I’m away and not thinking about gaming that much, but as we have been spending time on outdoor activities, I’ve thought a bit about what would be called lifeskills in some MMORPGs (e.g Black Desert Online).

That’s not to say I’m busy at the pottery corner crafting items, but rather wandering around a forest, or swimming in the aquatic centre, has me practicing things that would be skills in a pen and paper rpg, yet that are largely absent in the online gaming equivalent.

After searching for semi-tame deer in the forest to photograph them, I tried to think of any MMO tracking skill examples. Recently we’ve done a mission in Secret World in Kaiden where you follow emotional tracks, but that’s a special one-off mission skill, not something characters can develop as a player choice.

Likewise swimming is only an actual character skill in a few old-school games. In Dungeons and Dragons Online it drastically affects your character’s ability to hold their breath underwater. Everquest 2 has a swim skill too that levels as you swim about, but my main characters have abilities or items to avoid the tyranny of the breath meter, so I’m not sure if that skill actually means much?

In pen and paper rpgs, it’s usually possible to develop your character in lifeskills like this. Are there other good examples of character skills in MMOs that are not specifically combat or crafting related?

Posted in Gaming | 5 Comments

What I won’t be playing this weekend

I’m off on a family holiday for a long weekend, and as usual the timing is perfect to not be doing all of the great stuff that’s happening in MMORPG land!

Firstly Guild Wars 2 has just released, after some delay, the next update to the Living Story. Bhagpuss has his spoiler-free first impressions in a recent post. I’ll not be seeing this till next week some time. Husband and I had taken a break from Guild Wars 2 after playing it for months, we just lost momentum once we’d done the story of the last update.

Everquest 2 has its newest festival starting today, literally the day I go away (<sigh>) – The Scorched Sky. Thankfully it lasts until July 9th according to the article on EQTraders, so I’ll be able to dive into this when we return; it’ll be my solo-gaming priority in fact.

Secret World Legends has the anniversary event ongoing, we’ve only managed to login once since that started on June 20th, it lasts until July 17th – so again there’ll hopefully be some opportunities to fight some talos for extra loot.

It’s a busy start to the summer!

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Guild Wars, TSW | 2 Comments

Fractured: a MMO with some depth and choice?

Massively have a post highlighting Fractured, an isometric MMORPG in development. It’s the first game in a quite a while that may actually interest me. The video in the leaked post has a lot of details, but the following points stood out to me.

Unlike most MMOs in development this game seems to promise a real choice to opt-out of PVP – and unlike other recent games isn’t betting the game’s future on forcing players into PVP. There will be three world’s it seems: one PVE with flagging for consensual PVP, one all-out PVP and a middle-ground that offers some mix of the two. Naturally if I were to play this I’d be on the former.

There’s talk of the choice of character race having real meaning, it sounds like racial choices are locked to the world you start on, though equally it sounded to me like your character could then travel between the three worlds. That would probably force me to create a beastman (native of the PVE world), or perhaps a human from the middle world that would have to immediately ‘escape’ to the PVE world if that were possible. It sort of sounds a bit like Everquest 2’s alignment system albeit with the PVE-PVP spectrum layered onto it.

There some detailing of the proposed building/crafting system as well, with a hint about trading long-distance and scarcity of some materials in some areas. I wonder then if some materials will only be in one of the three worlds, requiring player to transport rarer items between them?

All in all it sounds more interesting than most of the games in current development, and with the developers giving a nod that not everyone with an interest in sandbox gameplay is also a fan of all-out PVP. The Diablo-style graphics aren’t my favourite, but I’d be willing to at least give the game a try for something a bit different. I do like the sound of three linked worlds as a setting.

Posted in Gaming

Summer activities #EQ2

According to a recent post by Bhagpuss there’s yet another new event coming next week to Everquest 2, the Scorched Sky Celebration. More events in this game are always welcome as the rewards are usually excellent, especially the housing items. He posts that there’s a fiery horse ground mount, although on most of my characters I would normally have thought that wasn’t worth collecting, I do possibly have an idea for a summer activity that could really benefit from it.

My main is a bit stuck again in the Plane of Disease, I abandoned the quest chain due to time limits in the instance near the end of a chain and the whole thing has reset (it happens to be an instance inside an instance). I’ll not be able to return to this until I have a whole afternoon free to re-do it all.

This barrier should be down…

So I’ve been looking for other things to do in Norrath to relax, and came on the idea of chronomentoring down to do some low-level zones that I’ve never done before. I did experiment with this on my level 90 Warlock in the Greater Feydark recently, it’s fun to wander around enjoying the stories without any concerns at all for gear quality or rotations.

The Feydark can be confusing to navigate, even on flying mount

I have a new Berserker from the most recent level 100 promotion that I want to play, but a new character at that high level is rather intimidating skill-wise, so I figure some low-level play will allow me to settle into playing him at an easier difficulty level. There’s quite a wide selection of zones that I’ve never done actually, including some that I’ve started on a character and never finished (e..g Nektulos Forest on my Warden). I’ll need a bit of self-discipline to avoid playing ‘ALL the characters’ since I’m not restricted to just characters at or near the cap for this.

He’s ready for level 100, but am I – the player?

Another advantage of playing older zones on this character is the chance to gather the materials to level a new tradeskill while doing them. If I jump straight into the Plane of Prophecy content on him, I’d not have the materials to level crafting. So, as an extra self-imposed challenge I think I’ll try using a ground mount to slow the pace a little and make the whole experience a little more immersive – a new fiery horse could be just the thing!

Posted in EQ2, Gaming | 1 Comment

Kaidan here we come #SWL

We’ve made it to Kaidan in Secret World Legends, ready to play through this zone’s missions for a second time. In the end Transylvania seemed to take for ages, probably because we had some gaps in-between sessions due to incompatible schedules.

This time around I’m busy learning Japanese, sadly I haven’t learned enough yet to understand or read much (I know about 30 Kanji…), but I am recognising the odd bitand can read most stuff if just the syllabaries are involved. Understanding anything is another thing entirely of course…

Doreemu paresu desu!

The noticeable difference already is that there’s no Aegis (/happydance), I never liked that system and am very happy to see it gone. Despite the lack of Aegis we’ve noticed a difficulty spike in the amount of damage mobs do – the Oni were actually causing me to need to heal in our trio as we roamed around the zone on the first few missions.

Kaidan was a bit of a step-up in difficulty in TSW due to the Aegis system shields, but it seems mobs were pumped to compensate for that system’s removal. As a trio we’ve not had any real issues but I imagine solo this zone could be a bit painful.

We’ve barely started on the zone so lots more to do before we can progress to South Africa. In any case it’s great to be back in Tokyo soaking up the atmosphere and all that ever so delicious writing for me to practice reading on!

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 1 Comment

Pleased to see other players #eso

For the most part when I see other players as my Dragonknight runs around Tamriel, I’m happy for whatever chance encounters that come along. This being a MMORPG, one would almost hope for some multiplayer element to the gameplay, and like any modern game there are several content types that bring players together.

The most obvious and type that I regularly engage with are the Dark Anchors, it’s always obvious when a Dark Anchor is active. They’re usually well attended and relatively easy to jump into at a moments notice.

A lot of instanced story areas are actually like public dungeons in Everquest (1 or 2), in that they are instanced from the world but are shared spaces. This means that a playthrough of such a space can be very varied depending on whether other players are also there – you might have a monster-free romp straight through to the end boss, you might be fighting the odd monster but catch up with someone else just before said boss fight, or you might slog through the entire place alone. This kind of variation actually doesn’t bother me in the slightest, if anything it adds a layer of variability to what could be somewhat formulaic sub-zone design.

I recently stumbled across a boss fight just as it started out in the world, and joined in with a couple of other players to take this skeever-loving vampire down. It took a while even with three of us but we triumphed. I’ll look for more of these as I explore new zones as I do like world boss fights in games (e.g. big demons in WoW Legion or the end bosses of an invasion in Rift).

For the most part seeing other players around is a positive experience, the only real instance where there is competition, and thus a potential negative consequence, when meeting another player is when gathering crafting resource nodes since in ESO this is still competitive (compared to e.g. Guild Wars 2 or World of Warcraft). I’ve played MMOs for long enough to be used to this situation though and from the encounters I’ve had, players do not seem particularly aggressive or angsty over such nodes.

The main hubs that I frequent (Mournhold and Elden Root at the moment) are always buzzing with players, which puts me in a good mood simply by seeing all the activity and interesting transmogs and mounts. Equally the older zones themselves are still busy despite the recent release of completely new zones and content. All in all player interactions in ESO strike me as being positive and plentiful.

Posted in ESO, Gaming | 2 Comments

Vanilla 1.12

So while I was away there was this announcement that World of Warcraft Classic will be based on patch 1.12 (Drums of War). This gives a lot of clarity to what this ‘snapshot’ version of the game will look like, as the post mentions Vanilla WoW covered two whole years of content releases and changes to game mechanics, so there was a lot of potential variations for the devs to chose from.

This represents the game in a close, but not identical state, to when I started playing with friends – we started in the Spring of 2007, so just into the Burning Crusade era. I’m sure as and when Classic actually arrives and I get to try it there’ll be many, many recognisable features of that early incarnation of the game – Shamans with a decent selection of totems that stay around, Paladins with seal & judgement combos and the need to manage mana. More importantly for me at least, the old world of Azeroth will be restored – winding back the many zone upheavals of Cataclysm will be very welcome. I’d be up forĀ  running a character through Thousand Needles again.

I do wonder whether Blizzard will ever take this idea to the logical next step, as other studios have already (both Everquests, and now Rift), and make it into a ‘progression’ server so that players can relive the highs of each new content release, patches and expansions in turn. There’s something appealing about being there at the opening of new content – the stampeding hordes of players rushing back and forth across crowded zones like a plague of heroic locusts. Classic isn’t this, it’s a snapshot of Vanilla at its “most complete”. Given the amount of bugs dutifully recorded in various patch notes, I am happy at least that Blizzard have chosen the last patch for Vanilla as the starting point for this experiment.

Reading the announcement linked above, it is interesting just how much technical detail they’ve gone into – refitting their current WoW tech to use old data files and art assets is an interesting approach. I can appreciate the intention to provide the ‘modern’ World of Warcraft experience with classic content and gameplay laid onto it – playing a relatively bug-infested and unstable version of the game, however nostalgic, is not something I suspect a majority of players would be willing to suffer in 2018.

I’m still firmly on the fence with Battle for Azeroth, until I see how the expansion develops and the until the story shifts away from petty faction-squabbles, I’ll happily wait. The release of Classic would be another way Blizzard could get me back playing WoW again. I expect that’s still a long way off, and will certainly not appear until the majority of players have had a chance to grow bored of BfA’s new content.


Posted in Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment