Monday, September 29, 2008

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I really wanted Age of Conan to be the MMORPG to suck me into Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction world and let me happily spend the next few years in it. I downloaded all the dev videos and was stoked about the plans they had for PVE raiding and PVP mass sieges involving war engines and keeps. Meanwhile, I blithely dismissed news of Warhammer Online as that WoW lookalike that would likely be released sometime in the next decade. I had played WoW already; I didn't want to play it any more. I wanted grit and, yes, I wanted boobies.

It's funny but as I'm having way too much fun in WAR today, I can't help but think that all the activities I imagined I would be engaging in AoC I have actually done already in WAR minus the epic boss raids. And I didn't have to wait until they got around to putting it in or even fixing it in the first place. The stuff just works and it works rather well. Stuff we take for granted in WAR like an auction house, crafting, siege engines, a PVP ranking system and rewards, even stats that make sense. It's been in WAR since the beginning and it's worked as advertised. Granted, some polish can sure be applied but, regardless, something is always better than nothing.

You can't always get what you want. But, if you try sometimes, you get what you need.*

*with apologies to The Rolling Stones

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Work in Progress

I can't help but post this screenshot of my Warrior Priest in all his badass glory. Blizzard could really learn a thing or two from Mythic about designing armor that doesn't look half-bad even if it's not part of a complete set. Judging from the fact they are moving away from specialized gear in WoTLK, there's more possibility for clown-gear hilarity it seems; not less.

I dipped my toe into Tier 3 scenarios yesterday with the Empire-based, Talabec Dam. This scenario has you grabbing a powder keg in the middle of the map and planting it at an objective near the opponent's spawn point. This can be quite difficult to do with 2 evenly matched teams and it's not unusual to win a game without once successfully completing this objective. I was just going to do a quick preview before heading back to do some more Tier 2 scenarios before I completely outleveled them. When I saw the average renown I was getting compared to what I would've gotten from T2, I decided I might stay and play a while. It seems you get more renown from defeating higher level opponents and consequently less from lower-level ones.

Later on in the night, a guild-scheduled RvR event took place. We formed up a warband and some change and headed out to Barak Varr to raise some heck. It was my first organized RvR experience in WAR and it definitely was a blast. The experience was a bit on the zergy side as both sides tried to cram as many people as they could into the keep but we were able to use that to our advantage to send the separate group outside the warband to secure the 2 other PVP objectives in the zone. I wondered what gold sinks there would be once you bought your mount and gear in this game. I quickly found out as I kept visiting the healer after every death and buying the siege gear we could deploy like rams and ballistas.

We were a bit understrength to deal with the keep NPC's along with the players that showed up to face us so we sent some feelers out to other guilds for reinforcements. While waiting on them to mobilize, we decided on a tactical withdrawal to the south and the Marshes of Madness where an Order-held keep was under attack. After making sure it was secure and hearing word that some other guilds had arrived to join in on the fun, we headed back to Barak Varr. The added force was more than enough to secure its downfall and the keep lord was finally slain.

The action was epic with an enemy force numbering at least 40+ against us at one time. All the classic siege tactics were used with a battering ram pounding down the door while boiling oil was poured on us from above. We deployed cannons and ballistas to counter theirs and their range casters continually harrassed us from the keep walls. The melee was furious and the healers were constantly kept on their toes.

After the fall of Barak Varr, we headed out to take over another keep. There was only token resistance and little more than the NPC's to resist us. The keep quickly fell with a whimper. At this time, I had to bade goodbye as it was getting late and I needed my beauty sleep before work the next morning. I'm definitely liking this glimpse of things to come in this game.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Warrior Priest vs. WoW Paladin

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I've been swallowed up by this juggernaut called WAR and haven't had a lot of time to make any meaningful posts. In that time I've leveled up to 20 and bought my mount, participated in some RvR and taking over a keep, ran numerous scenarios, and even went sewer-hopping for some PVE instance fun. That's in addition to the standard quest and public quest fare. You really can't complain that there's nothing to do in this game. At least not at this level.

There was a recent post in the WHA forums asking if the WP was anything like the Paladin in WoW. Since I happen to have some experience with both, I thought I'd go over the similarities and differences of the classes.

The Warrior Priest has 2 main heals at this level which are similar to the Druid HoT's in WoW: Renew and Regrowth. We get a big direct heal as a level 1 Morale ability. The other heals come in the form of buffs and as triggered effects of melee strikes if we choose to use them. The Paladin has mana-efficient direct heals which must be cast while stationary. This means that the WP can be more mobile and can still melee while at the same time heal. It may not be for the enormous amount comparably that a well-geared and specced Paladin can output, but that's the price we pay for the tactical freedom. The Paladin has a mana pool which means he can sit in the back spamming Flash of Light all day long if he wanted to. The Warrior Priest has the Righteous Fury mechanic. While it starts out full, it can quickly be drained from spamming heals and it will only be replenished by meleeing unless you use Supplication which converts action points into Righteous Fury. Since meleeing is almost always a better option than Supplication, you won't be standing in the back healbotting anytime soon.

Paladins can wear plate and have an invulnerability shield. Warrior Priests have medium robe armor and no Divine Shield. But both will die just as easily if they go charging into a mess of enemies without a plan. The general slowness of WAR PVP means that the Warrior Priest has enough time to outlast most opponents 1on1 using a variety of his abilities unless he is severely outclassed or outgeared.

Well geared and specced Ret Paladins do damage that Warrior Priests can only dream about. The Paladin has the seal/judgement system which I hear is getting an overhaul in WoTLK. The Warrior Priest has the usual hotbar strikes which come in a variety of flavors which range from AOE to low damage but heals to good damage but doesn't heal. The bad news is you're not going to one-shot anybody in WAR, the good news is that the slower combat means neither is anyone else going to.

I don't know about anyone else but, as a Warrior Priest, I love having a 65 yard ranged pull. No more body pulls for this boyo. This can also serve double duty as a spammable range attack that can be cast on the move for people trying to get away from you. The gear you get as a Warrior Priest is just badass compared to the WoW Paladin. Who doesn't love a chestpiece with the words "Suffer not a heretic to live." engraved on it?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Becoming a Casualty

I've joined the Casualties of WAR guild on Averheim. I was concerned about my late application being that my decision to roll on their server was literally made at the last minute. On their forums, they had announced recruitment being closed unless you had a referral from a current member. Luckily, I happened to have one. An interesting tidbit was the guild dinging level 7 with my acceptance of the guild invite. Looks like the XP doesn't go to waste as I thought but is still applied after the fact.

Being a SE pre-order meant that I was still too low-level to group with those that had started 2 days prior with the CE pre-order. No tier 2 RvR or scenarios for my level 8 Warrior Priest. So I had to queue up solo for the tier 1 scenarios. I was able to get in some ad-hoc RvR and scenario engagements with guildies though and was even lucky enough to get into a cloak run with them moments after joining the guild.

I'm really starting to get the hang of PVP with the Warrior Priest. I ended the day at level 10 RR10 with some really sweet renown gear. I hear the class gets even better as far as damage and healing goes in tier 2. I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Enjoying Bacon

Over at Ramblings, JoBildo remarks on unaccustomed behavior he is experiencing which is PVPing so early and so often. In WoW, unless you were a pimped-out twink, there really was no good reason to PVP so much prior to max level. All you were accomplishing by doing so was delaying progress towards end-level and meaningful PVP. The same goes with grouping and even joining guilds. The end-game was such a big draw in WoW and soloing so efficient that many people would engage in atypical antisocial behavior for a MMO and not think anything of it. But you can't argue with success and 10 million subscribers mean that Blizzard must be doing something right with its formula.

Enter Mythic and their wacky ideas about getting people to enjoy grouping and interacting with other a MMO. Almost every detail of the game design rewards and nudges you gently in that direction. One of the reasons I'm trying to find a guild so early in my character's life (aside from the obvious social reasons) is that I can't help but feel like the XP I'm using to level could also be used to raise up a guild's level. One of the design details of this game are Living Guilds that will level up with portions of its member XP. You have to give Mythic kudos for not just ripping off what made WoW so successful but also looking for ways to improve upon the player experience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Heading to WAR

I'm currently at a lull in my Eve training skill plan that I'm using to backfill the rest of the learning skills that I ignored while learning the more fun stuff. Afterwards, I plan on training up to fly a salvaging Hurricane to replace my faithful Catalyst. After that, it's finally on to Recon Ships and the Cheetah.

Since there will be some time before I can fly anything new, it's good that the WAR release coincided with this stretch of deadtime. Consequently, you will probably be seeing more WAR themed posts and less Eve content on this blog. The SE headstart started at 7 AM EST today and I was able to get on for a little bit before work. I rolled a Warrior Priest on the Averheim server named Warrender. I really thought I'd get used to MMO opening days after all the ones I've attended over the years, but there's something about them that still give me jitters even now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Prelude to WAR

The last collector's edition I bought for an MMO was the original release of WoW. Being the practical tightwad that I am, it chafed me to see that I got such little use out of the exclusive goodies; both in game and out. So far, I've been able to resist similar offers and haven't once regretted my decision. Which is why I'm still waiting to create my first WAR character for real unlike the ones who have shelled out the extra money for CE. It's okay. I'll use the couple of days to decide which server to play on.

Speaking of which, I think I've discovered one of the reasons why I've never been interested in following blogs before playing Eve Online. It's not like blogging is a recent phenomenon. But reading the various WAR blogs and tracking the virtual diaspora as the community breaks up into separate sharded servers, it suddenly hit me. While problems and achievements can certainly be shared universally in a sharded game, there's something about it that just causes my care-meter to shrink for no other apparent reason.

No such shrinkage with Eve Online. Every Eve blogger is talking about events that happen on the same server I play on. So while the subject matter might not always be of interest to me, at least I know it's still relevant. This could also be why the blogger-driven WAR guild, Casualties of WAR, is gaining such popularity. While at first glance this might seem a surefire recipe for well-documented disaster, this could turn out to be a way to connect these blogs with some relevancy. Only time will tell.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shameless Plug

I'd like to thank CrazyKinux for linking my thoughts on the ZP review of Eve. When he said it was a must read, you guys sure did take him at his word. I think I had more hits on the site yesterday than I had for a combined total previously.

While I have you guys still around, I thought I'd take advantage of the broader audience and make a shameless plug for my corporation, Eve University. Back when I started this game in May of this year, I had some inkling that I probably would need to join a player-run corporation sooner or later. But since I had no idea what joining one would entail, I was just as happy making it later rather than sooner.

Then in browsing the web trying to scale the fabled learning curve, I came across this entry in Hammer's Eve:

Eve University
There is an in-game Corporation you can join called the Eve University. All reports on it are good. It's a truly helpful group of people who just want to give noobs a grounding in how to play Eve. Learn more about how to join here. Like other universities, they also do a number of silly things to amuse their members.

Well, heck, that sounded just like what I was looking for! A corp that not only welcomed noobs like me but would teach them how to play it? Bonus! After a little over 3 months in E-Uni, I have to say there is much truth in that little blurb. The amount of information available in the forums as well as corp chat and even recorded media is just staggering. People actually take the time out in a game they are paying to play in order to teach others. Free skillbooks are doled out like candy. Creative events are thought of and held all the time for our amusement. All this with virtually no strings attached aside from agreeing to follow the E-Uni rules and a nominal corp tax of 2.5%.

It's certainly not for everybody. If you are of a pirating bent or desire intense PVP training, you are more likely to get that elsewhere. But if you are a noob like me staring from the bottom of the learning curve looking upwards, Eve University is a great place to be. If you also happen to be an old hand at this game with a desire to teach others, E-Uni is sure to have a spot for you also. Check out the link for our website above or drop in on the ingame channel, Eve University.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Will the Cheese Stand Alone?

If you recall from my previous post, I had resolved to try and make my way through New Eden with just one account. But I did say that I might change my mind if they ever ran another Power of Two promotion. Well, guess what I got in my inbox last night?

No matter how big your alliance may be or how many friends you have online, there are always those times when you need that extra bit of help and no one is available. It could be hauling ore, completing a mission or simply checking a price somewhere.

Maybe you've got all your character's needs under control and you'd just like to try another path. Whether you use your existing character or start a new one, halting your existing training to learn a handful of unrelated skills may not be a desirable option.

The Power of 2 may just be the offer you've been waiting for.

Having that extra account at your disposal is sometimes indispensable. It can help turn the tides on a difficult mission or turn a taxing task into a more efficient venture. A second account also means more places you can be at once, which makes monitoring the markets easier and reduces travel time.

Trying out new and different skills
Extra firepower on missions
An extra hauler for miners
A tag along salvager

There are plenty of reasons to have a second account, and right now the biggest one is the Power of 2.

6 months for $ 49.95

Offer available until October 10th 2008, and costs $ 49.95. After the six months the subscription of your new account will automatically renew into a one month subscription plan. Note that this offer is only available for credit cards and Direct Debit.
(Offer valid only for new accounts. Existing accounts, active or expired, do not qualify for this promotion.)

The offer is indeed a tasty one and I'm not sure if I can resist it. There's only two things stopping me right now. The first is that I am fairly certain after the 6 months are up that the account will end up being orphaned; so will I have gotten enough value from it for the 6 months it was active? The other is that I am still enamored of the idea of learning all the skills I want on one character. Having two accounts, even if temporarily, will be sure to put a damper on this plan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Rust We Trust

There was something about my plan to train for a Buzzard that just wasn't setting right with me. Flying my Rifter in a low-sec class held by E-Uni, I remembered what it was. There really isn't any great reason to train up to Caldari Frigate V aside from it being a pre-req to fly a Buzzard. But there is a very good reason to train up to fly a Cheetah instead. I know when I get to PVP'ing in this game, the Rifter is going to be my T1 frigate of choice so having Minmatar Frigate V as a pre-req for the Cheetah will be sure to come in handy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

WAR Open Beta Impressions

Didn't get to play much Eve over the weekend. Just enough to switch skills and take a refresher tackling class with the Uni. So if you're only interested in the Eve bits, I suggest you hit the back button on your browser now.

Still with me? Good. I went into the Open Beta with a plan to level a character as high as I could which in this case would have to be 20 as that was the cap put in by Mythic for the beta. I wanted to go Destruction as I was planning on rolling a Warrior Priest as my main come release. But which class to go with? Since I purposefully avoided playing a tank class with my initial experience in the Preview Weekend, I opted to recreate the first character I rolled when WoW was released: an Orc Warrior named Nazghul. Currently, he's Rank 12 and RR 7.
  • Games Workshop. Again, I can't help but notice the dated look of your logo especially in 1680x1050 detail. This might have looked really cool in the 80's but haven't you guys made enough money yet to consider upgrading it?
  • Liking the look of the Black Orc but what else can you expect from the Warhammer IP? Is it sad that I like the look of the low-level gear on my Black Orc better than the gear on my level 70 Orc Warrior?
  • The Black Orc has a combo-like system where you build up to a move using previous lesser moves. It's pretty nice in PVE but was not so usable in PVP. I don't know if it was lag or my own fat-fingering that lead to every combo failing and having to start over again. There would also be times where I thought I'd be at one stage of the combo but I'd look at the action bar and discover I was at another.
  • One of the first things I did was move my Morale bar right in the middle of my screen above my action bars. This way I couldn't miss my Morale abilities lighting up like I would've had they remained at the default location. I suspect I will be doing this for all my future WAR characters.
  • I got a buff that had a 25% chance to proc on every attack. This increased my HP by a few hundred points and healed for the amount it did so. Incredibly powerful in PVE as I was able to grind non-stop with my HP bar barely budging and I'm sure it must've been annoying in PVP.
  • Tried the new Talisman making tradeskill. Was able to scavenge quite a few mats but couldn't quite get any fragments which is the key component needed. After I broke down and googled it, I found you needed the Salvaging skill to provide fragments. Salvaging is like disenchanting in WoW; you can re-use old magic gear to provide mats for new enchantments (talismans). So I went back to train Salvaging but finding a trainer proved to be troublesome. I finally had to go back to the previous tier of content and, if I was on an Open server, I would've been a chicken the whole time. Found a bug where it let me enter the previous tier's scenario as well. I was queued for a tier 2 scenario and while I went back to retrain found that the tier 1 scenario had popped up for me. Since I couldn't find any option for leaving the scenario, I decided to see what the consequences were. I found out my level made me nigh unkillable in that scenario and after some fun holding off the entire Order side for a while, I decided to just quit the game and come back in. Found out talismans you make can have a duration so I hope higher-level ones are permanent or I don't really see much use to them. I also noticed my higher level gear had a noticeable lack of talisman slots compared to lower-level gear.
  • Soloing really sucks compared to WoW. I can see this as a game where you need a guild like you need a corporation in Eve to fully enjoy every facet of the game.
  • Ran out of PVE content and wasn't too keen to take on the challenging mobs of the next Greenskin chapter just yet then I remembered a trick I used in WoW and flew out to the other race starting areas to gorge on the more level-appropriate content there.
  • Scenario queues need to be looked at and improved. There were pretty long wait times and I couldn't be sure if the problem was lack of interest or otherwise. Also, the ability to queue the other race scenarios without having to fly there every time would be nice.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Between the Warhammer Preview+ that started yesterday for me and the start of the NFL season, I don't think I'll have much time for blogging this weekend. If you are in the WAR Open Beta, stop by the Chrace server and say hullo.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dying is Easy

Comedy is hard. Which is why I have the utmost respect for the work that Yahtzee puts into his weekly shows. I have watched every one of them and await each new one every week despite the fact that I don't really own a console or know most of the games he talks about. When I heard that Eve Online was next on the chopping block, I eagerly awaited his thoughts on my latest muhmorpigguh obsession.

Let's get one thing straight. I really couldn't care less if he likes a game or not. Anyone who bases their decision to play a game on a ZP review deserves whatever fate awaits them in their choice of gaming purgatory. Much like the roast of a beloved celebrity, I was anticipating many belly laughs as he skewered one propped-up facade after another.

Only there wasn't much laughter to be found at all. Okay, I admit I chuckled a bit at the nerd reference and the Coke/Pepsi thing. I knew he was only going to be playing a 14-day trial, but the whole thing sounded like he played the game for a few hours, got his ship blown up in a mission, then when he found out he didn't have the skills or money for a new one, promptly said F it and wrote his review. There's a reason Eve gives you double the usual 7-day trial offered by competing MMORPG's and you can even get a 21-day trial from Steam if you go that route. It's because Eve Online absolutely is capable of bad first, second, and even third impressions.

But still, where was the guy who persevered through Condemned 2 to discover the much funnier rot in the second half of the game or the one who paraded around AoC as a naked Stygian Necromancer? I wasn't really expecting him to do research to uncover such comedic gems as patches that kill entire operating systems or devs who cheat ingame for their corp buddies. But a few comments about the unfairness of PVP, market machinations, or even the boredom of mining would've shown he at least played the game in question.

Heck, even something about Jita lag would've been nice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Xpom Marks the Spot

Patch day came and went and so far nothing looks too broken for me. Aside from one CTD when I alt-tabbed and having to arrange my UI again; it's been smooth sailing. I'm loving the little touches like the auto-hide and finally removing the useless default tab in my overview. Oh, and being able to set the market not to refresh after every transaction just plain rocks. There are reports on various forums and from corpmates that people are having some serious issues with the patch. That they are having such varied experiences lead me to believe that the problems are system-specific and probably stem from a lack of testing or maybe CCP's resources towards testing the patch under a variety of system configurations. Hopefully, all the problems will be reported and worked on and a patch for the patch will be forthcoming.

A funny thing happened while I was rescuing the Damsel in Distress again for the jillionth time. For some reason, I decided it was a good idea to get as close to the reinforcement spawn point as I could while I battered down the Pleasure Gardens to summon them. After dispatching a few ships, I decided to beat feet and warp out to the nearest station to recharge my battered shields. So after the appropriate waiting time imposed by the station manager, I undock and warp back to face my foes at a more respectable distance.

Immediately, I notice a weird yellow wreck on my overview named Xpom's Merlin Wreck. Wow, the poor guy must've wandered into my mission after scanning it down and got overwhelmed by the NPC's after I warped out. The next thing I notice is the handful of cargo canisters where the NPC wrecks should be. He must've been ninja-salvaging behind my back while I was fighting! So immediately all empathy for his ship's destruction goes out the window; especially when I notice that he had returned to the mission deadspace in a Kestrel. I call up his character info and notice several things. First, he was a 3-year old character that had been in the starter NPC corp the whole time. Second, there was a whole host of similarly named Xpom clones in the database. And last, his silence during this whole affair as he went about his business of ninja-salvaging my mission led me to believe that what we had here was a farmer of the Chinese persuasion.

Since he was having some fun at my expense, I decided I would have some at his as well. So it took me a couple of tries, but I was able to get the NPC's to toast his Kestrel as well. Undaunted, he came back in another Kestrel. I figured I'd leave him to his work and he was still at it even after I finished the mission and came back in my own salvager to pick up the cargo canisters and salvage any of the ones he didn't get to yet. I figured any salvage he was able to get was ample payment for his ship losses and the entertainment he provided for me that night.

Of course the very next mission I got was another Damsel in Distress. So after finishing that one and coming back to survey the field in my salvager, the Lamont Sanford, all I could think of was:

XPOM WRU???!!1

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cloak and Dagger

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

The Shadow knows!

I was able to finally take the Exploration class that had been postponed last week and learned how to scan down exploration sites for fun and profit. I was so enamored on the possibility of being cloaked while running my scans that I moved up Cloaking I in my training plan. Just had to train Electronics V as a pre-req and, really, it's good to have that skilled maxed as soon as you can anyways.

Now that I've had a taste of stealthy goodness, I'm thinking now of training up to a Covert Ops Cloak and the ships that can equip it. I know I eventually want to fly a Falcon but a Buzzard might be more feasible for now.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Patch Day Cometh

Just a reminder to all that Empyrean Age patch 1.1 will be hitting Tranquility during the downtime tomorrow. If you've never been through an Eve Online patch before, then let me offer the following advice. Set a long skill to train before the downtime. The reason being that there have been times before where server instability have caused the game to be unplayable for long periods of time. Some grognards have told me that they've seen the server go down for up to a week. You don't want to be caught being unable to log in to change your skill so plan accordingly.