Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bits and Pieces

I have a week off work next week which is causing my mind to go into butterfly plus mode.  I don’t want to waste the week wandering through different games, but I can’t choose one to focus on.  I just wish Secret World or GW2 were out for my time off!

I hit 31 in Aion, but it’s slow going, been playing a bit of Lineage II, trying to get a wolf pet.  I’ve failed my ‘exam’ (how to raise a wolf) 3 times so far, and it’s not as easy as just repeating it, you have to go to three different towns and re-listen to advice that just doesn’t quite match the questions at all times.  It’s like being back at school (except I didn’t fail this much back then :P).

Lineage II seems to have an amazing amount of people still playing.  This shot is from a server that at login says ‘light’, and it’s taken in a newbie town at that.  I don’t know why I’m drawn back to play, it’s not an easy game, but the journey to 40 is supposed to be very fast so I guess I want to see what the ‘real’ game is like after that.  My wolf pet journey is just a side track, I’m a sucker for pets.

A crowded town

There’s a new game on my radar too, currently in Beta (although all the Beta slots are gone).  It’s called Salem, a sandbox permadeath crafting MMO, being published by Paradox (due Q3 2012).  Not my type of game normally at all, but it’s crafting looks excellent, and the graphics are cute and the game has witches, broomsticks and uses attributes such as ‘phlegm’ (yucko!).  Very appealing, a hardcore game with a cutesy wrapping.  Just one more for the future list :D.

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Atreian Atlus

So I did get new wings, and a kimono!, and a pet with a 30 slot backback (for 7 days).  But not from the quest (the quest simply showed me how I could buy expensive – kinah purchased – new wings if I chose).

Every couple of levels the game gives you an in-game questionnaire.  That might sound tedious but it’s not, simply a checkbox and sometimes some goodies as a thank you for clicking said checkbox / radio button.  This one had a link to the Atreian Atlus an official game guide website that gives a personal journey for your character.  I’ve been there before but not taken much notice.  Now if I hadn’t have played Lineage II a bit this week I would never have checked to see if there were gifts associated with completing set goals, and there were, apparently quite a few of them given that I’m already level 30 :D  Hidden surprises, what fun!

Ain’t they purdy :), and they give me another 40 seconds of flight time

My kimono (representative of a sample of clothing from around the world)

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Ding – 30 – Half way there! (not)

Finally got to 30, and I have a couple of new and exciting quests, new wings perhaps?!  I wonder how far level 30 really is into the game (with 60 as the current max level), 1/10th of the way perhaps? Guess I’ll find out if I continue on this adventure.

I might well be mistaken, but does this mean new wings?

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A new week and a new game

This is how gaming butterflies roll, despite all good intentions to the contrary.   That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped playing Aion, just that I’m peeking at something else.

I did aim to reach 30 in Aion by the end of the weekend but despite many hours of play and throwing back XP potions I only managed to get to 29 1/2.  The quests are becoming more and more group based and crafting is starting to feel a bit grindy.  Those work orders are pretty boring to do hour after hour.   I’m trying to keep all my crafting up so that I can make useful items, but this take a significant (understatement) amount of time.    Money (kinah) is coming in at a nice rapid rate with questing, but kinah can’t buy time I’m afraid.  Maybe I burnt myself out with the effort to level, but by the end of the day my mind was drifting to other (not necessarily greener) pastures.

If I keep playing I’m definitely going to have to find myself an Oceanic Legion to join.  It’s mandatory to finish the story quests and some of them are seriously hard, without fellow travellers it will be very difficult indeed. Plus I always enjoy the background chatter of a guild.

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The dwarf that will have unfulfilled ambitions as an archer

One game that I’ve never looked at, never contemplated, never researched, is Lineage II, despite the fact that it shows up every day on my NCSoft launcher.  I still wouldn’t have contemplated it except for looking at the blog of one of my commenter’s (Shards of Imagination), plus it has the same free-to-play model as Aion (or close).  Having a quick read of forums etc it seems to be very PvP oriented, however some people (like my commenter) are carebears like me, so I’m interested in taking a peak.  After a couple of hours of playing last night however, I don’t know if I’ll last any longer than a week, we’ll see :P.

Very early thoughts in no particular order:

  • Click to move – I researched WASD etc (mouse would be even better), but all posts strongly recommended just getting used to the standard movement, it actually wasn’t so bad once I got used to it.
  • Ding, ding, ding, ding.  It made me laugh, for a lengthy, grindy game, the newbie area is the fastest levelling I’ve seen in anything, ever. Every quest hand-in … ding! I got to level 20 in under 2 hours.
  • No going back.  At level 20 or so, my fighter female dwarf got to choose one of two classes directions, Scavenger or Artisan.  Having done no research and having no idea, I chose Scavenger, thinking it would tell me a bit about my choice and ask me to confirm.  Oh no, none of that in THIS game.  Before I roll my next character (which will likely happen this evening), I’m going to have to do some reading.
  • Classes are race specific, I guess even Wow is / was to a small extent, but this is very strict.  Hence I rolled a dwarf (she was cute), thinking I could end up being a archer, but after some reading, nope (hence the pending re-roll). Unless someone tells me otherwise of course.
  • Be prepared.  At what I’m guessing was the final ‘newbie’ quest, I realised that I’d run out of soulshots (pill shaped things that increase your damage and are used every time you attack if you so choose).  So I went back to town, bought some more.  Ooops, I thought you would use 1 per attack, but my 200 soulshots ran out very very quickly (the first lot of them were a gift so I hadn’t been counting).  Back to town … again … to buy 500.  This time I only used them right at the end of the series of rooms I was working my way through.  I also stocked up on arrows, just in case.  Newer MMO’s have made us lazy, and I haven’t decided whether this is a good or bad thing, but it was kinda nice to realise I had to put my thinking cap on.  Of course ‘kinda nice’, might turn into ‘pain in the ass’ very quickly.
  • A shiny line to show the way.  This is similar to EQ2 however the EQ2 one is clever … and doesn’t go through walls … and has curves in it.
  • Lots and lots and lots of things to learn.  I expected this, it’s an older game, before streamlining become fashionable, which, in truth, is some of it’s appeal to me.
  • Mentors after level 40.  Do you need to find a mentor? Are they easy to find? Do you play alongside your mentor or is just ‘having’ a mentor what it’s all about? I will have to do lots of reading on this also.
  • If I re-roll should I be picking a particular server? I just went with the one at the top of the list (GMT +2?), which was closest to Oceanic – not that 8 hours away is at all close.

EDIT: I just noticed that I’m on Chronos (GMT -2), so you couldn’t get further away in time if you tried. Not sure if it matters at all of course.

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Immersion

Sometimes the smallest things are the most important to immersion

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Aion’s free-to-play model and the Abyss

More and more MMO’s are advertising themselves as free-to-play, most of them after I’ve already bought the box and subbed for a while (this will include TERA down the track no doubt)!  But … there are catches.  EQ2 is ‘free’, but if you want to make full use of the auction house, get a decent amount of bag space, try out more than the basic classes, get to max level etc, you have to purchase expansions and get yourself a subscription.  Fallen Earth, LotRo and many more have some kind of subscription or purchase required to open up the game fully.

This is where Aion is different, even if you wanted to sub, there’s no option to do so.  All quests are accessible, all areas open, all  classes available, it really is free-to-play.  The clear attraction of this means that the game is really alive, there are tonnes of people playing in the first and second areas (I’ve yet to level further than that).  It’s a AAA MMORPG that you can fully play for free.

Plenty of people in-game

So where do they make their money? Fluff (clearly they’re going to get their sub’s worth of money from me :P).  The Aion shop is filled with things like pets (although you can still easily get a wide variety of pets in-game), mounts (again, you can get mounts in-game), housing items, scrolls, clothing dyes etc.  It’s great, if you don’t want to / can’t afford to pay, you can still enjoy the game in it’s entirety.

Of course there is a small but constant reminder that you can still spend your hard earned cash

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Leelew, my stealthy, dagger wielding assassin has now reached 26.  In Aion there are two different types of quests, Campaign and standard. The Campaign quests are like story quests and teach you about lore and introduce you to new aspects of the game.  My latest set of Campaign quests are setting me up for PvP (not something I’m all that into, but I want to do the quests just to see the Abyss).   The Abyss is basically a void between the two factional worlds, Elysea and Asmodae, so it stands to reason that PvP is going to be rife (although there is some PvE there too).  Within the Abyss you can fly anywhere, even over to the opposing world,  but the usual limits to flight time still apply. It’s all about capturing key locations, and undertaking quests … and fighting other players of course.

So that’s where the enemy live!

I can’t see myself participating much in the Abyss, but it’s nice to take a peek.  I’m going to finish up my Abyss campaign quests and then head back to the safety of PvE :).  I want to craft some more things for my empty little cottage and see if I can get to 30 by the end of the weekend.

 

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When do you ‘finish’ an MMO?

Even though my husband has just today started playing Fallen Earth again, I am resisting … resisting … resisting.  One of the main purposes for this blog is to reduce my game flitting down to a level where I can feel like I’ve finished a game before I move on to the next one (or at least attempt to do this).  Of course if I find a game hideous I will be moving on regardless, these are games I’m talking about after all and should be enjoyed!  I will allow myself an MMO and a single player game at the same, but NO MORE!  I could save a fortune by only playing already purchased games, but if I’m honest with myself that’s never going to happen.  Even now I’m tempted to buy Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, but will resist (maybe).  Checking my Steam account I have 182 games, and I would guess that about 180 of them have never been finished.  Damn those Christmas package sales.  The point though, is not to dwell on the past, but to improve in the future.

But back to the reason behind the post.  Knowing when you’ve finished a single player game is easy (in most cases), but when do you ‘finish’ an MMO?

For the purposes of this blog I will consider an MMO finished (and allow myself to move on without guilt) when I hit max level.  Apart from any heroic type instances, I will have seen most of what the game has to offer.  I realise that to many people hitting max level means I’m just getting started, but I think it’s a nice discrete point at which I can claim to have ‘technically’ finished the game.    It doesn’t mean that I HAVE to move on, but just that I can.

So for now this (reformed) Butterfly will continue with Aion, and try to hit max level before Guild Wars 2.  I don’t think there’s any possible way to hit it before Secret World is out, so that will be an excellent test of my flitting deceleration :).  Hmmm, finishing Secret World will be a tricky one if there are no levels …..

No Secret World for me unless I hurry :(

 

 

 

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What’s in a feed

I was rather late to the party with respect to gathering a list of RSS feeds and reading them on a daily basis.  My earliest introduction was peering over the shoulder of a coder many years ago and seeing literally hundreds of unread items in all manner of categories and rolling my eyes (I’m one of those people who like order and a clean inbox).

But for the past year or so, one of my favourite times of the day is lying in bed at night with a cup of tea and my iPad, reading my Google Reader list and Zite (an amazing, free, catch all app for news about anything you might be interested in).  At work I have a slightly different list, fed into Outlook.  My day list is more ‘factual’, it has Kotaku Australia which I absolutely rely on for all the latest and greatest news as well as various other feeds such as Space Sector.  My evening list is mainly blogs (and more specifically MMO blogs), and I love hearing everyone’s thoughts about new games, watching the banter between bloggers and becoming convinced that I must try every game that is being talked about!  If there’s an MMO out there it’s highly likely that I’ve dabbled in it to a lesser or greater extent.

Reading blogs and general RSS feeds brings the world closer and helps me feel like I’m part of a community, even if up to this point I’ve been a largely passive participant.  Before I was fortunate enough to land a job in games I worked for a standard finance type company.  There were a small handful (well, maybe half a handful) of us that played games (vanilla Wow days) and the general consensus around the building was that games were nothing but a waste of time.  I could argue against this until the cows come home but if you’re reading this, then there’s unlikely to be a reason to do so :).  I do think that the climate has changed a lot since then (7 or so years ago), but I still find comfort in gathering all my feeds together and reading the thoughts of like minded people and finishing my day with a smile in the knowledge that I’m not alone.

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A fresh look at Aion

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I bought TERA.  It’s a beautiful game, no doubt, with great combat and … and …

The trouble with new games (and I fully realise that companies have to draw the line somewhere) is that there’s no fluff.  I love my fluff.  TERA was fun and exciting for the week or so I played it until I realised that all I’m going to be doing is questing.  I love questing, but when I’m sick of it, I like to be able to take an in-game break and do other things.  Crafting needs serious attention, there are no non-combat pets, no housing, no fishing, no random items lying around to find.  It’s these little extras that draw me into the world, make me wake up wanting to advance my character.  I’ll come back to TERA because it has a lot of potential, but I’ll come back when it’s matured.

While I was playing TERA though, I was reminded of Aion and decided to take a peek and see what the game is like now.  I remember a visually pretty but grindy game.  The fact that it’s now free-to-play also helped, it doesn’t even have to count as an addition to my purchased games if that’s the case :D (see, I use ALL forms of justification).

Aion has come a long way.  Although it’s not graphically up-to-par with TERA and doesn’t run as smoothly, it has a bundle of fluff.  And by a bundle, I mean shit loads.

The MMO with the best housing was always Everquest 2 for me. To my surprise, Aion’s housing is just as good and you get your first little place for free. You can place your furniture wherever you want.  You have plants (not sure if there are other things yet) that give you presents every day, plants that are there for friends to nurture, items that you can make for your house with crafting (that you can also use for storage) etc etc etc.  I believe that you can display trophies, although I’m only level 24 so far, so I haven’t been able to try that out myself yet.  Oh yes, you even have a butler, who offers you a daily quest and will greet your guests with whatever message you want.

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I love the non-combat pets in Aion.  There are loads of them, they are all interactive to some extent and dig coins out of the ground for you on occasion.  Some can carry extra loads for you (like the vehicles in Fallen Earth), some can alert you to the presence of enemies.  They are just generally good company :)

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Crafting is pretty much the same, although they now have construction to make bits and pieces for your house, and something called Morphing which I haven’t really delved into yet.  Crafting makes use of work orders to help you level so that you don’t have to use all your precious gathered items.  I’m finding I’m levelling up with work orders and then just making the recipes that I find useful out of my gathered items.  I do love the way the crafting stations are all animated.

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Aion now has mounts, although I’m not big enough to use them yet (this reminds me of Vanilla Wow and the feeling of achievement I got when I FINALLY reached 40 and had saved up enough money for my mount).  The quests are varied, the combat challenging (although not too much, particularly if you’re playing with a friend), and the world pretty. There’s a tonne to do, and still so much to discover.  Oh, I nearly forgot flying, flying is awesome, and it will be fun to try it in PvP which I haven’t quite reached yet (I need to get to the Abyss).  Loving it all so far :).

I’ve been playing Aion again for a whole week now … let’s see how long I last.  If Guild Wars 2 holds off (pre-purchased), and I don’t buy Secret World, and I’m not tempted to roll a Panda I should be right for a couple of months … maybe.

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And the purging (blogging) begins ….

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I’m a not so proud butterfly gamer.  Which is ‘what, exactly’ I hear you ask? Apparently (at least according to an ex colleague of mine), it’s the term used for people like myself that flit from game to game to game, never finishing anything, but buying pretty much everything that comes along (ok, so maybe I added that second part).

And I’ll get to them all I swear! That endlessly growing list of Steam games, for sure (and they were all bought on special after all).  All those iPad / iPhone / 3DS / Vita games, not a problem.  All those MMO’s, definately! I love my MMO’s!

I’m like the girl obsessed with shoes, with racks and racks of unworn stilletos, except these days I’m not even adding to my game bookshelves, they’re pretty much all digital.  Of course that could be part of the problem, not seeing them makes it easy to hide them in my mind.

I’m extra lucky too. I work in games, and can therefore claim all my lovely purchases on tax.  But do I? No. Why? Because I’m too embarrassed at the shear number of them.  There’s no way I can justify them all to the tax person, surely.  So I claim some imaginary number of them, a number that I figure would be reasonable.

Which brings me to the point of this blog.  I figure that if I have to reveal all my game purchases, tell the world the games I’m playing and how far I get in them, give my thoughts on them, that I’ll recover my addiction. That way I can become a ‘normal’ MMO blogger and focus solely on a game or three. I need to play all the way through if I’m going to write about them right? That way I’ll also be able to go to work and proudly discuss my latest gaming ventures, including the endings!

I love working in the industry, I love my games, what can I say.

P.S. I’ll just buy one game to start this blog off, no point in looking at games that are already stashed away surely ….

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