Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Paladin with a Pet

My plans to level my Champion up came to an abrupt halt when I found out about the Captain class in LoTRO. From the descriptions, it seemed to be a Paladin type class...with a pet. Since the two classes I had played the most in my halcyon WoW days were the Warlock and Paladin, the opportunity to try out a class that combined the best features of both could not be ignored. Peanut butter in my chocolate? Hells yeah.

Rather than deleting Warrender, I opted for the comedy name route and rolled an homage to Captain Liberty from the great defunct TV series, The Tick. Turned out someone already had the same idea as that name was already taken so Liberti, the kickass female Captain was born. Too bad I couldn't sneak BatManuel through the lore filters. I had to settle for naming my Herald Manuel once I leveled up enough to gain that ability.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Winged Nazgul Comes "Home"

I'm in the middle of the subscribed month in EQ2 and already my MMO eyes are wandering. It's not the title itself; EQ2 is a polished, accomplished MMO with more features and options than you can shake a stick at. It just doesn't grab me viscerally. I had planned on grabbing the discounted price of the Mines of Moria package for Lord of the Rings Online before the offer was up this month but it turned out I couldn't even wait that long. When my EQ2 Paladin dinged 30, I said enough and started the long process of downloading, installing, and upgrading the LoTRO digital purchase.

First off, I'd just like to say that even with my nom de internet being what it is, I've never seriously given thought to buying and playing LoTRO before now. Sure I checked it out during its Open Beta and there was even a trial sometime last year, but only recently has the "buy" word crossed my mind. It first started when they slashed their subscription price from $15 to $10 a month. Then there was this offer which found its way to my email and lodged itself into my subconsciousness offering the latest expansion and complete game for $10. That it also included a free month's subscription was just too much value to ignore and even if I ended up completely hating it, heck, it was only $10 spent.

Tried rolling a Champion named Warrender on Landroval which is where the Casualties are playing but it came back with a name already taken error. Since this almost never happens for some reason, I can only assume this is my Beta character which I dimly remember creating with that name. A quick check on the forums revealed Brandywine as the most populous so I went with plan B and rolled my Champion on that server.

Damn, this is a beautiful game. I had that reaction with the trial last year and it was the same one after I got my Champion up and rolling this time around. Having the game auto-detect the graphics settings, I was quite pleased when it came back and recommended Very High with DX10. There's a little bit of hitching sometimes since I chose my native monitor resolution of 1680x1050 but not enough to make me want to downgrade any of the options just yet. Really enjoying the eye candy and playing in Tolkien's world so far.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Aion Online Video Walkthrough

Some fine folks from NCSoft West take the time to go over the features of their upcoming MMO, Aion Online. A great introductory video for those who might not know anything about the title. Although there is an option to watch it in HD, that feature is not currently working at the moment. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Aion Priest 1-10

I started out with my plan in the CB2 event in Aion to roll an Asmodean Cleric when I finally could get on Friday. Despite reading of queues and other horror stories while at work, I was able to get right in after login.

The first thing I did was go through what would eventually become a ritual after creating a new character which was click through the options to make my gaming life easier. I enabled all the extra hotbars, disabled click-to-move, and enabled displaying monster names. The latter option was particularly handy as it meant I didn't have to mouse over and click on every single mob to find the one I needed for a particular quest.

At one point, I was a bit puzzled over my character's inability to equip chain armor and shield as a Cleric. Then I realized he wasn't exactly a Cleric yet and wouldn't be until he Ascended at around level 10. For now, my Priest was stuck with leather armor and no shield. Not that he even needed the extra survivability of the heavier armor. With a HoT that cost a pittance of mana to upkeep, he was a grinding machine with little to no downtime.

There was some definite differences between the Elyos and Asmodea zones. In Elyos, the player starts out as a benign mercenary in the employ of the peasant NPC's. In Asmodae, the player starts out as a warlike raider who has subjugated the peasant NPC's. This tone was reflected in the quest text and content as well. My fears that the zone scenery would reflect such a dark race proved groundless. If anything, there were some areas which looked more bright and colorful than their Elyos counterparts. I think I'll stick with my plans to go Elyos, though. I just can't get over the long, flowing back hair typical of the Asmodean models.

There were some amusing harvesting experiences. The first happened while harvesting some Angelica in the newbie zone - I actually dinged. Yes, that's right; you get XP from harvesting in this game. It's not much (60 XP or so) but every little bit helps especially if you're a gathering fanatic like some folks I know. The other happened after I got my wings at level 10. It's what happens when you pair a limited flight timer with floating resources placed high in the sky. Now I know how Icarus felt.

I'd go on to level 3 more characters to level 10 which was the cap imposed by NCSoft for this beta event. Doing this enabled me to experience the differences at the early levels between the Priest, Mage, Scout, and Warrior archetypes.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Props to those old enough to remember what this image has to do with the title.
Aion Online is getting ready to start another of their Beta Events today. This event is scheduled to run through the weekend and anticipation is pretty high judging by the state of the Beta forums. I have access to this and all upcoming Beta events due to my pre-order and I have to admit I'm starting to feel a little excited about the event myself.
Despite having participated in numerous MMO Betas by now, I still feel the same excitement over a AAA title every time. There will be those that will say participation in Betas will only accelerate the feeling of burnout by the time the game releases. I counter that some of my most lengthy stays in MMO's were titles in which I also participated in their Betas as well. I would even go so far as to say that content in games is not the determining factor for me anymore as to whether it's time to move on or not. I'd say it's the people you meet and play with on a regular basis in MMO's that determines this. A good guild can go a long way towards hiding any perceived deficiencies in a game. For a while, anyways.
I'm still unsure which class to start out with in Aion. I usually go with a Paladin class type; being a heavily-armored melee fighter that can heal covers up a lot of typical newbie mistakes. Initially I thought this would be the Templar class but some research on the forums suggests Cleric might be the class I'm looking for. Hopefully the Betas will provide ample opportunity to mess with various alts and find the perfect fit for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And the Winner is...

So it seems like the next big thing gaming-wise for me is going to be Aion Online. It's got everything I want in an MMO plus it runs like a champ on my system. For those who might scoff at the choice, I offer a paraphrasing of an old adage about art:

I might not know much, but I know what I like.

The only problem is Aion isn't going to be released until sometime in September which leaves a few months between now and then. I could use that time with a filler MMO but the trouble is deciding on which one. I could go back to AoC or WAR and see if my time away has improved the game any. There's also the freemium choices like Atlantica Online or Wizard 101 if I feel like eschewing the monthly subs. I could even use the time to explore more of Guild Wars or a new title like DDO.

I actually went through the trouble of installing the trials and poking around all the above games before I made my mind up. AoC and WAR still ran like slugs in molasses on my system and there was no way I was going back to those games after experiencing what Aion had to offer. Not even the hype surrounding Land of the Dead was enough to entice me back. The other games were definite contenders when suddenly a dark horse appeared in the form of a Steam sale last Friday.

Everquest II - so now I have a level 22 Paladin on the Antonia Bayle server.

Who would've thought I'd finally get around to giving EQ2 a serious try after all these years. Certainly not me yet even I could not resist the siren call of the Steam sale for $9.95. Even more amazingly, I'm having fun in this game despite my preconceived notions about it. EQ2 always seemed like a game with features I would enjoy but there was something about the art direction that just turned me off. Even with the graphic options turned all the way up, it still couldn't hide character models that all looked like they were beaten severely with ugly sticks. But I've been able to get over that initial distaste to give the game the chance it deserves. So far so good.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Can't see the Forest for the Trees

There's an event currently running in Atlantica Online that celebrates the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival. From April 21 to June 16, guilds can build and plant their own cherry blossom trees in their towns for possible added revenue and aesthetics. Unfortunately, after the initial "neato" impression the particle graphics of the cherry blossoms that greet you upon visiting a town soon wears on you. I'm sure June 16 can't come soon enough for some of the regular AO players. I can't even imagine what a newbie's impression would be of these blossoms if he has no idea why every town he visits has these stupid pink blossoms flying around everywhere.

But I'd like to examine the actual mechanics of the cherry tree and appreciate the thought that went into its design. From the wiki entry:
Spring has sprung, so let’s have some fun, like they do in the land of the rising sun! The Sakura Matsuri, or Cherry Blossom Festival, is a highly anticipated time in Japan to get together and view the beautiful scenery of the Cherry Blossom Trees. If you can’t make it to Japan, don’t fret! The Cherry Blossom Trees are now available to view in Atlantica!

From April 21 to June 16, town owners will have the opportunity to build a Cherry Tree. Visitors of towns that have a Cherry Tree will enjoy some very pleasant scenery along with the chance to grab a Cherry Tree Fruit once a day at the cost of 100% will and 200,000 gold (half the gold will go directly to the guild fund). Eating the Cherry Tree Fruit will grant the player an additional 10% increase of experience for two hours. The Cherry Tree can only be guild-crafted and requires building craft to be at level 5 or higher.

Some new items that are required to build the Cherry Tree, such as the Cherry Tree Leaf, Cherry Tree Stem and Cherry Tree Root can be purchased on the market. All new items relating to the Cherry Blossom Festival event will be removed after the event is over.
Guild crafting, town customization, guild revenue, and XP booster all in one tree! That's some impressive multi-tasking.