR, Tera, WoW | 2 Comments

WoW: back to nature

Playing our Horde trio, level 88 or thereabouts, last night we were riding in between dungeons across the open fields of the Valley of the Four Winds in Pandaria.


It was as we rode across the Valley that it occurred to me that the zone, full of roaming herds and wild predators, appeared to be a WoW equivalent of some post-apocalyptic future where the Earth had been depopulated by some zombie-spread disease or nuclear war and thus gone “back to nature”.


In this journey across the continent we didn’t see any other players, and more importantly didn’t see the impact of any players. The zones were full of yellow-named wildlife and red-named hostile predators. It made our progress somewhat slower than it would have been when Mists of Pandaria was current content – so much skinning material not gathered!

Posted in Gaming, WoW

Juggling MMOs – timeouts and reminders

Having multiple MMORPGs to play is great in terms of keeping myself entertained regardless of burnout, a sudden whim for variety or the odd server downtime. This September my gaming time has been more limited, not terribly constrained, but I’ve found myself mostly just playing WoW with a bit of Everquest 2 on the side. In a sense that shouldn’t matter, I’m not paying any subscriptions at all at the moment (I play EQ2 as F2P currently and WoW via Token) so there’s no nagging feeling I should be playing this MMO or that MMO because of “value for money”. But the games are designed to be sticky in other ways  and that can be a pain when you play so many, even casually.

A model for auction houses everywhere...

A model for auction houses everywhere…

The biggest issue I face is juggling auction items. Unfortunately not all MMOs have adopted EQ2’s rather civilised broker system – items put up for sale stay there until you decide otherwise. None of this constant cycle of 48-hour max postings that then bounce back and clog your mailbox. I’m sure there are some complicated virtual-economic reasons why limited-time postings are good or something but from an admin point of view it’s a nightmare. At one point earlier in the summer I was actively playing LoTRO and Wildstar and I was posting a lot on both games onto their respective auction houses and it became a regular chore, even when not playing, to cycle stuff back onto the auction house. Of course, I realise that if I want my stuff to actually sell then some regular engagement is needed, even in EQ2 that’s likely to be true. Prices fluctuate of course so if I fail to keep an irregular eye on the market then my timer-free broker posts will sit there, quite possibly with a wildly inflated and out-of-date price-tag. But still it’s always a pleasure coming back to EQ2 and finding a chunk of change sat in my broker window for collection along with a neat summary of what sold and when.

4 days left - bit too close for comfort?

4 days left – bit too close for comfort?

A secondary issue that is related is that of mailbox item retention. Most MMOs have a pretty draconian mail expiry system – if you fail to login for whatever arbitrary timeframe, say a month, then any messages (and attached items) in your mailbox may expire and vanish for good. For many, many years a standard ritual in our house just before going on holiday has been to cycle through MMOs and characters to check nothing will expire while we’re gone. It’s another minor element where Everquest 2 scores highly since mail never seems to expire – there’s a count of how old it is but my characters have some very, very old mails in their mailbox.

This can be an inconvenience from the administration perspective of course, but it can also be a real downer from a character history/lore point of view. Some games make use of the mail system to have NPCs send you ‘in-character’ messages; SWTOR uses this a lot, WoW has on occasion also. It’s a real shame that both games forcibly delete these story-snippets. I did contemplate screenshotting them on my original SWTOR character but that quickly became impractical. In WoW there is an option to create a letter item copy of any such mails in your character’s bag but that was a quick way to overload your character’s bank space – a partial solution but not as simple as allowing longer term storage of the mails in the first place.


The third item that can be a bit of a pain for MMO juggling is housing upkeep. Games vary a lot here, some like Wildstar or SWTOR do not have any upkeep to pay (at least not on the property itself). EQ2 offers a middle ground – if you fail to keep payments up you’ll be locked out, but the house and its contents are there waiting for you when you pay again. I’m not as familiar with LOTRO’s system but it seems to be similar although you have to pay a restoration fee of the money owing to regain access. My characters with housing in both games have more than enough money to pay their housing fees for years before running out, so the existence of the fee isn’t such an issue but I do sometimes have lengthy absences and having to remember to pay ‘the rent’ feels rather too much like real life for my virtual hobby.

So overall I prefer games that do not expect me to keep reminders or schedules of when stuff will expire. Data storage is cheaper than ever, and not all MMOs have these needy time limits on features, so why keep them?

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, SWTOR, Wildstar, WoW | 1 Comment