DDO: control scheme foibles

Popping back into Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) recently, just to blow the cobwebs off my characters, I was reminded of the issue of control schemes in different MMORPGs. If you’ve ever swapped games with any regularity then you might recognise this one too.

A familiar location but half-forgotten controls

A familiar location but half-forgotten controls

MMORPGs have pretty varied default controls – that mix of keybindings and mouse configuration that we use to guide our character. There’s a fairly stark split in the genre between action and non-action games in this regard. Traditional non-action MMOs have the mouse buttons for interaction and movement functions, whereas in action MMOs the mouse buttons are usually used for basic attacks.

Beyond the basics, though, there are lots of actions that I have bound to various keys over the course of the years and in various games. For years I had Shift+4 as my mount/unmount key in LOTRO and in other later games like SWTOR. That was originally a random choice, it just happens I placed my mount skill in the row and slot corresponding with that combination. More recently I have moved to binding mount to mouse button five for convenience and have had to rebind it on all my characters in SWTOR to match. Some games have a specific mount key already setup; e.g. Z in Wildstar or X in The Secret World.

Having an interact key instead of using the mouse button is another control nuance that’s increasingly common, moreso in action games – it is ‘F’ in several games, like TSW, Neverwinter or Wildstar. A similar new convention is the loot key; you spam a key after fights to vacuum up loot instead of the old-school “right-clicking of corpses” method. Sometimes this is the same as interact, or in others it’s a separate key, e.g. ‘V’ in Wildstar.

Returning to the subject of DDO, the game has three preset control schemes in the game (default, fps and classic). By instinct I prefer the ‘classic’ scheme – one major difference is in the mouse button actions: with ‘classic’ you interact with the left mouse and basic attack with the right, the newer ‘default’ scheme reverses these two. I think it must be muscle-memory that I’m used to playing DDO that way as I started before the control scheme changes that came with the Free to Play transition. But the game does still feel slightly like a hybrid between a non-combat and combat-MMO with regards to its controls. I may have to try to setup a more action MMO-like control scheme if we play the game, e.g. having an interact key instead of either mouse button.

Setting up the controls to mimic other games you play can be time-consuming, or even impossible if keybindings are limited. Do you muddle through and (re)learn a game’s defaults or do you take the time to reconfigure things?

 

Posted in DDO, Gaming, LotRO, Neverwinter, TSW, Wildstar | 2 Comments

Dark vs Light and Evaluating coop options

A couple of small things in this end-of-week post:

Dark vs Light

I’ve managed to squeeze in a few short sessions on my new Sith Warrior for the current Dark vs Light event in SWTOR. According to the website the Dark Side has a fractional lead as of the time of publishing this (51% Dark vs 49% Light).

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Merciful Sith

It’s rather interesting playing a Light side Sith, rebellious in some ways and stoic in others. So far I’ve not had any major dilemmas over Light side choices, they’re invariably what I would prefer to choose over the more hateful or spiteful Dark side options.

Coop

Our trio group is busy in discussions to find a good game to settle in for a the 7 or so weeks before Legion launches. We’ve been playing The Secret World mostly of late but content is running out now so that will not keep us busy much longer. We dipped back into Shadowrun Chronicles both to play with a fourth player and to try the new Missions downloadable content – it’s rather good for a quick 30-60 minute session at the end of the day. The maps have partial-randomisation of opponents and map details so there’s some longevity too if we’re not too intensive playing them.

'Rescue' mission in progress.

‘Rescue’ mission in progress.

That still leaves a doubt of what to play when we have a longer, full evening, session of gaming. Inspired by recent playing some D&D together, I’m very tempted to dip back into DDO to see what quests have been added since we last played. Reading as I write this of the sad news of new layoffs at Turbine, I’m even more of the mind to play DDO and to give the studio some support at a difficult time – their games are well worth playing!

Posted in DDO, Gaming, Neverwinter, SR Chronicles, SWTOR, TSW | 1 Comment

WTB more time

I’ve had some deadlines changed on me with short notice and have a ton of work to do this week now so it looks like MMO gaming time is going to be in short supply. It’s doubly annoying as there is so much I’d happily be playing at the moment, if I could.

At least Starfall has finished in Wildstar so I’m not missing anything in that game but I’m also failing to find the time to level my engineer. I’ve not looked at the latest chapter for the Knights of the Fallen Empire yet and my new Sith Warrior hasn’t left the tombs of Korriban either.

There’s also the Guardians of Gaia anniversary event happening in The Secret World until the 13th July. We did squeeze in a couple of guardian fights among all the pen and paper D&D this weekend, but I can’t see us managing that many sessions of the game for the next week so I may not do much more of this event this year.

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I may have to slow my blogging schedule temporarily, I’ll see how it goes. Enjoy your gaming time whatever you’re playing!

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR, TSW, Wildstar

SRC: a new playthrough begins

A friend with whom we’ve played World of Warcraft on and off for many years recently purchased Shadowrun Chronicles, so over the weekend we took a break from our Dungeons & Dragons marathon to start a new re-run of the original SRC campaign.

Manaball

Manaball is the go-to spell

We’ve mostly played this game as a trio, requiring a NPC ‘runner’ to make-up the full party size of four. This is the first time we’ve actually played this particular game as a four. After the solo tutorial, there are three or four duo-only missions to play through and then the rest of the game has the standard party size.

Wrong skill combo means getting beat up by early content

Wrong skill combo means getting beat up by early content

I’m playing a mage/automatics character this time. I did initially try magic/rigging as a combo but early on there’s a mission against security drones and my character was next to useless since such opponents are immune to magic and the basic drone was no match for them.

Not sure if we’ll be able to keep momentum for a full play through as there’s a time zone difference to complicate scheduling but it is fun to be back in this game once more.

Posted in Gaming, SR Chronicles

The inventory management game

When popping my head back into Everquest 2 this last week I was reminded just how generous (or excessive) the amount of inventory and bank space a given character can have. I can sometimes find a kind of calm in sorting bags, swapping crafting materials between alts or selling unwanted items on the broker. Other times though I just want to get on with quests and ignore the piles of random stuff that quickly accumulate.

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Everquest 2 does rather take it to an extreme though: very generous bags sizes, a bank and house vault per character and that’s not counting guild storage. Compared to most MMOs, especially free to play MMOs that monetize the pain of limited bag space (e.g. Allods), EQ2 is the game where a lack of inventory management can get so out of hand. LOTRO, by contrast, was always pretty stingy with bag space. Inventory space was static for years after launch before finally adding a sixth bag and the option to increase the total inventory size somewhat.

Sixth bag and expanded first bag

Sixth bag and expanded first bag in LOTRO

In any game I generally limit inventory busy-work to using alts to store materials aligned to their profession (ore for smiths, gems for a jeweller etc) or class-specific items like armour or weapons. In LOTRO, more than other MMO, I’ve managed to be pretty systematic about this for crafting materials, legendary items and class gear. My highest level SWTOR alts all have very messy banks by contrast, I’ve just not found the motivation to do much about it – though the lack of shared bank space doesn’t help matters. I’ve said it several times before on this blog but having a simple system for transferring items between characters is such a boon in a game – a shared bank is much more conveninent than having to mail items back and forth.

Urgh...

Urgh…

Is inventory management a headache or a welcome aspect to your MMORPG gaming?

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, SWTOR | 7 Comments

TSW: foreshadowing of Tokyo?

We played another “filling in the gaps” session last night in The Secret World. We were able to finish off the last three or four missions we’d never completed in the City of the Sun God zone. While running those missions I noticed a couple of little hints at what would beĀ  future content at the time the zone was released.

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Amir, the Jinn mission-giver, mentions in a cut scene about the Jinn and the Oni being exiles. It only stood out to me because we’d already completed the Tokyo content first and met plenty of Oni, I presume this was a little hint of deliberate foreshadowing for what would come in Issue 9 (which added Kaidan to the game).

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Also we completed another mission, the Dark Places, which also features a familiar creature if you’ve spent any time in Tokyo…

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It’s only a brief encounter at this time but because we’d done Tokyo beforehand it freaked us out slightly how this creature is introduced and that it has a guest ‘appearance’ this much earlier in the game. If these are deliberate foreshadowing of what is to come then it only reinforces the layered quality of the writing in this MMO!

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 5 Comments

Weekend gaming fun, both expected and unexpected

This weekend I had an unusual amount of solo gaming time so I had some good gaming sessions in several games. SWTOR is on the backburner since I’m waiting on the Dark vs Light event to start. In LOTRO I played some more of the epic story, inching closer to both the cap (now level 102 of 105!) and the newer content.

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I ended up back in Everquest 2 as well wondering what I could do to break past the levelling barrier I was feeling. It so happened that my guild started up a High Keep group so I joined and two or so hours later my Shadowknight had dinged his way from 97 to 100! I finally have a capped character in this game; DBG better not go and raise the cap again anytime soon…

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Finally in Wildstar I took the final weekly Starfall quest and ran one of the two dungeons for that achievement (I was a bit dungeoned-out after such an epic High Keep session).

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I queued for Protostar Games, one of the two dungeons I’ve actually tried in this MMO. The run went well through to the last boss, the usual PUG fare of silent but mostly ok-coordination. Then it all fell apart a bit on the final boss Wrathbone, we wiped four times and each time we were pretty close to killing the boss. I asked what mechanic we were missing and the only response I got was the two medics decided to switch roles (healer / dps).

I think I’d really need a guild to be happy playing group content in Wildstar, like WoW or any other MMO with a “group finder” equivalent I’m just not happy with the “play in silence” mentality of so many PUGs. It was good to get some group practice in again regardless and I even managed to give DiminisherBot a go, swapping my BruiserBot out in favour of something more group-friendly.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, Wildstar